She grabbed her bottle of beer and made her way to the table of soldiers sitting around a table, drinking and laughing. Cassie smiled as the men looked at her. "Mind if I sit down?"
A black man said, "Sure, ma'am."
Cassie's long blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail, laying halfway down her fatigue jacket. She wore the standard Army greens, her bright blue eyes shined in the semi-darkness of the room.
She drank her beer and listened to the men.
The deep voiced, handsome man was Percell.
The funny light-hearted Puerto Rican, Alberto Ruiz.
The strong-willed street smart man, Taylor.
The man with glasses who didn't say much, Doc.
"So, Miss, how'd you get involved with this mess of a war?'
"Volunteered," was all she said.
"Damn, lady, are ya crazy?" Taylor asked, wide-eyed.
"Nope." Said said. As she swallowed the last of her drink.
A slow country song came on the jukebox. Danny looked at her and asked, "You wanna dance. Miss?"
"It's Cassie and I'd love to."
"How long have ya been in country?" Danny asked as he held her close.
"Three months, you?"
"About nine."
She shifted in his arms and asked, "How bout your friends?"
He glanced down at her, " Doc, only about a month, Ru, same as me, Taylor, his second tour and Johnson went home a couple of weeks ago."
"Sorry." She said looking straight into his eyes. He looked at her questioningly. "I can tell that you miss him."
"I'm just glad that he went home alive." He explained as he smiled, remembering all the good times with Johnson. ***Two sons had ended since they started dancing. Cassie glanced up at the clock above the bar. "Shit, I missed curfew! My Sarge is going to kill me!"
They broke apart and Danny exclaimed, "My Lt. can talk to him, who is it?"
She glanced at him, "Dudley. I'm dead. I gotta go."
"Let me give you a ride back." He exclaimed as she grabbed her bag from their table.
"That would be great!" She could feel tears forming in her eyes.
"Guys we gotta get her back. She's late and her CO is Dudley." Taylor threw some money on the table as the others made their way out the door and to the jeep. ***"Dammit, guards aren't sleepin." Ruiz grumbled as they returned to Camp Barnett. They pulled up to the small MP office.
"Checkin' in." Taylor said, "Curfew passes." The MP announced. Doc, Ru and Percell showed the guard their passes. "Soldier, where's yours?" Percell turned to her, "Where is it, Cassie?" "It's gone." She cried, sifting through her bag. The MP called his buddy out, "Ma'am, please get out of the vehicle." She looked up at him, then at Percell, "But......" "Now." "Please take care of my things." She told the guys, as she still sat in the jeep, visibly shaking. "They are being confiscated. She sobbed, "But I need them." Then watched the MP take her bag and begin pulling her out and then he pulled on last time and she fell to the ground, landing on her wrist. "Oh Jesus!" Percell stood up and look at each MP, saw the guns pointed at him and at Cassie. "I'll get you out, don't worry." "Boy, sit down or I'll shoot you." The MP said who had the gun pointed at Percell. Cassie sat on the ground cradling her wrist, crying. The MP pulled her up and she began to struggle. "Let me go, you son of a bitch. Damn you!" She tried to pull her cuffed hands out of his grip, but only succeeded in pissing the man off more. "Please, just let me go, you can talk to my Sergeant. He'll tell you." She pleaded, looking at the MP, easing her struggles, because they only caused her more pain. "Dudley, will tell you." The MP laughed. Cassie turned and looked at Percell and the guys, go get Dudley. Explain it to him. Tears continued to stream down her face as she was lead away. " I had a pass, please don't do this. I'm passed curfew. Please, I'll do anything." He opened the cell door and pushed her in. He slammed the door. With sad eyes, she looked at him and held her hands up. "My handcuffs?" He looked at her and walked away. She yelled after him, "But my wrist is probably broken. I need to go to the dispensary. Please?" She looked down the hall, "Dammit!" Cassie laid down on the bed and fell asleep. *** Cassie woke up to the sound of her name being called. "Peterson, wake up!" She opened her eyes and glanced at her wrist, it was swollen and lightly bruised. "What the hell have you gotten yourself into this time?"
Cassie quickly got up and moved to the bars where Dudley stood. "Sarge, ya gotta get me outta this place. I had a pass to leave, you signed it for me."
"Ya, Ya. I heard about the guys you were hangin' with. I'm going to let you sit in here, get you off my back for awhile. I take a lot of crap from some of the other guys 'cause I got a girl in my squad." Dudley left and Cassie leaned the bars. A few minutes later a MP came down the hall, holding a metal tray. "Back up and I'll give you lunch." She just nodded her head and backed away to the other wall.
He set the food on her bed and backed out of the cell, "Wait?" The MP just looked at her. "Could you please take my cuffs off? I think my wrist is broken, and it's hard to eat with them on." She gingerly held them up.
"Yeah, come here." Cassie slowly approached him, holding out her hands. He uncuffed her. "After you're done eatin', I'll take you to the dispensary. I'm off by then anyway."
She gave him a small smile. "Thank you." ***An hour later the MP came back. "Ready?"
"Yeah, thank you. I'm really not that hungry."
He opened the door, "Stick your hands out."
"...It hurts so bad, please?"
"Sorry, house rules." She didn't reply, only stuck her hands out. **He opened the door and guided her out onto the wooden- planked deck. The MP let the door slam shut and pushed her ahead of him. "If you try and get away, I'll have to shoot you. So don't run away."
Cassie slowly walked to the dispensary, feeling the eyes of the other soldiers on her. Her eyes cast down on the ground.
"Stop." Cassie did as he bade and walked in through the door. ***Your wrist is broken." The nurse looked at Cassie and the MP. "I'll set it, but no jungle or hard duty until after the cast it off."