"SIR YES SIR!"
The bus rolled up to our recruitment center. Still forced to sit still, I did not know what time of day it was outside. It feels like the longest bus ride of my life. The bus door opened, and once again, another drill sergeant sprinted up the stairs. He was dripping wet as he screamed
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING SITTING ON THIS BUS LIKE FAGGOTS AT CHURCH! I WANT ALL OF YOUR SOFT ASSES OFF THIS BUS IN 10 SECONDS! MOVE MOVE MOVE!"
And just like that; nobody and I mean nobody disobeyed. Salla sprung to his feet with his bag and fell through the aisle. It felt as if the bus was on fire and we were all scrambling off. They are really striking fear into me and I haven't even got off this bus! I can't imagine what's waiting for me outside. I don't want to get off of this bus, but my own gut fear is forcing me to move incredibly fast. Fast into the darkness.
I finally made it into the aisle and with pushing and shoving; I took my first step off the bus onto Parris Island. I will be spending the next six weeks in this dark hell. I slung my bag over my shoulder as more buses unloaded GIs. I felt as if I was going to prison. Giant bright lights shined in our faces, and the silhouettes of hundreds of packed GIs seemed like angry forms of demons. I tried to calm down as we just stood there, until I remembered Salla.
"SALLA! SALLA! WHERE ARE YOU!" I cried.
I promised I'd stick together with him. I was not going to leave his side. I need to find him. Salla is probably getting ripped apart or slapped by a drill sergeant as we speak! If so, how can he ever forgive me? I can't lose my only friend in this hell. I continued screaming his name. I ran through crowds of black silhouetted GIs pushing and shoving screaming his name. I feel so alone. I can't find my friend, and I'm lost in a sea of hundreds of dark GIs.
The rain is showering me in the darkness, and it's making me shiver. I call his name one last time. Suddenly I felt a violent pain on my head. I was hit by a drill sergeant. All I saw was the evil black silhouette of a tall man in a smoky bear hat. He bends over and belts,
"ARE YOU FUCKING SIGHT-SEEING YOU PATHETIC PIECE OF RAT SHIT? GET MOVING TO THE RECRUITMENT CENTER NOW! DO YOU HAVE POLIO IN YOUR LEGS OR SOMETHING? BECAUSE YOU WALK SLOWER THAN MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER!"
I was already walking as he continued to curse me and degrade me in front of everyone. I wasn't alone. Everyone was getting screamed at to move. Apparently we were supposed to be in the building already. I couldn't believe the drill sergeant hit me. I thought that was against the rules. It just got terribly worse then. I'm freezing, shivering, and lonesome. I also lost Salla. I feel so guilty and homesick. It's hard to stay on my feet as everyone is pushing towards the recruitment center. We all finally enter the building soaking wet. We're ordered to stand still as we wait for everyone to come in. Salla is still nowhere in sight. I think I might throw up.
(2 hours later)
Fifty of us are standing in a line facing each other. We stand in front of our bunk beds motionless. The drill sergeant who will be watching over us for the next six weeks is going to meet us for the first time. All of us are expecting him any minute. I am not moving from this spot until he leaves. All of us got our heads shaven. My brown waves were no more. I try to keep still but I can't help to feel my bald head. What do I look like? There are windows on the other side of the wall and they offer somewhat of a reflection. As I try to lean over to catch a glimpse of my new appearance, the door slams open. I quickly shot back into a straight position as our new drill sergeant made his way towards us. With his hands behind his back and pacing up and down the line, he began
"I AM YOUR SENIOR DRILL INSTRUCTOR, SERGEANT SHEPARD! YOU WILL NOW SPEAK ONLY WHEN SPOKEN TO. YOU WILL OBEY EVERY WORD OUT OF MY MOUTH! IS THAT UNDERSTOOD!"
We all answered "Sir Yes sir!"
"BULL-SHIT! SOUND OFF LIKE YOU GOT A PAIR!"
"SIR YES SIR!" We screamed. Shepard is a short man, but he is intimidating. He continued,
"IF ANY OF YOU SURVIVE FROM THIS ISLAND, YOU WILL COME OUT A DANGEROUS WEAPON. YOU WILL BE THE MOST FEARED FORCE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD! BUT UNTIL THAT DAY, YOU ARE ALL NOTHING BUT PUNY SMALL DICKED PIPSQUEAKS WHO HAVE THE NERVE TO CALL THEMSELVES MARINES! YOU ARE THE LOWEST FORMS OF LIFE ON EARTH!"
Shepard sounded very mean, but he takes pride in the marine core. I figure I'd just obey every order and be loyal to the core.
"I AM MEAN BUT I AM FAIR. I DO NOT LOOK DOWN UPON NEGROS, WASPS, MICKS, OR GREASERS. EVERYONE IS EQUALLY WORTHLESS! MY JOB IS TO WEED OUT ALL QUITERS, TRAITORS, AND PUSSYS FROM MY CORE! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?"
"SIR YES SIR!" We screamed. I answered blindly. I don't care if he was insulting my sister; I'd say yes sir to save my ass! Shepard isn't kidding when he said he'll weed out anyone who he didn't like. Shepard walks over to a black GI. I saw that guy before; he was sitting there reading a book while everyone else talked.
"WHATS YOUR NAME BITCHWAD?"
The tall GI squints his eyes and answers "JIMMY BROWN SIR!" Shepard suddenly got into Brown's face.
"BROWN EH? MOTHER OF GOD! YOU'RE SO UGLY; WORDS CAN'T EXPLAIN YOUR DISGUSTING FACE! SO I'LL JUST THROW UP! JESUS CHRIST, IF I LOOKED AS TERRIFYING AS YOU, I'D WEAR A MASK!"
Poor Brown just stood there and screamed "SIR YES SIR!" What else could we say? He's just picking on us now. Shepard makes his way over to a short GI with thick black glasses. Our mean drill sergeant yells
"WHAT'S YOUR NAME NUM-NUTS?"
"TERRY NOVAK SIR!" Terry returned. Shepard stared right into Terry's thick glasses.
"DO I LOOK GOOD IN MY UNIFORM POLLOCK?
"SIR YOU LOOK GOOD SIR!"
"OH REALLY? SO YOU'RE A HOMO PRIVATE NOVAK? DO YOU SUCK DICK?"
"BULL-SHIT! I BET YOU CAN SUCK A GOLF BALL OUT OF A GARDEN HOSE!"
"SIR YES SIR!" Terry said blindly. He doesn't want to argue.
"HOW MANY BROTHERS AND SISTERS DO YOU HAVE FAGGOT?"
"SIR SEVEN SIR!"
With a sarcastic surprised expression, Shepard yells, "SEVEN! JESUS CHRIST FAGGOT! YOU MUST BE DIRT POOR! YOUR MOTHER'S SO DUMB SHE PROBABLY SOLD THE HOUSE TO PAY THE MORTGAGE!"
"SIR YES SIR!"
"BY THE WAY, YOUR NEW NAME IS PRIVATE FAGGOT, YOU LIKE THAT?"
"SIR YES SIR!"
"I BET YOU DO PRIVATE FAGGOT! NOW…" Shepard walks away from Terry and begins to pace down the line again. He continues, "NOW I'M GOING TO WORK YOU. DON'T THINK YOU CAN WALK IN THERE AND BECOME A MARINE. BULL-SHIT! YOU GOTTA LISTEN TO ME, AND NEVER GIVE UP!" Shepard glances over to Brown, "DID YOU HEAR THAT DIRT FACE? NEVER GIVE UP!"
We all yelled sir yes sir. I'm praying to God Sergeant Shepard doesn't face me. I don't take screaming well. My dad never screamed at me when I was little, so I never got yelled at. Except that one time I broke my neighbor's window with a baseball. Even then, I almost pissed my pants. I bet damn well if Shepard abuses me as bad as he is to Brown and "Private Faggot", I'll piss my pants. I stand still and listen to Shepard talk about teamwork, when suddenly I hear a laugh.
"WHO'S LAUGHING? WHO THE FUCK IS LAUGHING!" Shepard screamed louder and angrier than I ever heard before. It was like a shriek. I saw who laughed. It was a rather fat GI as tall as me. He has chubby cheeks and stands solid. Shepard's veins are popping out of his head as he races up and down the line threatening us. He finally approaches the fat GI who's face is bright red. Shepard is standing inches from his face and screams,
"MY GOD YOUR FAT! WHAT IS YOUR FUCKING NAME YOU ERRODING PIECE OF AMPHIBIOUS SHIT?"
The GI's face is bright red. You can see the fear in his eyes. He says "SIR MY NAME IS LAWRENCE SIR!"
"LAWRENCE? ONLY FAGS AND SAILORS ARE CALLED LAWRENCE. ISN'T THAT RIGHT PRIVATE FAGGOT?"
Terry agrees with a sir yes sir from a distance. Shepard continues,
"YOUR NEW NAME IS PRIVATE BUBBA! BUBBA, HOW TALL ARE YOU?"
"SIR SIX FOOT SIR!" Bubba screams, almost crying.
"SIX FEET? I DIDN'T KNOW THEY STACK SHIT THAT HIGH. WHAT DID YOU FIND SO FUNNY ABOUT MY LECTURE PRIVATE BUBBA? WAS IT PRIVATE BROWN'S UGLY ASS FACE OVER THERE? TELL ME! I LOVE A GOOD JOKE!"
Bubba hesitates and says "SIR NO SIR! I FOUND SOME OF YOUR…YOUR COMMENTS HUMOROUS SIR! ABOUT PRIVATE FAGGOT I MEAN, SIR."
Shepard glares at Bubba and gives him a fiery look of anger and hate. After that slight pause, Shepard clutches his fists and strikes Bubba as hard as he could into his large stomach. A sudden shock ran through the whole platoon. Our drill sergeant is insane. What is going on here? What just happened! I look in guilt as Bubba yelps and falls to the floor. I can't believe what I just saw. Bubba's eyes are squinted and filled with wet tears. I want to do something, but I can't. Shepard is our drill sergeant, and I'll get in huge trouble if I interfere. Shepard bends over Bubba and screams loudly,
"LISTEN HERE YOU FAT FUCK! I DON'T CARE IF YOU LAUGH AT THE WEATHER, OR THE FOOD WE SERVE HERE, BUT IF YOU LAUGH AT MY CORE AGAIN, I WILL PERSONALLY RIP OFF YOU HEAD AND SHIT DOWN YOUR THROAT!" Shepard screamed so much his spit splattered on Bubba's bald head. Shepard wasn't done. He continued, "WHEN YOU LAUGH AT A FELLOW RECRUIT, YOU BETRAY OUR BELOVED CORE! NEVER EVER DO THAT AGAIN YOU OBESE SMEGGING APE! IS THAT CLEAR!"
Bubba coughed and gagged. He tried to say the correct words of sir yes sir, but it wasn't loud enough for Shepard. He continued to scream at Bubba until he said the response loud enough. With tears running down his face, and clutching his stomach, Bubba cried out, "SIR…YES SIR!" just about satisfied, Shepard concluded saying,
"ALRIGHT LADIES, I WANT YOU ALL IN BED TONIGHT. TOMORROW WE WILL WAKE UP A 0500 HOURS AND RUN FIVE MILES! GET YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP YOU PRICKS. GOODNIGHT LADIES."
In etesian, we wished him goodnight too, and got into our bunks. I saw Bubba climb slowly into his top bunk crying. Shepard shut off the lights, and I lay in a bottom bunk. I tried to get some sleep, but Bubba's soft cry in the distance kept me awake. It keeps reminding me of Shepard's screams. They are so terrifying. I won't be able to survive Parris Island. I'm a student, not a soldier. I miss mom and dad and Katie. I even miss Salla, wherever he is. I hope Shepard didn't get a hold of him. My eyes get wetter as thoughts of loneliness and homesickness race through my mind. I feel a cold tear run down my cheek. Bubba's not alone.