The New Recruit
We were in Kandahar. I sat beside my current CO in the large army truck and breathed deeply as we approached a large cameo tent. My CO pulled up to it and put the car in park. In one swift motion, he killed the engine and jumped out of the truck without so much of a glance at me.
I stumbled out of the passenger seat and followed after him, like a dog following its master. As we approached the tent, he paused and turned to look back at me briefly. 'Hurry up, Lieutenant.' he said gruffly.
'Yes, sir.' I said quietly.
He looked me over, nodded curtly, and opened the flap into the tent. The tent had a few chairs and tables, with a man looking over a few maps. He glanced up at us as we entered.
I gasped. It was Coronel Hannibal Smith.
He was tall and lean, with tanned skin. He was wearing cargo pants and boots and a maroon colored shirt. His hair was silver, and his eyes bright blue with crows eyes creasing at the corners. He had scruff lining his chin and an unlit cigar in his mouth. He held a shiny Zippo lighter in his hand and his eyes darted from my Commanding officer to me.
I stood to post.
'At ease.' he said, his voice deep and calm. He held the flame of the lighter to the cigar in his mouth and inhaled deeply.
He exhaled, his eyes on my CO.
'You got it from here, Hannibal?' he asked.
'Yeah.' he nodded, flicking ash in the ashtray beside him.
I stood where I was, staring from one to the other.
He nodded curtly and pushed passed me as he left.
'Hello, Lieutenant.' he said softly. He came to the from of his desk and leaned on it.
'Coronel.' I said quietly. My hands shook slightly and my voice faltered.
'You can call me Hannibal.' he said kindly.
'I'm your new CO.'
I nodded again. 'Yes, sir.'
'How old are you, Lieutenant?' he asked.
I looked at my boots. 'Twenty-two, sir.'
'Bullshit.' I heard him say. 'Look at me when I'm talking to you.'
I looked up at him. I was surprised to see that he didn't look angry, but he could tell how frightened I was.
'Nineteen.' I whispered.
'What's your name?' he said without missing a beat.
'Elizabeth Marshall, Jacksonville Florida.'
'And tell me, Elizabeth...why are you so frightened of anyone labeled as your CO?'
Suddenly, I burst into tears and turned on my heel running from the tent. I ran blindly through the camp and hid inside one of the portapotty. I sobbed quietly into my hands until I couldn't.
My previous commanding officer had beaten me until I was a brainwashed puppet. He drilled into my head that there was no place for women in the army. He would rape me, both for his own personal pleasure and to prove to me the power he had. He used me numerous times as an ashtray and now my arms were permenantly littered with cigarette burns. I had welts and lashes on my back, and make up barely covered my bruised face.
I heard a light tapping on the plastic door.
'Elizabeth? Can you come out please?'
My heart leaped into my throat. It was Hannibal.
I took the toilet paper and dabbed at my eyes. With trembling fingers, I undid the lock. I slowly swung open the plastic door to see him waiting patiently.
I sighed, and followed him back to his tent.
He turned around to face me, and I squeezed my eyes shut, waiting for a blow of some kind and some ugly words.
When nothing came, I opened my eyes to see him watching me. 'Do you want to talk about it?' he said.
I nodded. 'Please.' I whispered.
He pulled up a chair on the other side of his desk, got two tumblers and a half full bottle of Jack Daniels. He poured some for both of us and handed me one.
'I don't care if your underage. It will calm you down.' he said, raising his own glass.
I gently clinked my against his, and smiled.
'There is it!' he grinned, taking a sip.
I took a sip and felt a lot better when the burning liquid traveled down my throat.
I told him everything that had happened within the past year with my previous CO. I told him about the beatings, the rape, how he verbally abused me, and maniliputed me.
He listened, pouring me more whiskey whenever it was getting low.
When I was finished, he was quiet for a few moments.
'You won't tell anyone, will you?'
'He needs to be reported.'
I gripped the edges of his desk. 'He'll kill me.'
'The army isn't for everyone, Elizabeth. What made you want to serve?'
'I have no family. My mother died during my birth, so my father gave me up for adoption, but no one wanted me. I was sent from foster family to foster family. Some were nice, but some were just like my CO. I never really had a family, and I was hoping the army could give me the family and love I never had.'
He leaned forward and held my gaze. 'Elizabeth, how would you like to be part of an Alpha Team?'