Against The Grain

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Chapter 16

I flipped open my eyelids and gasped for air. I didn’t want to see it anymore. Kennis turned over to face me right when she heard me gasp. She glared at me as if she wanted me to stop making noise. She then turned back over to go to sleep.

I sat on the edge of my bed for a minute before I tiptoed to the bathroom. The females on fireguard were not in my path. I headed to the bathroom as quickly as my body would allow me to move. I was weak. I felt completely dizzy as if I were going to faint. I couldn’t take it. I started hyperventilating. The feeling of overwhelming fear consumed me. I felt like I was drowning in darkness.

Once I got into the bathroom, the overhead light made me feel like this was the perfect place to relax. Heaven! I thought. I collapsed onto the bathroom floor. Lying on the cold bathroom floor felt amazing. The cool temperature of the tile made me feel comforted . . . water fell from the sky. . .

I slowly opened my eyes when I heard a faint muffle.

Huh? I thought.


I gazed into the above light and tried to make out the vision hovering over it. The shadowy figure seemed to be changing rapidly before my eyes. My heart rate had begun to slow down. It was a person moving before me. I began to see them in a clearer vision. It was Private Walker.

The spinning slowed down and I felt the coolness of the tile floor. My feeling of nausea was slowly creeping away like a demon dissolving into the dark pit of my stomach. Slowly, I moved my muscles. I wanted to lift off the floor and suddenly I was able to move my entire upper body. I picked myself up, although I was weak and I immediately hated myself at that moment. There was only Walker who stood in front of me now. Yet, it felt like I was alone.

“Damn, McCoy. The army just ain’t for you.” She said.

“Oh my God,” I whispered.

Walker glared at me and presented me with the most devious facial expression she could possibly muster. I covered my eyes with my hand to keep from looking at her. I wasn’t going to let her see a tear drop from my eyes. Tears smeared across my eyelids. I rested my face in the palm of my hand. I didn’t know what Walker was doing. I wasn’t ready to unleash a response. I wasn’t ready to peek up at her just yet.

“Oh, God,” I repeated once more with my hands still covering my face.

I kept repeating it until I finally grabbed the bottom of my PT shirt and raised it over my tired face. I began to use it to wipe my eyes clean of any evidence of my tears. I glanced back up toward Walker once again as I sat back down on the floor. She glared down at me in disgust. Automatically, I knew why she would be disgusted with me. She was thinking I was weak right then while she was glaring at me. I felt it. I felt like exactly what the drill sergeants and wannabes had been calling me. They’re not going to beat me down! I thought. I’ma get back up!

I rose onto my feet with all the strength that I had in me. Then I quickly turned to face the toilet. I buckled over just as vomit began to pour from my mouth. I hung over the toilet and felt a little relief. Quickly, I began dry heaving again. I figured Walker was watching me from outside the bathroom stall, but she remained quiet. In a matter of minutes, I heard the water running from the faucet. I pulled myself upward from my slumped over position above the toilet and I fell backward against the silver metal stall boarder, right near the toilet tissue dispenser, just like a drunk.

“God!” I said to myself, as my eyes rolled into the back of my head.

My stomach felt extremely sore, yet I wanted a drink of water desperately.

“Why you keep callin’ God, McCoy? You know there’s no such thing!” Walker snapped.

She stood in the mirror brushing her long hair. It appeared in several natural shades of brown with a few golden streaks. Her hair reminded me of a sequoia redwood trunk. She continued brushing out the tangled and knotted strands. Her knots appeared like tiny bird’s nests in her hair. She yanked the brush through her hair like it didn’t even hurt. While I, on the other hand, had brittle stands of much less hair. My head was tender and I had a bald spot too.

“God isn’t the reason you exist! It’s evolution,” she continued.

“You were once an ape. That’s why your skins so dark. White people evolved from water. That’s why we’re all over the world. You’re a student, right? How come you don’t know anything about science and the evolution of man? You know, for a college student you’re pretty f*@&in’ dumb.” She replied.

I only gaped at her in astonishment. I couldn’t even fully recover before a wannabe was already trying to bring me back down. The drill sergeants were modeling a regulatory type of leadership. Therefore, I was certain she must have thought her words to be enlightening. I could hear my heart pulsating in my ear. I didn’t want to feel dizzy again, so I let those remarks disappear into thin air as if I didn’t even hear them. I just simply replied,

“God is good all the time and all the time God is good.”

I gathered up all my strength and lifted off the floor with my hands and knees. I headed towards the door and she stopped me dead in my tracks.

“Then why didn’t God save you just a couple of minutes ago, McCoy?”

“Listen! None of that religious crap is gone save you! You need to wisen up and get your head in the game!” she replied, with a hot face.

I moseyed around her toward the bathroom door, which swung to and fro after I exited.

It felt like only an hour had past and the lights were already on in the bay. I wanted to cry. I hadn’t gotten much rest and that always made me feel delirious. I tucked away my feelings in my chest so they wouldn’t see it. I was scared half to death after my dream. I believed it was real, but I tried my best to snap out of it.

I quickly washed my face and brushed my teeth in a complete daze. I almost didn’t even make eye contact with any of the wannabes around me. Although I didn’t want to carry on, I pretended nothing was wrong with me.

The moment I exited the double doors of the female barracks the fresh morning air hit my face. Blackstone then pushed through the double doors and breezed past me. Kunert followed right behind her. I moved along a little slower as I carefully stepped down the concrete stairs with my left hand loosely curved around the metal rail. I stood at the bottom step and looked around at the company.

The first thing that caught my attention was Curitan’s black eye. Then, I couldn’t help but notice that Kennis stood in formation openly conversing with him. She wasn’t even in her designated place at the head of second squad. However, they appeared to be enjoying their conversation. For her to always refer to us as ‘niggers’ she sure was enjoying him, I thought.

My eyes wondered around my platoon some more and I observed Carter and Price standing together talking and smiling as well. They stood right in first squad as the leaders of our platoon. The drill sergeants could come out at any minute and catch them talking, I thought. Fraternization was against the rules in basic training, but somehow they were allowed to do it anyway.

At times, it seemed as though we were a distraction to the males. The females seemed to only be a secondary person without testosterone. We seemed to be there with exceptions, such as the unequal physical training standards. Even though we were granted the privilege of being able to serve in the military among men, we were still underneath their strength. No matter what, we were the opposite. I strolled over to the formation, dismissing the wannabes as I moved into an open space.

Just then, Drill Sergeant Wilkinson stepped foot out of the office in front of second platoon.

“At ease!” the company shouted and shifted into the proper position.

“Warrior!” Drill Sergeant Wilkinson shouted.

“You not supposed to be over here!”

I couldn’t see the wannabe he was referring to from where I stood.

“Come forward!” he commanded.

I could hear the wannabe moving forward toward second platoon’s office door. I slightly moved my head past Santiago in front of me and I spotted Miller standing before Drill Sergeant Wilkinson.

There was a sudden curse word, like a loud gasp. I shifted my head and saw that it was Price who’d broken her stance in formation. She quickly pulled herself back into parade rest. Just then, Drill Sergeant Andrews exited the third platoon office. He noticed that the entire platoon was quiet and our attention had been shifted elsewhere. He turned his head to see Miller standing before Drill Sergeant Wilkinson at parade rest. Drill Sergeant Andrews remained where he stood in front of our formation. He folded his arms across his chest and began to watch like the rest of us.

“This female needs a battle buddy!” Drill Sergeant Wilkinson shouted.

He didn’t even let two seconds pass before he started up again.

“Private Ward!” he called out to her in the formation.

Before she could respond he continued.

“Since this is your lil’ girlfriend, why don’t you be her buddy!” he commanded.

Ward fell out of fourth squad in second platoon and hurried to Miller’s side. Together they stood before Ward’s drill sergeant. We gave them our undivided attention.

“You’n ya girlfriend think y’all can do whatever ya want ’round here, huh?” Drill Sergeant Wilkinson questioned.

“We gettin’ kicked out anyway!” Ward shouted.

“I’m . . .” Miller spoke softly and I couldn’t hear what she was saying.

I glanced around at the platoon and everyone was watching them.

“Well, it’s not okay! You ain’t gone be here doin’ whatever y’all wanna do just ‘cause you gettin’ kicked out! It’s your own fault you can’t do this! Damn, freaks!” Drill Sergeant Wilkinson hissed.

I could see the side of Miller’s cherry red face from where I stood.

“You shouldn’t call us names, Drill Sergeant!” Ward yelled.

“Hey!” Drill Sergeant Wilkinson snapped back at her.

Drill Sergeant Reed pushed open the second platoon office door and stepped into the company area. He watched and stood tall with a stern disposition. However, Drill Sergeant Andrews started marching over toward the second platoon company area.

“Sergeant Wilkinson, don’t worry about them! I got these stupid, trash whores!” Drill Sergeant Andrews declared from across the concrete barracks.

He marched up and stood directly in Ward’s face.

“Stupid dikz!” Drill Sergeant Andrew’s shouted in her face.

Ward stood stiff, but Miller quickly jerked her neck around and glared at Drill Sergeant Andrews in astonishment. She seemed to be devastated. I could see her face clearly since she shifted her body to face him. Her face remained red and her eyes grew wider.

Just then, Drill Sergeant Cole stepped out of first platoon’s office. She was the short, blond-haired white female sergeant. She stood nearer to her platoon’s office and began watching them. I glimpsed over and sighted Drill Sergeant Drake and Drill Sergeant Mayor standing ahead of our platoon watching them as well. They must have heard all the commotion.

“You were supposed to respect the policy! But you couldn’t even do that right!” he yelled.

Drill Sergeant Wilkinson, Reed and Andrews surrounded them. They stood glaring at them as if they were disgraceful.

“Now fall your dumb ass back into the right formation!” Drill Sergeant Andrews shouted.

Miller slowly began sauntering back to our platoon area with her head down. Ward then lowered her head in shame. I couldn’t quite see her face, but she seemed to be crying. Then the rest of the drill sergeants gradually eased out of their platoon office. They all moved toward the head of their platoons as if they were ready to get back to training.

I focused back over on Ward. She lifted her head to glare at Miller’s back, as her girlfriend wobbled away. Suddenly, Ward broke out of parade rest and took off running toward Miller. She ran upon her from behind, grabbing her by the arm and turning her around. Ward tilted her head to the side, leaned in and kissed Miller’s lips.

Drill Sergeant Andrews started up again.

“Stop it!” he barked at them as loud as he could.

His waspy face turned flush. Ward pulled herself off of Miller and she held a great smile on her face. The company, however, remained silent. I couldn’t see Miller’s expression because her back was toward me. Ward quickly turned around and tried to hurry back over to her place in second platoon, but she was abruptly halted.

“Stop right there! Get down and beat your face!” Drill Sergeant Wilkinson commanded Ward.

Private Ward immediately lowered herself down to the ground right where she stood and started pushing. The wannabes remained silence and the rest of the company drill sergeants preceded to take charge of their platoons. Drill Sergeant Andrews stood over Private Miller while she pushed in our formation and the rest of our army day went on as planned.

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