Read Part Two here
“Hey geo, wait up a sec; got a question for you…”
“Afternoon Sergeant Major; send it!”
“Which foreign languages are you rated in, French and what else?”
“French, German, Spanish, Chinese…”
“Ok… ok… hold on… how about you just send me an email with a list when you get a chance today.”
“WILCO easy, Sergeant Major.”
I wondered what that was all about, but didn’t bother to ask; what would be the point in that. That had been months ago and now I was on the ground in Seattle getting a secondary thrashing from Colonel Klink and the rest of the heros of Stalag 17.
“Mr. Hand, we want to know why you have come to our city, what you intend to do while you are here.”
Oh, ‘our city’ was it? Sure, do you own it or do you actually own one of those oversized wooden novelty keys painted gold presented by the Mayor? I internally sassed.
“No big plans to speak of, Mr… Wilsen-son-don-jen, perhaps??”
“Please just continue, Mr. Hand.” he frowned.
I’m just of the mind to kick back and have some coffee, squeeze vegetables at Farmer’s Market, stare at Mount Rainier, and get rained on—-loves me a good semi-permeant low-pressure trough.”
Having been stationed in Tacoma, and visited Seattle on many occasions for its International District, I didn’t have to pretend to know my way around the place to a degree.
“Please understand that while you are here, you will be watched, and you are restricted to your motel room during the hours of night, beginning at 2200hrs (10:00 PM) in the evening, until 0600hrs in the morning. Failure to adhere to our curfew will result in your being expelled from our city.”
“Well $hit the bed, Ted,” I thought as I earnestly promised to obey, not realizing I was holding up two ‘Scouts Honor’ fingers, to the puzzlement of the suits not knowing if I were being sarcastic or not. Hell, I wasn’t even a Boy Scout as a boy. Well, I mean I was, but I got kicked out for the strangest reason: During a meet at our scoute club hut, I was running for my life from the gang wanting to dogpile on me.
Being moderately claustrophobic, I was horrified at the prospect of being on the bottom of a dogpile, therefore succumbed to an amygdala flight. Our hut was on an Air Force base, and very close to the jet trainer hangars and flight tarmac. I headed right for it and found myself galloping down one of the runways, a T-37 jet trainer aircraft at take off screaming down my six o’clock.
An Air Police truck sped down the runway toward me, passed the T-37 spooling engines down. They drove along side me momentarily:
“What are you running from, kid?”
“(pant, pant, pant) dogpile (huff, puff, puff)!!!” I shrieked with panic on my face.
I got a ride in an Air Police truck that evening, all the way back to our scout hut, where I stood meekly in front of my scout master, as he scowled his best scowl down at me. I felt like Oliver Twist just asking for more pudding.
I returned home that night with the Scout Master’s boot print on my ass and showed it in shame to my parents. My mother rolled her eyes as if to say: “Here we go again,” as my dad rather pretended like he didn’t see it at all, opting to go about his druthers.
I was already sized up in those days you see, to never amount to anything. That was fine by me; folks had low expectations of kids with shallow resources, and the work was great if you could get it.
Now in Seattle, I checked into my motel room. I can state outright that it was five stars… five *falling* stars, that is. When I arrived at my room low and behold the door was ajar and the lights were on. I check my key number against the door and pushed my way in.
“I’m sorry, there must be some kind of mistake,” I consoled to the whorish woman sitting on the bed. The mattress was so sunken it looked like a reverse geodesic dome.
“You wanna date?” Queried she.
“No, and I can’t because I have a curfew that starts in seven minutes.”
She sauntered past me with knit brow that reeked of unfiltered Camels. I shut the flimsy door behind her and wedged a chair barricade under the knob like they do in the spy movies, why not? The phone rang. I let it ring a few times so as not to appear too eager. The caller tersely passed me instruction where to recover a dead drop (small container to hold messages).
It was to be stuck under the base of a wall-mounted phone stand very nearby. What of my curfew, I worried as I bolted from my room. The phone stand was just inside the waiting lobby of Denny’s restaurant next door. I unhooked and put the receiver to my ear and punched a few bogus numbers to justify my reason for being there to any on-lookers.
Feeling under the base, I immediately met a palm-sized box of sorts, that I tugged at to strip from its adhesive grasp. A glance told me it was a pack of chewing gum which I pocketed as I hooked into the Denny’s restroom. There I ‘had a seat’ in the one stall there.
I ripped open the pack and began to open the sticks one by one. Each time it was gum… and what do you do with gum? You chew it, I weakly deduced. I shoved stick after stick of gum in my mouth until I could no longer chew with my mouth closed. My jaw cranked and started to ache. Drops of drool were clinging tenaciously to my chin.
In the meantime, a restaurant patron had entered the loo and was tapping less and less politely at the stall door. He progressively pleaded in a heavy Mexican accent: “Come onnn maaannn, you’ve been in their for hooouuurrrsss!”
Finally, I hit pay dirt two sticks from the bottom of the pack: it was paper messages. Collecting my composure, I let the wad of gum in my mouth drop in the bowl with a mighty ‘ker-sploosh’.
“Finally!” Exhaled the Mexican gentleman, as I flushed and threw open the door.
I filed by him gawking, my watch which ticked into the last minute to 2200hrs. Note even the slightest obeisance made me, as I shot through the door and rounded the final corner to my room. Knowing painfully well that I could not take the messages to my room, I slapped the package of gum on top of a coke machine with a leap as I ran passed it.
WTF… my door was open again and lights on. That damned whore again! “Get the phuq out!!” I orded immediately as I rammed open my door. There inside blinking in surprise were two of the stuffed suits that had been sitting at the oval table earlier in the day during secondary.
“I’m sorry, I totally thought you were someone else,” I offered coldly.
“Well, Mr. Hand… I see you are adhering meticulously to our curfew this evening,” challenged a suit.
Glancing at my watch I could see that I was near, but had not quite reached the 12-second mark.
“Yes, well I thought I would return a little early this evening and hit the rack.”
That smug remark and the fact that I had made it on time made me feel a modicum of cockiness. I even flipped on the TV to show my confidence. The program that came on first was: ‘Hasta que la Muerte Nos Separe’ (Until Death Do Us Part), a Mexican soap opera that I was vaguely familiar with. The channel was clearly Univision.
“I see you follow Mexican soap operas, Mr. Hand?”
“Pues, en realidad no mucho, pero de ves en cuando he visto ese programa. No lo siguo bien la cuenta, pero si que me gustan ver las mujeres.” I offered grinning to the blank expression of the suits.
“Si” he struggled to return.
They proceeded to vigorously inspect my travel bag and all the contents of my pockets. From my back pocket came a notebook, which brought instant alarm and flush to my face. Earlier I had begun to jot the instructions from the phone caller, thinking they might be more complicated than they actually were. There was enough there in the notebook to sink me though, on one random page. I hoped they would not see the flush I was feeling on my face.
Then it happened, this thing that you simply cannot make up happened.
If you are not familiar with Mexican soap operas, well they are actually like American soap operas in that every player is a very attractive person. So in Novelas Mexicanas, where the women are concerned, well Nurse Ratchet that up several notches, Cuckoo, because those women are M.C. Hammers!
The suit flipped slowly through page after page, as poop after poop filled the back of my pants. His head eventually wandered to leer at the women on the TV, but his hand continued to flip… right past my forbidden notes! Satisfied, the suits delivered the usual stale admonition and took their leave.
I promptly ripped and flushed the toxic page from my notebook, sat on the edge of my sunken bed, and leered at the TV.
To be continued,
Feature image courtesy of coldwarstudies.com
If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting our Veteran Editorial by becoming a SOFREP subscriber. Click here to get 3 months of full ad-free access for only $1