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(CAUTION: Lightly Edited)
The Fleet Part 2
No one moved in response to the gunny's request. He said it again, "I need two volunteers...now."
There wasn't a speck of volume increase, but something in his eyes told us we better respond, and do it soon. The problem was that we'd learned very early on, like the first day of boot camp, that you never, ever, I mean never, volunteer for anything in the Marine Corps. Even our senior drill instructor had told us that right before graduation.
Still silence. Sweat dripping down my back. Tick tock.
I was standing in the front left corner of the formation watching out of the corner of my eye, never moving my focus from a distant point straight ahead, just as I'd done for countless hours at Parris Island. I wondered if any of my fellow Marines would be dumb enough to raise their hands.
Without warning, I felt a push from behind. My legs already weakened, I stumbled forward, already knowing who'd pushed me. I snarled inwardly, straightening myself back into the position of attention.
"It looks like we've got one volunteer," Gunny Salvador grumbled, chuckles from the other SNCOs. "And how about we get his butt buddy behind him to come along."
Luckily I somehow suppressed my smile, knowing the asshole who'd pushed me thought he'd gotten away with it. It was our first lesson in the fact that Marine Gunnery Sergeants had eyes everywhere, and I do mean everywhere.
"Get over here, you two," Gunny Salvador ordered, pointing to a spot next to him without taking his eyes off the others. "The rest of you will follow Staff Sergeant Evermeade to the barracks." He turned to look me right in the eyes, his gaze steady, penetrating. "You two, follow me."
I chanced a glance at the piece of shit who'd gotten us in the mess, Private Gallagher, a thorn in my side since the first day of SOI. The fucker had a chip on his shoulder always assuming he was the big dick in the show. He was a bully and a shitty drunk. I'd had to put him in his place more than once, besting him in every event we had, eventually picking up the coveted meritorious promotion.
He hated me and I hated him. It's just how it was.
We glowered at each other for a split second, then hurried to follow our new company gunny.
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