A Touch And Go Soldier

Day 1. There’s no life like it!

Day 2. Think of it son… See the world, maybe learn another language. Income tax free money!

Day 3. Why not live off the government? Let ’em train you for something and then coast like everyone else!

Day 4. Get outa this town. Take a look around. There’s nothing here!

Day 5. I wanted to join the forces when I was younger than you. But, they caught me and wouldn’t let me in. Now it’s your turn…

Day 6. Plus, look at that hair! You need a haircut like the crew cuts Roy gave you when you were a kid and I’m not the only one who thinks the discipline will do you good.

Day 7. Money, travel, free lunches… How does life get better than that… want another beer…?

Day 8. Yeah, I’m a loner anyhow Dad. I don’t seem to fit in anywhere. Well, I don’t see where I fit in but some folks say I will. See it. But, I don’t. I don’t see nothing…

Day 9. Okay, I’ll do the army thing Pops. Money, travel, free lunches. I can handle that. What do you have to do for that though? Anything?

Day 10. Not bad hotel room while waiting for my flight to Cornwallis. Never been in a hotel room much let alone by myself in a big city like Winnipeg. Felt moved to write some poems. Bit lonely and wondering what I signed up for. Oh yeah, Military Police.

Day 11. I want to change the world and cops have that power. Are you going to play nice or do I have to put these cuffs on you?  I thought so, now what is the problem because we’re here to help.

Day 12. We’ll get you in as infantry but once you get assigned to a platoon they will switch you to military police. Don’t worry, you won’t be something you don’t want to be. They’ll switch you in Cornwallis, okay? Next…?

Day 13. Yeah, the military. I wonder if I should cut my own hair in the room. Two days. Two long nights. Little wee scissors. Wish I would have gone to see old Roy the only knows one length of hair barber before coming. Long hair… Yeah, I liked it better yesterday.

Day 14. Meet up at the recruiting office today and herded into a van with several other dudes, some of whom sport fresh brush cuts. Probably fucking officer material. Fucking Roy, where are you pal?! Nobody says much because we’re all so tough now. Real tough and strong, quiet, chosen types now. Like the opening scene of a million movies.

Day 15. Thank fuck my hair isn’t as long as hippie dude in front of me. I wonder what happens to hippie types at Cornwallis. Why did I pick such a pansy ass stripped shirt to wear?! Wow! I’m really starting to wonder how much of this I thought through…

Day 16. My first airplane ride! Very cool and try hard not to look too amused. Everyone is trying not to look too amused and some new guys are wearing stupider clothes and wilder hair than me thank christ.

Day 17. These guys go twenty four seven! Middle of the night, find your cubicle, find your bunk, stow your stuff and sleep fast because in 3 hours everyone is reducing their vanity. Holy Fuck Wow! No way can I sleep and neither can Rick LeFort my cubicle mate.

Day 18. Took a picture of my hair no hair look. The barber makes a pass down the middle of my cranium to accentuate how much hair he is removing. Mine would make a large pair of slippers. It ain’t fun nor funny and nobody is laughing. Everyone knows this is the beginning of something very serious.

Day 19.  Uniforms, drills and ARE YOU FUCKING LISTENING TO ME?! Spat on the hippies, sneered at new recruits only a month behind our enrollment. Twist, twist, twist, twist, twist, twist, twist. Twisted a wee bit every day. I noticed the bending. The attitude shaping. Culturation. Brainwashing. Noticed it and could not accept it. Wanted to accept it but like some false god was unable to. Everyone around me but Rick LeForte, my cubicle mate, accepted  and embraced the new them.

Day 20. I have to but I can’t. Have to but I can’t. Have to become a soldier but unable to twist myself into an order following machine. Too thinky, me. Waay too thinky me thinks for my own good. Cornwallis Nova Scotia Armed Forces training program versus young bastard claiming to know better? We think fucking not.

Day 21. Write home. Dear mom, Yeah, things not going well. Military pension unlikely for me. Might be able to do boot camp. Might be able.

Day 22. Next day. Dear mom. Nope. Can’t do this. Please send bus ticket. I’m tired.

Day 23. Phoning mom at nine hundred dollars per minute. Please mom. I don’t like this. They want someone else not me. I can’t do this. I want to come home. I’ll do anything to come home. Dad in the background – It’s only been a few weeks for christs sake! Give it a chance! Mom – Barry are you crying?! Don’t cry! I’m on this Barry but its not that simple. You signed up for two years.

Day 24. I signed up for two years! What was I thinking! I’m not even gonna make it through boot camp!

Day 25. I don’t even know anybody in the armed forces. Except me now. Okay, one guy who doesn’t want to be a soldier (now he discovers…) and that’s the only soldier I know. Sheesh.

Day 26. My comrades don’t like long hairs and panzies. A panzy is anyone who they don’t like but whom has not yet exhibited concrete hateful activity upon which proper distain can be affixed. My inability to chant the Kirby Vacuum chant as loud as my mates soon became evident to them and suspects are immediately suspected.

Day 27. I said I want out. Someone stole my wallet. My identification and money were missing. The Warrant Officer called me to his office. Another dude was there. Is this your identification? he asked, showing me my identification. Yes sir, I said, just like we were told to. This was found. This could have fallen into enemy hands. You sir, are not just a poor excuse for a soldier, you are a security liability!

Day 28. Yes Sir! I said again like they told us to say. You are a security risk and the last thing the Canadian Armed Forces needs is idiots like you putting the entire country in harm’s way!  You are unfit to be in this military service Williams! He said a little too enthusiastically for a soon to be retired public servant. His convincing was wasted on me and I think dude saw that. Get out of this office! he croaked with his last bit of Wednesday steam. I did.

Day 29. Mentally unfit soldiers wait to be released from the hospital. I was the most fit of the unfit. Some dudes resisted their gang departure party and were busted up physically pretty good. I took their lunch orders for a week or so as they were unable to get out of bed. Yep, sometimes breaking up is hard to do.

Day 30. No memory of the flight back to Winnipeg or the Greyhound Bus ride to Virden. A few dozen people had a going away party for me only 6 weeks ago. None were thankfully at the bus station when I snuck home and slunk off into that familiar, good night.

Day 31. Good you’re back the old man says. Now you can buy the farm! I’ll be 18 years old in a few months and the new Royal Bank manager says we can do the paperwork then but get the cashola now. The old man needs loot bad and no other uh, buyers have stepped up. I guess this is where I come back in…

Day 32. Buying the farm will steamroll that nasty not-so-soldierly business and with enough cash from easy credit that silly travel the world on someone else’s dime stuff quickly becomes old history too.

Day 33. The ah, party? Oha, she ajusta starta…

You come, have a wine and seet.


Thank you, friend.

Barry out.





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