Catch Me Fuck MeSubmitted by X54 at 2008-06-29 11:57:17 EDT
Rating: 1.73 on 101 ratings (101 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
When I was ten years old I saw The Green Berets starring John Wayne. From then on I knew my function in life was to stalk the jungle and kill commies. When I was seventeen I joined the Army with my parents' reluctant consent. There were no slots available for the Green Berets so on the recruiter's recommendation I signed up for the Rangers instead.
Anyone could sign up for the Rangers. In order to weed out the "Hollywood" types and other pogues who didn't belong there was a three week Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP) that had to be passed after jump school. The instructors at RIP were volunteers from the Ranger battalion. Their job, theoretically, was to teach us what we needed to know to be Rangers, things like patrolling, knot tying, rappelling, etc..
In reality, their objective was to get two thirds of us to quit. Those who did quit were sent "down the road" to "leg-land" (a non-airborne infantry unit at Fort Lewis). Those who passed were assigned to the 2/75th Ranger battalion. Those who neither passed nor quit were recycled to try again.
There were twelve of us in my RIP class who had just finished jump school, plus two or three others who had been recycled and were going through RIP for the second time. On arrival we were assigned "Ranger buddies." Under no circumstance were we ever to be more than an arm's length away from our Ranger buddy. The penalty for failing to follow this rule was a thick rope, four feet long, with a hangman's noose on each end which had to be worn around the offenders' necks until someone else violated the rule. There was even a three-way noose for a three-man buddy team in case of an odd number of Rippees.
My Ranger buddy was a short, muscular guy from Los Angeles named Busey. Busey had a jaw like a pit-bull and a slow, tenacious personality to match. He had suffered some sort of injury in a motorcycle accident which, he claimed, should have excluded him from the infantry. Somehow he'd obtained a waiver. He seemed awfully glad to be in RIP.
Our primary instructors were Sgt Franklin and Cpl Dobbs. Sgt Franklin was large and loud, with a very short temper. He seemed incapable of speaking to us in any tone of voice short of a bellow. He was never without a large wad of tobacco in his mouth, and he would bellow with a funny sort of accent in order not to spit it out: "Rainja! Wha is yo maijah malfunction?"
Cpl Dobbs was smaller and quieter, but he had a sarcastic streak that would have put any highway patrolman to shame. He would ask us, after some minor infraction, in a voice dripping with a mixture of amazement and contempt, "Ranger, are you as dumb as you wanna be?" He would then order us to do 25 pushups--plus one for the Big Ranger in the Sky--with our feet elevated on whatever object was nearby: a chair, a table, the top of a bunk bed or even against the trunk of a tree.
We were never allowed to walk, but always had to run. If we weren't running, we were standing at parade rest or attention. Every morning our instructors woke us at zero-four-hundred hours by flinging metal trash cans across the barracks and banging the lids like cymbals. Then we were required to run miles and miles singing crude cadences:
Napalm, napalm sticks like glue
It burns Russians and Arabs too
It melts the flesh and it chars the bone
We like it best 'cause it's home grown
If, as was often the case, we failed to sing loudly enough we would stop and do "flutter kicks," usually in a large puddle. We would lie on our backs with our feet raised up and our knees locked, kicking in cadence while Sgt Franklin and Cpl Dobbs amused themselves by standing on whatever part of our torsos were above water, stepping from man to man without getting their feet wet. We learned to sound off with extra enthusiasm whenever we approached a large puddle.
We ate our meals at the Sixty-Second Med mess hall, so called not only because it was run by the 62nd Medical Battalion, but also because we were allowed only 60 seconds to eat. If any one of us took more than the allotted time we were all made to low-crawl on our bellies from the mess hall back to our barracks.
Our classroom was on the second floor, but we weren’t allowed to walk up the stairs to get there. Rather, we had to scale a cargo net, climb through a window, and then low-crawl to our desks.
After our training was done for the day we would stay up late cleaning the barracks and preparing for the following day. We were required to sew "Ranger Eyes" onto the backs of our patrol caps: two pieces of rectangular luminous tape, each sewn on with 12 individual knots (a square knot with two half-hitches) using waxed dental floss. These were inspected each morning.
We tried to memorize The Ranger Creed and Standing Orders, Roger's Rangers. At any time we were liable to be accosted by one of our instructors demanding that we regurgitate some portion of these sacred charters.
"Ranger! What's the first order of Roger's Standing Orders?"
In our sleep-starved state we could rarely manage to do more than stammer, "Sergeant! The first order of Roger's Standing Orders is...uh..."
"What's wrong, Ranger? Are you as dumb as you wanna be?"
"No Sergeant! I mean, yes Sergeant! I mean, I don't know, Sergeant!"
"You don't know? What do you mean, you don't know! Didn't you read Roger's Standing Orders? Or did you decide to go to sleep instead?"
"No Sergeant! Yes Sergeant! I read them, Sergeant!"
"Then what is Roger's First Standing Order?"
"I forgot, Sergeant!"
It was to our instructors utmost delight that we would forget Roger's First Standing Order was, "Don't forget nothing." They would roar, "Beat your face!" and we would elevate our feet and do 25 pushups, plus one for the Big Ranger in the Sky; and our Ranger Buddy, who was never more than an arm's length away, would have to beat his face too.
Only once can I remember receiving anything resembling praise. We were required to prove we could swim some distance wearing our combat boots and gear. I had finished swimming and climbed out of the pool to report to Sgt. Franklin, who was sitting at a desk recording the results. As I stood before him in my dripping fatigues, he interrupted me.
"Rainja! Did you know your dick is hanging out of your pants?"
I looked down and saw that my fly had come undone and my dick was indeed hanging out of my pants (damn those army-issue boxer shorts). Without skipping a beat I replied, "Yes, Sergeant!" as if I had intentionally presented myself in this way. He called Cpl Dobbs over and they both had a good laugh and agreed I was Ranger material.
Every morning during our first formation at zero-four-thirty hours they would ask, "Who wants to quit? Coffee and donuts for anyone who wants to quit!"
They would ask each of us individually with mock sympathy, "Don't you want to quit, Ranger? Wouldn't you like some hot coffee and donuts?"
If no one wanted to quit they would make us do pushups and leave us in the front leaning rest until our arms trembled and our backs sagged. "Don't you want to quit now, Ranger? Don't you want to go back to bed?"
As often as not, someone would quit. Then our instructors would whisk them away and we would never see them again. Ranger buddies would be re-assigned and when we returned to the barracks after physical training that man's gear would have disappeared and there would be one fewer of us to share our instructors' attention.
Busey, my Ranger Buddy, managed to attract more than his share of attention. It wasn't that he was a complete fuck-up, but he made his share of mistakes. I guess we all did. Busey just seemed to be more obvious about them.
He had a digital watch (still a novelty in those days) that he had programmed to beep every hour. The first time it beeped during one of Sgt Franklin's classes he was assigned the title of "Big Ben." From then on, whenever Sgt Franklin bellowed, "What tahm is it!" Busey would leap to attention and sound off at the top of his lungs, "Ding-Dong! Ding-Dong! The time is..." and then announce the military time. Rather than taking it as punishment, however, he relished his new responsibility.
He had one eye that tended to wander off on its own. Cpl Dobbs said he had coon hunting eyes. I think it was a little unnerving to our instructors. As they berated him for forgetting Roger's first standing order, he would stand with one eye fixed straight ahead and the other looking off into space, smiling and implacable, as if to say, "Gee whiz, you got me again. Touché!"
He was a pushup machine. No matter how many pushups they demanded of him he knocked them out with ease. He never complained, not even when there was no chance of being overheard by our instructors.
He had trouble with many of the topics of instruction, knot tying in particular. He would do his best to tie whatever knot we were practicing, beaming upon completion even though his knot was nothing but a monstrous tangle. Cpl Dobbs would look at his knot and say, "Ranger, if you'd keep both eyes on the knot maybe it would come out right. Beat your face!"
Busey took no offense at their insults. He would beat his face and recover and try again to tie the elusive knot, or memorize the Standing Order, or rectify whatever it was he had just screwed up. Through it all his tenacious, slow-witted enthusiasm never waned.
During the second week of RIP we went out on one of our first patrols. Winter in Fort Lewis is cold and wet, and it was just our luck that our route led us through a swamp. The icy water got deeper and deeper as we moved farther into the swamp. When we were chest-deep, a helicopter happened to fly overhead. Sgt Franklin bellowed through his tobacco, "Enemeh ayacrahft! Wha yo sposa DO?"
What one is supposed to do when faced with a slow-moving aircraft is to lie on one's back and shoot in front of it. Water filled my ears as I floated on my rucksack. When the aircraft had passed we struggled back to our feet and waded out of the swamp. We were all soaked and shivering. Our instructors took rare pity on us and decreed that we would go "admin" for a while and build a fire to dry out. Firewood was procured and a bonfire was soon raging. We were instructed to remove our soaked uniforms to dry them by the fire. We peeled off our soggy fatigues and huddled around the fire, stripped to our shorts.
It was a gray and dreary scene in the fading light of the afternoon. Dark clouds hung low overhead. The light of the fire seemed no match for the dark and dripping forest. But suddenly there was a burst of brilliant color, a flash of neon pink that shone like a grenade simulator tossed among us. All eyes turned to look at the source of this amazing brilliance. And what a source it was! There stood Busey, clad only in a pair of neon pink bikini underpants. Our waterlogged brains couldn't comprehend the sight. We struggled to make sense of it.
Busey took no notice of our incredulous stares. He seemed oblivious that anything was wrong. He stood with his back to us, wringing out his socks with no more concern than if he'd been on a sunny beach in the south of France.
Sgt Franklin recovered himself. I do believe he may have swallowed his tobacco because his accent seemed diminished. He stared at Busey with bulging eyes and veins. "Ranger!" he bellowed, "What the fuck are you wearing?"
Busey turned and said, smartly, "Underwear, Sergeant!" For the first time he saw us all staring at him as if he were from another planet. It must have dawned on him then that wearing pink bikini underpants on patrol might have been a blunder.
Sgt Franklin struggled to contain himself. He bellowed, "Ranger, why aren’t you wearing your Army issue underwear?"
Busey replied, uncertainly now, "I think these are more...comfortable. Sergeant."
Cpl Dobbs bounded over, looked Busey in the face, looked down at his glowing pink bikini underpants and said, "Do you know what those are, Ranger? Those are catch-me-fuck-me underwear!"
He and Sgt Franklin hooted at this. They made Busey put his combat boots and patrol cap back on, and his web gear, and pick up his rifle. Then they made him run circles around our position in his pink underwear yelling, "Catch me! Fuck me! Catch me! Fuck me!"
They laughed at him. We all did. It was impossible not to. All our discomfort and resentment seemed to evaporate. Busey carried out his assignment with his characteristic enthusiasm. He ran awkwardly, stumbling in the semi-darkness, yelling as though he really were daring someone to catch him. "Catch me! Fuck me!"
Poor Busey. In another week he would lie tangled in his parachute with a broken femur after jumping from a CH-47 "shit-hook" helicopter and landing in the trees, the victim of a student jumpmaster practicing on the battalion's most expendable resource. It took us twenty minutes to find him, and when we did he was wrapped up in his parachute, deliriously singing part of a Pink Floyd song over and over:
But it was only fantasy
The wall was too high, as you can see
No matter how he tried, he could not break free
And the worms ate into his brain
It was years before the relevance of those lyrics dawned on me.
Sgt Franklin wouldn't allow the medics to cut the parachute. As they struggled to untangle him, Sgt Franklin asked Busey what had happened.
Busey, in shock, replied, "I think I fell out of one of those things that goes round and round."
Sgt Franklin looked at him for a moment, then turned to the medics and said, "Cut the fucking parachute."
They cut the parachute and his pants (he was wearing his uncomfortable Army-issue boxer shorts), placed his leg into some sort of inflatable cast and medivaced him by chopper to Madigan Army Hospital.
When the novelty of watching Busey run around the fire in his pink underpants wore off, Cpl Dobbs asked, "Where's his Ranger buddy?"
My spirits plummeted. Of course I was his Ranger buddy. They made me put on my combat boots, patrol cap and web gear and chase Busey around the fire shouting, "I'm trying! I'm trying!"
We made quite a sight, Busey and I, stumbling around in the growing darkness in our unlaced combat boots clutching our M16’s, he in his bright pink bikini underpants and me in my Army green boxer shorts.
"Catch me! Fuck me!"
"I'm trying! I'm trying!"
Busey would never jump again after his tree landing. He was re-classified out of the infantry entirely. We went to visit him in the hospital, the four of us who made it through RIP. His leg was in traction and an IV bottle was connected to his arm. His spirits were low and he didn't say much. But then, he wasn't the talkative type even under the best of circumstances.
We smuggled a can of beer in for him. He took a few sips and then turned green and said he thought he was going to puke. We rang the nurse's bell and left in a hurry. That was the last I ever saw him. Some Ranger buddy I was.