Late Night Army Madness

Reflections on Enlisted Life on the Presidio

Photo by Kevin Wolf on Unsplash

Something happens when the full moon approaches and the fog from the Monterey Bay comes rolling in off the water, past the herds of deer and seagulls dropping scat on freshly polished cars, mocking the pride and joy of eager young Privates and Marine Corporals … the late-night madness comes floating in with that fog, oozing down from the full moon like some unhinging sound-effect, making the tears in our soul-fabric rip a little further, the chasms bore a little deeper into our psyche.

Something happens on the Presidio of Monterey where bouts with alcoholism, drug abuse, broken families, meth use, pot use, sex too loose which make Privates run around screaming “Suicide!” and other such scandals, drama, and incoherencies.

“I just want you to have a good night,” says the Private, “really, I won’t kill myself on your watch — I promise.”

The oozing down of oddities via moonbeams makes for long Charge of Quarter shifts on this northern California installation involving bemused, befuddled Sergeants who don’t quite know how to handle the unhinged soul. Out of their element with this psycho-psychotic babble.

“What to do?” They ask themselves. “Maybe we should just say it’s all okay?”

And then hope for the light of day to come, and the rays of the sun to close that chasm widened a little bit more by the moonbeams.

“Hey you, Specialist!” They say. You stay here and watch this torn soul, soothe her, watch her like some unwilling guardian angel who can only pray and send out signals from the sun that’s coming soon to phase out the moon once again for a spell. Maybe some of her anxieties will fade for now, until we can chapter her out and say we did what we could under the circumstances.

You haven’t slept for 24 hours? That’s what we call duty, taking care of our own; even those we deem unfit to be part of our club, our force, our Army of One. We are one psyche, one mind, one dream that seems to be so multi-faceted and diverse as to encompass the entire spectrum of human emotion and fragility.

This Army that I love and love to hate has forced me to sit curbside and witness the real tortures of human existence. These days the unbearable heaviness of being burdened by past mistakes and with no hope for the future — yet being surrounded by reluctant comrades in arms who will sit up all night to guard your sad body and limp spirit on a couch till dawn breaks.

I am interested in paradoxes, contradictions, people, culture, and being human. I write and translate DE-EN | MFA student Non-Fiction. www.bettinahindes.com

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