Smith glanced nervously at the couple, seeing the much larger man for the first time since he heard the crying. She was cowering behind him, barely visible behind Johnson’s bulk.
“What are you doing here Smith? I thought you were confined to barracks for the night,” Johnson called out as he realized who it was.
Smith didn’t relax one bit, even though he’d known Johnson for the better part of six months. Johnson ate cadets like Smith for breakfast.
“Sarge let me go. Everything okay here?”
Smith didn’t miss that the girl was edging towards the alley, away from the two marines. He could just make out her black eye in the light from the bar. The wind shifted then and he could smell the bourbon rolling off Johnson in nauseating waves. It caught Smith off guard, and he took a step back to keep from puking everywhere.
Just then the girl decided to run for it. She took off down the alley with Johnson right on her heels. He caught her easily and slammed her to the ground.
“Let me go, you disgusting asshole!” She screamed as all 275 pounds of the marine came crashing down on top of her.
She managed to wriggle her way free before the drunk marine could figure out what was going on. Smith reached them just as the girl took off again, holding the much larger Johnson by the shoulders. He shook Smith off easily and took after her again.
That was when the MP’s showed up.
“What’s going on here, Smith? I thought you were confined to barracks,” Marino said before he realized Johnson was dragging the girl to his car.
“I think Johnson hit that girl. She’s got a black eye and keeps trying to get away from him. I tried to help, but Johnson threw me off. Oh and Sarge let me go, he said he cleared it with your CO. Can you please stop Johnson before he gets that girl into the car? I’m afraid he’s going to do something he’ll regret when he sobers up,” Smith said as he eyed Johnson getting closer and closer to his car.
The girl wasn’t even putting up a fight anymore.
“Left, left, left, right left! Keep those feet movin’ Smith or you’re doing KP for the next month!” Johnson yelled as caught up with his unit.
He’d just come from a disciplinary meeting with Sarge and wasn’t too happy, so he figured it was time to take out some of his frustrations. The girl wasn’t even that pretty, but the pickings were slim at the local bar, so he figured any female that was there was looking for some fun. He’d been wrong, and she’d caused him more than enough trouble. He shoved her into the back of his brain as Smith came into view. He grabbed the recruit by the collar and shoved him to the ground just as Sarge came out of his office.
“Drop and give me 20 Smith!”
“Sir, yes sir,” Smith yelled as he got the wind knocked out of him.
“That won’t be necessary Smith, go ahead and rejoin the other recruits,” Sarge said as he came near the pair.
“Sarge, he wasn’t performing as well as the other recruits, he deserves to be punished!” Smith yelled as he realized they had an audience.
“I’ll decide who needs to be punished and who doesn’t Johnson, that’s why they pay me more than you.”
Smith ran to catch up with the other recruits as Sarge came closer.
“Wooooooooooo! Finally, we’re done. Have they told you where your going yet?” Smith asked Gonzalez as they walked to the local bar.
“Nah, not yet. I told them I’d like to go to Afghanistan, but we’ll see what they say. How about you?”
“Nothing yet, though I’d be down to go anywhere, so long as Johnson isn’t coming too,” Smith said as he noticed the girl from that night three weeks ago.
“I know what ya mean. What happened between you two?” Gonzalez pressed, though smith had told him a half-dozen times he wasn’t allowed to talk about it.
That’s when she walked up.
“Howdy soldier. Can we talk?” Mikayla said as she signaled the bartender for another drink.
“Sure. How can I help you? Smith asked. It didn’t escape his attention just how beautiful she was, even with the faint traces of a black eye.
“I was hoping we could speak privately actually, no offense to your friend here. I promise to bring him back,” she said as Gonzalez gave her a once over for the third time since she’d approached them.
“Oh I don’t mind, Smith here is cramping my style anyways,” Gonzalez said as he eyed another girl at the entrance to the bar and walked towards her.
“I just wanted to say thank you for the other night. I hope you didn’t get in too much trouble,” Mikayla said.
“Oh no, not really. Johnson was a little harsh during PT for a few days after, but he got over it. He just gets a little crazy when he’s been drinking is all,” Smith answered as the bartender brought them both another beer.
“I don’t know that we should be doing this,” Smith said as Mikayla unzipped his trousers, “I still have to put up with Johnson for another week.”
“I won’t tell him if you won’t, and it’s not like your friend knew who I was,” Mikayla answered as she finally got the button free, “Plus its more fun this way, don’t you think?”
“Ohhh, what was I saying?”
They didn’t get much sleep that night, or any other night that week in fact.
“When will you be back? Mikayla asked Smith while they were on their way to the airport.
“I’m going home to see my mom for three days, then I’ll be back in San Diego for another six before I ship off to Afghanistan,” He said as he pulled her closer to him.
“I love you,” She said as he put the car in park. She was crying again.
“I love you too baby, and I’ll be back before you know it,” He said as he climbed out of the car. She got out and ran around the car to hold him one more time.
They kissed once more before Smith walked through the doors of the airport.