It’s ninety five degrees, but the humidity makes it feel like one hundred and ten. The sweat doesn’t evaporate—just runs down my back in steaming rivulets, etching salt stains under my dress greens. We’ve been out here for ages. Motionless. The hot Kentucky sun bearing down on us like a vengeful god. C.O. was saying something about pride, or duty, or honor, but I am too focused on blinking the stinging sweat out of my eyes to pay attention. He’s come down to inspect us now, him and the Major. I remind myself not to lock my knees, but they’re feeling weak. I am standing by force of willpower alone.

We’re at attention, shoulder arms, and my rifle feels like it weighs fifty pounds. No bayonets this year— the previous training cycle some limp dick private passed out from heat exhaustion and his bayonet slashed the poor bastard behind him from neck to balls. Drill says the Army is going pussy. I think he’s just pissed he can’t take us out behind the barracks and beat the living shit out of us anymore.

C.O. is in front of Private Rossetti now, screaming in his face. Putting on a show for the Major. Something about Rossetti’s brass looking like a two-dollar whore’s cunt. Fucking Rossetti. If the Army taught me anything, it’s how to polish my brass. It’s a fucking tactical weapon. Watch out towelheads: I’ll blind you with my goddam label pin. They say it’s about teaching us attention to detail, but I think the C.O. just has sand so far up his vag he has to spit it out every morning.

Now he’s in front of me. Stop slouching, he spits. Something, something, goddam fucking something. Not on goddam vacation, Private. I’m not listening, but I puff my chest out some more, shove the ramrod further up my ass, and shout back, right on cue: Sir, yes sir! Satisfied, he moves on. You get used to it. Nothing personal. Just breaking you down to build you up.

I think they’re just bored.

Yelling at a bunch of zit-faced teenagers has got to get real fucking old after a while.

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