Vector -2- Drunk?

There's drunk, there's passed-out drunk and then there's so drunk that even a cold shower won't keep you awake....

Vector -2-



by Lainie Lee

Master Sergeant Lawrence Polk chose that moment to wander in from his room at the other end of the barracks. A 22-year veteran of “this man’s Army” Polk did not feel it necessary to abide by the unspoken rule that no one turned on the lights in the latrine before reveille. He had no intention of blundering around in the dimness created by the tiny nightlight, banging his knees on the plumbing.

He flipped the heavy, old-fashioned switch near the steps and blinked in surprise to see four G.I.s in dress greens standing around something that looked like a pile of shit and garbage containing the mostly naked body of a girl wrapped in a thoroughly soiled Army blanket. The room, he noticed, smelled like barbecued pig shit.

“Is she dead?” he asked. He had no idea what was going on but the most important question seemed to be just how much trouble were these boys in.

The newly minted privates blinked at him, paralyzed by the sight of his grizzled curls and skinny shanks. Polk was a very dark-skinned African-American and only his looming darkness really saved him from looking ridiculous. He'd practiced looming for two decades and had gotten very good at it for a man who stood less than six-feet-tall and weighed no more than 170.

The soldier holding the blanket dropped it back across the girl who at that moment proved she wasn’t quite dead by muttering, “Poison,” again.

Polk took care of some urgent business at the urinal then sauntered over to look at the evidence. He’d never seen a girl dressed in G.I. boxers, a green t-shirt and black dress socks soaked in what appeared to be every possible disgusting bodily fluid imaginable — except blood. No blood. The girl groaned.

“Why haven’t you boys got this girl out of here yet?” he asked, testing his jaw for soreness. Earlier in the evening, he had celebrated the imminent beginning of his third tour in Southeast Asia in the customary pub crawl that ended with the traditional fist fight. Some Navy petty officer was going to wake up with a black eye and Polk felt magnanimously protective of his boys in green because he had already done such a good job of protecting them from squidly aspersions cast on their honor.

“We found her here,” said one boy.

“Like this,” said another.

“Just now,” agreed a third.

Making a command decision, Polk bent to pick the girl up, the blanket wrapped around her to keep himself from getting slimed. “Bring some towels and see if you can find her clothes,” he ordered. “I’m going to wash this shit off of her.” He headed toward the back of the latrine. “Scoop all that crap up and flush it down the toilets, then get a mop and mop up. And you," he pointed at Jack with his chin, "go to my room to get me some dry underwear and a pair of pants,” he added before stepping into the shower room.

The boys hurried to obey, relieved to have someone in charge.

* * *

Sergeant Polk had the girl washed off by the time the boys returned with towels. She seemed marginally awake after the cold water hit her though still monumentally drunk. Her hair hung in limp dark-brown ropes across her breasts and shoulders. She shivered a bit and peered owlishly around, looking bewildered or maybe just really, really drunk.

“Couldn’t find her clothes anywhere, Sarge,” Jack reported. “Nobody else is awake. I brought a sheet, though.” He didn’t mention that he had ripped it off the empty bunk of Gerald Jones, his cubbie-mate. Jack couldn't take his eyes off the naked girl, neither could the other boys.

“‘M cold,” she whimpered, trying to burrow into Polk’s side.

The sergeant had a teen-age daughter living with his ex-wife back in Texas and restrained himself with not much difficulty. She's built like a brick shit house with gables and flying buttresses, he noted to himself, with some amusement. Aloud he said, “We’ll get you taken care of, Miss,” drying her off with vigor.

“Ow!” she complained. “Who are you? Where am Ah? Why are y’all starin’ at me?”

Her voice had the drawl and cadence of the Deep South and might have reminded Jack, at least, of someone else but looking at her standing there in nothing at all was quite enough to take away most males’ ability to think, let alone remember.

Polk glanced up at the four young soldiers standing in an awestruck line. “Ten-hut!” he snapped. “‘Bout face. At ease.”

The boys obeyed, snapping to attention, turning about and relaxing into more casual posture.

“First one of you sneaks another peek is going to drop and give me twenty,” warned Polk. He had to admit looking at the naked girl might be worth twenty push-ups, though.

She had an outstanding figure; a large bust, wide hips, long legs, dark mahogany hair down to her round ass, and the smoothest, fairest complexion he’d ever seen on anyone old enough to go to school. Only her youth and his position of authority kept him from smacking his lips and grinning like a fool.

He folded the sheet into a pseudo-sari and wrapped it around her. “What’s your name, Miss?” he asked in a harsher voice than he had intended.

She stared at him, big blue eyes surrounded by dark lashes, cupid bow mouth half-open showing perfect, and perfectly white, teeth.

“Your name?” he repeated, pulling on the dry pair of pants one of the boys had brought.

She blinked. “Yo’ askin’ me?” She looked confused, tried to get a hand inside the sari he had wrapped and tucked around her and looked even more confused.

Polk shook his head then jumped to catch her as she pitched forward in a faint. She wasn't tiny, but she was no hefty load either. He lifted her easily, fitted her curves into a basket carry and made another command decision.

“Get out of the way,” he ordered, striding between the boys. “I’m going to put her in my bunk for a bit. But we’ve got to get her out of here.”

“Yes, Sergeant,” the boys agreed, perhaps looking a bit envious.

More quiet as he walked down the hall between ground floor cubbies, Polk whispered to the kids still in their dress uniforms following him. “Someone from another barrack must have left her here. They’ve probably still got her clothes.”

“Maybe she still wouldn’t…. You know, after they got her drunk?” one of the boys suggested.

"Did they shit on her just because she wouldn't put out?" asked another of the young men, sounding puzzled and outraged at the same time.

The idea that he might be covering up evidence of a crime by getting the girl out of the barracks almost stopped Polk. This could be more serious than he first thought. Not just someone’s bending of regulations but actual criminal behavior, something someone would likely go to prison for? “Christ,” he muttered, breaking one of his own rules never to use vulgar or profane language in the presence of a woman.

He considered things quickly. If he turned the girl over to the MPs, there would be hell to pay. The least bad thing that would happen would be he would miss his plane back to Viet Nam. So would the boys and maybe everyone in this barracks and the ones on either side.

Most of them wouldn’t mind not reaching a warzone quite as quickly as scheduled but Sgt. Larry Polk wanted to get back in-country where he had a wife and kid waiting for him in Saigon. One the ex-wife and daughter in Texas did not know about.

Much worse things could happen, though. He and the four boys could end up in the stockade, charged with who knows what if no one else could be found to blame for the situation. Bad Conduct Discharges for them, Reduction in Grade for him or even worse; even if the brass believed their stories they might be hung out to dry.

Especially if the girl’s parents had any pull, locally, militarily or politically. He didn’t want that to happen, he had to figure out how to get the girl out of there.

His bunk was one of only three in the barracks that had doors, usually all of them occupied by senior non-coms in transit. The bunkie across from his held two staff sergeants, and the one upstairs had two Specialist 5s but he wasn't sharing his. One of the boys dashed ahead of him to open it. Polk went inside and gently put the girl on the second bed and pulled the blanket off his own to cover her.

She muttered, “Daddy?” without quite waking up.

“Go to sleep, punkin,” he said.

He glared at the boys gathered around his door. “Go on to bed, reveille is mighty early and you’ve got appointments with the Medical Corps.”


“Shots,” he said, sitting down to put on his socks and shoes.

“We already had shots,” one of the kids protested.

“And you’re going to have more.” He smiled at them. “The one for dengue fever is the only one that really hurts, what are you worried about?”

“Dangy fever?” said the one who squeaked sometimes.

“Get out,” he repeated. “And don’t say anything to anyone about this. I’ll get her off base. Tell Sergeant Carter I stayed in town all night and he’ll cover for me till I get back.” He nodded toward the door across the hall. “Now get out.”

They each took one more glance at the girl-lump under his blanket and left, yawning.

Polk stifled one of his own and reached for his dress shirt. He might have to hijack a jeep but he’d smuggled girls into and out of secure compounds from Santiago, Chile to Wiesbaden, Germany for more than twenty years.

If she woke up enough to tell him where she lived, he’d take her home. If not, he’d stash her in a motel room somewhere.

He tied his tie with practiced ease, glancing again at the girl. Sure a pretty thing, her dark hair spread across the striped tick of the mattress. But he wondered if she had good sense, getting into such a situation. If she were his daughter, he’d be tempted to paddle her if she weren’t obviously too old for that to do much good.

Probably some spoiled rich kid, but if things went well, she’d have no way of coming back at him or even the Army. He slipped into his short Eisenhower jacket, set his garrison cap at an angle and left the room, locking it this time, using his spare combination padlock.

It wouldn’t take him long to promote a vehicle and the road into the city was lined with cheap motels that wouldn’t ask too many questions at the desk. He might even make it back in time for reveille.

* * *

She woke up.

Cloudy daylight leaked in around the heavy curtains but even that minimal brightness felt like splinters in her retinas. “Where am Ah?” she asked no one and winced at the sound of her own voice.

Her stomach felt empty, unhappy and vengeful. She tried to ease her way out of bed but she seemed to be wrapped crossways in the sheets and ended up falling out of the bed with a stifled shriek.

She took a minute or so sitting on the cheap carpet to recover her will to care whether she lived or died.

“That hurt,” she complained.

The light no longer felt like torture and she looked around the room. Two beds with a night table between them, a cheap television on a shelf, a chest of drawers and a vanity made of some wood substitute, two chairs, three doors and two windows. “Motel,” she said out loud. “How’d Ah get here?”

Thinking seemed like too much trouble at the moment and she had a more urgent problem. She crawled out of the tangle of sheets, headed for the door that looked like it might lead to a bathroom. There were too many things wrong to think about any one of them except the urgent need to empty her bladder.

Reaching the doorway, she tried to pull herself up but her balance seemed off and she stumbled into the tiled room, almost taking a header into the shower stall. Even in her dazed and confused state, facts began to penetrate.

Holding onto the towel bar she managed to stand up. “Am Ah dreamin’?” she asked herself. She lifted her hand and found one of her breasts and squeezed it lightly. “Oh,” she said. “Ah am havin’ one of those dreams again.” She looked down at herself and tried not to laugh. “They always look so big from this angle.”

She squeezed her thighs together. “Ah gotta pee.” She blinked, a little disconcerted by the feel of thigh against thigh with nothing in between. “Ah’m dreamin’ I need to pee but it feels so real.”

Still, first things first. She sat on the toilet, not because she knew she needed to but because she felt too unsteady to do her business standing up. Liquid came out in a hurry. It felt odd but she sighed with relief. She didn't notice the lingering feel of dampness down there.

Somehow, she made it back to the bed and gratefully crawled between the cheap motel sheets. "Ah'm so drunk, Ah'm talkin' like a country boy,” she muttered, hearing the accent she had lost somewhere around the fourth grade. "And Ah'm havin' a heck of a dream." She giggled, snuggled into the pillow and wrapped one hand around the pointy part of a breast before falling back to sleep.

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