This is the rough intro/middle piece to some sort fiction I've been kicking around forever. In my mind, Jake Dillard is a guy hamstrung by his commitment to duty and family. He is the scion of a well to do family, his Dad wearing three stars. Kevin is a party boy who some hows finds himself always tasked with rising to the occasion when he would much rather drink a beer and watch football. The ending passage takes a slightly different meaning today with the announcement of the death of SFC C.A. Celiz. Chris was a good guy. A good NCO. Good engineer. He will be greatly missed. RLTW. I'm of mixed opinion of the current POTUS. But if he can find a way to end that god damn war in that god damn place he'll be as highly regarded as Washington and Coolidge, at least to me anyway.
To borrow from OldNFO
the below is posted after just a little editing and what not. Feel free to point out any errors.
Things were bad for Jake. Real bad. His nose was bleeding, and every so often the gash on his head would open up and stream blood into his eye.
As near as he could tell, no one was left by the burned out hulk of the Nighthawk. He could still hear the heavy chatter of the Dishka off to his left.
Got to take that thing out, it's killing us
. Jake thought to himself as he tried to pull himself up.
He patted down his plate carrier. Things were looking up; even though his back hurt, and he was bleeding, he still had his M-468, and his M-45 was tucked into the waist band of North Face hiking pants, the DeSantis holster worth every cent of the sixty dollars he had spent on it at Cabelas.
Jake allowed himself a brief thought of Nicole, she was working from home in their small Fayetteville apartment. She was wearing a pair of his wool boot socks, a pair of gray briefs with a pink waist band and his West Point bathrobe. He kissed on the way out the door and said he'd be home in time for breakfast.
Jake did a brass check on his carbine, the mean, pointed 6.8 SPC rounds looking hungry in the chamber. Wiping his nose one last time he crawled towards the Dishka position, a semblance of a plan forming in his mind.
Nicole was happily pecking away on her MacBook, writing critiques for her senior seminar students at Duke. Jake had emailed his DEROS Date and it was going to coincide nicely with the end of the spring semester. Wearing an a starched out white oxford of Jake's, along with a faded pair of his old Wranglers always made her feel a tinge better when he was gone. The phone rang. The dog barked at a black Chevy Impala that pulled in the drive way with Government tags.
Eight years earlier
Jake was nursing a Rolling Rock at the bar of the small club on the outskirts of the college town. An old buddy from his brief stint in the North Carolina National Guard had talked him into coming down for the Duke/West Point basketball game over Christmas. It had seemed like a good idea at the time. He was on leave. He liked beer. His friend said there would be girls aplenty.
All of the above was true, but most of the coeds he had met so far didn't seem to give the West Pointer a second glance after taking note of his high and tight hair cut. His friend, who despite being an ROTC cadet, was wearing his hair long in what he called a "frat shag."
Jake was considering calling a cab and packing it in when another group of twenty-something sorority girls walked in. Jake decided to order another beer and conduct a visual recon. His friend was on the dance floor attempting to grind on a recently found coed to the strains of "Copperhead Road" by the cover band.
There was a brunette, a shade over five feet bringing up the rear of the group. While the rest ordered Bud Light and Vodka Shooters, she wrinkled her nose in disgust when told they had no red wine. Obviously, miffed she settled for a martini. While her friends moved off to the bathroom, booths, and towards boys, she dejectedly pulled out her cell phone and began to play on it.
Jake mentally flipped a quarter in his head, drained his beer, sub-consciously rubbed his loafers on the back pantsleg of his jeans and slid down next to the brunette.
"Hi, I'm Jake." He said in a rapid burst of speech.
"Nicole." The brunette said, almost shyly a bit taken aback by Jake's bluntness. Oh my gosh, that's the most beautiful name I've ever heard Jake thought to himself.
"What fraternity?" She asked as a follow up. Jake chuckled a bit before responding.
"How about USA?"
"I go to West Point, I visited a friend for the game tonight."
"Oh, gotcha. So major?"
"History and international relations."
"Isn't West Point an engineering school?"
"It is. But the day of the professional Army officer being a civil engineer went away when Bobby Lee resigned to fight the yankees. You?"
"Oh." Jake was at a loss. He was out of small talk. He glanced at Nicole's drink and a plan started to formulate.
"Buy you a drink after a dance?"
Whether by coincidence or design, the cover started to blue an old Willie Nelson song as Jake led Nicole on to the dance floor. Even Kevin, his old Guard buddy, was slow dancing with the same sorority girl. Jake expertly placed his hand on the small of Nicole's back, low enough to be intimate, but not too low as to be vulgar.
"So did the Army teach you to dance?" Nicole asked, pleasantly surprised by Jake's gracefulness.
"Actually, Mrs Lewis did at Cotillion every Tuesday afternoon from four to six during fifth grade."
"Oh, so you did cotillion, huh?"
"Yep. Cotillion, golf, polo, Boy Scouts, and the rifle team." Jake replied, generally he was uneasy discussing his hobbies, for they marked him as somewhat wealthy, which his family indeed was, but something about Nicole made him want to talk.
"Oh, good. Then you want be off put when I tell you I just had my deb ball."
Jake stifled a laugh.
"No, not at all, would you believe my sister's deb ball was the first time I wore my mess dress?"
"What's mess dress?" Nicole asked. Before Jake could reply, the song ended.
"Well, tell you what, let's find a booth and I'll tell you."
"You owe me a drink first, soldier boy."
"A Scout is trustworthy."
Jake's ears were ringing terribly. His nose had stopped bleeding, but he couldn't decide if it was because his body was furiously trying to heal itself or if because all his blood was running out his ears. He couldn't help but laugh.
He'd pitched an M-65 frag perfectly into the position where the Dishka was firing from. Which had resulted in a large secondary explosion. Which had rocked him off his feet. And caused his ears to begin to bleed.
Despite the ringing in his ears, without the constast heavy clashing chatter of the old Russian machine gun, Jake allowed himself a moment to think.
Okay, got the gun taken out. That was the biggest threat. Now gotta find the rest of the Team. Make sure the boys are okay. And maybe, just maybe, I can pull this off...
Jake felt to make sure he still had his M-45, checked to make sure his M-468 still had a round in the chamber and silently began to crawl back down the hill.
Six years earlier
Jake was nervous, to the point of being nauseous. He could barely eat, and was trying to pacify his Mother buy pushing food around on his plate. If he could get a spare second without every one badgering him about how he was filling, he fully intend to give everything on his plate to the damn dog.
Finally, his Mother left the dining room table, which in the stately Northern Virginia mansion that Jake called home, was a sign that the formal portion of the meal was over. Nicole flashed Jake an inquisitive look.
With a semblance of a plan already formed, in a flash, Jake stood from his chair, dug a small box out of the pocket of his blazer and hurriedly walked around the escort carrier sized dining room table to Nicole.
Dropping to a knee in a manner more like assuming the kneeling rifle position, Jake popped open the small box. A substantial portion of his trust fun, a passed up Browning marked semi-auto FAL, and new tires for his Jeep were represented by the rather larger diamond on the simple silver band inside.
Things could have been better for Kevin. He was pretty sure his company commander was dead. He was also pretty sure that the Blackhawk he had just seen get shot down was the Delta Force team that was attempting to bag the local Taliban chieftain. So, taking a breath, he thought about what to do. The mean, sadistic, half literate psychological cretin with the walking stick and tan beret from six years early made himself known in Kevin's subconscious.
Yelling something about gallantly showing the world about being a well trained soldier.
Kevin looked around. His platoon was still pretty much intact, and the attached M-240 from the weapons platoon was with him. He'd eaten a pretty good dinner that night before going out on the op. It was cold, but not unpleasantly so, the OD wool sweater he'd stolen form the Marine supply corporal was quite toasty under his body armor. Yeah, things were a lot worse than this at Benning, Merrill, and Egland. No sweat. Some other voice from the past, a stately fellow, Robert Mitchum, no that was the actor that played him, oh well, some West Pointer general guy, was preaching about who he wanted to move out first. Thinking about West Pointers made him miss his friend Jake, and his entirely too pretty for him lady Nicole. Rich bastard had all the luck. Suppressing the momentary bout of loneliness that came with a thought, Kevin pulled himself into a low crouch. He wasn't wearing a beret. He wasn't wearing his 1st Bn Scroll. He wasn't wearing the black and gold tab. Hell, he wasn't even wearing an appropriate uniform shirt to attach any of that crap to. But, he energetically checked the chamber on his ACOG equipped M-16A3 and motioned to his platoon sergeant to rally the men around him.
"Alright men, change in plans. Let's move up that hill and see what we can do. RANGERS! Lead the way."