Semper Fi - Jane Harvey-Berrick

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To men and women who served their country, and the families who support them.

JANUARY 2012

I was dreaming about her again.

That was nothing new. I dreamed about her most nights. I tried to wash away the memory in whiskey. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes I woke up in bed with a woman I didn’t remember meeting, let alone fucking.

Give me a combat situation and I was a good little Devil Dog, but in the underbelly of a soft city, I was a misfit. And I couldn’t give a shit.

But when real life decides to smack you between the eyes, you don’t have any fucking choice.

You learn a lot in the military. Well, I thought, being an adult, it would be a good career move to have somebody inspect me every day to make sure I put my pants on the right way and had my shoes on the correct feet.

I did get to be a real Marine while I was out in Iraq. I was still with my Unit then, still with my buddies. I spent most of the last two Afghan tours in mud-built villages trying to persuade the tribal elders to side with the allies; maybe it helped make a difference. Now I’m stuck in the armpit of Europe on a chickenshit assignment, supposedly doing MSG guard duty at the Consular Agency in Geneva, all because my last CO in Paris was a dickless dumb-ass.

So I fucked his wife.

Funny enough that’s a big no-no in the military—the kind of thing that can get you a court martial followed by a dishonorable discharge. Like I give a shit.

I know how that sounds, because being a Marine is about having to trust your life with the guy who’s got your back—so fucking his wife kind of puts a downer on things. And usually I don’t go near married women—not anymore. But they both deserved it. Long story short: the no-ball pen-pusher didn’t want anyone to know his wife was screwed by a noncom, so he had me reassigned. Mostly I did PR which I hated. I was shit at it, too. Too much time having to smile. But I did work with some journos flying out to Afghanistsan, getting them prepped for a war zone.

There are worse places than Geneva. There are worse countries. I’ve seen a few of them. But there comes a point when you’re so fucking bored that you bore yourself thinking about how bored you are. I’d reached that point five months ago.

I’d even thought about getting the hell out of the Marine Corps and doing something else with my life¸ although I had no clue what. But I’d re-upped, so I had another two years to go. The only glimmer of light was that in Spring 2012 they needed more US-born interpreters in Afghanistan. And for this billet, I’d get a huge bonus. But it was more about getting the fuck out of Cuckoo Clock-land.

I’d put my name out there again, so who knows.

This was my tenth year in the Marines. It had been an interesting life up until Paris two years ago. I’d found that I was good at languages—which was a big fucking shock to actually be good at anything when my parents had only ever told me that I was a fuck up since birth—and I’d been promoted through the ranks. I’d been proud of being a Sergeant and had even thought about trying to get my degree so I could progress further and become an officer. And then Paris had happened. For