Excerpt from the military romance THE ROCK
He gave me some dap on the flightline just before he boarded the plane. He was grinning so hard I thought his face was going to crack. He handed me the Safety handheld radio and the keys to the Chevy S-10 and said, “We got so busy I forgot to fuel up, so you might want to get some gas before you do anything else. You’re running on fumes.”
The gas needle was below E. Way below E. I left the PAX terminal trying to remember where the hell the base gas station was. Kirby had pointed it out in passing on my first day when he was giving me the base tour, but I’d been so busy cramming my head full of information about the job since then that that seemed like months ago. I had no idea where the pumps were.
I decided that the best thing to do was to go to the Headquarters building and park the truck, and after I got situated at work, find somebody who could tell me where the gas station was. That way I wouldn’t waste fuel trying to find it. That seemed like a good plan.
The PAX terminal was about a mile and a half from the Headquarters building and my office. About halfway there the truck’s engine sputtered, lurched and shut down.
Kirby was somewhere in the air on his way back to the world, and I was sitting in a truck in the dark on a little island in the middle of fucking nowhere, not knowing a soul, and all because he’d been so hyped to get away that he couldn’t take the time to get some gas.
Using what momentum the truck had left I coasted as close to the side of the road as I could get and stopped. I sat behind the wheel of my dead truck, thinking about my options.
I’d noticed during the base tour Kirby gave me that the only paved roads on the island were in the immediate area of the Base Headquarters compound. All the other roads were dirt. I was on a dirt road right now. It had rained last night, and the road was muddy. If I walked to work, by the time I got there I was going to need to polish my boots again, and maybe go back to my room and change uniforms. And it was cold out, and the wind was roaring. It was blowing so hard that I could feel the trucking rocking.
Other than walking to work, my other option was to use the walkie-talkie to radio the Security Police or the Transportation Squadron, who were responsible for all government vehicles, and have them bring me a can of gas.
I was trying to decide who to contact when I saw headlights in my rearview mirror. I guess I was thinking like a civilian back in the world, so I didn’t expect whoever it was to stop to see if I needed help. But they did.
A government panel van pulled up and stopped beside me. I rolled my window down as the driver slid the passenger side door of the van open. It was Master Sergeant Davis from Aerial Port Squadron.
Over the roar of the wind she yelled, “It’s kind of dark out here to be sightseeing. What’s up?”
Even though it wasn’t my fault, I felt embarrassed as I yelled back, “Out of gas.”
MSgt Davis frowned at me. “That asshole left you with no gas?”
She said, “Come on, man,” and moved back to the driver’s seat.
“Thanks, Sergeant Davis,” I said as she drove us up the road. “I appreciate this.”
Keeping her eyes on the road she said, “Okay, a couple of things: One, this is no big deal. We’re all family here, so we help each other out. Two, I outrank you, but it’s not that serious on Shemya. We both run our sections; I’m the Chief of Aerial Port; you’re the Chief of Safety. So you can stuff that ‘Sergeant Davis’ shit and call me Collie.”
“Yeah. If you call me Colinda I’m going to have to hurt you.”
“So what’s your name again, man?”
“You can call me Technical Sergeant Black.”
Now she took her eyes off the road and gave me the side eye. I looked back at her and tried to keep my expression serious.
After a moment her full lips parted like flower petals for the sun and she broke into a broad smile. She looked younger when she smiled. Being a Master Sergeant, I figured her to be in her thirties, but when she smiled, I could see the kid she used to be.
She said, “Oh, you’re funny, huh? So it’s gonna be like that dealing with you? Yeah, okay, I got you now…asshole.”
So Master Sergeant Colinda Davis, aka Collie, became my first friend on Shemya Air Force Base, aka The Rock.
A couple of months after that morning we would become friends with benefits.