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Summer

Present

By Tee

 

Rated G, no warnings.

In response to the Summer Challenge and the Early Military Challenge

My thanks, as always got to Pam. Who fixes more than my typos.

 

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Here it was the longest day of the year, and was I spending the evening with a leggy blonde with blue eyes and a come-hither smile?  Was I sitting in a fancy restaurant with a view of the ocean, looking at the sunset? No – I was on a hot roof, overlooking a grungy alley with a beefy sergeant with red-rimmed eyes and a snarl on his face.

 

Hannibal was below us, disguised as a wino, rummaging through a garbage bin. BA had been up here too long. He was too tired and too cranky from too much heat and too little sleep. However, the last time I suggested that he go down to the van, I almost got tossed off the roof to the tune of “Go down to the van your own-self,” so I refrained from suggesting it again. Fortunately, linen releases wrinkles fairly well.

 

After what seemed like forever, I saw Hannibal wave a grimy handful of papers in our direction before shuffling back down the alley.

 

I looked over at BA, who was rubbing a hand across the back of his neck. “Time to go, BA.” I glanced back at the alley to make sure Hannibal was moving to the van unmolested.

 

BA glared at me, but saw that the Colonel was on the move, so he stood and headed for the rooftop door.  I saw the overhead light come on as Hannibal opened the door and took his seat. I lingered a minute, waiting until BA hit the street and headed for the van, then left my post to join them.

 

When I entered the van and slid the side door closed, BA pulled out without the usual squeal of tires, as Hannibal shuffled his stack of rank paperwork with a grin plastered on his face. I sat back in my seat.

 

There was something about the long twilight that occurs on the summer solstice that had me feeling nostalgic.

 

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Hannibal was using the shower to clean off the stench from the dumpster.  BA had crashed in one of the bedrooms, so I stood on the deck of the borrowed beach house and took up the guard duty.  It wasn’t like I had a lot to guard from.  Lynch was nowhere on the radar and we were too new to the investigation to have stirred up any hornets. We weren’t even going to spring Murdock until tomorrow sometime.  It was a matter of formality.

 

There is something about watching the moonrise over a dark sea.  Tiny colored lights danced on the water where drilling platforms were located, looking almost like little cruise ships.

 

Only a few of the houses along this stretch of beach still had lights on, making rectangles of light on the sand.

 

It seems funny that I can remember such a terrible day with such fondness.

 

June 21st - a lifetime ago - that was quite literally the longest day of my life.

 

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Dawn had come at 5:35am, however he’d already been up an hour before that -- he and 38 other Special Forces Newbies. They had entered the water at 5am. It was dark and cold, and they linked arms and held on to each other.  This was the first day, the first of many, and the first of a new beginning.

 

Staring up at the sky, he’d watched as it turned from black to gray to blue.  His eyes adjusted, as his teeth chattered, until it was time to go up on the beach with his comrades. For the life of him, he didn’t know how he had managed to answer any of the questions shouted at him that day, but he must have done okay because he didn’t end up doing any more extra push-ups than the next man. 

 

He dug his holes, and lifted a raft and carried it over his head. He rode the surf out past the breaker and spit out water just like everyone else when they were dumped into the sea on the second wave.  He cursed his wobbly legs as he ran five miles through ankle deep surf, and later sang a silent ‘Hallelujah’ when someone shoved a cup of coffee into his trembling hands. 

 

The day, the weather, what he ate and drank were mostly a blur. He was pretty sure that he was unkempt and smelled bad, and the only words that had passed his lips all day were “yes, drill sergeant” and “no, drill sergeant.”  The sun had set at 8pm, but it was twilight for a half-hour longer, and he and his team found themselves back in the surf, arms linked, floating and staring up at the stars. Moonrise wasn’t until 1:30, and by that time, they were back on the beach digging a monstrously big hole. An entire day and half the night in the sand and surf, and not a beach bunny or a beer in sight.

 

When he’d finally collapsed for twenty minutes of sleep, his mind was still racing.  That poem about “Today is the first day of your life” kept zinging through his mind like some crazy Burma Shave sign.

 

He had survived -- a survival that hadn’t counted on his looks or his silver tongue.

 

The best day and the worst day of his life.

 

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And another June 21st came to mind, one a few years later. 

 

The day had started early for each of them. Up at midnight, they had put the finishing touches on their escape plan.  Locked cells and lock picks. Darkness and over-worked, over-tired guards had got the plan rolling.  Then, at first light, the trucks began rolling in with supplies and materials for the day, and one of them left with three men inside. The simple plans were the best – smuggled out under a pile of dirty laundry.

 

It would be hours before they were missed.  Hours of running and hiding, changing clothes, and changing transportation.  Hours of burning rubber and making tracks. 

 

Sunset had come at a bus terminal.  But they weren’t taking a bus for points west. Instead, they were taking a car from the parking lot. BA was under the dash doing something with the wires. Hannibal was leaning on the front fender with a look of casual indifference, while he himself stood at the corner of the building, sweat inching down his back as the humidity level failed to drop with the setting sun. 

 

And the end of the day found them miles from where they started.  Miles from wherever they were going. Starting over. The first day of the rest of his life.

 

The worst day and the best day of his life.

 

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“All clear, Lieutenant?” The deep voice came from just inside the French doors.

 

I turned back to see him, swaddled in an over-large bathrobe that dragged on the ground. The owner of this house must be a really big guy. The Colonel had a towel over his head and was rubbing vigorously. I mumbled something about it looking good, but I know I was grinning - one of those stupid grins I accuse Murdock of - that I can’t get off my face short of shooting me.

 

“What’s up, Face?”

 

I turn back to the water. I know that it’s full of fish and dolphins and whales and such, but at night, it’s just a big black puddle. It’s hard to imagine it so full of life, but I know it is.

 

“It was a good day today,” blurts out past my lips before I think.

 

“After all the grumbling you did about stake-outs and trashcan searches?” He’s laughing at me. I can tell, but honestly, I don’t care.

 

“We broke the case.”

 

“Is that it?” The Colonel has a way of reading minds. I swear he does.  I hope it’s not just my mind. I’d hate to be so transparent.

 

I turn back to him.  I know I’m still smiling, but I think I’ve wiped the foolish grin off my face. “Ever just have a good day? Nothing you can put your finger on, but you’re glad you made it to this point?”

 

“Yeah, kiddo, I have.  And today wasn’t half bad.” 

 

I like how he doesn’t press me.  He snaps the towel in my direction, but it falls way short of the mark, and then he goes back inside.  I hear the TV snap on and the evening news music floats in the air.

 

A good day.

 

Not the best, not the worst.

 

Just a nice day.

 

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Today is the first Day of Your Life....  
Yesterday is gone, Tomorrow is yet a dream,
all we have is today and that my friends is a present.

            Author Unknown

 

 


Present by Tee

 

 


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