40. Formal Discipline

Formal Discipline

You will vomit the morsels you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words.

Proverbs 23:8

My convulsing stomach ripped me out of unconsciousness. Laying prone, head turned to my left toward the edge of the bed, chunks of food ejected out my writhing gut. Once satisfied with its expulsion, my body turned the lights out again.

I awoke again as more bile and partially digested brats clamored out. The stench of sour food clenched my stinging nostrils. My throat burned. I felt my moist comforter dampen my right cheek. Oh, this is bad, I thought before passing out again.

Thud, thud thud. I startled awake and rolled on to my back, looking at the door towards my feet.

“Wake the fuck up Decoup, you’re late!” Ulrich shouted. I fumbled off the bed to open the door. “Oh god, you smell like shit. What happened to you?”
“I uh must ‘ave drank too much,” I said squeamishly. Ulrich, catching a scent of my puke, looked past me towards my bed. 

“Oh my god,” he said, taking a few steps in. “You got yourself really fucked up last night.” I looked behind to see the crusty remnants of a waterfall of vomit tracing food down the side of my bed, some collected on the bed frame while the bulk accumulated in one sludgy mound at its base.

“That’s fuckin’ disgusting. No time to clean it up. Get your shit on, we’re all waitin’ on you.”

Once he left I scrambled to scoop the bulk of the masses off the floor and bed. I brushed my acidic teeth, splashed my face and threw on my cammies as fast as my uncoordinated body would manage. The clock read 5:15. We should have been loaded up on the way to draw ammo by five. 

I grabbed my gear, ran downstairs and hopped in the Bear. 

Manazir laughed. “Welcome to the party Decoup, glad you could make it!”

“Uhhhhgg… I don’t feel so good.”

“Haha, shoulda thought a’ that before gettin’ shitfaced the night before we gotta work at five thirty,” he responded in his usual loudmouthed belligerent tone.

Intermittent chuckles from the guys continued for our short drive to the armory. Once we drew ammo and our weapons, Patton, our squad leader, performed his usual quality check as we stood shoulder to shoulder

“You reek of alcohol. Are you drunk?” He said after less than a few seconds of observing my swaying body. I thought Patton was a wizard. I had no idea I stunk of alcohol let alone was still drunk.

“I had drinks last night at the party.”

“God damn you’re a fuckin’ idiot. I should throw you out and let you get written up for dereliction of duty, but I’m not gonna be a buddy fucker like you. Get in the Bear.”

“Roger.”

As we drove to the restricted side of base, my queasiness amplified and breathing intensified.

“Ohhhh…” I moaned.

“Oh shit, Decoup’s gonna blow chunks!” Ulrich shouted. Lorens and the others in the back of the vehicle laughed. 

“I need something, quick,” I pleaded. Ulrich looked around.

“Here, use this,” he said, handing me an ammo can moments before I hurled the remaining contents of my stomach into it. The frothy discharge splashed inside the container held by my shaking hands.

“Aw, shit!” Lorens yelled.

“In a fuckin’ ammo can!” Manazir touted. Manazir laughed hysterically. 

We parked for a moment by a small patch of trees where I dumped the can and puked again. Landing at our destination, we parked the Bear and entered a building. Once inside, we could take off our gear and sit down.

“Not you Decoup. Bradley too.” Patton said as I removed my helmet. “Botha you are wearing your gear standing up all day.” My already sickened body moaned at the thought of standing for roughly eight hours with my gear and rifle. I strapped my kevlar on and continued swaying along with Bradley who also had too much to drink, though he seemed better than I.

I stood dazed, barely able to remain upright. Bradley looked less miserable but not by much. The poison coursing through my veins mocked my sturdy frame, turning what once was an emblem of fitness into a heap of ruins. Though self-inflicted, I thought it interesting how a miniscule bacterium, virus, or excess of alcohol can undo even the strongest among us. We think we are strong, sturdy humans when in fact small, seemingly insignificant invaders can overrun us like a Trojan Horse.

After an hour or two, Patton noticed my pale face and quivering legs. “Take your gear off. Lay down,” he said. “You guys can’t even stand up straight.” As we removed our gear and set down our rifles, relieved to lay on the cold concrete, he continued. “Y’all are gonna be standing all day tomorrow and the next.”

So we did. What should have been three easy days of QRF duty turned into vomit, aching feet, sore shoulders and a drowned conscience. Thinking of Austin passed out in the park returned to my mind’s eye.1 Yep, getting drunk was just as sucky as it looked, I thought, wondering why I decided to experience what I already knew was a terrible idea. The compounding effect continued to weigh me down as I was unable to exercise for three days.

Though I absolutely deserved formal discipline, I instead was blessed with corporal punishment yet again.2 Painful moments recited as funny stories are much preferred over a paper trail of formal discipline.

  1. I recount this episode here.
  2. The other instance where I should have been formally punished is in two posts, 29. Oorah Corporal and 30. I was Wrong.

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