This is part 2 and picks up as I arrive at the Aviation Officer's Candidate School (AOCS -- setting for the bestselling book and movie "Officer and a Gentlemen"). This story follows me on my first day of training as I "sweat" my way through the first 12 hours in the barracks. Can I keep going? Should I quit? What will happen next? Can this get worse?
As my foot touches the green carpet both doors fly open. I hold my breath and wait. Several sailors stream out of the building and head straight for me. I’m under attack. They’re dressed in matching khaki uniforms with black shiny shoes and a square gold belt buckle at their waist that glistens in the sun. My bag falls lifeless to the ground next to my feet as they step closer to the edge of the top step. They’re standing just a few feet from me.
The instruction the recruiter told me is just on the tip of my tongue when the sailor directly in front of me barks out, “STAND FAST AND STATE YOUR BUSINESS.” I almost jump out of my skin when he speaks. I stand there speechless. His voice is loud and deep and my mind goes completely blank. He’s standing with the other instructors at his side and I’m looking straight up at him. I’ve never seen someone this tall. I don’t move a muscle. I try to open my mouth but I make no sound. He speaks again, “CANDIDATE, STAND FAST AND STATE YOUR BUSINESS!” My mind unfreezes and the thoughts start running at top speed. What? Where? Who? What should I do?
The instruction. Oh, yeah. I start, “Candidate James….”
He interrupts me. “WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.” He’s screaming so loud it makes it hard to concentrate on what he’s saying. “CANDIDATE, YOU WILL RESPOND ONLY WITH YOUR LAST NAME. DO IT AGAIN!” I can feel my heat beating out of control in my chest.
My mind is way ahead of my body. I know I should respond but I can’t get the words out. I hesitate and try to collect my thoughts. I take a deep breath and start again, “Candidate Jam…” and then I catch myself. Too late. I see his expression change as soon as I say the first syllable of my name.
He continues to attack, “CANDIDATE, YOU WILL RESPOND WITH ONLY YOUR LAST NAME. I SAY AGAIN, STAND FAST AND STATE YOUR BUSINESS.”
Now more sure of myself I try again, “Candidate Haffner reporting.”
“WRONG. CANDIDATE, YOU WILL RESPOND WITH AVIATION OFFICER CANDIDATE, STATE YOUR LAST NAME, OF CLASS 2087. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”
“Yes.” My mind is at terminal velocity. I desperately try to follow what he’s saying but the tone of his voice and the speed that he is talking scares the hell out of me. This is some serious s—t.
“SPEAK UP CANDIDATE. I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”
“WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. YOU WILL RESPOND WITH AYE, AYE, SIR. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”
“Aye, aye Sir.”
“CANDIDATE, WHAT IS YOUR NAME?”
To purchase part 1, Swan Song, and learn more about the author please visit smashwords.