In the murky mosquito infested swamp waters of Johnson Bayou, live many dangerous fearless alligators, deadly poisonous snakes, and other loathsome creatures; these waters are also the home of Fort Hope and the ferocious U. S. Army Ranger Covert Operations Division. Fort Hope is located 43 miles southwest of Hackberry, Louisiana. The military placed the base on the north side of Johnson Bayou. Constructed in 1942 in the middle of the Louisiana's humid swamps, Fort Hope is the smallest of three covert operations installation inside our border. They respond only to orders from the President and the Department of Defense in Washington D.C.
Jamal was delighted that he had finally received his belongings. It had taken over two months for his antique furniture and all of his other belongings to arrive from Fort Benning. After loading the heavy cardboard moving boxes into the bed of his restore antique pickup truck; Jamal quickly started the loud engine of his 1964 Ford step side pickup truck. The deep bellow of the high performance engine thundered through the dual tailpipes. The thin white metal speed odometer needle quickly shot pass fifty and abruptly stopped on eighty-five. He headed toward Company C's barracks with the back of his Ford truck packed with moving boxes and a small wooden roll top desk.
Jamal glanced at his black Army issued combat watch on his right wrist as he raced down the two-lane state road 27. The radio announcer's smooth voice came from the two 15 inch Pioneer competition woofers behind the seat of the truck. ‘It is 10:37 a.m., Monday, July 9, 2001.' His deep bass voice flowed out of speakers, ‘It is a steamy 98 degrees and rising this hot summer morning. The National Weather Service said this heat wave should last for at least three more days. By Sunday, we should get some rainfall, folks.' As he pulled the midnight blue Ford into the barracks parking lot, KRSX call letters were given out over the radio. The tires loudly screeched as Jamal quickly slowed the dusty truck down.
The four-story brown brick building of C Company was built around 1968 to replace World War II barracks that were destroyed by Hurricane Mary. However, because of the harsh swamp conditions and the humid temperatures, the old brick building quickly aged. Jamal planned to make this co-ed building home for the next few years or at least until he can save enough money to move off base. The unit sergeant assigned him a large room at the end of the hall on the second floor. Six hours ago, Jamal's belongings arrived on the large military base and now a dozen plain brown moving boxes littered the white vinyl tile floor of the room. He carefully hung a picture of his family on the white wall over his army issued gray metal twin bed. His black Dell laptop was plugged into the beige wall socket next to the small wooden antique roll-top desk. As Jamal finish unpacking his things, a breeze from the air conditioner slightly moved the sheer blue curtain by the only window in the room.
The summer on the concrete lined military base was extremely hot and humid. The temperature on an average summer day could quickly reach the three-digit mark. As tiny semi transparent waves of heat flickered from the hot brown brick windowsill, Jamal reached over some unopened cardboard boxes to open the apartment-sized white refrigerator to get a Coca-Cola. The refrigerator was empty except for one half-empty bottle of tropical punch Gatorade. ‘I should have stopped by the store before I came to the room,' he said aloud. Jamal was very hot and thirsty. He unpacked the last of his military field gear, stacked the empty cardboard boxes by the brown wooden door to his room, and headed for the drink machine in the open recreational area of the coed barracks. During this time of the day, soldiers filled the room to watch television, shoot pool, or just lay around. It cost one dollar for a sixteen-ounce drink. Jamal fished around in the faded pockets of his Levi's 501 button fly jeans for some change, as he hastily strolled over to the large red Coca-Cola drink machine. After dropping four shiny quarters in the waiting drink machine, he carefully made his selection and waited for the cold drink to appear.
A few seconds later, a cold clear plastic bottle tumbled into the opening. His hand reached in and retrieved his much-desired drink. Jamal held the cold wet bottle in his left hand and promptly twisted open the cap with the other. He slowly brought the perspiring bottle to his open mouth and gladly felt the cold beverage drench his parched throat. As he stood by the machine quenching his thirst, a very angry unit sergeant burst through the tan metal door of the barracks and immediately approached him. ‘Private Walker, the captain has been looking for you. He wants you in his office, like yesterday. What are you waiting for private? I said m. o. v. e., MOVE IT, MOVE IT,' the angry unit sergeant loudly screamed at a startled Jamal.
The captain's office was located in the Special Ops building. It was built on a small hill overlooking the personnel building. The distance was about two miles due west of the barracks. Quickly, Jamal opened the tan door of the barracks and ran across the hot base. He decided to take a short cut through the parade grounds where the soldiers played football. Running at top speed, Jamal reached the Special Operations building in about four minutes.