Tiny clear beads of sweat slowly rolled down the dark brown skin of his forehead as Jamal walked into the captain's office. A cold breeze from the air conditioning vents in the well-decorated office welcomed him as he closed the heavy metal door. It felt a lot cooler in the office than it did in the barracks. Sergeant Major Wilson was sitting in a leather office chair with his back to the door as Jamal slowly approached the wooden cherry wood desk. ‘Private Walker reporting as ordered.' he said laboring to catch his breath.
The sergeant major slowly revolved around in the noisy leather chair and stared over his black military issued glasses. Two quick seconds and a few giant steps later; the sergeant major stood three inches from Jamal's perspiring face. The sergeant major was a thin but muscular brown-skinned man. Jamal noticed a long black scar on the side of the sergeant major's face. It was displayed like a badge of honor. His muscular chest displayed a colorful billboard full of various military decorations. His Army issue camouflaged uniform was crisp and very well ironed. The fading reddish brown hairline and military issued black plastic glasses made him look like Malcolm X. Sergeant Major Wilson's deep dark brown eyes stared directly into Jamal's coal black eyes as he loudly replied, ‘Damn, it is about time you got your sorry worthless ass here, private. Do you think Captain Bates has all day to wait on a lazy good for nothing maggot like you, private?'
Every time the sergeant major opened his mouth to insult Jamal with his words, little wet missiles of his spit exploded on Jamal's already soaked face. His face became drenched in perspiration and a layer of the sergeant major's saliva. As his bombardment of insults and saliva continued for what seemed like eternity, Jamal noticed how time and the harsh conditions of thirty-five years of military service had hardened the sergeant major's disfigured face. At that moment, the frosted glass inner-office door slowly opened. A tall, young Chinese American officer forcefully emerged into the outer office. Captain James Arthur Bates or Captain Jab, as the soldiers called him, was in his late thirties and a proud graduate of West Point Military Academy. He was the current base boxing champion for the last three years. Methodically, he straightened his tie and shirt and sauntered toward the sergeant major. He gently placed his tanned hand on the sergeant major's shoulder. Jamal quickly snapped to attention.
‘I am pleased you could make it, Private Walker,' he said sarcastically as he gestured to him to take a seat in the chair. ‘I understand that you graduated in the top 5 percent in your class.'
‘Yes, sir,' Jamal quickly and proudly responded. ‘Sir, I am trained to be the best at what I do.'
The captain continued, ‘It is easier to shoot at a target than it is to kill a moving man. Do you have what it takes to be a ranger, private?'
Jamal graduated from the ranger training school ready for a fight. The running and exercise regiment molded his young body into top condition. He actually enjoyed the intense training that Fort Benning offered. He played middle linebacker on Westside high school football team; therefore, he quickly adjusted to the daily exercise and cross-country running. The Ranger drill instructors systematically transformed a rough eager recruit into a dangerous lethal weapon. Jamal developed into a proficient and skillful armed fighter. An U. S. Army ranger's skills are reserved exclusively for killing the enemy under the dark moonlight. Jamal stared deeply in the hazel eyes of the captain. ‘Yes, sir,' he quickly answered again ‘Sir, I will do what ever it takes to get my job done.'
‘We will see about that,' retorted the sergeant major. He reached and retrieved a crystal glass from his desk and took a loud sip. ‘Captain Jab, he is still green behind the ears. He is a virgin when it comes to killing people. I will bet a month's pay that he goes green as soon as he sees blood,' he implied.
Smiling, the captain laughed and replied, ‘Wilson, everyone goes green the first time they kill a man. Let us see what he can do.‘ The captain briefed Jamal about his mission. At 2200, he was to meet his unit sergeant and another soldier on the helicopter pad. He was assigned as the team scout and point man. He was assigned the task of taking out the enemy guards at the guard shack. After that, he was to backup the team as they break in the complex.
The sergeant major laughed and added, ‘do not get a yellow streak in you and bring back prisoners.'
‘Yellow streak, my ass,' Jamal thought to himself. Jamal abruptly jumped to his feet, saluted Captain Jab, and marched to the door. He could still hear the sergeant major's voice as he stepped out of the office. The voice loudly proclaimed, ‘He is just a boy, Captain Jab. He does not have the guts to do the job.' Jamal tried not to let what Sergeant Major Wilson said irritate him; nevertheless, those words would ring in his ears while he was on the mission.