I run my hand over the surface of my now shaved head, feeling the stubbles that was once my hair. The gruff looking barber with a pointy nose and eyes like a hawk stares me down before handing me a mirror. I look into it, seeing the reflected image of a young man, his face void of any emotion. I feel a hand on my back and I look up to see the barber giving me a half-smile.
"Halfway there kid. Your uniforms in your barracks." I thank the barber in my usual manner-a simple nod- before making my way to a fairly large building. I step outside, squinting my eyes at the glare from the sun above. I look around the desert camp, which was to be my training ground, and my home for the months I was to stay stationed here.
I made my way inside one of the barracks, opening the rusted iron door slowly. I peeked my head in to see a large number of men at different bunk beds, some of them chatting with friends dressed in the similar tan t-shirt and desert camouflage pants. Some are dressed kind of like me informal clothes such as jeans and a varied amount of shirts. I walk down the large room, stopping at a simple metal bunk bed. On top of the white bed sheets is a uniform similar to the ones the other soldiers had on.
"They give you some slick boots too?"
I turn around to see a man, maybe one or two years older than me. His face is more boyish then mine, a nervous smile present on his face. He's dressed the same way as the other already 'certified' recruits, his head shaved with the exception of a line going from the middle of his forehead down to the edge of his neck.
I shrug, lifting a pair of tan leather boots from under my boots. "I wouldn't exactly call them slick."
The man shakes his head. "Yeah but they're pretty damn comfortable for being mass produced. But what I'd give for my old NIKE shoes."
I chuckle a bit before taking my plain white shirt off and slipping the tan shirt on. "You play basketball?" I'm a bit surprised by this. This guy was several inches shorter than me, maybe five foot eight or seven.
The man gives a hearty laugh before pretending to dribble a ball and then leaping to the air, seeming to stay off the ground for several seconds before landing. "Point Guard actually, my specialty is free throw and the three pointers." He looks at me for a moment before speaking again. "You're about six foot something eh?
I nod at him. "Six foot two actually." For the next couple of minutes, the man (whose name I found out to be Lester Pearson) and I chatted, exchanging information such as other sports we played in high school and from where we cam from.
"Came from good old Chicago, Illinois." he says to me, a smile on his face. "Place where I grew up, place I'll start a family in and place I'll die in." He has a dreamy look on his face before the door of the barracks is thrown open. We turn around to see a fairly tall African man. He's dressed in a desert camo uniform, only his shirt is covered by a buttoned up army polo and there's a similarly camouflaged hat on his head.
"All right gentleman!" his voice booms. "Those of you who're ready for training report to the field now! The rest of you hurry yourselves up!" The most of the men leave the building in a single uniformed line. A few of us including the new recruits, the men who just changed into their uniforms, Lester and myself stare at him. "Christ sakes MOVE!" Everyone begins their exit out of the barracks, the uniformed recruits along with Lester and me break for the training field.
"Who the hell?"
Lester shakes his head. "That's Sergeant Jonah White. He seems like S.O.B but in reality he's a S.O.B that a lot of guys come to respect. Well at least after the first couple of training months."
I roll my eyes and continue jogging alongside my newfound friend and comrades. For the next few months I would train to fight, train to kill alongside these men.
Black leather boots, spit shined so bright
They cut off my hair, but it looked all right
We marched and we sang, we all became friends
As we learned how to fight