After his thirty day in processing, Hendo left for P.L.D.C.. It was a relief for both me and my roommate. C.J. didn’t like him either. There were few within the Medic platoon who had anything nice to say about Hendo when he was amongst us. He made quite an impression on us all. We were now graced with a four week reprieve while he was learning how to lead soldiers.
During my time in the Army, I witnessed alot of soldiers, including myself, assume the role of F.N.G.. It was a humbling experience for everyone. I served in two completely different types of units during my career thus far. As far as i could tell, most soldiers entered new units the same way fundamentally: humbly. Some took notes while others asked endless amounts of questions regarding their new life. Most soldiers remained quiet until they felt comfortable in their surroundings. Once comfortable, soldiers would let their hair down, so to speak, and their true colors would shine through.
This was not the case with Hendo. Hendo argued with everyone and showed no respect outside of military etiquette. He entered our world loudly demanding to be noticed. His personality was completely foreign to me. In my opinion, he was doing it wrong. C.J., observing my frustration with our new roommate, spent some time questioning Hendo about his medical knowledge. Usually, junior enlisted soldiers acknowledged a lack of training for the tasks they were about to be expected to do. Hendo, however, shut down the conversation immediately, “Shut the fuck up”. Being in the short timer frame of mind, C.J. quietly obliged the request.
C.J. and I were scheduled to rotate to the field, for an OPFOR exercise at N.T.C., while Hendo was at school. OPFOR was only a three week endeavor. We would have a few days without him, before and after the exercise, while he was away. C.J. spent the few nights before N.T.C. reading an entire Dean Koontz novel after work. I spent my nights with Red.
Red, by this time, was in the grips of full blown addiction. Unable to show up for her shifts at the strip club, her hotel room looked like a hand grenade blew up inside of it. Clothes, fast food wrappers and drug paraphanalia were scattered about the space indiscriminately. As a result of not sleeping for days, her face showed the wrinkles and stress lines of a woman in her fifties. She was 26. She was apparently hiding from people she owed money to and refused to go outside. The three nights before N.T.C. were the first time I sought out and bought drugs for the both of us.
My obsession for cocaine was more powerful than her obvious need for professional help. Her addiction needed to be fed while mine wanted to grow. It was the first time since I had met her that our narcotic fueled adventures together were more pathetic than fun.
On the last night before N.T.C. I informed Red that I would no longer visit VD Drive to search for her. When I left her in the hotel room, alone, she was sobbing begging me to stay with her.