Creative Military

The Jump

Read part one right here: “Smoked.”

“Private Hamer, normally we would kick you out of airborne school for your disrespect — but we will leave that decision to the Marine corporal you screamed at,” the airborne school cadre (or as we called them, Sergeant Airborne) said as he glanced up at me.

He sat behind a small wooden desk with a look of disappointment carved into his face. Though I stood like a statue at parade rest, my mind raced as he chit-chatted with the Marine Corporal over my fate. Sweat was running down my neck and it felt like all of the air in that tiny room had been sucked out. My stomach was twisting into knots, rising all the way up to my chest and making me feel like I couldn’t breathe.

It seemed stupid to me. I knew I would be in trouble for telling a Corporal to “kiss my ass” — but to get kicked out? Kicked out of a stupid school for some small shit like that, I thought. 20 excruciating minutes ticked by as I waited.

“Sergeant Airborne,” the Marine spoke. “I don’t want to see Private Hamer released from Airborne School. I think he should take this as a lesson learned and move out.”

Hearing those words released me. I felt like I won the prize of a lifetime, and I wasn’t sure how to respond. I turned politely toward the Marine and shook his hand, perhaps a bit energetically.

“Corporal — I understand how bizarre my behavior was, and I sincerely and respectfully apologize,” I said. His silence made for extended eye contact awkward and uncomfortable, so I fell out of parade rest and left the room.

~ ~ ~ ~

“Hamer, that was pretty funny,” Specialist Becker said as she tilted her head closer and raised her voice over the roar of the C-130 engines. Becker was an unusually short blonde girl from Nebraska who enjoyed playing Xbox and tirelessly tried to always psychoanalyze me. She would always refer to me as “her fine specimen of psychological unfuckability.” I never understood what she meant by that, but I thought it was funny.

I adjusted my harness and tried to shift my upper body forward and take some of the pressure of the parachute off my back.

“Well, he made me angry. Those Marines are always annoying and think they are better than everyone else,” I whispered in her ear hoping that no one else heard me.

“That’s true, I used to date a Marine and he always talked about himself because he thought douchbaggery is what women like about him, what a tool,” Becker said, trying hard not to laugh. We didn’t know many Marines, but it we laughed at the stereotypes of other branches as they surely did to us.

The C-130 started to slow down and I could see the nervous faces of the 50 airborne students preparing for their last “Hollywood” jump before graduation. “Hollywood” meant that we would jump without boatloads of gear strapped to our bodies — a simple, slick exit with only our uniforms, helmets, and parachutes.

Although I had completed 4 jumps successfully within the last week, my hands and legs were still shaking. I hated jumping out of airplanes because I was never completely sure how it would end. I suppose I wasn’t worried about dying so much as I was worried that my parachute wouldn’t open (or would partially open), sending me careening to the dirt and leaving me mangled, dying slowly.

“FIVE MINUTES!” the jump master screamed from the rear of the airplane. With a hand gesture, he instructed everyone to stand up. As we stood, I immediately felt ill. I removed my hand from my glove and began chewing on my index finger until it began to bleed. It was a long-standing habit I had developed from my childhood, and when I was satisfied and the pain was intense enough to overwhelm my anxiety about jumping, I threw my glove back on and waited for the next order.

The jump-master opened the door and a massive gush of wind entered the C-130, pushing students all over the place. I noticed some students had been knocked over by the wind and were desperately struggling to get back up. Specialist Becker lightly tapped me on the shoulder; as I turned, around she gave me the thumbs up with a smile on her face.

“ONE MINUTE!” the jumpmaster cried out.

And that’s when the voice came back. That creeping voice in the back of my head: You are going to die because you’re a fucking idiot, it repeated over and over. I closed my eyes and shook my head, hoping to dislodge the voice but to no avail. My entire body began to tremble as the voice grew louder and louder, drowning out all semblances of positive thoughts.

You are a fucking idiot today and today you are going to die. You are a fucking idiot today and today you are going to die. 

I took a deep breath and tried to concentrate on the humming of the C-130’s engines and to focus on the feeling of the wind dashing on my face. As the student in front of me stepped forward, I followed blindly.

There is no heaven or hell you will be stuck in a dark abyss forever you stupid motherfucker.

I inched close to the door. I handed the line running out of my parachute to the man next to the door.

You are incapable of being loved.

I stepped out into the wind and everything went black.

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2 years ago

Did it once , that was enough for me

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
2 years ago

Oh, Curtis. “You are incapable of being loved.” Well, now you know that that was a lie from the pit of hell. You have your beautiful wife and daughter! Looking forward to the next instalment.

Joni Smith
Joni Smith
2 years ago

Oh my gosh! I jumped out of the plane with you screaming Curtis wake up! The closet I’ve been is bungee jumping into a bit stunt air bag. That was thrilling enough for me. Each time you share a bit of your story and the life long effects it has had on you my heart cries. I want to punish the people who tortured you as a child and told you you were not good enough. They were wrong on all counts. I’m glad you made it here Curtis. You’ve proved them wrong over and over. I know it takes… Read more »

1 year ago

Curtis, sorry for late reply. Was away for a bit. All I can say, it it makes my stomach knot up for the self loathing, or the loathing of the voice that seems to intrude at the worst possible moments. Not sure where this comes from (or why it persists), hopefully it no longer does. Such a loss, to have someone worthy and gallant, beat down by their own personal demons.

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