We all have our best friends, but have you ever had a “worst friend”. I know it sounds like a paradox, but hear me out. I believe most people have experienced a worst friend.
When I was stationed in Fort Lee, VA, I had a guy hang around me all the time. I couldn’t shake him; he was there when I got up; he was there when I ate; he was there – yeah, he may have been in the next stall.
My blogs over the past year have taken you through my efforts at attempting to be a good soldier while I was in Basic Training. [See: “Run, Ryan, Run” – May 8, 2019; “Ryan, You Cheated!” – June 12, 2019; Indoctrination – July 10, 2019; and Go Away, Sunshine – July 24, 2019. This is a continuation of my life in Fort Lee, Virginia.
So, there was this guy, I’ll call him Ziggy. I can’t remember where he came from, how I was introduced to him, or even if he was in the same company as me. He just showed up like an abandoned puppy, and stuck by my side no matter what I did, where I was going, or with whom I was with.
I tried to be subtle at first that I didn’t want him around me all the time. Some people just aren’t able to take hints. So, I was up front with him. That didn’t work, either.
Fate was the eventual winner. Ziggy woke me one morning to ask a favor. “If they come to you and ask if I borrowed your CPO last night will you tell them yes?” A CPO was a popular jacket in the early 70s. I said, “who is they? And why would I want to tell them I lent you a jacket?”
Ziggy, serious as could be, told me that “the Military Police arrested me last night for possession of marijuana. It was in the pocket.” I was definitely awake at that point. Did I hear him correctly? He wanted to say that the jacket he was wearing was mine, and that there was MJ in the pocket when I lent it to him? Did he think I was that stupid? Obviously, the answer to all questions was “yes”. I told him “no”.
It didn’t make any difference what I told him, he kept to his story. It wasn’t long before I was scheduled to talk to the JAG [Judge Advocate General]. I showed up in “my” CPO. I didn’t have to answer that many questions. I think the JAG knew Ziggy hadn’t told them one ounce of truth.
Ziggy often wanted to borrow something of mine. He wanted to borrow my Rare Earth album and he didn’t have a turntable on which to play it. He was constantly asking to “borrow” a cigarette, even though I could see he had a pack in his pocket. An occasional cigarette – Okay. He was not going to borrow my Rare Earth Get Ready album. It was my favorite album; I only had about 3 or 5. I wasn’t falling for that one!
I didn’t see Ziggy for a while. Then, one evening, I was heading down the hall to use the men’s room. Sergeant Youngblood was standing against the wall with a loaded pistol holstered on his belt. I glanced at him and he said nothing. I walked into the men’s room and there was Ziggy, attempting to climb out the window. We were on the 3rd floor. There was a second story rooftop to the right, but he was going to have to swing over to it in order to keep from dropping three stories.
I asked him: “What are you doing?” He came back with a question of his own. “Is Youngblood still out there?”
“Yeah, He’s leaning against the wall. I wondered why he was there. Going somewhere?”
Ziggy told me they were sending him up to the stockade, but not if he could escape.
He had told Youngblood that he couldn’t go while being watched, so the sergeant went out the door and told him to make it quick. I knew Youngblood was a little slow, but I didn’t think he was totally naïve.
I did my brief chore in the men’s room and left Ziggy hanging out the window. Youngblood asked me if Ziggy was still in there.
“Yep. He’s still hanging around.”
I went back to my bunk and never saw Ziggy again.