Many people that never served in the armed forces often have a narrow view of what service life is like. Yes, it can be regimented and stifling with rules that at times can seem Orwellian. The one factor that is often overlooked is that these rules exist to develop a sense of discipline that in a time of war actually save lives. Orders have to be followed to the letter the very second they are issued at times so that not only is the mission accomplished but at the least possible cost of people and materials. Never the less that does not mean soldiers, or anyone else serving in the armed forces are mindless robots. Quite the contrary, those serving in the military find other unique way to express our individuality. Its just that expressing our individuality didn't usually involve a sexual blowup doll and helium.
I was pulling an unexpected extended duty of CQ runner early one morning waiting for both the new CQ and his runner to take over for the next 24 hour cycle. For those unfamiliar with “CQ” (Charge of Quarters) in the army is the guy, normally a junior NCO, whose duty is to represent the company commander in the barracks after normal duty hours. In more down to earth terms the CQ’s mission is to make sure the semi-barbarous barracks inhabitants conform to at least a small degree of civilized behavior.
Things like keeping the volume down on the porn movies, seeing that government property in the barracks is not carried off to some pawn shop, and making sure the barracks are kept generally clean. If for some reason there is a failure on any of these items the CQ runner (a lower enlisted man) normally gets the glorious duty of enforcing the CQ’s will. That is because the CQ, largely experiencing his first taste of command and often leadership, either doesn’t want to give up the nice comfortable swivel office chair at the CQ desk or that he has disappeared into one of the rooms running an all night porn festival. So my night as CQ runner had me making sure the moans of orgasmic delight coming from prerecorded videos were kept turned down so others could sleep. That the two drunken guys trying to cart off the soda machine and television from the dayroom were stopped. And that the puke coming from the guy passed out in the latrine stall was cleaned up. Yeah, I was a real army of one being all I could be if you want to press the point.
While my night had been actually rather boring the CQ had the misfortune to have two of the ladies he was dating bring him dinner at the same time and catch him watching porn flicks. Being bound by the duty to overlord all the sad barrack rats he was unable to quell the resulting chaos at that time but left just as soon as our duty was over that morning. Our replacements in turn were caught up in some sort of battalion level meeting leaving me holding the fort until they showed up.
It was then that as I sat at the CQ’s desk in the very comfortable office chair slightly more than half asleep that I noticed this bizarre creature coming up the stairs. It was vaguely female and partially wrapped in an army blanket but the hair had the quality of some cheerleader’s pom-pom, her face looked bloated somehow with a skin texture like latex, and her mouth seemed permanently set open in some sort of gasp of surprised. Being slightly more than half asleep the thought that crawled around in my head was that one of my more hapless and desperate fellow barracks rats had picked up a seriously messed up chick at some bar and was trying to sneak her up into his room, a situation that I myself had tried to do more than once. One time the attempt was made to just to get caught and have the CQ send the seriously clingy girl I had met at the mall home and me to my room in refuge. Much to my surprise as the cobwebs were shaken off I realized that the female coming up the stairs was no female; in fact she wasn’t even human much less walking under her own power. Coming into view, now with an exposed naked breast as the army blanket fell partially away, was a rather elaborate blow up doll being carried by one of my friends Jody Vogel, with a huge shit eating grin on his face.
At first I was actually quite puzzled over why someone like Jody would think he would need the “services” of such a sex toy. Simply put Jody had trust fund money, a close to brand new Trans Am, looks that bordered on the GQ level, and a devil-may-care attitude that served him well with the ladies. One day on an excursion to Denver right after Jody, a couple of other guys, and myself arrived at Fort Carson somewhere downtown Jody saw three very attractive ladies walking across the street. Right in the middle of traffic Jody turned his car around, pulled up next to them and simply asked to take a picture with them. Given that the ladies, all dressed in business casual and looking like they were at lunch, had never seen him before the thought running through my head right then was at best they would smile and say no. Instead what transpired was an impromptu photo session right on the sidewalk with those ladies posing for pictures with him in rather provocative shots. After it was all over phone numbers were exchanged, all going to and from him with my fellow compatriots and me looking on in resignation. That wouldn’t be the last time anything like that happened but playing second banana wingman to Jody did give that person a better than average to chance to score real well. But still seeing Jody with the blow up doll did raise some rather strange questions.
I quickly learned his recent absence was due to him returning home to Houston to pick up items for his new off post apartment the battery commander and First Sergeant had allowed him to rent and move into. I already knew Jody had spent one year at the University of Texas, became disillusioned with the kids richer than him whining about what they didn’t have and in a fit that I described to him as sheer stupidity he felt the need to enlist and serve to spend some time away from that privileged life. As a going away present some his college buddies bought him the blow up doll he was carrying so he “would never be lonely” amongst a bunch of guys. Jody saw fit to name his new latex companion “Ashley” after a former girlfriend, and one of the rich whiners, who proved to be far more trouble than she was worth.
Feeling the need to be briefed on the events of the previous week Jody sat the blow up doll Ashley in one nearby chair. He recovered her with the blanket and grabbed another chair for himself to hear about the various mishaps and adventures of our platoon leader who while having a retired full bird Colonel dad who showed dynamic leadership during combat in both Korea and Vietnam didn’t share those genes with his son. The entire platoon pretty much felt our platoon sergeant was going way above the call of duty trying to shape the young Second Lieutenant into useful officer material.
I was just happy to have someone around me to keep my sleepy mind occupied. Jody had been on the road himself a rather long time so as I recounted how the platoon leader screwed the pooch that week we didn’t hear our platoon sergeant come up the hallway who had come to check on me since I was pulling extra duty. That damn bastard was as quiet as a mouse so when he cleared his throat looking in abject bafflement at the covered human form in the other chair both Jody and I were more than a little surprised.
“Gentlemen”, Sergeant First Class Blackledge said walking over to Ashley’s covered form, “what in the hell have you all done?” Pulling back the blanket exposing Ashley the look he gave us went from bafflement to disgust then to some sort of humor. “Okay, I just don’t want to know anything about this other than it won’t be seen again in the barracks.” He said and I figured with his twenty plus years he had already served this had to be minor in the greater scheme of things involving lower enlisted types.
“Sure thing Sergeant”, Jody chimed in answering the question who Ashley belonged to. “My friend here is going to my new apartment.” That shit eating grin returned and Blackledge walked away shaking his head.
“Vogel, I just don’t see why you would need one of those things with the women I’ve seen you with.” He said turning around and pulling something out of his cargo pocket on the side of his BDU pants. “Now Private Bum”, he said referring to me, “I wouldn’t put anything past him.” He then did something pretty rare; he smiled and threw me the MRE he had been carrying in his cargo pocket. “The battalion meeting will be over in about an hour or two so that’s your breakfast Bum. But make sure Vogel and his friend are out by the time your replacements show up.” With that he left as quietly as he came.
Jody’s apartment was located a few miles down a side street off Academy Drive that just a few years before I’m sure had either been pasture or farm land. And for a new apartment complex it seemed to have seedy and dilapidated purposely added to the design plan. The place had a pool that we were told never had any water in it because the thing cracked along the side right after the complex opened and the owners didn’t want to put money into something that would be open only a few months of the year. All around it were new strip malls, convenience stores, and other almost as equally seedy apartment complexes that catered to the lower enlisted of Fort Carson and to a certain extent Peterson Air Force base. The charm Jody saw in the place was that it was crawling with young ladies, newly out of school and living on their own for the first time. The proverbial fox had let himself into the hen house and he had invited all his friends. Many nights his apartment would be used as a place to party away from the post and crash after a sudden snow storm came down from the mountains ending whatever activities taking place in town. However, it was a refuge if we had just gotten so blitzed that driving back onto Fort Carson would be akin to suicide after the front gate MP smelled the alcohol on the driver’s breath.
Now Jody didn’t give his friends free rein of his apartment. He had certain rules that had to be adhered to for what he called the “Debauchery Den”. The first rule was that while food of any sort could be brought into the apartment no one was to touch his stuff already in the refrigerator. And if you brought Oreo cookies in you better have your name on the bag or Jody would claim them. The most important thing was that while we were welcome to use his place if he wasn’t home or crash there out of sheer drunkenness, inclement weather, or seeking refuge from angry girlfriends hovering around the barracks. If we entered the apartment complex and saw Ashley standing guard on Jody’s small second story patio we were simply out of luck because Jody was entertaining and not to be interrupted. While this was a good idea we did find it unusual that when Ashley was standing guard she would be wearing a different set of clothes. None of us ever wanted to ask Jody where he got all of Ashley’s dress up clothes much less picture him spending time dressing her.
More sin was collectively committed in that apartment complex than can reasonably be explained even taking the foolish energy of youth into consideration. In our free time the parties could end up being rather creative with us one time during the summer dressing up the empty pool that still hadn’t been fixed and more or less acting as if it had water in it. I think we actually tried something called skinny dipping dancing in the pool but the memory is thankfully hazy. Many nights after the last drop of alcohol was consumed and with no one even remotely coherent enough to go out for more bodies would be sprawled out on the floor in a helter skelter manner looking both like a murder scene and orgy at the same time. Clothes remained on, or at least that’s the story I’m sticking to, but the closest I got to a three-way involved how my girlfriend at the time and I didn’t have a pillow one of those nights with some people actually sleeping on the bathroom floor with us having to use the ever ready Ashley to cushion our heads.
Changes had to come and by 1990 our little group was about to go its separate ways. Enlistments were ending for several of us, some had already reenlisted for different duties and posting that pulled them away. More to the point a certain maturity was finally starting to seep into the consciousness of all of us left. A few relationships developed taking a couple of the guys to the altar, after a suitably morally corrupting bachelor party or course. Moreover, the parties that never really seemed to end actually degraded to the point that some weekends we could be found just watching some non-porn movie on video. For the most part the group would be totally gone by August of 1990 and discussions started to revolve around about how we would close out our time as a platoon and as friends. Surprisingly it was the commanding general of the post that gave us our idea; unfortunately it ultimately meant the sacrifice of Ashley.
I have no idea if it’s done now but there use to be a tradition of hanging an old pair of boots from some high point, like a telephone pole or tree, to celebrate the completion of a successful term of enlistment or in some cases, a career. It was during a minor field training exercise that Lawrence Sanders, a fellow member of our little group, saw an article in the on post newspaper on how the commanding general used his personal helicopter close out his career. Hovering just above the highest point on some elm tree that was heavily used to hang outgoing service member’s boots from, he draped his boots on the highest limb. The article came complete with a picture of the general leaning out the open door of the squeaky clean and new Blackhawk hovering over the tree with his boots in hand showing off what had to be thousands of dollars of dental work. The article went on to say he didn’t figure anyone could ever get their boots any higher off the ground. It didn’t take us long to begin to figure out a way to outdo the “Old Man”.
Far more discussion in how we were going to outdo someone with the personal use of a helicopter went on than I want to admit. While we had matured to a certain extent with wild partying no longer holding quite the appeal it once did I for one grew bored about all the strategies and technical plans that were thrown about like we were planning a mission to the moon. But as we were sitting in Jody’s apartment watching some baseball game a sudden heavy wind blew down from the mountains catching Ashley, who has not moved back inside from the patio, and blowing her off the patio and out in the open. We all scrambled outside and ended up running several blocks to catch her after the wind died down and she came to rest on top of a local deli that was part of a strip mall. I won’t go into the looks we got from the manager, staff, and customers as several guys, some still partially in uniform, rushed in asking if we could go on the roof to bring down our sexual bow up doll who happened to be our unofficial platoon mascot. In stunned disbelief the manager said yes but when we came back down and the look from everyone in the deli got even worse. I did feel the need to assure them as we walked out that our relationship with the doll was strictly platonic. Walking back to the apartment hoping that the cops, or even worse the press, wouldn’t show up to ask questions most of us began talking about how high up the wind had taken Ashley as she was blown from the patio. From there even lowly army types could figure how this might work to our advantage.
Scuttlebutt had that the Old Man was a fanatic about golf and whenever the snows melted would be on the Fort Carson golf course playing every weekend. Since a good portion of Fort Carson sat in the foothills in the very shadow of Cheyenne Mountain the terrain around the golf course had several convenient prominences that would provide ample concealment for the plans we had made. It was mid-morning on a Saturday in May that we loaded up Jody’s car and took the short drive to a position on the opposite side of a hill that faced the greater portion of the post golf course. Not much in the way of occupied buildings existed at that time of the side we were using. Most were empty having been part of the old Fort Carson hospital that now was housed in a brand new facility further down the road and close enough to the gold course that if our plans were successful would give any patients or staff that happened to be looking in our direction a good show.
Poor Ashley had been partially deflated for the trip and for an inanimate object looked out of sorts for what was going to be her day of glory. Jody had purchased two canisters of helium meant to blowup children’s balloons and as Lawrence and I held Ashley she was connected to the spout and filled with the gas. Ashley took all of one canister and most of the other to be filled to the point where she had taken her full form. After that a pair of highly spit shined jump boots were slipped over her delicate feet and because of the size difference had to be duct taped at the top of the boots and at her calves. A couple of other guys in our group had taken up a position near the crest of the small hill we were behind and with binoculars were trying to see who might be at the golf course to see the event were about to start. The Old Man simply couldn’t be spotted and after several minutes we had to be satisfied with a group of golfer that would see Ashley once she was released. A couple of the girls along with us had small air horns and when after we all said our goodbyes to Ashley the signal was given for her release with the girls activating the air horns.
Our little plan was to have the Old Man, as he was playing golf, hear the air horns and look up to see Ashley with her boots reflecting the sun lift off into the air Rapture-like as if she was going to meet Jesus. Paraphrasing here, but the best laid plans of mice and drunken soldiers just don’t pan out sometimes. What happened was that Ashley did not disappear into the clouds as the people at the golf course stared in awe. Instead she reached an altitude of what had to be at best three hundred feet and started drifting in the wind. None of us were rocket scientists and to this day I don’t know if it was the helium canisters which actually had a rather high mix of normal air since they were just meant of children’s balloons. The weight of the boots on Ashley, or that since Fort Carson was already so high above sea level Ashley didn’t reach anywhere near the altitude we thought she would.
Nevertheless, we found ourselves transfixed as Ashley in her blow up doll nakedness, with her cheerleader pom-pom like hair blazing, started to drift deeper into Fort Carson in what was just about plain site. Better judgment would have had us beat a hasty retreat hoping no one had seen us launch our inflatable friend who, despite the logical part of my mind, I couldn’t help but think was slightly pissed with us.
We loaded up and sort of followed her as she passed the main Post Exchange, the post library, and commissary all just then opening with people milling around. Jody’s Trans Am had a sunroof which allowed us to keep good sight of her but we did not take into account that someone had to watch the road and we almost ran off a few times or into several telephone poles until Jody forced himself to keep his attention on driving.
Ashley continued to drift passing over the heart of Fort Carson which because it was Saturday was largely deserted. That is until it she drifted over a huge parade ground used for large unit formations and was surrounded by various unit headquarter buildings including our air defense battalion and the division artillery brigade that was practicing for a brigade level change of command on the parade grounds right then. Jody’s car turned the corner coming out from behind the belchers when we saw the better part of the artillery brigade in formation and this time there was some serious officer rank both on the grass and stands now looking up at our helium filled friend drifting overhead. Discretion being the better part of valor, especially with a full bird colonel in plain sight, we quickly turned around and into the parking lot of our battalion headquarters only to see the now First Sergeant Blackledge looking up as well, shaking his head, and looking directly at Jody and myself.
We gave up trying to follow Ashley actively but watched as she pasted further out catching a change in the wind that took her south pretty much toward Pueblo, Colorado. We all went back to Jody’s apartment and had one last blowout party that despite our almost toxic levels of inebriation had us gathered around the television wondering if any word of Ashley might be mentioned on the late night news. I mean a naked inflatable sex toy floating above a major city has to bump the normal man-bites-dog story on a slow news day. But, nothing was mentioned and as usual we all ended up passed out of the floor.
There were repercussions though, the grapevine had it that the full bird colonel whose change of command practice we slightly interrupted reportedly fell down laughing his ass off thinking the blow up doll floating by was something done for him. First Sergeant Blackledge never spoke a word to us about the whole affair but we learned he put in for retirement the first thing the following Monday morning. Nothing ever filtered down from division in the way of someone complaining about Ashley floating over such family-friendly areas as the Post Exchange and commissary. I figure these days if such a thing were to happen not only would the moral Gestapo make a fuss but Homeland Security would have scrambled jets and placed the Vice President in some undisclosed location.
As for Ashley, we all spoke well of her in our final days but by unanimous consent all pictures of our parties over the years were divided up and locked away before we left, each person having enough to get the others in trouble. Since people’s behavior normally moderates as they grow older I’m sure many of my former friends, now with respectable jobs and lives, ruminate back on those times and wonder what in the hell were we thinking and that thankfully Ashley, wherever she is, can’t talk.
You are a Working Class Warrior, also known as a blue-collar Democrat. You believe that the little guy is getting screwed by conservative greed-mongers and corporate criminals, and you’re not going to take it anymore.