Bryson flipped through the paperwork absentmindedly, he was hoping that there was going to be a trip to boot camp leaving tomorrow from MEPS. He had heard of it happening before, and he just wanted to move on to a new life with a career that he could look forward to. He knew the Marine Corp would afford him the opportunity for that. Lost in the thought of boot camp and a future without them he almost missed the point when the recruiter called for them to board the van to MEPS. A flutter in his stomach made him question for a split second whether he was doing the right thing, but he suppressed that thought as he joined the other high school and former high school students on the van.
The MEPS examination went without a hitch. The first day he filled out a lot of paperwork and signed his name what seemed like several thousand times. He picked is Military Occupational Specialty in Intelligence, granted he passed an extensive FBI background check for clearance. On the second day he went through the medical examination. He turned his head and coughed when he was told, and nearly questioned if they wanted him to quack like a duck when he was told to duck walk across a room with many other military candidates dressed only in boxers. At this time he wondered if he was actually performing a medical exam to get into the military or if he, and the many others around him, were on the pilot episode of a hidden camera television show.
When all was said and done he passed his exam and took the official oath to join the military. Before the van was set to leave to go back home, each of the future recruits met with their respective recruiters to discuss when they wanted to leave for boot. They each sat in a room waiting for their recruiter to call them in. Allen, Donovan, and Edwards were all called before Bryson was called in to meet with his recruiter. He walked into the room and took a seat in a chair opposite the overly confident ego-less Marine.
“When were you thinking you wanted to leave for Paris Island?” his recruiter posed the question, not looking up from the paperwork before him.
“As soon as possible,” Bryson answered without hesitation.
“Well, you have a few choices. Each Friday for the next three weeks we have a group of recruits heading off for boot. Otherwise, there is one that will be leaving here at seventeen hundred hours today.”
“I'd like to leave today, if at all possible.”
For the first time since Bryson entered the room the recruiter looked up from the paperwork before. “Hurrah! That's what I like to see, a gung ho future Marine. Well, I'm sure you'll want to call your family to let them know you'll be leaving.” His recruiter walked him out of the room, and pointed to a corner of the room where a pay phone stood. “You can use that phone over there, you don't have to pay with that phone, and you can tell your parents that you'll be able to call them once you arrive at Paris Island to let them know you arrived safe. When you're done just come have a seat back over here, we have more paperwork you'll need to fill out before shipping out today.” As Bryson walked toward the phone, the titan Marine called David Garrett into the room after him.
Bryson made his way to the phone, his feet felt heavy as if he was walking the green mile. What would he say? What would his parent's think? Well, he wouldn't have to worry about too much fallout, he'd be gone for three months, and during that time they'd get over the fact that he left so abruptly, and would embrace the fact that their son was in the Marine Corp serving his country the way his stepfather thought every young man should.
He made the call. His mother cried, his stepfather dejectedly told him he was proud of him. He was sure his mother was thinking he was going to end up shipped overseas where he would be shot by some evil insurgent with the highest contempt for America. He wasn't sure himself what was going to happen to him from here on out and didn't want to think too much about a future that led him to war. Bryson told them he loved them and would call them when he reached Paris Island to let them know he got there safe and he hung up the phone.
One month ago everything had changed. All it took was one moment to determine the course of the rest of his life. Now, here he stood waiting to board a van that would take him up the east coast to the Marine Corp training facility in Paris Island, SC. Where he would go after that he did not know, he just knew it would be far away from them.
He found a spot in the back of the van, and looked around at all the families with freshly minted recruits about to board the bus and leave on their way to a life of bravery and American tradition. As he looked behind him he could have swore he saw Ian in the parking lot looking directly at him. He turned at looked the other way and never looked back. This was a time for moving forward, he could never turn back.