50. Useless soldier of the Kingdom

”Fire at will if ready! And aim for rabbits if they jump up” Yeahnah get fucked. Too bad for this perfect opportunity to exercise. I’m not going to shoot innocent animals on sight. First, try hitting that stationary target further afield. Sure, it’s another walk in the park for Rambo and other beefed-up Hollywood goons. Not for me though. I was just a spineless wimp. A softy who needed discipline and a kick up the arse. And a real weapon instead of video games. Thus there I lay, in utmost concentration on a shooting range of the Dutch army. I gently pulled the trigger as I held my breath. Both the recoil and impact pierced through. I imagined another human as I took a strong whiff of the gunpowder fumes. Someone like you and me, someone made of flesh and blood. I saw someone’s brain splatter like a watermelon. Fountains of blood, riddled guts and bullseyes filled with fear. I heard the screams for mothers and the lifelong misery of those who survived such foolish saber-rattling. The pitch-black hatred that sticks around like an oil leak. I thought of the filthy rich weapon manufacturers and warmongers. I thought of the history full of “losers”, ”badies” and “heroes”. And of the traumatized locals who are left with the mess.

I hit my target several times in the bullseye while having such thoughts. Not bad, not bad at all.

Unfortunately, the following training was more troublesome. We stood in a bunker for a simulated gas attack. The corporal threw a teargas grenade inside to separate the wheat from the chaff. It was up to us to swiftly put on our gas masks. That requires some handiness and skill. I took a strong whiff since I lacked both. I stumbled out of the bunker while spitting and coughing. Straight into the arms of the sergeant, that is.

”Zwerver! You muppet! That’s what you get for not following instructions! Why don’t you do as I say?”
”I….cough cough….. tried…”
”You don’t try; you do! No one can count on this kind of fuckery! You’ll do this again in a minute. And this time, as you’re supposed to! Got it?
”Yeah…,” I sputtered. I was tempted to reply in German in a jolly way, but cannon fodder shouldn’t take the piss out of authorities. That’s right. Don’t you dare!

After a successful rematch, an obstacle course was the next hurdle. I went for it with rolled-up sleeves. Do it for the king, people and motherland! Give it all and show your spirit! Yeah, show willpower, commitment and belief! That’s what I missed! That’s what it’s all about! That’s the way to go! No more weak-ass procrastination! No more lack of cohesion and community spirit! I kept going as I gasped like a dog. I got myself all pumped up. So badly that I slammed into a wall. Yeahnah, bricks don’t give way. Neither do mind games and hierarchy. But what really gave me a hard time was being in large groups 24/7. So hard that I even talked to the sergeant after he addressed my platoon and everyone left.

”I don’t feel well. Can I skip the next drill and rest in the barracks?”
”What’s wrong?”
”Well…” I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes damp.
”I just want to be on my own for a while. Please,” I stammered in a slightly pitched voice.
For a moment, he stared at me sternly.
”And then abandon everyone? Yeah sure! What the hell?!”
I braced myself for a personal rant.
”All right, I’m going to give you a break. Drink some water and clear your head. I’ll expect you back in ten minutes. You’ll be in trouble if you don’t show up. Understood?” he said as he had already walked away.
I took a sip from my water bottle with shaky hands. I sighed out loud and kicked in the air. Spoiled brat. This shameful moment of truth proved that desperate diseases require desperate remedies. This is precisely why I volunteered for this self-imposed conscription. To give up now would be wholly and utterly weak. Take up the fight. Pull yourself together and march with your platoon toward the next mission.

We patrolled the moon-lit heath in search of some mean bastards. My fellow warriors and I had to track down those scumbags. Sneaking, whispering, searching diligently for tracks and having the patience of an angel. We put everything on the line for this noble mission. We found fuck all and knew we had failed once it was dawn. Plus, we knew that our asses would be whooped. I kept nodding during that wipeout. At some point, I knew that I had to do better. Better in this military training and elsewhere. The much-needed kick in the arse was a neat step, yet shooting was an eye-opener. As a reservist-to-be, I was pleased to refuse a hopeless guerrilla war in Farawayistan. I was glad to have some choice in my level of involvement. That’s why I joined those second-rate toy soldiers. Team building, camping, military exercise, sports and helping out during natural disasters. All fun and games in combination with everyday civilian life. But the possibility of still getting sucked up by the geopolitical laundry machine bothered me. There are other means of toughening up. Good soldiers blindly obey orders – whatever they may be. They willingly “neutralize” all “enemies” of the state. Good soldiers are loyal to authority – ‘good’ or ‘bad’ are side issues. Alright then. So be it. Here is my loaded weapon for whoever turns into murder lane. Huh? Yeah sure! What the hell?! Well…

This gutless traitor of the nation rather follows his inner compass than unscrupulous and mindless followers

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