FORT LEWIS, WA — Specialist Jeremy Price wasn’t having a good Friday. His platoon leader had gotten them all lost on a trail run during PT. They had gotten back so late that he didn’t have time to shower, so he threw on a uniform, still sweaty, and was five minutes late to his Sergeant Major’s detail. Price ended up doing flutter kicks until he saw stars for that infraction. Later in the morning his live-in girlfriend Samantha texted Price to tell him that she was leaving him for a local drummer in an emo band that played in downtown Tacoma.
The rest of the work day seemed to crawl by, and his company commander took an extra long time with the safety briefing. Finally Price was released. Depressed and angry, his mood only got worse as the traffic became bumper to bumper with soldiers trying to get home. Crawling along at a snail’s pace, the Specialist was furious to see even the herd of pregnant wives thunder past his creeping vehicle as they made their way around the airfield track for their monthly workout session.
That’s when he noticed it. The sign on a car, twisted beyond recognition, dumped on the side of the road leading off post. It could have been a Camry. Maybe a Malibu. Blackened smoke streaks covered the side that still had a door, and the windshield was a spiderweb of cracks and stained with what could only be congealing human blood. Normally Price wouldn’t have paid attention to such a grisly scene, but on the sign he read:
“HAVE A SAFE TRAINING HOLIDAY. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE.”
“That’s when I thought to myself, ‘Holy Shit, it’s a long weekend!’ Specialist Price chuckled. “With all the other crap going on I had completely forgotten it was a four day. Man that would have been a disaster. I immediately flipped a U-turn and headed right for the Class Six.”
He smiled and took another long pull from his can of Four Loco as he roared down I-5 on his way to Seattle.
“Yesterday would have been ruined if I hadn’t seen that thing next to the gate. Once I hit the liquor store I loaded up on two handles of Jim Beam, a twelve-pack of Bud, and a few cans of this Devil juice.”
He waved the now empty can of Four Loco, tossing it over his shoulder and reaching into the cooler behind the driver’s seat for another one.
“I pulled back into traffic, but this time I was prepared. Everyone was going so slow looking at something next to the gate that I was able to steer with my knees and shotgun three beers before I made it out of the training area.”
I asked him if he knew why the base had placed the sign over the wrecked car before the weekend.
“Wrecked car?,” he asked with a confused expression, veering into the oncoming lane as he cracked open the can and spilled a large portion on his leg.
“What the hell are you talking about?”