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(2130) SR Cuartero has assumed the watch, GRLKS. Division disseminating letters for mail call. We are moored port side, and currently receiving miscellaneous services from the pier. No new government defacement in sight.

“CUARTERO!” My Recruit Division Commander screamed out. My eyes turned into silver dollars as I ran as fast as I could to the center of the room. I took the letter from Senior Chief’s hand, returning to my spot by my bunk. My fellow shipmates were called to the center of the compartment just the same as I. The looks on their faces mimicked my own; wide eyed, and their pupils were silver dollars.

Senior Chief gave a perimeter sweep with his eyes, commanding the 73 recruits to do jumping jacks when he said jump, perform pushups when he said push, and shoot when he said shoot. And he didn’t even say anything yet.

“GET IN YOUR RACKS!” Senior Chief said.

“AYE AYE SENIOR CHIEF!” The recruits responded. The fluorescent lights turned to black, and red lights replaced them. In my right hand was my recruit handbook, which I placed back into my backpack, which was the same spot it was in last night, and the night before that one and the night before that one. I boosted myself up into my bunk. In my left hand remained the letter received from Senior Chief. Laying both comfortably and clean in my rack, I looked at the front of the letter, and I looked at my AB drawer. The AB drawer was a little metal compartment on the wide side of the bunk bed. Inside was all of my personal belongings; the things I brought to boot camp and the letters I received.

I didn’t really look at who sent the letter yet. That didn’t matter. What really held my interest is if I wanted to read it or not. “Do I really need a moral boost right now?” I said to myself. “Should I hold off reading this until I felt suppressed?” Call it lame, but it was a way that I had something to look forward to. It worked for me.

The Recruit Division Commanders left and the compartment was brought to life. My fellow shipmates were hanging around each other’s bunks, talking about their girlfriends or fiancees or wives back home, which made me miss my own ex-girlfriend. They talked about their hometowns, sports, music, anything. They would be playing dungeons and dragons, and we would have boxing matches when it got later. Some of the deviant ones had their phones (which was wildly against the rules; if you were caught with your cell phone in boot camp, you could repeat bootcamp completely or get captain’s masted, which is a lower version of a court martial) Others would eat cookies the took from the galley, which is the cafeteria, which was also against the rules. Me, I would usually talk to my friends or draw in my recruit handbook.

Despite all of that, I was still deciding between storing the letter in the AB drawer for later or to read it now. I still didn’t look at the sender of the letter, but instead I thought about the contents of my AB drawer.

In the top right corner was a stack of my letters. Some from my mom, dad, my aunt, my friend Kenny, and my ex-girlfriend. On top of the letters were three notebooks.

In the top left corner, I stored my stamper, which stamps things with my last name which is Cuartero, and my division number which is 331. I had my bible, I had a red hot chili peppers book (I was not supposed to have this) and some other stuff. I don’t remember.

The rest of the space was for my toiletries. These were issued from the Navy. I had a bottle of head and shoulders shampoo, a bottle of old spice bodywash, a gilette 5 razor and shaving cream, a shower rag, two toothbrushes, floss, cocoa butter, 3 chapsticks, and triamcinolone (which is a skin medicine, I was not supposed to have this).

I’ll just read who it is from, then I’ll put it away.

Turning the letter over, there was in scrawled, terrible handwriting the sender of the letter.

“Mike.” I said to myself. One of my good friends from back home.

I opened the letter, to find that it was typed. Thank the Lord. Looking at the envelope again, I read where it was sent from: Mae Smith Hall Carbondale, IL.

You know what, I guess I’ll read a letter tonight.

Unfolding the pages, the letter began with,

 

[Oh herro there Mattchu,

First and foremost, thanks for the overly emotional letter you sent me about four weeks ago. It gave me confidence that you have not died yet or pussied out and went AWOL. At this current moment, I’m sitting in the lobby of my dorm watching football and doing homework. I’ve been pretty fucking busy the past few weeks. But I have to say college is way f*cking better than high school. People are so much nicer than people in Batavia. I’ve been meeting new people like it’s my job.

Even though I have met a sh*t load of girls, it is beyond me that I haven’t slept with any girls by now. I been talking to a few, but it will eventually happen. I have committed some highly irresponsible actions the time I’ve been at SIU. But anyways, I have had some really good times that I don’t remember at all.

My first highly irresponsible action was when I and my buddy went to Phi Sigma Kappa house. That night I drank 10 beers, 6 shots of Captain Morgan, and 4 shots of illegal moonshine. I really don’t remember much, but my drunk ass stumbled all the way to the dorm. I woke up with a bad hangover and a box of Papa Johns in my mini fridge. I’m pretty impressed that I even drank that much.

I haven’t been talking to Mason much, cause his b*tch ass doesn’t know how to use a damn phone. I talked to Jay yesterday, he seems to be doing okay. Jake, I honestly gave up hope, because of his Snap stories. I’m pretty sure that he is currently taking it in the ass from Santacanterina or however the f*ck you spell it.

Last night I walked around downtown Carbondale and got Asian bubble tea which was f*cking good. I also got a picture of our moms getting drunk at something called “Festival of the Vine”. By from what I could tell, my mom looked like she couldn’t even open her eyes.

I hope boot is not beating you to the ground and you’re still alive. Hope to hear from you soon, feel free to call or text or whatever.

P.S., Sean says you’re a gook. ]

 

Okay, that’s enough reading tonight.

– Matt Cuartero

 

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