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by Joy
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Military · #344668
A young man decides to join the army
Tony twirled the brochure into a tube and trudged into the army recruiting office in Siena Falls.
His goals in life were not very clear although he had just graduated from Siena High. Most of his classmates were already registered in one university or another. Some had been recruited by the military. He thought worse comes worse he’d go to the local college and maybe get a part time job at the local K Mart. But wasn’t K Mart going out of business? Siena Falls was a small town without too many places to work. If he didn’t work, how would he afford college? His father barely made ends meet.

If only his mother was around! She'd know what would be best for Tony. Now Tony had only one more option, the Army. Not that he wasn’t patriotic! But he felt he lacked the guts to go through the tough regime he had seen at the movies. How the sergeants slapped the privates and made them yell, “Yes, Sir!” They were probably trained to be so heartless. Tony was a gentle person. He loved arts, music and had marched with the high school band. He didn’t want to end up as a cruel uncaring person. Not especially after the sorrow he had suffered with his mother's death. How was he going to bear up under this curve ball his life had thrown at him?

The recruiting office had been converted from the travel agency that had gone bankrupt. From its walls a bright yellow paint barked with a glare at Tony. It was only a small place containing few wooden chairs, a desk with a yellow-colored radio, a lamp and papers scattered all over it. Papers and forms were stacked inside a wall unit behind the desk. Nobody seemed to be around. Tony read the advertisement on the wall, “Whether you're a high school graduate, an experienced professional or somewhere in between, the United States Army and Army Reserve have full and part-time job opportunities for you to learn, grow, and succeed.”

“Take a seat, young man! I just stepped out to take a look at a recruit’s car. His engine had boiled over.”

A well-built man short in stature was standing behind him. He stretched his hand. “Hello, I’m Sergeant Mitch Warren. Now I believe we have a future general here!”

“Well, I haven’t decided yet. I’m Tony, Anthony Coffey, Sir.”

“Let me give you a few brochures Tony and while you look at them, I’ll take some notes, so we can be of help to you.”

Sergeant Warren opened a large ledger and wrote Tony’s name, address and other data in it. He said it was routine to get the names and the data of all the applicants. Then, he told him everything during his training period would be free. He would even get a small allowance for personal expenses if he chose the army instead of the reserves. Tony told the Sergeant that he wanted to think about it because he had suffered grief when his mother had passed away. He wasn't sure he could make the right decision. Sergeant Warren told him to take all the time he needed, the army would understand his sorrow but it also needed willing personnel.

As Tony was leaving, Sergeant Warren turned on the radio. Paul Mc Cartney’s voice filled the small room. “Talking about freedom, talking about freedom....” Tony was amazed because the sergeant was singing together with the radio in a good trained voice. Tony sang along with him. “Freeedommm ....freeeedom.... I will fight for your right to live in freedom....”

“Hey Tony, you’re good! Why didn’t you tell me you sang?”

“Not really. I played the drums in the school band. You have a great voice.”

“I got trained in the army. I was in the army band. You can do that, you know.”

“I’ll think about it!”

As Tony turned to leave again, another young man in a yellow shirt, one of Tony’s classmates, stumbled in. Tony gasped, “Oh, Mike!” Now Mike would never have a chance because he was drunk, too drunk to even notice Tony standing there. He bumped right into him. Tony steadied him. Turning the radio off, Sergeant Warren stood up at his desk.

“Hi Sergeant, I’m gonna make it! Because I ain’t yellow. My shirt’s yellow, Your wall’s yellow, but I ain’t yellow.”

“Sir, I’ll help him,” Tony said. “Please forgive him. It won’t happen again.”

“There’s nothing to forgive Tony. Mike’s sick. I understand. The army understands too. That’s why we have offered to get him through treatment. But he felt he could do it himself. Obviously, it isn’t that easy.”

“I ain’t yellow Sarge, “ Mike said again as he was falling on the floor. “Just your wall’s yellow.”

“Tony, he’s just too sick. I’ll take him into the hospital. Can you stay here for a little while? I believe somebody is going to come to look for me. He called in the morning. Since he left no number, I can’t call back.”

Tony nodded.

While Tony helped Mike into the Sergeant’s car, Mike kept babbling, “Yellow, yellow, this joint is yellow...”

Tony returned to the recruiting office. Few minutes later a young man stepped in.

“I called in the morning. You aren’t the sergeant, are you?”

“No,” said Tony, “Sergeant Warren will be back in a few minutes. But if you have any doubts, you can talk to me. Because I am going to be a soldier too. I have seen how great the army can be. Believe me.”

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