She wore diamonds and pearls on occasions like this... normally. But this night remained unique to some civilian husbands and wives who accompanied their Devil Dog spouses. The Marine Corps Ball called for the officers and enlisted to wear their best dress or service uniforms. Mikaela Finn chose to wear her olive green Service “A” uniform instead of her Dress Blues. The diamonds and pearls continued to be out of uniform. Still, she gave off brilliance like one of those gemstones. Her unit also wore the green and khaki garb. As a young adult of age, she imbibed a few potent potables to ease the tension in the room.
“So, what? You’ve got a good cookie. Big deal,” the staff sergeant had said to her. Staff Sergeant Chris Hyland resented this sergeant.
When the oldest Marine on base, a 68-year-old retired lieutenant general along with the youngest, an 18-year-old private first class received their three pieces of cake, Mikaela headed towards the restrooms. Nausea clung to her like a mollusk on a rock. She finished expelling the evening’s dinner, able to hold her hair up and not get any chunks on her uniform. She got up from one knee in the restroom stall and proceeded to the water basin. She peered into the mirror as if delving into the depths of her soul. Her eyes darted to the red and blue ribbon that remained fastened amongst her other awards and decorations, including her rifle expert badge.
Her memory flooded. She still remembered the day that Hyland nearly saw a court martial. But thanks to Mikaela, he never saw any official reprimand. Hyland didn’t even get busted down to sergeant or corporal. He took his licks in stride as if nothing had ever happened. He just took assignment at another unit. But something did happen… Mikaela splashed water into her face.
“You okay, Finn?” Gunnery Sergeant Vesta Hamm asked upon reaching the sink.
“Yes, Gunny. I just might have had a bit too much to drink.”
“I’ve got something that will sober you right up.”
“You’ve got orders.”
Mikaela perked up a bit. “Where to?”
“Stand by to stand by.”
“Roger that, Gunny.”
Vesta exited the restroom and left Mikaela standing in the mirror. The night of the incident crashed against her consciousness.
Hyland had just come off of post that night. Mikaela had retired to the barracks and prepared for the next morning’s PT (physical training). Hyland staggered into the front of Mikaela’s room. He knocked.
“In a sec,” Mikaela got up from eating a bowl of pasta and headed towards the door.
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Chris do you know what time it is? We’ve got PT...”
“I just want to be your friend.”
“You’re acting hella weird right now so I’m going to get back to my bowl of linguine and try to take in as much water as possible. But you. You’ve got to go.”
Hyland pushed open the door and advanced towards Mikaela.
“I want it.”
“Chris if you don’t get yourself out of my room, I’m going to throw you over the railing.”
“'Kaela, you’re just so... beautiful.”
“Alright, you’ve got to go.” Mikaela stood at five foot eight and Hyland measured about six feet. Still, the young woman backed the man out of her room and locked the door behind her.
After PT, Mikaela went up to Vesta. “Gunny, can I talk to you?”
“Sure. What’s up?”
“It’s Staff Sergeant Hyland.”
“Well, he came to my room last night.”
“Wait a minute. I don’t want to hear another story about a male Marine who forced himself on a female Marine. It happened to me and I didn’t say a word. I suggest we stop talking about it. Okay. No one believed me, so no one’s going to believe you.”
“No?! What do you mean ‘no,’ sergeant?”
“I mean nothing actually happened physically. What happened was all verbal. It was just creepy.”
“Oh,” the gunnery sergeant said. “Well, that paints a different picture. He’s definitely going to walk away from this one relatively unscathed.”
Mikaela looked down at the ground.
“Look,” said Vesta. “If you really want to report this incident, I’d be happy to have it go up the chain of command, okay?”
Mikaela brushed a tear from her eye but she made it look like she was clearing away a fly.
“Sergeant Finn, you have my word that I will see that Staff Sergeant Hyland be reprimanded for his untoward actions.”
“Don’t mention it. But one thing…”
“How did he say those things to you?”
Mikaela took a deep breath and clapped her hands together. “He was slurring like he was drunk and then he took certain words and emphasized them. Really, really creep status.”
“I’ll have him removed from this command. An NJP won’t even be necessary. You may see him in the future but he won’t be able to harass you in any way.”
“That’s all that I can ask for. I mean he didn’t touch me or say anything too bad or over the line.”
“Right. No, I’ll speak with the sergeant major and the XO.”
Mikaela stood about thirty paces away from Hyland who chortled with a drink in his hand. His old buddies from Mikaeala’s unit didn’t laugh as much as him but they chuckled a bit here and there. Hyland shot a glance over at Mikaela. She delivered an icicle stare at him. He turned away. Mikaela looked down at her ginger ale with bitters. Once she looked up, Hyland was standing right in front of her.
“Thought that you could get away with me getting reassigned to another unit, didn’t you?”
“Chris, I have nothing to say to you. You got Me Too’ed. Get over it.”
“What makes you think,” a waiter passes nearby, “that you can just dismiss a man’s career and have him in line with these motards I’m with now?”
“You should’ve thought about all of that before you tried to get all touchy feely and acting like a weirdo.”
Hyland sulked. For a moment his light skin became fire engine red.
“You got that Good Conduct Medal for coming forward to tell on me. Time served without an issue had nothing to do with it. You’re a woman and that’s the cover for being a Marine who is immune to all punishment. I had disciplinary action over this. I won’t be seeing that medal until I pick up first sergeant.”
“I thought you wanted to go the master sergeant route.” Mikaela said.
“Don’t argue with me, alright,” Hyland said in a huff.
“Why are you even here? Don’t you have desk duty?”
“I got out of it. One of the only things I could have gotten out of, now.”
“Look, I’m done talking to you. You almost ruined my life. If I didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to have you exit my room, who knows what might’ve happened.”
“Who knows,” Hyland said picking up a beer at the bar and making his way to his buddies.
Mikaela breathed. She dusted off her shoulders and moved throughout the room with an air of triumph.