Marine Corps Stories: Like a Forest
Three Leatherneck officers discuss their past lives.
In a shop of Marine Corps officers, the work of lance corporals cleaning and polishing each surface allowed the senior Marines to conduct business. Or just chat before their own bosses appeared.
“I can tell you as a fact. I did not grow with the whole ‘two by the leg, two by the headboard’ scenario. I don’t knock people who did grow up that way, but that’s not my story,” Captain Anson “Cool Cat” McCabe said. He didn’t get huffy and the tiny lines in his forehead didn’t even move.
‘We’re talking about houses with twenty foot ceilings. It seems like Ian and I are the only ones in this shop who came from such backgrounds,” said First Lieutenant Pippa Lerman.
McCabe showed no sign of defeat. He straightened up his cammie blouse and opened his mouth. “All that I know is that my father saw to it that I have a great life with my two younger brothers. We each had our own room, we had brand new clothes and pairs of sneakers every Christmas, and enough racing cars to fill a collector’s cave and separate motorbikes. We attended private schools at least until the high school level. We even had an in-ground pool to speak of. Much more than what our deadbeat mother had to provide for us. But my dad deserves all the credit. And that’s something that doesn’t fit in a wallet.”
First Lieutenant Ian Pastor kicked his right boot against his desk. He possessed a high and tight haircut and teak colored skin. “Okay, ’Cat’. So how did you pay your way through college?”
“My dad put up some of the money, but the rest was on me. I bussed tables, sang jingles, folded shirts and anything that I could to get through those four years. Legally, of course. My dad is and forever will be my rock and refuge for instilling in me the idea of working.”
“The Corps’ your daddy now, ‘Cat.’”
“Bullshit. Man first,” McCabe fired back.
Pippa’s golden hair glistened in her regulation bob. “I had parents that adopted me that were loaded. I just feel blessed that they taught me about not only material things but spiritual things, too.”
If McCabe’s skin were just a few shades lighter, you would be able to see the blood rush to his face and extremities. But he remained calm. “So, you’re saying that all of the things that I mentioned were just miracles that came down from the unknown and unknowable? That it doesn’t take the spirit, the consciousness to produce one motorbike or pair of sneakers? Is that what you're saying Pippa?”
“Look at everything in this room. Are you saying that all of this came from the jumble of muscles applied to things found in nature and not the mind?”
“Well, I mean….” Pippa said.
“I’ll tell you right now that the thought that went into furnishing this shop and everything that we call ‘manufactured materialism’ came from the soul, the thinking brain of an individual or team of individuals. Everything. So put it out of your thoughts that those drones that we fly or even the chow that we eat did not come from the wellspring of all greatness: the human mind.”
Pastor chuckled. He said, “damn, ‘Cat.’ You’re getting deep on us, now. We were just speaking about our childhoods and you go and get all philosophical on us.”
McCabe smiled. “I had to. It’s the only way to illustrate how my dad always said that something is either spiritual or has the potential to be spiritual. Like a forest.”
“Like a what?” Pippa asked.
“A forest can remain completely untouched. No lumber. No development. But the deeds to secure the rights to that property give something that was just material and part of nature a spiritual sense.”
Pippa and Ian just looked at each other. There remained a silence in the room as if the words had meaning but stood suspended in a vacuum. The three officers all just moved right back to their tasks without uttering anything else.