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by Bedroom Friend
Author's Note: Although the following story is fictional, it is based on the actual experience of a female soldier I met in the U.S. Army in the nineteen-eighties.
Poor Kayla! She didn't have a chance. When Jim, Harry, Bob, Ken, and I stormed Alpha Company's position, her comrades skedaddled into the bushes like a bunch of terrified jackrabbits with live sparklers stuck in their asses.
"Hands up!" Jim ordered, training his rifle on the stunned lieutenant.
She threw her hands up. I reached down and grabbed her rifle.
"Anyone in the tents?" Jim asked, glancing sideways at Harry and Bob.
"No," Bob said. "They sure can run, can't they?" he chuckled.
"Can we catch 'em?"
"In THESE woods?" Harry shook his head. "We can radio Charlie Company. They'll keep an eye out."
Kneeling, Harry slipped the backpack off his shoulders to get the radio.
"Stay out of the light," Jim said.
Hastily, the chubby private dragged the backpack out from beneath the glare of the August moon, which was full that night, and set the radio up in the shadows at the edge of the forest. Bob and I slipped into the shadows too. Infantrymen by training, we knew the precautions, but it was good to have a platoon sergeant like Jim. He kept you on your toes.
"Over there, ma'am," he motioned with his rifle.
Keeping her hands up, Kayla stepped sideways, toward the foot of the watchtower, Jim moving along with her.
"Anyone up there?" he jerked his head at the tower.
"No," she replied, eyeing him carefully, sizing him up.
Jim was tall and strong, a long-distance runner possessed of the long-fiber, sinewy muscles that give men stamina but also, when needed, leonine bursts of vigor. He had a long, serious face, a prominent chin, and eyes like a falcon's, acute, vigilant and quick to detect anything of combat value.
"I must compliment you, sergeant," Kayla kept her hands up. "That was a very well-executed assault. I'd give you an A-plus for surprise. We were totally—"
"Shut up!" he snapped, his eyes darting left and right.
"Mike," he glanced at me. "You sure we're alone here? No enemy around?"
"Ken's still scouting," I whispered, crouching at the base of the watchtower. "I doubt there's any Blue troops in the vicinity, though—-for now."
"Yeah," Jim nodded. "For now."
I waited, feeling the gears of his mind turning.
"Get Bob," he said. "You two mount the tower. The enemy'll reach Hill 440 by…" he glanced at his watch, "no later than O-two-hundred hours."
"Should we use the flashlight? I know the code."
"You can signal?"
"We'll lead 'em right to Major Bradford's artillery, Sarge!" Bob's eyes sparkled.
"Like sheep to the slaughter!" I added.
Jim grew sober. "Let's not get cocky. We're not out of the woods yet."
I dropped my eyes, chastened.
"They'll probably use the radio. Bob?"
"You're good at disguising your voice. If they call in on the radio, you answer. Say you're some...some private fresh out of boot camp or something—-somebody they don't know."
"Private Dumbbell!" Bob chuckled.
I laughed. "He's good, Sarge. You should hear him in the barracks."
"Sergeant?" a quiet voice interrupted us. It was Kayla.
We all turned to her, surprised.
"I've a better idea," she said.
We waited, curious.
"Why don't you have ME answer?"
Jim and I exchanged glances.
"The radio operators know my voice," she explained. "They'll trust me. Why not?"
"You'd be willing to do that?" Jim asked.
"Would I be WILLING?" she laughed. "I'm your prisoner, right? If this were a real situation, I'm sure you'd find some way to make me cooperate."
Jim bit his lower lip, thinking. A smile crept onto his face. "You'd betray your own side, lieutenant? What happened to the Code of Conduct?"
Kayla frowned. "I'm no traitor, sergeant. But I'm no martyr either—at least not for Major Simpson's battalion."
"Sarge!" I grabbed his arm.
Jim turned to me.
"Can we trust her?"
He turned back to Kayla and considered the question, weighing the pros and cons. "Okay, lieutenant. We'll try it. But no funny stuff, you understand?"
"Sergeant, I'm at your command."
"May I lower my hands now?"
The first radio call came from our own side, at a quarter to two. By that time, the moon had climbed a bit higher, illuminating yet more brilliantly the site around the tower and the tops of the old trees that surrounded us, and Charlie Company had captured all of Kayla's escaped comrades.
"We got every one of 'em," Sergeant Moroni chuckled, "ALL TIED UP!"
I pictured the prisoners-—half a dozen guys and three gals, bound and blindfolded, probably in the woods.
"Any sign of the enemy?" Moroni asked, his voice serious now.
"Not yet," Bob spoke into the transmitter. "We expect 'em soon, though."
"Stay cool, man."
"Over 'n out."
We broke contact. A deep, dark silence fell upon the forest. If there was a raccoon nosing about in the bushes, we didn't hear it.
"Private?" Kayla spoke, her voice quiet, meek.
I turned. As ordered, she was sitting in the corner.
"Why don't you tie ME up?"
I felt a tingle in the pit of my stomach.
"It would add some realism to this, don't you think?"
I looked at Bob for direction. Either he hadn't heard or he chose not to listen. Gazing out the window of the watchtower, he seemed to be peering over the tops of the trees.
"There's rope over there," Kayla went on, indicating the opposite corner.
I looked and saw the hempen coil lying on the floor.
"You're not planning to take me with you, are you?" she asked.
She was right. When we moved, we'd have to move fast. A prisoner would be a cumbersome appendage to the unit while, if left unbound, she could sabotage our advance from behind. We'd have to tie her up sooner or later. Why not sooner?
I went to the rope and picked it up, surprised at how heavy it was. Strung out vertically, it could probably have stretched from the top of the tower to the ground, and then some.
"Stand up," I said.
She got to her feet.
She faced the wall. Tall, slender and remarkably limber, Kayla was a gifted athlete. She'd won some kind of gymnastics competition a few months earlier—-for something on the high bars.
"Hands behind your back," I said.
She crossed her wrists behind her back.
The rope was well woven, a new rope, strong and supple, with a faint smell of pine tar. A lumberjack's rope, I thought. I took my knife and cut off a length.
"What made you join the army, lieutenant?"
"Oh," she said, "adventure I guess. I wanted some adventure."
"Ever been tied up before?"
She giggled. "Once. In third grade. I'd just seen a movie about King Arthur and was pretending to be Queen Guinevere burned at the stake. I had my sister tie me to a tree with a jump rope."
"Sounds like fun," I said.
After binding her wrists, I cut off a longer length of rope and proceeded to wrap up her chest and arms.
"Oh, boy!" she exclaimed. "You're gonna use the whole nine yards, aren't you?"
Ignoring her quip, I continued, working rapidly. By the time I secured the bond with a square knot behind her shoulders, her arms were useless.
"Sit down," I said.
With a little help from me, she let herself down gracefully, sitting on the floor in the corner, back against the wall. "Can you take my boots off, private? My feet are burning up!"
It was a sultry night and, although we were high up in the tower, above the treetops, no wind was stirring over the woods. I unlaced her boots. She put her ankles together.
"Oooo!" she exclaimed as I cinched the bond around her feet. "That's snug!"
She shook her head. "Not at all. In fact, I kind of like it." Her toes wiggled in her socks.
I wrapped her legs up with rope and had just finished the task when the radio crackled. A male voice burst through the static. "Lieutenant Halifax, do you read me? Tom? Rita? Anyone?"
Bob nodded at Kayla. I rushed the radio to our bound captive and held the transmitter to her mouth, my heart beating like a war drum gone wild. This was it—-the moment of truth. For verisimilitude, I unsheathed my knife again and held it to her throat.
"Anyone there?" the voice repeated.
Kayla cleared her throat. "Lieutenant Halifax here. Over."
"Good to hear you, lieutenant."
"Good to hear you, Jack."
"Is everything okay there?"
Lifting her chin, Kayla looked up at me, my blade against her throat. "Hunky-dory," she said.
"Any sign of the enemy?"
"You're secure then?"
"Secure as can be. How's...how's the Colonel doing?"
"Good. He took Hill 440 five minutes ago. No resistance there. He'll be moving on in a few minutes. He expects to reach Bastion Nine by O-three-fifteen hours. We'll send a squad to relieve you shortly after that."
"Thanks, sergeant." She looked at me again. "I could use some relief up here."
"I know. I know, lieutenant. It can be a little scary up there, but just sit tight, okay?"
"Roger. Over 'n out."
"Over 'n out."
I turned off the radio.
"That's it!" Bob said. "They're headed for the ambush. Let's tell Jim!"
But Jim was already with us. Having climbed to the top of the tower, he'd just entered the guardroom. I'll never forget the smile that crept onto his face when he saw Kayla.
"Who did THAT?" he looked at me, then Bob.
"Mike's the culprit," Bob chuckled.
"You comfortable in them ropes, lieutenant?"
Brightly illuminated in a swath of moonlight, Kayla turned her nose up in mock indignation. "Considering the circumstances, sergeant, I'd say I'm about as comfortable as I can be right now."
"Guys," Jim turned to Bob and me, "Charlie Company's expecting us in fifteen minutes. We've got to vamoose. Think you'll be fine here, lieutenant?"
"Think YOU'LL be fine?" she threw the inquiry right back at him with an impish air. "Captain Harley's in the neighborhood and there's still plenty of Blue troops roaming about in these woods."
An owl hooted six times. If Jim ever worried about anything, he never showed it, but I sensed the chill that rippled through him. Kayla smiled, lynx-like, knowing she'd scored a hit.
"We should gag her, Sarge," Bob said.
Jim was reluctant to use a gag. If left gagged and alone, the prisoner might choke.
"Can you stay quiet?" he asked. "After we leave?"
"Why should I?" Kayla turned her nose up. "I'm duty-bound to do all in my power to stop you. Code of Conduct, remember?"
"But you've cooperated already."
"Only because you had a knife at my throat. But when you're gone..."
"We should gag her, Sarge," Bob whispered.
"As I told you before, sergeant," Kayla went on. "I'm no martyr but I'm no traitor either. I'll help my side, if I can."
Jim shrugged. "Gag her, Mike. Then meet us on the ground."
Bob slapped a roll of duct in my hand and he and Jim disappeared down the ladder.
Determined yet unsure, I stepped toward the lieutenant who was eyeing me curiously. I think she knew I'd never gagged anyone before.
"Put something in my mouth first," she suggested.
"Like the handkerchief in my back pocket."
She rolled onto her side, presenting her buttocks. I reached down and thrust a hand into her pocket. "The other one," she said. I stuck my hand into her other pocket and extracted the desired cloth.
She rolled back up, closed her eyes, and opened her mouth. "Go ahead, private."
I inserted the wad. Her cheeks bulged out like a chipmunk's packed with acorns. Like most female soldiers, Kayla wore her hair short, so I had no trouble wrapping the tape around the back of her neck and jaws. When I'd finished the job, she couldn't get a word out—-or much of anything else either-—if her life depended on it.
"You'll be okay like this?" I looked down at her, truly concerned.
Sitting on the floor, her back against the wall, she looked up at me and nodded. She seemed more subdued, more submissive now, and perhaps a little embarrassed, not to be bound or gagged, but to be seen by me in that condition. It was then that I had some stupid impulse to be chivalrous.
"Is...is there anything I can do to make you more...more comfortable, ma'am?"
She shook her head at the entrance of the guardroom, rocking back and forth, obviously annoyed. "Mmmmmph! Mmph-mmph-mmph! Mmmmmph!"
I took that to mean: "Go, you bastard! Go!" - or something equivalent.
Around three that morning, Colonel Simpson's troops marched right into the ambush we had helped arrange. Our big Red guns pounded the Blues for two hours, until the Colonel, outmaneuvered, outnumbered, and out-of–ammunition, ignominiously surrendered to Major Bradford.
Throughout the battle, Kayla lay bound and gagged in the watchtower. The scariest part, she said later, was listening to that owl hooting all night. "It sent chills up my spine!" she said. Dragging on till daybreak, her ordeal ended when two Red soldiers from Bravo Company showed up to untie the valiant young woman. In a delightfully Dickensian turn of events, she fell in love with Jim, married him, left the army within a year of their wedding, and, last I heard, the two were living happily together in Boston with their five young children. I sometimes wonder if he plays 'war games' with her too.
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