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I had just entered my second decade of service in Uncle Sam’s military and as a show of his appreciation, in the best left-handed compliment tradition, I was shipped off to spend a year in Japan. This was my second tour in that Asian land. During the first my unit managed to make time to conduct a hot LZ air assault in a badly planned and poorly executed rescue mission. This time promised to be much more tranquil as the world was more or less calm. Back then, before women were allowed into combat units, the only possible female companionship available were the local gals, a number of whom took advantage of the opportunity to mine American GI wealth by turning pro. Getting an actual Japanese girl-friend was nearly impossible because “nice” girls would be ostracized if ever seen in the company of a big nosed Yankee soldier no matter what uniform he might wear. Sure, you could have a long-standing relationship with a favorite bar-girl, but that switch was turned on and off as soon as you crossed the establishment’s threshold. I was never fully satisfied with the rather unemotional process of paying for pussy and was quite happy to go back to the States where, to be honest, I paid more cash for less sex in the form of dating.
Thus, with orders in hand and sea bag on shoulder, I glumly debarked with thoughts of another year of gazing at beautiful, but distant, Japanese women while making do with someone I could fool myself into thinking was special. It didn’t take me long to realize things had changed since I’d been gone. Not only had the deployment restrictions changed for base personal, allowing families (of whom we were only interested in wives and older daughters) to accompany their men-folk, but so had the limits on women themselves. At every turn I saw honest to God “round-eyes” working at every level, serving in a myriad of administrative billets not requiring a machine gun or rifle.
I remember thinking this might not be so bad. That optimism lasted up to the second I was told my year would be spent in a remote tiny Bumfuck Egypt post of which I, with over ten years in service, had never heard. My worst fears were realized when I checked in. There were three, count ’em, three US girls aboard the base. Two were already claimed and the third seemed to have studied at the same economic school of cash transactions as had some of the local girls. With little option, I faced the situation and took matters in hand as best I could.
Fairly quickly I struck up friendships with my fellow senior NCOs, chipping in to buy a share of a beat-up POS car from an old-timer rotating back to the States (another time honored tradition) so as to from time to time haul our horny, comparatively rich, asses back to the civilized part of the island. Oh, sure, there was the obligatory zone of economic activity just outside the camp’s main gate in which one could get drunk and laid, but for real selection, for real fun, one had to make at least a forty kilometer trek. Unfortunately, our deteriorating Flintstone-mobile could barely hold four large framed Americans as opposed to six smaller Asians for which it was designed and as eight of us were co-owners but only two with international driver licenses, not every weekend allowed us all to vent our respective pent-up energies, so we worked out a rotation.
Some of the guys were lucky enough to establish relationships with distant objects of desire, but I did not number in that crowd. Hook-ups happened as wives and daughters had needs of their own. Amid my crew looking for any no particular, but available, anyone I still yearned for someone of my own, when word began to circulate of an infrequently seen, but often sought, young woman whom none of us had yet met. I had glimpsed her once or twice from afar myself and knew little other than she was a slender blonde whose hair fell to almost reach her butt. She was often sighted keeping company with a early 20s dark haired woman and child, but never paired with a man. The rumor mill churned out a hundred and one stories describing her background and activities, none of which anybody believed but relished to tell.
Four of us were Down South, having driven down, looking for excitement or bargains, whichever came our way, meandering down one of the side streets when Ramirez performed a very energetic double-take into a pastry shop.
“Holy shit! It’s her!”
“Her who?” Lee grumbled as he kept walking with the rest of us.
“Her! You know: that blonde!”
With that the three of us quickly back-pedaled to join our eagle-eyed companion staring through the shop window.
We saw the back of a long-haired blonde in jeans snugly fit around a tasty round butt and a sleeveless casual top standing in line. Accompanying her was a good looking brunette and a girl about six years of age. I guessed them to be a couple of wives out exploring on their own while their men were busy.
Without a word Ramirez pushed open the door and we all filed inside to join the line, an air Beylikdüzü escort of competition suddenly sprouting into being. We didn’t care what the shop stocked, we all knew we were each gunning for the only special item on display. By chance I was right behind Ramirez when we queued up, mentally preparing our opening lines and wondering how to get a chance to use them.
“Hi,” Ramirez said to the blonde.
She barely turned her head with her reply of the same.
“Anything good here?” he offered.
This time she half turned and her cheek in one quarter profile made an appearance.
“I don’t know,” she said politely, “this is my first time here.” I was “Ah” and time came out as “tahm” in her Southern accent. I glanced at her companion and saw she was wearing a small half smile. I surmised she had often seen previous versions of this dance.
“Maybe we could share something,” Ramirez tried.
I saw the brunette’s eyes roll and heard Lee snort-laugh behind me.
This time she turned to face Ramirez and I saw firm resolution in the set of her eyes as she began, “Look, Ah’m not -”
Then her eyes skipped past him to take in the rest of us and landed on me. They widened.
“JACK!?” she exclaimed.
My eyebrows shot upward as my mind went into over-drive. I don’t know you.. do I know you? Maybe I know you…” I cranked the handle of my mental time machine trying to find a match as my open-mouthed friends gaped at me and then something clicked.
“Melodie?” I said hesitantly.
“YES!” She almost screamed and threw open her arms to haul me in.
“Wow,” I managed to get out as firm breasts pressed into my chest. “Long time no see…” Her friend’s face showed friendly surprise, not anger or shock, so I scratched half the rumors from the list.
“Where yuh bin?” she asked letting the hug relax so only her hands were on my shoulders.
“Uh, guys,” I sputtered, turning, “This is Melodie. We served together about…” I shot her a questioning look.
“Five years,” she filled in.
“…ago.” I finished.
“I made sergeant,” she stated proudly.
“About time, congratulations! Wish I’d been around to pin your stripes on.”
“Oh, I don’t think so. You just want to whup me.” She referred to the tradition of “pinning on” in which a newly promoted person is struck once in each bicep, roughly equivalent to the location the new insignia of rank is sewn on a dress uniform sleeve.
I laughed, thinking of other, more preferable, activities I used to imagine for the then gawkier, shyer, 18-year-old girl still new to the ways of the military.
“Hey, look,” she said, unhooking her arms and stepping back to join her tiny group, “I’m at Group CMS. Whar’re you?”
I told her, and she gave a familiar un-girly guffaw. “Shit, you’re in the middle of nowhere.”
“Mommy! Bad word!” voiced the girl.
Melodie knelt down to address the child, “Oh, I’m sorry, sweetie, mommy was excited.”
“Cuss pig!” the little one squealed.
“As soon as we get home,” Melodie said in with tone of promise.
“Okay,” the girl laughed.
Melodie glanced up at me and wiped away a stray wisp of hair.
“We gotta git our anpan and head home. Give me a call, we’ll catch up.”
“Group CMS, sure thing.” The number would be in the official phone book.
She introduced her daughter, Jasmine, and co-work, Corporal Ellen Greenleaf who subtly, but unmistakably, made it clear she wasn’t interested in playing footsie with anyone. Nobody was surprised when we made our farewells without making a purchase.
The guys were a bit put out having found that the subject of rumour their object of desire had turned out to be far from an easy mark. Consequently, I was blamed for ruining their chances. The rest of the day was spent with me explaining Melodie had been a nice kid working at battalion, fresh out of Texas who got snatched up by the first asshole she dated. I’d forgotten about the baby since we had infrequent dealings with one another. I wondered if her husband was still in the service or if they as one of the rare 2 for 1 deployment packages. We drove back to base much later that night having done our best to put a dent into the local liquor supply and was forced by the gate sentry to park our vehicle and walk to our quarters rather than present a danger to self and others aboard his government installation.
That night I had very erotic dreams involving Texas accents and long blonde hair. The next morning, I relieved my morning wood and then lectured myself about reality. “She’s a married mom and of lesser rank so that great ass and fine tits are off your plate!” Despite my attempt at self-counseling, I found the phone number to her office and scrawled it into my platoon sergeant book. You know, just in case I needed something from a support echelon not in my chain of command at all. Just in case.
My friends proceeded to black-ball me from Beylikdüzü escort our taxi service rotation. “No, no, Jack, we ain’t helpin’ you getting your hands on that sweet piece of tail down there,” they would say with big smiles. I tried convincing them I had no such intentions and they would nod and then say “Good try. No way.” I became very familiar with the local entertainment, such as it was.
As luck would have it, an opportunity came up which required a senior NCO (like me) to do some administrative bullshit at the base where Melodie worked. I wondered if I looked a bit eager when I volunteered my services to the First Sergeant. As a range safety officer, I was expected to drive myself in the execution of those duties, so I waived having a driver for this particular job and checked out my own vehicle. No sense in tying up two people when only one was needed, right?
The journey took about an hour and another hour went to execution of official business which left me foot-loose and fancy free just before the seemingly standard lunch hour of noon to one kicked in. I borrowed a phone at the office in which I had signed over the personal effects of one of our guys who had been hurt so badly he was medevaced back to the States and flipped open my note book. A few seconds later a bored voice announced I had reached my intended office. I identified myself by rank and last name then asked for Melodie by the same. Shortly her soft drawl came over the line sounding very officious and nothing at all like the enthusiastic girl from the bakery.
“Hi, hope you don’t me calling,” I began.
“No, that was an expected development,” she replied with a dry affect.
“Ohhh, are there other people around?” I hazarded.
“Most affirm, that is always the case,” she confirmed.
“In that case, what are you doing for lunch? It just so happens I just finished some business at TMO and have some time on my hands.”
“Really!” This time there was a jolt of excitement in her voice which she quickly erased as she continued. “I did not see that coming but I can work around it.”
“Is that a ‘yes’?”
“Great! I saw a Happee Burger on the way here, will that do?”
“Okay, typically that kind of thing takes only about ten mikes,” she said, weaving a web of obfuscation. I took it to mean she could make it there in ten minutes.
“Affirmative, Echo Five Mike,” I said in my best radio voice, “Synchronizing watches in 3… 2… 1… now! See you in ten.”
She laughed and hung up. Ten minutes were slipping away, second by second.
Happee Burger was just another slop chute, undistinguishable from a thousand others except that it was a burger joint on an American military base in Asia. That made it rather rare and highly sought after by thousands of somewhat home-sick GIs. Some of us embraced what the local culture had to offer and some of us clung stubbornly to anything resembling America. That’s how you can find a place outside of a base gate named Italian Restaurant. That’s all it took to bring in the money and the same here.
Business was brisk. I had positioned myself near the main entry so I wouldn’t miss her arrival. Crowd pressure forced me to continually change my spot and I didn’t spot her until she was next to me saying “Hi” in that Texan drawl which made it sound more like “Hah”. Oh, even in baggy camouflage she looked great. Her long hair was tucked under her cover which accentuated her heart shaped face. Her blue eyes were separated by a nose which on someone else would have been too long and pointed but put on her face it became cute, reminding me of something drawn on a character on a teen comic.
Her uniform completely hid the curves on display when I had seen her out on the economy, but she was a far cry from when she looked like someone’s kid sister playing soldier in clothes too big for her. We got in line and made some quick comparisons regarding where we’d been since last serving together, caught up on mutual acquaintances, and she gave a bare-bones back story on how she became a single mother on a three-year tour here with her daughter, Jasmine.
I gave her situation a second or two of consideration, thinking back to the way she had handled Ramirez and how she had sounded on the phone. “Young single mom, surrounded by a coupla horny GIs, that’s a challenge.”
She gave me a crooked grin. “A girl develops some defensive skills.” She reached out and gripped my hand with slender strong fingers. “It’s so good to see a friendly face, someone I know!” Her smile was from ear to ear and the pleasure was mutual. I was having a nice time with her, aided by the fact her garb allowed me to think of her as a colleague, not as the legendary, elusive, blonde round-eye.
“Three years? Oh, man, I thought they gave orders like that for families,” I groaned as I finished my fries.
“Ummm,” she nodded, draining her beverage through a straw. “The way Uncle Sam sees Escort Beylikdüzü it, me and Jasmine are a full family, just a bit lacking in the testosterone zone.”
I considered my small billet assigned to me as a staff NCO and tried to imagine living in it for three years. Shaking my head. “Damn. I hope they gave you quarters.” I knew some GIs who were living off-base in the ‘ville with wives who had flown over on their own dime for a few months and those places weren’t cheap and usually pretty run down.
“Oh, yeah, we have an apartment in the Kobi Towers,” she said referring to one of the high-rise apartment buildings the US government had built for families assigned here. Lot space was super expensive in Japan, it made economic sense to build up, not out.
She ran down some of the details, describing the efficient floor plan with a decent but simple kitchen, two bedrooms, compact living room and residual balcony. It sounded like a typical Japanese model, a bit cramped by American standards but probably roomy for a slender woman and a first grader.
“Sounds decent, Melodie, I bet you fixed it up pretty nice.”
“Ya wanna see it?” she asked with a hesitation so slight I almost missed it. Her smile was warm and relaxed.
“Sure,” I said, “I guess I could come down some day and -”
“No.” She said and leaned toward me. “I mean now.”
“Now?” I echoed like a moron. The lunch crowd was thinning out, we had been talking for a almost two hours. I checked my watch. “Holy Shit, don’t you have to get back?”
She waved me off. “Naw, I checked out. I’m done for the day. What about you?”
“Yeah, I’m on my own time, they don’t expect me back but to turn back in the vehicle when I get there, so I get there when I get there.”
“Great, so I’m free, you’re free. Come over and visit a while.” Her Texas accent had thickened a bit and the corners of her smiling eyes seemed a bit tight.
She touched the back of my hand again, this time more softly.
“It really is good to see you again, Jack,” she said, her fingers barely moving on my skin.
A hella sexy woman was sitting across from me, pretty much saying she had cleared her schedule to free time for me and was now offering to take me some place where we could be alone?
I cleared my throat. “Where’s -”
“She’s in school,” Melodie said. “The bus won’t bring her home for hours.” Her fingers were tugging at mine.
Let’s hear it for baggy pants I thought as I scooped up my cover and stood. Her eyes sparkled as she did the same. My official transport was safe where I had left it so we hoofed it back to her place. To anyone who may have seen us, we were just another pair of co-workers heading somewhere to get something done and, I guess, we were.
She lived on the fifth floor, so we took the elevator. The ride was quiet as we were the only two occupants. I was looking at her and she was, for the most part, looking at the doors. Occasionally, she’d look at me from the corner of her eye and a short lived half smile would flash. I was just letting my eyes drink her in, from the way some wisps of long blonde hair escaped her doo by her ears, the angle of her jaw, the high arch of her cheek bones, the curve of her lips.
The elevator car jerked to a stop. On exiting she said, “This way,” and took the lead. Identically shaped numbered doors in alternating colors lined the hall. She took out a key and stopped at one. “This is me.”
She fidgeted with the key and glanced at me, her expression almost apologetic.
“In case I haven’t said so, it’s really good to see you too, Melodie,” I said.
A different smile graced her lips and she inserted the key.
“You know,” she said walking in “you’re almost the only other person that’s been in here.”
I followed her into a small foyer. Immediately to my left was the micro-kitchen coupled with a space crammed with a small table and chairs. A little ceramic piggy bank was off to one side. To the right was a small living room with a futon, a worn recliner, and some toys scattered on floor and furniture. A sliding glass door showing a ledge of a balcony looking out on the world was just one of a number of doors leading out of the living room. Some photos of her daughter were on the walls along with Don’t Mess with Texas poster beside another poster, an old school recruiting poster with a woman wearing a combat harness over a dress blue blouse and bearing the logo “If You Want to Fight – Join the Marines”, and yet another showing an attractive smiling woman in a modern combat uniform under which was emblazoned “The Fewer, The Prouder”. Some artificial flowers stood in vases with some decorative candles here and there to soften the industrial corners. I took a whiff and took in girl-scent, so remarkably different than the pungent testosterone odor in which I lived my life.
She was shucking her blouse at the table. Finally, I was able to see some of the shape which had been on display when I had bumped into her. Where her working uniform had been almost sloppy loose because of her small size, her tee-shirt beneath was form fittingly snug. The lines created by her bra were clearly in evidence.
“You mean other than your friend Greenleaf?”
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