It was one of these deep black nights where the darkness seems to suck the light from the headlights. Even the high beams would not penetrate the darkness. I waited for a few minutes, but couldn’t see anyone in the gloom. Suddenly the high wire gate began to slide open and I drove into a dimly lit inspection bay. The gate closed behind me and I stopped again and turned off the engine. Still, no one had appeared. I climbed out of the truck with my ID and docs and peered into the darkness. To my left, a soldier stepped out of the pitch dark of the night.
Now this was one prepared and impressive trooper. He had a Glock on his hip, and an AR-15 slung across his chest with the barrel pointed down and ammo pouches bulging. He had enough ammo and weaponry to take on a drug cartel. His left hand was free and his right hand was on the 15’s pistol grip, with his trigger finger resting on the safety. As he approached, I had a strong sense that this guy had seen some serious combat time. This was more than just a well-trained soldier. He seemed completely self-assured by the way he handled himself and his weapon, as if the machine gun was an orchestra leader’s baton; his every movement was perfectly synchronized.
When he got two barrels length away from me, he stopped and looked down. And I mean, looked down. I’m six feet tall and 225 pounds, and as I looked up at this man there were two very distinct thoughts that ran through my mind:
One: Praise the Lord, this guy was on our side.
Two: The best thing I could do to get myself tucked away for the night was to just keep saying, “Yes Sergeant, yes Sergeant, yes Sergeant, (I’m your bitch), yes Sergeant, yes Sergeant.”
Finally, I guessed it was my turn to talk. Holding out our IDs and Bill of Lading, I said, “We are looking for a safe haven for the night with delivery in the morning.”
He didn’t reach for the documents, as I expected, and with his finger still on the safety just said, “What ya got?”
“Shipment for morning delivery,” I answered.
“Next time call ahead so we can be ready for ya.”
“Follow me to the ammo dump,” he said
He stepped back and disappeared into the blackness and I waited a bit, but then finally an MP sedan lit up in the night, and I saw him climb into the passenger seat. I got back in the truck and moved out behind the MP sedan as it escorted us to the ammo dump with blue lights flashing. (I always love those MP parades.) Once there, Sergeant directed me where to park and told me he wanted to brief me after I was finished.
Once I had the rig backed into my protective bay, Sergeant walked to the front of the truck and I stepped down to talk as directed. Having a little more time now, I noticed something about his automatic rifle. He still had his finger on the safety, but I saw a small electronic looking box at the end of the gun’s barrel mounted over the sight that I’d never seen before. Perhaps it was a laser or infrared device? Whatever it was, it was used to hit your target at night, lethally.
Sergeant started his short talk with, “You’ll be safe here tonight, and this area is regularly patrolled.”
“Thank you Sergeant, I have no doubt about my safety here,” I said.
“See that gray building over there?” he asked.
“Don’t go near that building.”
I wanted to shout, “Dude, there’s no freakin’ way I’m going near that building!” But instead I said, “Sergeant, I plan on spending the rest of the night in the truck and won’t step out until someone comes to get me in the morning.”
“That sounds like a good plan. Now let me give you the Duty Officer’s phone number if you need to get a hold of us.”
At this point we moved back to my driver’s side door so I could retrieve a pen and paper for the DO’s number. Sergeant was behind me and spotted Oliver when I opened the door. I heard the Sergeant say, “Awww,” and stepped aside so he could get a better view of the pooch. I noticed a relaxed demeanor come over the soldier, and a school boy smile lit up his face. “What a cute little dog,” he said.
And finally, I saw his finger slip down from the safety.