- 9 -

Sonny had a smoke and walked over to the Coral Reef Fitness and Sports Center. Sure it was a large facility run by the 36th Services Squadron, and had a pseudo Greco-Roman feel with its façade of columns and arches. It looked like everything else on Guam – tan with a red tile roof. Still, who were they kidding, it was as functional as everything else on Andersen.

For a while Sonny was into a personal fitness trainer who was certified in kick boxing and taught step. She was thirteen-years his junior, tanned, fit and beautiful. A gorgeous smile all the time. And they had some good times. When he could they’d hike along the island and he showed her how to dive amongst the coral. He showed off his culinary skills with a bit of Polynesian-Japanese cooking he learned in Hawaii. He bought new sheets and she stayed with him plenty of nights. And then he lost interest and had a very public blow-out. She knew something was up and drank a little too hard that night and tore a piece off him in a bar they used to frequent. He said some things he probably shouldn’t have said. Maybe it was part of his mid-life crisis. He didn’t really know. She was just so full of life and ambition and he couldn’t keep up. He was tired. And that was that. Now, he’d avoided the place like the plague. All her co-workers were her friends and he felt awkward around them, even the ones he grew to know well. Death by association he called it. He heard she took a transfer two months ago.

He entered reception and saw Christina manning the desk.

She was 5’4” 109 lb twenty-something brunette with less than an ounce of fat on her body. Her hair was up and she wore a two-piece pink and black Lululemon yoga outfit. On the other side of the counter was a 5”6, 215 lbs knuckle dragger, an airman he didn’t know and immediately didn’t like. His lats were flared when he was relaxed. It looked like he shaved the hair on his legs. He was drinking a protein shake and eating chicken and rice out of a Tupperware container. “Hey, Sonny!” said Christina, all bright and cheery. She thought he looked like George Clooney, only more real. “Yo, Chief,” the airman said and did a little man nod which must have been awfully hard to do thought Sonny, given that he had no neck. He was forced to do a little man nod back. “Oh, Hi Christina. Are my boys here?” “They have court 2.” “Thanks.” “It’s been forever since I’ve seen you.” “I guess,” he said. “The 36th keeps me busy. After Calli and I broke up...” “Hey, don’t worry about it. Why don’t you give me a call Sonny?” She wrote her home number down on the back of her personal fitness card. She had great penmanship and put a smiley face next to her name with a heart. “Maybe I will,” he said. He needed company, he was lonely. “Anytime,” she said and meant it. “Okay, I should – I was thinking maybe of having a couple people over for my fortieth. Today is my birthday” “You’re forty? Wow,” she said. “You look great for forty!” He was old, but she liked older men. “Happy birthday!” She gave him a big toothy smile. She had braces when she was eleven and wore them till she was fifteen. She had to have four teeth removed to have a great smile. “ “Happy birthday Chief,” said the ape finishing his rice. “Thanks,” said Sonny. He didn’t like knuckle draggers. “So, you’re doing something tonight?” She was working till two, but had to get up early to open the center at four am. “Well, I was thinking something like around six-thirty-ish.” “That’s be really nice.” “Yeah? I’ll write my address down.” He jotted it down on her schedule. She smiled. “I should find out what the hell is going on here, I guess.” “Yeah,” she said. “Happy Birthday.” “Okay. See you later.” He left and felt a bit better about himself. Forty wasn’t so bad. Women liked forty.

To Sonny, the recreation facility felt like it could have been in back in the States. It had everything: tennis courts, a weight room, volleyball and basketball courts, an Olympic-sized pool, racket-ball, anything to make Guam seem like home, except it would never really be home, and home would never feel like this.

His maintenance crew played a strong game of 5-on-5.

The score was 41 Skins and 48 Shirts. Senior Master Sgt. Sean Kelly (the only black man in the bunch) was playing referee. Sonny stood beside Kelly as he blew the whistle.

“That’s traveling Davidson!” Kelly said sternly. He took the ball and tossed it to Cummings. Cummings threw into the play and passed it to Shawna Collins, his hard ass woman. She was five foot three, but man, she was hard as nails. “Hey, Sarge, it’s kinda early for this, ain’t it?” said Sonny. “It’s good for them. Besides, there was no way I was going to spend the whole day listening to Thompson.” “Do you have any money on this?” said Sonny. “That wouldn’t be fair now would it.” said Sean concentrating on play. Then after a pause he said “Twenty bucks on Collins.” “I knew it,” said Sonny.

The team was divided this way – Skins: A1C Holman, Amn Thompson, SrA Cummings, SrA Emerick and SrA Price. Shirts: A1C Collins, A1C Davidson, Ssgt Payne, SrA Richards and SrA Chuvalo. It was the final quarter with seven minutes on the clock. Collins passed it to Richards who passed it back to her and she made lay-up for another two points. She was on the Girls All Star team in High School. Holman playing point guard, dribbled the ball down the court and passed the ball to Thompson who proceeded to try to deke out Senior Airman Chuvalo, who was six-foot-three, Ukrainian, and twenty pounds heavier than the five-nine, 150 pound Airman Thompson. Thompson talked shit to Chuvalo. “Chuvalo! You borsht-eating pinko! Look at this!” Thompson dribbled like a hot shot back and forth between his legs. “I bet you like to eat sausage, Chuvalo. I bet you like long thick sausages.” “You shut up.” Chuvalo said determined. “Chuvalo!” taunted Thompson. “Five seconds, Thompson, Five seconds,” Kelly had said this too many times already this game. “Pass me the goddamn ball Thompson!” yelled Cummings. Thompson looked over. His team was clearly annoyed at him. “I’m gonna give you my Kielbasa here if you don’t pass the ball,” said Davidson. He thought it was funny. Thompson passed it to Cummings who had to pass it back to Thompson when Emerick blocked him. “Chuvalo!” “What?” said Chuvalo. “Your momma likes eating my sausage!” said Thompson and he moved to toss the ball before dribbling it back and forth to himself in front of Chuvalo. Thompson took a shot and missed. Chuvalo took the ball went to the side lines. Thompson stood in front of him. “Chuvalo!” taunted Thompson. “Chuvalo!” “Don’t listen to him Chuvalo, he’s just all talk,” said Shawna Collins. From what I hear his sausage is more like pierogi.” “You want to see my sausage Shawna!” “Ha! Show me it big boy.” “You want to see it!” “Ha. Ain’t nuthin’ I ain’t seen before.” "You, ain't seen this..."

Kelly blew the whistle“Thompson pull your pants up!” yelled Kelly. “C’mon, here. Now! You too Collins” The game stopped, and Chuvalo and Holman passed the ball between themselves.

Kelly grabbed Thompson by the ear.

“We are civilized. Do you hear me!” “Ahhh. I hear you, sir, we are civilized, sir.” “Are you going to behave?” “Sir, yes, sir.” What about you Collins?” “Sir, yes, sir.”

Kelly let go. “Alright, Give me fifty, now. You too Collins. Hurry up you have a game to play.”

She rolled her eyes. “That’s seventy-five Collins.” “Sir, yes, sir.”

Thompson and Collins dropped to the floor and began doing push-ups, counting them out. Thompson struggled as Collins took the pace. Her arms and shoulders were sculpted, the heads of her triceps clearly defined. She liked grease and manual labour. She liked beating the boys at their games. She liked being able to kick Thompson’s puny ass.

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The siren continued.

“Don’t stop, Thompson, you owe me fifty.” Thompson counted out “Thirty-one,” while Collins said “Sixty-eight.” “Thirty-two.” “Seventy-one, seventy-two, seventy-three.” “It that a drill, Chief?” said Holman, staring at the ceiling. “I dunno, Holman. Keep tight.” Sonny didn’t know what was going on.

Just then the PA came on. It was the Colonel, The Commander of the 36th Wing himself. He said in not so many words that they were in a shooting war with China.

Forty. So much for a birthday party.