What Happened Next

In last week’s episode, I began the sortied tale of the almost-upheaval that was to come due to a small packet filled with frozen chunks mixed with a warm sludge of military-grade spaghetti with meat sauce, combined with an upset tummy-tum.

And now, the second part of the tale: #2.

After being relieved of duty, my body alerted me to my need to be relieved of duty. I had enough time to pull my pack from the ahkio sled and put it in the medical/warming tent before my body informed me of the impending emergency that was building and need to be… Ahem, dealt with.

I asked the nearest Marine if there was a head in the immediate area (as much as I could have worked with a simple E-Tool, trench, and some snow—if necessary) as I really would like to have had something resembling humanity for what I believed to be the finale of the moment. He was good enough to direct me on the proper path. He was also kind enough to not only tell me where to go and how to get there (and not in a negative way), but he also informed me that he had just returned from that very location and that I shouldn’t encounter anybody—no line.

As I trudged through the deep snow (I didn’t have my snowshoes on), hoping that I would find that bit of shelter soon, the storm made following tracks near-impossible. So, I just kept walking the way I was pointed—and hoped. I hoped that I would make it. Everything was about to come to an end. My end.

To the best of my knowledge, I have an understanding of the terrible things that affect, and come out of the human body’s digestive system. There are bacterias and toxins that turn even the most well-regulated intestines into not… well, regular.

Now, there are things in this world that are usually not topics of conversation. Things that are understood. Things that we, on some conscious—or even subconscious—level, just understand. We know that the human body has limitations. I was nearing mine. Each step was some sort of personal test of my internal (and/or intestinal) fortitude. I was not sure if I was going to make it to the outhouse. And worse still, I was now out in the open. Before, I was in the trees. If something were to require immediate evacuation, at least I had the cover of the trees… Now, I was completely exposed. I was out in the open, and the only cover in sight was a small cluster of trees. But no outhouse.

When push comes to shove, we all have to decide what is most important to us. What it is we are willing to give up to gain—or to keep. At this point in my solitary sojourn, I had realized that I had not brought any toilet paper with me. Now, in an M.R.E. there are small packets of tissues that could be used for whatever a person would use a tissue for: blowing and clearing of the nose, wiping hands and/or face, crevice clearing, or whatever. But, I didn’t have any with me, and there was no going back. My insides had had enough of holding back this horrific version of the Hoover Dam-it. All I could do was hope there was enough paper in the outhouse—if there even was an outhouse (I was having serious doubts about it at this point)—to handle what was about to occur.

As I entered the little cluster of trees, I noticed a dilapidated structure of some sort nestled within. Oh no… Please do not let this be the outhouse… And yet, at the same time, that’s all I wanted it to be.

Yup, turns out, it was the outhouse. It was one of those National Park public facilities which are not much more than a deep pit with a cylindrical tube atop it (with a standard toilet seat attached), four walls, a ceiling, and a door. Yeah. This one, however, looked like it had seen one too many Halloween-horror movies. The walls were constructed with alternating boards around the structural studs, and the door was not in full working order, and there was about 6–8 inches of snow (and ice) covering the floor. Joy…

At that moment of discovery, my body reacted with something primordial, deep, deep within. It was like my whole inner-being knew that it could now, just give-in and let slip the dogs of war—so to speak. Apparently, my insides were ready to get outside—even if I wasn’t. My body was done holding it all in. Done.

I made efforts to close the door, to provide myself maximum privacy, to no avail. The ice and snow presented too much blockage—plus the door hinges were shot. So, I closed it as much as I could and resigned myself to having to listen to any approaching footfalls and just calling out, “Occupied!” if necessary. At this point, I had about two seconds to make contact physical with the ring or I was going to require a change of clothes that I did not have. Sadly, I had about eight seconds of work to do. See, in winter-time, you have layers. There were the over-whites (winter camouflage), the Gortex (dry-factor), regular camouflaged bottoms (uniform), then whatever personal undergarments you might want to have. Plus there’s the belt to undo, and the cammie pants are button-fly… Ugh, so much to undo in so little time! This was an E! Mer! Gen! Cy!

As I prepared myself for what was to happen next, it was immediately clear that I was not prepared for what happened next. Remember how I mentioned that we just know stuff. Well, maybe our bodies do too. Like, in that instance, as I began to assume the standard sitting position, the muscles that were doing their best to keep it all in, just relaxed and let it all go. I hadn’t even made contact with the ring. I was in semi-squat when it happened. That was the closest I ever want to come to adding racing-stripes to my underwear. Way too close. But, now… Now, I could relax. Or could I?

Remember when I mentioned that I had forgotten all about the paper? Yeah, that realization was now the new immediate concern. With the wind blowing through the holes in the wall, and my posterior possibly getting frozen to a National Park toilet seat, I scanned all about for a roll. I saw none. Not even a mount where the toilet paper would be housed. Well, at least there’s enough snow in this tiny shack-of-a-room, that I can make due and craft the world’s worst frozen bidet. This was Plan A. Not my preferred option, but beggars and their choices… At that moment, however, given the misery I was already experiencing, I went another route: I prayed.

As I have mentioned in other posts, I am a God-fearing man, and while it sounds kinda stupid to pray for toilet paper, in the middle of the woods, during a snowstorm, while everything you’ve ever eaten in your life, decides to shoot out of you, it doesn’t sound stupid at all.

So, as I sat there (venting—so to speak), praying, trying not to shiver to death, and trying to decide where to send my vomit (as all that shivering was adding to more stomach-churning), I looked about my privy-prison once more. To my great relief, there on a previously vacant wall-board, was a perfect, unused, dry (DRY!), roll of toilet paper. It was not there before.

Honestly, I don’t care if you believe me or not, I know what occurred.

After dealing with all the requisite paperwork involved in a woodland, winter-storm, military, tummy upheaval, I thanked my Lord for the roll (I truly did, and am not trying to be sacrilegious about it), put myself back in order (as best I could), and headed back to the tent.

Once there, I was the fourth sick-o of the weekend. Two other Marines were already getting into their sleeping bags (it was barely afternoon) and one was headed to where I had just returned. The three of us at the tent set up the stove, added wood, a little coal, and started a fire within it. We had intended on just going to sleep and letting nature take its course. It had taken each of us about twenty minutes to shed some layers, set up our iso mats and sleeping bags, then crawl in. With each one of us, every move we made threatened to release another unwelcomed military movement.

With a  fire in the stove that would last for hours, one Marine answering nature’s emergency call, and three of us about to drift off to nausea-induced sleepy-land, we all knew nothing could make our situation worse.

Blizzard! Get out!

To be continued…

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