By Scott “Jinx” Jenkins
The Specialist break room was typically a place of nerdy bliss. Conversations would bounce across empty space about topics like World of Warcraft, cell phone superiority, and schematics; occasionally even girls – or guys…
Volume would almost certainly drop every time the door opened. Everyone sharing in a momentary silence to investigate the intruder. Heaven forbid a crew chief enter and gain intelligence on the Specialist Flight happenings. Such information would become poo for All-Purpose-Gorilla’s to fling in an unsuspecting specialists face – much like the popular kids would do with slushees in Glee, only, crew chiefs weren’t pretty enough for television.
Yes, the Specialist Flight had its own flow, or current, or combustion. A process unique and rarely in need of troubleshooting. Dare believe, even, that it was blessed by the Maintenance Gods as a holy place.
Then how? How could it be that A1C Weint sat in the corner – either source or victim of a darkness – shrouded from the break room glory. His face drained of life, of dream, of Air Force Morale.
When SSgt Blair entered, the gloom housed across the room attached to his being – an icy chill traveling down his spine. Quickly, he shot glares around the room trying to find someone equally confused, someone equally scared for A1C Weint – for their Haven.
How could no one notice, or care about the current state? Without resolve the darkness would spread, and the Specialist Flight would have no option but to evacuate.
And to where? APG? Ha! No way, they wouldn’t last a week among the heathens!
Weapons? Just as bad, they would constantly be ganged up on; 3-to-1, with no safe evacuation zone.
Production? Definitely not. Time for breaks, forms documentation, and ‘research’ would be strictly managed, exposing the shop’s secrets on skating from work.
No one cared. Or at least it appeared so. SSgt Blair searched for a like-minded specialist to no avail. That was until his third pass, when SrA James noticed Sgt Blair’s visual plea, and broke conversation to offer a consoling grin and sigh.
SSgt Blair followed SrA James into the next room. No words, James simply rose from his seat leaving his conversation and traveled to privacy, to silence. Blair moved through the crowed without breaking visual from Weint or James.
The crowd neither adjusted to, nor acknowledged the movements of Blair and James. No surprise to James or Blair – the section ran like a well oiled machine. Yet, SSgt Blair couldn’t help but peer around the corner, every few seconds, at Weint to ensure the situation hadn’t worsened.
“Okay, what the fuck is going on?”
“Look, we have to just let it go. Let it pass. I promise everything will be fine.”
SSgt Blair couldn’t believe his ears. Obviously something wasn’t okay! Did everyone feel the same as SrA James; how could that be?
“How can you say that? Shit, as if the sight isn’t bad enough; I can smell the despair!”
“Okay, I will tell you. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.” SrA James stalled, as the two maintained gaze for a moment.
“Well, let’ hear it.” SSgt Blair poked.
“Ugh! So, last night,” James began, peering around the corner, making sure A1C Weint was out of hearing range. “Weint decided it was a good idea to go out…”
“Well, he didn’t take a Wingman. And he is such a lightweight, since he is so young. One thing led to another and next thing you know: he was plastered.”
“Shit! Did he get a DUI?!” SSgt Blair’s heart nearly exploded at the idea of how scrutinized the section would be after a DUI.
“He could only wish…No, he got plastered and met a girl. He met a big girl, like Dependa big.”
The color was draining from SSgt Blairs face with each passing word. His only resolve: there couldn’t be much else. But there was.
“Then, they went at it, in the middle of the bar. At one point people were scared she was going to eat him, or crush him. He was so happy.”
“Wait how do you know this if he didn’t take a Wingman?” SSgt Blair asked, confused.
“I know because in that moment of happiness, of drunk ness, Weint didn’t know there were a few crew chiefs in the bar. Crew Chiefs!” SrA James’ voice was starting to crack.
SSgt Blair’s head shook, uncontrollably. “No. Dear God, no.”
“Yes. And they took pictures. And from those pictures they made a meme, and it said, “Play Special(ist) Games….Win Special(ist) prizes.”
“Where did they put it? In the AMU offices?”
SrA James took a deep breath, choking back brotherly tears; “No, they put it on Maintainer Nation. ON MAINTAINER NATION!”