snippet 14

PFC Jacqui Winston was by no means a _smart_ woman. She followed orders, to the letter, because she trusted that her CO knew what he was talking about. Her loyalty and unquestioning obedience was already legend. Her squad knew it, the platoon knew it. You told “Jumping Jac” to get something done, she did it exactly as she was told to. No questions asked.

What was also quietly becoming legend, was her uncanny ability to smell trouble and her nearly supernatural skill for getting her squad out of it.

Sometimes she reacted so fast her buddies would swear that she could slow time. A common thing heard when asked about a mission would be “one minute she was there next to me, the next she was up the stairs and she’d be giving the all clear…” or “…I swear I was running into the building, but I found myself running back to the humvee and then the whole building went up like the 4th of july!”

PFC Winston talked slow, like a southern girl should, and walked (even in her battle-rattle) like a southern girl should. She was blonde and blue-eyed and tanned and toned. She once had a nickname “The Cheerleader”, but it was smacked out of the mouth of anyone who said it, by her squad. It didn’t last long, and she never found out about it. Nobody made fun of “Jumping Jac”. She’d saved too many of their asses, too many times.

She was oblivious to the awed looks and under-the-breath comments of turtle-heads and lifers alike, around base. She never left base, unless she was deployed. She didn’t seem to have any friends who came to visit. She never made any phonecalls off base. She wore jeans and tshirts when at home and her gear at all other times. Even her squad didn’t know much about her except that she was from a tiny village, not even on the map, in southern Alabama.