Julia Hogan: Jump School (short fiction)
Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I’m writing this on my porch, in a t-shirt, in December, drinking a PBR.
See, I didn’t learn how to jump out of airplanes the old fashioned way. This was before the Gulf War. I was a private at Fort Benning and I wanted to learn how to be a Jump Master. But to get Pre-Jump certified you had to be a Corporal. And I was a Private. Pre-Jump means you take a test to make sure you’re good enough to throw yourself outta planes.
So I went down to the Army Navy Store and I bought the stripes to make my self a Corporal. And I walked into the Pre-Jump class. And you wouldn’t believe it but my supervisor was takin’ the same certification class. He smiles at me and winks. He thinks its a funny prank. Lucky me, I guess.
Well it comes around to take the test and I pass— and my supervisor doesn’t.
So I don’t know this at the time but our base needed eight Pre-Jump certified soldiers to send to Jump Master training. If we didn’t have that, we’d lose a hell of a lot of funding from the government, or some shit. They have seven, but they need eight. My supervisor clears his throat and says, well, you know, Private Franklin is Pre-Jump certified.
Of course everyone in the room doesn’t get it. They say that’s impossible like you can’t just go down and buy your self some stripes.
So my supervisor tells them the whole story. And they decide to promote me to Corporal. Corporal Franklin, heading to Jump School so the base won’t lose their freaking money.
At the time, I’m way off base, visiting my girl in Atlanta. This was also against the rules. I come back at four a.m. to a sign on my door tellin’ me to see the supervisor A.S.A.P.— As Soon As Possible. I rip that fucker off the door cause I think damn, I got caught. Either sneaking off base or sneaking into the Pre-Jump class or sneaking weed into the barracks. Something. I need some sleep.
I wake up forty-five minutes later to pounding on the door. The guy is saying that I need to pack my bags. That I have fifteen minutes to be on a bus headed for Jump School. I don’t understand. He says I’ve been promoted. I still don’t get it. I pack my bags. In the Army, you do what you’re told.