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It started out as a typical day. Xena and I were leisurely walking down a typical road bound for some as yet undetermined destination when all of sudden we heard the thundering hoof beats of a horse rapidly closing on us from behind. As we looked back down the road from whence we came we could see the horse and its rider getting nearer and nearer. Xena, being the careful soul she always is, decided it would be best if we vacate the road and let this streaking apparition have the right of way.
"I wonder what all the excitement's about," I said.
"Who knows," replied Xena, leading Argo off to the side of the road.
When the rider finally overtook us he did not pass on by as we assumed he would but reined in his horse and came to a stop. "Ho there, you two," he called out. "Would by any chance either of you know a Gabriel from Poteidaia?"
And of course like a big idiot I just had to say, "I come from Poteidaia and to my knowledge there is no one named Gabriel living there. However my name is Gabrielle if that's any help."
The rider looked at me oddly for a moment. He then shrugged his shoulders and pulled out a scroll which he tossed to me. "I guess they must mean you then," he said.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Well it ain't an invitation to the Dionysia," he answered, somewhat snidely I thought. With that he wheeled his horse around and was off.
Well! You can imagine my curiosity as I broke the seal on the scroll and unrolled it. "Isn't this exciting, Xena?" I asked. Somehow my friend did not seem so...enthusiastic.
"Gabrielle, I don't think this scroll is such a good thing," she said.
"Oh you're just envious 'cause you didn't get a scroll," I retorted smugly. Finally I managed to get the accursed thing open and I eagerly scanned its contents. To my disappointment the thing seemed to make no sense at all. Here's what it said:
"Induction? Active duty? What is this gibberish?" I asked Xena.
Xena took the scroll from my hand and read it for herself. That done, she slipped a sympathetic arm around my
waist and squeezed. "Gabrielle honey," she said, "it looks as though you've been drafted!
Well finally the day came when I had to report for something called a "physical." Xena wanted to go with me but I managed to convince her this was something I could handle on my own. I mean, after all, how hard would it be to to convince those fellas I was not a Gabriel. Upon reaching the so-called "induction center," the first guy I saw was this big, burly sergeant. He looked to be in charge so I walked up to him and said, "Excuse me, please. My name is Gabrielle and I got this ah...notice--"
"Step to the end of the line," the sergeant growled. I mean he literally growled! What a jerk!
"But you don't understand," I said sharply. "There's been a big time goof up. You see, I, I don't belong here."
"Yeah yeah, that's what they all say," the sergeant snorted. "What makes you think you're different?"
"Well, ahem, I'm a girl," I said rather smugly. Naturally I fully expected this little revelation to get some kind of reaction from him but, to my consternation, the guy never batted an eye.
"Kid, I gotta admit, that's a new one," he said.
Well! Despite his incredulity I resolved to try again. Nobody ever said Gabrielle is not persistent. No sir. Just ask Xena. "But look at this notice," I said quietly, changing my tack. Obviously if vinegar wasn't going to work I would have to try a little sugar. I thrust the notice in his hands and said, "See, this is for someone named Gabriel, G-A-B-R-I-E-L. My name is Gabrielle, G-A-B..."
"Look, Aristotle, spare me the damn spellin' lesson, okay? Now why don't you be a good Josephus and get in line huh? Before I get sore and put your ass there myself!"
Don't ask me why but I found myself wishing Xena was here to knock this guy on his keester. "Look," I said stubbornly, can't you understand plain Greek? There's been a mistake--"
The sergeant drew himself up to his full height and uttered a phrase I wish I had a dinar for every time it was heard
by me afterward. "Kid, he said, "the army does not make mistakes."
After standing in line for Zeus knows how long I was finally herded in front of this healer. At least I think he was a healer. There was a little sign above the door of his examination room that read, "BEN DOVER, HEALER." When this guy finally got around to me the first thing he said was, "Okay, strip to the waist please."
"Say what?" I asked in disbelief.
"Strip to the waist," he repeated.
Oh yeah, right. Who does this nutball think he is? I mean there were fifty guys standing in line right behind me. I'll just reason with him, I thought. "Look here," I began, "there's something you ought to know..." That's as far as my reasoning got.
"You're holding up the line here!" he shouted. "Take the damn green top off!"
Well screw you to Mount Olympus, I thought. But by now I was tired, hungry, my feet hurt, I had to pee...oh what the Tartarus I thought. Anything to get me out of here. "All right, darn it," I said. "But don't say you didn't ask for it." Taking hold of my BGSB© I peeled it off over my head and carelessly tossed in on the floor. "There, ya satisfied now?" I asked, rather snidely I'm afraid. I thought surely now these morons would get the message. Hoo boy, was I ever wrong because you'll never believe what happened next.
The healer looked at me oddly and asked "What are those growths on your chest?" I'm not lying! May Zeus strike me dead with a thunderbolt if I'm making this up!
"You gotta get out more," I told him incredulously. "They're called breasts. You know--boobs, knockers, bazooms, honkers...tits. Surely to gods you've seem them before. I mean, after all you are a healer."
"Sure I have," the guy answered defensively. "But I've never seen anything like that on a recruit before." He scratched his head and went on, "Must be an overactive gland or something." He then looked me up and down and asked, "And why are you wearing a skirt? Are you one of them funny boys?"
"Don't you get it, you idiot?" I asked in exasperation. "I'm a woman. W-O-M-A-N."
"I told you to knock off with the spellin' lessons!" the sergeant growled.
The healer looked at me as if I had just come straight from the bowels of the underworld or something. "You can't be," he said matter-of-factly.
"And why the (censored) not?" I bellowed. I was really pissed now.
"Because," he said, "it is not army policy to draft females and as we all know the army does not make mistakes. But don't worry, Gabriel, we can fix that."
"You'll play Tartarus too," I cried, cupping my breasts. "And it's Gabrielle. G-" I then remembered the sergeant.
"No, no not that way the healer said, smiling. I got some herbs I can give you." He then proceeded to put his ear first to my chest and then my back. As he wrote in my scroll he mumbled, "Heart and lungs....normal." I then saw him take this pig bladder and step behind me. All of a sudden I heard this POP! "Hearing normal," I heard him say as I returned to earth. He then walked over and pointed to a large piece of parchment tacked up on the far wall. "Step to the red line on the floor there and read the chart out loud for me please."
Well I did and here is what it said:
"Eyesight normal," he wrote in the scroll. Well I thought at last this ordeal was over but I had one last surprise in store for me. To my consternation that stupid healer suddenly reached behind me and pulled up my skirt. "Okay," he said, "bend over. I got to check you for ah, well you know."
This was too much! I got so angry I pulled a Xena on him. I reached out and caught him by the nose. I squeezed that schnozz of his so hard I felt the snot oozing into my hand. "Listen, you little twerp, ain't but one person gonna check me for anything down there." I gave his nose a big jerk. "And you ain't it."
"Okay, okay," he honked, "I'll take your word for it." He picked up the scroll and wrote, "No ruptures, no hemorrhoids."
"That's Gabrielle", I insisted.
"Yeah, whatever. That's it. You can get dressed now."
As I put my top back on he rolled up the scroll and then gave it to me. "Take this and give it to the fella next door," he said.
With the scroll in my hot little hand I walked next door. Above this door was an odd sign. At the top were the letters SICHI. These had been crossed out and under them were the letters PSYKIAT. These also had a big "X" crossed over them. Finally at the bottom of the sign I read: B. U. NUTZ, SHRINK.
"Herr Gabriel, please zit down," the guy said. "My name ess Daktor Nutz."
I closed one eye and looked at him suspiciously. "You're not from around here, are you?" I asked slowly.
"Nein. I am from ze Teutonic tribes up to se north."
"What brings you down here" I asked.
"Vell, during se late war I vorked in se interrogation unit of se Wehrmacht. Oh zose vere se happy times. Se fun ve used to haf with zose prisoners..." He looked at me sharply and barked, "Hey! I'll ask se questions around here if you don't mind. By se way, has anybody efer told you you are very pretty--for a man I mean."
I leaned over the table and crooked my finger at him. "But that's just it," I whispered. "I'm not a guy. Can't you see that? This is all just a big misunderstanding. You see, my name is Gabrielle, not Gabriel."
"Of course it is," he replied in a patronizing manner. He took my scroll and began to scribble furiously in it. "Now tell me, Gabriel..."
"Of course. Tell me, Gabriel, do you hate your mozzer?"
"I looked at him curiously. "What's a mozzer?" I asked.
"Idiot! Zat person zat brought you into zis world. Your...mommy."
"Geez, there's no need to get excited," I told him.
"I am not egzited!" Nutz shouted.
"Hmph, you could have fooled me," I muttered.
"Just answer ze question!"
"All right. Sheesh! No, I don't hate my mother."
"Aha! So it's your father you hate," he cried triumphantly.
What's with this guy? I thought. "No I don't hate my father either," I said.
"Maybe one of your siblings then?"
"No," I said. "Although Lila and I used to squabble quite a bit when we were younger but, of course, that's to be expected when--"
"Silence!" he shouted. He spread the palms of his hands down on the table in an obvious attempt to calm himself. "Maybe you hated your aunt then."
By now the good doctor was getting desperate. "Tell me, Herr Gabriel. Es zere anyone you haf ever hated?"
"Oh sure," I told him.
"Zat's more like it," he beamed. "So who was zis perzon?"
"Well it wasn't a person," I said. "Actually it was a dog?"
"Yeah. You see it was our neighbor's dog and every time I passed his house that mutt would chase me. Mother, Father, Lila...anybody else could pass by there and that stupid thing would just lie there like a bump on a log. But whenever it saw me it would take out after me like a griffin out of Tartarus." It was here I shook my head and muttered, "Gods, I hated that dog."
"I suppose zat's something," Nutz said dejectedly, writing in my scroll. "Now, are you married, Gabriel?"
"Well I was--for one night anyway," I told him.
"Yeah, you see, Perdicas, that was my husband's name, was killed the very next day."
"You married a man? asked Nutz incredulously. "Verrrrry interestink." Here there was more scribbling. "So what happened to your ah, husband?"
"He was killed by a woman named Callisto."
"Oh? Zis Callisto perzon, do you not hate her for vat she did?"
"I did for awhile," I said. "But with Xena's help I managed to overcome the hate."
More scribbling. "And just who ess zis Zena perzon?"
I pointed to the scroll and said, "That's Xena with an "X", not a "Z".
"Ess Xena your friend?"
"Ohh yesss," I gushed. "She's the most remarkable person I have ever met."
"Tell me about her."
"Well she's tall, gorgeous, has long black hair, and very big ahh, muscles," I said dreamily.
"And vat does she do for a living?" he asked.
"She kicks butt," I said. "She's a warrior."
More scribbling. "A warrior?"
"Yeah. And you ought to see her in action," I said. I pointed to the surly sergeant standing outside. "See that guy? Xena could lick him and his whole family and not even break into a sweat. Come to think of it, she never sweats which is pretty amazing considering all that leather she wears."
Here I saw the good doktor's ears perk up. "Leather, you say? She wears leather?"
"With gauntlets and knee high boots and a brass breastplate and, excuse me doctor, why are you drooling like that?"
"Oh uh, sorry, Gabriel. It's because uh, I uh, haven't had my lunch yet. Yes zat's it." He then leaned over his desk and whispered, "Does you friend by any chance...have a whip?"
"Why, come to think of it, she does," I said. "Although she hardly ever uses it anymore."
"Und why not?" he asked. I could not be sure, you understand, but to me he seemed somehow disappointed to hear this. "Are you not into zis sort of thing?"
What the Tartarus is he getting at? I wondered. So I wrinkled my nose and asked "Huh? What are you talking about?"
"Your friend, is she into...domination?"
"Hah," I snorted. "She used to be big time. Heck, she even wanted to rule the world. She had this big army which rolled through Greece like crap through a goose ruthlessly smashing everything and everybody who dared oppose her."
All of a sudden Nutz stood up and cried, "Stop! Stop!"
"What's the matter?" I asked. "Are you ill?"
"Nein, Gabriel," he said. I swear the guy was sniffing. "It's just you reminded me of se good old days in se Wehrmacht"
"Oh." Gee, I thought to myself, I wonder just what a wear mock is anyway?
By now Nutz had more or less regained control of himself although I noticed that when he sat down he did so rather stiffly. "Let us continue," he said. "Your friend, I take it she doss not do zis anymore?"
"Oh no," I replied proudly. "She's reformed. Today she fights for truth, justice, and the Athenian way."
The doctor muttered something that sounded like, "How sad," but I knew that couldn't be right so I asked him, "Excuse me, what did you say?"
"I said I'm glad," he replied, kind of half-heartedly I thought. He then proceeded to pull out a small piece of parchment from his desk. "Okey dokey, Gabriel. Ve vill now play vord association game. I vill say a vord und you tell me se first sing zat pops into your head."
"Oh goody," I said, clapping my hands gleefully. "I looove word games. Xena and I play them all the time. Funny thing though, I'm supposed to be the bard but somehow she is the one that always wins. Go figure."
"Lay it on me, Doc," I replied.
"Umm, are you sure you understand zis game, Gabriel?" he asked.
"Uh hmmm," I nodded.
Nutz sighed deeply and said, "Very well. Ve shall continue. Next vord, responsibility."
"Xeeeeennnnnaahhhhh. Oh uh, sorry Doc," I said, blushing, "I guess I got carried away there."
The doctor responded by grabbing his hair and yanking out a rather large chunk of it. "Ach, himmel!" he shrieked.
"Umm, excuse me," I said, trying to be helpful, "but that's two words."
"Stop! Stop! Schweinhund!"
Gee I wonder what rolled his undies in a wad? "But I vas only following orders," I said innocently. "Oops, excuse me. I mean 'was.'"
"Only following..." Nutz staried at me like I had two heads. The guy leaped to his feet, his eyes bulging, and yelled, "Out. Get out! Zose charges against me were dropped for lack of evidence."
"What in the name of nutbread are you talking about?" I demanded. I had had just about enough of this wacko.
One last time Nutz scribbled something on my scroll and then threw it at me. "Tell se sergeant you are classified One-A," he yelled. Now OUT!"
Well there was nothing left for me to do but pick up the scroll and bug out. You know, looking back on it now it was no wonder he
was called Nutz.
Basic Training: Day One
The next thing I knew they were shipping me to a swine-hole known as Camp LeJunius. As soon as we got off the cart we were met by a big guy with scars all over him. After forming us into a line he methodically walked up and down in front of us slowly shaking his head. At last he said, "My name, kiddies, is Sergeant Slug. Your life, as you have previously known it, is over."
This seems like a reasonable fellow, I thought. "Um excuse me," I said.
The hulking sergeant strolled down the line to where I was standing and looked me in the eye. "What is your name, dog face?"
Dog face? Criminy, do I look that bad? I decided to ignore his insult. "That's what I wanted to dicuss with you. You see my name is Gabrielle not Gabriel."
The sergeant held up a limp wrist. "Ooooh, listen to this one. My name is Gabri-elle," he mimicked. "Listen you. You ain't in Gaul. Here we don't pronounce our names with those sissy accents." He turned to the man standing beside him. "Corporal Lackey, what is this man's name?"
"It's Gabriel, Sergeant," the corporal said.
"Well, Gabriel," the sergeant growled, "you are now officially on my shit list."
"Hey that's a new record for a recruit," leered Corporal Lackey, the little weasel.
"But there's been a mistake!" I cried. "I don't belong here." I should have known better by now.
The sergeant looked down at me and I could almost see the steam coming out of his ears. "Listen, you little sissy. If you never learn anything else in this man's army, learn this..."
I knew what was coming so I beat him to it, "The army does not make mistakes."
I have heard of people having a coniption--but I'd never seen one before. Sergeant Slug had a coniption. His eyes turned yellow, his teeth grew into fangs and, I swear, horns grew out of the top of his head. "Corporal Lackey!" he roared.
Slug looked at me wildly and said, "Take Gabri-elle here out to the confidence course--and run him until he pukes."
An hour later found me on my hands and knees fulfilling the sergeant's conditions. For the life of me I could not understand
why they called it a confidence course because it didn't give me any confidence at all--just pain. I suppose I should have been
grateful because I got to taste all over again the mysterious brown gooey stuff they had given us for lunch. Well anyway such was
the evening and the morning of the first day.
Basic Training: Day Three
"Hlep, hup, hareeep, hore. Hlep, hup, hareeep, hore." Gods! If I ever hear that silly litany again, it will be too soon. They took us out on this so-called "parade ground" and we drilled...and we drilled...and we, well you get the drawing. Of course I had to learn the hard way about this stuff. I remember stopping and asking the sergeant about it. Sometime during the ensuing screaming of some very creative expletives I managed to gather from him it was was called a cadence. He kept telling me to keep in step. It wasn't my fault, I told him. I mean, let's see you try to walk in sandals that would fit a cyclops and trousers that two of me could fit into. While standing there watching the veins pop out on his neck I began to take pity on the man.
"Excuse me, Sarge, but must you scream? I mean are you hard of hearing or something?" I did not think this to be sarcasm but evidently the good sergeant did because...
"Corporal Lackey!" he bellowed.
I knew what this meant. "Confidence course?" I asked.
I remember the vomit being of particularly fine consistency that day. Such was the evening and the morning of the third day.
Basic Training Day Six
"Today, children, we are going to learn the manly art of self defense." The sergeant had us form a circle around him. He held up a thing called a pugil stick and said, "Which one of you lily-livered pansies wants to knock the your old Sarge's block off?" For some reason I think this was a rhetorical question because he was looking at me the whole time. "How about you, Gabriel?" he sneered.
"Well I'd rather not."
He tossed me the other pugil stick and roared, "Get in here!"
I shrugged and got into the ring. Now I ask you, what is a pugil stick other than a staff with pads on the end? What chance did this guy have against the second best fighter with a staff in all of Greece? (Need I tell you who is first...I thought not.) The sergeant readied his stick and leered, "Come and get me--Gabri-elle."
Heh heh heh.
I Get the Boot
Five days later, while languishing in the stockade (Gee, what a sore loser!) I heard someone outside my cell door. "Okay, Gabriel, you're free to go," the guard said after opening up.
"Really?" I asked. The guard nodded and so I walked out into the bright sunlight. My eyes weren't used to the intense light so it took me a couple of minutes to adjust. I was still squinting when I heard this voice.
"Hello, Gabrielle." It was Xena! Well guard or no guard I ran to her and took a flying leap into her arms. The warrioress caught me easily and gave me a big smile. "I've missed you," she said. "Ya ready to blow this joint?"
Boy was I! "You mean I'm free," I asked anxiously.
"Yep. I got it all straightened out," she said.
As we were about to exit the front gate I heard a gruff voice call out, "Hey, Gabriel!" It was Sergeant Slug.
"Xena," I said, "if you want to slap this guy around a little bit I won't try to stop you."
"Now, Gabrielle, be nice."
Slug walked up to us and and to my surprise stuck out his hand. "Hate to see you go, Gabriel. You had the makings of a damn fine GI." (Greek Issue).
"Well...thanks," I sputtered, taking his hand. "But like I told you all along. I'm not Gabriel. My name is..."
From all over the camp a thousand voices suddenly yelled, "Gabri-elle! G-A-B-R-I-E-L-L-E!"
"Looks like you made quite an impression," allowed Xena.
"The only impression I want to make now is by my teeth in a nice juicy piece of beef," I said.
As we exited the camp we were startled by a whiny nasal voice we both knew so well. "But I tell ya I'm not Jett. My name is Joxer. J-O-X-E-R!"
"Gee, Xena," I asked, " you think we ought to tell 'em?"
We looked at each other and after a moment we both said, "Nahhh."
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