Throughout the military, there is a sort of boogeyman hiding in the closets throughout base housing. This boogeyman’s name is Jody.
While a puka shell necklace in human form is the least frightening apparition to deal with in the physical sense, his impact on your life can be quite severe indeed.
You see, Jody is the catch-all term used for the person who uses your absence on deployment or in the field to get close to your significant other.
Part horror story, part cautionary tale, the following stories are all true, but names and locations have been subtly altered for privacy.
When your relief “relieves” your wife first
Many moons ago in a land far away, there resided a platoon of Marines in their battalion area. As with most Marines, they spent the weeks and occasional weekends training for their upcoming deployment, and they spent their off time drinking, playing video games, and carousing. The majority of barracks Marines are all single anyway, so of all the harm they did it was typically to none but themselves… with the exception of Sean.
One of those unusual characters who could essentially spit from his backyard and hit Canada and yet was still disturbingly southern. Sean was not a subtle man, in the way that a rocket launcher is not the best tool for hanging up a picture in your house. He enjoyed country bars and women that spoke with twang, so it was a surprise to no one when he began spending more time at a particular country bar outside of base with a particular woman he had met with a thick Georgian accent.
Rarely would any of his platoon mates spend any real time around her, and when they did she didn't speak much. This wasn’t the most concerning thing in the world at the time because as long as it doesn’t impact the unit, he’s free to make all the bad choices he wants.
And make bad choices is exactly what he did. The morning the battalion was to be released for a pre-deployment block of leave, Sean was suspiciously absent. Conspicuously missing. Time for a formation was coming, and the pressure was on to find him. It was almost too late to get him back in time when a vehicle showed up in the battalion parking lot; a goldish brown four-door sedan with a sticker on the back window. A sticker in the shape of a Middle Eastern country that said “Half my heart is in Iraq”.
To a casual observer they could assume the sticker was in reference to Sean. Maybe she was just the clingy type. But those of us present knew that Sean had never been to Iraq. At least not yet. As Sean exited from the vehicle in order to get inside and change over for formation, he and the vehicle were stopped by several of the married Marines. While no damage was done to the vehicle, or to its driver, there are things that were said that would curl the page if I were to write them down, which is saying a lot considering you are reading this digitally. The driver's husband was a member of another Marine infantry unit, who was at that time waiting for us to deploy and relieve them.
Having Jody inflicted upon you is one thing, an accidental hookup with a person in a committed relationship while you are unaware is another, but to knowingly betray a deployed Marine when you are a Marine yourself? Disgusting. Needless to say, Sean received a great many kinetic corrective actions in the tree line that day from the assembled group of married Marines.
In a twist of fate to round out this particular story, Sean and his unit found themselves overseas a few weeks later. They went down to the phone center to sit in line for their 20 minute phone call home to let their loved ones know that they were as safe as could be. While the Marines were sitting there, there was a moment of realization in someone's face when they recognized the husband of the woman Sean had been fooling around with. If you’re thinking he kept that information to himself, you don’t know Marines. I don't think I've ever seen Sean run that fast before or since.
With Great Sleeze Comes Bad Karma
Extramarital affairs are never advisable, and this is generally from a moral and ethical standpoint. There are times however, when they can also be dangerous to your health and safety.
Jeff was a pretty good tanker. He hadn't been assigned to his current unit for very long, so he still had to spend time getting to know TTP’s and SOPs, but he put in the work with care and enthusiasm. This was a point of disagreement with his new bride who believed he should be spending more time at home with her. They argued a few times over the first couple of weeks, but then it seemed like a switch had been flipped and his wife understood his absence, and gave him no further trouble on the matter. This should have been his first indication that something was amiss.
Over the next few months, Jeff got into a pretty steady routine. He had a little more time in the evenings to spend with his wife, although she would encourage him to go out with his friends at least one night a week. He took this as a sign that all was well, and that their marriage was stable and happy.
These trips to the bar however would be her undoing. One night Jeff made it all the way to the bar only to realize he had left his wallet at home. It wasn’t a long trip, and giving his wife another quick hug seemed like an added bonus. 22 minutes later he found himself walking into the front door of his home, only to hear some questionable noises coming from upstairs. There was sadly no initial period during which he was allowed to believe that it was an intruder, or perhaps a movie. It was obvious from the start what was going on. Jeff wasn't the type to use violence unless absolutely necessary, but it would be hard to know that looking at his 6 ft 4-in frame looking like a cast member from Mayans.
As he walked into his bedroom and Jody looked up from his bed next to his wife, there was the briefest pause before Jody began to attempt to flee. Much like a cat seeing a cucumber out of the corner of its eye and then trying to bolt on linoleum, Jody moved without thought, only fear, and so it was that he found himself leaping head first out of the window… The second story window.
To make matters worse, Jeff's unit was a desert-based one, and even the plants Jody landed on were designed by mother nature to inflict pain. Jeff calmly collected the possessions he would require for the next few days, told his wife to get her things moved out, and left for the barracks. Jody was rewarded for his actions with a trip across town in a very well stocked ambulance, a broken leg and two cracked ribs, and a large number of barbed spines that had to be removed from deep in his flesh one at a time. It has been several years since that incident, Jeff is now remarried to a far better woman, who helps him take care of the little cactus he keeps in a pot in his kitchen. His new wife doesn't understand why it makes him chuckle so much when he walks by it, but since it makes him happy she doesn't care.
Your Pain Is The Breaking Of The Shell That Encloses Your Understanding
Marines are rarely a quiet sort, and James exemplified that stereotype with a passion. A lumbering hulk of a human being, he looked like a cross between Jason Momoa and a meat grinder. Quick with a joke or a tale of despicable deeds, it was rare that the machine gunner would even so much as frown. This was a point of pride for his section, as their deployment to Afghanistan was on its second extension and morale in other parts of the unit was not easily found. Unfortunately, an act of kindness changed all this.
On a tour of the battle space, the battalion chaplain brought with him care packages, comforting words, and most importantly a satellite phone. When they arrived at James’s battle position, each member of the platoon was to have 10 minutes to call home. Ever patient and caring of his fellow Marines, he opted to go last. When his turn finally came, he called home to his long time girlfriend to hear her voice and to inquire about his dog. One would think positive news from the two things he cared most about in the world that he didn’t already have around him would have only bolstered his heart, but that was not in the cards.
It took a few attempts to get the call through, but in a short time he heard her voice on the other end of the line. He spilled fourth with sweet words, quick stories, and reassurances that he would be home soon. There was hesitation on the other end of the line when he stopped to take a breath, then she began to tell him there was no rush to come back. Not only had she moved across the country, but she had done so to be with an old high school sweetheart. When he protested, she went on to reveal that she had been seeing him for the majority of the time they were together, trying to decide which to keep. His long deployment had essentially made her choice for her, from convenience rather than from the heart. To make matters worse, she had given his dog away to some random person on craigslist, with no way of getting him back.
It's hard to say what went through James’s mind first or last, if he had broken or simply built a wall around himself so thick that it would be impossible to penetrate. He roared at the phone, and when he realized she had disconnected and was unlikely to answer again, his rage settled on his face like the cooling lava after a volcanic eruption.
The easy smile was gone, and with It the jokes and the stories. James became quiet and dark in the eyes. From that point forward, he became the embodied spirit of savage violence, Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone pulled back from hell and stuffed into a meat suit built for vengeance. Every combat engagement became a test of will between James and Death. A roaring beast spewing flame and 7.62mm fully automatic fire at the enemy, challenging them to hate more thoroughly than he. The enemy always failed and Death was denied his prize, both James and the members of his unit beside him protected by his anger.
The remainder of the deployment continued in that fashion for three more weeks. Then came the laborious process of returning stateside. The new unit came to relieve them, turn over was conducted, and a great many speeches were given. While James’ suffering had turned out to be a powerful tool in combat, his friends were concerned about what would happen when he returned home. His behavior of the past few weeks would not go so well in a civilian environment. For reasons no one may ever know, there was no cause for concern. As soon as they set foot back on American soil, the rage was gone. The casual smile came back, the off color jokes returned. For the sake of the peace, it was never mentioned again, and life went on as if nothing had ever happened. He never did get a new dog, that wound didn’t heal quite right, but to this day he tells his stories like an innkeeper in a fantasy novel. Just, never the ones about that deployment.