(Originally emailed 11/14/2011) I couldn’t believe it – the short time Melody and I spent in DC getting ready for the deployment/processing site was coming to an end. Something else was almost as unbelievable – Sister Mary Danger was deploying to Afghanistan again as a contractor at the same time! Unfortunately, we wouldn’t work together or even on the same base. She was going to the south and I was headed to Kabul, but we’d see each other in DC before individually leaving for the deployment site. Excellent! Layla and her bf weren’t far, Chip was in the area so we vowed to get together before leaving. I invited Melody to our lovefest but she was taking on-line classes and turned me down, opting to get some work done. Besides, Melody doesn’t drink and the old crew was headed to a bar near Danger’s hotel. How convenient!
Once again, Chip was absent. He had to return home to visit his ailing Dad. Man, that guy can’t get a break! Layla and her bf made the trip and we met up with Mary Danger and her new crew at the bar. God it was great to see her! She proudly introduced me to her new coworkers and we talked some. Yeah, Scrappy Doo still exuded the bad ass chick vibe but she seemed harmlessly preoccupied and distracted. I attributed it to the impending departure from all things normal, so a little rowdy drinking made sense.
We did shots, we laughed and reminisced. We did shots, we played pool. We did shots and talked about Layla’s new job and the future. We did shots and played darts. We did shots and pulled Mary aside to talk about the Ft. Lauderdale trip – Layla and I had questions. We did shots, and things started spiraling out of control. Even throughout the drinking, Layla, Mark and I had decent, semi-intelligent conversation. Yeah, we gave each other shit and talked about the future but we were coherent. However, Mary Danger became progressively ‘detached.’ In addition to the shots, she started drinking with a vengeance, calling us pussies for not keeping up, going outside to smoke and talk shit with strangers. I’d never seen this belligerent side before. Her new teammates kept throwing back the alcohol, but Danger far outpaced them. It was alarming. Still, I recognized that our little alcoholic was intent on getting all she could before leaving for the forced sobriety of Asskrakistan.
But Danger mutated into an out-of-control hot lava mess. She started slurring her words, hitting on women, chugging other people’s drinks, paying for rounds for strangers, cursing Layla and me – all the while shouting “I don’t give a fuck! I’m 24yrs old making six figures!” Was it really just the booze and money? Was it the land mine she stepped on last time? Was it something deeper?
In her drunken stupor Danger revealed that she had just found out about a neighbor kid she’s known since high school. Fuck! Why do people need to get boozed up to talk about the hard stuff in life? I’ve never understood that. The kid was diagnosed with brain cancer. Okay – I get it, you’re feeling shitty, guilty, sad, etc. for this innocent kid, but there was something more. Standing out back with the smokers so she could light up we found out the real reason – Danger had tried to commit suicide after our first deployment! She swallowed a bunch of pills then panicked and called a girlfriend for help. The two stayed up crying all night, saving Mary’s life. Good f*cking Christ, how could this happen to my lil sis? Why didn’t she reach out? Why did the demons overtake her? How the fuck could we help her now? She blamed us – her ‘family’ – for not being there. I was stunned.
She was out back making a scene – yelling, crying, accusing, blasting us, trying to light a cigarette, holding onto a railing for support, a complete meltdown. She was aggressively confrontational, irrational and completely tanked. The bar manager kicked her out and I was glad to go. Mark brought the car around but Danger refused to get in. She stumble/walked thru the parking lot toward her hotel, not 500 yards away, all the while shouting how Layla and I failed her and are not her friends.
We’re through the parking lot, crossing the street, the hotel entrance maybe 100 feet away. Mary stops in the middle of the road, wildly ranting about everything and nothing. She won’t budge! It’s around midnight – cars drive by. Layla and I try pleading with her, a car approaches and starts to slow down. Danger flips off the driver, bellicosely repeating over and over, “I don’t give a fuck, I’m making 6 figures!” She’s crying, she’s yelling, she’s not moving, she’s gonna get killed. I was pissed and getting progressively madder. This fucking idiot was intent on destroying herself – and the repercussions for me and Layla would be bad – cuz we drank with her. All I could think of what WTF ARE YOU DOING?
A blind fury took over – I grabbed and dragged the Tasmanian she-devil to the sidewalk in front of her hotel. She screamed and cursed the entire way, then sat and refused to budge. She belligerently cried and yelled until Layla coaxed her up, got her to the lobby and into her room, cursing the entire way. Our reunion had come to a shitty end but interaction with my dysfunctional, tormented friend was far from over. Layla, Mark and I drove to my hotel where they got a room and crashed for the night. The next couple of days I got nothing but “F you” responses to any text message I sent her. Clearly none of us would benefit from her not remembering the dysfunction. We expected Callie to black out and not remember anything from that night. If only we’d been so lucky.
Maybe it was because she knew and once respected me that prompted Mary Danger to focus the anger, venom and vitriol of years of frustration and self-hatred at me. It never let up. We both had 10 days of training in Indiana before departing for Afghanistan and I expected to run into her there. I wrote and emailed a four page dissertation describing what happened, my fears for her mental state and how she’s going to destroy not only her friendships but also her potential career. It fell on deaf ears. I was scum and she let me know it. Thankfully Melody and I made other friends and kept our distance from Mary. It was easy for Melody because she was taking classes. However I saw Danger at the all-purpose bar/restaurant on base and her anger never diminished. She’d look at me with such hatred that I thought I might drop dead from her intent.
We survived Indiana with a few bumps and were on our way to Afghanistan. I saw but didn’t interact with Danger along the way and that pained me. She truly had become a little ‘sister’, having been part of my deployment family 18 months prior. But I’ve learned there’s no use trying to make someone confront her own demons. Callie’s controlled her life. It was time for me to let go – painful as it was. This wouldn’t be my last interaction in Afghanistan with Sister Mary Danger. There was more pain to come.