I only got promoted once in the army, it was from private to lance corporal. It meant having one stripe on your arm, instead of none. It was pretty much the same as having none. I was a lance corporal for three weeks.
The guard room at the camp by the airport was not very secure. Most of the time the soldiers that got locked up in it were only there for a few days and, even if they had wanted to escape, there was nowhere to escape to, we were 5,000 miles from home in a country that was often less than hospitable to its ex-colonists. The guard room at that camp was very easy to escape from.
Days after I got promoted to lance jack, two guys did actually run off, and I was given the task of hunting them down. It was a golden opportunity. I rounded up my best mates and we signed out a jeep. The plan was not to look for the runaways at all but to head for Acapulco, smoke some of the finest weed man has ever wrapped his lungs around and laze around on the beach gawping at bikini clad beauties for a couple of weeks.
Once we crossed the Mexican border, we changed into our civvies and bribed the local police sergeant into locking up our weapons for us and told him we’d be back in a couple of weeks. All I had to do was radio in once a day and make up some bullshit about how the prisoners had been sighted headed for the west coast or whatever. It was a flawless plan, nothing could possibly go wrong.
On day three, we stopped off at this little town, called Puerco Asentaderas or something, where this little old lady sold us some peyote cactus. She offered to chew it up and spit it out for us, but we thought that was gross and just necked the things as they were. After about twenty minutes we started throwing up, and I mean really throwing up, it was like a scene from the Exorcist, we thought we were going to die. Cuddles wanted to go back and slit her throat and chuck her in a bush. I wasn’t sure about that, but I certainly wanted to have a word with her. We hadn’t realized that pre-digested cactus meant you could take peyote without all the vomiting.
Before we could find her though, we started to trip, and I mean really trip, that stuff was amazing. I could see sounds and hear colors. I spent two hours staring at a plank of wood, while Cuddles had this in depth discussion with a stray dog he’d picked up. I remember him looking up at me and grinning, “This dog’s a fucking genius man!”
Later when we were sat naked in this puddle getting a goat drunk on the local brew, the two runaways walked up to us and turned themselves in.
I never got promoted again.