Cal's story by thadeusz
This story is the sequel to "SOLD” and it is also pure fiction, but …
My present and final name is Mark Parker. In fact I am the son of a slave called "Tommy”. We lived in a sunny, warm country.
My father told me when I was very young, as if it were a tale, that his present name was "Tommy Peterberg, slave number 13571”. In fact, he added, Tommy Peterberg was not his real name, but I never knew which was his real name. He told me, as if it was a tale, that he had been sent to a biblical school in a sunny country by his parents, but against his will. Since he tried to leave the school, against his parents' desire, his name was changed to "Tommy”, he was declared dead as a normal human being but in fact he was made a slave and sold to a rich farmer named "Peterberg”, hence his name. Before that, a cross and a number, 13571 had been tattooed on his head which been made permanently bald. He was wearing, like all the slaves in the village where I was born, a strange uniform made of pieces of leather which were not sewn together but simply buttoned, in order for him (and the other slaves) to pass it on despite the fact that he was wearing a heavy chain on his ankles, and sometimes on his wrists too ! He had also a large beret on his bald head and the beret was attached by a chin strap he could not open. He kept his beret permanently on his head to protect him against the sun when he was outside and to keep it available when he was inside: he had no pocket.
In fact I was born in a small cabin and the first part of this story relies more on what my father told me than on my memories. My father told me to call him "Tommy” since as slave he was supposed to have a son of his own. He explained that I was also a slave, since my mother, Saffra, and my father were slaves. Apparently once the man he called his Master, and I choose to call Mr Peterberg, offered to make him a free man, but he asked to remain an unchained slave because he did not know how to earn his living otherwise. This was only partially accepted by Mr Peterberg: Tommy remained a slave, as he requested, but he also remained chained.
When I was born, Saffra and Tommy wanted to name me "Isaac” because it took them a long time to have a child, but Mr Peterberg refused and said that Isaac was not a slave name. He decided to name me Cal. Tommy then asked Peterberg that I would be a free man, but Peterberg refused saying that he had offered his liberty to Tommy who had refused, hence his son was the son of a slave, thus a slave too. Tommy told me that he regretted very much the move he had made when he refused his freedom by pure fear of the unknown. In the beginning I did not understand all that, but when I realized what it meant, I was very angry.
I lived my first years completely naked, without shoes and with long hair. I played a lot with the other children from the village. I vaguely realized that from time to time, some of the older ones left the group of babies and when I could see them again they had a leather uniform and a chain, but I did not understand why that happened nor what it meant. I also noticed, without understanding why, that from time to time, some of my younger friends simply disappeared while they were healthy.
There was a difference between my friends and me: the language. Saffra, my mother, spoke a dialect with me but Tommy constantly spoke in perfect English, which was very unusual in our village. Tommy only spoke English with a slave he called Johnny and who had green signs on his uniform since he was working in the fields. Tommy proudly wore a leather tunic with red signs on it because he was a house servant.
Tommy also decided to teach me how to read and how to write. I liked that very much and spoke about it with some of my friends, although Tommy had told me that it should remain a secret. I was nearly 6 when Mr Peterberg discovered the fact. He sent the Chief Slave to get hold of Tommy and me. We were brought to the central place of the village and Tommy was attached to a pole. All the slaves were then ordered to join and look. Mr Peterberg told all the slaves that Tommy had done something very bad: he had tried to teach a baby slave, Cal, to read and write, which was strictly forbidden. For that Tommy received 20 lashes of the whip and was sent to a small cage where he could neither stand nor lie, and all that for a week. When he came out of the cage, he had to change his red uniform and beret for a green one, meaning that he was no longer a "house servant” but again a "field worker”. Personally, as soon as Tommy was released from the pole and led to the little cage, where he received the order to look at the pole, I was attached to the pole, not understanding why nor what was going to happen. I received 10 lashes to disgust me to study further with Tommy or with anybody else. That's when Mr Peterberg ordered to start "clothing me”.
It is thus at the age of 6 that I received my first leather short and tunic. The occasion was rather solemn and Mr Peterberg wanted no slave, except Tommy, to see what happened. I was also told to hold firmly the pole and present, one at a time, my feet to the Chief Slave who was behind me: he attached small uncomfortable clogs to my feet and also leather bracelets joined by a leather solid strap. Mr Peterberg then ordered me to turn around, facing the Chief, and to present him my wrists, one at a time, to enable him to place there also leather bracelets. The Chief brought then my arms in my back and attached the wrists together.
Finally I was ordered to kneel in front of the Chief of Slaves in order to enable him to cut my long hair I liked so much. The Chief liked that kind of game and, using his clippers, he started to cut a little bit on the left, then pushed my head forward to be able to cut in the back. The Chief kept moving my head in all directions and also cutting hair until he was satisfied I had only stubbles left on my head. In fact I had been rather tortured during a long period of time and being so anxious, I had not been able to avoid wetting my new short. I said so and told Mr Peterberg that I had to have my hands free in order to open and clean my short, but he told me that it would have to wait until I was also out of isolation. The Chief Slave placed then a green beret on my head, much too big for my young head. He adapted the brim by pulling on a cord which he attached in the back of my head and he fixed a chin strap to the beret to force me to keep this beret permanently on my head, as my father did. In fact, the Chief, purposely I assume, pulled very hard on the cord in order to have the brim really enter my head and that hurt. I shouted that it was too much and I got a solid blow on my nose.
Mr Peterberg then told me that my name was from now on "Cal Peterberg slave number P278”, the P being his trade mark and the 278 because that was my number in the order of slaves he owned or had owned. He also mentioned that my tunic had green symbols because I was from now on a field worker. He added that it was too early in my life for the complete treatment, which included iron chain and bracelets, definitely bold head and a tattoo with my slave number in the back of my head. He also added that if I did not behave perfectly, he would sell me like he had already sold many young slaves born on his land. He added, and I never forgot his words, that "His products, as slaves, had to be good quality merchandise, otherwise he killed the merchandise.”
I was then lead to a small shack, completely closed and without light. There was only hay on the floor and no food. I was dreadfully afraid, crying, calling Tommy and Saffra who could perhaps hear me but who certainly did not dare answer and console me: they did not want to be sold or killed !
After a certain time, I was taken out of this isolation shack and lead to a big cabin where many men, all chained, could sleep. I was told that this would be my place, that I would find here the hay necessary to make my bed. After that, I was told to join the men who were already working in the fields and start to become useful by obeying orders.
Johnny, Tommy's friend, came towards me and consoled me (I was still crying and being anxious). He also helped me adjust to my new life telling me that I would not be allowed to speak with my parents anymore. This was the case: my parents were also working in the fields now, but in fields that were far away.
Nevertheless, I liked reading and I succeeded to steal one of the Mr Peterberg's son books. This son was named Benjamin. He had long hair, contrarily to his father and to the bald slaves. Benjamin had been my father's pupil. He had obtained his high school diploma thanks to my father's work but he was not very intelligent. He also despised all the slaves and could be cruel with them, which was not really the case with his father. Using this book, and others I succeeded to steal later, I continued to learn alone how to read and write, and also all kinds of other notions.
My life went on this way during several years. My leather bracelets were regularly adapted because I kept growing and I received regular haircuts by the Chief of Slaves, who kept pushing and turning my head in all possible directions.
When I turned 12, Mr Peterberg considered that my bones had reached their final size. I received then my permanent iron bracelets and chain, and very uncomfortable clogs which were attached by metal chains to my ankles. The soles had to be changed regularly, because it was in iron and, to quote Mr Peterberg, "slaves, like horses, need regularly new horseshoes”. Mr Peterberg was not a bad man, but he had a clear conscience that he was a free man and that his slaves were only … slaves.
I received then my "adult slave” short and tunic: two pieces of leather which were only buttoned on me so that I could change "clothes” while keeping my ankle chain, and sometimes (when I was punished) my wrist chain !
The only difference between me and the adult slaves was my hair: I had not yet received my "permanent” haircut and every week I had to go and kneel in front of the Chief Slave (which was humiliating because, after all, he was nothing else than another slave) and let him keep doing his little game of pushing, pulling and turning brutally my head in order to shave it with his clippers. In fact, when I knelt the Chief first took off ceremoniously my beret, shaved my head, and then put the beret back on my head taking great care to pull strongly on the little cord in the brim and doing something similar with the chin strap.
Most slaves accepted to be brutalized that way, Tommy and Saffra included: they worked hard, respected the rules and in exchange Mr Peterberg provided for food, shelter and clothing, even if it was not comfortable. My problem with Peterberg was that I had learned to read and write, that I considered that my initial punishment (and that of Tommy) was totally inappropriate. I had a clear conscience that I was a man and that all men had been created equal (at least that was written in one of the books I had read). So I could not accept the fact that I had to be in chains and that I had to toil for nothing, while Peterberg was a rich farmer. I was ready for a revolt and, luckily, Johnny who noticed my state of mind, told me:
"If you want to be free, you must maneuver in such a way that you are sent out of this country where slavery still exists. I will not do it because after all, I am rather comfortable here and I do not need to free. If you want to go out of the country, try to become friend with the son of the Master, he goes regularly on a trip.”
Several times my revolt was apparent and Peterberg decided to have me wear a chain on the wrists also. The chain on the ankles stopped me marching fast and far, so it was a way to keep me prisoner, but the chain on the wrists served no such purpose. In fact it was only there to humiliate the punished slave and make his life at work more difficult. Rapidly I understood that and I started to behave in such a way that I was no longer punished and I got rid of the hand chain.
Exactly when I turned 14, at least according to Peterberg's computations, I was considered fit enough and "finished” enough to receive my final haircut. The usual process with the Chief took place, but at the end he put some kind of cream on my head and let it stay for a long time while I was still kneeling. I knew what would happen because Johnny had explained me everything, adding that it was not so bad.
When the Chief considered that the cream had stayed long enough on my shaved head, he took it off and announced:
"You are now permanently bald, Cal. I will now give you a nice tattoo”.
The Chief Slave started told me to stand up and to avoid any movement. He tattooed my number on the back of my head. I did not like being marked like that, but I accepted it because there was no other solution and because Peterberg's son, Benjamin, was looking.
When all was done, Benjamin told me:
"That means that you are an adult slave now and that you will have to work as a real one, not like a lazy boy”.
"That's what I always try to do, young Master”, was my reply. I spoke in perfect English, avoiding my mother's accent, and I used the word "Master” which I hated and always tried to avoid. This lead Benjamin to ask more questions, as I had hoped:
"Do you really speak English ?”
"Yes young Master”
"Do you read or write ?”
"The Master has explicitly forbidden that, young Master, and I would never do something which is forbidden for a slave”. While saying that, I was thinking of all the books I had stolen or borrowed from the arrogant Benjamin.
"Young slave, would you like to be a home servant.”
"I would love it, young Master, especially if it was to serve you.”
"That could be done, but be aware that if you don't do what I want, I will give you some lashes with my whip.”
"That is what Masters are for, helping slaves to behave properly, young Master.”
"Well, now that you are tattooed, go back to your field work and I'll see what can be done. But first come to the pole and learn that I am your master”. I did what he requested and he whipped me to give me "an example of what my life would be if I ever disobeyed him.”
When he was satisfied that he had given me "a good example”, I took the risk to thank him "for showing me the right way and forr leading me as a real good master”. It was risky, but Benjamin was so stupid that he believed I really meant what I said.
I did not have to wait long: after two days of expectations and hard work in my now completely adult attire, permanent baldy and tattoo included, I was called to Mr Peterberg's office, I mean "to the Master's office”. Benjamin was present. Mr Peterberg asked me:
"Cal, do you understand me when I speak English.”
"Yes Master, my father told me that it was better to do so with the Master, but if you say it is bad, I will immediately cease to use English.”
"When do you use English, slave ?”
"Only with myself, I do practice in order to be useful for the Master and the young Master”
"Are you ready to work only for the young Master.”
"I will do whatever you order me to do, Master.”
I did my best to appear intelligent and apt to do a good job as private slave to the young Benjamin, but also respectful of Mister Peterberg, the "Master”.
Mr Peterberg suddenly decided: "It is OK, I give you for ever in full property to my son Benjamin. He will be your Master, with all the rights and responsibilities going with that title. You will be his first slave. Respect and obey him, he will provide you with food and shelter. Remember that if you don't do so, your new Master can choose to sell you or even to kill you.”
I received another uniform, of the same type but with red symbols (in fact the symbols were my slave number and my owner's name). Benjamin's name apepared for the first time on a slave tunic and he was very excited with that. I also received a red beret which replaced the green one and which was adjusted with the same zeal and ferocity by the Chief Slave to my now bald and tattooed head. After that I started to work for the young Benjamin (who was older than I was, but not wise at all) and I did whatever he wanted me to do. There was a wide variety of actions and his cruelty always lead him to invent something which was degrading for me, but I was now a house servant ! Benjamin liked to whip his servants, and especially me since I was his property. I always gave him the impression that I was really thankful for that, in fact I was waiting. Benjamin loved to travel and took me sometimes with him as house servant. But it was inside our country, and slaves were common where he went.
After about three months, Benjamin decided to go on a big trip, on his yacht. He was now confident that I was a very obedient slave, so he took me as helper / man servant / cleaner: in fact as everything that crossed his whimsy. The boat was easy to take care of and Benjamin's clothes also: he was permanently in swimming suit. One day, we approached an island and when we were already in the harbour, Benjamin told me:
"Slave, go down to the kitchen. You are not allowed to leave my ship because this is French territory and there are no slaves in France. So I will lock you there.”
I respectfully, in appearance, went to the kitchen and asked Benjamin:
"Master, do you want to chain my hands ?”
"Certainly ! And I will also attach you to the stove with your hands in your back.”
I let him do what he wanted, but when he came back and asked me to serve him his meal, I told him that with my hands in my back and being attached to the stove, I had not been able to do anything. So I begged Benjamin to give me some time, free from the stove and with my hands free. He was so stupid that he did it.
As soon as my hands were free, I jumped into the sea and swam to the nearby coast. Once there, I started to run while calling for help since Benjamin had also started to run, reached the pier and wanted to get hold of his slave to place him where, according to him, he belonged: chained in the kitchen of the yacht.
The first person I met when I arrived on land was a soldier. In fact he was a legionnaire stationed in this island. And I was then on French soil, a land where slavery is forbidden.
The legionnaire looked at me and at my chain. He asked me something in French, which I did not understand, so I shouted:
"Help please, and speak English if you can.”
Luckily, the soldier was able to speak more or less well in English: I learned later that he was Polish, that his name was Andrej and that he had learned English in the Legion.
Andrej put his hands on my shoulders and stopped me. He then asked me in his relatively good English:
"What are you doing dressed like this ? Did you escape from a prison with that chain ?”
"No, I escaped from a yacht where I was kept as a slave. I ask you to help me and make me free in France.”
But Andrej did not believe me: "There are no slaves anymore, you are lying. You must come from a prison. Where do you come from ?”
Benjamin was shouting: "Give him back to me”
Andrej reacted and told me: "That's what I am going to do with you, jailbird.”
I reacted: "Don't do that, he might kill me”
That's when Benjamin made a big mistake. He said:
"Give him back to me, he is mine, he belongs to me and I am going to punish him for his attempted escape because he is my slave.”
"He is your slave ?”, asked Andrej, "That's impossible, there are no slaves.”
"In my country we have slaves, give him back to me so that I can whip him as he deserves.”
"Sir, I don't know any of you. This seems very strange to me. I am going to bring this boy to our barracks and ask our commandant to solve the problem.”
That's when I said: "Great. Your commandant will save my life.”
Benjamin tried to get me by force but he was no match for Andrej, who had called one of his friends, another legionnaire. The four of us went to the Legion barrack: Andrej holding me tightly and the other legionnaire holding firmly Benjamin.
When we reached the barracks, the two legionnaires brought us in front of their commanding officer. I learned later that he was Colonel Loriot. Benjamin was still protesting, saying that I was his property and that they should hand me over to him. The Colonel asked for explanations and Andrej told him what he had seen and heard. The Colonel asked then Benjamin what he wanted and this idiot simply said:
"I am Benjamin Peterberg and I want my slave back.”
"So, you claim this boy is your slave ?” insisted the Colonel, looking at me.
"Certainly, he has been given to me when he was about 14 and since three months he has been serving me obediently. He belongs to me, and to nobody else.”
"So you say that you OWN a human being ?”
"Yes, in my country it is quite normal. My father has many working on his farm. We take good care of our slave property.”
While he said that, Benjamin kept playing with his long blond hair and he did not notice that the Colonel started to look angry.
The Colonel turned towards me and said in a very bad English, with a strong accent, which I learned was a French accent:
"And who are you, with your chain and your strange costume ?”
"My first name is Cal and as slave I have been forced to have the same last name as the person who considers he is my Master.”
"And what do you want, Cal ?”
"I want to be free,” I replied, "This man and his father have tortured me and my father for years, they made me work forbidding me to learn anything. But,” I added rather proudly, "I learned to read and write and I know that there are no slaves in France.”
"That's correct”, said the Colonel, "and you may stay here as a free man if you so desire.”
Then he added : "You learned to read and write, but you did not learn to take off your beret when you were inside ?”
"No Sir, Colonel. In fact where I come from slaves are not allowed to take off their beret. They have been made bald, thus they must keep their beret as protection when they are outside and since they have no pockets,” and I showed my clothes, "they must keep the beret on their head when they are inside”.
"Does it never fall ?”
"Sir, there is a cord in the brim which is very tightly, dreadfully very tightly pulled so as to keep the beret on my head. There is also a chin strap I cannot open for the same purpose.”
The Colonel turned toward Andrej and said: "Corporal, do whatever is necessary to get that beret off the head of this courageous boy.”
Andrej succeeded to open the knot in the cord of the brim but he had to take his knife to cut the chin strap. He then took my beret off and all the legionnaires present looked at my bald head and there was a "Ooh !” as sign of astonishment and horror when they noticed the mark left by the tight cord in the brim.
The Colonel asked: "The cord of your beret left a deep mark on your head. Wasn't it painful ?”
"When the Chief Slave pulled the cord for the first time, it was painful during a day or two. But the feeling of pain stopped after that.”
"How and why did they succeed to make you bald although you are so young ?”
"Sir, Colonel, ask Benjamin why they did it. I will tell you how they did it.”
I told him the story of getting bald and of getting adult slave clothes. The Colonel asked the Benjamin:
"Why do you do that ?”
"We want our slaves to be clean, thus without hair is better for their health. We also want the slaves to be able to change clothes whenever it is needed, and since they have permanently a chain on their ankles and many have a chain on their wrists, this type of clothing is the best. Are you going to give me back my slave ?”
"We are going to do much better”, said the Colonel. "In order to help you know what it means to be a slave, I am going to transform you in a real slave and let you work for us and do chores for the Legion.”
"You cannot do that !” replied Benjamin, with a trembling voice.
But the Colonel gave orders to Andrej and to another legionnaire who I learned later was a sergeant:
"Corporal, get immediately this young Cal free of his chain and bracelets. Take carefully his clothes off and give him decent ones, for the time being a Legion fatigue uniform with all the necessary parts would be good for the boy. And you Sergeant, get hold of this man and place on him the iron bracelets and chain which are taken from Cal. Rip off after that his present clothes and throw the pieces away. Give him the boy's clothes !”
Benjamin shouted: "You cannot do that. I am a free man, you cannot make me wear a slave's attire”
But the Colonel replied: "I can perfectly do that since you are now my slave. And, Sergeant, don't forget to give him the boy's elegant slave shoes: it should not be difficult they are of the same size. Finally, you will send him to the regimental barber who will give him a permanent baldy.”
"Not my hair. Not a permanent baldy.” cried Benjamin.
"Slave Benjamin, this is exactly what you did to this boy, so you can accept it.”
Andrej and the Sergeant did exactly what they had been told to do. Finally they brought the poor Benjamin, wearing my old chain, in front of the barber and made him kneel, the way I had had to kneel. The barber started with his clippers, playing a little bit. Shaving a bit of the front, then the left side, then back to the front, then again to the left and the back of the head. He pulled, pushed and turn Benjamin's head exactly in the same way my head had been turned and pushed and pulled. Benjamin looked miserable, but I knew this was my liberation. So I kept looking, feeling awfully comfortable in a legionnaire uniform, with something I had never had before: undies. On my head, there was now a well adapted green beret, not a slave's beret but a legion beret. There was also a cord in the brim, but it was only used to adapt the beret to the size of my head and one of the legionnaires told me that with good food the mark left by the previous cord on my head would disappear.
When the barber seemed to have finished his work with Benjamin's head, he started again. This time he used foam and a big barber knife. Benjamin tried to avoid that, but Andrej held him firmly. Finally the barber put a lot of lather on Benjamin's head, telling him that it was a special cream which would make him as bald as me.
The barber turned towards me and asked: "What did they do to you in your country to keep you from taking that special cream away ?”
"Sir,” (he was only a Corporal, but I did not know it then) "they chained my hands in my back using my new iron bracelets and they let me wait during a long time.”
"That's what we are going to do with this guy.”
Since Benjamin tried to pass his hands on his head to get rid of the cream, Andrej attached his wrists in his back using the iron bracelets my former "Master” was now wearing.
Benjamin, who was still kneeling, could not resist his fear of becoming permanently bald like me and he could not refrain urinating in his short, my old short while crying aloud. He also said that he did not deserve to be whipped or attached to a pole, which had been my case. I was really disgusted by his lack of courage. In any case, the legionnaires did not force him to move: they chose to let him wait kneeling. I later learned that in the Legion, there is no such thing as "whipping”.
Benjamin had to wait for a long time. He was then tattooed by a specialist who came from the nearby town. Benjamin received on the back of his head the symbol of the Legion and underneath it a big number: 351478.
Andrej placed then on his head my old beret, pulled very hard on the cord in the rim and made a double knot. In fact he pulled so hard that Benjamin shouted because of the pain. Andrej told him: "Did your slaves shout that way ?” and Benjamin started to understand his situation and kept quiet. Then Andrej adjusted a new chin strap and Benjamin now really looked like a slave of my birth country.
The Colonel arrived and said that he was now satisfied with his new slave and he instructed Andrej to place him in an isolation cell.
A little bit later, while we were eating, Andrej told me: "This Benjamin does not know that the cream he got is very plain lather. He will remain bald during a few days only, but today he got the fear of his life.”
"And the number that has been tattooed on his head, is that a real tattoo ?”
"It is a real tattoo, but it is not a real Legion number: we are only at a much smaller Matricule number. No risk to take him for a legionnaire before 100 years !”
"But in a week or so, he will realize that he is not bald”
"Yes, and the Colonel will then let him go. But meanwhile, he will be treated and will work like a real slave, doing chores for us. You are going to give us your advice as to what he should do.”
Benjamin worked as a slave during one week only. He slept in a small cell where hay had temporarily replaced the bunk: that was my vengeance. But he was never whipped, the Colonel did not want that, neither did I.
At the end of the week, the Colonel called Benjamin in his office. I was there as "free witness”. The Colonel looked at the poor Benjamin. He asked him if he liked being a slave and Benjamin, head down, remained silent.
The Colonel then "As far as you are concerned, I should put you in a dark cell and let you be judged for behaving the way you claim you did. But that would take otherwise useful time and energy. So, I leave you in this full slave attire and I strongly advise you to leave this island as quickly as you can if you don't want the gendarmes to arrest you.”
Benjamin left but I remained. The Colonel instructed Andrej, to take care of me since I was obviously very young.
Andrej did what he had been told to do, and he did it very kindly. My mentor told me one day, while he looked at my slave tattoo:
"If you want a tattoo, that's your choice and I have several tattoos. But I would not keep a tattoo with a slave number now ! I know a guy who could make a tattoo on top of it to hide it. Don't be anxious for the price, the comrades and me are going to find what you need.”
So I went to a well known specialist in tattoos and when this man knew the whole story, he suggested that I let him get out all the ink of my tattoo, warning me that it would be very painful. Andrej, who had been appointed as "helper” for me, was there and he told me that it was worth while. It took many sessions. Between the sessions I lived in the Legion barracks. The Colonel tried to figure out my identity, in order to give me a real place in the society. A Lieutenant gave me lessons, so that I would adapt to normal life and reach the level of a boy of my age (I was about 14 or 15 when I arrived there, but I never knew my exact birth date). I also discovered that I had lived on an island in the Pacific, which had made all this slave business possible, but that I was now living freely on a French island in the same huge Pacific ocean. Finally, I learned French.
When the tattooer had succeeded to get me rid of my slave number, he asked me what had happened to my hair. I told him the complete story and he said:
"Try with these pills, they contain vitamin B and other stuff. Take a lot of it, during a long period, and your hair might come back”
I did what he had told me, still living on Legion food and legionnaires' generosity. Helping the legionnaires by doing many many chores, but they liked me: I had become their mascot. I was no longer a slave but a hard working boy, unpaid, and my simple presence was the equivalent of a lucky charm ! Andrej and the other legionnaires gathered a little bit of money to buy me civilian clothing, but when there was a Legion ceremony, I always asked the permission to participate in a full Legion uniform, except for the famous White Kepi which only real legionnaires can wear. So the Colonel promoted me to "honor Chief Corporal” which enabled me to wear a black kepi !
Andrej, I should say CPL Andrej, taught me how to walk as a free man, first in the barracks courtyard, later with him or alone in the adjacent small town, everywhere on the island, like a boy of my age should do.
After about a year, one day, the Colonel told me:
"If you were a real legionnaire, I would send you immediately to the barber and then to the brig.”
"Sir, what did I do wrong ?”
"Your vitamin worked well and you have some hair back, and it starts even to be long!”
I was working in the courtyard, cleaning the place of all its cigarettes buts, and I had not realized what was happening on my head: I was so used to have a permanent baldy ! I took off my beret and passed a hand on my head and discovered very welcomed stubbles. I was really surprised and the Colonel started to smile. So I asked him:
"Sir, permission to go to the barber ?”
"Not now, young Cal, but in 2 or 3 months it might be worthwhile. But you should ask Andrej to show you how to shave, because your beard also came back and that seems urgent.”
When the time had come, I went to the barber who, knowing my story, shaved me very gently and very kindly. He seated me in what was for all legionnaires the usual barber armchair, and what was for me a real premiere. He washed my new hair, then dried it. He then took his clippers and slowly pushed my head forward to shave my head from back to front, then brought my head back by pulling it gently in order to finish the front. He turned my hair to the left, then to the right and suddenly stopped asking me:
"In fact how short do you want it to be ?”
"I would like to have it the way you do it for Andrej”, and I knew that this was rather short, but I really wanted to look like my friend.
"That is not yet possible, your hair is growing again but not enough yet. What about a not too short induction cut ?”
"Do what you think is best for me.”
The barber changed guard and started again shaving above and on the sides, leaving some hair on the top and cleaning everything on the sides and in the back, according to a neat line. When he was done, he let me look in the mirror and I felt I had become a new man. After that, I kept taking my vitamins and my hair finally became more or less normal. That was my first real haircut, my first induction cut.
The LT who took care of my education made me read many books in many domains. Finally he told me that I should take the exams which would give me a French "BAC”, the equivalent of a high school diploma. The LT felt that I was intelligent enough to get that diploma and that it would be a good start for my future life. I did what he had advised me to do, using as name: "Cal-of-the-Legion”. In this small island it was well accepted: everybody knew me. To my great surprise, I got my diploma and was ranked 2nd among all the French boys and girls of the island. The LT gave me some money and I joined the others who had obtained their diploma: we had a wonderful party, with lots of drink. That was also the first time I made love with a wonderful girl. In my mind, an image came back, that of Peterberg forcing his slaves to make love in order to get small slaves.
A few weeks later the Colonel called me in his office with Andrej and the Lieutenant who had taken care of me and of my education. The Colonel explained that he had sent some men to what seemed to be my birth place. They had indeed found a farmer called Peterberg, with many slaves. The legionnaires had discovered that Benjamin served a long prison sentence for letting me escape, and that part of the sentence was to wear a slave uniform, with the chain. The Colonel told me not to pity the young Benjamin: he had received what he deserved. The negative point was that the team of legionnaires had not been able to find my parents, nor to free other slaves. They thus did not have any precise indication considering my exact identity.
This was bad if I ever wanted to leave the island where I now lived: I explained to the Colonel that I did not want to remain a simple "mascot”, I wanted to live as a completely free man. That's when the Colonel told me that he thought that much, so he had obtained (he never told me how) papers making of me "Mark Parker” who was 18 years old and who was born in the USA. The Colonel added that he suggested that I never tried to go to the States with these papers. He then suggested that I joined the Legion where my identity would never be contested and where I could start a new free life.
I then told the Colonel that joining the Legion was exactly what I wanted since a certain time, the only problem was that I had no identity at all.
The Colonel looked at me and asked:
"Is this what you really want ? You don't have to do this, but you can if you really want to. After 5 years you will be able to go wherever you want with real identity papers.”
I said that I wanted to sign the enlistment documents immediately, if it was possible.
This is how I became a legionnaire, a real one, legionnaire Mark Parker. After I had signed the enlistment form, I was shipped to mainland France for the instruction. I temporarily became there Robert Prentice, gained my White Kepi, finished third of the instruction section. I was offered the possibility to remain there as helping-instructor and thus CPL in one year, or to go back to the Pacific outpost where I came from. I chose the latter.
Andrej remained my mentor and appeared very happy to have me with him. The Lieutenant, who was also glad, told me that I should now study further to try to become officer later. The barber gave me two bottles of beer to drink with him, in addition he offered a free haircut: my hair was now long enough to have exactly the same haircut as my hero, my savior, Andrej.
When Andrej became Sergeant and moved to the para regiment, he took me with him. I soon became Corporal and para, and I still am !
I remained in the Legion after my 5 years contract was finished and got married to the beautiful girl I had made love with on the day we got our BAC. I am studying and might be promoted to Lieutenant very soon. I will also have a child, a young Parker with a real identity who will be a free human being.