Today, we are excited to present “The Rounds at Blanding” by Tom Sokolowski, this week’s entry to our New Voices catalog. “The Rounds at Blanding” follows Selena, an MP at a military training facility in Florida, a protective single mother to PJ, not interested in anything more serious to come out of her fling with her fellow MP Julian. Sokolowski’s earnest prose takes on a tour through the rounds at Blanding, a site known for its extreme weather. Follow along below:
Julian is good, but he lives in Middleburg, maybe fifteen minutes from Camp Blanding—the middle of nowhere. Men like that fall in love with anything that breathes.
Selena parks the patrol car in a spoon-shaped alcove that brushes Kingsley Lake. The tires spit mud at the Military Police decal. She slides her seat back. There’s no cage in the patrol car, an old SUV with cloth seats and sun-grayed interior plastic. Julian clambers over the elbow-worn center console to kiss her, untangle Velcro, lower the zipper, and part her camouflage blouse. A vine-netted stretch of lakeshore creeps a dozen feet away. The lake water is morning-smooth. This is Camp Blanding, the largest military training facility in Florida.
There’s not much activity for the MPs—Selena and Julian have already completed most of the day’s work, blocked the main county road with their patrol car so an infantry convoy could depart to a shoot house. The radio crackles, a call from the Provost Marshal Office. “Fuck,” Julian says. Selena’s blouse drapes around her elbows, her shoulders exposed.
Julian responds over the radio. Apparently, some strange man is wandering the front gate’s perimeter fence.
“Does he seem like a Sovereign Citizen?” Julian asks. These are hillbillies, if they can be called that in Florida, who don’t believe laws apply to them. In the summer, near Georgia, a father and son pair gunned down two cops with assault rifles over a traffic stop. Some have made conspiracy theory videos about Camp Blanding.
Halderman, the MP running dispatch, says, “No, he just seemed crazy.”
Selena buttons her cargo pants, weaves a canvas belt back into the loops, starts the car. She’s fooled around with Julian for a few months—almost immediately after being hired. If the MP job wasn’t so boring, perhaps she’d be more professional. Still, this is a far cry from struggling to support her son as shift manager at a Jacksonville Wendy’s.