Pocket Guide Cnt’d, Inside the Colonel’s Trousers

Last time we looked at what was inside Jillian’s pockets/purse/tactical gear. It was an strange amalgamation of girlie things, useful trade craft and incendiary devices. It spoke to her dual personality and double life. The two women inside that make up her whole. Warrior and woman.

This time, we’ll stick our hand into Colonel David Vaughn’s pants… ahem, I mean pockets. Go ahead, give his ass a quick squeeze and move on….

He’s an Air Force Colonel who’s spent the majority of his life in uniform, in the field. He has very little need for extras. So when David empties his pockets on the nightstand at the end of the day, he takes out a slim black leather wallet. Not too old, not too new, softly worn in. Inside he has his Air Force ID, his driver’s license, his debit card, and American Express. He carries $100 in cash, in twenties and he will empty his coins into a large glass mug every day. He keeps his keys on a simple ring, silver metal with a plain tab. One for his house, one for his truck, one for Ops – it also has a punch-in code – and later on in the series, one for Jillian’s house. He does not carry one for the other team members, Marcus or Bobby D. Hmm… Just sayin’.

His tact-vest is another story. He lives in that vest, survives by it. The site I gave last time:

http://thedonovan.com/archives/modernwarriorload/ModernWarriorsCombatLoadReport.pdf

It lists what soldiers of different unit designations would need. David’s would be the Rifle Squad Leader. He would have the standard fare of grenades, extra ammo, tools, goggles, strobe lights, GPS and SAT phone to connect back to Ops. He packs a Leatherman tool, which is like a Swiss Army knife on steroids and a Maglite flashlight, crazy bright. Get one. The small one still casts a ton of light. (They’re the ones the Scully and Mulder used to hold in their hands when entering all of those dark rooms.) He maintains a small amount a non-tactical items in his crowded yet, available pouches. A deck of cards, wooden matches, and American gum – he was the one that gave Jillian the idea because the local children would always ask. He carries extra tablets of Vicodin that he keeps secret from Bobby D, the team medic, for his creaky aching knees. He used to carry a chocolate bar for Jillian, but it gets too hot and melts so he now carries a few packets of dry hot cocoa. It’s a survival tactic – when the woman needs chocolate, no one is safe.

He also keeps a bandana tied to his strap and a roll of duct tape in his pack. He wears a dingy old khaki baseball cap when on missions and not in regulation Air Force uniform (Spec Ops soldiers often wear non-standard cammo and foreign guns to perpetuate their “non-allegiance” with the US Forces – sometimes called False-Flag operations.) He wears a pair of dark square, aviator shades, with a strap around back to keep from losing them when it gets physical. Jillian loves them because they’re sexy but hates them because she can’t see his eyes.

BTW, Vaughn doesn’t look like Joshua Dumel

Special Operators don’t carry identification or any type of personal trinkets and memorabilia. One, they are ‘invisible’ and work in non-sanctioned missions. Two, those items can be traced back to their families. And three, it creates ‘bad juju’.  While some may think of it as a good luck token, for them it creates bad luck. (I got this off of an episode of the Unit. It may be fictionalized, but it made sense to me). The premise being that the item reminds them of their family back home, makes them careful and therefore unfocused. None of Vaughn’s stuff can help identify him, but it’s personal nonetheless.

So, what does his stuff say about him? Well, he’s a pretty simple guy. Doesn’t need a lot of things to add style or flare – plain wallet, plain keychain. He likes to be nondescript, professionally and personally. He’s practical. The items in his pack are for use. They all have a purpose. When carrying a 50lb rucksack through the rough terrain of Afghanistan or the jungles of South America, you need only the bare essentials to keep you alive. There is no room for amenities. It’s all about what the job needs, survival and life or death.

There a two things there that have to do with Jillian. One is her key on his key chain. They are not lovers at the point in which she gives him a key but, it means that he has free access to her home. She trusts him and he has an open invitation. The other is the hot cocoa. Why would the Colonel, the team leader, carry sustenance for a team member? My point exactly. She’s more than just a team member to him. He sees her differently, despite his denials to the contrary. He cares for her and comforts her. There’s always a small percentage of his brainpower focused on her and her needs. Why? Because he’s in love with her of course!

Each and every person has quirks about what they carry with them. Some more telling than others. It’s our job as authors and observers of human behavior to recognize those small details. They are clues to personality, to our character development. They add nuances and depth. Of course, use these snippets wisely. Never be contrived when frosting your character cake. Be subtle. Like a good perfume, a little goes a LONG way!

Happy observing!
~Indigo Grace

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One thought on “Pocket Guide Cnt’d, Inside the Colonel’s Trousers

  1. Stella MT

    I'd say that David wouldn't just carry cocoa with him; it would have to be the hard-core stuff, 70% or more, or he won't hear the end of it from Jillian. 😉 But I digress… What you said about keeping the character "snippets" to a minimum struck a chord with me. I have a habit of overloading my characters with quirky details, and more often than not they get in the way of my story. Switching to screenplays – and hanging out with fanfic writers – made me realize that I can turn out a better story when I can keep my readers guessing without killing them with quirkiness. That said, I might do some "pocket checking" for my characters from time to time, to make sure I actually get them right while I'm editing. I know that there's a bunch of them from my old WIPs that can use them now!

    Reply

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