Though everyone enjoyed the mornings on the range, we dreaded what was to follow. An already drunk Sergent Gagné warned that if our rifles were not spotlessly clean, the consequences would be grave. When he found carbon in places where a genius would never think to look, he didn't simply use his fist. Often he brought down the forearm-length steel legs of the FAMAS rifle on a legionnaire's head. The sound of steel crashing on bone was unnerving, especially for the man waiting after his FAMAS was found under par. Several legionnaires had the entire stripped FAMAS body come down on them. Luckily, after our first morning on the range I was hit only once, and therefore only had one lump on my forehead. Some unfortunate devils were hit on the same lump twice. Unlike in the cartoons of my youth, it didn't make the previous lump disappear.
Halfway through our hellish final seven-day march, Michaud came under a viral attack. He too was staggering about and in danger of dropping out. When we stopped for a ten-minute break, he began weeping like a child. Many of the sergents had collected bits of US matériel during marches with American forces. Knowing that they could pay for new equipment, exhausted Americans often jettisoned their heavier items, which the legionnaires eagerly picked up for themselves. Calderon was also suffering, and, in a fit of cafard (desert madness), he'd begun the second day's march in his shower-sandals. Once we'd bivouacked for the night, the only thing we, the lost and damned, had to look forward to was another day of torment. When Kapelski pried off his rangers, his feet looked like ground beef.