KenGreen Blog - Page 18
THE CLASS OF 2025
By Ken Green
“Motion passed,” the Speaker to the House said, as he brushed some stray cocaine off the podium, “What’s next?”
A senate page handed Speaker Shoat the next bill.
Shoat read the bill to the Senate, “This bill mandates that all American citizens, upon reaching to age of eighteen, be required to serve a minimum of two years in the armed forces. Whose bright idea was this?”
“That would be me,” Majority Whip Hector Grabmore said, “It’s intended to instill a sense of duty that’s sorely lacking in today’s youth.”
“What kind of numbers are we talking about here?” Senator Hairspray asked, poking at the screen of her phone, “Roughly…seven million Americans reach the age of eighteen this year. How is the army supposed to absorb that many recruits?”
“They wouldn’t all go into the army,” Grabmore said, “They would be distributed between the different branches…”
“It doesn’t matter how they’re distributed,” Hairspray said, “You’re talking about creating the biggest military in the history of…” she tapped her screen, “In the history of ever. What would we have them do?”
“They could patrol the Mexican border,” Senator Trucknuts, of Texas, said.
Hairspray tapped her phone.
“Our border with Mexico is 1,989 miles long,” she said, “That works out to 3.5 million yards. We could line our troops up, shoulder to shoulder, to form a human wall.”
“Good idea,” Trucknuts said, “But we should still build the brick one we’ve started. We need the kickbacks from all those Mexican contractors.”
With her free hand, Hairspray facepalmed herself.
“How are we going to pay for this?” Hairspray asked, “At current pay rates, we’re looking at an increase of payroll of…” tap, “Eleven point five billion dollars a year.”
“We can cut funding to the VA, and the military pensions,” Grabmore said, “We’ll need to recall all the retired drill instructors to active duty anyway, to deal with the new recruits.”
“Can we actually do that?” Hairspray asked, “Is that even legal?”
“Legal, shmegal,” Shoat said, and banged his gavel, “We are the law. We’ll make it legal. Let’s vote on this thing and break for lunch.”
Sergeant Emery Haight, army, retired, turned his TV off.
“Enough sitting around, old man,” his told himself, “It’s time to get ready.”
He stood and his slippers made squish squish noises as he padded back to his bedroom. Going to his dresser, he selected his favorite golf shirt, then put it aside.
“Today isn’t about you,” he told himself, “Today, you’re on a mission. Your most important mission ever.”
His grandson’s fourth birthday.
Her reached into the drawer and pulled out the tee shirt his daughter had given him.
“World’s best grandpa,” he read it aloud, choking up, “Time to earn it. I sure as hell wasn’t the world’s greatest father…”
He slipped off his bathrobe and hung it on its hook. So many things he wanted to say, needed to say to Charlene, things still too painful to voice.
But she had forgiven him, hadn’t she? Wasn’t this stupid shirt proof of that?
“What are you going to do, cry?” he asked himself, “Pull your socks up, soldier.”
He heard a knock on the door, and frowned. It wasn’t like Charlene to be early.
“Coming,” he said, leaving the bedroom.
Bam, bam, bam, the knocking grew more insistent.
“Charlene, you’re early,” he said, opening the door, “I haven’t even…”
It wasn’t Charlene at the door. Instead, a pretty blond in full combat gear stood before him.
“I didn’t order a stripper,” he said, “Who the hell are you?”
“Private Brittney Fallopian, reporting for duty, SIR!” she shouted for no obvious reason and saluted.
Acting for habit, he returned the salute.
“Duty?” he asked, “What are you talking about?”
“You weren’t at the base, sir, so I took it upon myself to hunt you down,” she said, “Why are you out of uniform, sir? Where’s your Deputy Dog hat?”
“I don’t need my hat,” he said, “I’m retired.”
“Not anymore, you’re not,” she said, handing her orders to him, “You’ve been recalled to duty. Didn’t you get a notice in the mail?”
“I get lots of mail,” he said, pointing to a basket in the foyer.
“Oh, for crap’s sake,” she said, pushing past him to rifle through the basket, “Here it is.”
She ripped an envelope open and showed him a letter. Sure enough, it stated that he was to return to duty, effective immediately.
“This is a mistake,” he said.
“Congress doesn’t make mistakes, sir,” Brittney said, “They make laws. Which are often mistakes, but they’re still laws. You have your orders, I have mine. So, what do we do first? Should I drop and give you twenty?”
“You’re my drill instructor,” she said, “So instruct me. Teach me how to be brave and loyal and kill people.”
“No,” he said, “Letter or no letter, I’m retired. The army took fifty years of my life, and cost me my family. Today is my chance to start winning it back. I’ve served my country. I’ve done my share, and more. I’m done, Private. Find another instructor.”
“What do you mean, ‘the army took your family’? Do we do that? That’s not what I signed up for.”
“I was never there for my daughter when she needed me,” he said, “I was overseas when my wife died, and I couldn’t get back in time for the funeral. For years, Charlene has refused to speak to me. But, out of the blue, she’s decided to give me a chance. I can’t let it slip away.”
“Sir,” Brittney said, pitching her voice low, “I’m sorry to hear you have family troubles, but you’re talking desertion,” she frowned, “Or mutiny. I’m not sure which, but they’re both felonies. Do you really want to spend your golden years in prison?”
“But…my it’s my grandson’s birthday. He’s having a party…”
“Then we have a mission!” she cheered, “Family is way more important than protecting the nation from an imaginary threat drummed up as an excuse for failed economic policies. Operation Redemption begins now! Don’t worry, sir, I’ll get you there in time. Only…”
“Aren’t you going to get dressed?” she asked, “You’re my role model. You should be setting a better example for me.”
“Fine,” he said, “Wait here, I’ll…”
“Oh, no sir,” she said, “This is the army, where you always have a buddy. I’ve got your back, sir. Let’s get you dressed.”
“I can shave myself,” Sgt. Haight bitched.
“I’m sure you believe that, sir,” Brittney said, gliding the razor under his chin, “But the evidence tells me otherwise. Now, stop talking. I don’t want to cut you.”
“This is ridiculous,” he said, “I’m perfectly capable of…”
“Relax,” she whispered, touching his lips, “I’m a professional. Before I was drafted, I was accepted into beauty school. Remind me to trim your eyebrows.”
“Is it really hard to get into beauty school?” he asked.
“Don’t be mean,” she said, “I’m a millennial. I have feelings.”
When she was done, she cleaned the soap off with a warm washcloth.
“Now, there’s a face any woman would be proud to salute,” she said, “Maybe after the party we can go to a bar, and find you a ladyfriend. I could be your wingman.”
“That’s enough, Private,” he said.
“You’re right,” she said, disappearing into his closet, “One battle at a time.”
She came back out with his dress uniform, still in the bag from the dry cleaner. After a few minutes and much cursing, they had him in it, and ready to go. As they left the house, he noticed something strange: an M35 2 ½ ton Army cargo truck with platoon of soldiers sitting in the back, parked in his driveway.
“Who the hell are they?” he asked, pointing.
“First Platoon, Company ‘A’, your new command,” Brittney said, “What, did you think you were training an army of one?”
As they approached the truck, she took a deep breath and shouted, “Officer on deck!”
Some of the soldiers looked up from their phones. A few glanced a Brittney.
“That means, ‘stand up’, you dumb apes!” she shouted, “Aten-shun!”
The soldiers stood at attention, the best they could, in the back of the truck.
“That’s better,” she said, climbed into the cab and started the truck.
As the Sergeant sat down, his phone rang.
“Hey, Dad, it’s Charlene,” the tiny speaker said, “I’m running a little late, but I’m just heading out the door, so…”
“It’s okay, Honey,” he said, glancing at Brittney, “You don’t need to pick me up. I found a ride.”
“You did?” Charlene asked, “Well, that’s great. See you soon.”
The phone clicked and the call ended.
He stared at the phone’s darkened screen.
“I love you, Charlene,” he said, softly.
Brittney patted him on the knee.
“We’ll get her back, Sir,” she said, “Because we’re Company ‘A’, we get things done. Hey! That could be out motto!”
“Fallopian?” Sarge said.
“Shut up and drive the damned truck.”
“Sir, yes Sir!” she said, with a lusty grin, and put the truck in gear.
The doorbell rang. Charlene answered it.
“Hey, Dad, why are you in uniform, and…” she pointed at the grinning blond soldier at his side, “Who’s this?”
“Private Brittney Fallopian, Mam,” Brittney said, offering her hand, “It’s so nice to meet you.”
“Fallopian, really?” Charlene said, not shaking the hand, “That’s your name?”
“Yeah,” Brittney said, “What’s wrong with it? It’s French. It means ‘joyous’.”
“That’s great,” Charlene said, looking past the two, “Dad, why does my front yard look like Omaha beach on D-Day?”
“What?” Sarge followed her gaze. The platoon had disembarked from the truck and were wandering around on the lawn.
“Oh, them,” he said, “There was sort of a mix-up, and…”
“One day,” Charlene said, crossing her arms, “That’s all I asked. One day to celebrate your grandson’s birthday, and…”
“Well, he’s here, isn’t he?” Brittney chimed in.
“Yes, but he brought work with him! What the hell, Dad? I thought you were retired.”
“So did I…” Sarge mumbled.
“Are those real army men?” asked a tiny voice. A small child emerged from behind Charlene.
“They sure are!” Brittney said, squatting down to the child’s level, “And you’re the cutest little draft dodger ever! Get over here and give Aunt Brittney a hug!”
She threw her arms wide, and the child ran into them. She scooped the kid up and stood.
“What’s your name, kid?” she asked, bouncing him a bit.
“I’m Brian, and I’m four!”
“Yeah, but you’re going to grow up to be a heartbreaker, I can tell,” Brittney said, “Just look at you. Some poor girl is going fall for you like a ton of bricks. Promise me you’ll be gentle with her.”
“Girls are icky,” Brian said.
“Well, boys are stinky,” Brittney said.
“I’m not stinky!” Brian protested.
Oh, yes you are!” Brittney said, “You smell like a stinky monkey. In fact, I’m going to tickle the stink off you!”
She dug her fingers into him and tickled him without mercy. He howled with laughter. When she relented, he draped his arms around her neck.
“You’re funny,” he said, “I like you.”
“Oh my God, you are so precious, just look at you,” she said, voice cracking, tears in her eyes, “Such a perfect, wonderful, beautiful little miracle…”
Holding Brian tightly, she turned to face the soldiers in the yard.
“Hey!” she yelled, “Somebody get over here and knock me up! I want one of these!”
“Dad,” Charlene said, clearly appalled, “Tell the crazy woman to put my child down. Gently.”
“Fallopian…” Sarge started, but the private was already letting Brian down. Other kids were showing up, gazing in wonder at the soldiers and crawling all over the big army truck.
“Oh, crap, this is a disaster,” Charlene said, “Thanks a lot, Dad. Thanks for ruining Brian’s birthday. I’m so glad you’re here.”
She turned away and stormed off toward the kitchen.
“How did this this happen?” he asked the empty foyer, sagging against the wall, “When did I lose control of my life?”
He turned to face the yard. Brittney had organized the children into a circle, sitting on the grass, with a circle of parents surrounding them. He noted that she had also posted sentries. She stood at the center of the circle.
“So there we were,” she said, “In the delta, right in the middle of the Hung Long peninsula, Germans on one side, Viet Cong on the other. Half the company was dead, and rest of us were wounded, I had a bad case of the clap. But we still had our mission. We had to make it to Donkey Kong’s command post and take it out, or he’d bomb the Justice League. The fate of the world was in our hands… ”
“Oh for God’s sake,” he said, and headed over to break it up. After two strides, he stopped.
Brittney had enchanted the group with her ridiculous story. Weaving words and gestures, she held them in her thrall, child and adult alike. Brian stared at her in adoration.
“What is she doing now?” Charlene said, having emerged from the house, cake in one hand, knife in the other.
“She’s telling a story,” Sarge said.
The story ended, the crowd applauded, and Brian came running.
“Thanks, Grandpa,” he said, “This is the best birthday ever!”
“It is?” Sarge and Charlene both asked.
“Sure,” Brian said, “Timmy’s party had a clown. Ronny’s party had a magician. But you brought the army!”
“Yeah,” Charlene said, “You sure did.”
As if on cue, Brittney walked over to them.
“I can help you with that,” Brittney said, reaching for the cake. Charlene handed it over.
“I want a piece!” Brian said.
“Yeah, all the boys tell me that,” Brittney said, “Come on, kid, we’re going to serve this cake Army style.”
The partygoers milled around in the yard, the dads admiring the weapons, and the moms admiring the recruits. Brittney walked among them, cutting off pieces of cake and throwing them to the delighted children.
“Where on earth did you find that lunatic?” Charlene asked.
“I didn’t,” Sarge said, “She found me.”
“Well, don’t even tell her I said this,” Charlene said, “But I think I’m glad she did.”
She turned, draped her arms around his neck, and hugged him.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “For all the times I wasn’t there for you.”
“No,” she whispered resting her face against his chest, “No more apologies, no more blame. I’ve carried this anger so long, it’s time to let it go. Let’s let the past be the past. Just be my dad, and hug me.”