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Changes An Old Sergeant Story
Self ^ | 2018 | Gayle Rae

Posted on 01/28/2018 7:30:03 PM PST by Steve Newton

Pappy folded the newspaper he had been browsing as he had made his way along the path from his quarters to his office, tucked it under his arm and reached for the knob on his office door.

(Excerpt) Read more at silverstarfamilies.org ...


TOPICS: Chit/Chat; Military/Veterans; Miscellaneous; Society
KEYWORDS: fiction; oldsergeant; rae; war
Pappy folded the newspaper he had been browsing as he had made his way along the path from his quarters to his office, tucked it under his arm and reached for the knob on his office door. Fully expecting it to turn automatically and allow him entrance into what was now a much more cheerful place than it had been before the arrival of Corporal Montgomery, he was rather surprised when it didn’t.

He glanced up through the frosted pane of glass being further surprised to see that the lights were not on, either. He frowned. This did not please him. Nope. Not at all.

Since that first day when he had decided keeping her around might turn out to be a very good idea, he had yet to beat her into the office. It was well known he got there early and stayed late, but the corporal had apparently decided that it was imperative that she also make a beeline for her desk before anyone got the jump on her.

Stroking his hand over his freshly shaved chin, Pappy smiled to himself a bit ruefully. He reluctantly conceded to himself that at least one advantage to having the corporal around had nothing to do with how well she deciphered his messy rough drafts of any and all things written.

It had more to do with the fact that she made a killer pot of coffee every morning. A guy could get used to that, he reasoned. And he had, he admitted much to his private chagrin.

He frowned again. So. Where WAS his corporal? Fishing his own set of keys out of his pocket, he unlocked the door and stepped in. Flipping on the light switch, he glanced around the outer office. Even after four weeks it was still somewhat of a jolt to see the small but deeply felt changes she had brought to the space. When he let himself think on it (which wasn’t often) he had, in all fairness, to give her a lot of credit.

The general had been right about her skills in organizing and keeping track of things in an orderly fashion. She had managed somehow to turn a dusty, nondescript, typical generic government cubbyhole into something functional, and maybe even… pleasant….? Bah! He thought to himself. It served the purpose. That was all that really counted in his book. Who cared if it was pleasant or not?

Crossing the outer office space in three sweeping strides, he unlocked his inner office. He switched on the lights then headed for his desk. Sinking into his swivel chair, he immediately addressed the first order of business for the day: he lit a cigar.

Puffing on it thoughtfully, he let his mind wander over the events of the past 4 weeks When he had decided to keep the corporal, a decision based largely on the fact that the General really, REALLY wanted her here, he hadn’t given much thought to what the results would be. As long as the job got done and no one got in his way, he wouldn’t have cared what sat in the outer office. Or who, either, as far as that went.

He sighed gustily. Perhaps he SHOULD have thought what the results might be. If he had, then the events of last Monday morning would have gone much more smoothly than they did.

He had arrived that morning already in a grim and gruesome mood because his recommendations for personnel rotations were due that very day. That being a task he loathed, he naturally had put it off to the last minute. It wasn’t that he didn’t already know precisely who was going where and why; it was that he hated dealing with the unavoidable disagreements that would arise when someone questioned his judgments and reasons for his choices.

Invariably, he got his way, but only after much wrangling and heated debates in which he was always on the defensive. He shrugged. Be that as it may, HE knew his men better than anyone else – backing down about what was best for each of them was simply not an option. It had never happened as long as he occupied the chair he now sat in. It never would.

Being deep in thought over one troubling member of his unit at mid morning, he suddenly jumped almost from his chair when a very loud, raucous ssscccrrreeeeccchhhh had shattered his focus.

“CLAIRE!” he bellowed through the air. “What in blue blazes are you doing out there?”

“Um, nothing, Sergeant. I’m sorry for the noise,” had come the meek reply.

“Keep it down! I’m up to my eyeballs in personnel files and the last thing I need is a freight train roaring by out there!”

“Yes, Sergeant,” came the meek voice once again. He picked up his file again, scanning it to try to find his lost place in his reading. Totally engrossed again in a matter of minutes, he had just turned a page when another obnoxiously loud ssscccrrrrreeeeeccchhhh assaulted his ears.

Fuming, he tossed the file onto the desk, crossed to the door and flung it open in exasperation. What met his eyes defied common sense. There was Claire, struggling mightily with a massive filing cabinet that must have outweighed her by a good 100 pounds. She was in the process of actually attempting to move it across the office floor all by herself. Her face was red from exertion with little beads of sweat glistening on both her forehead and upper lip.

But the expression on her face nearly made him laugh out loud. It was positively mutinous. If sheer determination were all it took, the look on Claire’s face clearly showed the cabinet WOULD move, or she would kill it.

Speaking as calmly as he could, Pappy asked, “Claire. What are you doing?”

“Well, it occurred to me that having this cabinet moved closer to my desk would be much more efficient. It’s the one I use most often. Getting up and down a million times a day to cross the floor to where it has been located is a total waste of time, and quite frankly, a pain in the butt.” She blew heavily, setting a stray curl fluttering across her forehead.

Regarding her intently, Pappy dare not give in to the wicked impulse to laugh long and hard at both her remark and her expression. He decided to counter with as much gravity as she seemed to think the problem called for. “Corporal. Did it not occur to you to ask for……….help?”

She dropped her gaze from the intent glare peering out at her from a face quite annoyed at being disturbed, never seeing the small glint of humor contained there. “Not exactly,” she almost mumbled. “Everyone is so busy, and this is supposed to be my responsibility. Making this office run smoothly, I mean.”

Knowing a sympathetic response is not always the best, Pappy barked at her. “Corporal! This office is also part of a UNIT! What does a properly functioning unit require, Corporal?”

“Cooperation! Teamwork!”

“Correct! If one of the team needs a hand, what is the response of the rest of the team to be, Corporal?”

“To see that the team member gets that hand, sir!” “Very well. Follow me.”

Without a backward glance Pappy made for the door, Claire trailing in his wake. At the end of the hall, he threw open the door to the outside of the building where the majority of the unit had just been engaging in various forms of recreation. Dog and Judy came loping over at the sight of Pappy with Claire. A few members of his team were lounging on various crates and barrels, catching their breaths from what had been a rousing basketball game. Pappy headed straight for them.

He noted with keen observation that every male face in the vicinity swung in the direction of Claire. Not that there was ever even the slightest suggestion of crude or rude manners toward her, they each know Pappy would have their hides for such behavior. Besides, most of them genuinely liked, respected and admired Claire. They treated her with the fierce protectiveness brothers give a favored baby sister. Teased her just as mercilessly, too.

Eyeing the available guys in front of him, Pappy growled out, “You, you and you. You’re with me.” With just a slight glance one to another, those three stood up. Sarge turned around and strode back into the building. This time with not only Claire in tow, but the other three as well.

As they entered the office once more, Pappy ordered, “Fellas, Claire needs your brawn today, not your brains. I hereby give you notice that whatever she says ‘Move’ YOU. MOVE. Wherever she says move it to. Got that?”

“Yes, Pappy!” came 3 voices in unison.

Pappy headed for his own private sanctum. Pausing briefly as he was about to cross its threshold, he gazed back across his shoulder and said more mildly, “and if you could……….move it all………QUIETLY???” Then he went in closing the door behind him with something only a little less pronounced than a slam.

Pappy stirred from his recollections as he heard Claire’s bustling movements in the outer office. He smiled when he heard the tell tale sounds of the coffeepot being put to use. He got up and went to his door. Poking his head through, he asked, “What took you so long, Corporal?”

Claire turned, then crossed to him with something in her hand. When she was at arm’s length she held it out to him. On a saucer sat a huge blueberry muffin, still warm from the oven. In it was one lit candle.

Looking baffled, Pappy gazed from the muffin to Claire. “Corporal?”

Claire looked rather sheepish. “It’s a thank you muffin, Sir.”

“I see. Thank you for WHAT, exactly?”

“Well, sir today is exactly one month since you decided to keep me. I just wanted to say thanks for giving me the chance. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this assignment, and I hope I’ve proved efficient enough that you’ll let me stay…?” Her face held the question as much as the inflection in her voice did.

Taking the muffin, Pappy blew out the candle. He took a big bite, munching with obvious pleasure. Gesturing for his coffee, Claire went to pour it. As he took the mug from her, he gave a slightly sardonic smile. “Yeah, Corporal, you’ll do alright, I guess.”

Claire breathed an audible sigh of relief. She went to her desk where her own coffee sat waiting. She reached down to turn on the computer. “And Claire?”

“Yes, Sergeant?” She swiveled her chair back to look at him.

“Call me Pappy.”

1 posted on 01/28/2018 7:30:04 PM PST by Steve Newton
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To: Steve Newton

“Gayle Rae has teamed up with “The Old Sergeant” and has developed a character that is memorable and powerful, as evidenced by its reviews, and she has succeeded in seamlessly joining her writing style with those of the author. As such, it stands as a success, and we look forward to more from Miss Rae!”


2 posted on 01/28/2018 7:31:19 PM PST by Steve Newton (And the Wolves will learn what we have shown before-We love our sheep we dogs of war. Vaughn)
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To: Steve Newton

IBTP...


3 posted on 01/28/2018 7:37:06 PM PST by null and void (The Martians fought global warming, all the plants died and the surface water froze solid...)
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To: null and void

Thank you...and guess what? Gayle Rae is on!


4 posted on 01/28/2018 7:42:25 PM PST by Steve Newton (And the Wolves will learn what we have shown before-We love our sheep we dogs of war. Vaughn)
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To: Steve Newton

Well. Her replies are going to review. But she is watching and says to thank everyone so much for being so nice to a new FReeper.


5 posted on 01/28/2018 7:50:32 PM PST by Steve Newton (And the Wolves will learn what we have shown before-We love our sheep we dogs of war. Vaughn)
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To: Steve Newton

Thank you for the stories!


6 posted on 01/28/2018 7:58:42 PM PST by null and void (The Martians fought global warming, all the plants died and the surface water froze solid...)
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To: null and void

thanks, Null, I appreciate that!


7 posted on 01/28/2018 11:19:02 PM PST by Gayle Rae
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To: Steve Newton

Yep! Here I am!


8 posted on 01/28/2018 11:19:02 PM PST by Gayle Rae
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To: Gayle Rae

Great story. When I was in charge of a DivArty TOC, I had two women in the unit. One was a Tom-boy and the other always carried a clutch purse.

We were struggling with putting up camouflage nets and I had each soldier learning how to do it while carrying their M-16 slung muzzle down to keep from fouling the net. The soldier with the clutch purse was not helping. I told her to get with the program and she complained that she couldn’t because her hands were full. I ripped the clutch purse out of her hands, and threw it in the back of a deuce and half. Showed her how to sling her weapon properly, and told her that after the nets were up, she was to get what she absolutely needed out of that damned purse and stuff it in her BDU pockets and I didn’t want to see it in the field, ever again!

She came up to me later in the day and said, “Thank you, Major. I never realized what a pain in the ass that purse was!” She was a good troop. All of my folks were.


9 posted on 01/29/2018 5:00:52 AM PST by Redleg Duke (Build Kate’s Wall! Never Forget!)
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To: Redleg Duke

Everything has a learning curve. It’s to her credit she realized that some things have to go in order to succeed.

It’s to yours that you were that definitive.

Would that all things could be resolved so neatly.


10 posted on 01/29/2018 5:04:02 AM PST by Gayle Rae
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To: Redleg Duke

And thank you for both taking the time to reply and for the compliment.

I appreciate both.


11 posted on 01/29/2018 5:06:18 AM PST by Gayle Rae
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To: Gayle Rae
Thank you. My incident happened in the 1980s. Today, I would have probably been courts marshaled for my “sexist transgressions”.

Today’s Army ain’t my Army, for certain!

12 posted on 01/29/2018 6:38:02 AM PST by Redleg Duke (Build Kate’s Wall! Never Forget!)
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To: Steve Newton; Gayle Rae

Wonderful story. The two of you have a gift.


13 posted on 01/29/2018 7:32:13 AM PST by Natty Bumppo@frontier.net (We are the dangerous ones, who stand between all we love and a more dangerous world.)
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To: Redleg Duke

And I’m not sure the new direction is a good one...? Maybe, on some levels, but probably not all.

But isn’t that the way of all things?


14 posted on 01/29/2018 8:00:50 AM PST by Gayle Rae
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To: Natty Bumppo@frontier.net

Thank you for taking the time to let us know that. And thank you for the compliment, as well. Glad you enjoyed!


15 posted on 01/29/2018 8:02:06 AM PST by Gayle Rae
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To: Natty Bumppo@frontier.net

Thank you so much! Hearing that others have enjoyed your stories is why most of us write.


16 posted on 01/29/2018 6:13:14 PM PST by Steve Newton (And the Wolves will learn what we have shown before-We love our sheep we dogs of war. Vaughn)
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To: Gayle Rae

Gayle! It is wonderful to see you finally done with your FR review. And its good to have you aboard.


17 posted on 01/29/2018 6:14:47 PM PST by Steve Newton (And the Wolves will learn what we have shown before-We love our sheep we dogs of war. Vaughn)
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To: Steve Newton

Thanks, Steve........very, very good to be here.


18 posted on 01/29/2018 7:30:47 PM PST by Gayle Rae
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