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The Worst and the Best

Combat! Fan Fiction
Mary Wright "Eagle Lady"


          "Up and at 'em, Kirby!"  Saunders used his foot to nudge the soundly sleeping

BAR man.

          "Just another few minutes."  He begged.
          "Now, Kirby."  Saunders nudged him again, harder.
          "I ain't goin' to no more wars."  Kirby grumbled as he sat up.  "They just ain't no fun any more."
          "Aw, Kirby, where's your sense of adventure?"  Caje grinned as he checked his ammo.
          "My what?"
          "Your sense of adventure."
          "Oh, that."  Kirby's joints popped as he stretched.  "I left that back at St. Lo."
          "Where we going?"  Littlejohn asked.
          "Recon.  Five mile sweep."
          "Five miles!"  Kirby stared at him in dismay.
          "You heard me."
          "Sarge!  My poor feet can't make it five miles!"
          "Do you think they can make it to the stockade?"  Saunders snapped, losing his patience.
          "All right, all right.  Take it easy.  I'm comin'."
          "Caje; point.  Kirby; rear."
          "Which direction?"  Caje asked, slinging his rifle strap over his shoulder.
          "North to the lake, then back west and around to home."
          "Got it."
          Caje headed out the door, followed by Littlejohn, Doc, and Saunders.  Still grumbling, Kirby trailed along behind the group.   They left the deserted town they'd spent the night in and made their way across several fields, then into a stand of trees nearly half a mile long.  When they broke free of the trees, Saunders called for a ten-minute rest.   Littlejohn scouted around till he found a shady, grassy spot and sprawled on his back, his arms laced under his head; Doc dropped to the ground beside him.  Kirby looked around, spotted a nearby tree stump, sat down and bent over to unlace his boot.  He gave a startled yelp as both he and the stump went over backwards. Littlejohn, Doc, and Caje howled with laughter while Saunders tried hard to hide a wide grin.
          "You okay?"  He managed to ask after a minute.
          "Yeah.  Sure.  I'm fine.  No thanks to those hyenas."  Kirby answered disgustedly as he shoved the rotted stump out of the way and sat up.  "Even the dang trees in this stupid country are out to kill us."
          "Maybe you could shoot it?"  Littlejohn chuckled.
          "Aw, shut up, ya big moose."  Kirby replied, trying to brush some mud off of his pants, succeeding only in making it worse.  Carefully checking the area before he sat down, he finished removing his boot so that he could massage his aching foot.  Saunders turned away to light his cigarette, allowing himself a silent chuckle. 
          "Get your boot back on, Kirby."  He said when he'd almost finished his smoke.
          "I'm working on it." 
          After taking a swig from his canteen, Caje got to his feet and stretched while he waited for the others to get up one by one.
          "Move out."  Saunders nodded to Caje.
          Shifting the rifle from his shoulder, Caje stepped out at a brisk walk, enjoying the cool morning air and the sounds of the birds flitting above their heads.  They reached the lake without incident and Caje turned to follow the shoreline toward the west.  A few minutes later, gunfire erupted and they ducked for cover.  Doc dove behind a mossy log; Littlejohn landing almost on top of him.  Saunders ducked below the eroded drop-off at the edge of the lake, landing up to his knees in water.  Kirby, who was several feet behind them, dropped to the grass behind a low pile of rocks. 
          Saunders, who had glanced back to check his men, felt his jaw drop as he watched his BAR man slowly, inexorably, slide down the slick grass and drop the intervening foot into the lake water, sending up quite a splash.  Chuckling, he turned his attention back to the Germans concealed on the hill above them.  He fired a few rounds then tossed a pebble to get Caje's attention.  Using hand signals, he sent Caje around to flank the enemy, motioning for Littlejohn to give him covering fire.  As Littlejohn complied, Saunders heard the BAR rumble to life behind him.  Well, at least the unexpected bath hadn't hurt the rifle - he wasn't as sure about what it had done for Kirby's attitude.  He heard a grenade explode on the hillside and a quick burst of fire from Caje's M-1 then silence, broken only by Kirby's quiet, continuous cursing.
          "All clear."  Caje called as he started back down the hill.
          He joined Littlejohn and Doc in staring at Kirby as he stood up.  Muddy water dripped from his helmet and a limp, wet, weed hung over one ear. 
          "Don't say a word."  Kirby warned them grimly.
          "Well, at least you don't have to worry about that mud on your pants."  Saunders pointed out, his expression solemn.
          Kirby glared at him as he started to climb out of the lake, however, he lost his footing in the mud and sprawled face first in the mud and water.  Littlejohn, Doc, and Caje collapsed with hysterical laugher, wiping away tears. 
          "If you're done with your beauty treatment, Kirby, we have a patrol to finish."  Saunders busied himself with checking his ammunition.
          "Funny, Sarge.  Real funny."  Kirby tossed the BAR onto the bank, making a quick grab for it as the slime-covered weapon started to slide back into the lake.
          Taking pity on him, Doc stepped forward and pushed the gun back p the bank with his foot, then offered Kirby a hand up the muddy bank.   Kirby hesitated then accepted the proffered hand.  Doc braced himself, half expecting Kirby to pull him in as well.   Once Kirby was back on solid ground, Doc gravely offered him a gauze pad to clean the BAR.  In total silence, Kirby cleaned his weapon and tossed the gauze aside.  Doc offered him another, along with one of his canteens.
          "Uh, you might want to remove that weed from your ear."  He pointed out quietly as Kirby soaked the pad and applied it to his face.
          Kirby jerked the offending weed off and threw it into the lake.  Using his hand, he sluiced as much water and muck off his uniform as he could then hitched the BAR into position again.
          "Knock it off, guys."  Saunders told Littlejohn and Caje.  "We still have a patrol to finish."
          "Sorry."  Caje did his best to assume a serious expression
          "Littlejohn, take the point.  Caje, the rear."
          "Yes, sir."  Littlejohn swallowed a chuckle as he stepped past Kirby, who glared at him.
          As Littlejohn moved on along the shore of the lake, Doc and Kirby followed him silently.  Shaking his head, Saunders glanced back as Caje, who was grinning,  then headed after the others.   By the time they left the lake and were heading back toward the camp, Kirby was limping again and Doc finally called a halt.
          "Sarge, I have to do something about Kirby's foot."
          "All right.  Ten minutes."
          "Grab a seat, Kirby."  Doc told him.
          Kirby looked around, finally settling onto the ground after checking for holes, sticks, and anything else that could hurt him.  Caje and Littlejohn sat down nearby and lit cigarettes while Doc unlaced Kirby's boot and eased it off, exposing a heel that was bloody and raw.  Saunders winced in sympathy as Doc began cleaning it.  Kirby gritted his teeth against the pain, his knuckles white were he clasped his weapon at his side.   Doc finished cleaning the wound, then bandaged it, padded it and worked the boot back onto his foot.   After putting his equipment away, Doc got to his feet and offered a hand to Kirby, who was more than happy to accept.  Littlejohn watched Kirby limp heavily as he followed Caje, who had resumed the point position.
          "Hey, Sarge, we're almost home, aren't we?"  He glanced over at Saunders, who was putting his canteen away.
          "Yeah, why?"
          "Okay if I carry his BAR?"
          Knowing that the two men rarely got along, Saunders shot him a surprised look, then shrugged.
          "Up to you.  I doubt that we'll run into any Krauts from here on out."
          "Hey, Goldbrick!"  Littlejohn called, hurrying to catch up with Kirby.
          Hurting, wet, and irritable, Kirby swung around, ready to take the bigger man's head off, pausing when he saw Littlejohn grinning at him with his hand extended toward the BAR.
          "Why don't you let me carry that thing for you?  You got enough to do to carry yourself right now."  Littlejohn suggested.
          "You serious?"  Kirby stared at him.
          "Sure.  Sarge says he doesn't think we'll run into any more Krauts."
          "Well, thanks, Littlejohn."  Kirby handed him the heavy weapon gratefully.
          As Littlejohn started away, Doc pulled Kirby's arm over his shoulder and they moved off after Littlejohn.  Caje, who had stopped to wait for them, started off again while Saunders took the rear position. 
          It was nearly dark by the time they reached home again and Doc was supporting most of Kirby's weight.   They were heading for the aid station when Hanley stepped out of the remains of the town hall that he had confiscated for his headquarters.
          "Saunders!"  He snapped.  "Where have you been?  I expected you back at least an hour ago!"
          "Lieutenant, I ..." Saunders started to say.
          "In here."  Hanley growled.  "All of you.  Right now."
          "But, Lieutenant, Kirby's..." Doc protested.
          "I said, get in here!"  Hanley yelled.
          "Yes, sir."
          Exchanging apprehensive looks, they headed for the hall.  Saunders, Littlejohn, and Caje somehow all managed to get inside ahead of Doc and Kirby.  When Doc stepped back and let him step in first, Kirby moved on inside and stopped in confusion.  The interior was completely dark, and there was no sign of anyone inside.  Kirby took another limping step, then reeled back into Doc as lights blazed and a couple dozen men jumped into sight from behind boxes, broken tables and other debris.
          "Happy Birthday!"  The shouts shook the room.
          Shocked and surprised, Kirby lost his balance and ended up sitting on the floor at Doc's feet.
          "Not again."  Littlejohn groaned, reaching down to haul him to his feet again.  "Happy Birthday, pal!"

The End!


Story Copyright Mary Wright. All Rights Reserved.

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The CombatFan web site thanks Mary (aka "EagleLady") for letting us share these fan fiction stories on this web site.