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Murphy's Law

 

Combat! Fan Fiction
by
Mary Wright "Eagle Lady"
eaglelady80010@netzero.net

          Sergeant Saunders turned and studied the group of men sprawled in the sun at the base of the wall.  Littlejohn and Caje were both sporting bandages on their shooting arms, and Kirby had a bandage covering one eye.  Doc was out of the question since he couldn't carry or use a weapon.  That left Billy.  Saunders sighed in resignation.  Billy was a good enough soldier, but he could talk your ear off and lately he'd been pretty clumsy.  Well, Saunders thought, it was just a jeep ride and all the kid had to do was ride shotgun.  He couldn't cause any trouble there, could he?

          "Nelson."  He called.  "Saddle up.  Go get a jeep from motor pool."

          "Yes, sir."  Nelson jumped up, nearly  falling over Kirby's out-stretched legs.

          "Don't call me sir!"  Saunders snapped.

          "Yes, sir. I mean Sarge."

          Grabbing his helmet, Nelson moved off, returning sheepishly when Littlejohn hollered at him to get his rifle.  Saunders shook his head in weary disbelief as he watched the young soldier hurry away, dropping his helmet twice.

          "Hey, Sarge?  Want me to come?"  Caje offered.

          Though sorely tempted, Saunders shook his head.

          "No, it's just a routine run to Company.  I'll survive."

          "You hope."  Kirby grinned.

^^^

          Nelson roared up in a cloud of dust and jumped out of the jeep.

          "I filled her up, checked the oil, checked the tires and grabbed some extra ammo."

          "Alright.  Let's get going."  With some misgivings, Saunders climbed into the passenger side and lifted a hand in response to the farewells from the others.

          "Hey, Sarge, did you hear what Kelly's planning this time?"

          "No."  He kept his eyes front, hoping Nelson would take the hint.

          He didn't, and was still talking when the jeep's engine died and the vehicle rolled to a stop.

          "I filled the tank, Sarge!"  Nelson protested in response to Saunders' accusatory glare.

          "With what?  Water?"

          "With gasoline!"

          "Well, check the engine, Nelson."

          Billy raised the hood and stuck his head under it, finally coming around to where Saunders sat smoking a cigarette.

          "I don't know what's wrong with it, Sarge."

          Without a word, Saunders got out and checked the gas tank.  He looked around, picked up a thin stick and poked it into the tank.  He turned and held the dry stick up in front of Nelson, whose jaw dropped.

          "But...I...It..."  He stammered.

          "Nelson!"  Saunders snapped angrily.

          "But I filled it!"  Billy insisted.  "Sergeant Johnston was standing right beside me while I did it!"

          Tossing the stick aside, Saunders crawled under the jeep, cursing under his breath as he got back up.

          "There's a hole the size of  Chicago in the tank.  Did you bring a radio?"

          "Yeah."  Billy pulled it out of the back seat and handed it to Saunders.

          "King Two, this is White Rook. Come in."

          After calling several more times with no response, Saunders shook the radio, wincing at the rattling noise coming from inside.

          "Did you drop it?"

          "No."  Nelson looked downright miserable.  "I'm sorry, Sarge."

          "For what?  Did you punch a hole in the gas tank?"

          "No, of course not."

          "Did you break the radio?"

          "No!"

          "Then what are you apologizing for?  Get your gear.  Looks like we're walking."

          "To Company?"  Nelson stared at him.

          "Yeah, to Company.  We're about halfway there.  It makes more sense to go on than to go back and start over.  Let's go."

          They shouldered their weapons and started down the road.  While they walked, this time in silence, Saunders pulled out and studied a map.

          "I didn't get us lost, did I?"  Billy asked anxiously.

          "No."  Saunders smothered a grin.  "We'll head through these trees on the left and pick up the road on the other side."

          "Okay."  Nelson started to turn, then turned back.  "Sarge?"

          "Yeah?"

          "What about Krauts?  And mines?"

          "Shouldn't be any of either.  We're not at the front anymore."

^^^

          Saunders shook his head at Nelson's antics as he happily jumped over a log, then snatched up a long weed to chew on while they walked.  He couldn't remember being that young and carefree.  It felt like he'd been at war forever.  First Africa, then Italy, and now France.  There were days when he couldn't remember where he was.  As they moved through the trees, Saunders took the lead, his Thompson slung over his shoulder.  Behind him, he heard a crashing in the bushes, but before he could turn, Nelson was pushing him and yelling at him to run.

          "Krauts?"  Saunders asked, trying to turn.

          "No!"  Nelson actually grabbed his arm, dragging him along.  "Some kind of animal.  Big and ugly."

          Pulling free, Saunders stopped and looked behind them, then joined Nelson in full flight.  It was big and ugly.  It was a huge boar, tusked, and obviously angry.  Having seen what an angry pig could do to a man, Saunders headed for the nearest climbable tree, Nelson at his heels.  He boosted Nelson up to the lowest branch and swung himself up, barely avoiding the beast's charge.  Feeling his Thompson slipping, he grabbed for it, nearly falling off the limb.  Nelson, one arm wrapped around the trunk, seized Saunders's web belt and pulled him back up.  They both watched in dismay as the Thompson landed on the ground right in front of the pig.  Unable to reach the trespassers in his domain, the pig settled for mangling the gun.  Finally remembering his .45, Saunders pulled it out and shot the enraged animal.  Replacing the pistol, he started to swing down.

          "Nelson.  Billy!  You can let go now."

          "Sorry."  He quickly released the belt.  "What is that?"

          "A boar."

          "I didn't think it was boring!"  Nelson stared at him in surprise.

          "Not  b-o-r-e, Nelson.  B-o-a-r.  A male pig."

          "Oh."

          Saunders jumped down beside the dead pig and picked up what used to be his Tommy gun.  Nelson dropped to the ground beside him, staring wide-eyed at the pig.

          "Man, is that thing ugly!"

          "Let's get moving, Nelson."  Saunders threw down his gun in disgust.

          "Sure, Sarge.  Umm, which way were we going?"

          "This way."  Saunders led off.

          "The guys will never believe this!"  Billy laughed.

          "You wanna cut the head off for a souvenir?"

          "What?!"  Nelson was so shocked that he tripped over a stick and fell.

          "I said,"  Saunders was trying hard not to laugh as he watched the young soldier clamber back to his feet.  "Do you want...?"

          "No!"  Nelson interrupted.  "I couldn't do that!"

          "Okay."  Saunders shrugged.  "Guess they'll just have to take our word for it."

          "Yeah."  Billy agreed, relieved.

^^^

          The sergeant resumed walking, grateful for the silence behind him.  A simple trip to Company and he'd lost a jeep, a radio, and a Thompson.  What else could go wrong?  Better not even think about that!

          "Hey, Sarge?"

          "Yeah?"

          "What's that?"

          "What's what?"

          "Up there.  In that tree."

          Saunders turned to see what Nelson was looking at, missing the comforting weight of his Thompson.  The younger man was looking at a brown-gray mass the size of a watermelon resting in the fork of a tree about ten feet over their heads.

          "I think it's a hornet's nest."

          "Like bees?"

          "Yeah, only meaner."

          As they stood looking at the nest, first one insect, then another flew out.

          "Uh-oh.  I think they're after us."  Billy said.

          "Two of 'em aren't going to hurt us."  Saunders started walking.

          "There's a lot more than two."  Billy sounded worried.

          Saunders glanced over his shoulder and did a double-take.  Nelson was right.  There were a lot more.  In fact, there was a cloud of buzzing insects behind them.  One of them zipped past Nelson's ear and he broke into a run, nearly knocking Saunders off of his feet on the way past.

          "Nelson!"  Saunders yelled. "Get back here!"

          Nelson kept going and as several hornets dive-bombed his head, Saunders sprinted after him.  He followed Nelson's panicked flight through the thick undergrowth, increasing his pace at Nelson's startled yell.  The next thing he knew, he was face down in a slimy, muddy, stinking pond.  Wiping the muck out of his eyes, he found Nelson on his knees beside him, slimy weeds dripping off of his helmet, while he frantically felt around the bottom of the pond.

          "What are you doing?"  Saunders demanded.

          "I lost my rifle!"

          The sergeant struggled to his feet, torn between laughter and anger.  When Nelson pulled up a mud-covered creature, then dropped it with a look of horror, laughter won out.  Still laughing, Saunders dripped his way to the bank and squatted down to wipe his hands in the grass.  Watching his muddy companion crawl around in the pond, Saunders pulled out his cigarettes.  He threw the soggy, gooey mess down in disgust and motioned to Nelson.

          "Come on out.  Let's get moving."

          "But, Sarge, my rifle?"

          "Get another at Company."

          "Okay."

          He slogged his way out of the pond to Saunders, shaking his arms to dislodge the sticky mud.

          "Oops.  Sorry, Sarge."  He apologized when some of it hit Saunders in the face.

          Saunders waved off the apology and started walking, his boots squelching with every step.

          "Hey, Sarge?  Where'd the hornets go?"

          "Probably died laughing, Nelson."

          "How long till we reach the road?"

          "Shouldn't be too much further."

          "Sarge?"

          "Yeah?"  He sighed.

          "Why are we going to Company, anyway?"

          "To pick up the lieutenant, new maps, and a correspondent."

          "Not Eleanora Hunt again?  She caused enough trouble at Trois Anges."

          "No, this one's a man."

          "What do we do with him?"

          "Drop him off with Item Company."

          "Well, why doesn't Item pick him up?"

          "Nelson, just keep your eyes open."          

^^^

          Saunders plodded along, disgusted with the whole world.  His uniform was clammy and cold where it wasn't stiff and scratchy; he'd lost a jeep, a radio, his Thompson, and a rifle; he had no cigarettes; the map was useless and the kid just would not shut up.  All he needed now was to run into some Krauts.  At least they were far enough back to make that unlikely.

          "Hey, Sarge.  It looks like the road just ahead."  Nelson, who had taken the lead, called back.

          "Good." Saunders grunted.

          "Uh, Sarge?"

          "Now what?"

          "I think I hear someone talking in German."

          Casting a why-me? glance heavenward, Saunders worked his sidearm free of the mud-stiffened leather and moved ahead of  Nelson, motioning him to slow down.  He eased forward until he could see the road, peering around a tree. A private was changing the rear tire on a jeep parked beside the road while a sergeant stood to one side, his weapon covering two Germans who were sitting in the grass talking.

          "Hey!"  Saunders called out.  "I'm an American.  Sergeant Saunders.  361st.  I've got a private with me."

          "Com'on out. Slowly.  With your hands up."  The sergeant turned to cover them as the private dropped his tools and grabbed his rifle.  The two Americans and the two Germans gaped at the filthy, bedraggled soldiers emerging from the trees.

          "American?  I'm not even sure you're human."  The private grinned.

          "What the heck happened to you?"  The sergeant demanded.

          "It's a long story.  Can we catch a ride with you?  We're heading for the 361st Company HQ."

          By this time, Saunders and Nelson had reached the group.  Wrinkling his nose, the sergeant backed away.

          "I, uh, don't think there's enough room in the jeep, Sergeant."

          "Can't say that I blame you.  You got any cigarettes?"

          "Sure."  He tossed Saunders a full pack.

          "How far is it to Company?"

          "Mile.  Mile and a half, maybe."

          "Thanks."  Saunders nodded and started down the road, Nelson trailing him unhappily.

          "Gosh, Sarge, there was plenty of room."  He protested.

          "Just walk, Nelson."  Saunders told him, happily lighting a smoke.

          A few minutes later, the jeep approached and slowed down several feet away.  The driver tossed something which Saunders caught automatically.

          "What is it?"  Nelson asked as the jeep roared off.

          "Chocolate bar."  Saunders chuckled. " Want half?"

          "Sure!"

          

^^^

When they finally drew in sight of the HQ, Saunders could see Hanley standing by the doorway, watching them approach.

          "Just one question, Sergeant."  Hanley tried mightily not to grin.

          "Yes, sir?"

          "Either one of you wounded?"

          "No, sir."

          "Good.  Showers are that way.  Get cleaned up and back here in half an hour."

          "Yes, sir."

          Watching the two filthy, miserable soldiers clump away, Hanley started to laugh.  When Saunders waggled a disgusted hand at him, Hanley laughed so hard that he had to grab the doorframe to stay upright.  He couldn't remember ever seeing his tough, no-nonsense sergeant looking so disgusted and miserable.  It would be worth remembering, he was sure.

 

WITH MANY THANKS TO TXMEDIC FOR HER ASSISTANCE!!!!

Copyright 2001

 

Story Copyright Mary Wright. All Rights Reserved.

Read more Dogface Tales by Mary:
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The CombatFan web site thanks Mary (aka "EagleLady") for letting us share these fan fiction stories on this web site.

[http://www.jodavidsmeyer.com/borders/right.htm]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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