Par for the Course
By Sam Seal
(Based on the characters of the series 'Space: Above and Beyond', created by Morgan and Wong.)
was furious. That morning he had entered their Bunk House
with a list of the days scheduled activities only to find
that the entire 58th Squadron had gone AWOL again.
This time en masse. And thus he had been forced to delay
the briefing in order to go find them again, and safely
shepherd them back to where they belonged.
He decided that
the communal Courtyard would be as good a place as any to
start. Trying to keep a low profile - lest the 58th spot
him coming and hide - and recognising a familiar face,
the Colonel pulled up sharply next to the British
Prisoners regular mess table to interrogate the General's
preferred lackey, Private Thomas Atkins esq.
Atkins was sitting
with his back to the Colonel, using a well-chewed pencil
to make notes in a nicotine stained notebook. Upon closer
inspection McQueen concluded, with surprise, that Atkins
must be the Briton's Quartermaster - as he was busily
engaged in doling out the usual food rations, pairs of
socks, the odd saucepan, writing paper, pencils...
believe that he was even capable of hallucinating
22 men in immaculate cricket whites standing at the head
of the queue, McQueen got straight to the point.
"Private Atkins - have you by any chance seen my Squadron this-morning?"
Atkins paused in
the middle of rearranging a box full on snooker balls to
regard the Colonel speculatively. "I might
'ave," he said. "It depends..."
Atkins sucked the
end of a pencil thoughtfully. "On wethah or not you
wants ta make a Deal," he murmured around a mouthful
Oh God, he's
another Greasy Weasel, McQueen realised in disgust
(though Atkin's complexion more favoured the Cotton Rat -
a sort of yellowish grey). Even so... "It depends on
the Deal," he responded with Swiss-like Neutrality.
Atkins removed the
pencil from his mouth and drew the Colonel away to a more
secluded part of the compound.
"I needs some
Chigs, Squire," he whispered. "The more the
merrier. Dead 'uns."
you about calling me that," McQueen glowered,
making throttling motions with his hands in the air
before the Private, who blanched satisfyingly.
"Why?" he added.
s'posed to tell anyone - " the Private began, but on
seeing the Colonel's expression darken even more
ominously, he swiftly added " - but I'm sure I can
trust you to keep it quiet!"
"Fess up!" he ordered.
"We use 'em
as a kinda... International Currency, ya see. We've
arranged to swap 'em with the Frenchies - they can work
miriculs wiv a hot stove and some garlic, sah - in return
for one of them Louwey the Fourteenf dining chairs they
got in their last Red Cross Parcel - "
Oh yes, sah!
Antique-ee tables, armchairs, paintin's - the
works!" His rodentine eyes were like saucers.
"An' you should see their bunk'ouse - ev'ry
one of 'em wiv a four-poster bed..." Said eyes
glazed dreamily. McQueen snapped his fingers under the
Privates' nose to regain his attention (he'd had a lot of
practise with Hawkes). "Any'ow - wot we dun wuz, we
used that chair to bribe the ole Chiggy Captain wiv, in
return for the Sports Field - "
Field," McQueen echoed weakly. "You've got a
"Yup! An that's
where you mob is right now. Sah!"
That had been
three hours ago.
his list of scribbled directions incredulously.
"Down the steps next to the swimming pool?"
He looked around carefully and yes, there as promised,
was the swimming pool - right next to the cricket ground,
just south of the football pitch. He took a deep breath
and descended to the next level...
There before him
lay the British POW's New, Improved Golf Course.
All 7,000 yards of
it. Or 6, 400 metres , depending on your point of origin.
All 18 tees, fairways, putting greens and holes - flagged
- not to mention all the rough, bunkers, banks,
strategically positioned trees and a bloody great
ornamental Lake (dotted with anglers).
It covered the
And there, tight
against the hull, was a Victorian-style Club House...
whitewashed with plenty of enthusiasm (but little actual
effect) by members of his Squadron - themselves
awash in a sea of black Labrador puppies. At least,
McQueen assumed they were black Labradors. At the
moment they resembled Dalmatians, due to the amount of
whitewash involved. Infact Hawkes was currently laying
prone, pinned to the deck by the small ball of black-ish
fur asleep on his stomach.
He was listening
to his stereo whilst reading a Comic.
alarmingly on the brink of yet another nervous breakdown,
Colonel McQueen decided that it was more than time
he stepped in and put a stop to all this libertine
General Ffortescue-Smythe purposefully. "Sir! May I
ask just what the Hell you think your doing with my
pointed at the white-wash debacle grimly.
" The General stopped his futile attempts at
erecting a deck chair and regarded the 58th as if trying
to remember... Then "Ah yes! They're on Punishment
Duty," he explained.
"What gives you the right to punish members of the
United States Marine Corps?" he seethed, hands on
hips in the traditional manner.
old boy!" came the immediate response. "I mean
to say - There we all were on the Foottie field, having a
jolly kick-about in the name of Morale, when all of a
sudden one of your boys picks up the ball and runs with
it all the way to the goal mouth and throws himself to
the ground with it. He then rose to his feet and
proceeded, strictly against Federation Rules, to do some
sort of bally Victory Dance - cheered on by the rest of
his team." The General looked outraged. "I mean
to say - it's just not, ah, cricket."
caused any trouble, sir, I'm perfectly capable of
punishing them myself," McQueen pointed out
truthfully. "Half an hour of Intensive Military
History and they are as putty in my hand..."
imagine," came the somewhat dusty reply.
"Still, since your here - one supposes they're all
yours now, to do with as you see fit."
dismissal the General tried to return all his attentions
to the recalcitrant deck-chair.
But - just as
Colonel McQueen was about to swoop down on the 58th
Squadron like the ultimate Avenging Angel - the
entire Chig battleship was violently rocked by a massive
blast to the hull - followed by two more blasts and a
mild yet rather unpleasant sense of decompression.
"All hands to
the pups!" General Ffortescue-Smythe bellowed,
dramatically dropping his chair and seizing up an armful
of puppies. "Rescue is at hand!"
The Colonel asked, looking around in alarm.
pointed his ever-present baton to where a vast hole had
suddenly appeared in the side of the ship where the Club
House had so recently stood - not easy to do with an arm
full of puppies. "See?" he said. "Looks
rather as if all our troubles are over! Or, as you Yanks
would have it - 'Here comes the Cavalry!' "
McQueen looked -
Meanwhile the 58th
had scrambled into action - in their own, inimitable
leaving without my curlers! I don't see why I should
have to go without my curlers! It's not fair - I
risked my life for those curlers - "
going anywhere without my autographed coffee mug from
Wrigley Field! I saved all month - "
You think you've
got problems? All my boyfriends letters are
back in the Bunkhouse. I'm not going anywhere - "
PG. . .? Pee.
. . Gee . . .?"