Close quarters


When we first arrived in Sicily, we didn’t have a real good work-space. In fact, it was hardly more than a storage shed. Talk about close quarters. We mostly went about our business, but there was this one guy, what we called a rent-a-crow, who just couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

He just had to tell everyone within earshot about graduating at the top of his class and his advancement to E-4. In exchange for a rent-a-crow’s promotion, they enlist for an extra year. One day, we’re all going about business as usual and Herb is just letting me have it. He’s not working. He’s sitting around doing nothing but telling the rest of us how to do our jobs.

“You’re doing it wrong. Put that drill to use!” Herb said.

I ignored him, and that just made him all fired mad. I was an E-3 at the time and he just thought that ought to make me jump at his every order.

“Do you hear me?” Herb asked. “You do know that as a higher rank, I can have you knocked down a rank, right?”

I’d had about enough of him and I stood up from where I was crouched on the floor and looked him square in the face.

“You want it done your way, you put it back together,” I said.

Herb stopped smirking and stood up so fast that his chair did a somersault. The shop was so small that it didn’t take but one step and I punched him right in his loud mouth. He landed on the floor, but he popped right up and punched me in the nose.

“What the devil is going on in here?”

I snapped to attention as best I could while holding my bloody nose. The lieutenant had chosen that moment to walk past the shop and he witnessed Herb punch me in the nose.

It was bad enough to get caught fighting, but Herb was a petty officer hitting a lower enlisted man. Not only was he busted down to an E-3, but he still had to do all the extra time he enlisted for.

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