W E B Griffin – Corp 06 – Close Combat

“So why didn’t you call me when you got in?”

“I had to get a BOQ, look up the Marine liaison officer.”

“You wasted your effort getting a BOQ,” Pickering said. “You just moved in with me. I have a little house. Four bedrooms, and only two of us-”

He was interrupted by a deep, ugly, bell-like sound. Someone was beating on the steel door, which caused it to vibrate like a drum.

“What the hell?” Stecker exclaimed.

“My replacement has arrived,” Pickering said. He walked over to the door, then unlocked and opened it.

Second Lieutenant George F. Hart, USMCR, came in. His uniform was adorned with the insignia of an aide-de-camp.

Why does this surprise me? Stecker wondered. Pickering is a General. Generals have aides-de-camp.

“I can’t tell you how glad I am to see you, George,” Pickering said. “Did you meet Colonel Stecker when you were on Guadalcanal?”

“No, Sir.”

“Jack, this is George Hart.”

“How are you, Hart?” Stecker asked.

“How do you do, Sir?” Hart replied. A moment later, he surprised Stecker by starting to take off his blouse. A moment after that, he surprised Stecker again, for he could now see that Hart was wearing a snub-nosed revolver in a shoulder holster. And a moment later, he surprised Stecker a third time when he slipped out of the holster and offered it to Pickering.

“I always feel like Edward G. Robinson in a grade-B movie when I wear that,” Pickering said.

“But on the other hand, people can’t tell you are wearing it. A.45 is pretty obvious,” Hart said. “It’s up to you.”

“I think I’ll stick with the.45, George. That makes me feel like Alan Ladd. Or John Wayne.”

“Suit yourself,” Hart said.

Pickering went to the table on which sat the mysterious machine now covered with canvas, opened a drawer, and took out a Colt Model 1911 Al.45 pistol. He removed the clip, checked to see that there was no cartridge in the action, and replaced the clip. He then put the pistol under the waistband of his trousers, in the small of his back. He sensed Stecker’s eyes on him, and looked at him.

“George and I have a deal,” he said. “I am allowed to go out and play by myself, but only if I am armed to the teeth. If you think it’s a little odd for a general to be ordered around by a second lieutenant, you have to remember Colonel Fritz Rickabee…. You know Fritz don’t you, Jack?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “The truth is that we really work for him, and this gun nonsense is his idea. And both of us are afraid of him, right, George?”

“The Colonel is a formidable man, Sir.”

“I know Rickabee,” Stecker said. “I agree, he’s formidable.”

“OK, George. I’ll save you a piece of the wedding cake,” Pickering said. “Or maybe the party will still be going when Moore relieves you.”

“I forgot to tell you. Commander Feldt is at the Cottage, he and some other RAN types. I told him you insisted that he stay there.”

“Good man,” Pickering said, and again sensed Stecker’s curiosity. “Staff Sergeant Koffler is getting married at two. He’s the radio operator Killer McCoy and company took off Buka. I am giving the bride away. Afterward, I may very well have more to drink than is good for me.”

“That seems like a splendid idea,” Stecker said.


Saint Bartholomew’s Church

Brisbane, Australia

1345 Hours 8 November 1942

When Pickering and Stecker drove up in Pickering’s 1938 Jaguar Drop Head Coupe, Lieutenant Commander Eric Feldt, Royal Australian Navy Reserve, a RAN lieutenant, a RAN chief petty officer, and ten RAN sailors were standing outside the church. They were all in dress uniforms (in the case of the officers and the chief, this included swords).

The chief shouted something unintelligible in the Australian version of the English language, whereupon he, the Lieutenant, and the enlisted men snapped to a frozen position of attention.

Commander Feldt, however, did not feel constricted by the minutiae of military courtesy as it was usually practiced among and between officers of an allied power. He waited until Pickering emerged from the Jaguar. Then, hands on hips, he declared, “I was wondering where the bloody hell you were, Pickering. The bloody bride has been here for an hour.”

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175

Categories: W E B Griffin