All along, we've planned for one more snipped of Paint It Black to appear. It would be roughly congruent to the beginning of this book, bringing it full circle. (There's more to PIB, but these are sort of the backstories.) But we couldn't quite get it down.
Now, Dick has written most of the Interludes, and I've done the redacting and editing for him, in a reversal of our usual roles. I wrote the Mice interlude, and took Dick's notes for the first two Prissy interludes and made them whole, but he's done Shota One and Two and Lasko. So, while I tried to finish the book, Dick went to work on this interlude.
He got as far as some notes and a general idea - we wanted one that was light, because, well, we have to do our Buckleying. (To Buckley, v, To introduce a character in a story or book who suffers an inglorious, embarrassing, or painful demise or event. From Joe Buckley, a noted literary fan. See Weber, Ringo, et al) Then he stalled. Medical issues arose, and his Muse deserted him. Every attempt he made, it seemed it got farther and farther from our intent. Finally, in disgust, he emailed the notes to me and said, "Here! I'm tired of it!"
So I took a swing at it. And you know what? The notes were almost a scene in and of themselves. They needed polish - okay, bondo - but there was a solid core there, something I could easily build on.
What follows, then, is just pure fun. Joe, we love ya!
THREE WEEKS AGO
One more fling.
That’s all she wanted. Her flight left in the morning, all the files were gathered, the data collated and organized. She had him nailed. This time next month, she’d be a rich woman.
But for now…
Between her work, and her ‘special project’, she’d had zero time to relieve her tensions, not properly anyway. She was due, and past due, for a good time.
She considered her options.
Male? Female? Male, tonight. She wanted someone to pound on, and to pound her.
Had to be someone young. Otherwise, they just didn’t have the stamina.
Good-looking? That would help.
Desperate? Wouldn’t hurt. Maybe she could get a couple of ‘em to fight over her. Beyond her hacking, a good fight always got the juices flowing well.
Someone being shipped overseas soon. That would do nicely. She called up the deployment orders and considered. Personnel photos narrowed down her choices. Ringing the BOQ, she asked after her targets.
Shit! Three were off-base somewhere, one had the duty, and one was in the infirmary with a broken leg. That had possibilities, but…no. Too much work.
That left her just one possible. The Officer of the Watch suggested he was at the Officers’ Club.
So. Hair, check. Looked good. Makeup, check. Ditto. Panties, check. In the trash. She wouldn’t be needing them tonight.
The lieutenant's friends helped him up from the floor of the O Club, even as he shakily tried to rescue the remains of the two recently dropped bottles of Tiger Brew another junior lieutenant held in his hands. Not only was that beer more expensive than any other import in the O Club, it was rare to find anymore, it was that good. Fighting men loved beer. And plentiful good cheap beer (other than free beer, by definition) was heaven.
No other American brew could match it. Many were trying and failing. But it did mean that the number of good micro-brews were increasing, to many a serviceman's delight as hey sold them on base for a much cheaper price than could be found anywhere else. Many micro-breweries were shipping their versions of Patriot brand beers and donating a portion of their funds to the many VA and Soldier Family funds out there now. But Tiger Beer? That was something special, if the stories of where their donations went were true and what had shown up on the news live was to be believed. Someone buying a Tiger beer had paid for the bullet that had terminated a head honcho of the Jihadists live on TV.
“Oh, hell Buckley! What exactly did you say to the Major? She looked pissed! And here I was, thinking she was going to come right over and blow us all! Until you made your move. Better you than me.”
After allowing himself a few moments to swallow his balls and check that they were back in place, Second Lieutenant Joseph Buckley - Buck, to all his friends - groaned and took his first deep breath. The pain was fading, almost. More beer and shots would help. Ice would be better.
“She was giving me the eye, mostly. You all saw that,” he said, almost desperate. “So I bought two of the best beers I could afford to impress her!” He pointed at the redhead girl on the bottle's label.
“When she saw that girl and the name on the label, she turned red, hauled back, and soccer kicked my balls up into my throat. That's all I did! I swear, I never got to say a word!”
“Probably a good thing you didn’t,” said 2LT Lawrence ‘Sandy’ Winde.
"Other than, 'Urkurgle...arrgh!?' " added 2LT. Jay Raymond.
Buckley tried to glare at his wing-men for the night. He'd done his job and rescued the beer first before helping Buckley to his feet and handing the beers back over. "If I didn't feel like I was dying right now, man. You'd be eating my foot up your ass an inch at a time."
“Man that's too bad, she looked like she could suck start a Bradley and wanted to test that theory on you Buckley,” added the third, 2LT Robert (Don’t Call Me Bobby!) Baum.
“Shut up and get me an icepack if they have one. Or a bag of ice and a towel. And, damn it, give me those beers back! I paid for them.”
“You sure did,” agreed Winde.
“Probably the only girl you're gonna get with tonight, Buckley,” his friends chuckled. Raymond pointed at the label.
“Frak a cactus you bastards!” He took a long, long pull from the beer. “We're going to the Sandbox in a week. I wanted to get laid first. I don't want to risk the local comfort shacks or get a short marriage arranged and find out it's for real in the Army's eyes instead.”
“At least she didn't break your hands, Buckley. So you still have a chance before we ship out,” mocked Baum.
Buckley's face turned as red as the girl's hair on the label, and nearly as red as the woman who had kicked him less than two minutes ago. Even though he had above-average looks, and was smarter than the average butter bar, his lack of success with women was a legend in the barracks. A legend he’d sooner forget.
“Laugh it up, fuzz ball, and they'll be calling for medics and MPs. Assholes.” He shook the bottles. They were ceramic; you couldn’t see the level. “Fuck! There's less than half a beer left in each!”
“Two halves make one. Better that than none,” said Baum.
Buckley looked down at the puddle on the floor, already being sopped up by an enlisted man. “Like my balls feel at the moment.”
“One cure for that Buckley,” said Winde with a manic grin.
“What's that? Not going to that topless place again. Last time we were there, that tranny hit on me so hard I almost went home with her. Him. It. Whatever.”
“No, no, no tittie bars tonight! Tonight, it’s tequila. and rum concoctions! Arriba! Up you go. Finish those off, then we're moving to the hard stuff. We'll put it on my new credit card and I can pay it off with our oversea and combat bonuses. Bartender, Sir!” The civilian behind the bar looked at them dolefully. The nametag said, ’Marvin.’
“How can I help you? PhD and I end up serving drinks…”
“Set us up a round of highballs, Mexicali style.”
“Right away,” he said. Turning, he rubbed his hand down his left side as if in pain.
“I swear I'm gonna kill you guys one day soon.” His threat didn't prevent the rest his buddies from laughing loudly.
“I’m gonna make that jukebox play every Jimmy Buffet tune it has,” said Raymond, then froze in place.
The O Club suddenly hushed.
“Oh, shit,” murmured Raymond.
“What?” said Buckley, as a hand descended on his shoulder. MPs, he thought. Bitch put me on report! He swiveled around, face twisting in anger, ready to defend himself as vigorously against the MPs as he hadn’t against the -
Oh, fuck me.
“Lieutenant.” It was her. The red-headed major. Buckley’s balls shrank back up into his body.
“Major.” His voice didn’t quiver, he was pleased to note.
“I think that I was a little too harsh. I wanted to apologize to you, make it up to you. Somehow.” Her intent was crystal-clear in her voice, but in case he was completely numb she let her hand slip to his crotch for a quick grope. “If you’re up for it, that is,” she added.
He relaxed. “Boys, I’ll see you in the morning.”
She took his field scarf in hand. “If you’re lucky,” she said.
The silence continued until well after the door closed behind them.
Reverently, Baum said, “I will be dipped in shit.”
It was still rather drunk out the next morning when they gathered for breakfast.
“Where’s Buck?” asked Winde.
“He didn’t come back to the BOQ,” answered his roommate, Raymond.
“There he is!” said Baum, pointing.
Buckley did not look well. His hair was wild and matted, and was that blood? The torn tunic revealed bite marks around the base of his neck. One arm hung loose at his side, and he was definitely limping. His skin was pale and mottled. And - was he missing a tooth?
He dropped into an empty chair.
Winde was the first to speak. “What the frak happened to you? Get hit by a car?”
“Looks more like a hummer,” said Baum.
“Don’t say that word!” snapped Buckley.
“I don’t want to hear that ever again! And I need you guys to promise me something?” he continued.
“Yeah, sure,” was muttered all around the table.
“If you see that red-headed bitch Major Connors headed my way again…?”
“Yeah?” said Raymond.
“Just shoot me,” finished Buckley, and collapsed onto the table.