And they showed up to stand and wait and the captain came out and stood and spit and said go on home but don’t be fuckin’ each other or yer wives and some men laughed and some men spit and then they fell themselves out and gathered in a looseweave arc about the Old Man who was squinteyed in the sun from having just stepped jackboot from the jakes. Of marshals and witchwomen he spoke his voice husky as if drawing each subject by calloused feel alone from an osnaburg valise and examining it his ownself as each utteration clapped the ears of the assembled sons of Cain.
Attend to your pizzle, he dressed them, attend to it keenly lest ye find it rotted off by leeching magic and he related to them unsmiling an accounting of last week’s blotter and the state of the whorehouse after ex-Specialist deGroot found bedbugs in his unmentionables after paying the madam and came back when they refused him remittance and put a ball into the Victrola in the parlor, winging the whiskered barman and causing a harelipped whore to have an episode of angry hymen and require admittance to a nervous hospital.
Next was the topkick and widdershins spun the octoroon first shirt as he glassed the sepulchral mass, crosswise, hawked and give and emitted a yarping ululy, rending the friscallating dusklight as gaunt appraisers beheld the spectacle and cogitated sourly a prospect and premise of a heaving interlude with a lady onesuchas makes her folding money on her back and studies with acute detail the crenellations of the vaulted chandeliered chamber ceiling.
Chaplain Reverend Smoot-Hawley stood ramrod and pled mercy to any God or gods that may be watching unfeeling and merciless to spare each and all the cruel attentions of chance, fate, or Killeen’s Most Adequate, the chaplain’s eyes clamped shut as he exhorted, knowing down into his humours and chords the unutterable futility of it, for God is a jealous God, and an angry God, and God shall cause commanders and first sergeants and sergeants major to cry out in their anguish of a Sunday morning and He will lean down over His creation like a vast lobotomized leviathan, a titanic cosmic child flash-frying ants and pillbugs with a purloined monocle or stereopticon lens, and He will laugh.
Back to their platoon leaders, redfaced planks of lieutenants still with the wet of afterbirth upon them and platoon sergeants by their ways known mostly to their gods and with fat ugly wives for such are a old soljer’s needs hunger and quiet before beauty or youth and no eidolon or phantasm of staidness were they and they raised to their stern and unyielding eyes oneeach Safety Message from the very own Chief of Staff hisself greeting the slackjawked, semen-crusted, shitreeking enlisted curs and entreating them to not drown or hang or explode themselves in a river or a basement or preparing to fry a frozen turkey.
They intoned the perfunctory antiphone and their fingers moved under the Chief’s kakograph and the men one and all clasped their hands above their tailbones smarting from morning PT and pretended to ponder with grave mien the concept of mortality. In verity they pondered with grave mien the concept of Grand Theft Auto and Grey Goose vodka and whether that bordello operating out of the back of that barber shop on Rancier would give a cutrate for the holiday, if it would be a general cutrate or just on the old whores or the whores missing teeth or the whores with visible trackmarks under their pregnant bellies.
When dismissed at waning twilight like beeves into a river did they plunge into the parking lot, rims on installments winking in the light of the just-struck streetlamps, and the sullen command teams, captains and topkicks and the rage filled sergeant major verdigrised with unhappy age regarding them and knowing deep into their marrow that in less than five hours one of them would be in a oubliette or in a mortuary.