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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What's In A Name - A Story of Viet Nam {#BlogBattle}

Time for this week's #BlogBattle, the keyword-driven flash fiction contest hosted by Rachael Ritchey.

The word this week is Lollipop.

What's In A Name

There was a commotion from the New Guy Tank. The kids were arguing. We were back from Oceanview for a few days' vacation behind the wire on the sunny South China Sea, but at least someone else was pulling security.

The Dude looked at me. "Do we really want to get involved in a domestic dispute?"

The raised voices tore up what should have been a quiet night.

"No." But they were my responsibility, and I got up. They did, after all have guns, and could conceivably decide to usurp Charlie's job and shoot each other.

The Dude rose too. "Want me to load cannister, in case it gets out of hand?"

"Or something. Maybe we need to wake Sonny, so he can take them behind the woodshed." But we let Sonny and Biff sleep the sleep of the innocent and just, and wandered over to the squabbling FNGs.

Timex and the New Guy TC were standing toe to toe, screaming into each other's faces. Timex was waving his arms so hard I thought he might lose both of his watches. "That's a stupid idea!" he yelled, specks of spit spraying into his TC's face.

New Guy TC didn't seem to notice."Yeah, you said that, and it's still my tank!"

The New Guy loader and gunner were sitting on the sand, leaning against adjacent roadwheels, getting grease on their backs. They were entranced.

"Well, it's our tank too!" Timex looked at the loader and gunner for support, and they looked back, uncomfortable. "And I think MARY is a stupid name for a tank!"

I had to agree with that.

New Guy TC raised a fist. "Yeah? It's my wife's name!"

The Dude said, "Is he old enough to be married?", and stepped behind New Guy TC, pinning his arm. "Easy, now."

Timex had taken a step back, not wanting a punch to the nose. He looked down to check that he still had a watch on each wrist. "Well, I have a wife too, and I'm not trying to call the tank Mildred!"

"Thank God," said The Dude.

New Guy TC was struggling in The Dude's grip. "Well, all you have to do is put Mildred's photo on the glacis and you'll scare Charlie to death!"

Timex howled with rage and took a roundhouse swing. I thought it best to try to grab his arm, but missed, and caught the blow with my jaw. As I staggered and the stars came out I felt something drop down my collar...one of Timex's watches.

"Ow!" Timex rubbed his knuckles. "Oh, sorry, sergeant. I didn't mean to hit you."

New Guy loader and gunner had wide, shining eyes, and they probably hadn't had this much fun since high school.

The Dude had pulled New Guy TC out of range. "Uh, guys?" he said, "can we kind of back down a bit?"

I fished Timex's Timex out of my blouse and handed it to him.

"Aw, the strap's broken," he said accusingly, and looked at me.

I shrugged. "Okay, I gather we have a what-to-name-the-tank issue?"

New Guy TC said, "I promised my wife I'd name the tank after her! I wanna call it Mary!"

Timex shook his watchless fist, but kept it away from my face. "That's a girl's name!"

He was nothing if not a Master of the Obvious, and I said, "Yes, that does seem right..."

New Guy TC yelled, "At least Mary looks like a girl!"

Timex bristled. "Huh?"

"At least Mary doesn't have a moustac..."

Timex lunged across the space between them, but met up with The Dude's boot, and quickly sat down, the wind removed from his voice. "Ooof!"

The conversation lagged while Timex tried to catch his breath, and finally he said, in a small voice, "That was mean."

The Dude was still holding New Guy TC around the chest, and I had the impression that he inreased the pressure, just a tad, as New Guy TC said, "I'm sorry. It was."

Rubbing my jaw, I asked Timex, "What do you want to call the tank?"

"Thor's Hammer."

It seemed an odd name, since they had yet to actually hit anything they tried to shoot...and with cannister, that was quite an achievement. But I let it go.

"Well, tell you what. It's late, we're tired, and I think maybe we can work this out in the morning?"

New Guy TC looked down, then looked at Timex. "Yeah, OK. And I really am sorry."

Timex's voice was still small. "Mildred's awful sensitive about the way she looks."

"I'm sorry. But I bet she's got a great personality."

Timex swelled with pride. "She's a keeper!"

It seemed they were about to hug each other, so I said, quickly, "We'll be back at 0600 and give you guys a hand in picking a name, OK?" And The Dude and I left, not looking back.

Maybe it would be a group hug. Ugh.

As the sun rose over the sea-horizon and I had my first cigarette of the morning, there was an anguished wail from the New Guy Tank.

"I feel like a kindergarten teacher," I said to The Dude.

He shrugged, but didn't get up to follow me as I walked over.

New Guy TC came running to meet me. "Someone defaced our tank!" Behind him, Timex was staring at the gun tube. I thought he was about to cry.

And on the tube it said, in fresh, white letter, The Good Ship Lollipop.

I looked back to our tank, and The Dude waved to me, his right hand stained with white paint.

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them


  1. Andrew,
    Don't think anybody COULD make this stuff up!! You never fail to give me a story or two that I would NEVER dream of coming from "over there!" Guess people are people...wherever they are...whatever they're doing...
    Yeah, sounds like a blended family to me ;-)
    Thanks for sharing this at Coffee & Conversation - I always look forward to your contributions there each week!
    Continuing to lift you and Barbara up in prayer...hugs to you both!

    1. Thank you, Pat. And you're right...just telling it like it i (for it is forever in the present) is the only way to tell it. God, how I love these guys!

      Thank you so much for the prayers. 'Tis a fell evening, and I do need them.

  2. What a story! You are an amazing story teller.
    Don't worry about replying. I understand you've got so much on your plate right now.

    1. Lux, thank you...replying...when I can...is a true joy.

  3. I just LOVE this story! Thank you Andrew.

  4. Just to say I love reading your Dude series - but when I read it on my phone I can't always comment for some reason. Thanks as ever for bringing real laughter, and always a deeper appreciation for life through these tales.

    1. Ruth, thank you so much! The opportunity to - finally - tell the story of The Dude and Company is really a blessing.

  5. Okay...that was hilarious. I didn't see it coming and I should have. Well done--a worth addition to the collection. :)

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Cathleen...it's a part of the dichotomy of war, and when the right keyword came up...I was so thrilled!

  6. LOL...I think this is my favorite one!! I just love the banter between all these guys!!

    1. Thank you so much, Carrie Ann...I had a lot of fun writing this one.

      I really appreciate you being here!

  7. I laughed out loud, and it's the middle of the night, but when a story is that good you just have to laugh. I need more of The Dude. You are so talented, Andrew.

    1. Thank you so much, Rachael! It takes a lot of energy to write now...but it's worth it, and I'm glad to be able to keep going.