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Free-Range Fiction: Dog-and-Pony Show

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This week’s flash fiction is once again inspired by the World-Con going Chuck Wendig. See his TerribleMinds Blog here and the challenge here. Basically we had a choice of four words from the list:

Cape

Joke

Senator

Hamburger

Laser

Gloves

Funeral

Motel

See if you can find the four I used. 

I give you: Dog-and-Pony Show, coming in at a sparse 890 words. I wrote this in the throws of insomnia with a film crew in my backyard. The latter is for another post. 

Leave me comments and tell me how ya like it. Thanks. 

The entire post was getting ready for the senator’s arrival.  Tinsley hated the dog-and-pony shows his assignment at the new hallmark military post demanded. 

“This is such a joke,” his buddy, Barker, said. “Wash the trash cans? What the fuck, they are trash cans.”

“Well, it’s for Senator Williams,” Sgt. Franks said, his Puerto Rican accent thick and sing-songy. “He is the chair of the Senate Arms Committee. Think of him as the man who signs your paychecks, troopers.”

Tinsley hated the word troopers. Like they were in fucking boy scouts and his unit wasn’t starring soon at their third rotation in Southwest Asia.

“I suppose we have it better than the fucking Marines, standing guard at the o-club in full dress uniform including those pansy-ass white gloves,” Barker snickered.  His baby face’s cheeks wobbled while his teeth gritted together.  Fort Meade was the first Post they converted over into multi-military use.  The Army, Air Force, Marines – even the goddamn Navy were all co-located here. Although the Navy boys were all Yeoman – paper pushers and few SPs, as their ships were up in the port in Baltimore or at the academy in Annapolis.

Tinsley nodded at Barker – he hated dress uniforms. He would rather scrub garbage cans. He hit the last spot on his last can and stood up from the row of trash cans in front of him. The whole squad was basically done scrubbing.  Tinsley stretched his lanky frame and twisted side to side like he was doing morning P.T. warm ups. His stomach grumbled.

“Sgt. Franks, it’s lunch, yeah?” Tinsley motioned towards the tower clock in the parade field in front of their little work area under the shade trees.  The hands read 1140 hrs.

“Yeah, let’s get these cans back in their proper locations and we’ll get some chow,” Franks said.

At chow, Tinsley waited for his usual Hamburger.  Before he could get his lunch someone called for Attention. Those seated stood; those standing turned towards the sound of the command and assumed the position.  In walked the post commander, the corps general, and Senator Joshua T. Williams (R-TX).  Inside his head, Tinsley moaned an “Ah fuck.” He could smell the melted cheese which dripped from the side of his burger begin to burn on the grill.  He was waiting for someone – the Sergeant Major, anyone – to call the ‘As You Were’ so that he could just sit down and fucking eat.  But it didn’t come.  He stood there along with every other swinging dick in the dining facility waiting and stealthily watching the procession of the Big Whigs to the front of the line.

The cooks and staff swarmed near the senator and officers and chatted with each other in Farsi. Most were asylum seekers from the War on Terror.  They were happy to serve chow three times a day to American soldiers – whatever their branch.  The VIPs got their lunches and finally the ‘As You Were’ was hollered out.

“Sorry, bub; you’ll have to wait for your burger,” Arnie said to Tinsley with a shrug. His name was actually Abdullah, but he had adopted Arnie.

“What?” Tinsley slurred the word through gritted teeth. His stomach was starting a coup against the rest of his body 

“The VIP has it,” Arnie pointed a spatula towards the retreating entourage.  Tinsley saw the burger on the Senator’s cafeteria tray.  He smoothed down the front of his ACU jacket and felt his feet move forward, left foot first.

“Hey man, where you going?” Barker hissed.

“To get my burger,” Tinsley’s feet started moving into a quick step. He didn’t notice the parting sea of other lunch-time comrades.

Within moments, he stood at the head of the Senator’s table. A few choice soldiers and Marines of the month sandwiched the senator, general and base commander.  

“Sir,” Tinsley said, the air forcing a tone from his mouth he hadn’t expected. The tone said, “You need to fucking listen to me.”

“The Senator would like to eat, Soldier,” the Corps General said to Tinsley with a look that said, “Step off, Private.”  Tinsley looked down at his buck sergeant stripes and then stared back at the general.

“Yes, so would I,” Tinsley said. “The Senator has my hamburger.”  The Senator looked down at his plate, so did the commander and general and the joes on either side of them.

“I do believe it’s…” but before the Senator could get the words out the Base Commander was in Tinsley’s face.

“Report to my headquarters right now, Private Tinsley.”

“I’ll happily do that, Commander,” Tinsley said, then paused and pushed out his breath into the face of his superior officer. “With my lunch.”

Tinsley saw the general apologizing to the befuddled Senator. 

“Now, Soldier,” the commanders said. “Now. The longer you take the more pay I take from you and the more restriction I rain down upon your insubordinate ass.” 

Tinsley made towards the door and purposefully went away from the base commander and towards the Senator. It honestly made more sense to do that about face and march past the Senator. In one swift motion, quicker than he could spin his color guard rifle, Tinsley snatched the burger off the Senator’s plate and continued towards the door.

Forty-days later in the Brig down in Quantico, Tinsley ate Tuna for lunch.

 

Published inFree-Range Fiction

6 Comments

  1. Lois! Lois!

    HAHAHA! I liked this one a lot. I can see how brig time would be worth it after having to scrub out trash cans and then have some senator grab your lunch. I spotted the words, senator, hamburger, joke, gloves. And I love the word “sing-songy.”

    • I almost edited “sing-songy” out. Glad I kept it in now. See, feedback is so valuable. Thank you.

  2. Jon Jon

    Heh. That didn’t go where I thought it would. Good read!

    • I like to surprise the reader. Glad it worked out.

  3. Nice twist, that was the last straw for him. And worth it. Good dialogue, some nice little touches, like Arnie pointing with his spatula.

    • Thanks so much, Mike. Dialogue tends to be my strength. Years of journalism helped with that, I believe.

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