General Trinh is delivering papers

  by: Walter Guest



A solution suddenly occurred to Sergeant Walker. He loved it! It was time for him to select a platoon leader anyway. A mean grin split his face. "Tough guy, huh?" He nodded his head up and down. "I figured that."

The sergeant turned away from Kincaid and started walking up the aisle. "At ease," he called.

Most of the recruits had never come to attention. They had been frozen in the position they were in when the action started.

"Well now, I knew that you boys had a tough guy here in the barracks." The sergeant spoke to them as he walked up and down the aisle. "I want you boys to find out just how tough he is. We're gonna call Private Kincaid there, the King of the Hill. We're gonna make him Acting Platoon Sergeant. Acting Platoon Sergeant Kincaid will have a lot of special privileges. He's first in line at the mess hall, he gets special passes into town, he doesn't pull KP, things like that. Sounds pretty good, huh?" He looked around at the recruits. "Well? Doesn't it sound pretty good? Let me hear you."

"It sounds pretty good, sergeant," a few of the recruits mumbled.

"I don't hear you," the sergeant shouted. "Does it sound pretty good?"

"It sounds pretty good, sergeant!" they all shouted.

He went nose to nose with one man. "Would you like to have those privileges yourself, soldier? Well, would you?"

The man he was looking at shouted, "Yes, sergeant."

The sergeant turned and started walking up the aisle again. "Well you can have them. Any one of you can have them. That's why we made Acting Platoon Sergeant Kincaid the King of the Hill. All you gotta do is whip his ass. If any one of you takes Kincaid there into the ring and whips his ass, that man becomes Acting Platoon Sergeant. That man gets the passes and no KP and all the rest." He stopped in the center of the aisle and looked around again. "From what I've seen there's several of you boys in the platoon can take him. No need me naming names. You know who you are." He looked from face to face. "I always have the toughest platoon in the company and this platoon has the makin's of the toughest I've ever had. Don't let me down."

The sergeant turned and left.

The recruits stayed where they were for a moment after he left, then they started moving slowly toward Kincaid's bunk.

"Did you see the look of Kincaid's face?"

"Yeah. He nearly decked him."

Several patted Kincaid on the back.

The entire platoon was soon in a semicircle around Kincaid's bunk.

"Nobody'll challenge Kincaid."

"I know I won't."

Kincaid heard them talking. That was something that had been bothering him. "Why do you let him put you in the ring?" He spoke quietly to the nearest boy.

The soldier stared at him blankly.

"Any of you," he addressed the circle of faces near him, "why do you let him put you in the ring?"

They all stared at him with blank looks.

"What did he say?" someone asked from behind.

Kincaid stood on his footlocker and spoke so they all could hear. "Why do you let him put you in the ring?"

None answered. Some looked away.

He tried another approach. "How many of you enjoy getting into the ring?"

They all looked at each other. No one said anything.

"How many of you like fighting amongst yourselves?" Kincaid looked around at the group. "Anyone?"

"Do you guys want me as the platoon leader?"

A couple of guys said, "Yeah," right away. Some more nodded. Then some others said, "Sure." Before long the entire platoon seemed in agreement.

"Okay," Kincaid said. "My first rule is: No more fighting amongst yourselves. From now on, the men in this platoon stick together. You can fight guys from other platoons, but the guys here are your buddies. You don't fight anyone in this room. That's my rule."

He didn't say what he would do to enforce it. He didn't think he had to. From the look of relief on everyone's face, they had had their fill of fighting in the ring.

The PA system piped in a recording of a bugle.

"Lights out," Kincaid said.

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