General Trinh is delivering papers

  by: Walter Guest



Sergeant Walker was in a daze. Things had moved so quickly he wasn't sure what had happened. Somehow that bastard Kincaid had turned everything around on him with the captain. Instead of Kincaid getting his ass in a sling, here he was, himself, sergeant Walker, Platoon Sergeant Walker, looking to get mugged by some nut in the dark.

Well two could play at that mugging game. That goddamned recruit had somethin' to learn if he thought Sergeant Walker was gonna' be easy pickin's.

Walker knew the obstacle course like the back of his hand. He had sent men over it hundreds of times in the year he'd been on this post. He knew the easiest place for a man to hide. That would be the pipes. There was a row of corrugated metal pipes, each about two feet in diameter and six feet long. That would be the likeliest place for Kincaid to hide.

Walker hadn't wanted to get into this situation. This fighting in the dark didn't make any sense to him. But now that he was in it. He wanted to get it over with. He headed for the pipes. He'd find Kincaid and have it out with him.

The half moon gave enough light that he could pick his way without tripping over anything. Out of the corner of his eyes the shadows appeared to be moving. When he looked directly at them they stopped, but then things ahead appeared to move.

"Ah, the hell with this," he said. He quickened his pace toward the pipes.

A blow to the back of the head knocked him to the ground.

"Jesus," he thought, "he hit me with a two by four."

A body landed on his back. Arms gripped him. The two of them rolled over and over several times. Walker was still dazed and helpless to do anything.

"Make it look good," he heard Kincaid saying, "the regimental commander is watching."

"You cheated, you bastard." Walker's speech was badly slurred. He couldn't help it. "You hit me with a two by four."

Kincaid twisted and got Sergeant Walker on top of him so that they were face to face. He held Walker above him with his left hand so he could slap him with his right.

"Snap out of it," Kincaid said.

Walker's arms dangled down helplessly.

Kincaid slapped him some more and rolled from side to side to lend some animation to the scene. "Move, dammit," he said. "They're watching."

Walker swung a fist feebly at Kincaid's head.

"That's it, that's it. Do it again."

The sergeant's strength was coming back. He swung harder. The blow landed on the side of Kincaid's head with some force.

"That's good," Kincaid said. "Now follow me." Thrusting out with arms and legs, he threw Walker several feet away from him. Kincaid got up and ran off into the darkness.

Walker was still dazed but he managed to get to his feet. He looked around. Kincaid was nowhere in sight and he hadn't seen which way he had gone. He also hadn't seen the two by four.

"Jesus," Walker thought, "I gotta get out of here. The bastard has a two by four. He'll be laying for me." He knew it would be useless to search for a weapon of his own. There would be nothing out here even if he could find it in the dark. He regretted not bringing a knife but how could he know that Kincaid was going to cheat.

What was the closest way out? He tried to get his bearings but it was difficult. 'The hell with it,' he thought. 'this is as good as any." He started moving in a random direction.

Walker staggered a couple of times in the first hundred feet and then nearly stumbled into the water hazard.

"Try to keep your feet," he heard Kincaid's voice nearby. Walker ducked, expecting another blow to the head. None came. He looked around. There was Kincaid, not ten feet away, grinning at him. The weapon wasn't in sight.

Walker forgot about the two by four in his rage and went for him. Kincaid waited until the last moment before ducking aside leaving only an outstretched leg in Walker's path. Walker tripped over it and went sprawling.

"Try to keep your feet," Kincaid said again.

Walker covered his head and looked around. He was surprised to see that Kincaid was also down. He got up quickly and went for him. Kincaid was up and running away before he could reach him. Walker followed as close as he could but he lost sight of him for an instant. In that instant he was hit along the side of his head with the two by four again. The last thing he remembered was the ground coming up and hitting him one hell of a blow.

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