The moment we walked into the barracks it was
obvious that they had long been populated by women before being locked shut until the next
war required their use. Not only were the latrines totally lacking of the fixtures known
as wall-hung urinals, but each sink was fitted with a mirror far larger than necessary for
shaving. The walls were painted a sickly shade of off-pink and frilly curtains hung on
every window. A slight hint of perfume still lingered in the air.
sniffed the stale air and remarked, "This place smells just like a little old
whorehouse called the Chicken Ranch, down near where I went to school at Texas A&M. I
got a hard-on as soon as I walked in."
We had barely
finished making our bunks in an acceptable military manner, including one for Goldberg,
when Sgt. Schultz came in. "Everyone on this side of the barracks report to the mess
hall for KP," he said, waving his hand toward one side of the building. "The
rest of you men start arranging your gear in your lockers, according to the diagram on the
A dozen men
headed out for the mess hall and their first taste of the bane of soldiers everywhere;
Kitchen Police. They trudged into the mess hall and reported to Sgt. Cook, the Mess
Sergeant. "The first two men in line start peeling that pile of potatoes," he
ordered. "The next two get busy on pots and pans, three more help set up the serving
line and rest of you sweep and mop the floors."
Sgt. Cook turned
around, took one whiff of Obert and yelled, "What in hell is this filthy thing doing
in here? Get out of my kitchen, you stinking hog; want to give everyone the GI shits? Tell
Sergeant Schultz to send me someone else to replace you on KP. I won't have something like
you stinking up my kitchen."
strode into the barracks, grabbed Billy Bob and sent him off to replace Obert who was
supposed to have been washing pots and pans in the mess hall.
Snort," Oinked Obert as he flopped down on his bunk. "KP sure didn't last long
for me, did it?" Then Obert turned over and went to sleep.
When Billy Bob
staggered in from his session of pots, pans and grease traps; reeking of garbage, lye soap
and sweat, Obert was laying on his bunk, still fully dressed but snoring loudly.
"I've just spent the last ten hours up to my ass in grease, garbage and steam because
of that fat bastard over there," he said. "As long as he's allowed to remain
that filthy, the Mess Sergeant isn't about to let him in the mess hall and all of us will
be pulling extra details to fill in for him.
we need to invite him to a little GI Soap party and clean him up a bit," said Red
Ryder. "Big and dirty as he is, it is probably going take at least a dozen of us to
give him a good bath."
GI brushes and several bars of lye soap," said Billy Bob. "We'll all strip down
to our skivvies and drag his ass into the showers for the bath of his life. He can't get
away with hiding behind dirt and filth around here."
ought to harpoon him first?" asked Red. "He looks like a beached whale laying
Moby Dick," said Ward.
is a whale?" laughed Red. "Hell, I always thought Moby Dick was a venereal
Brushes and bars
of lye soap were brought from the mess hall and all the while, Obert snored and grunted,
contented as a hog in mud. "OK, everyone ready?" whispered Billy Bob, as they
huddled around the sleeping hulk. "At the count of three, we grab him and drag his
filthy ass off to the latrine. One, Two, Three."
A dozen men
pounced on the inert Obert, grabbing arms, legs, fingers, ears and anything else that
offered a good hold. Obert began squealing like a stuck hog as they dragged him, fighting
and farting, toward his destiny with soap and water. When his clothing was finally removed
and every shower head blasting at full force, not an inch of his body escaped the wrath of
the stout brushes and caustic soap as they worked their way through multiple layers of
dirt and crud.
The battle raged
on. No quarter was asked and none was given. Obert was making a desperate effort to
preserve his lifelong style of slovenly living against a dozen men who were armed with
industrial strength soap and brushes and just as determined to bring a little cleanliness
into his life. They wrestled and fought, tumbling and rolling from one shower stall to the
next, over toilets, under sinks. Squealing, swearing, fighting and farting could be heard
from one end of the company area to the other, but not a soul came to investigate the
fracas. Noses were bloodied, eyes gouged, fingers bent and ears bitten; but not until the
last bit of toe jam was washed away, every shred of belly-button lint removed and the long
accumulation of grease, cooties and dirt scrubbed from his hair was Obert allowed to
emerge from the showers. He almost glowed in a state of pristine pink asepsis which he had
not even known on the day that he was born.
Half an hour before
the earliest rising roosters even thought about voicing the arrival of dawn, Sgt. Schultz
turned on the lights and blasted on his whistle, "Reveille, youse bastards! Drop your
cocks and grab your socks. Formation in fifteen minutes."
against the glare of unfiltered bulbs, blankets flew into the air, bare feet pounded on
the wooden floor as bladders, filled to the limit, raced for the latrine to be emptied.
The whole barracks was in sudden motion; all except for Obert. He lay in his bunk, white
as a sheet, mouth hanging agape and glazed eyes wide open. He was covered with beads of
Sarge," yelled Red Ryder, "I think that something is wrong with Filpot. He looks
shook Obert, then felt his pulse. "He's still alive, but just barely," he
shouted as he raced toward the orderly room to call for an ambulance.
In due time, the
olive green ambulance with a huge red cross on either side, bounded up the company street
and skidded to a stop at the barracks door. A doctor and two attendants, carrying a canvas
litter, rushed inside.
over Obert, the doctor replied, "He doesn't seem to be wounded in any way, but he is
in a severe state of shock. I never saw anything like this before. Does anyone have any
idea what might have happened to him?" Not a word was mentioned about the gang
bathing which had been administered the night before. "We'll have to get him to the
hospital immediately, hope that we can save him," said the doctor as they rolled the
inert hulk onto a litter and carried it, with great huffing and puffing, to the waiting
Soon after the
ambulance roared away in a cloud of dust and flying gravel, it was discovered that the
entire sewer system for that barracks was plugged and water was backing up into the
latrine. The base plumbers were called and came with their plungers, chemicals, snakes and
Rooter-Rotor machines. Three hours later, water finally began to flow through clean sewer
lines and one of the plumbers said, "Never saw such a mess in all my life. The drains
were plugged solid with hair and some kind of scales. Looked and smelled like someone had
been cleaning fish and butchering hogs in there."
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