Snow was drifting to the ground like thousands
of tiny, white parachutes as Obert made his way out of the barracks and around to his nest
in the boiler room. A radio, somewhere off in the distance, was playing Christmas music
and the aroma of roasting turkey drifted from the mess hall.
Obert shook down
the ashes in the furnace, threw in several scoops of coal and banked the fire for the
night. Then he trudged through the snow to the Officer's Barracks to do the same thing. As
he entered the door of the boiler room, black smoke was puffing and rolling from the door
of the furnace, indicating that the chimney was clogged with soot.
a hell of a time to have to clean a plugged-up chimney," Obert grumbled as he
gathered the tools for the job. When the barracks were built back in 1942, someone must
have foreseen the constant need to clean the chimneys, because they installed permanent
ladders leading to the roofs of every building.
Taps were playing
as Obert scaled the ladder to the roof of the Officer's Barracks. Lights winked out in
buildings from one end of the company street to the other, except for those in the mess
hall where the cooks were working through the night to prepare a special Christmas dinner
for the unlucky ones who hadn't been permitted to go home.
The first gallon
jug of Ozark moonshine had given its life for a good cause and its brother had been
drafted into service. We sat around in the darkness, sipping moonshine from aluminum
canteen cups and discussing our plight.
"What a hell of a
place to be on Christmas night," said Billy Bob. "If I was back at home, I'd be
down in Fort Worth, instead of stuck here in this stinking hole, I would be kicking up my
heels with a pretty little filly at a party someplace out on the Jacksboro Highway. Man,
do they have parties out there! They got so wild that they have had to put up chicken-wire
fences in front of the bands to keep the musicians from getting killed by flying
pisses me off," said Ward, "Is that fat little Jew, Goldberg, was on the
Christmas list and Jews don't even believe in Santa Claus."
don't believe in Santa Claus, then who do they believe in?" asked Red Ryder.
or one of those other old guys that preachers are always ranting about," replied
Ward. "My Mom went to a hard-shell Baptist church where the preacher was always
carrying on about lambs, burning bushes and things like that. My old man is an Atheist, so
I never knew who to believe in."
Hey, Billy Bob,
do you believe in Santa Claus?" asked Red.
yes, I believe in Santa Claus. I also believe in the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and
Nymphomaniacs who stay so damn horny that they will pay a man to spend the night with
them. There ain't no more Santa Claus than there are Unihorns."
hell is a Unihorn?" asked Red.
those horse things with one horn in the middle of their head," said Billy Bob.
called Unicorns, not Unihorns, you stupid, drunken Texan," said Red Ryder.
"I may be
drunk, but don't start calling Texans stupid. You damn Okies are so stupid that you think
that asphalt is a case of the piles."
about the Texan who was six foot tall but only weighed thirty-eight pounds...that was
after a mad Okie had kicked all the shit out of him," replied Red.
At least Texans
are smart enough to know that there ain't no Santa Claus," replied Billy Bob.
there ain't no Santa Claus, then what the hell do you call that up on the roof of the
Officer's Barracks," asked Ward, peering through a hole that he had scraped in the
frost on a window.
"It is hard
to tell from here with all the snow, but it looks like a fat man trying to climb down the
chimney," said Billy Bob.
"See, I told
you that there is a Santa Claus," replied Ward, "And there he is over there on
the officer's roof."
If that is Santa Claus, then where the hell is his sled and raindeers?"
parked on the other side of the roof, where we can't see them," replied Red.
"How come he
is over there on the Officer's Barracks and not here on ours?" questioned Ward.
figures, just like in the mess hall. The officers get steak and we get beans,"
replied Red. "I'll bet that Santa Claus leaves all of his presents for the officers
and he won't even come over here."
Billy Bob raised
the window and yelled at the dark figure on the roof, "Hey; you, on the roof, are you
sweet ass, I'm Santa Claus, Ho Ho Ho," came back the reply.
"Ho Ho Ho
yourself, fat man. Get your fuckin' goats off the roof before I come over and shoot every
damn one of them," yelled Billy Bob, slamming the window shut.
done it," shouted Red. "Ain't you never heard what happens if you piss off Santa
Claus, especially on Christmas Eve. Now, he won't leave presents for anyone in this
barracks. You've screwed up Christmas for all of us."
"How could I
have screwed up Christmas for us? He is leaving all the presents for those damn officers
anyway," said Billy Bob.
probably right," said Ward. "We ought to do something to get even with the
officers for getting all of the presents."
dynamite the place, or better still, we'll burn it down!" shouted Billy Bob.
can't do anything like that," said Red. "How about throwing a skunk in the
hell are we going to get a skunk on Christmas night?" asked Ward.
know," said Billy Bob. "Let's go over and piss on their furnace; that will stink
almost as bad as a skunk. We used to have an old dog which would piss on the heater in our
living room every time that he went by. It looked like so much fun that I tried it one day
and Dad came in just as I had a good stream going. He thought that I'd been the one who
had been pissing on the heater all the time and beat the shit out of me with his belt.
From then on, every time that the dog pissed on the heater, I'd run for the door."
The effects of
the Ozark moonshine were laying heavy on us and we had a certain amount of difficulty in
finding our way to the door to the boiler room in the officer's barracks. Between
tripping, falling, singing, swearing and snowball fights, we finally arrived. Obert, who
was still up on the roof, trying to clean the chimney, had managed to plug it even more,
filling the room with soot and smoke.
"Do we piss
on it one at a time or all at once?" asked Ward, who always seemed to need a plan for
everything that we did.
let's just all gang around, haul it out and let fly at the same time; the more piss, the
bigger the stink," said Billy Bob.
Clouds of steam
were rolling off the sides of the hot furnace when a voice behind us said, "What the
hell is going on here?" Lt. High, who was on duty that night as Officer of the Guard,
was standing in the door.
Billy Bob, who
always seemed to be able to come up with the right answer at the right time, replied,
"Well, Lieutenant, we saw all of this smoke coming out of the boiler room and thought
that the place was on fire. We couldn't find a fire extinguisher, so pissing on it is the
only way that we knew to put it out in a hurry."
men been drinking?" demanded Lt. High. "You know that drinking in the barracks
is against regulations and can get you into a lot of trouble."
ain't what you'd really consider as drinking, Lieutenant," said Billy Bob. "It
is Christmas Eve, so we mixed up a little egg nog to celebrate the occasion." Then he
added, "Would you care to join us for a shot of it?"
We figured that
Billy Bob had gone completely out of his mind when he offered the Lieutenant some of our
moonshine and that we would be headed for the stockade or someplace worse.
We found our way back
through the darkness to the barracks, and Billy Bob located a canteen cup for the
Lieutenant. "I can't see exactly how much egg nog mix I'm putting in,
Lieutenant," he said. "Hope that I don't get it too strong for you."
Lt. High lifted
the cup to his lips and took a big swig. "Damn, that is good egg nog that you got
there," he said as soon as he could get his breath. "How about a little more of
Billy Bob took
the cup, poured in more straight moonshine and handed it back. Having already cauterized
his taste buds, the second swallow went down with much greater ease; as did the third and
then the fourth.
The warm feeling
of the Ozark Christmas cheer was flowing through the Lieutenant's veins, thinning his
blood and thickening his tongue. Suddenly, he asked, "Private Ryder, Did someone
really goose you that time that you punched me in the nose?"
someone goosed me, Lieutenant. Do you think I'd be stupid enough to actually strike an
officer? I really felt sorry about hitting you, Sir, but just couldn't help it,"
don't think that anyone goosed you," said Lt. High. "I think that you just
wanted to hit me; like the big kids used to do in school. When I was little, the bigger
kids were always hitting me and then saying that they couldn't help it."
Lieutenant, I'd never do anything like that, besides you are at least two feet taller than
I am and a hundred pounds heavier. You could pound the poot out of me if you wanted
don't believe that you are goosy and someone goosed you," replied the Lieutenant.
hurts me, Lieutenant; to think that you don't believe me. I'll prove to you right here and
now that I'm goosy. You stand right in front of me and I'll let someone grab me in the
ass. You will see that I'm telling the truth."
Lt. High managed
to rise from where he was seated on the edge of a bunk and stood more or less erect. Red
Ryder stepped up onto a foot locker and said, "OK Lieutenant, watch this."
Billy Bob grabbed
a handful of ass, Red let out a yell and swung with all his might. Red's fist whistled
through thin air as Lt. High ducked the blow. The tall Lieutenant's big fist smashed into
Red's nose and blood flew. Lt. High laughed as Red crumpled into a heap on the floor.
red headed little son of a bitch comes to, tell him that I'm goosy too, and someone must
have goosed me," said the Lieutenant. "Merry Christmas and thanks for the
hootch. By the way, I can drink all of you bastards under the table any time that you'd
like to try again."
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