Monday, November 10, 2014

Part 96

Had a visit today from both Sarge and Mr. Owen, but only after Cochran hiked over for a visit and to ask me why I hadn't come.

"Come where?" I asked him looking at the muddy mess the melting of the deep snow had left around my cabin.

"To the work detail.  Is your brain frozen?"

I gave him a look to let him know that while he might have said it kiddingly, I was in no mood to play.  "What work detail?"

He looked at me with a scowl and said, "You didn't know ... didn't get the message."

I shrugged.  "Obviously not I guess."  I debated and then asked him, "Can you tell me while we walk to the creek or are you busy?"

"Creek is fine.  It's my day off."  Shaking his head he said, "I don't get it, they said they'd pass the info on to everyone and a lot of people from the different camps showed up."

"Who's they?" I asked as we walked along trying to avoid the worst of the mud on the trail.

He took the plastic pail I was carrying from me and then pushed a leafless branch out of my way before answering.  "That Singing Waters crew.  They said they would pass the word around about the work detail.  We got the go ahead from HQ to barter up to three days per week per person for food or hygiene junk."

I stopped suddenly and then started back up just as quickly trying to look nonchalant but he still noticed.  In a serious voice he asked, "What's up?  I thought you were supposed to go live with them but then I heard you didn't.  They didn't act like it was a problem."

I shrugged.  "I don't know.  Their business.  Just drop it."

"Uh uh."  When I didn't stop he did and then grabbed my arm.  "C'mon DeeDee.  Let's get this cleared up before the Major has to get involved."

That made me think.  "I don't want him involved.  It's nobody's business."

"They kinda made it the Major's business when they told him they'd pass the info to everyone ... you are part of that everyone.  If they intentionally are holding back it will cause problems that we don't need."

"What's this 'we' business?"

We started walking again though a little slower.  "You know what I mean.  Us.  Active duty personnel.  We have the food that would have gone to the men who have died or AWOL'd and the Major is using it to pay the barter.  He could have given double rations to the enlisted crew but he didn't.  We aren't hurting ... we get fed ... but no one is getting fat.  There was a little grumbling when it was announced that the food was going to the purpose it is."

Concerned I asked, "Is Sarge in trouble?"

"No, but he isn't exactly making friends either.  The men have put up with it because it means a lighter workload for us but if something hinky is going on ..."

I stopped him right there by saying, "I don't know if anything hinky is going on."

We had reached the creek and I pulled on the rubber fishing pants that I use so I don't get soaked digging in the creek.  That didn't mean I didn't feel the cold when I stepped in the water.

"Geez that doesn't get any warmer no matter how many times I do it."

Cochran asked, "Want me to do it?"

I looked at him in surprise then smiled and shook my head.  "No, it's ok.  Besides these things would probably only go up to your knees and you would get soaked."

He smiled back and shrugged in agreement.  "OK, but toss me the roots and I'll put them in the bucket for you."

It didn't take long to get a rythmn down so we kept talking.  He started by saying, "I could see it on your face you know.  You may not know for sure there's a problem but you've got reason to think there might be."

Trying to push the subject off I told him, "I'll deal with it."

"Uh uh.  I already told you."

I tossed him a couple of roots and said, "Cochran, it's ... it's just stupid stuff."

"Having friends not act like friends isn't just 'stupid stuff' these days.  And you looked like your feelings were hurt."

"Don't."

"Don't what?"

"Just don't.  Feelings are bad."

"No they're not."  Then he stopped and really looked at me.  "Did you ... did you like one of those guys that were hanging around?  Did they ... you know ..."

I snapped, "Oh don't you start too."

He blinked then asked, "What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means that guys are just ... just weird and ... and stupid.  I thought you were different ... so don't prove me wrong."  But I'd already started to get mad again and before I could stop myself I told him, "You think they're your friends and then you find out that the only reason they've been coming back is because you're like a bone they've been fighting over ... only you didn't know what was going on ... but then suddenly you do and you tell them if they are going to be that way they don't need to come around any more.  And they don't."  I brushed some hair off my forehead and got even more irritated when I felt a cold glob of mud take the hair's place.  "I thought I told you not to bring up any of this touchy feely carp."

A surprised laugh came out of him and he asked, "Carp?  Did you just say touchy-feely carp?"

I stomped my foot even though I was standing in the water.  I almost kicked the water at him too.  "Are you making fun of the way I talk?"

"Uh ... no ... no I ..."  He tried to stop snickering.  "Can't you just say crap like a normal person?  Even my grandmother said it."

"Well I'm not your grandmother am I?  My Dad would have a fit if he knew I said some of the things I say, the least I can do is try not to swear and make it worse."

He shook his head but got serious again.  "So those guys hurt your feelings."

"I told you ..."

"I know.  You don't have feelings.  You're super girl or something."  I threw an extra muddy cattail root at him.  It didn't faze him.  "That's not going to work.  I've got three older sisters that are a whole lot meaner than you'll ever be.  Now fess up.  What happened?"

I explained what had happened after he and Sarge had left then came up out of the creek and asked him, "Do you think I was being too much of a girl?"

He was thoughtful and said, "Uh, I'm not sure.  Maybe you misunderstood and maybe you didn't.  Have you talked to your old dude friend ... Mr. Svenson?"

I shook my head.  "No.  I haven't seen anyone since that day until you.  Besides, Mr. Svenson is sick or something like that and shouldn't be out in this weather."

He let it go and he helped me take all the roots back to the cabin.  I'm glad, that bucket was very full and very heavy.  In exhange I offered to fix us something to eat but he shook his head.  "Actually I brought something this time."  He reached into his back and pulled out a drawstring bag.  "Let's take it inside in case someone is watching.  The back of my neck is itching."  I'd had the same feeling so didn't tell him how crazy it sounded.

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