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