Monday, November 10, 2014

Part 97

"Uh ..."

I asked him, "Uh what?"

"Be right back."

I thought he was having a moment until I saw him heading for the outhouse real fast.  Guys.  I just don't get them.  I used to have to listen to Toddie and his friends say crude things like how they needed to "water the trees" but here Cochran was not even able to say where he was going.  I swear they have to be from another planet or something.  More than half the time guys make absolutely no sense ... and when they do I usually want them to go back to making no sense.

He'd handed me the bag so I carried it in and hung it from a nail near the stove and was debating on whether to take the fort apart when Cochran came back.

"What are you looking at?" he asked when I just stood there staring.

"You want to eat at the table or in front of the fire?"

"Like we did before ... in front of the fire."  He looked around.  "Didn't you open it?"

"Open what?"

He looked at me like he was questioning my sanity and said, "The bag ... you know ... the B-A-G."

"Of course not, it's yours."

"Aren't you curious what's in it?"

"If I wasn't do you think I'd be trying to figure out what to do that will keep me from looking stupid and telling you to open it like right now?"

That made him grin.  He took the bag off the hook and handed it to me.  "Go ahead.  Open it."

I started to then stopped.  Remembering some of Toddie's stunts I had to ask, "Nothing is going to jump out is it?"

He laughed.  "No."

I undid the tie and then opened the bag.  What I saw almost made me drop it.  I looked up at him and asked, "Is it real?"

"Of course it's real.  Here, I've got a knife that will slice it."

"Where did you get it?" I asked, my mouth watering so much spit almost dribbled out when I talked.

"When we were passing through Wisconsin the Major did a salvage operation on a dairy processing plant that the refugees and Infecteds both missed.  It had a cheese factory attached to it and a shed full of smoked meat too.  The docs tried to claim it all but the Major put a stop to it ... and he wouldn't let them ship it back to their bigwig friends either.  All the troops get a ration at the beginning of the week of both some kind of hard cheese and some kind of sausage.  We got some extra this time because ... well because of the same reason there is canned food to use for barter.  I just thought you might like to have some."

As much as I wanted a taste of that cheese I tried to do the right thing and say, "I can't take this from you.  This is yours ... part of your pay kinda."

He shaved off a thin slice of the bright orange stuff and handed it to me.  "That's right, it's mine ... to share with whomever I want to and I want to share it with you.  There's crackers too though they are probably broken ... they usually are ... but crumbs are still good."

Cheese, sausage, and crackers.  Wow.  I haven't had anything like that in a long time.  That stuff went away really fast in the city once the electricity went out.  It was so good I almost cried but I didn't.  I don't want Cochran to think I'm a wuss.  Bad enough that I turn into a girl everytime he comes around.  Not that I mind being a girl 'cause I don't of course.  I just mean that I wind up acting stupid for reasons I do not want to think about.

We were finished eating and Cochran had just asked me if I needed help with anything when a big fist banged on the door making us both jump.  Before I could even decide what to do Cochran was standing in front of me and had his rifle up.

"If you shoot me I am going to be highly pissed."

Upset I shouted through the door, "Then you shouldn't bang on the door like you're a buffalo or something."

"A-OK Major?" Cochran called out.

"Permission to stand down granted."

I rolled my eyes.  "Please tell me you don't talk like that all the time."

After we moved the dresser and let Sarge in he grinned.  "It does sound a little out of place but think of it like code.  Someone could have a gun to my head and if Cochran had disarmed before I gave him the all-clear we'd all be in a world of hurt."

That's when I looked and realized someone was with him.  When I got a look at his face I asked, "Mr. Owen?  Is something wrong with Mr. Svenson?"

That softened him and he shook his head.  "He's getting better and sends his regards."

I was so relieved I sagged.  "Oh.  I ... I thought ..."  I shook my head and tried to play it off.  "Well so long as he is ok.  What can I do for you?"

That's when Mr. Owen looks at Sarge and I get suspicious.  And after another minute I turn and give the squinty eye to Cochran.  "Were you really using the outhouse or were you blathering my business?"

"Blathering?" Cochran snorted completely unrepentent.  "What kind of word is blathering?"

I crossed my arms and then he added insult to injury by saying, "Get you bottom lip off the floor DeeDee.  The miscommunication needs to be figured out so that someone doesn't get their feelings hurt."

"Now you listen here ..."

"No you listen.  If word gets around that you got left out ... got left out on purpose ... people from the other camps might start wondering if they're gonna get left out of the loop on purpose.  That is the kind of thing that starts big trouble and big trouble we do not need with another horde expected within the week."

Sarge stepped in and said, "Enough.  It seems that it was a legitimate miscommunication.  Owen here had delegated the task to three different people to run the information to the other camps.  I believe him when he says it wasn't intentional that DeeDee was passed over.  Each of the three thought the other had stopped here."

I wasn't done being mad at Cochran.  "Did I say my feelings were hurt?  Did I?"

"You didn't have to.  I could see you were upset when you found out.  And its not like you can't use the food as much as the rest of them."

If he had been shorter and I taller we would have been nose to nose ready for a real argument.

"Didn't I say that was enough?"  Sarge's tone let us both know that he'd reach his tolerance level.  He turned to me and said, "I'm just making sure that I can tell anyone that asks that we've cleared the air with all parties and that it was just a minor understanding that has been dealt with."

Mr. Owen turns to Sarge and offers to shake his hand and Sarge reaches out with a smile on his face.  "Owen, since I've got to head back the same way would you like a ride back?"

"Actually Lock, I'd like a word with DeeDee here."

I had to know, "Who's Lock?"

"I am Squirt."

"Lock Wat ... son."  It clicked and I started grinning.

"You watch that mouth.  My sainted mother was a librarian before she and Dad married.  If you think my name is bad you should hear my sisters'.  All of them are named after the sappiest romance writers ... my oldest sister is name Clare Darcy Watson, next one down is Barbara Cartland Watson and it only gets worse from there."

I tried not to laugh, I really did ... but Sarge ... my Sarge ... is named Sherlock Watson.  No wonder he told me to always call him Sarge.  And I thought I had a name problem.  I wonder what his father thought of his children's names.

Sarge just shook his head at my struggle not to laugh out loud, grinned, and then turned to leave.  "You coming Cochran?"

"I was going to help DeeDee get some wood or whatever else she needed help with."

He gave Cochran a look somewhere between fatherly and Majorly and told him, "You know head count is at eighteen hundred hours."

Cochran stood straight and said, "Yes sir."

Sarge nodded and said, "Very good."  Then he went out to one of those canvas trucks and the driver took him back to his base camp.

Cochran looked at me and said, "I'll go bring that branch back that we moved off the trail to the creek."

I nodded, realizing he was giving Mr. Owen time to say his piece.

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