Saturday, March 14, 2015

Part 124

"Your waist is smaller than Chris' and I thought he was skinny and boney," Dorrie complained.

I sighed.  It isn't like I haven't had the same problem my whole life.  Nothing age appropriate ever fit right and Mom and I had gotten good at tailoring clothes so I could dress in something that didn't make me look like a stupid china doll all the time.

"Just give me whatever is close and I've got a sewing kit and I'll fix it the best I can."

"Oh no you won't.  Sgt. Shepherd will have my head.  You can fix your stuff when you are out in the field but at base he is the one that says how things go.  And you have to present yourself for inspection every RNR so he can say what needs replacing and what doesn't."

A man's voice erupted from behind me making me jump.  "Do I hear someone taking my name in vain?"

Dorrie stood up straight and said, "No sir.  We just have a tough customer here."

I turned around and said, "I am not a tough ... whooooa ..."  I just kept looking up and up and up.  "How tall are you?"

Dorrie tried to elbow me but since I had already figured that as the main weapon in her arsenal I was prepared to move quick, and did.  Sgt. Shepherd growled, "Tall enough to step on you Shrimp.  And I'm none too happy outfitting another gidget."

I looked at Dorrie and she whisphered, "Girl midget."

I wanted to give him what for but something about the way he carried himself warned me off.  My temper may have gotten worse as I've gotten older but I hope I've smartened up even more.  "Well Sir, I don't want to cause any trouble.  I can fix my own clothes."

"I don't care whether you can or can't.  When you are in my supply depot you will do things my way.  Got it?"

"Uh ... yes sir."  The man was intimidating enough without needing to try.  Adding the extra like he does is overkill in my opinion.

I just stood there and he looked at me but I didn't let it me cow me.  "What are you staring at girl?" he snapped.

"You remind me of the man that was in charge of the group that took me in right after Z-Day."

"Don't look to me to do you any favors."

I almost smiled.  Almost.  "Moses didn't exactly do it to be nice.  He was a felon and figured there was strength in numbers.  The more people that were on his team and could fight the better chance all of us had of surviving."

He barked a laugh.  "You telling me you can fight?  You're nothing but a squirt."

I shrugged and decided to let him think whatever he wanted to.  But Dorrie suprised me by saying, "She can fight.  I watched her and Chris and Chris didn't have to cover for her at all."

Sgt. Shepherd looked at me hard but less jokingly, then slowly nodded like he'd smelled something rotten.  "Not my problem one way or the other.  Get over here and stand on this stool.  I'm not going to break my back bending over to measure you."

Talking to this man was one thing but the idea of being touched by him was something else.  All of a sudden the tent flap opened and there stood Josie.  She looked at me and asked, "Not through yet?"

I was caught between a rock and a hard place but Josie just leaned back on the counter and gave me a nod.  Unwelcome relief wound its way into my stomach and it made me feel just irritated enough that I squared my shoulder and stood up on the stool and was ready to spit in the big man's face if he touched me any more than was necessary.

Sgt. Shepherd looked at Josie then shook his head and turned to me and professionally measured me with a piece of twine that had knots in it that had been colored with permanent markers of different shades.

"Damn gidgets," the big man muttered.  Then he bellowed off a string of numbers and a guy came slipping and sliding at a run through the flaps at the back of the tent and I saw a storage truck standing open.

The guy set a stack of clothing on the counter and then looked at my feet and asked, "What size boots?"

"Four and a half or five," I said through gritted teeth.  "I can wear a five and a half if they are narrows."

He chewed the inside of his cheek then looked at Sgt. Shepherd.  "The suttlers?"

The man didn't look happy but he nodded.  "They started coming in early this morning.  Give her scrip and get her out of here."  He turned on his heel and stormed out.

I looked briefly at Dorrie who refused to meet my eyes and then at Josie who was holding back a grin.  I shook my head.  I hate it when things fly over it.

The guy scribbled something down on first one piece of paper and then on another.  He pinned one of the notes to the stack of uniforms and then handed the other one to Josie.  "You know the drill.  Make sure she doesn't fall in a crack some place and get lost."

Josie did snort a laugh at that but said, "Come on Pip, time to see the semstress.  Knowing Carol she'll be waiting to see who burnt Shepherd's tailfeathers bad enough to make him bellow so loud."

I followed her and she didn't make me run to keep up.  "OK, what did I do this time?"

Josie shook her head and answered, "Nothing.  Some men just can't deal with women being on the front line.  It turns their guts to water.  Shepherd's problem is he has a daughter a little younger than you that he guards like a jealous dog.  I think he is afraid she is going to get talked into joining up when she turns sixteen."

I gave it some thought.  "My dad would have been the same way.  If he was alive I would have been happy to do whatever he wanted me to do."

"Hmmm.  You're parents were good to you?"

"Yeah.  The best."

"My adoptive parents were too.  They took a lot of grief for adopting me.  From white people because I'm half black and from black people cause I'm half white."

"That's stupid."

She grinned and nodded.  "Yep.  And my parents didn't care.  I was ten when they came to the island to get me.  They had come to get a baby but Momma saw me and decided she didn't want anyone else.  Dad was so mad at the way I had been treated at the orphanage that he almost got thrown in jail.  The missionaries gave me to them just to shut them up I think.  I couldn't read or anything so they homeschooled me until I caught up with other kids my age."

Without thinking about it I admitted.  "I was homeschooled until fourth grade then to get me some occupational therapy they had to put me in school."  She looked at me and I explained.  "People thought that just because I was a micropreemie that I was going to have learning problems and all that stuff.  They found out soon enough that I was just physically delayed not mentally.  The only thing that really bothers me is my eyes.  I hate wearing glasses but my eyes are the wrong shape for contacts."

"Better be glad you have glasses.  People that only wore contacts have had a hard time finding glasses in their prescription."

I've never thought about it that way.  Amazing.

I found the men and women in the tent used for alterations different from the supply depot.  The woman Carol was a small Asian woman that was an inch shorter than I was.  She laughed at Josie's description of my run in with Sgt. Shepherd and told me to come back in the morning after roll call and she'd have all of my clothing ... including regulation underclothes and socks.

"Speaking of socks we need to get over to the sutlers to find Pip some boots."