182nd LEM Company Orderly Room, Saturday, March 18, 0630 hrs
My vision is still slightly doubled as I regard Lieutenant Kyle across the First Sergeant’s desk. He is not happy, and he is out of his element. His nice-guy persona doesn’t easily assume the role of disciplinarian. It’s also early Saturday morning, and he’s been called back to post to deal with this crisis by Battalion. This is the part about being a commanding officer that he likes least. It is not a comfortable role for him. I’m just happy that it’s the weekend and the First Sergeant isn’t in that chair instead. I’m not sure that he would try to be understanding of the situation. Kyle ran his hand over his already rumpled hair. I had never seen him when he needed a shave.
“So,” he began with a sigh, “Anderson and Boyden got into a fist fight in the barracks?”
“Yes sir, they did.”
“I thought they were friends?”
“Why would they get into a fist fight, then?”
“Well sir, they had been drinking.”
“So then Younger tried to break up the fight?”
“And now Younger is in the hospital.”
“So how did Duncan end up in the hospital too?”
“Well sir, he had been drinking too.”
“Emmett, that is hardly an excuse. I have been known to have a few beers once in a while, and I don’t recall ever getting in a fist fight with any of my friends.”
Lieutenant Kyle had called me by my given name ever since I had joined the Company. He had even had me to his home for dinner with him and his wife. Somehow he was under the impression that I was worth his time. I, on the other hand, still called him sir.
“Well sir, it was St. Patrick’s Day yesterday, and it’s pretty rare when the whole squad is on post at the same time, you know. Usually, some of us are on the road, even on the weekends, so we all went downtown and had a little St. Pat’s party.”
Kyle had inherited the squad of drivers as part of Tech Supply. The drivers were all the soldiers who didn’t fit in where they were supposed to. Troublemakers and misfits like me, in a company that had no real job for them. To the man, they were trust-worthy, smart, exuberant and permanently doomed to never rise in rank.
“So you went to a Gasthaus for some drinks and then came back to the barracks according to the CQ log at,” he looked down and consulted the log, “0240?”
“That sounds about right sir.”
“Then according to the log a fight broke out between Anderson and Boyden, which Younger then attempted to intercede in, whereupon Younger was injured enough to go to the hospital. And Younger is also a friend?”
“That’s correct sir, but there were a few other injuries that required hospital attention.”
I was fairly proud of myself for being able to hold up my end of the conversation so far. My vision wasn’t coming around very quickly, but I didn’t think I was slurring my words too badly.
“Where was the CQ during all of this?”
“He was standing right next to me sir. It was a heck of a fight.”
“Right, so the CQ woke the driver to transport the injured parties, and another fight broke out? This time Ryan and Duncan sustained injuries.”
“That’s correct sir. Anderson wouldn’t ride in the same vehicle as Boyden. Tempers were getting a little short all around.”
“Why not? I mean, why wouldn’t they ride together? they do it every other day.”
“Well sir, they had just gotten through beating each other up.” I added, “and they had been drinking.”
“That level of drinking—I can’t understand it. So then the Battalion CQ driver was detailed to take half of you, and the rest went in the company Suburban correct?”
“Yes sir. I went with the Battalion driver. I needed a couple of stitches too.”
“You were injured?”
“Yes sir, those are my squad. I’m responsible for them, so I sort of had an opinion about the proceedings myself.”
“Alright,” he held up his hands for me to stop, “tell me what happened at the hospital because I don’t think I can be getting the story straight from the orderlies I spoke with.”
“Well sir, when we all got there it was pretty empty. It was after all pretty late, anyway Anderson needed stitches in his head. Boyden had cut his hand pretty badly on a wall locker door, so they put them on gurneys but right next to each other, you know, with one of those curtains that hangs down between ‘em. Younger needed X-rays so they took him away in a wheel chair. So Ryan, Duncan and I waited our turn, just talking to the guys on the gurneys. Well, I don’t remember who said what, but an argument started through the curtain between Anderson and Boyden, and the next thing you know they were up and fighting again. Well sir, I’d had about enough, and Ryan was pretty mad by that time, too, so we both waded in again. I’m afraid there was quite a bit of damage—sir.”
“I’ve already gathered that from the discussion I’ve had with the hospital. The captain I spoke with was extremely upset.” He rubbed his forehead. “How are you going to be able to work together this week? I mean seriously, you guys fighting like that. How do I put you all back on the road together? Not to mention, I have one guy in the hospital with broken ribs and another guy with a broken bone in his face. First Sergeant is going to have a cow when he gets here on Monday.”
“No we’re good sir. Anderson and Boyden are both tucked in down the hall, and sleeping it off. They both shook hands and had a joke on the way back from the hospital. I’m pretty sure they got it out of their systems. We’ll be good to go sir.”
“When I got you promoted to E-5, I thought you’d be able to handle the responsibility Emmett. These boys are a rough bunch, but you’re smarter than that. I don’t want to hear about this happening again. I hope that’s clear. I’m very disappointed." He ran his hand through his hair again. "How many stitches did you get?”
"I don’t know, twelve or thirteen. I think I got hit with a bed pan or something. I’ll probably feel that tomorrow.”
The room was quiet for a full minute while Kyle looked out the window, and then down at the log book, then up at the ceiling. Finally with a sigh,
“Okay, now off the record...” he leaned forward and put his elbows on the desk, “what’s it like? What’s a ‘free-for-all fist fight really like?”
"Well sir, like I said - we had been drinking."
“Well sir, like I said, we had been drinking….”