Buchannan’s Steve was a bit of a legend in the 107th. To hear it told, he was tinier than a kitten, crazier than a cat in a sack, and more stubborn than a mule. Buchannan’s Steve would get into trouble if you looked away for so much as a second. He had fought goliaths, stood up to street gangs, had more shit kicked out of him than anyone thought possible and then got back up . Steve, Sarge often said, was a stand up guy. Steve, the 107th often said, did indeed sound like a stand up guy. He also sounded fuckin nuts , but hey, who were they to judge. It was, however, generally agreed upon that Steve’s- and Buchannan’s, and probably the 107th’s- only saving grace was that the little fella was 4F’d outta the war. Elsewise, everyone agreed, Sergeant Buchannan would have died from sheer apoplexy two weeks in. It was quite the surprise for everyone, then, when little old Steve showed up on the front.
It was shaping up to be like any other USO show- sparkly, sexy, and almost entertaining enough to make a fella forget where he was exactly- until they shoved the guy in the suit back on stage. Marty, who was on Sarge duty on account of losing five hands of Gin Rummy to MacAnnaly, groaned.
“Getta load of this guy, will ya Sarge?” he said.
“Yeah,” said Sarge, as the poor, spangled bastard on stage started talking “What a dope, huh?”
Sarge’s smile slipped off his face and if Marty hadn’t been watchin’ he might have missed it. As it was, Marty had a front row seat when Sarge’s head snapped up.
“Wait a second,” he said, eyes narrowing. “I know that guy.” He leaned forward as though a few more inches were gonna make a dent in the fucking ocean of people between him and the stage.
“Really, Sarge? What’re the odds, huh?” Marty said. Something had made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up and Marty hadn’t stayed alive this long by ignoring them.
“Hey! Some of us are trying to watch the show!”
“Can it Lewinski! I think I know that-“
And that, Marty would gleefully tell everyone later, was when the penny dropped.
Sarge’s voice apparently carried all the way to the front because the poor spangly bastard on stage- who would indeed turn out to be Steve- paused and frowned like he was trying to place who was talking.
“STEVE WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE?!” Sarge hollered.
Onstage, the poor, spangly bastard, like any sane man confronted with the Sarge’s ire, began to panic. The 107th, meanwhile, settled in for the show.
“WHEN DID YOU GET TALLER?”
The poor, spangly bastard was beginning to look less like a man and more like a rabbit caught in a snare.
“Why didn’t you tell me this was the 107th?” he hissed offstage. Unfortunately for him- but fortunately for the boys of the 107th- he also hissed it into the microphone. This was the best entertainment the 107th had had in months .
“STEVE WHY ARE YOU SO HUGE?” Sarge had a look on his face like Marty’s momma did that time he and his sister broke the good china playing catch in the house. It was a look that said: ‘I will have answers, by God!” and wasn’t prepared to accept no for an answer.
The poor, spangly bastard on stage frowned the frown of a man who found himself up shit creek and had just realized he had lost his paddle. Apparently deciding discretion was the better part of valor, he high-tailed it out of there. For such a big guy, he sure could move fast.
“STEVE, GET YOUR PUNK ASS BACK HERE!” Sarge roared.
“Oh this is Steve , is it?” said Roberts, sitting three rows ahead.
“Buchannan’s Steve?” called Steve Campbell from off to the right.
“Yeah, that Steve.”
“I thought he was littler,” said Jenkins, somewhere behind Campbell.
“SO DID I,” grit out Sarge, stalking forward. “SO DID FUCKING I!”
And boy howdy the 107th took one look at Sarge’s face and they parted like the Red Sea.