"He's got to come out eventually," Rolling Stone observes.
Brad is hiding under the Humvee again.
Brad once described these little episodes as a tactical retreat in order to preserve his sanity. Ray is completely in favor of Brad preserving what remains of his fragile grasp on sanity, but he's not feeling all that charitable right now. This is no tactical retreat. That fucker is hiding.
Ray hates it when Brad does this shit. Everyone freaks the fuck out. It's like being stuck in some 1950s melodrama where mommy has retreated to the bedroom with a valium and a bottle of vodka, and Ray is stuck reassuring all the little brats that it's okay. Mommy is just resting. She'll be fine tomorrow. Fuck this shit.
"Yeah, he's got to come out eventually," Trombley repeats. "At least to shit. You know how Brad is about shitting."
"You don't know shit, Trombley, about shit or anything else. Brad's never coming out," Ray snaps.
Ray's an expert on Brad's sulks. Given the severity of the snit multiplied by Brad's stubbornness divided by the probability of the LT showing up to drag Brad's ass out added to the certainty that someone is going to fuck something up enough that Brad is going to be needed to be all heroic and Brad-like, Ray estimates Brad will be out in about four hours. Give or take eight minutes.
Still, if Ray can't fuck with Trombley, there's just no point in living.
"That's just stupid, Ray. He's got to come out," Trombley says, but he looks worried.
"I don't know about that," Rolling Stone says thoughtfully after a quick glance at Ray. "I heard about these monks who would wall themselves up inside their cells and live their whole lives in there."
"Yeah," Rays agrees. "Tibetan monks."
"No, I think these ones were from Kazakhstan," Rolling Stone says.
Sometimes Rolling Stone is kind of awesome.
They very carefully don't look at each other. "Oh right. I sometimes get them confused."
"How do they eat if they can never come out of their rooms?" Trombley asks.
"They're all enlightened and shit. They've learned to live off the air," Ray explains.
Trombley looks at Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone nods. "It's true."
"Yeah, well, Brad isn't a monk. He's a Jew."
Ray swears that he hears a snort coming from under the Humvee. He's going to kill that fucker when he drags his ass out from under there.
"You're such a narrow-minded fuckhead, Trombley. Jews can be monks. God." Ray shakes his head in disgust and walks away.
The last thing he hears by the Humvee is Walt reassuring Trombley. "Don't worry. He'll come out. Brad may be able to give up eating, but he'll never give up shitting."
"Brad has got to be the stubbornest motherfucker I've ever seen," Poke observes.
Watching Brad lay under the Humvee has become the latest spectator sport.
This is the type of shit that should go in recruiting videos. Become a marine and stand around scratching your ass while watching your crazy fuck of a sergeant lay under a Hummer. It's a glamorous life, really.
"Most stubborn," Ray corrects.
"Fuck you and your white man's grammar," Poke replies, but his hearts not in it. He's too busy watching Brad under the Humvee.
"Once, when Brad was seven, he built a fort out of blankets and pillows and refused to come out for three days," Ray says.
All eyes turn to him. Ray grins.
"Stop making shit up, Ray," Walt demands.
"It's true. Scouts honor," Ray vows.
"If you were a boy scout, then I was the fucking queen of England," Poke laughs.
"Whatever you say, your majesty."
"Hey, Sergeant," Lilley shouts in the general direction of the hummer. "Tell Ray to stop making shit up about you."
"The Sergeant can't talk right now," Ray says after a moment. "He's busy achieving enlightenment by staring at the underside of a Hummer. Gather round, kiddies, and your Uncle Ray-Ray will tell you a story about the great Sergeant Colbert's formative years."
"It's amazing," Poke observes. "I can actually see the words coming out of your ass."
"Stop looking at my ass, then."
"Go on, Person, I can't wait to hear this shit," Poke demands, smirking, arms folded across his chest.
"Well, when the Sergeant was just a wee lad," Ray begins.
"Wee lad?" Walt asks. "The Sergeant was Irish?"
"When the Sergeant was a small all-American boy who ate apple pie and slept on the American flag," Ray tries again.
"Isn't that unconstitutional?" Trombley asks.
"I can't believe you even know what that word means," Poke observes.
"Can I please tell my fucking story?" Ray interrupts.
"Can we stop you?" Walt asks.
Ray ignores him. "When the Sergeant was a small all-American boy who ate apple pie and slept on the American flag in an entirely respectful manner, he noticed a grave injustice going on in his house. His parents would not let him eat Cookie Crisps because they didn't believe young children should be eating something that looked like cookies for breakfast. The young Sergeant thought this was outrageous. Was he not allowed to eat Count Chocula which had little fake marshmallows? Those had to be worse for you then miniature cookies. But no matter how eloquently he argued, his parents refused to budge. The young Sergeant, already having more stubbornness than the stubbornness of ten stubborn men, decided he would take all his blankets and pillows, build a fort, and not come out until his parents gave him Cookie Crisps. His parents assumed he would be out within an hour, but the young Sergeant lasted five days..."
"You said three before," Walt points out.
"He stayed in his fort for three days before his parents gave in and bought him Cookie Crisps. The young Sergeant left his fort triumphant, the world once again safe for young boys obsessed with sugared cereals."
"You were dropped on your head as a baby, weren't you, Person?" Poke asks, and not waiting for the answer, wanders off to his own Humvee.
"Okay, story time is over," Ray declares. "Everyone go back to whatever deviant, depraved things you were doing before and stop treating the Sergeant like the sideshow freak of nature he really is."
Ray leans against the Hummer as everyone leaves and waits.
"Ray..." Brad's voice calls from under the vehicle.
"I'm sorry. I don't talk to sad motherfuckers who hide under Hummers."
"The next time you try to pass off a story from your inbred, sorry ass childhood as mine, I'll..."
"You're lucky," Ray interrupts. "If you don't get your lazy, sulking ass out from under there soon, the next time I tell a story from your past, it'll be a letter to Bestiality Anonymous or that touching personal account I know you wrote for Rubber Lovers." Ray is smiling, though. Brad is clearly feeling better.
It's now hour seventeen of Brad's epic sulk. Everyone has a theory on what happened. Somebody heard from someone else that some fucker said some shit that is completely wrong. Marines are worse than 12-year-old girls when it comes to gossip. Ray tells everyone that Brad is sulking because he had a fight with his boyfriend. They all laugh and think he's joking. Ray isn't entirely sure what happened, but he knows that he's much closer to the truth than the fuckers who are insisting that it all has to do with the C.I.A. and the Jennifer Lopez conspiracy.
By Ray's estimates, baring some massive crisis that would force Brad out early, Brad will be out in 2 ½ hours. Unless Ray is underestimating Brad's pissiness - which is always a possibility, since Brad is one pissy motherfucker.
The peanut gallery has gathered again and this time they are divided into two distinct camps. One side is arguing that they should give Brad food because food leads to shitting which leads to Brad coming out. The other side is arguing that the best thing to do would be to starve him out.
"No, that won't work!" Trombley protests, "The Sergeant can live off air, like monks."
"Person," Poke demands, "What sort of lies have you been telling this young, impressionable psychopath?"
"Why does everyone always blame me?" Ray asks. "You can't give him food, though."
"Why not?" Walt demands.
Ray gives him his biggest, most manic grin. This is going to be good. "If he eats too much, he'll get stuck down there and won't be able to get out."
"That is the stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard and I've heard a lot of stupid shit," Poke says.
"No, it makes total sense; like that Winnie the Pooh story where he gets stuck in the doorway because he's too fat. You can't give Brad any honey or he'll get stuck." Ray explains.
Everyone stares at Ray. Ray smiles.
"I am not fucking Winnie the Pooh," Brad shouts from under the Humvee.
"I should hope not. That would be depraved even for you," Ray says in mock horror.
"Stop projecting your fucked up childhood perversions on me," Brad shouts back.
"Stop acting like a child and get out from under there," Ray shouts back.
Poke laughs, but everyone else looks a little stunned. Ray shrugs. He's an expert at Brad handling. He's got this all under control. Probably. He hopes. He's definitely going to get Brad out from under the Hummer even if it kills him which it might if Brad's current temper is any indication. Maybe he can somehow direct Brad at Trombley and go hide behind the LT. It's not the worst plan Ray's ever had.
"Winnie the Pooh always seemed okay to me," Walt is saying. Somehow Ray has lost the thread of the conversation, but it's managed to swing in perverted directions without his guidance. "Eeyore though..."
"Yeah," Ray agrees. "That was one perverted fucking donkey."
"Why is fucking Captain America heading over here?" Gabe asks.
"Like this day can't get any fucking worse," Ray complains. Ray is leaning against the Humvee idly kicking around sand with the vague hope that some of it will land on Brad's face.
"Corporal Person, where's Sergeant Colbert?" Captain America demands.
Ray shrugs and then gives the sand a particularly vicious kick. "He's under the Hummer."
"Is he fixing something?" Captain America asks, looking confused.
"Hopefully his extraordinarily fucked up mind," Ray mutters under his breath.
"What was that, Corporal Person?" Captain America asks.
"Nothing, Sergeant, he's not fixing anything." Ray blinks against the glare from the setting sun and also in the small hope that when he opens his eyes again Captain America will have disappeared.
"Well, then why is he under there?" Captain America demands.
Ray runs through out about ten excuses in his head starting with "there was this prostitute and she had these handcuffs and you know how that is. You do know how that is, sir, don't you?" and ending with the Winnie the Pooh excuse that's he stuck under there, but deciding to settle on the simplest answer. It's been a long day.
"That's classified," Ray replies.
"Classified? Why wasn't I informed of this?"
"That's classified too,"
"Huh," Captain America says, eyes darting around warily. "Your not shitting me, are you Corporal Person?"
"I would never do that, Sergeant," Ray protests. "You didn't hear this from me, but if I were you, I would check underneath your Hummer, just to be safe, if you catch my meaning."
Captain America walks away with a worried frown on his face. It would be funny if Ray wasn't so fucking tired. "Gabe, if someone comes looking for Brad, tell them that he's celebrating a Jewish holiday and can't be disturbed. I'm going to go shoot myself in head."
"What Jewish holiday?" Gabe asks.
"I don't know. The Festival of I'm Getting Really Fucking Tired of this Shit, Brad, and If You Don't Come Out Soon I'm Going To Pee All Over Your Victor And Then Find Other Ways To Defile It."
"That's not a real holiday, is it?" Trombley asks.
"And people think I was dropped on my head as a baby."
Ray is leaning against the Humvee, dozing, when he notices that the camp has suddenly gotten quiet. He opens his eyes and sees the LT striding towards striding in his direction. Dad's home. Fantastic.
"Ray..." the LT begins.
"Listen, I'm going to go stand over there and keep all the children busy with juice and cookies. You fix Brad," Ray says.
"Corporal," the LT warns.
"Well, you're the one who broke him," Ray protest and then adds when the LT raises an eyebrow, "Lieutenant."
"Okay, I'll fix it," the LT says quietly.
Ray looks at his watch. "Just make sure to take exactly 17 minutes. That way, I win the pool."
The LT smiles slightly at that. "I'll do my best, Corporal."
It's dark out now, so Ray only has to walk a short distance away so that the LT can no longer see him but Ray can hear what's going on. He's not eavesdropping; he's just making sure that the LT can fix Brad without getting interrupted.
"Hey Ray..." Poke whispers.
"Shhh, I'm eavesdropping," Ray whispers back.
"Takes one to know one."
"That might be the most immature thing I've ever heard a mostly grown man say," Poke observes. "What did I miss?"
"Um... The LT is worried about Brad. Brad said that he's fine. The LT said that people who are fine don't hide under Hummers..."
"Brad says that you are both a disgrace to Recon Marines. I can hear you from under the Hummer!" Brad shouts from under the jeep.
"Whoops," Ray says loudly.
He walks for a few moments with Poke, but then stops, and looks for a better place to hide. Poke shakes his head at Ray, but continues on, making a little bit more noise to compensate for Ray's absence.
"Brad, if you don't come out, I'll be forced to come down there," the LT is saying as Ray settles into his hiding spot. Brad says something Ray can't hear, and then he hears the sound of the LT crawling under the Humvee. Ray sighs. The LT is supposed to be getting Brad out, not going in after him. It would be just Ray's luck if they both decided to stay down there. The whole platoon would be orphaned. They'd have to sell Trombley to gypsies in order to survive. And who knows what would happen to Walt. He didn't seem the type to be able to survive such a broken home.
Brad is saying something, and the LT says something back. Ray is trying to figure out a way of getting closer and not being heard when he hears Brad laugh. Thank fucking god. Ray relaxes a little bit. There's a little more whispering back and forth, then the sound of something that is most definitely not whispering, and then the sound of something that Ray is pretty sure is still illegal in thirty-seven states and that he would have sworn five minutes ago couldn't be done under a Hummer.
Ray hears more talking and then silence, a whole lot of silence. The silence is making him nervous because a silent Brad is a Brad that can...
"Hi Ray." Brad whispers from directly behind Ray.
Ray jumps. "Fuck! Don't do that to me."
Brad laughs. "Lieutenant Fick says to look at your watch."
Ray looks and smiles in delight. "Seventeen minutes exactly. I love that man. Not to infringe on your territory."
Brad just smirks. "I get half of the money."
"No, you don't. You don't understand what I've had to deal with while you were having your little sulk," Ray argues.
Brad raises an eyebrow.
"You can have a 1/3 of it," Ray concedes.
Brad smiles at Ray and starts to walk off.
Ray calls out after, "It's good to have you out of your cave, Pooh Bear."
"Fuck you, Piglet."