rindleton! Where in hell is he?"
"Don't know, sir."
"Have you seen Private Brindleton?"
"No, Colonel Porchester, sir. I haven't."
"Well what in hell are the three of you up to?"
A silence followed as the three enlisted men eyed, first each other, then the young officer who addressed them, then each other again. The foil stars, popcorn strings, and paper snowflakes would have been hard enough to conceal or rationalize, but the six foot wooden cross was completely impossible to ignore. When it became apparent that denial was not a plausible option, Private Williams decided to state the obvious.
"We're decorating the mess tent, sir."
"For Christmas," added one of his companions.
"Oh," said the officer dryly "I thought these were going up for Valentine's Day."
A smirk from one of the men was felled with a withering glance from the Colonel before it so much as left the runway of the man's mouth.
"You mean to tell me, that in the midst of one of the worst humiliations to ever befall the British Army, with the Turks breathing down our necks and dropping a ton of mortar shells on us morning, noon and night..."
A distant boom punctuated this last statement.
"...that you three buggers are risking the stockade to decorate the mess tent for Christmas?"
After much blinking and swallowing Williams replied, "Um, yes, Colonel, we are."
"And I suppose that it would make me a heartless damn bastard if I were to stop you."
"Well, sir," said Williams, now the de-facto spokesman, "I'd never say that to an officer."
"Oh, you wouldn't?"
"No sir. But, If I was back home in a pub and I'd had a few and an ordinary fella was to ask me that... I'd probably have to agree with him."
"Oh, you would, would you?" said Porchester, closing in on the man. The trio grew tense. "Well, when we get back home, we'll have to see about that, now won't we?"
A wide grin broke out on Williams' face. "Yes sir. That'd be fine by me, sir."
Just then , Private Brindleton, the most boyish and gangling of the bunch, burst into the tent clutching in his arms a massive, live turkey.
"I got it!" He said breathlessly before seeing the officer. He stopped short, the look of wary confusion on his face the perfect counterpoint to the expression of dull stupidity worn by the turkey.
"I've been looking for you."
"That you're holding in your arms."
"Where did you get it?"
More blinking and swallowing from all concerned.
"From the Turks?"
"From the Turks. From the Turks! Private Brindleton do you realize that turkeys are not native to Turkey?"
"No, sir. I mean, yes, sir."
"Private Brindleton, you leave me with little choice."
"No, sir." Brindleton looked glum. His companions stared at the floor.
"I've got a jar of cranberry sauce I brought with me from England. I'll go and get it. But I warn you, the four of you..." he said, looking from man to man "...I'm partial to white meat."
©1995 Hyperbole Studios Inc.