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The barracks room sparkled. Every piece of furniture that could shine gleamed. Lance Corporal Hinton Knoll, aged 22, and Private First Class Corbin Volta, aged 21, looked back at their labor like a cooper observes a well-made barrel. They walked out of their room, but neglected to conceal two bottles of Tennessee whiskey.
“We’re going to get an outstanding and not have to worry about cleaning next week. I know it,” PFC Volta said.
“I do concur, Mr. Perfect for Cleaning,” Knoll said.
Corbin laughed. “Shut up Lance Coconut,” Volta said. The two headed over to a makeshift office space for Marines on the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. It connected to the hangar where the remains of the fallen returned. Once they arrived at the shabby little outpost of about three hundred Marines, they engaged in working with their tablets.
“The skipper’s going to have an announcement in the next half hour. Make sure that you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed before he speaks. Square yourselves away if you have to do that,” Gunnery Sergeant Tiber Bellington said.
“Aye, Gunny,” Volta and Knoll said.
When it came time for the commanding officer (CO) to address the handful of Marines that made up this—just put together—team to work with the Air Force, Knoll and Volta remained ready. They sat with the rest of the Marines with their legs crossed. They listened intently.
“I know that it’s Friday and all of you want to go on libo. But that just isn’t going to happen for everyone. I want you to keep your eyes locked on target. That means making sure that your rooms shine like a new pair of Corfams,” Lieutenant Colonel Frank Grafton said. The Marines chuckled. “And that you commit to not just your jobs, but to the lifestyle of being a United States Marine. Now, you’ve got a full day ahead of you.” He looked to his SNCOs. “First sergeant, I know that you and the gunny and master sergeant, who are checking the rooms as I speak, will be the deciding factor on whether these Devils will be on the town during the weekend or will be playing with the Airmen,” Grafton said.
The SNCOs just stood at parade rest, receiving the message, but giving no indication that they had just taken in the CO’s words.
“Alright. Happy Friday,” Lieutenant Colonel Grafton said.
“Battalion, attention!” said First Sergeant Sawyer Pride. The Marines rocketed to their feet at the position of attention.
Knoll and Volta strolled back to the their shop and witnessed two SNCOs with their arms crossed, barring the opposite door that lead to the smoke pit.
“Knoll, Volta... would you mind explaining these bottles of whiskey?
“We—” Knoll started.
“No, wait. I’ll explain it. You’re junior Marines who have no business of having hard liquor in your possession. What the hell do you have to say for yourselves, goddamnit?!” Gunny Bellington said.
“We’re sorry, Gunny, honest,” Volta said.
“Marines, you know good and goddamn well that you don’t rate to imbibe spirits. Sure, you can have a beer here and there. You’re both of age. But whiskey?! No, you’re going to pay for this,” Master Sergeant Garvin said.
“Your NJPs are in order. It’s too bad. Your room looked outstanding. Now, you’re going to have to bite this sandwich that you made. You do understand that you will be cleaning this administrative office, the ordnance shop, and policing the outside of all of the barracks. You do understand that?”
“Yes, Gunny!” Volta and Knoll said.
“Go get your broom, mop, and bucket because there’s going to be a great deal of sweeping and swabbing going on here,” Master Sergeant Garvin said.
“Aye, Master Sergeant,” Volta and Knoll said in unison.
“I knew it. It’s my fault though,” Knoll said. “I’m the higher ranking Marine and I should’ve never even bought the stuff.”
“Yes, it is all of your fault.”
“I said it was my fault. Not all of my fault. You took some sips, too.”
The PFC and the lance corporal cleaned with thoughts of the prohibited whiskey filling their guts. At least the ideation didn’t hurt.