The wet washcloth made the black chalkboard super shiny. The sergeant made sure not a trace of what he’d written could be seen.
“Good luck boys, I know this is a tough assignment but I trust each and every one of you will make me proud.”
The four foot soldiers crossed their camouflaged legs and stared at each other.
“Errr sergeant, I’m clear on our objective, but do we have funding for this? I mean, tax payers money and all that.”
The soldier to his right gave him a sharp kick under the table. The sergeant raised a stern eyebrow and stared hard into the foot soldiers face. “Are you questioning my authority here, rookie?”
“No sir, well, yes, I suppose…”
“Johnson is it?”
“If I were you son, I’d take a tip from your corporal who just kicked you and know when to shut up.”
“Are we clear, Johnson?”
“Excellent. Anyone else have any questions before you’re all dismissed?” Only the footfalls of the drill exercise beyond the wall could be heard. “Group dismissed. Rendezvous back here at twenty hundred hours.”
The four men rose and hurried from the room. A few moments later they huddled outside to discuss their mission.
“This ain’t what I signed up for,” complained the rookie. “I mean, I never would have dreamed I’d be asked to do this sort of thing.”
His more experienced corporal pulled a cigarette out of his pocket and lit up. It was his first in hours and he took a moment to suck the wonderful smoke down into his lungs. “You’ll do what you’re bloody told or answer to me,” said corporal Kensington. “That’s an order, Johnson.”
Foot soldiers Lehman and Webber had no scruples about their mission. “Fuck ‘em all I say,” said Lehman. I’d take on every last one of them.”
Webber snickered. “I don’t doubt it.”
Corporal Kensington looked up to the night sky. The sun was low on the horizon and in less than an hour it would be dark. “Right then, we have to be quick. We need a jeep, I can trust you to get that for us,” he said to Lehman.
Lehman nodded casually, twisting his lips as if he thought his task a piece of cake.
“Good. Meet you over by the gate in five.”
Lehman was as good as his word. He appeared in three minutes, and was rewarded by a stern nod from his corporal.
“Good man. Jump in everyone. We’ve no time to waste.”
In less than an hour the jeep could be heard returning to the barracks.
“Shut your mouth or there’ll be trouble,” said Kensington. His request was strange, since all of the soldiers in the jeep sat in silence, and only the whir of the engine could be heard.
The jeep was not checked at the gate but all soldiers were required to identify themselves. The four men held their breath and if the sentry had paid attention, he’d have noticed his colleagues were unnaturally stiff and not their usual jovial selves. But he didn’t pay attention, and the four passed back inside the barracks without incident.
The sun had set now, and the four men drove over to the briefing room where four figures clambered from the vehicle. A moment later the car whizzed off and under cover of darkness, they all slipped inside the dimly lit building.
Their sergeant waited by the black board, his impatient eyes betraying his desire to learn the outcome of their mission. “Corporal Kensington, make your report.”
“Mission accomplished, Sir.” Corporal Kensington stepped aside to reveal a figure concealed under a khaki blanket. He gave the figure a quick poke with his forefinger. Just as he shifted, Lehman opened the door and joined his companions.
“Sorry I’m late boys, hope I didn’t miss the show.”
“Not at all. Please dim the lights.”
Lehman did as instructed, and as he did so the mysterious figure under the blanket giggled.
“You can come out now,” ordered the sergeant, and as he spoke the blanket slid to the ground, revealing the Turkish belly dancer beneath.
Lehman pressed ‘Play’ on the stereo, and with their money still in her hand, the floor show commenced….