THE ADVENTURES OF PRIVATES MACEY N. GIMBELS AND HIS PARD
CHAPTER II - The Pards sample "Rebel Cola" and trick some Confederates.
by Mal Stylo and Jonah Begone
Hot, thirsty and shaken by their adventure, our heroes looked around for some sign of relief - some friendly oasis where they might obtain refreshment and mayhaps, good company. Pvt. Stark saw it first. Off in the distance was a 14-foot square blinking neon "Rebel Cola" sign atop a 10 foot aluminum pole, festooned with an image of "Mighty Stonewall" charging through hordes of fleeing Yankees, a frosty bottle of "Rebel Cola" in his left hand and his sword in his right. "Let's go!" said our fearless Maryland Union Patriot.
It was a twenty minute wait in a long and odoriferous line before Pvts. Gimbels and Stark reached the cashier. "Whatju want?" she asked. Pvt. Gimbels thoughtfully gazed at the soda dispensers all marked "Rebel Cola," the cups labelled "Rebel Cola" and feeling the periodic blast of additional heat from the 14-foot square blinking Mighty Stonewall "Rebel Cola" sign, he answered decisively "a Rebel Cola." He then handed the cashier a five-dollar bill. She pocketed the fiver and handed Pvt. Gimbels his Rebel Cola. "That'll be five dollahs" she announced. Assuming an honest error on the part of the overworked cashier, Pvt. Gimbels politely replied "I just gave you a five." "No ya didn't!" "Yes, I did!" he insisted, sensing he had been forced to the defensive.
Vollies of "NO YOU DIDN'T!!" "YES I DID!!" buzzed through the air like minie balls. The cashier could see that Pvt. Gimbels was not only overheated, righteously indignant and angry, but armed as well and contemplating escalation of the conflict as indicated by the fact he had reached step four in that well-known ritual "Load in Nine Times, Load!" She decided to yield the field on this one. Eyes squinting and nostrils flaring, she called to the next customer "Next!"
It was a forewarned Pvt. Stark's turn. "Whatju want?" she again asked. "A Rebel Cola" replied Pvt. Stark, handing the cashier a five dollar bill and carefully noting the placement of it in her pocket. She handed him a dripping Rebel Cola. "Five dollahs!" "I just gave it to you," said Pvt. Stark, "you put it in your pocket!" "You didn't give me no money!" she replied, wearing her fiercest scowl. "I did so!" "YOU DID NOT!" "I DID SO!!" Noting that Pvt. Stark was fixing his bayonet upon his musket, she decided to yield this time also. "NEXT!"
Standing nearby, Private Stark noticed that the price of a Rebel Cola was invariably the same as the denomination of the currency the prospective purchaser lay down. He watched as a member of a nearby Rebel group - the 379th Alabama Alternate Lifestyle Fencible State's Rights Sharpshooters - paid twenty Yankee dollars for a cup of ice with a splash of Rebel Cola.
Pvt. Stark took his Rebel Cola and stepped out of line, making an urgent "We're all 'Mar'ikens, come over ch'ere" motion to the Confederate unit. "Cap'n," he told the Rebel leader, "the sponsor asked me to arrange a historical vignette [see note below] for the video-crew. They want a group of total authentics like your men to loot a sutler's wagon, like that one there," he said, pointing to the Rebel Cola stand. "You boys interested?" Pvt. Stark assured him it was all prearranged and the pay was all the Rebel Cola each member of the unit could drink. "Shor' nuff!" came the unhesitating reply. The prospect of being prominently featured in the "Official Video," the chance to engage in senseless mayhem and the offer of unlimited amounts of free Rebel Cola had raised a fearsome blood-lust.
When the event sponsor's Consumer Affairs Committee Agent (CACA) arrived after the melee, he was at a loss to explain how a 15-foot concession trailer could have been demolished so completely. The cashier was no help, for she had fled down the single dirt road leading to the parking lot, seeking escape from the swarm of flies and bees that had been attracted to the Rebel Cola syrup spilled all over her Wagnerian form. With a satisfied sigh, Pvt. Stark returned to camp.
NOTE: The "historical vignette" as practiced in Park Service programs and at reenactments is a veritable "window into the past" (Andersen thermal double pane is popular), wherein the public may glimpse aspects of 19th C. life as performed by 20th C. living historians. Sometimes it occurs unexpectedly, as at the 1988 Chancellorsville event where a reenactor managed to bayonet himself in the leg. That was the injury; the historical vignette portion was when reenactment Vivandieres and hospital stewards tried to render first aid in the midst of the attack. With the blood and the confusion it looked commendably authentic.