CHAPTER IV - The pards play a trick on the unit Jonah.

by Jonah Begone - Illustrated by Paul Rogers

Wherein the boys have some fun with the company Jonah, and are responsible for the creation of a Confederate reenactment unit.

BANG! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. It had surprised, then angered, both of them. Pvt. Stark was the first to speak, over the squealing noise that he felt rather than heard in his ears. "What was that?!? - That wasn't you was it?" "Of course not!" snapped Pvt. Gimbels. Pvt. Jonah Wallace, elderly ex-skirmisher turned Regimental Menace, had just ignited his latest magnum load during company fire.

Looking down the ranks a man or two, they could see his mirthful, self-amused grin. "Hee heee heee. Sorry." he said. Pvt. Gimbels grabbed him by his collar and threatened him with a meaty clenched fist: "Why I oughta..." Just then, the fifteen file-closers (all NCO's and officers from other units that nobody wanted in real command of anything) shouted "QUIET IN THE RANKS!" in unison, a remarkable bit of timing since it was performed more crisply than was the last volley.

After the firing drill and the usual commendations from those in charge (despite the fact that the poorly-fired volleys sounded like a very long piece of three foot-wide velcro being slowly and spasmodically pulled apart), our heroes repaired to the dining fly, a legendary place of shade and good conversation in the Thirty-Third Maryland. "We gotta do something to that guy," was the general sentiment from the veteran reenactors in the unit (when they had recovered enough to hear each other). "I have just the thing!" announced Pvt. Gimbels, a little cartoon light bulb magically appearing over his head. Through squinting eyes of more-than-usual malevolence and craftiness, he could vaguely see Pvt. Wallace meandering toward the 40-foot line of porta-potties situated immediately adjacent to the women's camp. "But we have to act fast!"

Pvts. Gimbels, Stark and a number of other feisty and a little-more-than-fed-up sojers crept up to the porta-potty that Wallace was seen to have entered. ("Stonewall Johns, Varina, VA" read the sign on the door.) Quietly - ever so quietly! - they wrapped the porta-potty around and around with stringy beef muscle, obtained from the Steak-in-a-Sack concessionaire. When at last they reckoned they had the door inextricably closed, Pvt. Gimbels handed Pvt. Stark the musket. "You wanna do the honors?", he asked. "Why soitenly!" Stark replied. He unhesitatingly rammed the butt of Pvt. Wallace's $675.00 Parker-Hale under the lumber stabilizing the porta-potty, wedged a rock under the musket for leverage, and shouting "Heave Ho!" pushed with all his might.

The structure toppled with a sickening liquid Slop! and Thud! What was even worse, however, was the profligate swearing, which rivalled even Union General Winfield Scott Hancock's in its capacity to "turn the very air blue." At just that moment, the door of the adjacent porta-potty opened and out stepped an amused Pvt. Jonah Wallace. "Hey! We're havin' some fun now, huh? Hee heeee hee!" he exclaimed (he hadn't yet noticed the terrible predicament his Parker-Hale was in). Realizing their awful mistake, the conspirators quickly sought anonymity by running as fast as they could from the scene of the catastrophe.

It took courage and boldness (as well as a strong stomach) for Pvt. Wallace to go back to claim his musket from the unthinkable slop that it was in, particularly since the unfortunate soul that had been in the porta-potty was none other than the event sponsor, and was lying in wait for the claimant. Needless to say Pvts. Gimbels, Stark and Wallace as well as the entire Thirty-Third Maryland were no longer invited to the annual reruns of that event (this having occurred in the first half of the quasquicentennial years when the whole mega-event idea was new, attractive and profitable, and event sponsors could afford to blacklist participants at whim). However, preventing the Thirty-Third from attending in the future was not necessarily a bad thing since all agreed that aside from the porta-potty incident the event had not been considered much fun.

POSTSCRIPT: After retrieving his musket, an angry Pvt. Wallace performed a unit mailing of a somewhat self-righteous and acrimonious letter, quit the Thirty-Third (whose official unit pronouncement of the affair was "We can't be all things to all people"), bought himself a sawed-off shotgun and a Bowie knife with a two-foot blade and formed his own Confederate Dismounted Cavalry unit. Known as the "Yew-Look-Jist-Lak-a-Hawg Fencibles," he and his men would perform the Rebel impression with a vengeance. There would be a terrible reckoning between the Fencibles and the boys in the Thirty-Third during a future reenactment at a small Pennsylvania crossroads town named... Gettysburg! (but that's another story).