When asked how he killed so many Germans during Operation Totalise, Scott Trevor said: “I just kept firing my rifle and the Germans just kept jumping in front of the bullets like they were chasing butterflies in a wildflower field on Sacred Sunday.”
“Can you give a Victoria Cross to a lad who thinks of things like that when he’s killing the enemy?” Maj. Perceval Switt directed the question to his American counterpart sitting in the cane chair to his right. Mrs. Minnie Farthington regularly invited the lesser officers for tea at her small country house east of Southwick House where Ike and Monty resolved their invasion squabbles. After stuffing Majors and Captains and Lieutenants with biscuits and tea, she’d leave them in the Palm Room with her liquor and their cigars without excuse or apology—habits that made her extremely popular.
Major Simpson took a puff of his panatela. “Still, killing fifteen enemies is an accomplishment worth noting.”
Switt finished off his third brandy. “He made it sound like the Germans did the heavy lifting. Valor requires a little less ho-hum and a little more gung-ho.”
“Think he’s light on his toes?” Major Connelly said after giving the room a quick scan and lowering his voice. He wondered if pygmy palms and alocasia possessed plant memory, a theory his uncle had developed shortly before his retirement from San Diego’s Botanical Gardens.
“Worse than that,” Switt said.
“He’s not a Commie.” Connelly patted his side-arm.
“No,” Switt said immediately. “He seems to have a sense of humor.”
“Not a bad trait in wartime. Dr. Klein says it can save your sanity.” Simpson said.
“Let’s not forget Captain Klein was a New York obstetrician before he wore a uniform,” Connelly said before wandering back to the tea cart where an orphaned Lady Finger motioned him closer.
Switt gave Simpson a disapproving nod at Connelly’s departure. “The hold-up in this medal business, is that the fifteen krauts Trevor dispatched may have surrendered before their demise.”
Connelly dusted crumbs from his moustache, oblivious to Switt’s censure. “Rules of engagement are always made by people who never go near a battlefield. Who goes to war expecting a mulligan if operations go south?”
“Protocols exist for a reason. People appreciate being told how to act in uncertain situations,” Switt grumbled.
Connelly sat down, positioning himself across from Switt so the man would be forced to look at him. “Battlefields aren’t uncertain. If you don’t kill the guy who’s been trained to kill you, you’re gonn’a be real dead, real fast.”
“Or real hungry,” Simpson said, grinning.
Switt, uncharacteristically, jumped up and loudly uttered what became his last words. “Americans! Rude enough to eat the last cookie.”
In an interview after court marshal of Major Connelly, and the execution of Scott Trevor, Major Simpson intimated that Switt’s death was Minnie Farthington’s fault. “It’s a well-known fact that the presence of women curb the primitive instincts of men, especially when there’s alcohol and protocols involved.” Dr. Klein concurred, adding that civilization would be impossible without the ladies.
Jenean McBrearty is retired teacher who spends her time taking on-line classes, drinking tea, and pretending she's a princess or, on a cloudy day, Norma Desmond. Website: Jenean-McBrearty.com