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Old Guy

Scouts Out!

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Yep, our two heros -- and other Simians -- are still out there!

The two motorcyclists rolled to a halt in front of a building sporting a hand-painted sign which read, 3rd BAT OPERASHUNS. Major Dude stepped outside and stopped to light a cigarette. He caught sight of his two dispatch riders. “How the hell did you get here so fast?”

Old Guy made a vague motion that might have been a salute. “We came in by glider. Donnie got us a ride with some 82nd Airborne guys. He nearly got us killed to boot. So here we are.”

Dude glanced toward the beach. “I guess you noticed the mess. Everything is screwed up. I doubt if battalion HQ staff will be ashore by next week, the way things are going. We can use you.”

“I was afraid of that,” murmured Old Guy. Louder he said, “What have you got for us, sir?”

“Company B is moving out in a few minutes. I'm sure Captain Spectre would like a couple scouts.”

“Ah . . . yes, sir. I imagine he would. Motorcycle couriers don't make good scouts. Sir.”

“You're all we've got.” Dude grinned. “You've done this kind of thing before. In Tunisia.”

“Well, sure. It's different in the desert, sir. Open country. Here it's all cut up into little fields bordered with trees and brush. The only way we can find an ambush is to ride into it.”

Dude shrugged. “You might have to get off those motorcycles and play frontier scout for a while. I'll get you a map – if I've got anything usable.” Old Guy followed the major inside.

A couple ragged paratroopers trudged by. One stopped and stared at Donnie. “Dint I see y'all last night?”

“Uh . . . maybe. Me an' Old Guy rode in by glider. We spent the night in the woods.” Donnie tried to recall the men they'd encountered the previous night. “Slim. Ain't you Slim? From Alabama?”

“That be me. I ain't from Alabam. Tennessee is mah home. Where be that old fart y'all was with?”

“Inside. They're sendin' us out to scout for a rifle company.”

“Sorry ta hear that, pardner.” Slim gestured with a Garand. “Busted ma carbine on a Kraut skull. Picked this here raffle of a daid paratrooper. I ain't shot nobody with it. Yet.”

“Let's go,” said his companion. “Before some jerk decides to send us back out there.”

“Y'all be careful, heah?” Slim shouldered his weapon and followed the other man down the track.

Old Guy walked outside. “Who were you jawing with?”

“Slim. That hillbilly we run into last night.”

“What about Grainger?”

“Didn't see him. Didn't think to ask.”

“He had his shit together. Probably he's okay.”

“What we gonna do? Major give you a map?”

“No regular map.” Old Guy handed Donnie a folded scrap of paper. “I made a rough sketch of the area B Company is moving into. That'll have to do.”

Donnie turned the paper one way, then another. “Rough ain't the word. I can't read your writing. And these lines look kinda like the wrinkles on my grandma's face.”

Old Guy snatched at the map. “I never claimed to be an artist. And I don't know your granny. Fire up your cycle and let's get outta here before the major dreams up something even worse.”

“Grumpy old bastard,” muttered Donnie as he kicked his Harley to life. Old Guy led the way up a narrow farm road leading generally south. They weaved in and out of a line of slow-moving vehicles and heavily laden soldiers.

Captain Spectre leaned over the hood of his jeep, marking on a map. A gaggle of lieutenants and platoon sergeants stood watching. A few appeared to be taking notes. All had the studied casualness affected by men about to enter the cauldron of combat. Old Guy coasted to a halt a few yards from the group and waited for the briefing to be over.

“Look what the cat drug in,” drawled a familiar voice.

Old Guy stared at the bedraggled figure leaning against a parked half-track. “Gunny! What in hell are you doing here? Last I knew you were a Marine.”

“I'm still a Marine.” Gunny waved away any possible questions. “It's a long sad story, beginning with my taking a commission up in Iceland. I'll tell you all about it later.”

“Jesus,” said Donnie, chuckling. “You an officer? They musta dropped the gentleman requirement.”

“Lots of officers ain't gentlemen,” replied a gruff voice. Old Guy and Donnie sprang to attention and saluted Spectre. “I see you met my temporary Exec. You got messages for me?”

“No, sir,” said Old Guy. “I mean, nothing official. Major Dude told us to report to you for scouting duties.” He indicated their motorcycles. “I imagine we'll leave these here and go on foot.”

“That would be wise. If you leave them with the battalion motor sergeant they might not get stolen. On the other hand, if someone steals them you won't have any trouble misappropriating a jeep or even a tank, would you?”

“Sir,” said Old Guy, affecting a hurt expression. “I've never misappropriated Army property. The proper forms have always been submitted. In triplicate.”

“I'm sure that's true, Sergeant. Otherwise you'd be in Leavenworth, breaking rocks.” Spectre produced a smile that belied the murder in his eyes. “The Germans might make you yearn for a prison cell.”

Undaunted, Old Guy laughed. “I've toured Leavenworth, Captain. The climate sucks and the food is terrible. I'll take my chances with the Germans.”

“Show them our plan of attack, Mr. Exec. Then send them on their way.” Spectre executed a snappy about-face and marched away.

“Friendly cuss,” observed Donnie. “I take it you served with the captain before?”

Old Guy nodded. “I did. Before the war. At Fort Benning. There were several misunderstandings about rations and quartering. Nothing serious.”

“Sounded like he doesn't share y'all's opinion of what's serious,” observed Gunny. He grinned. “For what it's worth, he don't like me neither. His Exec was killed in a traffic accident last week and I was sorta sent over as a temporary replacement and for what the Corps calls inter-service training.”

“That's bad,” said Donnie. “For both of you.” He hefted his pack. “Damn! This is heavy. Do I really need so much ammo and all these grenades?”

“Leave the wine bottles and cheese,” suggested Old Guy. “Without the ammo and grenades the Germans will soon have you – and your cheese.”

“Y'all got any kind of a map?” asked Gunny. “I don't have any extra.”

“He has paper with a bunch of chicken scratchin' on it,” said Donnie. “No map.”

“It's a perfectly good map,” snarled Old Guy. “Just a little hard to decipher.”

“Maps aren't the only thing we're short of,” said Gunny. “I can't give y'all a radio. Rations are tight. Ammo isn't getting up as fast as it should. Tanks. I ain't seen any of ours.”

“So what the hell are we supposed to do?” asked Old Guy. “England is full of rations and ammo, not to mention women and booze. What have you got plenty of?”

“No women. Not much booze. Lots of Germans. A few Tiger tanks. Not many, thank the Lord. As for what y'all are supposed to do, it's simple. Find the Germans. Don't get shot. Bring word back to the captain. We got naval fire support and pretty good artillery. They'll take 'em out. Sometimes.”

“My morale is sagging already,” said Old Guy. He compared his hand-drawn map to the one on the captain's jeep. “Close enough I guess. Saddle up, Donnie. We're scouts now.”

****

“I feel like I'm in the middle of Times Square with no clothes on,” murmured Donnie.

Old Guy led the way to the right, away from the cow path they'd been more or less following. “You ain't never been to New York, much less Times Square.”

“New York? Times Square is in New York? I figgered it for Chicago or maybe Detroit.”

“Pipe down, dammit,” hissed Old Guy. “The Krauts can hear that sawmill whisper of yours a mile off.” In fact, because of the wind and constant drumbeat of artillery in the distance, he was certain that whatever noise they made was not likely to be noticed by anyone more than a few yards away. He'd heard vehicle noises several times. So far they hadn't seen anything more dangerous than a milk cow.

A sudden burst of rifle fire sent them both down flat.

“We just came that way,” said Donnie. The firing grew in volume, then dropped off. A machine gun chattered. More rifles opened up, closer than before. An automatic weapon fired, buzzsaw-like.

Donnie squirmed deeper into the grass. “What in hell was that?”

“MG-42. German machine gun.” Old Guy crawled into a patch of small trees and got to his knees. “It's not far away. On the other side of that path we were following.”

“Christ on a crutch. We musta walked right past them guys.”

“Maybe. Or more likely they moved in from the north after we passed.”

“I don't care if they fell from the goddamn sky. They're between us and the company.”

“Ease up, Donnie. We don't have to go back that way.” Old Guy listened as the German gun fired off a long burst. “He'll soon need to change barrels, shooting that way.” Rifle poised, he began moving slowly through the trees toward the sound of the machine gun. “Come on.”

Donnie didn't move for a long moment. Then, afraid to be left alone, he managed to get up and crawl rapidly after the crazy bastard. “Wait. Goddamn it. Wait for me. Shit. He's gonna get us both killed.”

At the edge of the patch of trees, Old Guy halted and studied the vegetation lining the other side of the path. It seemed to be a sort of hedge crowned with thick brush and a few trees. A wooden gate blocked a narrow cut directly across from his position. Beyond he could see a small pasture lined with similar hedges on all sides. As he watched the MG fired again, another long burst. He couldn't see the men working the gun but did note muzzle blast shaking small branches a few feet above ground level.

He pointed out the German position to Donnie. “The Krauts are dug into that hedge. Our guys must be over to the left, on the far side of the field or whatever it is. Pasture, I guess.”

“I see a couple dead cows,” said Donnie. “So it must be pasture. Right?”

“I'm amazed at your grasp of animal husbandry. Let's circle to the right and try to take those bastards from the rear. There may be more infantry flanking the gun. Be careful.”

Donnie waited until Old Guy had moved out about twenty feet before he followed. “Be careful, he says. That's just what I told Trixie and what did she do? She got pregnant. Being careful ain't all it's cracked up to be.”

It seemed to Donnie as if they crawled and ran across ten miles of French countryside before Old Guy stopped beside a moss-covered stump. He cautioned Donnie to silence and just knelt there for a long time eyeballing the path and the orchard beyond.

“Somebody drove a couple jeeps along here yesterday.” Old Guy pointed at the tracks pressed into the muddy lane. “Somebody else put tracks down on top of those within the last few hours. A horse-drawn cart of some kind.”

“Yeah,” agreed Donnie, though the tracks all looked the same to him. “Can we go back now?”

The Kraut machine gun began firing again, this time in shorter bursts. Donnie flinched and crouched lower. Old Guy sprinted across the lane and took cover beside a pile of logs. A few seconds later he moved out again, running in a low crouch.

“Jesus, get me outta here,” moaned Donnie. “He's gonna get me killed.” Rifle gripped in shaking hands, he trotted across the lane, expecting a storm of bullets at every step. Crashing into the log pile, he lay there panting.

Old Guy reappeared. “Get your ass up. We gotta take out that fucking gun.”

“But . . .” The old fart was already gone again. Sighing with frustration, Donnie heaved himself up and followed. His partner was moving in short sprints, using the fruit trees for cover. The trees looked too small to stop a rock, much less a bullet, but Donnie began doing the same thing. He only tripped and fell down twice as they neared the German position.

He dodged around a clump of bushes and nearly fell over Old Guy. “Down. Cover me.” With that his companion moved forward at a crouch.

Cover me? Donnie anxiously scanned the area, but could see no one other than Old Guy, who now gripped his Garand in his left hand and brandished a pistol in his right. Where in hell did he get a Luger? Then Donnie saw the Germans.

Old Guy shot the ammo carrier in the back of the neck. The assistant gunner turned and pulled his pistol. A bullet in the head stopped him. Old Guy stepped forward and shot the gunner twice, then put another round into each of the other men – just to make sure. He holstered the pistol, slung his rifle and grabbed the machine gun.

Donnie knelt by the bushes, gaping. Jesus! A few seconds and it's all over for three Krauts. Old Guy motioned him forward. “Grab these ammo cans. Come on. Be quick about it.”

The German officer came scurrying out of the brush to Donnie's right. The man slid to a stop, mouth agape. He croaked something and grabbed for his sidearm. “Shit,” moaned Old Guy. He dropped the machine gun and started to bring his rifle around.

For an eternity Donnie stood frozen, rifle pointed skyward. As the officer clawed at the flap on his holster the obvious response oozed into Donnie's brain. He swung his rifle toward the man and jerked the trigger.

Nothing happened. Now the officer had his pistol out and was thrusting it forward.

Shoot! Shoot!” Old Guy's words snapped Donnie into terrified alertness. His rifle was still on 'safe'. Still staring at the German, he shoved the safety forward and raised his weapon.

The officer hesitated between targets. One soldier was still struggling with his rifle and the other man seemed unable to act. He swung the pistol toward Donnie, then pointed it at Old Guy. Donnie fired striking the German in the chest. He kept pulling the trigger until the empty clip ejected.

A hand touched his shoulder. “You got him. Now reload and grab those ammo cans.”

Moving without thought, Donnie did as instructed. They were thirty yards into the orchard before the realization hit him. I just killed a man. God forgive me, I just killed a man. He stumbled after Old Guy, mind filled with conflicting emotions.

We'll set up here.” Old Guy dropped behind the same log pile they'd originally used for cover after crossing the lane. “Those other bastards will be headed this way shortly.”

Jesus Christ,” cried Donnie. “You just shot three men. Doesn't that bother you?”

Old Guy paused. “Some. I shoulda been a little quicker. That second guy had his hand on his weapon before I greased him.” He looked at Donnie closely. “Hell. I didn't know you was a virgin. That was the first Kraut you killed?”

Y – yeah. Jesus, I never even tried to get him to surrender.”

Surrender? He was about to blow my head off, then kill you. Be damn glad you got unstuck and blew him away.” Old Guy chuckled. “Next time, save your ammo. Two rounds would have been plenty.”

Shit.” The killing re-ran in Donnie's mind. “Man. I guess you're right. I never done that before.”

Hell, you were in the desert. You must have been in action there.”

Not me. I had latrine duty the whole time. They dragged a bunch of us together when the Germans tore us up at Kasserine, but nothing ever came of it. I went back to digging holes.”

Damn, Donnie. I thought I had a regular combat veteran watching my back.” Old Guy shrugged. “I guess that's true now.” He moved some logs, making space between two large ones. Placing the gun in the resulting opening, he directed Donnie to one side. “The thing feeds like this.” He demonstrated replacing the ammo drum.

You figure the other Germans will be looking for us?” Fear made Donnie's voice squeaky.

There should be squad leader and a couple riflemen. They will be moving back now that the gun crew and their officer has been killed.” Old Guy settled himself behind the gun. “I don't know why that captain was there at all. I don't think there was more than the one machine gun squad. Maybe he was trying to be a hero or something.”

I don't wanna be no hero. They get shot a lot.”

Yeah.” Old Guy laughed again. “Especially if PFC Donnie is doing the shooting.”

Voices and a clatter of equipment silenced their conversation. Down the lane came a man leading a mule pulling a small cart. His rifle was slung. Other figures trotted along behind.

I see three behind the cart,” whispered Old Guy. “I'll take them. You shoot the one in front, then get ready to change drums.”

Donnie had no time to think about anything. Old Guy opened up. The man leading the mule crouched down, dragging at his rifle. Donnie aimed and fired. His target went down and the mule jumped into the trees across the lane, cart shedding equipment as it bounced along behind.

At least one rifle responded. Donnie stood up and pumped two more rounds into the man he'd shot. A bullet smashed into his Garand, knocking him to his knees. He crawled up beside Old Guy and tried to pick up an ammo drum, but his arm was numb from the shock. Finally, using his left arm, he managed to shove one of the drums up to where Old Guy could grab it.

Old Guy reloaded and fired a couple more bursts. There was no answering fire. “I think that last guy took off. Or else Company B got their act together and came up behind. I heard some Garands.”

You heard a Garand? How the hell did you know what it was?”

No big trick. You know the difference in the sound of a Mauser and a Garand. And you sure as hell know what an MG-42 sounds like.”

Well. Yeah.”

Now you just have to learn to listen without thinking about it.”

Hell, I can do that. I do a lot of stuff without thinking.”

I've noticed.” Old Guy sat up. “Look who's coming our way.”

Gunny walked out of the trees across the lane cradling a Springfield rifle. “Any more Krauts?”

I thought the last one bugged out,” replied Old Guy. “But you probably got him.”

That ain't a Garand,” observed Donnie.

The Springfield fires the same round,” said Old Guy. “Only a Marine would happen to have one.”

Gunny walked to where the German teamster lay dead. “You knock out the gun crew?”

That was us,” conceded Old Guy. “Donnie lost his virginity. Shot a German officer about a hundred times. Then he wanted to find a church and confess his sin. He's over it now.”

Good.” Gunny made a form-on-me gesture and more men came out of the brush. “We're moving back and heading for a town a few miles away to relieve some paratroopers. You wanna come along?”

Old Guy picked up the MG-42. “Sure. But only if we can have our Harley's back.” He cleared the weapon. “How much do you think some rear area puke would give for this thing?”

It's kinda beat up.” Gunny studied the gun. “Does that make it worth more?”

Of course. I figure I can get 150, maybe 200 dollars for it.”

Lugers are more popular. I heard you can get up to 500 bucks for one in England.”

I got a Luger, but I'm keeping it.” Old Guy looked thoughtful. “500 bucks? I'll have to start a collection. For my retirement.”

Gunny laughed. “The only thing you'll have in retirement is a shovel and a furnace. Right beside me in one of the lower hells.”

We better report to Spectre,” said Donnie. “I hope he don't send us back out here.”

Don't worry about him,” said Gunny. “I'm the company commander now – at least temporarily. Spectre took a bullet in the butt. He's been evacuated.”

He got hit in the ass?” Old Guy grinned. “So now he's got a couple extra assholes. As if he needed 'em. Maybe I've seen the last of that bastard.” He handed the MG to Donnie. “Hang onto that. Don't let any officer take it away. Tell 'em you have strict orders to deliver it to military intelligence.”

Donnie balanced the weapon on his shoulder. “What would those bozos want with a German machine gun?”

I have no idea. No one knows what MI does.”

Gunny got his company headed back toward their original assembly area. Old Guy and Donnie fell in behind the lead platoon.

What we gonna do now?” asked Donnie.

First we'll sample some of that wine you been packing around, then follow Gunny to that little town. Somewhere along the line an officer will want to send messages to another brass hat and we'll be back in the dispatch rider business.”

What if there ain't no messages?”

Christ, Donnie, you've been in the Army long enough to know that ain't possible. There's always a moron who can't wait to inform his boss about . . . oh . . . about anything. Going to the latrine without pissing on his hands. Stuff like that.”

Hell, I do that all the time. Well, most of the time.”

True. But you don't have anybody to tell.”

I can tell you.”

Yeah. Except I don't wanna know. Don't send me no messages.”

Fine friend you are. But I can always write to Trixie. Send her messages, like.”

Take it from me, Donnie. She don't wanna know about your piss calls.”

End

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Mein kompletely objektive und imparzial analyzis of zhis Ami propaganda fikzion.

“Company B is moving out in a few minutes. I'm sure Captain Spectre would like a couple scouts.”

“Ah . . . yes, sir. I imagine he would. Motorcycle couriers don't make good scouts. Sir.”

ACH! Zhat iz zhe differenze between zhe lazy Ami's und zhe zuperior Tjerman fightink man. Zhe zuperior Tjerman vould never tvry to get out of ein azzignment.

“No regular map.” Old Guy handed Donnie a folded scrap of paper. “I made a rough sketch of the area B Company is moving into. That'll have to do.”

Donnie turned the paper one way, then another. “Rough ain't the word. I can't read your writing. And these lines look kinda like the wrinkles on my grandma's face.”

Ve Tjermanz alvays had zhe bezt kartographerz. Veddy prezise und akkurate mapz.

“Sounded like he doesn't share y'all's opinion of what's serious,” observed Gunny. He grinned. “For what it's worth, he don't like me neither. His Exec was killed in a traffic accident last week and I was sorta sent over as a temporary replacement and for what the Corps calls inter-service training.”

HA! Zent over az punischment vor inkompetenze iz more like it. Bwahahaha!

Old Guy shot the ammo carrier in the back of the neck. The assistant gunner turned and pulled his pistol. A bullet in the head stopped him. Old Guy stepped forward and shot the gunner twice, then put another round into each of the other men – just to make sure. He holstered the pistol, slung his rifle and grabbed the machine gun.

Ja zhat vould be zhe Ami vay. Schoot zhem in zhe bak.

For an eternity Donnie stood frozen, rifle pointed skyward. As the officer clawed at the flap on his holster the obvious response oozed into Donnie's brain. He swung his rifle toward the man and jerked the trigger.

Nothing happened. Now the officer had his pistol out and was thrusting it forward.

Herr Dumzter vas probably too buzy krappink hiz pantz to eben zhink about schootink.

Old Guy picked up the MG-42. “Sure. But only if we can have our Harley's back.” He cleared the weapon. “How much do you think some rear area puke would give for this thing?”

It's kinda beat up.” Gunny studied the gun. “Does that make it worth more?”

Of course. I figure I can get 150, maybe 200 dollars for it.”

Lugers are more popular. I heard you can get up to 500 bucks for one in England.”

I got a Luger, but I'm keeping it.” Old Guy looked thoughtful. “500 bucks? I'll have to start a collection. For my retirement.”

At leazt you vrekognize zhe zuperior enjineerink of zhe zuperior Tjerman veaponz!

Gunny laughed. “The only thing you'll have in retirement is a shovel and a furnace. Right beside me in one of the lower hells.”

Vinally zome truzh in all of zhis propaganda!

Christ, Donnie, you've been in the Army long enough to know that ain't possible. There's always a moron who can't wait to inform his boss about . . . oh . . . about anything. Going to the latrine without pissing on his hands. Stuff like that.”

Hell, I do that all the time. Well, most of the time.”

You did not hav to tell einy of uz zhat bit of invormazion. How you Ami's zay "T-M-I"?

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You seem to be in a good mood today, eh, Slick?

I'm sure your SS buddies never shot anyone in the back -- as long as the people they were shooting were unarmed.

Take care, Mick.

OG

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ACH! Him -hic- Himm -hic- el! I am in ein gvreaaaaat mood. Ein bozzle of schhhhhhnapps down zhe hatch und ein nozher bozzle on zhe vready! How arrrrrre vou? Hic. Oh und I do nicht -hic- schooten zhe people in zhe bak. hic.

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Great story, Old Guy!

And just ignore Jick. Obviously he is a sad, pathetic, and very lonely ex-3rd, 4th, 5th, whatever-reich loser.

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I can only assume that Zick was a decent sort at one time, though the evidence is slim. Too much cheap schnapps, too many social diseases never properly cured, too many little black pills -- we can't say for sure what caused all those brain cells to die.

But give old Yick credit. He's still here.

OG

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I can only assume that Zick was a decent sort at one time, though the evidence is slim. Too much cheap schnapps, too many social diseases never properly cured, too many little black pills -- we can't say for sure what caused all those brain cells to die.

But give old Yick credit. He's still here.

OG

Yeah, like a lot of other things that are really hard to get rid of! :lol:

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Indeed. Flick does remind one of the steady drip of gonorrhea.

Great read OG. Always look forward to reading your work! :thumbsup:

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Fun read, OG. :thumbsup:

I'll take bocage over desert any day.

Now, just make me a time-traveller with a couple of quadcopters with video cameras on them and we'll have those Germans licked in no time :lol:

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Now, just make me a time-traveller with a couple of quadcopters with video cameras on them and we'll have those Germans licked in no time :lol:

LOL!

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And maken me ein -hic- ein nozher -hic- nozher -hic- nozher glazz -hic- of boobz -hic-.

Booze. -hic-

Dein haaaarsch vordz -hic- hurten me. -hic-

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Okay, guys, now see what you've done. Ick's feelings are hurt. He's taken to the bottle --- again.

Hmm. A drunken SS Luftwaffe Wehrmacht Oberst could be featured in a forthcoming episode in the Scouts saga.

; )

OG

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Okay, guys, now see what you've done. Ick's feelings are hurt. He's taken to the bottle --- again.

Hmm. A drunken SS Luftwaffe Wehrmacht Oberst could be featured in a forthcoming episode in the Scouts saga.

; )

OG

He can get drunk on baby formula???

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Okay, guys, now see what you've done. Ick's feelings are hurt. He's taken to the bottle --- again.

Hmm. A drunken SS Luftwaffe Wehrmacht Oberst could be featured in a forthcoming episode in the Scouts saga.

; )

OG

Good idea, seeing as how some of us evidently need a little target practice, he could be that little target. :lol:

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