The Cook of Company Q

clamshell-leavesThe messenger winced as the heavily-laden jeep navigated its way from the narrow pontoon bridge and onto the steep ramp leading up the muddy bank. “I don’t even see this river on my map,” he said.

“I don’t care what river it is,” said the Major. “It could be the River Styx, for what it’s worth.”

“Let me get this straight,” said the messenger. “You built a bridge across an unknown river, because the company cook said…”

“Look around you,” said the Major. “I’ve got the Sixth Panzer Army five miles thataway,” He pointed away from the river, where they could hear the distant sound of bombardment. “We’re practically in a pocket,” he said. “Company K is complaining that they’re going to need to boil their boots for food if the eggheads can’t figure a way to get new supplies in.”

“That’s not substantiated…” said the messenger. “I don’t know where you heard that rumor.”

“Do you see anyone looking hungry,” said the Major, pointedly not responding. They both looked around. There was a long line of GIs standing in front of the commissary tent, waiting for their lunches. They looked unusually well fed. “Two hot meals every day,” said the Major. “I don’t know how that genius does it, and I don’t care. If Cookie says he can get us supplies across this mosquito-ridden…”

“But, orders…” said the messenger, interrupting.

“Shut up and eat your lunch,” said the Major. He took the white container from under his arm, and fiddled with the catch that held it shut. The container made a slight squeaking noise as it opened.

“What is this stuff?” asked the messenger, playing with his container. “It looks a bit like a clam-shell.”

“Styrofoam,” said the Major. “It’s a kind of plastic, invented a couple of years ago by Dow Chemical.” He took a bite out of his burger, and then said, by way of explanation, “Old school friend of mine works there.”

“Burger’s still warm,” said the messenger, marveling.

“If you don’t want it, I’ll eat it,” said the Major.

“Naw,” said the messenger. “Looks tasty. What’s the letter ‘M’ stand for though?”

Author’s note: There are a number of (deliberate) anachronisms in this story. Without giving anything away, there was no Company Q, although Company K was historical (and was in the thick of things during the Battle of the Bulge).