Life and times of Lt. Froghab

(another story begun and wisely abandoned)

There was a military man in the great American hills who went by the name of Steven Frogface Haberdashery-Piggles. He was a lieutenant in the army, he had a wide grey face and a favourite shoeshine called ‘Polish Polish’, which was made in Krakow. He served in the army for 21 years, the last 7 as a lieutenant. He was self-satisfied and agreeable, rarely involved in fisticuffs and altogether a source of calm consensus within his group, the 75th regiment, 6th platoon in Uncle Sam’s Southern Cadets.

Steven Frogface Haberdashery-Piggles (hereafter Froghab) never killed a man, rarely ever took a hill, but he could clean a rifle and dig a ditch, and did both in such an agreeable way that most people found themselves asking “why take a hill, when I can relax, and dig a ditch?” Froghab had that effect on people, he made them see his point of view. For example his advice on real estate was prized as untoward and just mediocre enough. He never made waves; rather he made friends, lots of them, friends by the barrackful. And he was upheld to his peers as some kind of model officer.

Frogface had trained under Sargeant Stewart Ray Grognex, who was an albino accordion player in a previous civilian life and in general a more lenient taskmaster than most regiments in those years had seen. Grognex perhaps, with his musical turn and whimsical extemporaneity, imparted some of those same qualities onto Froghab, and the latter’s lieutenantship was not pockmarked by incidents of divisive or controversial nature as was, say the infamous and apochryphal officership of Lt. Hustings MacPhiction, of the same 75th regiment, a half-bull, half-man who once drove an entire platoon into Mexico, had them strip, bury themselves in sand and beg for water as an exercise in teambuilding. But this is not MacPhiction’s tale, and even if it were, Lt. Froghab’s mere presence dilutes it from being edgy and poignant to merely strange.

This, then, was Lt. Froghab, a man completely bereft of conflict; a man whom no author could hope to base a story around. There was no hope of a story, that was, until a new captain arrived at the barracks, and then things all went to shit. This new officer ‘sullied the windowpanes’, as it were, and it was left to Froghab to clean up the mess.

A single glance at Captain Clark C. Scorchwumper-Sagittarius was enough to confirm him as a wretched husk, a poorly soul at best, a new sap on the tree with little hope for success or acceptance, a man who had lucked out and knew it, and made everyone else suffer for his whelpish fiendish self-loathing. Scorchwumper-Sagittarius was a West Point man, full of theory and protocol, insensitive to the circumstances or locus genii (or is that genius loci?) of any particular situation. This made him a stultifying egghead loser and he admitted this fact as well, wearing large pocket protectors into battle and otherwise smiling whenever someone mentioned trivia gameshows. Also the new captain was a gangly, groaning sort; a fellow with one eye and three legs, and simply put he cut a hideous and asymmetrical profile. The men were at once all over him and raising heck.

Cptn. Scorchwumper-Sagittarius hailed from the meadows, a town called Flopsy; his hometown-handle alone would gain the captain a share of grief. Examples of resistance the captain ran up against: The ghoulish frankness of Major Clockhurler, the sweetass calumny of the MPs, and the total impudence of the privates firstclass Klavier and Walnut; all these things made for an awkward atmosphere in the otherwise sweet fields of Texarkana which is where all this takes place. Lieutentant Froghab had to overcome his own difficulties, sure enough: there was that one episode with a rake, where a large corporal named Swallows stepped on a garden tool after quitting a platoon hike early. The fat cretinous slackass gashed his forehead and Froghab had to take him to the infirmary. And so similar insubordination was ruining morale all across the barracks and turning the men’s lives to a stinky undisciplined cesspool.

Now enter Capt. Scorchwumper-Sagittarius, with his twelve sausage-eating flamingos.

(at this point enough was enough)

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