Rhapsody In Green
By Jeff Baker
“One! Two! One! Two!”
Karl grunted as he pulled himself up over and over. Doing sit ups on the edge of a puddle. Yeah. Great.
“Up! Down! Up! Down!” the man standing over him said. “And I don’t want to see you getting wet.”
Except for all this sweat, Karl thought. No wonder they call them fatigues.
“All right. Pushups now! On your belly, face over the puddle. Ready? Up. Down. Up. Down.”
Great, Karl thought, bringing his nose close to the water. His muscles were burning.
“Keep those elbows at right angles! You’re starting over and you’re giving me fifty!” said the man. “Up! Down! Up! Down!”
Karl grunted again and started counting from one, just barely missing the puddle. Fifty pushups later, Karl thought he was going to get a breather. Instead, he was running in place. After a few minutes, the two of them jogged down the road together, the older man singing out lines and Karl dutifully repeating;
“Don’t tell me I’ve had enough!”
“I am young and not so tough!”
“They say Marines are awfully rough!”
“Army’s made of sterner stuff!”
They jogged onto the gravel of a playground and Karl was ordered to do pullups on a set of bars, more pushups and more running. Finally Karl sat on the ground and waved his hand.
“Okay, okay! Time out!” Karl sputtered between gasps.
The man grinned. “They won’t give you a time out in the Army!”
“Yeah, Dad, I know!” Karl said, almost laughing. The ground felt good.
“You still thinking about joining up next year after graduation?” Karl’s Dad asked.
Karl nodded. “Yeah, I know it’s not like R.O.T.C. And hey, thanks for the preview.”
“You know you’ll have to shave off that beard!” Karl’s Dad said.
“Hey, I’m going retro! This is my hippie phase!” Karl said standing up. “Think the Army’s ready for me?”
“They were barely ready for me!” Karl’s Dad laughed.
The two men walked back to their house in the summer afternoon, the future stretching ahead of them.