J-Rod’s bonfire party was taking place high on the bluff but inside the wire. It was only a matter of time before perimeter picquets strolled past. If they had been just G.I. Joes, perhaps they’d have been spending longer around parts of the base boundary within hailing distance of some buildings, preferably the enlisted airmen’s bar or the doughnut and coffee stand. MPs would have dropped by after a couple of hours or so, or maybe when someone gave them the heads up some brass-hat was out for a constitutional in the hope of meeting real people, from whom most two stars and above were carefully insulated by ambitious captains and majors. But not here, where the base security was provided by the USMC. Hoo-ahh! Semper Fi! Sir,Yessir, RightAwaySir.
There were just two Jarheads: the ears below the high-and-tight haircut with the beret perched on top lived up to the name.
The Devil’s britisher accent was as plummy as slivovitz. Ever wonder why Hollywood always picks britishers to play the bad guy?
‘At ease, Marines.’ Of course, the marines had frozen at attention the minute they’d seen the braid on Mr D’s hat.
‘That’s a neat trick’, I muttered, out of the corner of my mouth.
‘Yep, the power of rank, only works on military types, Gabe, no need for extraordinary measures here.’ He addressed the marine with a stripe and crossed rifles. ‘Good to see the standards aren’t slipping in the Marines, son.’
‘Yessir, I mean Nossir.’ The marine’s eyes crossed a little.
‘Don’t worry, son. I knew what you meant.’
It was as if the uniform and rank blinded the man to anything else. I had only just got my wings furled before Mr D stood the men at ease. J-Rod was singing that song about an awfully big marine. He’d just got to wo-oh-oh, Camo- when Lucifer silenced him with a click of his fingers. I was dressed like a Cel from the CBI: three button suit, blue tie, pocket square and shiny black wingtips.
The Devil asked for the marines’ names.
‘Sir, Yessir, Lance Corporal Pyle, Sir. This here is Marine Swoffer.’
The bogus Brit gave the English-style longest-way-up-shortest-way-down-salute and said, ‘Carry on, Pyle.’ He nodded at J-Rod and me. We were walking down the hillside towards the base proper before we heard ‘Sir,Yessir-ir-ir-ir’ as the marines shouted into the valley.
We had made it all the way down and J-Rod was leading us to wherever the Devil’s plan needed us to go. Building and facility signs in the way of military outposts all over the world hid those buildings’ purpose behind Acronyms and ambiguous terminology. We passed a yard full of fuel bowsers marked “Aurora Program, ET POL, No naked flames.”
J-Rod pointed at the sign, ‘ET stands for Extra Terrestrial.’
‘Isn’t that all nonsense?’ I said. The Devil laughed.
‘The only Extra Terrestrials on this base are us three. And they only know about him.’ He jerked a thumb at J-Rod, who flinched.
‘What does that mean, POL? it’s petrol,oil and lubricants. With Extra Terrestrial?’
‘I was bored.’ The Devil shrugged. ‘I gave him a formula. A bit of satanic magic, you saw how that fire burned up on the bluff. Look up there.’
He pointed up at the high ground. J-Rod’s bonfire was still burning, not spreading, just sending a column of flame up into the sky.
‘Now there’s a revolutionary fuel, made of bullshit and the bitter piss of drunken soldiers. Cheap fuel to make, POL is petrol, oil and latrines. Bullshit and piss, a never-ending supply. So what does the military do? Yeah, what the government tells them. So the revolutionary effluentene is hidden here in Area 51 and the oil and money men keep on making the money and burning the mid-price oil.’
We left it long behind. We were heading out towards the airstrip and the hangars. I could hear a siren in the distance.