by Jerry Hall (All rights reserved)

A shrill whistle pierced the air. Captain Joshua glanced right and left as he screamed, “Incoming, Incoming, hit the dirt!”

A dull thud sounded near the heavy earth moving equipment. A yellow bulldozer slid to the right as dirt rained down on Joshua’s men.

“Grinder,” Joshua stated to Jeff, “check the men for casualties. See to it they’re all in place.”

“Aye, Sir. “Grinder strutted away without the benefit of cover. Joshua shook his head, it’s hard to believe Grinder has lasted this long.

Captain Joshua scanned the open ground between his army and the enemy. Grass sparkled from the morning dew. It seemed that if he put a few machine-gun men by the fence next to the cement reservoir, they might be more useful.

“Captain,” Grinder returned and spoke, “the men wiped out. They’re back in the box.”

Joshua nodded. This wasn’t good. He asked, “Any machine-gunners?”

“No, two riflemen and a radioman,” Grinder answered.

“Okay, put three machine-gunners there,” Joshua told him, pointing. “Then move the dozer down that rut and build up a barrier next to the lemon tree. When that’s done, put a tank behind the barrier and a squad of infantrymen to cover it.”

It’s our turn to attack. Let’s heave a couple jumbo ones over there and let ’em have it,” Grinder suggested.

“No,” Joshua ordered! “We must protect the men.”

Grinder would get them all killed. They were going to be smart about it this time. He didn’t want to have another massacre like last weekend. He couldn’t afford to lose more men; replacements didn’t come easy.

Grinder started the rearrangement of men as Joshua studied the enemies hold. They had dug in under a short string of pine trees. He saw the boughs laden with pine cones. A few well-placed shots would bring down a rain of cones on them.

“Hey American,” a voice carried clearly from the enemy line, “what are you doing? We are waiting.”

“You just wait,” Grinder yelled back. “We’re getting ready.

Captain Joshua winced at Grinder’s reply. You don’t tell an enemy you’re not ready. That’s suicide. Thanks to Grinder, the attack would have to be quick.

“Grinder, arm yourself,” Joshua cried out. “Aim for the trees.

“No, I want to aim for the trenches,” Grinder called out.

The Captain thought a moment about pulling rank. All right, wait for my command. Joshua looked around on the ground for a dirt clod. It might work. He’ll take the trees, and Grinder can attack the enemy head on. He picked up a fist-sized clump of dirt. Perfect, he thought.

A screen door slammed. “Josh!” The Captain heard a woman’s voice.

“Side of the house,” Joshua answered.

A tall woman entered the battle area. Joshua stared in disbelief.

“It’s time to over to Grandma’s,” she informed him.

“Ah mom, it’s my turn to attack,” Josh pleaded.

“Pick up your army and put them away. It’ll be dark after we get home,” she instructed.

Josh dropped the clod of dirt and yelled over the pool to the back of the yard, “I have to go. Pick up the men.”

“Okay,” a voice came back.

A minute or two later, Jeff handed him the box of army men and a yellow Tonka. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” Jeff declared.

“I think so. Bye.” Joshua put the box and bulldozer in the garage. Grandma’s was okay. Grandpa let him play in the box trailer.

“Josh,” his mom called, “get in the car.”

Captain Joshua sprinted up the driveway and scrambled into the back seat. Tomorrow he would try the trick with the pine cones.


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