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October 3, 2001


Column
By Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
October 3, 2001

'Retribution' (The Second Week)
"Kramer, wake up! Hey, Kramer! Come on, Kramer, hit th' deck!"
"Huh," he responded sleepily.
"Pull my sack over that way, will you?" I asked painfully.
"What the heck is wrong with you, Ward?" he inquired excitedly. He was wide awake now.
"Pain in my side," I barely whispered. "Can't breathe or move. Hurry! Get my sack away from this leak."
I couldn't see Kramer in the dark, but I felt my bunk move, and the rain stopped dripping on my face.
I heard Kramer bound out of the tent.
"Where you going?" I called out just loud enough for him to hear.
"To get Doc," he answered over his shoulder.
Before I could say anything, he was across the street. We called it a street, but it was really a muddy, murky, dirt road. I heard Kramer's fast footsteps on the cinder path leading to the sick bay. Above the roar of the wind and the rain, I thought I heard a door slam.
Kramer was back in five minutes, scared and breathing fast. He felt my hand in the dark and put something in it.
"Doc said take these and check with him after breakfast," came his husky, frightened voice as he stumbled out into the darkness again.
I fingered the two little pills. I touched one to the tip of my tongue.
"Aspirin," I muttered, and flung them against the side of the tent.
I don't think I went back to sleep, but I didn't hear Kramer anymore. And it seemed there was an interval of two or three hours in which I didn't feel the pain.
Maybe I passed out. Had I been waking from a normal sleep would Kramer and five more of my buddies be standing over me, looking down at me with questioning eyes?
I didn't say anything. I just looked at those guys, as puzzled as they seemed to be, and they looked back.
"How you feel, Ward?" Sullivan asked.
I didn't answer immediately. I was too busy trying to think.
Finally, the last pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. I remembered a sharp pain around 1 o'clock; the leak over my head; Kramer moving my bunk, leaving the tent, then coming back with those aspirin, which I threw away in disgust. It couldn't have been much after two when I did that. Then what happened?
The rain had stopped now. Through the open door of my tent I could see, just over the hill to the east, the first signs of a grayish, foggy dawn. It was 5 o'clock, too early for these guys to be up, but there they were - Kramer, Sullivan, Minsky, Saur, Weaver and Godomski - standing around nervously.
Kramer must have gone to their tents and waked them. He didn't know how sick I was. Maybe he thought I was dying. Doc wouldn't come see about me, and my buddy wanted the company of his shipmates.
Sullivan looked at me rather disgustedly. I could tell that he wondered when I was going to tell him how I felt.
Sully (he hated that nickname, so we only called him that when he wasn't around) was the chief pharmacist's mate in our little outfit, and a swell guy. He had been responsible for me making first class petty officer, and without taking all the tests. He knew I couldn't pass them, but he liked me. He liked anybody who hated Doc, and that included just about everybody.
"I think I'm OK, Chief," I finally said. "Just a little groggy. I must have passed out last night. I really don't know what happened."
"You passed out all right," Sullivan said, "but let's not worry about that now. How's the pain in your side?"
I sat up on the side of my cot, lifted my arms over my head, and took deep breaths.
"Not bad," I was glad to answer. "Stomach's a little sore, more on the right side, though, and down a little. Last night the sharp pain was here." I put my hand on the spot, just below my ribs on the left side. I didn't mention that I had a headache.
All but Sullivan chuckled. Were these guys glad to learn that I was better? I didn't understand.
The chief was pulling at his lower lip with his thumb and index finger.
"Hmmm," he was saying, "you know what that means, those pains that move from left to right?"
He was asking me, and I knew, but Weaver answered, "Yeah, appendicitis."
"You're right," I told Weaver, "I've got appendicitis symptoms, but I had more than that last night. Appendicitis wouldn't have made me pass out for just a few hours. When that knocks you out, you're out for good."
Again my pals laughed, even the chief this time. They were beginning to pee me off. I started to ask them what they thought was so funny, but counted to ten instead.
"Godomski," ordered the chief, "go to the sick bay and tell Dr. Jacobs to come over here and take a look at Ward. Tell him it looks like appendicitis."
Doc jumped when Sully spoke. In fact, it was hard to tell who was the officer and who the enlisted man. The chief was an old salt, with 17 years service all over the world, including a three-year hitch in China. He may not have been an internist or surgeon, but he knew more about the Navy's standard operating procedure than Doc did. Doc sort of quaked in his skivvies around Sully. Doc may have weighed 225 and been an All-American running back at Southern Cal, but in North Africa he was a wimp.
Following orders, the big Polack left the tent.
"Surely to God the good doctor's up by now," said Sullivan angrily.
"Yeah, and maybe we're early enough to catch him before he joins the Army today," put in Saur, amused at his own drollery.
"And Christ A'Mighty, de guy oughta be interested in one o' his own men," cracked Brooklyn-born Minsky.
"Yeah," I responded, "interested enough to tell me to check with him after breakfast."
To tell the truth, I didn't care if Doc came to the tent or not. The pain in my right side was still there, but not nearly as bad as the one in my left side last night.
I didn't need a pain in the butt, and that's exactly what Doc was.
(To be continued.)
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

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Column
By: Rochelle Beckstine
The Jackson Herald
October 3, 2001


That's my Marzetti in the parking lot
[This is for anyone who has ever had a really rotten day.]
It was my first solo run in the home office. My Ginky and Poppa took the week off to travel to Wisconsin for my great-grandmother's birthday party and I was manning the office. Piper and I both had colds and sore throats so I was looking forward to the low-key atmosphere at my grandmother's house
I got there early, armed with my check book and five months' worth of bank statements I needed to balance. The day before I had run out of things to do in the first half hour, so I came prepared on day two.
Piper went down for her nap and I got to work on March's bank statement. Around July, the phone rang and my aunt asked if I had gotten the work orders so that I could invoice the builders. No, I told her, there were none in the mailbox. She told me that my uncle Tom had left the orders on the island in the kitchen. OK. It was the entire week's worth of orders. Since it was nearing noon, I figured lunch couldn't come at a better time, so I made some vegetable soup for Piper and me to share. The soup was good. Piper smeared carrots into my shirt and I noticed something mushy in my hair when I cleaned up the floor. No big deal, I'm used to wearing food by now.
With lunch out of the way, I couldn't put the invoicing off any longer. When Piper is sick, her nickname should be "One who doesn't play alone" or "One who won't be set down for more than 45 seconds." She wants me to play with her or at least sit on the floor and watch her play. So we alternated playing on the floor with Piper standing on my lap and yanking on my hair.
The invoicing is finished by 3, so I get to work making the cole slaw for the old-fashioned fish fry I was planning for that night. The cutting boards are too small and cabbage ends up on the floor. At 3:45, I'm finished and ready to run to the post office before it closes. The phone rings and I help a customer out of Austell who needs parts for his fireplace. It's 4:10 when I finish with him and rush out the door to make it the post office before 4:30.
The day is pretty normal so far. No big incidents. I pull up to the post office parking lot. Piper is asleep in the back and I hate the thought of getting her out of her seat, waking her up, carrying her into the post office and then putting her back in the seat. If she's tired when I put her in the seat, she'll scream herself back to sleep. Plus, she weighs 17 pounds and by the end of the day, my arms are a little worn out. However, I know I can't leave her in the car, so I open the back door. And that's when it happened. The one thing that turned a perfectly normal day into a truly horrid day. My full jar of Marzetti's cole slaw dressing rolled off of the seat and onto the warm September concrete in front of the post office. It happened in slow motion. I reached for it, but my fingers never grasped it. Instead, my hands and sandaled feet were hit with an explosion of cool, wet dressing and sharp glass. My hands immediately started bleeding and I grabbed a baby wipe to wipe off the sticky goo. Why no one ever told me not to wipe glass off, I don't know. But I wiped the goo off my hands and, of course, embedded glass in my fingers. I pulled the glass out and managed to get most of the glass out of my feet without losing too much blood. Being a thoughtful person, I decided to clean up the glass so that no one would step on it and cause injury to themselves. So I pulled a grocery bag out of the car and picked gooey glass off the concrete. More blood lost, but I felt like a concerned and dutiful citizen and that's what counts. So now most of the glass has been pulled out of my hands and feet. I'm sticky and gooey, but I'll fix that when I get home. Only a puddle of Marzetti's remains where my 12 ounce bottle once crashed. I grab Piper out of her seat where she's slept undisturbed and get the letters off of the front seat and enter the post office.
The post mistress locked the door.
I entered the outer sanctuary and she locked the inner door.
I needed to have two letters weighed to determine postage. It was important that I had the right amount of postage, but the door was locked. My hands were bleeding, my feet were bleeding and Marzetti's was causing all of the cuts to burn. I put my kid in the car, being careful to step over the pool of cole slaw, and slid behind the wheel. I picked up my cell phone and dialed my mom. Sometimes you just need your mom when you've had a bad day.
Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter for Mainstreet Newspapers.

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