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Lord Jesus."

Shamar is our first deserter. He dumps his cup of coffee on the lawn and stalks across Darby's backyard, flipping us off over his shoulder. He slams the gate shut.

"Well, too bad for you, then!" Darby yells after him. He tells us that in the grand scheme of things this is probably for the best. Shamar has always been out of step with the neighborhood and even went toe-to-toe with the Community Standards Council over the inappropriate planting of certain exotic flowers in his front yard. He just does not have the mettle it takes to be in the army. Besides, he is probably working for Castro, or somebody like Castro.

The guys mutter in agreement.

This is not good, as Darby has forgotten that Shamar is the only one of us, besides Roriaty, who has any guns. Obviously, this is something Darby and I will have to discuss privately. The first rule to maintaining an army is knowing how to hide certain hard facts that, if leaked, might lower morale.

11:38 a.m.

Darby breaks the first rule of maintaining an army. "We don't have any what?" he yells at me, accusingly.

"We don't have any weapons, General. Well, hardly any. Roriaty, you still have that shotgun, don't you?"

Roriaty looks like a kid whose allowance is about to be adjusted. "Actually, I had to get rid of it," he says. "For safety purposes. You know, they're dangerous to have lying around the house."

"Perfect," says Darby. He's pouting now.

Larkin suggests we practice hand-to-hand combat until lunch, and maybe, later on, with kitchen knives.

Jackson asks Darby where the latrine is and Darby tells him to take a right at the refrigerator, first door on the left.

Darby comments to the troops, "War can be hell, men. But it's limbo when you don't have any goddamn weapons."

12:00 p.m.


1:30 p.m.

"Perhaps we should go over some strategies," I offer, to break the silence of digestion.

"Quite right," says Darby. "And maybe, as Secretary General, you can record our plans on the blackboard."

I go to the chalkboard and erase the votes.

"Now who has an idea concerning our strategy?" says Darby.

"Perhaps it would help to figure out what we want?" I suggest. I pick up a piece of chalk.

"A fine idea," says Darby. "And I suppose it pretty much goes without saying what we want. Isn't that right, Mr. Worthy?"

Worthy says, "Yes."

"And what do you want out of all this, Mr. Harmon?" Darby points to him.

Harmon takes a sip of his Coke. "I just want a free place for my kids to grow up in."

"Very good." Darby seems impressed. He swivels towards me. "Write that down."


"And how about you, Mr. Kirkland?"

Kirkland lights a cigarette. "Free access to all premium cable channels. And cigarettes tax free. No questions asked."

"Well put," says Mr. Jordan, who also lights up a cigarette.

"Ok, then." Darby motions towards me. "Go ahead and put free cable and free cigarettes up there."

2:47 p.m.

We start digging trenches in Darby's front yard. It's hard work, especially considering that half the guys swear they can't pick up a shovel, under strict doctor's orders. Including Darby. Plus, no one really sees the sense in digging any trenches. But orders are orders, so Jackson, Kurtan and I dig. Darby has his wife bring us out some lemonade periodically. She gives us highlights on the progress of the army, now moved into the air conditioning of Darby's house.

She says, "Phillips and Anderson got drunk and Anderson broke my floor lamp. And we paid over a hundred bucks for that floor lamp."

3:01 p.m.

Larkin informs us that he heard from a guy that the
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