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The Corner

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Kinder’n’Gentler



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Two Unarmed Men Mug 3 Marines, Mayor Wonders How.

I sure hope there’s more to that story than got reported.

If there isn’t, it’s dismaying, especially for us Heinlein fans. From Starship Troopers, Chapter 9. Rico and two of his comrades, in the last stages of their Mobile Infantry training, are on liberty in Seattle, at “a bar-restaurant down by the docks.”

We were the only uniforms in the place; most of the other customers were merchant marine sailors … There were some young fellows there, too, about our age — the right age to serve a term, only they weren’t — long-haired and sloppy and kind of dirty-looking. Well, say about the way I looked, I suppose, before I joined up.

Presently we started noticing that at the table behind us, two of the young twerps and two merchant sailors (to judge by clothes) were passing remarks that were intended for us to overhear. I won’t try to repeat them.

We didn’t say anything. Presently, when the remarks were even more personal and the laughs louder and everybody else in the place was keeping quiet and listening, Kitten whispered to me, “Let’s get out of here.”

I caught Pat Leivy’s eye; he nodded. We had no score to settle; it was one of those pay-as-you-get-it places. We got up and left.

They followed us out.

Pat whispered to me, “Watch it.” We kept on walking, didn’t look back.

They charged us.

I gave my man a side-neck chop as I pivoted and let him fall past me, swung to help my mates. But it was over. Four in, four down. Kitten had handled two of them and Pat had sort of wrapped the other one around a lamppost from throwing him a little too hard.

Perhaps that would be too confrontational for today’s military. Or perhaps there was no JAG officer at hand to advise on correct procedure. We wouldn’t want an unpleasant lawsuit, would we?



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