The Container Yard, Chapter I
Posted on Thu Aug 29th, 2019 @ 10:14pm by MAR-Major Michael Redmond
Edited on Thu Aug 29th, 2019 @ 10:15pm
The weather had been fair over the last several hours and Mike knew the maintenance area was short staffed. Being somewhat handy at field repairs he completed some routine file reviews and headed for the small repair compound to see if he could lend a hand.
Marine Staff Sergeant Ellis Romero frowned deeply as he saw the major enter his area. Currently it was closer to a wrecking yard that a maintenance shop. He brushed off his filthy overalls and joined the major. “Sir, How can I help you today?”
Major Redmond grinned as he stopped and casted a glance around the yard. 'Looks like you have had your work cut out for you here sergeant. I understand your a bit short staffed also.”
“Yes sir, there was six of us, but I lost four good men to the last rotation and didn't receive any replacements. Left me behind real bad.” mike nodded his head. “Yes, that would be my fault. But I did request more however fleet decided that wasn't workable. I'm sorry.” Mike certainly sympathized with the man. “But perhaps I could lend a hand, I promise to stay out of the way.”
Romero looked confused. It was hard to believe that the major was actually offering to help out. He had been in the marines ten years and that was a first. “Well major if your serious about that I'll put you to work but really don't want to take up your time.” He was sure the major would bail out on him as soon as he saw how bad the situation was.
“Nonsense.” Mike chuckled. “ I'm most likely the most unemployed marine here at the outpost. And frankly bored to death sitting in that office. You just point me in the right direction and I'll see if I can help out sarge.”
Sergeant Romero grinned. He had just the misery the major was looking for. He waved the major to follow as he walked through ten meter high piles of junk ending at the south end of the compound. A stack of large shipping containers blocked the rising sun. They were stacked three or four high and formed a solid block the size of a small building. A small work shed and some tools scattered on a table were sitting idle.
Romero put his hands on his hips. “I inherited this shit from the last guy. Close to thirty of these damn things. I just have no guess as to whats inside them at all. These containers were incorrectly dropped and damaged. As you can see the doors and hatches are all bent and have to be cut to get inside them. My guys won't touch them as we just don't know whats inside them. Could be full of arty shells for all we know. So it's not a good idea to use a torch or plasma cutter at all. That makes it a pry bar and hoist job sir.”
Mike looked at the containers. “I'd better get started.” He looked at Romero. “I'll play around with them a bit and see if I can get some of this sorted out for ya.”
The sergeant shook his head. “ I'll be back in a while sir to see how your doing.” He smiled as he turned and walked back to the maintenance area leaving the commander standing in the dirt clearing.
Mike made a quick inventory of tools and started cleaning up the area around the covered work bench. The canvas roof flapped in the breeze and looked about ready to rip into a thousand sheds. During the first hour he had the area pretty squared away and a pile of junk was starting to gather. Anything he could see no use for hit the pile. It was getting warm and he was covered in sweat soon after he started.
There were several containers sitting alone to one side of the main stack. A good place to start. Both were fifty meters long and appeared to have been dropped hard. The doors bent and jammed. He pounded on the side of the container with a hammer and didn't hear any echo. It was certainly full of something. It was unmarked so he decided to use the plasma cutter on the hinges. If it was full of mortar shells he would never know it.
Sergeant Romero was in his office attempting to repair several generators, as Corporal Simmons entered for a break and some water from the cooler. “hey sarge, who's working down in the old box yard?”
Romero looked up from the bench wiping the sweat from his forehead. He looked at Simmons. A tall blonde marine who he definitely liked to keep an eye on, as most of the marines in the unit.
“That major is still down there?” it had been several hours since he left the box yard.
“The Major?' Simmons took a drink. “Your telling me the CO is down in that mess?” Her jaw dropped. “That old guy is the major? Oh no...” She sat down on the stool.
Romero stood up. “What did you do?”
“Well I may have yelled at him to get out of the way, or something like that...” Simmons wasn't exactly telling the whole truth, and the savy sergeant clued in on that. “Shit. I'd better get down there. You didn't run him over did you?'
“No, but I took the shortcut through the yard, he had moved a bunch of those containers around. Well I bounced off one a little...”
The sergeant was out of the shop and running toward the container yard at full speed. As he arrived it looked a lot different than it had several hours before. He observed four containers forming a square. All the heavy doors open and two had the side walls cut out actually creating a covered shop. The cutout walls were used to make a metal floor and deck. And a solid roof over the area. Under the larger roof were several new workbenches and storage shelves. Clearly the major was very crafty. But was he still alive..
Romero heard the distinct snap of a plasma cutter starting. He walked down the long row of containers arriving at a makeshift wagon that had been hastily converted from a small transport vehicle. Again pretty smooth work. The major was cutting into the side of another container. He watched for several minutes. The old guy knew what he was doing, that was clear. Romero stepped back and started surveying some of the supplies the major had been collecting from the containers, he saw a large smoldering burn pile off to one side. The cutter stopped and major Redmond emerged from the current container he was ripping apart.
“You like what I've done with the place?” Mike grinned from under a solid black face of soot.
Romero was in shock. “Yes sir, an amazing improvement I'd say. Looks like you had twenty men down here helping you if I wasn't absolutely sure you were here alone.”
“The shop took me a while to put together, but I found a box full of tools and equipment. That helped.” Mike walked back to the shop he had built with Romero close behind him. “A good work area here now. Shaded and a good solid deck to hold heavy equipment. A set of grinders and a old lath set up should work out for you. I hoisted a few power units up on the roof of the place to keep the dirt out of them will give you power and lights so we can work at night when it's cooler out.”
It was astounding. “You keep this up and I'll keep you down here sir.” He laughed. “Just amazing.”
“You have a corporal who helped me adjust a container a while back, Is she ok?” The Major asked.
“A corporal, ah.. yes she mentioned she came through the area a while back. She cuts through here from the drop zone hauling supplies sometimes.” Romero looked down avoiding all eye contact.
“Good thing that, she rolled through here and I had moved a few things around. She few off that tow vehicle and face planted pretty hard. She wasn't to happy about it. It was my fault really. Didn't expect anything or anybody in the area, She chewed me out as good as any sergeant would have.” Mike was smiling.
“I'm really sorry about that sir. I'm sure she didn't know who you were sir. I'll talk to her about it right away.” Romero was sure she had one of her famous meltdowns. Bad timing for sure.
Mike nodded. “Just glad she wasn't injured. Could have been worse. Anyway I need to get back at this sarge, I have a few hours left before dark, or one of those damn storms.”
Redmond started walking back to his container, “No need to talk to that young lady sarge. I'm sure she'll be more careful after that spill.” He smiled.
“Yes sir.” Romero shook his head convinced his new commander had more than a few loose screws upstairs. He had never seen a field grade officer actually commit to labor like this guy did. And couldn't believe the old man took an ass chewing from a corporal to boot.
Corporal Jean Simmons eyes were red. Romero entered the maintenance office. “You are the luckiest corporal in all the land young lady.” He fell back in his chair. She stood up, at over six feet tall her usual confident stance looked weak and vulnerable. “What did he say?” Simmons was prepared to lose her stripes over the incident at the very least.
“That old man you chewed out just wanted to ask if you were alright.” Romero shook his head as the corporal held the hands to her face and started crying again.