A/N: Be sure to click on the book cover art to see the poster.


A Few Good Menus

The courtroom was silent as Colonel Nathan Jessup took the stand. "This is it" Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee thought to himself. "It's all or nothing now." He approached the witness stand after Jessup had been sworn in.

"Colonel Jessup, you're in charge of the Marines on the base, is that correct?" Kaffee started his examination of the witness.

"It is. All the men are under my command; the Marine Corps is my boss and on the base I'm their god."

"Glad to hear of your promotion to a minor deity. So you're in charge of Lance Corporal Dawson and Private Downey, is that correct?"

"I am, although I don't know the two soldiers personally."

"You are aware that those two soldiers attempted to start a small concession serving coffee drinks?"

"It, uh...came to my attention at some point, yes."

"Is it illegal for a soldier to start an entrepreneurial business while on the base?"

"It certainly is; regulations strictly prohibit such things from being founded on any part of the base."

"So if they wanted to start their coffee shop, oh say in Havana, you'd have no trouble with it?"

"Sure I'd have trouble with it. That's hostile territory mister. I don't have the time nor the inclination to go bail out some US soldiers who get into trouble because the chow on the base isn't good enough. No sir, I'd have plenty of trouble with it. My bosses tend to frown on international incidents."

"But would you stop it? Confine them to quarters? Throw them in a cell? Even if the area happened to be controlled by the United States but not officially part of the base. Like the northwest easement?" Kaffee pressed.

"I wouldn't have to. After they were made to understand, explained in detail, I'm sure they'd reconsider their idea. Sure, that area isn't officially part of the base, but it might as well be; it officially belongs to the government and not the military."

"And what if they still wanted to do it? What if suddenly there was a Code Puce?"

Jessup started to sweat a little. "Code Puce? A complete base lockdown? That's ridiculous! You can't operate a base that way unless it's an emergency, we have to be able to get in and out."

"And yet that's exactly what happened on April 3, did it not?" Kaffee asked as he continued his questioning. Just a little bit more...

"I...don't recall."

"I call to the court's attention Exhibit F, copies of the Duty Officer's log and the ODs records. Let the record show that in fact there was a Code Puce on that date, ordered at 1835 hours from the office of Colonel Jessup, which caused the lockdown of the base and the inability of the base to accept an incoming shipment of size 11 fuzzy slippers. Do you recall now, sir?"

"What do you want to hear?" Jessup said as his face started to flush.

Time to go for the throat. "I want answers! Did you call the Code Puce to stop the two soldiers from leaving the barracks to conduct business which was in their right? Do you have something against someone trying to improve the moral of the United States military?"

"You want answers? I'll give you answers. The Marines have been serving the same type of food for generations. It was good enough for my grandfather, it was good enough for my father, and damn it it's good enough for me. We're Marines; we chew coffee beans and boil the water with our rage! You Navy types have it soft; you puke better chow than we find on our meal trays. We've got food stockpiled that's older than you are, and we'll be eating it long after you're dead. The military travels on its stomach, and ours is battle-tested and strong as steel."

"All they were looking for was a little variety in their coffee drinks, not a political coup."

"Variety? Our variety is how many ways can we get killed if we don't keep ourselves focused. Think about the enemy, not whether or not the canteen is going to run out of whipped cream before you get there. I want soldiers ready to go at a moment's notice, not busy lamenting the fact that they couldn't get a muffin with blueberries in it today. Coffee variety? Marines have been drinking the same sludge for over a century; it washes down the dirt you ate for breakfast, the mud you ate for lunch and by God the gravel you had for dinner. You shoot a Marine and he bleeds the stuff, and no self-respecting soldier is going to drink anything different as long as I draw breath."

"So you ordered the Code Puce, didn't you. DIDN'T YOU!" Kaffe shouted at Jessup. When you had a boxer on the ropes you went for the knockout.

"YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT I DID! And I'd do it again, too."

Kaffee turned to the Judge Randolph. "Your honor, I think the case has been made here."

Randolph cleared his throat. "This court finds sufficient evidence to hold Colonel Jessup for charges related to the failure to allow size 11 fuzzy slippers to arrive at the base. Guards, take custody of Colonel Jessup. This hearing in concluded." The judge pounded his gavel.

The End


A/N: As usual, the poster came first and the story relating to coffee came after. It's totally coincidence that the main character's name of Kaffe is so close to coffee and cafe. At least I think it is...

I don't pretend to know anything about military law, so I'm sure even this short story is rife with inaccuracies. You get what you pay for.