by OPOVV, ©2014

The highest-ranking non-commissioned officer of a Marine platoon is often referred to as “Tops

(Jan. 23, 2014) — ACT I

Before the curtain rises, Berlioz’s “Le Corsair: Overture is softly heard. The curtain rises on a Forward Observation Post in a mountainous terrain. The stage lights are dim. On stage right is a campfire surrounded by eight soldiers in various positions of repose. Stage left is a sentry pacing back and forth, weapon slung.

Sentry: “Halt! Who goes there?”

Voice from stage left: “Yankees 7, Orioles 3.”

Sentry: “Oh, Hi, Tops.  What’s up?”

Sergeant enters: “You’re supposed to ask for the password.”

Sentry: “Okay, what’s the password?”

Sergeant: “It’s a little late now.”

Sentry: “Nah, that ain’t the password.”

Sergeant: “So Mama raised a smart alec. Harris, your mouth is going to get you in trouble some day.”

Sentry: “Yea, right, Tops. When that happens, tell them to send me over to sandland so I can watch the goat herders at 6,000 feet in the freezing cold.”

Sergeant shakes his head and walks on over to the campfire: “Now, don’t any of you gentlemen get up.”

Choruses of “Don’t mind if we don’t” and “Pull up a chair, Tops” echo around the campfire.

On of the soldiers asks: “What you doing out after dark, Tops?”

Sergeant: “Look, lighten up. Intel says some of these goat herders are lookouts for the Bad Guys.”

Choruses of “No way” and “What’s the punch-line?” are heard.

Sergeant gets up: “Just keep your eyes and ears open. I’m way too short to be filling out paperwork on how some of you guys bought the farm.”

A soldiers asks: “Thought you were a Lifer, Tops. What happened?”

Sergeant: “I was going for 20, but now all I want is out. Look, I don’t have to spell it out for you guys, but we’re out in the middle of nowhere-land just being sitting ducks for Obama’s relatives. What they did to LTC Terry Lakin and letting those guys in Benghazi get it is enough for me. No, I just want out. Keep alert.” Sergeant walks off stage right.

Choruses of “How ’bout that: he’s halfway human after all” and “He’s smarter than he looks” are heard.

One of the men stands up. “Off to relieve Harris” as he walks over to stage left. Campfire goes out. Soft spotlight on Harris, stage left.

Sentry: “Halt, who goes there?”

Soldier: “Goes where? Who you talking to? You can see me; I can see you. My name is Stan. You dated my sister, you moron.”

Sentry: “Say the password and be identified.”

Soldier: “Make it Yankees, zip and Orioles, 30. You want to be relieved or should I go back to sleep?”

Sentry: “Okay, okay. But 30?”

Soldier: “Look, if I ever get to set the password, I’ll make it “Series tied, 9th inning, 0-0, one of those great defensive games where the regular fan gets bored but the true fan loves. Anyway, last of the 9th, full count and, BAM! Home run! Orioles win the World Series!”

Sentry: “Too long; too complicated. Why not just say “Yankees 0, Orioles 1?”

Soldier: “I’m the Head Dude so maybe I’ll make it the “Gettysburg Address” or the “Preamble” to the Constitution. Maybe I’ll just keep it as “Yankees, One Big Fat Zip, Orioles 25,000.”  How do you like them apples?”

Sentry: “Say “7 to 3” and I won’t shoot you.”

Soldier: “Keep it slung. You’d just shoot yourself in the foot. Hear about Tops?”

Sentry: “Yep. Didn’t know he was so smart. Feel the same way, what about you?”

Curtain lowers.


Curtain rises on an airport terminal waiting area, where our squad sits with duffel bags. The background music is Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantasique: Witches’ Sabbath.

Sergeant enters from stage left: “All right, listen up, everybody. As of now, I’m out of this man’s Army. I’ve got my marching orders, my separation papers. It was nice to get you all back in one piece. I know I rode you but no one lost any limbs, so there it is.” The troops stand as the Sergeant walks up to each one and shakes his hand.

One of the soldiers asks, “Hey, Tops, I thought you had a year or so to go; what gives?”

Sergeant: “Remember your history, about how Stalin purged his military if he thought they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, be controlled? Well, believe it or not, it’s happening right here, right now in our country. Same thing: a purge is going on, and has been going on for years, ever since January 20, 2009, when they let Obama in the White House. Thousands of us have been asked and forced to leave early. I’m just one of many, and my advice to you is to get out as fast as you can. If you see an out, take it.”

“Look, I’m not going to sugar-coat it, but our country is going down really fast, faster than even you or I can possibly imagine. It’s a terminal infection, happening everywhere. They track your whole life, there’s no privacy anymore, and without privacy, there’s no expectation of Freedom. It’s that basic. And forget any expectation of justice from the courts: the bar has been lowered so the police are no longer students of the Constitution, but rather, robots following illegal orders. There is no hope that reason will rule: this has become the “Land of the Idiots.” Good luck. It was nice to have served with you all. Look me up in twenty years. Bye.” Sergeant exits stage right.

One soldier says: “Man, what just happened? Tops gone? Who’s going be our Mother Hen next?”

Another soldier chimes in, “Not good, what Tops said. Not good at all. He always took care of us, always looked after us. And here we are, back in the Good ‘ole USA and we’re all intact.”

Another soldier says: “I bet they kicked him out because he shot everyone he caught planting a roadside bomb.”

Choruses of “I got  a few of them myself, why can’t I get one of those early Separation Papers?”

Soldier says: “Look, I’ve done a little checking. Remember what Tops said about Lakin and Benghazi? Well, he was right. America no longer stands behind her troops. You know what they call Hillary? “Hillary Benghazi Clinton,” that’s what. You remember how that went down? The ragheads attacked and then they all went home when they thought Americans would arrive for the rescue, and then when the US Cavalry never showed up, they went back and finished the job. We just left those guys out there to die. I don’t know about you, but I’m following Tops’s advice and getting out ASAP.”

Choruses of “I’m with you there,” “I’m outta here, too,” and “What’s in it for me? Just a target, that’s all. No way” were heard.

As one, all the troops get up, shoulder their duffels and walk off stage right as curtain lowers.



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