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The Lone Eagle, August, 1940
From Spad to
Worse
By JOE ARCHIBALD
Author of “Observation Bus Boys,” “Just Plane Nuts,” etc.
The Happy-Go-Lucky Pilots Stumble on Their Merry
Way—and Sometimes the Falls are Not so Funny!
T IS one night just before me and
Ambrose Hooley go into Commercy
that Ambrose says:
“Muley, lend me some francs, will
ya?”
“Look,” I says, “I am not a
Morganfeller. If ermine coats for elephants
were sellin’ in Paree right now for fortynine cents, I could not buy a pair of fur
earmuffs for a canary. Maybe we can
borrow some dough from Bug-eye
Boomer.”
“I have tried everybody here but the
C.O.,” Ambrose says, adding ruefully, “I
wish I hadn’t lost them loaded dice.”
Ambrose is a little homely guy who
must have been born complaining to a
referee. If there is anything he likes better
than a fight, it’s a murder. I bunk with
Ambrose because nobody else will, and
I
FROM SPAD TO WORSE 2
the Air Corps chiefs insists that every
Nisson has to have two bunks occupied.
“Come on, anyway, Muley,” Ambrose
says. “We will maybe find some guys with
too much dough and put the bee on them.”
Me and Ambrose go to Commercy and
go to a saloon that is not very high class
and drink vin rouge.
“I have thought of something, Muley,”
Ambrose says after two snorts. “You stay
here and wait for me. I will be right back.”
“Don’t you stick no places up!” I snap
back. “I don’t trust you!”
In less than a half hour, Ambrose
Hooley is back and he says to a French
waiter:
“Donny maw some brandy an’ soda
nest pa?” Ambrose lights a cigarette, puts
his feet up on the table and flicks a fly off
his sleeve. “Garcong,” Ambrose yelps, “I
forgot. Breeng eet one for my pal, ossi.”
“What have you done?” I yelp. ‘‘Now
look here, Ambrose Hooley, I have been in
enough trouble because of you. I’ve been
trying to—”
Ambrose just grins at me. When the
waiter puts the brandies down on the table,
Ambrose pulls out some money from his
pocket. He peels off a franc or two and
hands it to him.
“Keep the change, garcong,” the little
crackpot says. “Easy come, easy go.”
Ambrose won’t tell me where he got
the argent and when we get back to the
drome, I am still trying to make him tell
me.
“Oh, keep still, Muley, or I will slug
you one,” he says. “I am smart enough to
swing a deal, that is all.”
T IS the next afternoon after we come
back from a fight with the Boche
upstairs that Major Bertram Bagby gets us
in the mess shack and tells us that a
Frenchman in Commercy is going to go as
far as Paris to get satisfaction for a very
dirty trick two flyers played on him.
“All right, now. Somebody own up
here!” Bagby orders. “I am putting you on
your honor. Who of you took that gold
watch from a Frog an’ paid him with soap
certificates? I guess you buzzards know
that is a crime in the A.E.F. You will get
busted and put in a U. S. government klink
for twenty years for swindling Frogs.”
“Ah—er—” I get green around the
gills and look at Ambrose. The fathead
does not bat an eye and looks very amazed
at such an accusation.
“You can search me first, Major,” he
says. “Why that is a disgrace to the Air
Corps, isn’t it, Muley?”
“Don’t even look at me,” I clip under
my breath.
“The two buzzards who swindled the
Frog went and pawned the watch
afterward and must have got real money
for it. Well, who was it?” The C.O. waits
for five minutes and then says, “All right.
But if I ever get the smart Alec that did it,
I will give him the limit.”
“I do not blame you!” Ambrose agrees.
“Why, the idea of two American flyers
doin’ a rotten thing like that. Well, have
the D.H.s located that Boche supply dump
yet?”
Major Bagby says they are not sure
and want to take a few more ganders at the
spot where the dump is supposed to be
squatting.
“They’ve got a hunch that it is
camouflaged as a Kraut hospital and that
they’ve got to be sure it isn’t before they
bomb it—or whoever does. It’s a terrible
thing to blow up a hospital. Anybody that
does that ought to be shot at sunrise.”
“Yeah,” Ambrose says. “But it would
be something if we could shellack that
grocery warehouse. They say the Heinies
are down to one meal a day as it is and
have got the ends of their belts trippin’
them up, they have been pulled that tight
I
THE LONE EAGLE 3
around their middles. No wonder they put
red crosses on that dump.”
Me and Ambrose go back to our hut
and I give him a tough look right in the
eye.
“You crook!” I shout.
“Now look, Muley,” he pleads, “the
Frog says two flyers swindled him. You
know very well you did not go with me
when I went out of the barroom, don’t
you? I was alone, so how could anybody
be with me?”
“I—er—I know! The Frenchie was
drunk an’ he saw two of you. That’s
what!”
“Uh—er—” he stammered. “You are
smart, ain’t you, Muley? How would you
like a good punch in the nose, huh? I
would shut up if I was you, as the Frog
said there was two of us and you were in
Commercy with me, Muley Spink.”
“I bet you would stoop to blackmail,
too,” I says to him. “Why wasn’t you born
with two flat feet and two glass eyes so’s
you could never have joined the army an’
met me?”
“Oh, stop bein’ nervous, Muley,” the
little halfwit yaps. “We are pals and have
to stick together. I am hurt the way you
keep thinking those things of me. Give a
dog a bad name—all right for you,
Muley.”
The crackpot has me feeling sorry for
him. Ten minutes later we go out with
“Bug-eye” Boomer and we fly over the
place where the Kraut hospital is supposed
to be. I see Ambrose pecking down at it
with a pair of field glasses while a Heinie
gets set to shoot the plane out from under
him. I go up and over and slam the Fokker
in the floating ribs and Bug-eye catches
him on the bounce and makes a good
German out of him, if you know what I
mean. There is a lot more Krauts coming
up from the carpet and we shoot back to
Commercy as fast as we can make our
Hissos.
MBROSE is talkative that night
when we sit down to mess.
“I will bet a soap cert—er—a plugged
nickel against a Chinese cent that that
dump is a real dump. Them Krauts ridin’
around in wheel chairs are props. I bet the
nurses are Kraut doughs in pinafores. They
are makin’ saps out of us an’—”
The Old Man glares at Ambrose and
he keeps his peepers on him when he tells
him that the robbed Frenchman is to be at
the drome day after tomorrow to see if he
can identify the flyers that swindled him.
“Seems that watch was worth more
than a few francs,” the major said. “An
heirloom, the Frenchman told some brass
hats. It belonged to Marshal Ney. One of
his forefathers fought under the marshal at
Waterloo an’—”
“Huh?” Bug-eye said. “That thing
should be worth a fortune.”
Ambrose spills his coffee down his
tunic.
“Wha--a-a-t?”
“The pawnbroker can’t sell the watch
until a certain period of time elapses,”
Bagby went on. “Whoever holds the
ticket—”
“The tick—ha!” I shoot in quick.
“About that Kraut dump now. We could
go over and drop a bomb close to it and
see if the nurses and the props in the wheel
chairs would run. If they didn’t, well—” I
saw beads of worry flow from my noggin
just as some brass hats come in. One is a
brigadier.
“H-m-m,” I hear Ambrose gulp. “The
Frog comes in day after tomorrow. I—”
“Good evening, Major,” says the big
brass hat. “Hate to spoil your mess but—”
“That would be impossible,” Ambrose
says.
A
FROM SPAD TO WORSE 4
If Bagby’s peepers had been two
knives they would cut Ambrose’s throat
from ear to ear and back again. The brass
hat mumbles something about discipline
and what he would do if he had Ambrose.
That is what he thinks.
“The Wing thinks they have definitely
established that hospital over near
Cheminot as a supply dump, Major.
Pictures we have of the place have been
enlarged and subjected to microscopic
examination. and they prove—”
“I bet they got fingerprints the way
they—” Ambrose snorts.
“Bagby, this is outrageous, these
interruptions,” the brass hat says, and I am
getting more scared by the second. I try to
bang Ambrose with my fist and miss.
“Shut up!” I hiss.
“Who-o-o-o said that?”
“I was talkin’ to Lieutenant Hooley,
sir. I—”
The brigadier looks at us nasty and he
includes the C.O. in the dirty look.
“Well, this job that has to be done,
Major. It is the kind I wouldn’t send a
nephew I’m stuck with on, if you get what
I mean. I intended to ask for volunteers
and I would not have considered any of
you cowards if you had passed it up. But
now—”
He rubbed his hands gleefully.
“We fight over them kind of chores,
don’t we, fellers?” Ambrose announces,
and Major Bagby is as close to a
conniption fit as a tick is to a sheep. “None
of us come over here just to git postcards
to send home, huh? Where others fail, we
succeed.”
AGBY has fits.
snaps,
“All right, Bagby!” the stuff shirt
“this little mission is in your lap!
I’ll leave it up to you to pick your men. I
know who I would pick, too, Major, if I
was running this outfit. Discipline—bah!
The flyers in this war think—well, here is
what Chaumont wants. Two Spads loaded
with Cooper bombs are going over and
destroy that supply station. Spads are fast
and can get back, faster than—”
“Why don’t they take the guns and
bomb racks off them D.H.s?” Ambrose
says. “All they do is go around playin’
with Brownies an’ Kodaks anyway. I git
sick every time I think of what would have
happened to the Democrats if the Frogs
had not invented Spads, don’t you?”
“Tomorrow at dusk!” the brigadier
shouts, and looks at us all as if he would
have liked to commit a mass murder.
“Discipline—bah! Look out they don’t
take over this outfit and send you over to
bomb the dump, Bagby. Good evening!”
He goes out and slams the door.
“Oh, reservoir, sir!” Ambrose says.
The Old Man stabs a mean finger at
him. “You’re the lucky one, Hooley! You
an’ Spink. I’ll show you two wisenheimers
whether there is discipline here.”
“I have not said a word,” I protest
weakly. “I was just sittin’ here mindin’ my
business.”
“Get out of here, both you fresh
bums!”
I follow Ambrose over to the Nisson
and all the way over I try to get up courage
to get him from behind and strangle him to
death. Going over to bomb the Heinie
grocery store is as healthy as going into a
grizzly den to steal three cubs whose papa
has an ulcerated tooth. There is a big
airdrome near the munition dump, also
some Heinie gun batteries that do not
shoot confetti up at you.
“You should be ashamed to even talk
to me, Ambrose Hooley!” I snap.
“Marshal Ney’s watch, h-m-m-m,” the
little crackpot mutters. “I bet it would
bring a lot of dough from a collector.”
“Oh, you are dumb enough to fall for
that mullarkey, are you?” I yelp. “It is just
B
THE LONE EAGLE 5
a ruse to make the guilty citizen redeem it
so’s the M.P.s can nab him. That is what.
Ambrose, if brains were arsenic, you
would not have enough of same to knock
off a mosquito. Why did you keep shootin’
off your mouth to the brass hat, huh? I
know! You do not want to be here the day
after tomorrow when that Frog comes.
You was the swindler. I am sure now!”
“What I would do to you, Muley,”
Ambrose counters, “if you was not my pal.
I wanted to get a medal, that is all. We will
both get decorated after—”
“Every Memorial Day,” I interrupt.
“Now shut up!”
It is the next night that me and
Ambrose are ready to take the air and all
the buzzards gather around the Spad and
sing, “In the Sweet By-and-By.” Bug-eye
Boomer puts a wreath on Ambrose’s
buggy and makes a speech.
“Most guys say what swell guys
people are after they are dead,” Bugeye
orates. “How can they hear what their pals
think of them? We are different here. We
let those who are about to kick off know
how much we are goin’ to miss them!”
Kerwhack!
“I did not miss you, did I, Bugeye?” I
says sarcastically, and cools off a fist. “Ha,
ha! You are sure a card. Come on,
Ambrose.”
HE Old Man and all the buzzards are
still trying to revive Bug-eye when me
and Ambrose are in our Spads and
warming up the Hissos. Ambrose suddenly
jumps out of his crate and runs to our
Nisson. He comes back with a small, flat
package inside his coat.
“That is the candy I got in the mail this
a.m., Muley. These bums would eat it all
up if I left it. It is from a dame I knew
back in Keokuk an’ she writ me she was
goin’ to make me some fudge. Well, I will
take it West with me. Contact!”
Me and Ambrose take off and head for
Cheminot. Nothing happens until we get
across the Meuse and over Pont au
Mousson. The Krauts toss shrapnel up at
us and you should get a smell of it. The
powder they use in them shells must be
made out of defunct polecats. They don’t
put marshmallows in the shells, either. A
marshmallow does not knock a hole in a
wing.
We run upstairs for more altitude and
then find ourselves over the Boche grocery
warehouse camouflaged with red crosses.
Two Heinies come butting in and
Ambrose jabs one with his Vickers and
follows it up by an upper-cut that hits the
Fokker right under the chin. The Boche’s
powerplant goes screwy on him and he has
to try and make a fair catch at terra firma.
I get over the dump and let loose a
Cooper bomb. It smacks up right at the
edge of the Heinie layout. You should
have seen the wheel chairs travel down on
the carpet. Then another Fokker slides in
under a punch Ambrose takes at him and
he hits the little tomato’s sky buggy right
in the solar plexus. Ambrose goes down
for the linoleum and lets loose his bombs
so they will not be under his pants when
he hits. I do the same and when they all
break up, I know the Krauts will have to
boil out what soup is left in their shoes as
the groceries under the fake hospital roof
get cooked to a crisp. I am following
Ambrose down, hoping that when he hits
he will not be splattered all over France. I
always tried to make him be neat.
I see Ambrose Hooley fight his Spad
to a stop against a tree close to a sandpit
and he is doing a belly-bump down the
side of the pit without a sled when I skim
over the place. It looks like the end of the
guerre for the little crackpot. I tell myself
to go on home and not be a crazy fool. The
nincompoop is only trouble to me,
anyway. But like I have said before you
T
FROM SPAD TO WORSE 6
get very attached to lumbago if you have it
long enough. So I throws out my chest and
says I will stick with my pal even if it does
make me an idiot. I land a mile from the
sandpit, get out of the Spad and duck for
cover. I peek out of the bushes and look
for Kraut soldiers, but do not see any. I
hear them though, and they seem very
elated over something. Then I know they
have snagged Ambrose Hooley.
I creep out of the bushes and start
toward the sand pit, but before I can get
there I come to a farmhouse and in the
yard is about a dozen Jerries and a
Potsdam jalopy. I see Ambrose right in the
middle of the Krauts and I crouch near a
pig sty and get a gander at what is going
on.
“It was a supply dump an’ you know
it, you sausage hounds!” Ambrose shouts.
“I was only doin’ my duty. You had a red
cross on the roof to kid us. I know my
rights in this war.”
FEEL terrible.
mus
“Shut up!” says a Kraut officer who
t have been with the Harvards or Yales
once. “Bah! You Yankee swine! You
would haff dropped der bombs down
onyway efen if you was not sure. For such
frightfulness, you will be shot, ja! It is the
Kaiser’s orders. Look for information on
him before we shoot him!”
“Don’t I git a trial?” Ambrose howls,
and I am so weak I could not have pulled a
feather off a humming bird with both
hands and a pair of pliers.
“Ha, ha, ho, ho!” laughs the Heinie
brass hat. “Trial? Do nodt make me laugh,
Herr Leutnant.”
I could have heard Ambrose Hooley’s
fist land on the Kraut’s whiskers if I had
been on the Swiss border. The Jerry does a
back-spin and a lot of other funny things
before he finally hits the ground near the
house.
“I will fight all of you bums,
singlehanded or all together!” Ambrose
yelps. “You can’t shoot me!”
Ambrose was wrong. After they take
all his personal belongings from him, three
of the Heinie doughboys start making
passes at him. One is running around in
circles yelling for a stretcher bearer. Can
Ambrose Hooley fight—wow! The Heinie
brass hat says they will shoot Ambrose
right where he is and gets a firing squad
together. I hold my dome in my hands and
my pump comes up into my throat and
prods my tonsils.
“Adoo, old pal,” I mumble. “Adoo an’
happy landings. I bet you reach out West
leading with your left. Well, you can take
a pitcher to the well once too often and it
will break some day even if it is made of
iron. Adoo, old pal.”
“Do I want to get blindfolded?”
Ambrose chirps. “Are we goin’ to play
blind-man’s buff, you panty waists! Adoo,
Muley, wherever you are.”
“Oh-h-h-h-h-h!” I groan, and shed a
tear or three. “Git it over with. I—”
“Achtung!” That is the Kraut brass hat
getting the squareheads ready to shoot
Ambrose. I hear him say, “Ready - Aim –
Fire!” in German. Then four guns boom
loudly and I look up and see Ambrose
stretched out on the real estate. If I had
had a gun I would have run amuck, but I
can hear Ambrose saying, “Don’t be a sap,
Muley. There’s nothin’ you can do for me
now except writin’ home an’ tellin’ them
they should have had more than just me to
give to my country, huh?”
“Only one gun it was loaded!” the
Kraut yaps. “So, nobody knows who
shoots der Yangkee! Gie Schnell!”
The Heinies start moving out of the
farmyard and the brass hat gets into the
jalopy with the Prussian buzzard painted
on the side of it. They leave poor Ambrose
right where he is and do not even bother to
I
THE LONE EAGLE 7
bury him.
When they are all gone I go over and
kneel down by the side of my deceased
pal.
“Ambrose, old pal,” I say tearfully,
“whatever I said about you don’t go! I will
give you a decent burial an’—”
“Hello, Muley,” the skunk answers. “It
is a hell of a time to get here. Oh-h, who
hit me in the chest with that pickax, huh?”
I jump a foot in the air, and my scalp
lifts up off my noggin and then snaps back
into place.
“You crackpot!” I gulp. “I saw them
shoot you. Can’t nothin’ kill you?”
MBROSE sits up and stares at me.
am I al
“Say, that is right, Muley. Why
ive? They shot me—you saw them,
huh?” Ambrose reaches inside his shirt
and pulls out a small, flat package. He
tears the wrappings off and then we both
look at the fudge. There is a bullet nestling
in the stuff and Ambrose starts bending the
candy like it was a thick rubber doormat.
“Uh—er—it did not even get through it,
Muley. That dame is some cook, huh?
Why, there is a fortune in this stuff. The
Allies could make tanks an’ bullet-proof
vests. I will send to the dame for the
receipt as soon as I can. What do you think
of that?”
“Look, Ambrose,” I stammer. “I can’t
stand much more! I—look, we are in
Germany an’—l-let’s git out. I g-got me a
Spad over—th-throw that stuff away as—”
Ambrose buries the fudge and sticks a
stone over it.
“After the guerre,” he says, “I will
come after it. It is a gold mine, Muley. Ha,
ha! Now I bet you believe in the
Resurrection, huh?”
“C-come on, Ambrose. Let’s git to the
Spad.”
“Awright. Boy, if I ever meet that
Kraut again. Imagine him shootin’ me for
blowin’ up that dump?”
“They do not generally take you to
Berlin an’ give you the key to the joint,” I
snort. “Come on.”
We get close to where the Spad is, but
it is surrounded by the enemy.
“Now what will we do?” I says.
“We have got to escape,” Ambrose
opines. “Let’s go in a big circle.”
“Make it big enough,” I snap, “so we
will find ourselves on the beach at
Dunkirk, huh?”
Me and Ambrose creep around Alsace
Lorraine for an hour. Finally we come out
to a bend in a road and we hear some
German soldiers singing.
“Nobody can sing that bad,” Ambrose
says, “unless they are drunk. Look—
Muley!”
“I can see. It is a motorcycle comin’.”
Ambrose ducks back over a fence and
he comes back dragging an old tree limb.
He says for me to help him put it in the
road.
“We will shellack the Heinies,” he
says, “an’ take their suits and jalopy. It is
our only chance.”
We get the limb across the road and
wait. The Heinie mechanical bug comes
down the road and it is skidding from side
to side as if the Jerries in it were trying to
write their names in the mud. They are
singing the Kraut Sweet Adeline and are
as drunk as a pair of flies dunked in a
barrel of corn mash.
Brr-zing-wham!
The motorcycle hits the limb and
curtsies in a hurry. The two square-heads
come out of it like infield flies and make
squishy sounds when they hit the ground.
“Grab one!” Ambrose orders. “We are
lucky. One is tall an’ one is short.”
We don’t waste any time or motions in
achieving our objective.
Ambrose bats his Jerry on the chops
only once, but I have to slug mine twice to
A
FROM SPAD TO WORSE 8
finish what schnapps had started. We peel
off the Krauts’ clothes an’ change into
them. Then me and Ambrose go out and
pick up their buggy and look it over fast
for injuries.
“It is sound as a nut,” Ambrose says.
“Get into the bathtub an’ I will drive it.
Which way is Commercy?”
“We will ask the first policeman we
meet, Ambrose,” I yelp. “The sky looks
light over that way and that must be where
the Yanks are. Anyway, let’s start goin’
somewhere. We’ll never get out of this.”
“You give up easy,” Ambrose sneers.
“Just foller me, Muley.”
Hooley feeds the motorcycle some gas
and in two minutes we are heading right
for a Heinie settlement. There is about
forty Jerry soldiers up ahead and I look
over toward the left. If I do not see Gothas,
then a camel can thread a needle.
“L-look, Am-Ambrose,” I wail. “We
can’t turn back. There is no room an’ this
time we will both git shot!”
“We will manage to git out, Muley,”
he answered. “I can talk a little Heinie, an’
we have got Jerry suits on, don’t forget.”
“I wish I could. They shoot soldiers
who have on the wrong uniforms,
Ambrose. Remember?”
We stop the buggy and I try to keep
my teeth from rattling loose.
“Wee gates!” Ambrose says. “Hoch
der Kaiser!”
It is very surprising what happens next.
A brass hat slaps us on the back and about
six doughboys help us out of the jalopy
like we were blown glass. Everybody
starts cheering and start toward the field
where the Gotha is squatting. I look at
Ambrose and he shrugs.
“What in—” I start to say.
“Shut up,” he squirts out of the corner
of his mouth. “Somethin’ is happenin’.”
Somebody starts talking English. I
look over the head of a little Heinie and
see a guy in the uniform of the Royal
Flying Corps. Then a brass hat with a
bullet face talks U. S. to the buzzard.
“Ach, mein freund. You are lucky to
be taken prisoner, Herr Leutnant. You are
going to see two brave Germans make a
very dangerous experiment for the
Fatherland, ja. Each with a machine gun
undt belts undt boxes will jump oudt of
der Gotha at seven thousand feet, ja!
Testing out der new parachutes, ja. If it is
successful, we drop machine gunners
behind der lines from airplanes. The two
soldiers we gave a whole day to enjoy
themselves as maybe they will not come
back, nein?”
My legs buckle and Ambrose grabs me
quick. “N-nein—mine froind. Gets du op
gee snell!”
“Some fix we’re in,” I grunt. “Out of
the f-f-fryin’ p-pan into th-the b-blast ffurnace! Out of all the Krauts in the gguerre, we-we had to p-pick the two that—
oh, cripes!”
“Amazing!” the Beefeater says. “Jolly
brave men, what? Think the parachutes
will work, Herr Oberst?”
“That is what we must find out, Herr
Leutnant.” The Jerry shrugs. “If nodt—we
try again.”
“Hoch der Kaiser—hic!” Ambrose
says, and nudges me. “Act drunk, Muley,
as they will expect us to talk.”
“Hack doo leeber!” I says. “Hic—
Roust mitt! Hic—hic—Doitchland
goober—”
They pack ammunition boxes and belts
on me and Ambrose and then fasten the
‘chutes on us. When we get loaded into the
Gotha we are carrying a Heinie machine
gun that weighs half as much as a
blacksmith forge. They have got a trap in
the floor of the Jerry egg dropper to push
through.
“Oh, this is the last time I will ever
follow you, Ambrose Hooley,” I growl,
THE LONE EAGLE 9
sotto voce.
“I agree with you, Muley,” he says in a
sad voice. “I—er—these ‘chutes will pull
off like new-skin when they open. I bet we
each weigh a ton. I wish I’d got shot. I am
scairt, are you?”
“N-no,” I lie. “L-listen to me tellin’
jokes. I never I-laughed s-so much in mmy life. I wish I could s-s-s-top. Sh-shut
up. Here comes—”
“Auf weidersehn,” a Jerry says, and
pats us on the back.
HE next pat I get will be from a
spade, I am very sure. I try to think of
a good prayer.
“H-hoch der Kaiser!” Ambrose says.
“Well, they’ll never find out who hocked
the watch—er—Gott straff—”
The Gotha motors make a lot of sound
and drown out what Ambrose says. We
shake hands. When the Boche are not
looking, I bang the little tomato in the ear
with my elbow.
“I am goin’ to die, anyways,” I yell at
him, “so what more can you do to me, ha?
It is an ill wind—”
“If I ever get out of this, I will slug
you, Muley!” he interrupts.
“You are an optimist,” I snort between
shakes. “You should have stayed home an’
sold eyeglasses. W-well, we are upstairs at
last. Now what?”
Somebody touches us on the shoulder.
It is a Heinie Gotha foreman and he says
we are to get ready to jump. I told him he
was a liar and Ambrose kicks me in the
shin. The Kraut pulls a lever and the
trapdoor opens.
“Adoo, Muley,” he says.
“Adoo, Ambrose,” I says, and get
kicked down through the trap.
Ambrose comes tumbling after and I
count ten and then pull the ripcord of the
‘chute. I let the machine-gun go as I says
to the devil with making it tougher for
myself. I get jerked backwards and every
bone in my body falls out of joint. Then I
start laughing, as I am floating down like a
feather. I look around for Ambrose and see
him about a quarter of a mile away. He is
dropping fast, and what do you think? The
halfwit is still hanging onto the Spandau.
I get sideswiped by a tree and the side
of a barn before I hit. All my teeth loosen
up and I wonder how much I have bitten
off my tongue. I sit down and see if my
legs will bend in more than one place.
“Well, here I am,” I says, “still in
Germany. It is like a drownin’ man yellin’
for a lemonade. I wonder where that
crackpot is?”
I do not have to wait long. A Jerry
truck comes up and the guy driving it yells
at me. Two other squareheads get off the
truck and come over to pick me up.
“Well,” I says to myself, “the Heinies
were watchin’ us everywhere. Here is
where I git shot now.”
“Wie gehts!”
“Slug ‘em, Muley!” a familiar voice
yells. “Git in the truck an’ drive it! I have
got this Kraut cannon ready to show them
a thing or two.”
“Ambrose!” I hoot, and start punching.
I wade through the squareheads and reach
the truck. Ambrose gets the Spandau going
and the Potsdam suckers start going crosscountry. I hop to the truck and get it going.
“Did you think they would forget us
after we jumped?” Ambrose yelps. “You
throwin’ that gun away. That is sense.
What would you do without me?”
“Oh, shut up! We are still in Germany,
you crackpot!” I howl. “Supposin’ that
‘chute wasn’t strong enough to—Say, are
we goin’ the right way? Where—”
“Shut up and I will look at the road
map, Muley. Head for where you hear the
most noise as I heard there was a push
goin’ on sometime tonight. Boy, are we
sittin’ pretty?”
T
FROM SPAD TO WORSE 10
“Yeah. It is nice here in Commercy
isn’t it? Look, Ambrose, there is Major
Bagby right over there! I got a good mind
to let go of this wheel an’ go back there.”
FEEL like I am insane.
Amb
“You are just unstrung, Muley,”
rose says. “After what we’ve been
through—me executed an’ all—if any
squareheads try and stop us, I will give
‘em what they don’t expect. I am just
dyin’ to get a crack at those guys that
shoved us into that plane.”
I drive for an hour. We come to a road
that is blocked and about twenty Boche
yell at us to stop. We don’t. We knock
over a barrier and half of them. Ambrose
sprays lead at the Heinies from the back of
the truck.
“Surprise!” he yelps. “Go faster,
Muley!”
“Shut up!” I roar. “I’ve got the
accelerator draggin’ in the mud now,
Ambrose Hooley. There is shells breakin’
up ahead of us. Will I try to dodge them?
We are right in a war.”
“It is not a clam-bake, I know that,
Muley. Just keep on drivin’. Lo-o-o-ok oo-ut!”
The truck lifts off the road, bangs
down again and keeps on going. I wipe
sweat off my pan and I can hear it splash
on the floorboards.
“That was nice, Muley,” Ambrose
hoots. “Next time, see if you can come
closer, huh?”
I do not talk any more to Ambrose
Hooley. I cut a path through a road
clogged with Jerries and then go right
between two machine gun nests. We take
the side off a house and run an ambulance
into a bake shop. Ambrose yells in my ear
and wants to know what town it is.
“It is not Bethlehem,” I says. “Look,
there is soldiers here, Yank soldiers. They
are firing at us. That is not a nice thing for
them to do to us, Ambrose. You can’t be
safe nowheres any more.”
“You forget, Muley, there is a Prussian
crow painted on the side of this heap! We
are not in a favorable—Look out for that
tank!”
I try, but I never get the breaks. If I
ever do it will be in the back of the neck.
We graze the tank and it shoves us right
through the side of a grog shop. Bottles
tumble down all around us and vin blanc
and such splashes on the hot hood of the
truck and sends up enough steam to cook a
plum pudding. One bottle jumps up from
nowhere and breaks up on my noggin. The
lights go out like it is curfew in a blue
nose town.
When I come to, Ambrose is
challenging the whole A.E.F. to a fight. “I
tell ya I am a flyer, a U. S. flyer,” he
shouts.
“No kiddin’?” an officer says. “An’ I
am an admiral. Have you seen my
battleship around any place? It has green
stripes an’—Get these bums over with the
rest of them Heinies,” he roars. “If he
starts fightin’ again, conk him with a gun
butt!”
“Look,” I says. “I am also a U. S.
aviator an’—”
“Move along or I’ll bust your skull!”
They drive me and Ambrose along a
road with about eleven thousand
squareheads and you should have heard
the little crackpot swear. Finally a top-kick
grabs a looey by the arm and he says:
“I—er—think there must be a mistake
here some place, sir. No Jerry can cuss
like that little tomater. He says he is an
Elk, too.”
“Cut ‘em out then and send them over
to Division Headquarters. They’re wearin’
Kraut dogtags, those two clucks. We’ll
find out if they’re spies.”
“We bombed that grocery warehouse
over to Cheminot,” I says. “We got took
I
THE LONE EAGLE 11
up in a Gotha an’ dropped out. We stole a
Heinie truck—”
“Yeah,” Ambrose backs me up. “We
are Lieutenants Spink and Hooley. You
get Major Bagby. I will see somebody gets
busted for this outrage.”
T IS not until night of the next day that
the Old Man gets over to Mars-le-Tour
and identifies us.
“It is them,” he says. “I have to believe
what I see. We crossed them off the books
as stiffs, but we should have known
better.”
They put me and Ambrose in a dugout
so we can get the Heinie scenery off. I sit
down and hold my noggin in my hands. I
am shaking like a bowl of jelly in an
earthquake.
“Whe-e-e-e-e-w,” I says. “It is an
awful time we had, Ambrose.”
“Huh. say, I bet you were right about
that bein’ a ruse. If that was Marshal
Ney’s watch, then I am carryin’
Cleopatra’s reticule right this minute.
Well, they will never get the guy who
done it.”
You would think the little fathead had
just been down to a corner store getting
cigarettes and was caught in a shower. He
has been executed, thrown out of a Gotha
and wrecked in a truck since he washed up
in a Spad, and there he sits thinking about
the Frog’s watch. He is not human.
They give us some Yank doughboy
suits to wear back to Commercy and they
smell of a cootie antidote, which is like
attar of roses to us after what we’ve been
wrapped in. When we get to the drome,
Bug-eye and all the buzzards put on a
binge and tell us we don’t know how
much they missed us.
“I bet you all cried, didn’t you?” he
says, looking at the flight leader. “What is
that you have got on, huh? My best black
silk tie, huh? An’ you, Porky, if they ain’t
my new boots you are wearin’ I am a—
Why, you dirty bums!”
Ambrose wades into Bug-eye and
Porky and I bet he would have killed the
both of them if a Boche had not come
flying over the drome then. We run out
and look upstairs and something is coming
down through the ozone. It is a little
parachute.
“Did anybody get identified by the
Frog?” Ambrose says to the Old Man as a
groundhog ran out to where he thinks the
message will drop. “It is too bad that they
didn’t catch that swindler but I guess they
won’t now. Ha, ha! I bet you thought it
was me, huh?”
“I would have sworn to it sitting on the
roof of a Bible warehouse,” Bagby snorts,
and watches the groundhog jump a fence
and grab at the little parachute.
“That’s the way,” Ambrose wails.
“Give a dog a bad name.”
The groundhog brings the parachute to
the C.O. and Bagby looks at the little
package tied to it, and then walks back
into the Operations office. We follow him
and Bagby sits down and unwraps the
package. There was a message in it. He
reads it out loud.
“Here is what will happen to any
Yankee who bombs places marked by a
Red Cross. Here are the effects of
Leutnant Ambrose Hooley, executed by a
firing squad at Fluey.”
“Yep,” Ambrose says, “they shot me.”
The Old Man groans and gets up and
walks around the room six times.
“They shot you, but here you are,” he
says. “I—” He sits down again and looks
over the things the Krauts took off
Ambrose. “A helmet and goggles,” he
says. “A picture of a dame in tights, a
letter from Keokuk and—and—a pawn
ticket! Hooley, you—”
“Wha-a-a-a-t? I—Oh, them lousy
squareheads. They framed me. I—well,
I
FROM SPAD TO WORSE 12
awright, I confess. Me and Muley are
heroes for knocking off the Kraut grocery
store and the Ninety-third won’t get
decorated anymore than we will if you
want to be narrow minded and make a fuss
about that cheap watch. Of all the fuss
over a watch—for shame.”
AJOR BAGBY tears up the pawn
ticket and almost faints at the same
time.
“Supposing the Kraut dropped that
stuff down where brass hats got it, huh?
You would have gotten twenty years,
Hooley! You will never amount to
anything. You will come to a bad end.”
“They will be surprised, won’t they
Muley?” the little tomato says. “I have got
something that will make me a million
bucks after the war. I will wear spats and
ride in a limersine. It is a new armor plate,
cheap to make.”
I have got enough. I walked out of the
Operations shack and go over to the
Nisson. I sit down and have a relapse. I
start talking about green lions and pink
tigers and it is not until a week later that I
stop. I am sittin’ in a wheelchair at a base
hospital when my dome clears. Who
comes up but Ambrose.
“Hello Muley,” he says. “Bagby says
to me to come and cheer you up.”
I have another relapse.
M

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