Follow the adventures and misadventures of one of the Original 13 Joes, as he contemplates the end of his career and searches for love. Watch out for action, because Cobra can strike at any time!
G.I. Joe, and all names and trademarks associated thereof, are the property of Hasbro International, Inc, Marvel Comics and Devil's Due Comics. Any other trademarks or service marks mentioned herein are the property of their respective companies. No infringement of any existing copyright is intended.
This is entirely a work of fiction, although some information is based on fact. I derive no income from producing this work, but please credit me if you reproduce or retransmit this material in whole or in part. All original material in this work is mine, all mine, and I will hunt down anyone who steals it!
G.I. Joe "Detachment New York"
Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, New York
"I can't wait to get these damn combat boots off, Clutch," Steeler groaned, as the Marine maneuvered their HMMWV through the narrow Brooklyn streets leading to Fort Hamilton. "Will ya get us back to the parking garage already?"
"These old streets ain't like drivin' on the Garden State Parkway, Major," Clutch replied. "What? Are you in a hurry to polish your belt buckles and spit shine those boots, Steeler?" After Steeler had gone silent for a few heartbeats, Clutch snickered and looked towards him in the front passenger seat. "Or, maybe you want to hop on your phone and call that looker of a woman... What was her name? Lisa?"
"Cool your jets, Clutch!" Steeler snapped. "The only call I'm planning to make is back to my family in Pittsburgh, to let them know I got here safely and am settled in for the rest of this TDY. Nothing more."
"Come off it, Major," Clutch insisted. "I don't see why an eligible single guy such as yourself is refusing to make a move on a chick who, in my opinion, basically threw herself at you." The driver brought the HMMWV to a stop behind a row of traffic waiting to enter a side gate at Fort Hamilton, and then turned to stare Steeler right in the face. "I swear, if she even showed me a glimmer, I'd be hittin' that sweet honey pot mos rikki-tik!"
(Author's note: "mos rikki-tik" is my attempt to spell from the Vietnamese, meaning 'very quickly'. It IS a slang term adopted by U.S. troops fighting in Vietnam for its translation.)
"Jesus, will you lay off the subject, Marine?" Steeler warned, with an angry look. "For the first part, the way you talk about her is disrespectful. For the second part, I know she appealed to your selfish, perverted side by offering to hook you up with a slice of female skin for your very own. My private life shall remain just that - PRIVATE! Now, haul ass and get us back to quarters before I put you on report with Duke!"
Clutch's face sagged at being yelled at by his teammate, but for the day it had been par for the course. Steeler's behavior wasn't the way it used to be, and as a comrade, Clutch was determined to try to find out why. But for the moment, he knew he wouldn't sway the officer, so he turned to look out the Hummer's windshield and silently drove the rest of the way to the Joes' underground vehicle park.
Steeler retreated to his rooms in the Bachelor Officer's Quarters on base as soon as Clutch had the Hummer parked in its space. Locking the door behind him, Major Pulaski unlaced and slipped off his combat boots, followed by pulling his BDU over shirt off and draping it over a chair back.
Finally feeling comfortable in his BDU trousers and olive drab undershirt, Steeler fished Lisa Underwood's business card out of the over shirt's pocket and sat down next to the phone, holding it in one hand and plucking at it with his thumb. He would bend it with his thumb and watch it snap back into its original shape as his mind went over the events of the day.
One of the few things he brought with him on the Temporary Duty assignment was a small picture frame, one of the myriad of commercial "NFL licensed" products sold all over the country. His frame had the logo of his hometown pro football team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the photo contained inside was the source of many things for Pulaski.
The girl staring back at him from the photograph was young, in her twenties when the snapshot was originally taken. She wore the uniform of one of the Steelers' team cheerleaders. Shapely and blonde, with a pretty, round face and blue-gray eyes, she had a red-lipped smile that could make men melt. And at one time, she had made Steeler's heart melt.
The girl in the photograph was the source of Pulaski's heartache, along with the many years of fond memories that they had shared. He stared at the unmoving, unchanging image for several minutes, and then rested the frame face down on the desk, covering Lisa's business card with it as he picked up the telephone handset and dialed for an outside line.
Jennifer Schmidt, a perky blonde girl of seventeen years, danced around the kitchen of the small, unassuming Pittsburgh home where her father and stepmother lived. She was at the age where energy and a penchant for talking long hours about boys on the telephone were the order of the day. Despite it being a school night, Jennifer was helping her stepmother prepare the evening meal while the two waited for Doug Schmidt, a local manager for a payroll company, to arrive home.
"Come on, Jen," Millicent Pulaski, her stepmother, said. "There's hardly the room in this kitchen for both of us to work. Please ease up on the dancing around, okay?"
"Sorry, Mom," Jennifer replied, edging over to Millicent, who was working at the stove on a pot of boiling sweet potatoes, and hugged her from behind. "It's just been a great day today. The only thing that would make it complete is if Ralph called to say hello."
Millicent sighed, thinking about her son and his job in the Army, and how understanding he was when she had decided to re-marry after her first husband and Ralph's father, Mike Pulaski, died in a car crash many years prior. Unlike a lot of mixed families, where spouses had children outside of their current marriage, Ralph and Jennifer probably had the best relationship out of many step-sibling situations one might otherwise hear about.
"I'm sure Ralph will call when he gets a chance, Jen," Millie said, stirring at the boiling water and checking the oven broiler to see how the cut of steak she was preparing was doing. "He did just get assigned to duties in New York. They're probably keeping him real busy looking out for terrorists. Now, please go set the table; your dad will be home shortly and everything is almost ready to serve."
"You got it, Mom," Jen replied happily, walking over to the dinnerware cupboards and taking out enough plates and silverware to set the table up for dinner. As she left for the dining room, the telephone began to ring quietly in the living room.
"Ugh," Millie groaned, wiping up a small spill on one of her countertops. "The damn telemarketers are always calling at dinner. I can't stand them anymore!"
"I'll get the phone, Mom!" Jen called excitedly from the dining room, dropping the silverware onto the dinner table with a clatter and running into the living room to grab the cordless phone.
"Hey, Jen!" Millie snapped. "If it's one of your school friends, you can call them back after dinner!"
"I know, Mom!" Jen yelled back, picking up the receiver. "Hello," she said in her bubbliest of voices. "Schmidt residence!"
"I must have the wrong number," Steeler said with a laugh. "The woman I'm looking for sounds much older than you!"
Jen was so happy to hear her older stepbrother's voice on the phone that she screamed with delight. From the kitchen, Millie called to her in an annoyed tone.
"Jennifer! You can gossip after dinner! Tell whoever that is, that you will call them back!"
"Is that Mom shouting at you about having callers right before dinner, Jen?" Steeler asked after hearing his mother's shouts through the telephone line.
"Uh huh," Jen mumbled. "But she'll be really happy you called."
"Then you and I have a date to talk later on, and not during a meal so that Mom won't yell at you," Steeler said reassuringly, and he could almost see the beaming smile on Jen's face from his quarters in Brooklyn. "But I'd like to chat with Mom for a moment, okay?"
"No problem, bro," Jen said, carrying the cordless into the kitchen. "Hey, Mom! There's some guy who wants to talk to you on the phone!"
"Not now, I said," Millie replied, turning to set a steaming plate of sweet potatoes onto the round kitchen table in one corner of the room. "I'll talk to him after dinner."
"But, Mom, I know you want to take this call," Jen teased, holding the phone in Millie's direction.
Millie sighed and wiped her hands on the fabric of her cooking apron. "Okay then. Give me the phone and you get back to setting the table. Put this food out while you're at it." Accepting the cordless, Millie brought the phone to her ear and said sharply, "Hello."
"I'm sorry to call at dinner, Mom," Ralph said into the phone. "I wonder if I can ask your advice on something."
"RALPH!" Millie almost screamed into the receiver. "How are you, sweetheart? How's New York? Did you get settled into the base okay?"
"Mom, please," Steeler replied, holding the receiver away from his ear for a moment to let the ringing in it stop. "I'm fine over here. Everything's fine. I just wanted to ask you something."
"That's fine, Ralph," Millie said, sitting down at the kitchen table and wagging a finger at Jennifer to get back to setting the table. "What's on your mind, son?"
"Well, Mom," Steeler continued. "I met a really interesting lady today here in the city. But I'm not sure how to proceed..." He went on to relate the events of how he met Lisa and how she gave him her business card and phone number and even what had happened at the Empire State Building. "... But I still can't get her out of my head."
"Sweetheart, you have to try and move on with your life," Millie advised. "You've already given the Army and the Joes God-knows-how-many years of your life. And I know that for a time, you weren't even hot on sticking around. But you got over that and you're a hero, like all the others. You and I lost a lot back in eighty-two. You know I've moved on. I'll never forget, but I had to move on for my own sanity. And I think you should do the same. I'll bet you still have that picture frame she gave you when she made the Steelers' cheerleading squad."
Steeler looked at the face-down frame lying on the small desk in his quarters. "Mom, must you be so intuitive?"
"That's what moms do," Millie said with a giggle. "We have eyes in the backs of our heads for when little boys get naughty, and we have motherly wisdom to rival Confucius. Call her, Ralph. It wouldn't kill you to go out on a date and try to give her a chance. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work."
"But, Mom," Ralph said sadly. "I don't want to have all the baggage come back."
"Ralph, listen to your mother," Millie said sternly. "You cannot feel the blame for what happened when you came home from Germany and accepted the position with the Joe team. You had no more control over the situation than I did."
"But if I was never in the Army in the first place," he said. "It might never have happened like it did."
"Now, you stop that self-pity talk, Ralph!" Millie said. "Despite your modesty, you've been nothing but a hero to me and Jennifer, and everyone who I talk to about your job in the Army. The Army wasn't to blame, you weren't to blame. A bad choice was to blame, and there's nothing any of us can do to take it back. We just have to keep our loved ones in our memories and make them happy by finding our happiness while we're still around. So, get off your ass, young man, and call that girl before she finds someone else!"
"I didn't know you were bucking for a job with the Pennsylvania Guard as a drill instructor, Mom," Steeler remarked with a laugh. "Okay, I'll give it a try. Thanks for listening, Mom."
"That's what I'm here for, son," Millie replied, turning as she heard the squeal of car brakes outside the kitchen door that led to the driveway. "Your step-dad is home. Want to say hi while I put dinner out?"
"No. I'm sure he's tired, so I'll call over the weekend after I get my assignment for the Memorial Day events," Steeler said. "Talk to you soon, Mom. I love you."
"I love you too, sweetheart," Millie said. Steeler and Millie said their goodbyes, with Jennifer screaming hers out from the dining room, and they hung up as the family settled in to eat dinner. Steeler uncovered the business card, picked it up, and snapped it back and forth again with his thumb.