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
20:30 hours, local time
Steeler sipped at a can of Yo Joe Cola while he thought about making the dreaded phone call to ask Lisa out on their first date. The business card from Citibank with Lisa's home number scrawled on it seemed to stay magnetized to his fingers, and he turned it over and over.
The keepsake picture still sat face down on his desk, as the Major struggled with the memories of his past. His mother's words rang in his ears, to give Lisa a fair shake.
Glancing at a small desk clock, Steeler decided it was now or never, since he didn't want to disturb her at too late an hour. He picked up the phone and dialed up an outside line, finally punching in the numbers to Lisa's home phone.
The handset buzzed as the telephone rang in Lisa's home in Astoria, Queens, where she maintained a modest, two-story house that was on the small side. Her parents owned the home before she had taken over the title, and it had been her folks' "empty nester" place after she had gone off to college.
Lisa had moved back to Astoria after college to live with her father, the retired Army National Guard Master Sergeant, after her mother passed away from cancer. Lisa now lived alone since her dad's last heart attack took his life.
Soft music played from an Aiwa component stereo system, and it echoed through the ground floor of Lisa's three-bedroom home. The sounds wafted through the house all the way to the kitchen, where Lisa was working over an electric stove. She had a tea pot on one heating element, boiling some water, and a frying pan sizzled while she stirred some beef chunks, long grain rice and vegetables into a flavorful stir fry. A half-full wine glass sat on the counter next to where she was cooking, containing a recent-vintage California Merlot which was one of Lisa's favorites.
The piece of music playing on the stereo was one of her father's favorites, a soulful folk song written during the Vietnam War. Lisa occasionally played her parents' favorite music to help her remember the happy times when they were still around, and she often wistfully relived her childhood through the tunes.
When the phone began to ring, Lisa was momentarily surprised. She wasn't expecting any calls from friends or relatives, even though Patricia sometimes called her at home to chit-chat about the office or just to let off steam. Her preoccupation with her childhood memories had made her forget wanting to hear from Steeler.
She set an egg timer for five minutes and turned down the heat under her fry pan so that the stir fry wouldn't overcook. Reaching for the phone that hung next to her refrigerator, she answered it quietly with a simple hello.
"Hello," Steeler began. "Is Lisa there?"
Steeler's voice didn't immediately ring a bell in Lisa's head. "This is Lisa," she replied.
"Hi, Lisa, this is Major Pulaski," Steeler said in a near-businesslike tone. "Ralph Pulaski."
A smile crossed Lisa's lips when recognition finally took hold. "Major! Hi!" she exclaimed. "I was wondering if you'd ever get around to calling me back."
"I'm sorry if I sent the wrong signal, Lisa," Steeler continued. "I do have to maintain a professional bearing in uniform."
Lisa sat down at a small, square kitchen table, but didn't feel the emptiness of the house as she listened to Steeler's friendly voice over the phone. "I understand. Although my dad was no "Officer and a Gentleman" material, he did most of his swearing on the drill field or around the house when he unwound from a long day."
"You really looked up to him, didn't you?" Steeler asked. Without waiting for an answer, he kept talking. "I meant to ask you if everything was okay after we took care of your friend at the Empire State Building."
"It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, Major," Lisa replied, sniffing the air in case her stir fry was burning on the stove. "Thank you again. Very much."
"We're just doing our duty," Steeler said, his voice softening into a brotherly tone, more like the one he used with his teenage stepsister. "And, you're welcome."
Lisa detected the change in Steeler's voice and felt like a barrier had all of a sudden fallen to pieces. "I'm glad nothing happened to you or Corporal Steinberg concerning that scumbag Hamilton. He's just one of those irritating sexist pigs. Nothing like you, Ralph..." Lisa caught herself a moment, realizing that she was about to start gushing. "Is it okay if I call you Ralph? It is after hours now."
Steeler let himself laugh a moment at Lisa's slip. He sincerely felt flattered that Lisa took so much notice in the way he carried himself. "You can call me Ralph, Lisa. That's fine."
"Good." Lisa got to her feet and stopped the egg timer a few seconds before it rang out in its shrill tingling sound. The mixture of stir fry and aromatic herbs filled the kitchen with such tempting smells that she was more than ready to dig in.
As Lisa shook the contents of the fry pan out onto a plate, she kept talking to Steeler. "You know, Ralph, I have to admit something to you. I'm not the kind of girl who just throws her home number around on the back of business cards for all the men in New York. I was just very impressed by you at first sight. Call me impulsive... call me kooky..."
"That's okay, kooky," Steeler interjected, using an old childhood joke to break his awkwardness.
Lisa laughed from her end of the telephone line. She wanted Steeler to know that she felt awkward too, but was happy to finally be talking to him like a girl would talk to a guy she met. "I'm glad you understand. I just- I just don't want you to see me as a flirt or something. You know, all flash and no smash?"
"Damn, Lisa, you sure did have an Army dad," Steeler said, laughing again. "I thought that phrase was copyrighted somewhere and only used by career non-coms when referring to royal cluster fucks and rear echelon officers."
"That may be so," Lisa agreed. "I can't remember when I started saying it, but I know I picked it up from Dad." She couldn't resist the scent of her stir fry any longer and took a forkful into her mouth. "Did you have a quiet afternoon?"
"Thankfully, yes," Steeler replied. "Steinberg was being a serious pain in my ass all day, but that was about the worst thing that happened after we left the Empire State Building."
"I guess you're not allowed to discuss what you're doing while in town, right?" Lisa asked.
Steeler's voice didn't change back to all business as Lisa had begun to anticipate. "I'm sorry. No, I can't, at least not the official stuff."
Lisa's ears perked up. She didn't need to see Steeler to read the body language in his voice. Her female instincts kicked right in. "What about discussing unofficial stuff?"
"No problems there," Steeler replied. "Which leads me to ask if you'd like to engage in some very innocent, very unofficial activity some time soon?"
Lisa suppressed the urge to laugh at Steeler's awkwardness in asking her out on a first date. "Ralph, you slick operator," she said with a girlish giggle. "That's one pickup line I've never heard. Since you're being so creative about it, I'd love to. Did you have something in mind?"
Steeler let out a silent sigh, relieved to have actually survived the 'asking her out' hurdle without completely embarrassing himself. "Well," he said before taking a long pause. "I'm the tourist here. Maybe if we do something you like?"
Lisa was completely disarmed by the apparent innocence of Steeler's attempt to make the date with her. It was like she was back in junior high and being asked to go with a pre-pubescent classmate to a dance. She pictured Steeler in a t-shirt and blue jeans, leaning on a bike outside the family-owned bodega down the street from her place, stumbling over his own words and red-faced as he learned how to talk to a girl for the very first time.
"How does your day look tomorrow?" Lisa asked. "I am totally free after eleven, so you could swing by my office on Wall Street and we can think of something. Maybe we can do a simple, innocuous lunch?"
Steeler tossed some ideas in his head and recalled the notes on his duty roster. "As it turns out, I'm on duty here at the base after eighteen-hundred. How about taking the lunch date a few blocks north and you show me Central Park?"
Lisa liked what she was hearing. Ralph was certainly a guy after her own heart. "That sounds like a lot of fun, Ralph. Why don't we go for it?"
Steeler and Lisa traded some logistics information to hammer out the details of how they would hook up the next morning, and then chatted for a whole hour about each other. They talked comfortably, laughed at each other's jokes, and mutually commiserated about the rigors of their work, all without Steeler revealing anything sensitive. They had talked so long that Steeler had to apologize for making Lisa miss a quiet dinner.
"It's fine, Ralph," Lisa said, setting her utensils down on the small kitchen table and wiping the corner of her mouth with a napkin. "I haven't had a nice long talk like this in a while. Don't worry, dinner still tasted good."
Steeler glanced at the desk clock and realized that it was time to hit the hay since Duke's reveille was at oh-five-thirty whether the Joes were working or not. "I'm glad we could unwind together for awhile, but the top sergeant around these parts is a slave master. I need to say good night."
"I understand," Lisa replied. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning. See you at eleven hundred, my Major."
Steeler and Lisa said a brief good-night, and then both retired to bed with satisfied grins on their faces.