Water gurgled from the spigot. The yellow mop bucket received the flow as it splashed into the container. Blond hair and blue eyed Lance Corporal Reese Young and dark skinned PFC Tanasia Cunningham held onto their mops like scepters. Reese had a small face with little dimples in her cheeks. Tanasia had a small nose, no acne or freckles. Each wore the same medium hair length haircuts. Once the water had reached the appropriate level, Reese turned off the faucet and proceeded to bring the mops and bucket to their shop.
Sergeant Vivian Deckers, medium brown skinned and hair tied into a donut bun addressed her junior Marines.
“Young, Cunningham, I don’t want to see any scuzz bunnies anywhere. Make sure that you dust first and ensure that all the stations are sparkling gems. This isn’t Boot Camp so don’t kill yourselves. Just make sure that the job gets done,” Vivian said.
“Aye, Sar’ent,” Reese and Tanasia said. Vivian exited the rear hatch.
“I wish I was queen of this,” Tanasia said.
“You mean Commandant…?” Reese asked, one eye slightly closed and head cocked to the side while she dusted the desks.
“No. Queen. I would rule over all of this. I’d be benevolent. But I’d still have an iron fist.”
“Yes, and it would be in a cast once you get broken down by the weight of the Fleet,” Reese said as she dusted the cabinets.
“Ha! I know one thing,” Tanasia said while squeezing out the soapy water that oozed back into the bucket. “I would be a mustang for anything.”
“You would switch sides like that, huh?”
“I’d work on my degree on nights and weekends and then apply for OCS.”
Reese then took hold of her mop and applied it to the floor. She washed in thick foamy strokes that looked like sea foam ebbing across the deck. “I don’t know. I mean you get more power but the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Sure, enlisted Marines have responsibilities and increased pay and bennies, and officers have even more, but the mentality is different.”
“You have to lead Marines sometimes into battle and you’re the one signing letters of regret and handing flags folded thirteen times to the nearest kin.”
“Damn, Reese. That’s cold.”
“But it’s true. I don’t know. I like the E-side. And plus I’m going to be getting out as a corporal anyway. I’m no lifer.”
Tanasia scoffed. “I like the idea of being able to take on increased duties and knowing that I can challenge myself. Improve myself.”
“And you can’t do that as an enlisted?”
“I could go all the way up to the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. But I’m not. I know that I can’t be queen but I’m going for Commandant.”
Reese brought a fist up to her face as she stood with the mop and a smile crept onto her face. “Damn, Tanasia. It’s too bad it’ll never happen.”
“And why’s that?”
“Mustangs can’t be generals. What do you call that?”
“A goddamn lie.”
“Alright, what? There’s a long history of enlisted Marines who switched to the O-side and have become generals. I don’t know where you get your knowledge, but that’s false.” She flung water over the deck’s surface and moved like a hockey center, spreading the liquid in even strokes.
“Okay. You’re a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps. You’re a butter bar. What will you do first?”
“First of all, nobody would treat me like a second lieutenant because I would have had a few years in the Corps and have gained respect amongst my peers. I mean butter bars do, but you know what I mean.”
The two Marines had moved back to the hatch that stood on the opposite side of the room. They had completed their work. They allowed the water to dry. They then turned to each other. The lance corporal became a staff sergeant and the PFC became a major. Tanasia looked over Reese like appraising a jewel. Reese stood at the position of attention. She picked invisible Irish Pennants from Reese’s uniform. Tanasia squatted down and looked at Reese’s boots.
“You’re not too shabby, Staff Sergeant. Make sure that you iron these cammies before you put on my Commandant’s uniform, you understand that?”
Just then, the hatch swung open and Vivian stood at the entryway with one glove.
“What is this, you two?” She smiled. “Are you playing house or are we cleaning house?”
Reese spoke up. “We had just finished our work, Sar’gent and….”
“Save it.” Vivian swiped her finger over the keys of the computers, the desks, the copy machine, the typewriter, the cabinets. She surveyed the sparkling deck. She rubbed her index finger and her thumb together a few inches from her face.
“Well, well, well, my little acting company can square away the shop. Let’s keep this going Marines.”
“Aye, Sar’gent,” Reese and Tanasia said. The sergeant left, again.
“Every Marine a janitor,” Reese said giggling slightly.
“Roger that,” Tanasia said with a smile.