Colonel Lionel Tucker paced the front of the briefing room, hands behind his back, his resemblance to Teddy Roosevelt not entirely an act of nature. He turned to face his regimental officers as a young officer scurried in to take his seat.
"Are we all present now? Good of you to consent to join us Lt. Baker."
"Sorry sir." Baker had boyish, everybody's favorite cousin sort of looks, and wore his new second lieutenant bars as if they itched.
"Never apologize, Lieutenant, it's a sign of weakness. All right, let's proceed to reports. Major Jackson, operations report."
The lanky officer stood and adjusted his wire-rimmed glasses. "D-day is June 16, sir. Orders have been cut and sent to all appropriate parties. The list of personnel has been obtained and has been checked in meticulous detail. The staging area is set, and the officer scheduled to conduct the exercise has been put on full alert."
"Very good, Major. And the primary leadership team is fully briefed?"
"Yes sir, but one is not fully . . ."
"Harrummmp - well, we don't need to go into that. Captain Scott, Transportation report."
"All necessary transport has been arranged, sir."
"Good. Let's hear from supply, Captain Wilson."
Wilson brought his considerable bulk out of the chair with noticeable effort. "I have a detailed list of the necessary items, sir, and it has all been procured and checked off item by item."
"Excellent, and the appropriate uniform sizes?"
"All correct and double-checked, sir."
"Lt. Nash, is the regimental band set to give us a good send-off?"
"Yes sir, we are standing by, and have been provided a list of approved tunes to perform. But I'm concerned about space, sir. Since it is to be indoors shouldn't we put together a small ensemble perhaps?"
"No, I want the full treatment, nothing else will do."
"Gentlemen, I'm very pleased. You all know what this operation means to me. It is terribly important that it unfold without the slightest problem. If I had left the planning to . . . well, some things are better left to professionals."
"Sir are you sure we ought to . . ."
"Lt. Baker, this is your first time under fire and some nerves are to be expected. Your role in this is simple, you just be prepared to be there on D-day and to face the task with courage and fortitude. Trust me, it will go off without a hitch."
He stood there and looked at the young man for a moment. The young lieutenant had no color in his face and in general did not look as if he felt well at all. The Colonel returned his attention to his officers. "Is that it then? Have we overlooked any conceivable details?"
"Well maybe just one or two." A small voice came from behind him.
"Carrie Sue, you shouldn't be here."
"I shouldn't be here when my own wedding is being planned?"
"Every detail is under control by some of the finest logistical support in the army."
"UNDER CONTROL? You consider sending government travel orders to guests instead of invitations under control?" Her face turned a shade of red that suggested eminent eruption.
"Carrie Sue, calm down, we'll discuss and slight modifications to the operational plan at home."
"We'll discuss them now, Lionel." An older lady with shadings of gray in her dark hair came in to stand behind her daughter. "Who picked out the horrible dress that just came to the house marked 'uniform of the day'?"
Captain Wilson sank in his chair and tried to hide behind the bulky figure of Captain Scott.
"Now see here, this is insubordination. We have planned this operation with precision and it will run like a well-oiled machine. If I had left it up to you the whole operation would still be snarled up in discussions of dress material, cake icing and who knows what other ridiculous details."
The eruption occurred. "RIDICULOUS DETAIL?" Officers scattered from the room like chickens from a henhouse with the fox in hot pursuit. All but the Colonel and Lt. Baker. Five foot two of full unabated fury advanced on them in full battle array. She gave her father a push surprising for her size and he landed unceremoniously in a chair.
"Now hear this, Colonel. Those ridiculous details are what a wedding is all about. For you men you just show up, mumble a few words, and it's all over. For us, the planning is far more important than the actual event. We delight in the details, bubble with enjoyment over looking at dress material, dress fittings and cake icing. We can spend hours selecting music, and it isn't going to be that silly regimental band. We are going to have to put up with your silly military shenanigans all of our married life, we deserve . . . no, we DEMAND the right to begin it our way."
"Well my dear, I had no idea you felt so strongly about . . . "
"You're absolutely right there, you have no idea. She turned on the lieutenant, who actually shrank from her. "And YOU. Robbie, I'm ashamed of you."
"But he's my commanding officer."
"Well I'm assuming command of this operation as of right now." She spun. "Isn't that right, daddy dear?"
"I was just trying to make it the best . . ."
"ISN'T THAT RIGHT, DADDY DEAR?"
"Yes, Carrie Sue, whatever you say, sweetheart."
"That's better. Now why don't you two run over to the officer's club, which is where I am sure those other cowards have hidden. There's no hurry for you to get home because the house will be full of bridesmaids and catering representatives and of course Reverend Burt. The real wedding briefing is about to take place, and we'll let you two know what we need you to do."