“Oh, God, sir. You made–”

“Mark II!”

“–a second version of the Whirleybird.”

“Streamlined, Jenkins. More aerodynamic. I told the boys in the shop to spare no expense, so they all went on vacation. When they got back, I said that I meant to spend money on the project. It was an understandable misunderstanding.”

“And they came up with this?”

“They did, indeed. I gave them all medals. In fact, I gave them your medals.”

“So that’s where they went.”

“I told them to add lightness. Oh, that reminds me. Take these pills.”

“What are they, General?”

“Pizza with pepperoni.”

“I don’t understand, sir.”

“Bottle of Pepsi.”

“Ah.”

“Peppy Longstocking having a catch with Joe Pepitone.”

“I don’t want any speed, sir.”

“You need it, fatty. You’ll lard up the works with your gumbo ass.”

“Gumbo ass, sir?’

“Plentiful and spicy, Jenkins. You’re a butterball and you’ll weigh down the Whirleybird. Take the upsie-daisies.”

“Sir, I’m not a butterball. It’s the 60’s. I have a 30-inch waist. We all do.”

“You’re too plump for the Mark II. Speed and nimbility are her game. Now swallow the hula-hoopers.”

“I don’t want any speed sir.”

“Oh, fine.”

“How about a spoonful of peanut butter?”

“I saw you put the pills on the spoon, sir.”

“Who wants some peeny-weeny?”

“This is degrading for both of us, sir.”

“Dammit, man, why won’t you be a team player! The Mark II is a state-of-the-art machine and I’ll tell you a little secret: the Generals are very keen on her.”

“Why did you capitalize–”

“The Washington Generals.”

“–that word…why do you know the Washington Generals?”

“My cousin’s the center.”

“You don’t say? That is so interesting. What’s he like?”

“Depressed.”

“Sure.”

“Jenkins, when you look at the Mark II, do you know what you see?”

“Chunks of myself spraying in a hundred-foot radius below the thing when I invariably full into the rotors.”

“Besides that.”

“To be honest, sir, that image is taking up a lot of my brain right now.”

“Jenkins, this is the Army; no one wants to hear from your brain.”

“Yes, sir.”

“We still need to shave a few pounds off of you. If you won’t take the pep pills, then we’ll do it the old-fashioned way.”

“I have a terrible feeling about that last phrase.”

“I’m going to starve you, Jenkins.”

“Yup. Please don’t starve me, sir.”

“Don’t think of it as me starving you, Jenkins. Think of it as America starving you.”

“I’d rather not, sir. May I ask how you’re planning on doing this?”

“I’m ordering you. Starve, Jenkins; that’s an order.”

“I don’t think you can do that.”

“I said ‘that’s an order.’ Makes it official.”

“No, sir.”

“Stop being impudent. Return to being pudent. Take my orders, damn you! I’m a general and you’re a Jenkins. Look at all my medals, look at them. Where are your medals?”

“You stole them, sir.”

“Good on me. I saw the future and your saw that it was nothing but you being a clod. You know, I could lock you up in the hoosegow and forget to feed you.”

“Are you going to do that?”

“Of course not. I don’t know where anything is.”

“I have an idea, sir. Why don’t we get a smaller soldier to pilot the Whirleybird?”

“You’re talking about kidnapping a jockey.”

“I distinctly said ‘soldier,’ sir.”

“I like it. We kidnap a locker room full of jockeys and use them as test pilots. They already have helmets.”

“Sir, there are no jockeys here. We’re in Vietnam.”

“Are we now? That explains the humidity. Well, the solution is clear.”

“Don’t say it.”

“The Vietnamese are tiny. We’ll kidnap some of them.”

“You said it. Sir, we’re fighting the Vietnamese. Some of them. I mean, even the ones who like us don’t really like us, but I’m getting away from my point.”

“You could never get away from your point, Jenkins. It’s on the top of your head.”

“Delightful, sir. We shouldn’t kidnap any Vietnamese people, sir.”

“We can shoot them, but we can’t kidnap them? This war makes no sense.”

“No, sir.”

“Who are the smallest men on the base, Jenkins?”

“Let’s see. There’s Shrinky-Dink Stapleton.”

“Go find him.”

“Tiny Thibedoux.”

“Him, too.”

“Pee Wee Lee.”

“Doesn’t he keep getting caught being unsubtle with himself while on guard duty?”

“Three times this week, sir.”

“And the mess hall?”

“Also three times.”

“Don’t get him.”

“Yes, sir. Shall I tell them what they’ve just been volunteered for, or leave it a surprise?”

“Ooh, surprise, surprise.”

“Yes, sir.”