The Green Room
(2008) No infringement upon the rightful owners of "Combat!" and the characters thereof, is intended. Any resemblance between real people and the characters in this story is purely coincidental and no insult is intended. This piece of fan fiction is for enjoyment only, and in no way will the author gain monetary profit from its existence.
"Abbasso, abbasso l'autor!"
by Thompson Girl
"Would somebody please make it stop?" Kirby complained again and threw his hands over his ears. He paced anxiously through the Green Room's main room, but escape from the music that seemed to come out of nowhere was impossible.
"What's the matter, Kirby?" Littlejohn said mildly from where he was playing rummy with Doc and Caje. "Don't like opera?"
"It's a sound, not a smell," Littlejohn said, straight-faced.
"Annnhh, shut up. You know what I mean."
The front door opened and in came Hanley, looking weary. The other squad members accosted him immediately: "Lieutenant!" "What the heck is going on with Thompson Girl?" "You gotta end this!"
Hanley quieted them down. "Just another case of writer's block, that's all. Thompson Girl's stuck. Really stuck. So apparently she's gone back to her roots... that means Italian opera. Lots of it."
"Well, make it stop!" Kirby demanded.
"Make it stop?" Hanley echoed and arched an eyebrow. "Me? Since when do I have any say over what that woman does?"
"Well, can't you talk to your actor buddies? Andrews and that new guy.... They have sway with her. She listens to them."
"Yeah, and they both like opera too," Hanley said, pointedly. "I don't think that'll get us very far. Look, where's Brockmeyer? You want someone to sweet-talk her, let him do it."
Caje said, "He and Saunders took off hours ago. If you ask me, they're the only smart ones here." He winced and glared at the ceiling from which the music seemed inexplicably to be emanating.
"They could have warned us first," Doc said.
"Why can't she just read a book or watch a movie when she gets stuck?" Kirby muttered. "Or at least listen to something snappy, like Bobby Darin, the way WQ does when she's got writer's block."
Hanley said, "You're asking me?"
A soft voice piped up from the back of the room: "It's because opera carries all her favorite archetypes and themes that she uses in our stories here."
There was silence in the room. Well, as silent as it could get with Franco Corelli singing "Recondita armonia" for the fifteenth time that afternoon in the background. All the squad members turned in surprise towards the man who had spoken. Surprise because it was Billy.
"Her arka-what?" Kirby asked.
"Archetypes," Billy said, enunciating over-carefully. "Well, it's true," he went on, a bit defensively as they closed in around him. The youngest squad member was sitting in the corner armchair, a notebook propped open in front of him and a pencil in his hand. "Opera is her creative cornerstone. Those were the stories she knew long before she could even read. And sometimes, she just has to go back to the beginning."
Kirby didn't look any happier. "Yeah, but why does she have to subject us to it?"
"I don't think she means to," Billy said. "That's just one of the problems with existing here. But I have a plan."
They stared at him in surprise. "You?" Hanley asked.
"Well sure, you remember when I helped solve Thompson Girl's plot problem back when she was writing The Reckoning?" He trailed off at their blank looks, then sighed. "No, I guess you wouldn't. I forgot. She never shared that Green Room story." He shrugged it off. "Well, basically I helped her with that story in exchange for her help in trying my own hand at writing."
"You?" Kirby stared at him. "You want to write?"
"Yeah," Billy said. "What's wrong with that?"
"And Thompson Girl's been helping you?" Littlejohn asked.
"Sort of. You see--"
"Later, later," Kirby cut in. "What's your plan?"
Billy grinned cheerfully at him. "I'm going to re-write the ending of this story."
Kirby, Caje, Littlejohn, and Doc exchanged glances, then looked at Hanley. "Can he do that?" Doc asked.
Hanley threw up his hands. "I have no idea."
Billy wet the tip of his pencil and scrunched up his face in concentration. Then he started writing.
The barrack's main room grew hushed as the gathered men watched the aspiring young writer work. He just knew, one day, after the war, he'd be a famous writer, sharing his tales of wartime Normandy with a deft pen--
"Billy," Littlejohn said warningly.
But in the meantime, there was a problem. The operas, the interminable Italian operas that had been playing one after another since dawn, her favorites repeating over and over... it had to end. The tenor's voice rose again, drawing out the notes towards the aria's climax. Abruptly, the voice vanished. So did the invisible orchestra, the record player, the records, the radio, and anything else that would make music in the Green Room.
"Hey," Kirby said. "It's stopped!" He looked around and smiled happily. "You did it, kid! Great job, Billy. I'd like to thank you by cleaning your rifle for you for the rest of the war--"
"Don't push it," Kirby said. He glanced around nervously. "How do you know Thompson Girl won't just overwrite you and make us miserable again?"
Billy thought a moment, then continued writing.
In her little candlelit cabin, Thompson Girl sat, pen in hand, wishing for an idea, any idea that would end her writer's block and let her move on. Not just for her own sake, but for those men sitting around in the Green Room and suffering for her art. "I know," she thought, and started writing:
"Would somebody please make it stop?" Kirby complained again.