"Oh, god," muttered Ras Qahira, burying his head in his hands.
"Is that really you, Moss?"
"Hello, Mubarak," said Qahira, reluctantly looking up.
"Hey, that's General Mubarak now," said the other with mock severity.
He threw a few fake punches which Qahira stalwartly refused to fake evade. With a smile Mubarak grabbed Qahira's shoulder fraternally.
"How are you doing, you Christian bastard?" Mubarak asked.
"Oh, just wonderful, Mubarak. General, sorry."
"Hey, forget it, I'm not pulling rank here, Moss."
Looking around, Mubarak grabbed one of the Rhinos who was passing by. It happened to be Lieutenant Yutas. They were back in Cairo now. The Standstill in Morocco was still going on, but with the Bloody Wind the Africans now had an advantage and needed fewer troops. The Rhinos had been recalled to their home (well, for most of them their home) to defend against an attack by Middle Eastern mercenaries who'd been hired by the English.
"Did the major general here ever tell you fellows about the Libyan War?" asked Mubarak.
"No," admitted Yutas.
"Well, that's where your fearless leader got his nickname, Moss."
By this time a large group of Rhinos had begun to gather around Mubarak as he boisterously began to rip Ras to shreds.
"Well, back during the Libyan War, Moss here was just a little baby captain. I was a captain too, but I was a bit older and more experienced..."
"Even though I had seniority," chimed in Qahira.
"Yeah, yeah," continued on Qahira's old friend, "He had seniority. So, one day the general tells us, 'Boys, we're fighting a defensive war here. Those Libyans are trying to invade us, not the other way around. I want you two to hold this mountain pass, no matter what the cost.' Well, this pass was like an open doorway, solid rock on either side. So we plunked our companies down at the opening to the pass and waited. And, sure enough, not much later a whole lot of Libyans come rushing at us. And we held the pass.
"But see, the Libyans, (they're clever bastards, by the way, if any of you here are Libyan, you're a damn clever people, I'll tell you that) they'd just gone around behind the mountain. So they started coming at us from the other side, too!" he was laughing hysterically by now, "Do you see? There was no point to us holding that pass, they'd found a way around! And so, with Libyans jammed up our asses and down our gullets, we were stuck in the middle. And you know what? We kept on holding that pass.
"By the end of it, we'd routed out every last Libyan there. Two companies! Can you imagine? Finally we got out of this foul-smelling pass and we kiss the sweet ground at our feet. I'm kneeling down, praying to Allah, this son of a bitch is crossing himself and thanking Jesus. And the general comes up to us, and you know what he says?" Mubarak could barely contain himself by this time, "He says, 'Captain Qahira, I've never seen a defensive commander like you ever before. You stuck to those rocks like you were moss, never moved a centimeter.'"
Mubarak lost control and burst out laughing, along with most of the rest of the Rhinos, except for some of the Libyans who'd taken offense and Qahira himself.
"And the name stuck, they all know," said Qahira testily.
"And I'll tell you something else," Mubarak broke in, "He's never fought an offensive battle in his life! He was raring to go off to Morocco and hash it out, but it turns out he was just defending trenches again like he always did. I wish I could have seen the look on your face when you found out it was a stalemate in Morocco, Moss!"
The other Egyptian slapped the leader of the Rhinos on his back hard, and nearly bent double laughing.
"You knew?" Qahira coughed out, growing angry.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Moss, I didn't know you would get so angry about it. But you know you could never take the offensive for your life."
Ras suddenly punched Mubarak, and sent him sprawling to the sand.
"How's that for an offensive, old friend? And don't ever call me Moss again."
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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