Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Gallows Humor (27 APR 2016)

The medical bay was pretty full, but most of the personnel present were visitors, not patients. That was something to be thankful for, Bradford reflected. Four injured, plus CPL Makhandule admitted for enforced bedrest, after her collapse. The Commander hadn't wanted to send her back out again, but without knowing what they'd be facing, he'd wanted the best he had available, and she was the best Rocketeer they had. She'd more than earned her corporal stripes. Bradford stood off to the side of the doorway, watching the buzzing activity for a bit longer before he turned to go.

IO Pidgeon leaned back in his chair, smiling. Ward was so wrapped up he could barely move, and he was still cracking jokes. Pidgeon had come to ghost-write a letter to Mike, since Ward wouldn't be holding a pen for another couple of weeks, and he wasn't entirely sure that the things Ward was dictating weren't at least partially to make him blush.

"Sign it," Parsons paused, considering. "With burning passion and dreams of-"

"Ward!" Pidgeon exclaimed, dropping the pen, "I'm not writing that! You wait until you can write your own smut." Parsons laughed, and tried to raise an apologetic hand.

"I'm kidding," he after the laughter had died off into a series of wheezing coughs. "Sign it, 'With all my love, W', then a couple Xs and Os." Pidgeon rolled his eyes and jotted it down.

"There," he replied, carefully tearing the pages out of the notepad. " You want to proofread?"

"Nah, I trust you, mate," Parsons replied. "Thanks a bunch for doing this. Mike would probably flip if he didn't get a letter this week, so soon after we got permission to start sending mail."

"It's no problem," Pidgeon said, carefully folding the paper to fit an envelope. "So, hey, I have a question."

"Shoot."

"After the mission, I heard several of the others referring to you as Shroud?"

"That's... not a question, mate." Parsons replied after a brief pause. "You want to know why?"

"Yeah."

"Mak tells me it was because my shots just seemed to come out of the darkness, during the last mission. I was on the rooftop, overwatching the battle, with my marksman rifle."

"So, shroud?"

"Yeah," Parsons confirmed, then chuckled. "Course, that's not what Faber tells me."

"What'd she say?" Pidgeon inquired, raising a brow.

"She said it was because they were pretty sure I was dead, when they got me onto the Skyranger," Parsons said with a grin. "Said I was ready for a burial shroud."

"That's horrible!" Pidgeon's eyes widened. "Why would she say something like that?"

"Relax, mate," Parsons returned. "It's just the sort of jokes you make in that sort of situation. It's called gallows humor, and it has a history going back all the way."

"Why?"

"Cause you might die any time you go out," Parsons explained, picking his words carefully, the smile gone from his face. "You can't just stare that in the face without blinking. So, you joke. The jokes may never be funny for anyone who hasn't been there, but they're a damned sight funnier than dwelling on death and pain all the time."

"I guess I can understand that," Pidgeon replied.