Doug and Woody were far from home burr-headed recruits sitting at a table in a noisy smoke-filled beer hall that was saturated with the stench of cheap booze.
"There are three ways I can win this fight," Doug said just above a whisper to his barracks buddy, Woody.
"I don't think so." Woody sized up the brawny Marine decked in dress khakis at the bar. "I don't think we could take him together." His eyes searched for the nearest exit and nodded toward one. "Let's sneak out," Woody whispered.
"He's got his eyes on every exit," Doug said. "If we make a move for one of them he'll nail me."
"Go over and say something to the MP," Woody suggested.
"What am I going to say,” Doug said and feigned wiping tears from his cheek. “’That big bad Marine is going to whip my butt?' To which he’ll reply, 'Ya mind if I watch sweetie pie?' No thanks. I'll take the beatin'."
"What did you say to him?" Woody asked nervously looking around.
"When you went to take a leak he told me to get up,” Doug said. “He had thee buddies that were coming and they wanted a table. I told him to get lost."
"Why didn't you just let him have it?" Woody said
"Didn't think he would take it so personal," Doug said.
The Marine held a bottle of beer in his hand as he pushed his way through the crowded beer hall full of recruits back to where Dough and Woody sat.
Woody whispered, "What are the three ways?"
“What three ways?” Doug said.
“You said there were three ways to win this fight,” Woody said.
There was no time to answer. The Marine sat across the table from Doug. "Well let's finish our beers and take it outside. My buddies will be here before long and I want a table for them," he said coldly.
"Look man can't we just forget this," Woody said smiling anxiously trying to be reasonable. "Are you sure we just can't all sit together?"
The Marine motioned with his head toward Woody, smiled, and said to Doug, "Do ya powder his behind before ya lay him down for beddy-bye?" He said it as if reciting a line of poetry. He tilted the bottle to his lips and drank without taking his eyes off Doug.
He looked over at Woody and ordered, "Hold the table for me and my buddies while me and this soldier step outside."
While Woody affirmed the command, the final gulp of beer from Doug’s mug passed his throat. He squeezed the handle of the mug as if trying to choke the life out of a snake. With a swing, he drove the bottom of the mug squarely against the jutted jaw of the Marine. There was a loud crack like a bat hitting a baseball. The Marine fell to the floor and his chair squirted across the room. Everyone expectantly rose to their feet.
"He passed out," Doug said helplessly to the audience of recruits.
Doug looked at Woody whose eyes were bulging. "That's the first way."
“Now what?” Woody said.
“We better go,” Doug said. “I lied—that’s the only way I know.”