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Dead Horses

Notes & Transcripts

The commanding officer was furious when nine GIs who had been out on passes failed to show up for morning roll call. Not until 7 p.m. did the first man straggle in. “I’m sorry, sir,” the soldier explained, “but I had a date and lost track of time, and I missed the bus back. Being determined to get in on time, I hired a cab. Halfway here, the cab broke down. I went to a farmhouse and persuaded the farmer to sell me a horse. I was riding to camp when the animal fell over dead. I walked the last ten miles, and just got here.”

Though skeptical, the colonel let the young man off with a reprimand. However, after him, seven other stragglers in a row came in with the same story—had a date, missed the bus, hired a cab, bought a horse, etc. By the time the ninth man reported in, the colonel had grown weary of it. “Okay,” he growled, “now what happened to you?”

“Sir, I had this date and missed the bus back, so I hired a cab .”

“Wait!” the colonel screeched at him. “don’t tell me the cab broke down.”

“No, sir,” replied the soldier. “The cab didn’t break down. It was just that there were so many dead horses in the road, we had trouble getting through.”

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