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Read Tales of the Peacetime Army for free

Back in 2007, Paragraph Line Books published John Sheppard’s Tales of the Peacetime Army. It’s a great little book that depicts this Florida punk who joins the Reagan-era army. Although it’s an excellent book, we didn’t do a good job of promoting it, and it fell through the cracks.

Now, with John’s blessing, I’d like to give all of you a chance to read this book for free. To do this, I’m posting all of the text here in the blog, piece by piece so you can enjoy it. I would really stress though that if you dig the story, please check out the paper book. John designed the book to look like one of those Army manuals with a long technical title and government fonts and goofy line art and the whole nine yards, and it’s something you really need to hold in your hands to fully appreciate. But I hope you can enjoy the story here in blog format.

I’ll keep a rough index here as I post each installment, so you can backtrack and read them all in order if you find this post later in the future. Right now, I need to chop up and reformat the text so it fits here, so stay tuned, and check out the page and video trailers in the meantime.

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Part 8 of Tales of the Peacetime Army

[Note: this is part 8 of 8 of the complete text for John Sheppard’s book Tales of the Peacetime Army. To start reading at the beginning and for a full list of all parts, please go to the table of contents.

And if you like the story, please visit the book’s page and consider buying a copy!]

LIFE DURING WARTIME

I was never promoted to sergeant. I was, instead, a spec-four-promotable, a.k.a SP-4-Ever.

Each MOS had a magic number for promotion out of a possible 1,000. You could make 300 points for your PT test. I barely passed mine. You could make 100 points for college. I was maxed out there. The board gave you a certain number of points, too.

Ordnance specialists, at the time, had to have 450 points for promotion to sergeant. So most of them got promoted. Illustrators were stuck at 998.

Continue reading Part 8 of Tales of the Peacetime Army

Part 7 of Tales of the Peacetime Army

[Note: this is part 7 of 8 of the complete text for John Sheppard’s book Tales of the Peacetime Army. To start reading at the beginning and for a full list of all parts, please go to the table of contents.

And if you like the story, please visit the book’s page and consider buying a copy!]

THE ETERNAL FLAME

I went bowling. I kept score in my head entirely against my will. The numbers kept adding up and I couldn’t stop them. It’s like being sick all the time, being me. I have to fight to be lazy every second that I’m lazy. It’s exhausting.

“What’s your score?” a girl’s voice asked. I knew the voice.

“Kelsey,” I said, turning around. I wasn’t particularly happy to see her, though she appeared to be delighted to see me.

Continue reading Part 7 of Tales of the Peacetime Army

Part 6 of Tales of the Peacetime Army

[Note: this is part 6 of 8 of the complete text for John Sheppard’s book Tales of the Peacetime Army. To start reading at the beginning and for a full list of all parts, please go to the table of contents.

And if you like the story, please visit the book’s page and consider buying a copy!]

GOING STATESIDE

I had a rude welcome back to the 191st. I had been in the Army a year, and had accumulated 30 days of leave. I was in use-it-or-lose-it territory, the S-1 sergeant warned me. I decided to go home for two weeks. She also told me that I was going to get a medal.

“For what?” I went. “What’d I do? I didn’t do anything!”

“Quit complaining,” she said. “Some soldiers would welcome getting a medal.”

Continue reading Part 6 of Tales of the Peacetime Army

Part 5 of Tales of the Peacetime Army

[Note: this is part 5 of 8 of the complete text for John Sheppard’s book Tales of the Peacetime Army. To start reading at the beginning and for a full list of all parts, please go to the table of contents.

And if you like the story, please visit the book’s page and consider buying a copy!]

FAKE WAR

After morning formation, filthy snowflakes whirling around our ankles, Socrates and I were volunteered to participate in REFORGER, a dress rehearsal for World War III. “You, and you,” the first sergeant said, pointing at us. “This is a job for assholes,” he explained. He said that only assholes volunteer for anything and that, this being an all-volunteer Army, we were all, therefore, assholes.

“I applaud your logic, Top,” I said.

“Don’t come crying to me if you don’t get your supplies,” Socrates said.

“What about you?” Gary asked me. “Any empty threats?” Continue reading Part 5 of Tales of the Peacetime Army

Part 4 of Tales of the Peacetime Army

[Note: this is part 4 of 8 of the complete text for John Sheppard’s book Tales of the Peacetime Army. To start reading at the beginning and for a full list of all parts, please go to the table of contents.

And if you like the story, please visit the book’s page and consider buying a copy!]

WE HUMP TO PLEASE

My paycheck was massive by Army PFC standards. I stood snapping the paper in my hands following formation, staring down at it. Three months without pay had produced a mini-miracle of instant solvency.

“Guess you can get a decent haircut now,” Gary said. “Instead of that barracks cut you have.”

Continue reading Part 4 of Tales of the Peacetime Army

Part 3 of Tales of the Peacetime Army

[Note: this is part 3 of 8 of the complete text for John Sheppard’s book Tales of the Peacetime Army. To start reading at the beginning and for a full list of all parts, please go to the table of contents.

And if you like the story, please visit the book’s page and consider buying a copy!]

THREE MONTHS WITHOUT PAY

I called my mother up from a payphone in the barracks after I graduated from AIT. She wasn’t impressed. “Some genius you turned out to be,” she said. “A private in the Army.”

“I have orders to go to West Germany,” I said.

“Germany,” she said. The phone was silent. I thought for a moment that she’d hung up. “Don’t call collect again,” she finally said.

“Fine,” I said.

“Good luck,” she said. “If you run into your father over there, say ‘hi.'”

“Bye, mom,” I said. I hung up.

Dave had orders to something called SHAPE in Belgium. Murphy had orders to something called TRADOC in Fort Monroe, Virginia. Ron had orders to the fifth mechanized infantry division at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Continue reading Part 3 of Tales of the Peacetime Army