Paper, scissors, crayons

Dash Fire Diaries
3 min readJul 17, 2022


Field Operation Instructions (a.k.a. “orders”) to Captain Theodore Roosevelt from Brigadier General Mac Allan Macaby, “Mac the Body Stacker.” CLASSIFIED: CONFIDENTIAL

As you know, you are slated to go on a secret mission behind enemy lines. There has been a slight delay of a few days that I want you, as second-in-command to convey to the rest of the team. Your commanding officer’s son was also a brave officer who died in battle along with the rest of his unit, so I am granting your CO a few days’ leave to mourn. It would be wonderful if, as your unit met and got to know each other, you all made sympathy cards for your commanding officer, who will introduce himself to you when he returns. In fact, it is an order. Your cards needn’t be anything fancy, just a stick figure drawing or two and a bit of manly inspiration like “once more into the breech” would be fine. I am enclosing some crayons, scissors and craft paper for the completion of this task.

Carry on!

August 3rd, 1917

Diary of Theodore Roosevelt at Sainte Croix en Plaine

The Corps Commander has issued an order to make a sympathy card for the commanding officer of our outfit…which is not me. By now I gather there is to be no Roosevelt’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Bunch. What is in its place remains to be seen. The brigade commander, who will accompany us on this secret mission, still has not been identified to us. Our first “mission” is to use craft paper to make him a sympathy card for the loss of his son. Here I sit around a table with several luminaries, several of whom — Lord Robert Baden-Powell, Allen Quatermain, Ernest Shackleton — I have only just met and are known to me by reputation, others, like Frederick Russell Burnham, are old friends.

Here we sit, a bunch of old, wizened war horses, cutting construction paper, drawing stick figures with gaudy-colored crayons and trying to think of comforting sentiments to convey to a commander we have not met. I can think of no worse way to prepare for what lies ahead. My card will read: “Congratulations on the death of your son in combat! I can’t think of a better way to die, then on one’s feet with a rifle in hand.” I then drew a stick figure of myself stabbing a Saysquack in the heart with my pearl-handled knife made by Tiffany…because that made me smile, so I was sure it would made the new commander grin as well. I got up and walked around the table to check on the progress the others were making.

Sir Shackleton drew himself standing on an ice floe next to a dead seal with x’s for eyes, waving a mitten hand next to the words, “It’s not as bad as it looks.”

Allen Quatermain was in the process of drawing himself sniping at enemy soldiers and the bullets exploding their skulls, with the range marked out in yards. Lord Robert Baden-Powell had drawn a boy scout riding a tiger backwards and pulling on its tail. On the inside he had written, “Take the tiger by the tail and you will never die or fail.” I nodded my approval at these efforts and said, “Gentlemen, I think we are going to make an excellent team!” I then penned a quick note to Brigadier General Macaby to tell him we completed his instructions. I was quite proud of all of us because, we had somehow all managed to make elaborate sympathy cards without offering any unnecessary sympathy or mollycoddling, which could only serve to weaken our new commander.

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Dash Fire Diaries

Envisioning a past that never was. Step through a surreal portal where objective truth, imagined history and satirical fiction coexist.