Student or Learner
Please would you take a look at the fourth part of my short story, "The Lieutenant" and correct my mistakes.
The queue at the counter thinned out and the Lieutenant fetched a tray, put it on the counter, and was given a bowl of pasta and a cup of tea He sat at one of the tables reserved for the officers with his back to me. I expected he was going to remove his cap now when he was going to eat, but his cap sat on his head as if it were glued there. He belched aloud, twice, which I found rude. I watched his arms moving as he was using the knife and fork, and I thought pity of him. I could not have been pleasant spending the last years of his career in this godforsaken town where nothing ever happened and were the only changes were the new recruits coming and leaving in regular intervals. I went up and walked to the counter to put my tray in a tray trolley, and before I left the mess hall, I looked at him. The Lieutenant was looking tired. He chewed food slowly and listlessly and stared blankly ahead.
In the evening, after the trumpet sounded taps, silence fell over the barracks. We were making our final preparations for sleep. Some were reading letters from for the umpteenth time, one last time before the lights went off, some eating their last cakes from the packages they had received from home, some still talking about their plans for the future after military service, and some finishing chess and card games. I went to the window and opened it wide. It was a wonderful summer evening with thousands of stars sparkling and a full moon rising above the hills. Such evenings made me nostalgic, and I remembered the evenings when my girlfriend and I sat in a café, kissing and hugging under the twinkling stars, with passersby around us walking and having fun. My eyes travelled down to the parade ground and I saw our Lieutenant walking around a strange device mounted on a tripod. He was puffing a cigarette and the smoke curled up around his tilted cap. Hands behind his back, he trudged in circles, in one direction and then in another. He was a living caricature of an officer, and I had to stifle my laugh.
My roommates joined me to watch the spectacle, and someone said that the device was a hand-operated siren. “He does the same thing whenever he is a duty officer,” a more experienced soldier explained to us. “Don’t panic if he wakes you in the middle of the night.”
I went to sleep at once, just as I had done every evening since I had come here. I had the most remarkable dream. I was walking on the meadow surrounded by flowers, when I beautiful blond girl dressed in a white dress and barefoot came up to me and asked me if I wanted to fly. I was hesitant and apprehensive, but she said, “Just hold my hand.” I did as she told me, and soon we were flying just a few meters above the ground. Her long hair trailed in the wind behind her and was a sight to behold. I told her how beautiful she was, and as an answer, she offered me a dazzling smile. We were gliding silently through the air and I enjoyed every moment of it, until I heard a loud bang. I opened my eyes and found myself in a midst of mayhem. It was dark but for a weak blue bulb above the door. My roommates jumped from their beds, and were disoriented. They were still in their respective dreams, where their minds and bodies wished still to stay, but the noise blasting from outside reminded them of the harsh reality. They opened the lockers half-asleep, pulled out their uniforms and dressed themselves without zest, as if they were zombies without will. The corporals were stomping along the corridors, banging the doors, telling people to hurry and shouting, “Come on, soldiers! Don't be lazy!” I could not see my head but it felt swollen is if bitten by thousands of insects, and they were still buzzing inside my head. Muddled, I did as my roommates were doing, and soon I was stumbling in the darkness and cursing the Lieutenant, whose siren was howling unremittingly. My watch showed just after midnight, and I thought that only a sadist or a deranged person could come up with an idea as waking the young soldiers and forcing them to run in the middle of the night.
I dashed to the armoury, grabbed my RPG and rushed outside, together with hundreds of other soldiers, who were pouring out of all doors and openings. I stopped for a moment to watch the surreal scene. Under the full moon stood the Lieutenant bent over the siren, a burning cigarette in the corner of his mouth, his hand cranking the handle vigorously. I had to run to the depots and garages, which were about two kilometres away. It had rained the previous days and the narrow path was slippery and muddy. A soldier ahead of me tripped and fell heavily into the mud. I heard him swear and curse and I slowed down a bit. I did not want to end up in hospital with a broken leg or arm.
Within minutes, our weapons were ready: the tanks, personnel carriers, anti-aircraft batteries, anti-aircraft mobile system, trucks and cars. We were automaton, obeying our corporals without complaint. In all this pandemonium, we had forgotten our exhaustion, irritation and lack of sleep. We had temporarily suspended rationality and put our faith in the Lieutenant and his disturbed mind.
To be continued
I went up and walked to the counter to put my tray in a tray trolley....
In my humble opinion, you should say either "I went to the counter, etc." or "I walked to the counter, etc.".
(Of course, you don't actually include "etc." in the sentence. )
Thank you again for correcting my text.
Regarding the "belch", I can say that you can belch politely or discreetly, but the Lieutenant is tipsy and does not care about manners and belches loudly. There is a tray trolley, which is like a shelf on wheels where you can put the trays.
You don't have to respond to everything. (But I appreciate it.) Yes, I know what a tray trolley is. But this is the first time I knew that was the name for it. (I guess I figured there was a name for it. I just didn't know what it was.)
We were exhausted, irritated and sleepy, but we did what we were told to do.
Or (perhaps better):
We were exhausted, irritated and sleepy, but we did what that idiot told us to do.
I am wondering should I write the Lieutenant with a small "l" or a large L.
The word "lieutenant" is not a proper noun. It should not be capitalized unless it is a title (or part of one). Example:
Lieutenant Snowden came into the barracks and told us that the captain would soon be coming in to do inspections. (Not really a good example, because the word starts a sentence and thus gets capitalized anyhow. So make up your own sentence. ) Okay, how about: "Captain Post said to the lieutenant, 'Good morning, Lieutenant Snowden!'"