This is a long story about a long story. Many years ago I was advised to call it a novel.
Illegally Sane 18
It was now and Cody brought back an almost empty quart bottle of Dwars with the next pitcher. Then he went back to the bar and brought back four shot glasses. Cody smiled, “I just want to get rid of this before it evaporates.” Two shots later, I went back to my story.
The next day was pretty routine back at the headquarters, but all day long Harris had this far away look in his eyes.At five I squared up my desk and started to head for chow. Harris caught me at the door. “Need you back here after chow.” “Sir, I’ve been feeling real sick all day, I was really hoping I could sack out after chow.” “Not even a possibility, Moran. I have status reports that have to be in first thing in the morning. Don’t worry you and Link should be able to knock them out by eight.” Then he turned to Link, “You will escort Moran to the mess hall just in case he passes out or something. If he does, I want you to drag his body back here, understood?” “Yes sir.”
I chowed down with Link and started to run things through my head. was cutting it pretty close, but it was doable. So at six I headed back to the office with Link.
We started knocking out disposition forms by the car load. I couldn’t help but notice that most of this stuff could have been done earlier in the week. It wasn’t like Harris to put things off until the last minute. Even Link commented on it.
By we were finally done and handed over the reports and folders to the Major. He scanned them and grunted, “Link, you can take off, Moran, stick around. I want to go over these reports with you.”
He told me to take a seat front of his desk as the door closed behind Link. “Sir, can we make this quick because I am really not feeling good?” “Relax Moran, you got time. Go get a bottle Dwars out of the case over there in the corner. ” When I brought the bottle back he pulled two glasses out of his desk drawer. “Sit down and have a drink.” “Sir, I really don’t feel good, I’ll come in at seven tomorrow, we do this then, sir?” Just as I moved my seat back and started to stand he pulled a 45 out of center drawer, cocked it and pointed it at my face. “You’re not going anyway tonight, Moran.” He had a real scary look on face, so I smiled, “I take it there is a serious problem with the ration report, is it my typing, sir?” It worked, he laughed, “You know Moran, I like you, how old are boy?” “I’m 19, sir.” “19! How the hell did you get involved in all of this?” “Involved with what, sir?" “Don’t spoil it Moran, I hate being called stupid.” “I really don’t know what you’re talking about sir are you feeling alright?” He just blank stared me and poured the drinks. He down his right away and motioned to me with the gun, “Drink up Boy.” I did and he quickly poured another round. Then he smiled at me, “Yeah, I’m all right, never felt better. You see Moran, I’ve been fired, and that’s okay, because I was planning on leaving anyway.” Then he took a quick look at his watch and asked, what time do you have?” “, sir.” “I’m going to give you a little advice Moran. Quit, quit now while you can.” “Quit what, sir?” “You’re calling me stupid again, Moran. I know what you are and I know what your buddy Charlie is too.” The one thing I learned early on in life was that you learn a hell of a lot more with your mouth shut than you do when its open, so I kept mine shut. “I’ve been in this game for over 18 years and I ain’t got a damn thing to show for it, Moran, except of course, no job, no money and a whole lot of people want to see me dead.” Then he went on about how his wife suddenly retired from the KGB and split with 100 grand in cold hard cash, and how cheap the Russians were. He didn’t tell me why the Russians gave him the money, but he said if he had done the same thing for us it would have been a least couple of million. Then he went on for another half hour telling what his life had been like since he left New York, emptying the bottle in the process. Finally, it was , and I was really starting to worry about Charlie, so I took a shot at getting out of there.
“Can we pick this conversation up in the morning, Sir?” “Relax Moran, you really don’t have anywhere to go, believe me.” Then he went on to tell me that thanks to me and Charlie, the VC had fired him. In a way I almost felt sorry for him, but I knew I had to make my move, so I cut the shit and called, “Sir, are you planning on letting me leave this room alive?” He just grunted, “of course.” I wasn’t sure about that, so I was looking for an opportunity to make a grab for the gun, when suddenly, low rumble rocked the room.
We both walked over to the window and saw an orange glow on the horizon topped with a plume of white and black smoke. He turned to me and smiled, “I guess you can go now, Moran.” “What was that?” “That my friend was the VC foreclosing on Le Charabanc.” I mumbled, “My God, I was supposed to meet Charlie there.” “So you were, weren’t you, Moran?” Then he picked the 45 up again. “You gonna use that thing, Harris?” “Oh yeah, but you can be on your way now.” I slowly backed out of the room into the hallway, but before I could it make to the stairs, a shot rang out. I dropped and kissed the floor figuring the major had changed his mind. But when I looked back, the hallway was empty. Suddenly an MP knelt beside me with a drawn 45. “You all right, buddy?” “Yeah, no problem.” Then two more MPs ran past us into the office. I got up and started to walk back the office, when one of MPs came out and stuck his hand in my chest. “You don’t wanta see this buddy, take my word for it.” Within minutes the hallway was flooded. Finally, the MPs took my name, a statement, and told me to take a hike.
I weighed my options; I could steal the major’s jeep and forge a log book entry and with a lot of luck maybe make it out of the front gate and see if Charlie made it. Then I figured if I got bagged with the major’s jeep, I’d be going away for a long time. So I decided to go back to barracks and wait it out.
Later one of the guys came in with some chatter about Le Charabanc. He said the whole block was closed off and all he could see was a big hole where the restaurant used to be. I asked him, “Any body make it out of there alive?” “Not likely, Moran, not likely at all.”
At chow, the next morning word was already out on Harris. When I got to the office, Singletery walked over to me and asked, “Did you shoot the Major last night?” I just gave him the look and didn’t bother to answer. Then Lt. Briggs came over, “Moran, the Sergeant Major wants you in his office on the double.” I walked in and Devlin just stared at me in silence for a minute, then he smiled, “Just for my own personal information Moran, you didn’t shoot Major Harris last night, did you?” “No sergeant major, I did not shoot Major Harris.” “Very wellMoran, there are two MPs downstairs to escort you to the Provost Marshall’s office. You’re a f..kin spook Moran, and I know it. I don’t like spooks, So before you go, I just want you to know that no matter how this comes out, you are f..kn out of here. Now go downstairs and find your MPs and I don’t want to see your face around here again.”
I made the trip downtown again and spent most of the morning sitting on a bench in a hallway with two MPs holding my hand. Finally I got called into an office and ended up with some Colonel, an MP, and a stenographer. I told him Harris was drinking and started acting real flaky after Link left. “He started babbling to me about how his wife had left him and his life went sour, “Sir. It started to get real scary in there, sir, so I backed my way out as soon as I could.” He asked if Harris had a gun in his hand when I left. “No sir, just a real scary look in his eyes.” He sent me back out to the bench and five minutes later Link showed up escorted by two MPs. He was in there for about half hour, and then he came out with the colonel. The colonel motioned one of the MPs over. “Take these two men back to their units.”
It was chow time when we got back, so they dropped us off at the mess tent. Me and Link had nothing to say to each on the ride back. When we got out of the jeep he turned to me and smiled, “Nothin personal, Moran, but I got to keep my distance, if you know what I mean.” “Not a problem, Link.” Then he turned and walked off a head of me.
At chow I got the wide birth too, lots of looks, but no conversation. Then as I was cleaning off my tray, Briggs came up to me. “Moran, you’re barracks orderly until further notice and I wouldn’t show my face at headquarters if I were you.” I just smiled, “Fair enough, Lieutenant, Fair enough.”
That night I caught all of the ribs from the guys in the bay. “If I were you, Moran, I’d be cleaning my M16 real good.” “Yeah, Moran, I hear they are going to take your uniforms and issue you black pajamas and make you a courier to some Marine outfit out in the boonies. The bad news is…they ain’t letting the Marines in on it.” It was par for course and I was starting to get use to it.
Two days later I was sweeping the floor, when Briggs walked in. “Moran, pack your shit, you got orders.” I was pretty sure I was going back to a line unit and was not looking forward to it at all. So I immediately asked, “Where are they sending met to, Lieutenant?” “Don’t look so worried, Moran, your going back to The States.” He just handed me the orders and commented, “You’re the luckiest son of bitch, I’ve ever met, Moran. Now get moving, you’ve got a half hour to pack and report to headquarters.” I looked at the orders and they were reassigning to replacement company 82nd Airborne Division, Ft.Bragg.
When I reported in at the airfield, they had a nice going away present for me. They put me on a working flight. I was TDY to a grave registration unit on a Star Lifter. Turned out there were 160 passengers on the plane, 143 of them were in coffins. We stopped in Hiawii, San Diego, Houston and finally Pope Field, that’s where I got off.
I got a ride to division and checked in; they assigned me to a bay with 40 other “returnees”. I got to admit, they did right by us there. After an formation each day they told us to get lost. I slept for next day and half and nobody messed with me at all.
They next night CQ came into the dayroom and got me. “Moran, you got a visitor in the orderly room.” I was only slightly surprised to see it was Sergeant Major Clark. In fact, I was kind of expecting to hear from him sooner or later. Clark just looked me up and down and smiled, “Come on Moran, let’s take a little walk.” We walked out of the building, and you guessed it, we stopped at the parking lot. That guy really loved parking lots. He finally found a comfortable fender and we began to chat. “You’re going back to Headquarters Company Support Command tomorrow. I know you want some leave so it’s already been arranged. You can take off the day after tomorrow.” “Thank you, Sergeant Major.” “Now I don’t know what went down over there, and I don’t wanta know. All I know is you did what you were supposed to do and I’m going to keep my end of the bargain. You still want out, Moran?” “That’s a definite Sergeant Major.” “You know if you change your mind, there could be a nice little career for you here.” “No offense Sergeant Major, but I’m afraid I got other plans.” “No problem there, Moran, I thought I’d mention it. Now officially I have to inform you, that your actions over there are classified. You can never talk about it to your mother, wife, priest or even your great grand children, understood?” “Sergeant Major, I haven’t the slightest f..kin idea of what happened over there. I only want to ask you one question, though.” “I repeat, no discussion, Moran.” “I’m going to ask anyway, Captain Taylor, alive or dead?” Clark cold stared me for a minute, “Dead, now get back to barracks.”
The next morning I reported in to First Sergeant Brown. When I handed him my orders, he just took his head between both hands and mumbled, “Oh God, it’s you again.”
Reed interrupted, “This Harris guy was he the same guy your brother worked for back in college?” “Yeah, but I didn’t know it at the time. He never mentioned anything about the university to me.”