Our hero knows he’s in serious trouble.
The problem is, there are familiar faces and a question of who is a friend and who is foe made all the more difficult because of the enemy if it was the enemy, simply because it didn’t look or sound or act like the enemy.
Now he faces questions, not only his own but that of his commanding officer.
And the answers might not be what he wants to hear.
Breeman returned later that day, an agitated look on her face, the sort that reminded me she was having a bad day, and more often than not after a secure video conference with the powers that be at the Pentagon.
At least this time I was about to speak but had still not made the decision on whether I should tell her anything. It depended on if she had any questions for me, and how specific they were. I would tell her the truth.
She sat and head hunched forward in her hands, she rubbed her eyes and looked at the floor for a minute before looking back up at me.
“Your disappearance has set off a shit storm.”
“Because we were in the no-fly zone?”
“You knew where you were?”
“No. One part of the sky over the desert is the same as any other. I had no idea where we were when we were shot down, but I figured there are not many civilians armed with rocket launchers, particularly wandering around in the middle of the normal desert just waiting for a US military helicopter.”
“I would tend to agree with you. Did Jerry tell you why he was there?”
“Jerry doesn’t talk to us enlisted me, nor deems it any of our business where he goes. He did say, however, he was on a training run to supplement his flying hours. But, whatever he was doing or where he was going, he needed your signoff.”
Did I just say that in an angry manner? Not the way to speak to your commanding officer, friend or not. I should apologize quickly, and did. It didn’t change her expression, in fact, to me, it now looked more severe.
“There’s a flight plan with my signature on it, but it’s not my signature, but a very good counterfeit.”
“Any idea who the forger is?”
“No. But they are on the base, here, what could possibly be a traitor.”
“Does it show whether the pilot intended to cross into the no-fly some?”
“No. It was a usual path on our side, following the boundary. It doesn’t explain the wreckage 60 miles inside the border. Did you see anyone?”
Now it gets tricky.
“Just a rocket launcher out the side of a Toyota aimed at us followed quickly by a rocket coming straight at us. There wasn’t much time to think.”
“You jumped. It’s the sort of thing I’d expect from you.”
“Aside from hitting the sand, that’s about all I remember.” It was a direct lie, but it could be modified or rescinded later. This room was not secure.
“Did you see anything else?”
“Other than desert and sky? No.”
She gave me a very long and considered look, and yes, I blinked first. I had the awful feeling she knew I was lying to her.
“There’s a camp out there, somewhere, and what happened to you proves it.”
It was as far as she got with that statement, whether of fact or supposition, she didn’t tell me.
Colonel Bamfield just walked into my hospital room.
© Charles Heath 2019