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 it looks like he’s been renditioned by his own people.
Seeing Colonel Bamfield made my blood run cold.
This wasn’t an old commanding officer coming to see one of his protégés after being almost killed in a bad accident.
This was a man checking up on me, and whether or not I had relayed any of the details of my incarceration at the mystery camp in the desert.
The thing is, he didn’t have to come calling if I had said anything Breeman would have reported it directly to her superiors.
No, he was here for another reason, and one I had no doubt I was not going to like.
Firstly, it was apparent the feelings of dislike and mistrust ran deep between the two, and I could see, on first sight, there had been something between them once, and it had exploded on someone, and I suspect it was Breeman.
Male officers of Bamfield rank rarely got into trouble for fraternising with lower ranked female officers. It was, I was told once, a man’s army, not for women.
And I expect Bamfield was old school.
He looked at me then at her. “How is our patient?”
Our patient? How did he have anything to do with me, unless he was reclaiming me for his command.
“Sergeant Digwater has a name, and he is not your patient.” The accompanying look on her face told me that Bamfield better be ready for war.
“Perhaps that might be the case for now, but I have given orders to temporarily detach Sergeant Digwater from this command and assign him temporally to mine so that he can be sent to our medical facility in Germany before being sent home. The sergeant has done enough for his country.”
Had I? It was customary to patch soldiers like me up if the injuries were not life-threatening, and then send them back to the front line. I had, as far as I was aware, a few broken bones, and nothing that a month or two of physical therapy wouldn’t put straight.
Besides, as a loner, I had made the Army my home, and where most of the people I knew were. As a civilian, I would be like a fish out of water.
“Do I get to choose what happens to me?” I spoke for the first time, directly at both of them.
Bamfield answered. “No.” Then gave me a genial look. “How are you, Sam. I’ve spoken to the doctors, and they say all you need is rest and recuperation and you’ll be as good as new. But I want to know how you feel?”
I gave him a measured look. “I would have to say a lot worse than a few days ago.”
His expression changed as a result of those words. Breeman’s expression was a lot more interesting, processing what that statement might mean.
She was about to ask when he interrupted her. “Understandable, since you were found unconscious in the cabin of the crashed aircraft. A case perhaps of a delayed reaction. You should tell the medics you need more pain killers.” He then turned to Breeman. “The sergeant will be evacuated at 0800 hours tomorrow morning. Until then, no one is to visit him until he is debriefed. Am I clear?”
Breeman stood. She was a good six inches shorter than Bamfield in stature, and at least 100 pound in weight. Still, she projected a formidable opponent.
“I take it that does not include me?”
“What part of everyone did you not understand?”
Fighting words and she was ready to take up the battle. Except, I think she knew she was outranked, and if push came to shove, it was not worth losing her command over the visiting of a lowly Sergeant. This was pulling rank at its worst.
“Something’s not right here,” she said. “And you can be assured I will get to the bottom of it.” A final glare in his direction and she left, almost slamming the ward door behind her.
Bamfield waited a moment to make sure she had left, then addressed me.
“What have you said about your time missing?”
“Nothing. If anything I was almost sure you’d turn up. I had no intention of telling her what happened to me because I’m not sure myself. I don’t remember having any broken bones.”
“You had to look like you were in a crash, not sitting in a cell for the time you were missing. I suggest you keep our discussion to yourself, and remember, we could have sent you back in a body bag. The debriefing crew will be here in an hour or so.”
“What am I supposed to tell them?”
“Whatever you want. It won’t go any further than them because they are assigned to me. Now, I have to work to get back to. I might see you again in Germany, but if I don’t, enjoy the rest of your life.”
The way he said it, I didn’t think this visit would be the last time I saw him. Like Breeman said, something was not right.
He had a brief word to the guard, another soldier he had brought with him, and left him on guard outside the ward door. It looked to me like he didn’t take Breeman at her word she wouldn’t return.
© Charles Heath 2019