Master Sergeant Fields stood just a bit too close to Private Morgan, breathing the same air as he, boring into his eyes, daring him to move one inch or have one more heartbeat then he deserved.
“So, please, Private, tell me just one time why you should not be put in the brig? You did not follow your orders, and you shot at a senior officer. One that wants your life since you caused him to piss in his Dress Uniform!”
Pvt. Morgan, took a shallow breath, wanting to find some refugee in the cold of the night and find some peace, though both his balls and his mind wanted to spring forth and run away.
“Sgt. I knew the three perimeters, shaped like a target. I had a field dressed .45 cal in my holster with fresh ammunition. I saw the full bird Colonel, walking across the parade field straight at me. I could see his rank, his overseas ribbons and the combat decorations and slashes on his sleeves and his chest. I saw him breach the 100-foot perimeter. I took out the .45 as ordered, pointed it at the sky, cleared the safety as ordered, sir. I hollered at him, Halt to be identified!”
“Ok, private, so far so good. What did you do to make him piss his field uniform?”
Pvt. Morgan gathered another breath and thought and offered, “Sgt. he kept coming. He saw the .45 was out. He heard what I said. At the 75 foot perimeter, I shouted, ‘Halt and be identified.'”
“Ok, Morgan, so far so good, what happened next?”
“Well, dammitt, he kept coming. I knew my trash burning was of Top Secret and Secret material, with ashes so small even the Russians could never piece it together. But, he broke the 50-foot perimeter!”
“And, that is when you shot at him?” Master Sgt. Fields asked.
Pvt. Morgan drew a ragged breath, and then said, “No sir, I repeated, Halt and be identified, but he would not halt. So somewhere between 50 foot and maybe 40, I took a shot at him. You know these .45 are only good for 5 or 6 feet, so I never dreamed I would hit him, just scare him a little!”
“Dammit Private, you did scare him a little, you scared him a lot. He pissed his dress uniform, he hit the dirt, and just as soon as he figured out you had not hit him he became enraged. Why did you not follow full military procedures or kill the full bird? As it stands right now, I have to pull every string to keep you out of military confinement! He wants your very ass. He wants your mother’s ass, and your father’s if he can get them! He wants to make sure God himself forgets you ever were!'”
Pvt. Morgan thought for just a heartbeat, a second, a nounce, “Sgt. I did not want to kill a full bird colonel, I just wanted to stop him!”
Sgt. Fields pulled a full drag on his Chesterfield, nonfiltered cigarette and said,
“That man has never been stopped in two years, in five countries, in dozens of military installations, till he met you. His job was to break security, and then prosecute the soldier stupid enough to let him pass. Dozens of privates got busted and spent time behind bars. You were the only one, in two years, in five countries, and in dozens of military installations that stopped him. But, you could not follow military procedures. If you had followed the rules, I could have gotten you a promotion and a cushy job in France. Instead, I am fighting to keep you out of military jail! And, now what do you say?”
Pvt. Morgan considered his situation, with a gravity of life he had never felt.
“My old man served in WWII and told me that when the landing crafts were hitting the beaches, and many rounds of machine-gun fire were striking around them. He told me the really smart officers took their ranks off their uniforms and hats. The way he put it, they were just as afraid of friendly fire as the enemy.”
A puzzled Master Sgt. asked, “Ok, so?”
Private Morgan led on, “That Full Bird, Sarge? He must not have been one of the smart ones!”
Master Sergeant Fields slowly took in a calming breath and let it out.
“Ok Private. As you were. I will do what I can to keep him off your back. But, you can bet you will never get another promotion even though you deserve it. From now on, you keep the lowest profile you can and follow every frigging military rule.”
Pvt. Morgan thought just for a beat, while he thought of how much time he had left to serve. Three months and he rotated back to the world, with ice cream and hamburgers.
“I will do it Sarge. I will follow every rule. But, Sarge what do I do if he comes around again?”
“You salute him, walk past him quickly and do not say a word. You might also pray he does not have a Military .45 on him. He just might pay you back.”
A bad dream you say? A bit of fancy you think?
Maybe. Maybe not.