A General Affair

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

There was a heavy Ohio River fog hanging in the early morning air as new lime green 1974 240Z sped toward Fort Knox.  The driver yawned and pushed the gas pedal down further.  She was late. She was supposed to meet Jim on post at 0630.  She listened to the words of the song on the radio as she sped along "Who's making love to your old lady while you out making love."

She was Christie Nelson, secretary to the Commanding General of Fort Knox.  Christie was 47 years old and had worked for General Charles Underwood for 2 years.  He was the fifth Commanding General she had worked for.  

Christie was 47 years old and single.  She had long straight blonde hair and looked every bit her Scandanavian heritage.  She took good care of herself and was, by any definition, attractive. Major General Underwood certainly thought so, and despite her strong religious upbringing, she had been involved in an affair with the general for about four months.  It had developed after normal work hours when she hung around after everyone had left and discussed the days matters with the General.  She didn't think anyone knew of the affair.  Had Jim found out?

Charles Underwood was about Christies age.  He was a buff handsome light skinned African American about 6 feet 3 inches tall.  He drove around post in his red Mercedes convertible.  And he was married to Naomi Underwood, a woman who was also quite attractive.

Captain Jim Dickerson, aide-de-camp to General Underwood, was not back at Post Headquarters where he had agreed to meet her.  He said he had something very important to show her.  However, at the last minute and at the General's request, he had gone up in  helicoopter at the north end of the post viewing the performance of an under-development TOW missile being test launched from the chopper.  But now the chopper was in trouble.  The pilot, Warrant Officer Oakly, had just shouted into the headset,  "We are going down". 

Jim thought rapidly.  What should he do with the briefcase?  Should he gamble that they would come out of it and keep the briefcase or should he throw it over and hope that the right people found it. The chopper door was open and Jim tossed the briefcase out the door as the chopper continued its spiral downward.

Christie zipped off Highway 31W on to a dirt road.  The shortcut would save her 5 minutes and it was already 0625.  She didn't know why Jim was so anxious to meet her.  He had called at 0530 and told her to meet at Post Headquarters.  "There is something we need to discuss before the shit hits the fan" he said.  "And don't tell anyone, not ever the General" he added.  Before she could ask what was going on, he hung up.

There was no one else on the road and she zipped through the Kentucky hills. The 240Z raised quickly from the road and settled back down on pavement as it sped along its way.  She normally didn't get in to work until 0800.

She knew from the events of yesterday that they would be hearing from the Secretary of the Army. Fort Knox was a basic training center, and an accident had ocurred on one of the rifle ranges.  The trainees were shooting life ammo from a kneeling position behind a stump.  One of the shooters was left handed, so he shot around the left side of the stump.  As he was shooting, the hot brass was ejected out the right side of the M16.  One round bounced off of the post he was shooting around and went down the front of his shirt.  This startled him and he jumped up with the rifle in his left hand.  As he did so, the rifle barrel swung to the left and he fired a round into the trainee to his left killing him. Heads were going to roll all the way from the drill sergeant to the range office up to the Commanding General.  Was this what the urgent meeting was about?

The last thing Captain Jim Dickerson remembered was the helicopter hitting the ground.  When the ambulance came upon the chopper an hour later Jim Dickerson was dead.  A portion of the right skid had penetrated through the floor and rammed up through his rib cage.  WO Oakley was also dead.  The medics put the two bodies in to a waiting green ambulance with a white cross on the side and returned to post along the same road previously traveled by Christie Nelson.

Christie pulled in to Post Headquarters at about 0635. She did not see Jim's car in the parking lot, but there was a light on in the General's office.  "I wonder if he is late" she thought.  "No, that can't be.  He called me from the office."

She parked the 240 in the spot marked Secretary to CG.  The warm foggy air enveloped her and she pushed her short skirt down as she hurried from the car to the Headquarters door.  She pushed the buzzer and waited for the post duty officer to come to the door.  It was a different duty officer every evening and rotated among the junior officers on the post.  The CG's office was always ready for business.  No response.  She pushed it again and held it down.  The duty officer opened the door slightly and asked "Can I help you?"  "I'm General Underwoods secretary" she said sharply.  He came partially to attention and opened the door for her.  Even though she was a civilian employee, she was shown respect because of her position with the General.

"Little early for work, isn't it?" he asked.  "You come when you are called" she said matter of factly. She hurried up the stairs to her desk right outside of the General's office.  Jim wasn't at his desk. She poked her head in the Generals office and smiled at him.  "Have you seen Jim?" she asked.  "He had to go out for a couple of hours" he replied with a wry smile.  They were all business with each other during the working day. "I'm waiting for a call from the Secretary of the Army so put it through right away" he said.  She nodded. 

It was about 0700 when they received news of the helicopter crash.   It was about one-half hour later when they learned that Captain Jim Dickerson was killed in the crash.  She still didn't know why Jim had called her with urgency in his voice to set up a meeting.

The investigation focused on what appeared to be tampering with the chopper's fuel system. Late that afternoon, one of the investigators found Jim Dickerson's briefcase.  In it was a solitary envelope.  In the envelope was a singe enlarged color photograph.  The photograph showed Jim Dickerson and Naomi Underwood in an intimate naked embrace.


Chapter 2


The helicopter crash was investigated by the investigative office of the MP unit on post.   The man in charge of the investigation was SSgt Art Brown.   SSgt Brown was a solidly built average height white man with a receeding hairline.  He was an experienced investigator with a reputation for beinga bit of a bulldog, earning him the nickname "Bulldog".

When Cpt Dickerson's briefcase was brought to him, Bulldog immediately recognized Jim Dickerson and Naomi Underwood.  He wondered if there was any connection between the photograph and the helicopter crash.

Bulldogs first interview was with Lucy Dickerson, the wife of Jim Dickerson.  Because of the urgency of the military investigation, he did not wait until after the funeral.  Lucy told him she was not aware that her husband was having an affair.   She did not seem that distraught over his death or that he was having an affair.  She also told him that Jim told her the night before that General Underwood was going up in a chopper early the next morning to review progress on the TOW missile.  

He also found out about the Midnight Wives Viewers Club.  It may have no connection to the investigation, but one should never underestimate the power of jealousy.  The Club was made up of half a dozen wives of captains in the Headquarters Unit and the First Brigaide.   What they did was after their husbands went to sleep, they would unlock the front door, or leave it unlocked, and invite the other wives in whereupon they would go to the bedroom of the sleeping husband and pull the covers down while turning on the light leaving him exposed.  It was up to the "host" wife to ensure maximim esposure.  The most common response was for the husband to curl up and cover himself, but in Jim Dickersons case, he just laid on his back and smiled.  I guess it depends upon what God gave you.

His next interview was with Naomi Underwood.  Naomi was born in Okinawa and met the General when he was stationed there as a junior officer.  She was an attractive petite woman a few years younger than the general.  When confronted with the photograph, she admitted the affair.  She claimed to have no knowledge of anyone scheduled to go up in the helicopter on the day of the crash.  

As the investigation continued, it became clear that the helicopter was in fact sabotaged.  The focus of the investigation shifted to the motorpool and who had access to the helicopter.  

Bulldog interviewed Christie Nelson.  After repeated questions, and after being told that there were fingerprints on the photo, she admitted that she had left the photograph in the envelope on Cpt Dickerson's desk.  She was hoping to bring about a divorce so that she could marry the general.

Bulldogs interview with General Underwood did not reveal much that was new.  He suspected that his wife was having an affair, but denied that he knew it was with Jim Dickerson.   He said that the reason Jim went up that day instead of him was a last minute change so he could keep in contact with the Secretary of the Army.  

At this point, Buldog wasn't sure who he believed.  Did the general get rid of his wifes lover?  Was Naomi trying to kill her husband?  Was Lucy trying to kill her husband?  Where did Christie fit in all of this?  Was some company with a financial interest trying to delay test results on the TOW?

Bulldogs first impression of the motorpool was that it was not a secure area.  It was a little like an airport in a third world country.  There were areas where the general public was not supposed to go, but there were no barricades or guards to prevent access.

He interviewed everyone connected to the motorpool.  The fingerprints found on the chopper were from people who worked in the motorpool.  The man in charge of the motorpool was First Sergeant Thomas.  One of the corporals, while being questioned, kept looking out at First Sergeant Thomas.  It wasn't clear why First Sgt Thomas's prints were on the engine of the chopper since he rarely did any actual work on the engines.  He did have means and opportunity, but was about motive?

It finaly came together when  Bulldog found out that Thomas beat and abused his wife and that WO Oakly had confronted him about this and threatened to report him to the Company Commander.   Dickerson wasn't the target, Oakly was.  The previously interviewed Corporal confirmed that he saw First Sergeant Thomas doing something after the chopper was certified to go.

First Sergeant Dave thomas was arrested for the murder of Oakly and Dickerson.   General Dickerson and Naomi got divorced.   And Christie Nelsons life got better.





Submitted: October 25, 2016

© Copyright 2020 M Maus. All rights reserved.

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