Craig and Lieutenant Smith make it into the building in time to see Corporal Brooks throw James down and growl \"don't move\" at him. James looks up and sees Craig, then makes a point of looking away quickly, but not quick enough; Craig sees the shame contained in the man's eyes.
\"What's going on Corporal?\" Lt. Smith asks just as Sergeant Dickson joins them.
Brooks turns to James. \"Tell them.\"
James locks eyes with Craig and drops his head again, his mouth flapping but no sound coming out.
\"Now!\" barks the Corporal, causing Craig to stiffen, back straight, head up, all instintively.
\"It was me,\" James responds, barely whispering.
\"Louder! Use yer outside voice.\" Brooks orders, as he burns a glare into the sitting man.
\"It was me; the drugs were mine, I... I'm sorry, Craig, I had no choice...\" he blurts out quickly finally looking Craig in the eye. \"My dau...\"
\"That'll do, James. Save your breath.\" Dickson cuts in.
Surprising himself, Craig speaks up. \"Sergeant, I'd like to hear him out, it was my things he hid them in, it was me who was very nearly booted out.\"
\"He has a point Sergeant,\" adds Lieutenant Smith and gestures for James to continue.
\"My daughter's ill - I know its not an excuse but there's an experimental treatment, costs a bomb. I was just tryin' to get the money to save her.\"
Feeling a flush of anger, Craig struggles to keep his voice level. \"You could have asked for help, I would've put some money in, and the rest of our squad, possibly the whole unit! You could have organised a fund raiser, set up a site for donations, taken out a loan, anything other than peddling drugs for fuck's sake.\"
\"I was desperate,\" the misery and pain in the voice does nothing for Craig as the guilt from attacking the MP Sergeant impacts him.
\"I almost killed someone because of y...\"
\"Wallace, go back to your bunkroom, there's nothing more to be gained from yelling at him. Go pack all his stuff up and leave it outside the door.\" The lieutenant interrupts before Craig can get going.
\"What's going to happen to him?\"
\"He'll be leaving us shortly and will be lucky to escape criminal charges,\" adds Dickson.
\"No less than he deserves but may I suggest something else?\" Craig asks tentatively.
The Lieutenant, Sergeant and Corporal all look at Craig in surprise. A small smile creeping onto Brooksie's lips at the audacity.
\"I'm still angry, shit, I'd love ten minutes in a room wi' him but he does regret it, that's clear and if we throw him out, a child could die because he'll struggle to get another job and no one will believe him if he tries to fundraise...\"
\"So what do you suggest?\" asks the Lieutenant; intrigued to see where Craig is going.
\"... I'm suggesting this goes on his record, confidentially, give him probation and make it clear if he so much as wipes his arse the wrong way, he's out. Also, we help with organising somethin' for the girl's treatment.\"
\"We'll take that under advisement, but there is protocol to follow here,\" Lt. Smith points out.
\"I know, sir but protocol doesn't account for the life of a child, and I know it is your decision and I sure as hell don't envy it; I just know that even though I am furious, I'd never be able to live with myself, if I didn't try to help.\"
With that Craig salutes, turns on his heel and marches away.
\"Dismissed, I need time to consider this, James go back to your bunkroom for now. Dickson, bring me the MP, I have a few things I'd like to talk to him about. Such as his...\" Lt. Smith says to the remaining men in the room.
\"His inherent clumsiness, sir?\" Dickson asks, again schooling his face perfectly.
\"Hmmm, yes, exactly,\"
Corporal Brooks walks out alongside Sergeant Dickson, who turns towards him, shaking his head. \"I'll be damned,\"
\"What?\" asks Brooksie.
\"That Wallace has a massive set of balls on 'im.\"
\"Now do you see why I gave him the pin?\"
\"I'm beginning to, he's impressed me so far, let's jus' hope the Lt. can convince the MP to drop that little incident. Brooks, you had best go see to it that Wallace doesn't try to kill his bunk mate, since he may be with a little longer; if I know anythin' about the lieutenant's mind, that is.\"
© Copyright 2017 M K Brown. All rights reserved.
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