Chapter 27: Battle Chess
It is not easy to hide light under a bushel. By the end of that first day, there was not a soul I encountered who did not hear the good news. However, for at least two men the news was less than good. Gunny and the Lieutenant perceived my salvation as somehow a threat to their secret operation. I made it clear that I would no longer participate in any more pilfering. I agreed that they might continue as their conscience allowed, for it was not my place to judge or condemn. They only looked coldly at me, and then at each other. I would have thought no more of it, except that night, I awakened with a start, feeling an overwhelming conviction to return everything I had taken in the past. I arose immediately, drove to the warehouse, and placed every single item back into inventory, with the intention of altering the books to reflect the change. However, to my surprise there was no discrepancy. Someone had already corrected the inventory.
Upon arriving at work the next morning, two MPs, accompanied by a Major, intercepted me with the Lieutenant and Gunny tailing behind. They demanded that I open the trunk of my car. Of course, they found nothing. The Lieutenant rudely brushed aside one of the MPs and began pulling back the cardboard panels. Inside the spare wheel-well, finding only the Bowie Knife I had brought back from Nam.
"What is this Sergeant?" He demanded, unsheathing the blackened blade.
"That is personal property, Sir." I replied calmly.
"Lieutenant this is clearly not Marine Corps issue," reported the Major sharply.
"We know he took something—ask Gunny here—because the books don't add up."
"Yelp--we're missing a riflescope from a lot we got in just last week, and one of the compasses." The Gunny panted, his hat pulled over the slit of his eyes, only the long snout of his nose protruding below the brim.
The MPs next searched the interior of the car, even removing the door side-panels. After a thorough inspection of the engine compartment, they entered into the warehouse, the Lieutenant leading the way like a nervous hyena. Once inside, he confidently produced the inventory books, turning to the pages showing the number of the new riflescopes and compasses.
"According to these entries you should have a total of thirty-eight riflescopes, and forty-two compasses." The Major said, examining the figures.
"That's what the book says," the Lieutenant affirmed.
The two MPs laboriously counted each riflescope one by one, and then recounted them again totaling thirty-eight. The same done for the compasses, and once again, the inventory was exact. Turning abruptly toward my two accusers, the Major hissed a sigh of distain.
"Lieutenant, I find no discrepancy in your inventory, nor any further reason to detain this man;" then glancing back at me, "excuse us Sergeant. I dismiss you from duty for the day. I don't take lightly false accusations against an innocent man. I promise you it won't happen again."
It was obvious that he disliked Gunny and the Lieutenant even more than I did. I spent the rest of the day under a tree reading the pages of the pocket New Testament given me. As I read, I understood. I knew this Jesus, understood the meaning of his words, and the later teachings of the apostles. It was not like learning, rather the confirmation of what I already knew, the Holy Spirit bearing witness with my spirit of things not based on reason alone.
I received reassignment to the Armory. I think the Major had something to do with this after the attempt to frame me. He knew bad eggs when he saw them. It is my understanding that eventually Gunny and the Lieutenant, caught and charged with a list of crimes including Grand Larson, spent time in the Brigg and dishonorably discharged. They definitely pulled the wrong tail when they got the Major, a seasoned military Colombo, involved in their web of felony.
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Distance Traveled: A Chronicle in TimeNon-Fiction
This is an autobiographical novel beginning in a small town in old south America. It records the life of a young man growing up in the shadow of the escalating Viet Nam war and eventually joining the United States Marine Corps to become a part of t...