COURTING COURT MARSHAL
‘They are angry because the truth you speak contradicts the lie they live.’
A terrible lurching sensation swept through me. Everything was still obscured with swirls of dancing coppery snowflakes. Yet, I had the disturbing sensation of walking on legs that I didn’t control or even fully feel. This continually waking up blind was downright frightening.
How far into the future had Sentient taken me this time … and to what crisis to which I had no clue how to handle?
‘Hush! I have saved your life countless times and you whine about going into the unknown? You are a thankless child … though I do admit that this time my inability to mesh efficiently with human flaws and foibles may have led you to a firing squad.’
‘Which is why I am now yielding full control of your body back to you. At least you are human … more or less. Perhaps you can Ulysses your way out of this present predicament.’
‘There are no words that can adequately express my gratitude.’
‘Sarcasm is the resort of little minds. Now, if I cede control back to you, will you stumble?’
‘Metaphorically or physically? ‘Cause the answer to both questions is yes.’
‘I like it when you talk dirty to me.’
‘It is Sanskrit for” an unlearned; foolish, stupid human” efficiently encapsulated in one word.’
‘Oh, I knew that.’
I flinched as it seemed an ice pick dived deep into my brain. ‘Now, you do … along with the rest of the Sanskrit language.’
I stiffened as the world blossomed around me like the lights coming back on in a dark movie theater.
Footsteps echoed hollowly all around me. I was walking down a long corridor, drearily painted in gray. Even the marble underfoot was gray. Obviously, the architect had been in the Army or in some military branch.
Officer Hansan was heel-stepping in anger in front of me. Sgt. Savalas walked beside me. Someone unused to stealth was trying to walk up unnoticed behind me. Fat chance. St. Marok’s taught me early to not let that happen.
Sgt. Savalas was speaking low, “Rick ….”
When had he started calling me ‘Rick?’ But then, Sentient had been in full control for some time now. All sorts of merriment had come and gone probably … for which I was now about to be called upon to pay the tab.
“Rick, are you ever going to forgive me for what I said out in the channel?”
“What are you going on about?” I whispered.
“You’re human again!”
Remembering what Sentient had just told me, I said “More or less.”
“Man, you’ve been so cold … like some robot. I figured that you washed your hands of me, that you would never forgive me.”
“Forgive? Friends don’t forgive. We overlook.”
Hansan spun around having fully lost it. “Would you two stop whispering like lovers! Officers do not fraternize with the enlisted troops under them.”
A flurry of steamy images that I would have a hard time unseeing filled my mind, and not for the last time, Sentient broke her word and took back control, and Not-Me spoke.
“Tell that to Eisenhower. Though of course, his driver, Kay Summersby is a captain. Once a model I believe.”
Hansan totally lost it. lunging and seizing me by the front of my blouse. “You take back that filthy inuendo!”
He yelped in shock and sprang away from me. I watched in amazement as his left blouse pocket bulged out as quite a bit of something filled it. Hansan plucked printed pages and one photo from it.
“Bloody Hell!” came from behind me as I supposed the inept creeper got the same treatment.
The photo and pages dropped from Hansan’s fingers to flutter to the marble floor. Sentient turned to Sgt. Savalas in an uncharacteristic display of consideration.
“No doubt you are wondering what those pages and photo are, Sergeant-Major. One is a personal letter from General Eisenhower to General of the Army George C. Marshall, saying that he wanted to return from Europe to the United States to get a divorce from his wife, Mamie, and marry Miss Summersby.”
Hansen backed slowly away from me as if I were contagious with some foul disease as Sentient continued through me, “The other page is the response from General Marshall who threatened to run General Eisenhower "out of the Army" and prevent him from ever drawing a peaceful breath."
I shivered as control of my body was restored after Sentient had made a fine mess of things.
Sgt. Savalas croaked, “And the photo?”
“Good God, man!” came from the person behind me. “Don’t tell him.”
I shook my head. “I know Sanskrit, Sergeant, and even so, words fail me. Just use your imagination.”
I was roughly spun around. Oh, why the hell not? Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein.
I forced a smile. “Love the beret.”
His eyebrow shot up, and I added, “General.”
He flung photo and letters to the floor. “What is this bum fodder? Captain Summersby is no Officer’s Mattress. How the bloody hell did you do this?”
“It’s a kind of magic, General.”
He nodded so hard that the black beret almost slipped off. “I read Cloverfield’s report. Some kind of voodoo, is it?”
“You’re not that lucky, sir. Voodoo depends on belief. This kind doesn’t care if you believe or not. Reality is like that.”
He stabbed a long forefinger at the door some paces ahead. I noted with dry amusement that Hansan was just going through it.
“If you show this … filth to the generals in there, you ….”
“What filth, general? I see none.”
Montgomery looked down at the marble tiles. His face went tight. The pages and photo were gone … even the ones Hansan threw on the tiles. He grew pale.
“I clean up after myself, General.”
Montgomery husked, “I am considered somewhat unorthodox among those inside. But even so, if you pull your ‘kind of magic’ with the men waiting for you in there, I promise you that you will be shot.”
I forced a calm I didn’t feel. “How exciting.”
I turned to a very pale Sgt. Savalas. “Don’t worry, Theo. You’ll find generals behave just like Boy Scouts …but without the adult supervision.”
Montgomery shoved past us and huffed his way to the door and followed Hansan to where the great and mighty awaited us. I smiled drily. I failed to ask Sentient what they wanted from me.
‘I added to those samples you took a detailed report on their suitability for sustaining the weight of tanks and transports. Those reports were more accurate than those supplied by their so-called experts. The generals in charge of Overlord wish to know how you could do that ‘on the run’ as it were. I believe your mantra of “It’s a kind of magic” will not suffice.’
As the sergeant and I walked through the door, he looked first at Montgomery and Hansen talking to an increasingly angrier Bradley, then up at me. “Our goose is fully and truly cooked.”
I looked at an angry Montgomery filling in General Bradley and felt a little sad. I had liked the man though he had earned his reputation of being unbeatable and unbearable.
What had I read he once said?
“The frightful casualties appall me. The so-called ‘good fighting generals’ of this war appear to me to be those who have a complete disregard for human life.”
Besides, he named his fox terrier “Hitler.”
“The more knowledge, the less ego. The less knowledge, the more ego.”
– Albert Einstein