Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Part 114


"I don't see why you want to stay in a stunk up dog house."  Lucy, the name of the "special" soldier, was nosey.  Oh she was nice about it but really, really nosey.  "Why don't you want to stay in the house with us?"

"The dog house doesn't stink.  And I don't want to stay in the house because it has too many openings for something to come in."

"And just as many to escape out of if something does come in," she replied.  She had me there.

"I don't suppose I can argue with that but look, for the last little bit I've been sleeping in small spaces.  I'll feel safer ... and warmer ... in the doghouse.  Besides, your people don't want me.  I'm not one of them."

She shrugged.  "We aren't allowed to kick civilians out of protected spaces.  We can make them share the space in an emergency but we can't force them out.  And we can't make them feed us either.  Or blackmail them that if they don't do something for us willingly that we won't do our jobs, whatever that is at the time.  We got lots of rules like that."

"Sounds like," I admitted.  "What do you all do exactly?  I know what Sarge's group does but I haven't seen any puss brains since I got near river."

She shrugged, "The Navy takes care of the river from infecteds to pirates.  They take care of all the inland waterways and the coast too, except where the militia has enough resources that they don't need the navy helping out.  They just got done with a big battle out in the Gulf where some bad boys thought they were gonna take over the oil refineries.  Guess they didn't expect our military to be as organized as it is.  Most countries are kinda running wild the way we hear it.  But we've got the militias and active duty personnel plus we got all them medical people that got drafted and then stayed to help even when they didn't have to no more."

This was stuff I hadn't heard.  I guess with no news, and no radio, things some people would consider common knowledge were like science fiction to someone else.  And I guess Cochran or Sarge just were too concerned with their piece of what was going on to sit down and give me a nightly news report.

We were still chatting when a long shadow fell over us.  We looked up and then Lucy hopped up down from the dog house roof where we had both been sitting and stood at attenion.  I moved more slowly but did the same; it seemed the polite thing to do even if it did make me feel like a midget next to Sgt. Shadwell.

"What are you two doing out here?  It is going to be dark soon."

I noticed Sgt. Shadwell didn't rag on Lucy as much as she did the others so I didn't fear her as much as I had or maybe as much as she wanted me to.  Lucy said, "She doesn't want to sleep in the house.  She says it has too many holes in it."

I opened my mouth and then shut it.  Sgt. Shadwell looked at me and asked, "You were going to say something?"

I shrugged.  "Not holes ... openings."

She looked at me and then said, "Your attitude isn't difficult to understand.  You've been on your own for a while.  Used to having to cover your own back.  A location with too many openings would present a lot of unnecessary challenges to a person on their own."

I almost shrugged then thought better of it and said, "Yes ma'am."

She just kept looking at me and then said, "I confirmed your story and just got off the radio with one very relieved officer who seems to think that you must have more lives than a cat for all the trouble you've gotten into and then out of."

Quietly I said, "I don't go looking for trouble."

She shook her head and said, "No, I don't suppose you do."

I asked, "Is ... is he ok?  He isn't mad at me or anything is he?"

With a twist of her lips she said, "No, he's not mad at you or anything.  But you do realize there is nothing he can do for you."

I was glad he wasn't mad and surprised that she'd thought that I expected someone to do something for me.  "Of course, it isn't his business to take care of me, it's mine."

"Is that why you were heading this way?"

I shook my head.  "I just kinda came this way trying to get around the floods and stuff from the spring thaw.  Plus I was trying to avoid where I knew hordes were going to be coming from.  East and South were out.  North was out because I don't want to go to Canada.  That left West."

"But what are you planning to do from this point forward?"

I finally didn't have anything left but a shrug.  "That's why I stopped here.  I need to figure some things out."

She looked like she was going to say something but then stopped.  She looked at Lucy and said, "Time to go in."

"But ma'am she ..."

"Is perfectly capable of deciding for herself."

I nearly fell down.  That is the first time anyone actually gave me that much credit.  I mean people "let" me run my life but it always seemed like they thought they could run it better.  Sgt. Shadwell wasn't letting me, she just thought it was none of her business.  That was very cool.

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