A tapping at the door broke the string of remembrances.
Flynn entered, carrying a mug of coffee and after a nod from Russell, closed the door behind him and took one of the visitor’s chairs.
“Well, our little experiment kicked up some shit, didn’t it?” Flynn said.
“What do you mean?”
“I just got off the phone with the MP detachment’s top sergeant. He said that that big prick of a Second Lieutenant is stomping around down there, yelling about how you’re exceeding your authority in apprehending locals.”
“Those locals wouldn’t have been apprehended if it was up to the lieutenant. He couldn’t find his ass with a search warrant and flashlight. A serious attitude adjustment might help him. I don’t know whether that First Lieutenant, his boss, has the balls to do the job. I may go speak to him and adjust his outlook on life. I’ve got to take these over to their detachment anyway.”
Russell held up a plastic zip bag holding three yellow plastic tags and a compact flash card from a camera.
“Will you have one of our people duplicate the pictures for me? I’m going to deliver them to the MPs and I want to make sure we have a copy. Just in case.”
“Boyd got those?” Flynn said.
“I loaned him a compact camera to record their activities. I told him to press fingerprints on the yellow tags after he grabbed the thieves. The tags are the kind used inside Warehouse Six for identification. By the way, he scared the shit out of one of the thieves, made him think he was seeing a demon. The other two saw nothing. He did good work with the sap you loaned him. All three have sore heads.
“How the hell do you think he did it?” Flynn said.
“He must be a gymnast and a martial arts man. He told me he suspected pilfering from the warehouse and thought he could get the thieves. He did.”
“Something’s odd about him,” Flynn said.
“Bobby, he’s more different than you suspect. He told me that he might have been transformed into a vampire. I thought at the time he was nuts. After seeing the results of what he did, I wish I could’ve watched. I just don’t know how he did it.”
“You’ve gotta be shitting me! A vampire?”
“As I said, he may be nuts. The doctor said he was physically okay, but no one’s checked on his mental state. He believes he’s been transformed.”
“Bullshit. That boy’s not wrapped too tightly in the head.”
“Yes. But let’s take full advantage of his abilities. He carried those three thieves more than a mile. Even the strongest specimens I knew in Delta couldn’t do that. Boyd’s abilities have to be kept on close hold. Just the two of us.”
“ Okay. But I’ll reserve final judgment about this vampire bullshit. Let me get one of the clerks to make a copy of those digital pictures. I’ll be right back. You need to meet someone.”
Russell busied himself with some of the necessary paperwork he had to review. Within thirty minutes, Flynn returned.
“You now have an executive officer,” the Sergeant Major said.
“Who is he?”
“A Captain. Name’s David Hutton.” Flynn read from a form.
“He’s on the promotion list for Major. He’s a Quartermaster Corps officer whose last assignment was Ft. Lee, Virginia. He’s been an instructor in the Petroleum and Water Department of the Quartermaster school for the last three years. This is his first overseas deployment.”
“Where is he now?” Russell said.
“At Brigade headquarters going through their processing. He’ll be here tomorrow. I’ll bring him to meet you when he arrives.”
“You said there was ‘…someone I needed to meet.’ Hutton isn’t here, Bobby. Who is it?
“Saving that one, Vic. She’s the new Battalion Surgeon. Her name’s Amanda Bristow. She’s over at the clinic right now. I’ve made an appointment for her to meet you here at 1300, if that’s okay.”
Flynn emphasized the gender pronoun and did a poor job of hiding a smirk.
“The appointment time will be okay. Bring her in. I’m sure I’ll be delighted to see her replacing our current doctor. Oops! I didn’t say that, did I?”
“Didn’t hear a thing.”
A clerk knocked and, after being invited in, returned the compact flash card and gave Russell a flash drive with the pictures Boyd had taken. When she left, Russell waited until the door was fully closed.
“Bobby, pull your chair closer. I don’t think anyone can hear, but let’s not take chances. Sergeant Boyd is a man with unusual talents. Although I’m not a combat commander at the moment, I intend to take advantage of those gifts. Let me give you an outline of some ideas I have. Think them over and let’s talk more about it in my quarters tonight.”
Russell’s proposals would have easily made Patton smile. They would also have made battle-hardened Taliban fighters shiver in dread.
“Bobby, that’s long range stuff, but I have one for tonight. Bring Boyd here before he’s slated to go on duty this afternoon. I’m going to give him a little task. I’ll tell you about it later.”
At exactly 1300 Sergeant Major Bobby Flynn knocked on the frame of Russell’s open office door.
“Sir, Captain Bristow is here.”
The NCO stepped through the door and moved to one side. The captain marched to a point three paces from Russell’s desk and, locking the heels of her boots, snapped a crisp salute.
“Captain Amanda Bristow reporting, Sir.”
Russell returned the salute and watched the Captain hold hers until it was returned.
“At ease, Captain. Please sit down.”
Flynn handed the Major several sheets of paper and nodded before leaving the office and silently closing the door. Amanda Bristow sat almost on the edge of her chair, looking Russell directly in the eyes. She sat with both slim hands holding her cap on her knees. She wore the desert tan camouflage uniform better than Russell had ever seen it worn. She was petite, but buxom. Her hair was dark brown and short. Her eyes were large, lively, green and seemed to hint at mischief. A sprinkle of freckles across her nose gave her a tomboy look.
Vic hadn’t expected a doctor to be so militarily precise. He glanced at the form Flynn had handed to him, then at her.
“Duke University, I see.”
“Yes Sir, I’m from North Carolina—an Army brat. Daddy retired as a Master Sergeant. The military was a natural for me. I made it through on the Army Medical Scholarship program.”
Her voice was a contralto. Lower than Russell would have expected. He rose from his chair and rounded the desk to shake her hand. When she stood, she moved with a dancer’s grace to a height of about five-two or three. She smiled as he took her hand.
Vic Russell felt a surge of fire run through him. A sensation he’d almost shelved rose to remind him of his maleness.
When Russell had worked through the obligatory welcoming conversation about the unit, logistics, dining facilities and quarters he wanted to find more to say. Bristow followed his every word as if she hadn’t heard any of it before and found each revelation fascinating. Her eyes followed his like a dancer follows her partner in a waltz.
“I hope you find our dispensary up to standards. We’re in a combat zone, but in this unit we rarely see casualties from the war,” he said.
“From what I’ve seen so far, I’m impressed. The clinic is well run and adequately stocked. The staff has been most welcoming. I think I’m going to be happy here, in this assignment,” she said.
Russell had run out of plausible conversation and ushered her out of his office so that she could get settled in her quarters. As she walked away, he watched. Walking in boots didn’t completely dampen the feminine sway of her hips. Flynn saw him and grinned, man-to-man, but said nothing.
“Bobby, I’m going to take the evidence from the thieves to the MP detachment commander. Keep the lid on things for me. I’ll be back in plenty of time to talk to Sergeant Boyd about this evening. See you then,” Vic said.