Disclaimer: Lt Col Cawdron is my creation; the events are my creation. Cpl Myers is not -- he's borrowed from BVE without permission, but no (well, not much) harm, no foul and no money made.
Someone asked me for the whole story of the black eye (see Love Is...). I didn't think there was too much left to tell. Then Lt Col Cawdron popped up and suggested this... With grateful thanks to Gamine for helping me indulge in one of my favourite pastimes!
How Not To Win Friends...
Lieutenant Colonel John Cawdron wished he had something sour to hand. Anything, in fact, that he could use to prevent the grin that was otherwise threatening to break out. And the sight before his desk was amusing to say the least. The Marine before him looked every inch a soldier. Dressed in service uniform with his back ramrod straight, the only thing wrong with the image being presented was the extremely ripe bruise discolouring the Marine's left eye.
In an effort not to grin, Cawdron looked down at the sheet of paper on his desk, which did successfully kill his grin -- but only because it raised his blood pressure.
"Corporal Myers," Cawdron finally said. "Would you care to explain yourself?"
"That was not a request, Corporal," Cawdron added, guessing -- based on his knowledge of the individual before him -- what the first response was likely to be.
"Sir." There was a real reluctance to the word. "I..." A long hesitation. "No sir."
Inwardly, Cawdron's amusement level increased. The last phrase was sufficiently hang-dog that there was no conceivable way he could take it as insubordination. On the other hand, "Corporal, that is not answering my question."
"I...mean I can't explain, sir."
Cawdron risked looking up at the Marine's face and wished he hadn't -- the livid purple of the bruise was now clashing violently with the blush. Hastily -- and hoping his victim didn't see it -- he looked back at the single page report. "So, you weren't in control of yourself when the incident happened? You were, in fact, drunk?"
"You were stone cold sober?"
"Then you should be able to explain yourself."
There was long moment of silence. Into it, the sound of a gulp was entirely audible.
"Corporal, I am waiting."
There was another, painful gulp. "I...propositioned his wife, sir."
"You," Cawdron repeated, "propositioned his wife." Never mind sucking a lemon, if he didn't get this interview finished in the next five minutes, he was going to expire from trying not to laugh. "Am I to presume that the gentleman in question was not in evidence?"
"He was not, sir." The Marine twitched as if he'd like to add something, but whatever it was, he held his tongue against further comments.
"I see," said Cawdron. "A pretty woman, in a bar, apparently on her own -- that really doesn't seem to be much cause for the husband's response."
There was another audible gulp. "Um..."
"Um, Corporal?" Cawdron echoed. "Is there something more to this?"
Another prolonged silence. Then came the response, "Yes, sir."
"Which is...?" Cawdron prompted, when that appeared to be all the Marine was going to say.
"I asked her if she was looking for business, sir." The voice was as soft and embarrassed as Cawdron could ever remember its owner sounding.
So quiet was the reply, Cawdron actually wondered if he'd heard it correctly. "You approached a woman, in a bar, and asked her if she was a prostitute?"
How the hell was he supposed to keep his face straight now? Cawdron fixed his attention firmly to the report, willing the description of the ensuing fight to lift his blood pressure enough to drown the laughter response. It wasn't working.
"Corporal, most people, when looking for that line of company, first of all make sure that the lady in question is employed in that line of work."
"They also make sure that there is no husband or other male accoutrement present."
Cawdron tapped the page on his desk. "In your favour, this report clearly states that while you were struck, you did not strike back."
"That did not call for a response." Cawdron heard a snap as the Marine's mouth closed sharply. "Also in your favour is the fact that this incident did happen while you were off duty and out of uniform." He paused, but the Marine seemed to have learned his lesson. "Consider yourself confined to base until next payday, and consider yourself very lucky not to be in more trouble. Dismissed, Corporal."
Cawdron looked up, more to make sure he saw the Marine leave than anything else. Then he waited a minute until he was sure his victim was out of earshot. Then he gave in and howled with laughter. He had known the incident had to have been fairly silly before the start of this interview and the interview had only confirmed both that and Eric Myers' reputation as being the one person who seemed to find trouble wherever he went.
Laughter coming back under control, Cawdron picked up his pen and pulled Myers' service record towards him. "Now, God help me, I've got to write this up!" Cawdron shook his head. "I swear, if Myers ever applies for promotion into the officer ranks, I'm supporting it, if only so he knows the hell he's put me through..." With a sigh, he uncapped his pen and began his report:
January 14 1996. Corporal Myers confined to base until next payday for an 'incident' in a civilian bar...