new bird. That was how I knew I was at the base hospital and not some civilian one - I couldn't be spilling secrets in my sleep. "Yes, yes, I know how they say the graveyard is full of indispensable people, but I'm sure things will go smoother when I'm back." It was true, I wasn't indispensable, but I am a great engineer. I designed the new gear on the bird, not some contractor, but me. It was a great accomplishment to steal a march on the big defense outfits. When I joined the service, I despaired at having to just be a project manager and never doing any real engineering. Eventually, I prevailed and now the defense outfits were trying to lure me away, all the while gnashing their teeth that royalties on my designs were slipping away from their coffers.
I drifted back into consciousness. The breeze tugged at the white lacy curtains, spilling sunlight onto me. Both my arms were strapped down; this was going to be bad. The nurse waltzed in, with a wistful smile. "Before you go, a Colonel Stram is going to make sure you are recovered." I swallowed my retort; freedom was not to be denied by my glib tongue.
The colonel walked in, alleviating somewhat my earlier fears about the nurse. Still, how long had it been since I had last seen another? He was somber, as was befitting his duty, which he wore as a cloak. He glanced at the nurse, "That will be all nurse." As she turned to walk away, I realized I still didn't know her name. Her smile turned friendly, in a beguiling sort of way. Waiting for her next expressive smile was what kept me going some days. Sometimes I dreamed of the two of us lounging about on some tropical beach. As she spun to go, I finally got a good look at her right hand and I saw the wedding band, plainly reflecting the light from outside. She always cupped the syringe in her left hand.
The colonel closed the door behind her, turned and ran a pen about the room. I watched with some interest, but the novelty quickly wore off. I started to ask him about, "Sshh" he softly interrupted, the finger of his other hand, the right one, across his lips. Finally the finger came down, "Never can be too sure."
I could have told him no one else had been in the room, but the pen waving seemed to make him happy. Curiously, he didn't try to stand over me, instead he sat down in the recliner to the left and pushed a button such that the back of my bed elevated until I seemed to also be sitting. I didn't know the bed was pneumatic.
"Bob, can I call you Bob, Captain Buchanan? Lets just dispense with rank for right now, son." The man spat the words out like a machine gun on a Spitfire. He'd get them out and let them strike where they might. "Bob, can I be frank with you?" I nodded, not that he was paying attention to me. "OK, well son, did you know that general who thought it would be a good idea for you to get some people time?" I recalled the grizzly face of General Ipoche, "Well, the man was an idiot exposing you like that."
The man had been the first to champion my design and encouraged me when others tried to trip me. "Bob, why do you think we fly the birds over Roswell?"
He paused, and I realized he actually expected me to start contributing, "Well, umh," he wanted me to be friendly, but he had never introduced himself with his given name, "colonel, because the flyboys are juveniles who think making those poor souls at Roswell believe in..." I couldn't say it, I just couldn't say it. I'd spouted off what I used to think, but now I couldn't finish it up, "Well, they are the idiots."
I hadn't expected it from this man, by his eyes radiated sympathy and his features softened. "No, the name's Henry by the way, no,
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