Old ain't dead. Count on it.
|The three older men sat around a blazing fire. Two leaned against hay bales and the third added some wood. The one had only given the others the basics, but more people were set to arrive and there was no use telling it over and over. Colin, who was fifty-five and somewhat overweight even after losing more than sixty pounds, had called them together. John was adding the wood to the fire, it was his place, he was about average height, but he'd kept in better shape after retiring from the Army. He was a jumpin' bean with 40 plus HALO jumps to his credit, and also was also a Pathfinder. Markus, the third man, who was in excellent shape to go along with his swarthy good looks. He hadn't been in the military, but he was a professional jouster, who acted a renaissance fairs. There weren't too many people around who were better with a sword. He was no slouch with other weapons, but the older types were his specialty.
“When do they get here?” John asked while he stoked the flames.
“There was supposed to be a car to meet them. It should be here anytime.” Colin answered.
“Car?” Markus looked at him. “They...”
“You talkin’ about us?” A voice said in the dark outside the lit circle. One stepped into the light, then the other.
“Steve… David.” Colin greeted them as only they would know to do. The others followed suit.
They grabbed beers from the cooler, Steve picked up the bottle of whiskey and looked at it.
“Someone got the good stuff.” He commented. “Must be something important.”
“It is.” Colin said solemnly. “Let me tell you about it.”
He told them about a girl he had first met in junior high, and had kept in touch with through high school and beyond. He had been madly in love, but it was, for the most part, unrequited. Still, he had told her once if she ever needed him, he would be there. Now, she needed him. He told them he knew she had joined the Army, he’d even kept the photo she sent from her induction. Then he lost touch until the internet happened along. Turns out she was now a captain and doing tours in the Middle East.
“It was just what I wanted to hear.” Colin said. “Probably been easier to keep that promise if she was a florist.”
“This is about some promise you made as a teenager?” Markus asked him bluntly.
“Something got you honor bound, Bro?” John asked in a quieter tone.
“Yes…. and yes. I got to go, brothers. Not you. But any advice would be nice.”
“Wait now.” Steve stopped him. “No one said shit about shit. Why don’t you give us the details?”
“Okay. Well, this is just what I’ve been told.”
Colin started talking. The woman was a captain in the Army. She had gotten moved up the ranks due to her willingness to do tours over in zones that weren’t always green. The post was on the border of Iraq and Iran, and that was common knowledge, but where it was precisely wasn’t on Facebook. The official word was that, on a routine patrol on the perimeter of the camp, she had gone missing in action with three of her men. The word around the campfire was they could have crossed paths with an Iranian patrol, but there was no word from Iran.
“So.” David said. “You want us to go look for some girl you used to know… just in the desert.”
“No no…” Steve chuckled. “We’re supposed to go look in a hostile country!”
“What I don’t understand,” John said calm as usual. “Why haven’t our people gone to get her?”
“That’s a good point.” David echoed. “We don’t just leave a fireteam out there.”
“Well, the Army has nothing to say about it,” Colin told them. “They act like they’re in camp.”
Steve wanted to know where the information was coming from if no one was talking, and Colin explained that the woman had met and married. He was well off, it was true, but it was who he knew that made such a difference.
“You think I paid for you tickets to get here?” Colin queried. “Money and information. He won’t get more involved.”
“What does that mean?” Markus asked.
“It means they won’t hire anyone to cross the border.” Steve responded. “Right?”