Elliot’s timing couldn’t have been worse, Carl considered as he
stood back and watched Lieutenant Goldman and Sergeant Anderson walk
into his office. He closed the door behind them, but instead of circling
behind his desk, Carl purposely chose to walk in front of it. That put
him, if only briefly, on top of both men and into their personal space.
He picked up a file from the corner of his desk.
even register he was there, but Carl didn’t miss Anderson moving in a
step closer to his lieutenant, his head up.
Anderson fixed Carl with an unreadable look before switching his
gaze away. Both men stood, arms behind their backs, Anderson just behind
and to the right of his lieutenant. Their body language told Carl more
than either could imagine.
open the file, leaning an elbow on the filing cabinet in the corner of
his office. “I’ve read your 201 file and as far as the Army is
concerned, I know all there is to know about you.” Carl dropped the
file back on his desk. Looking at both men, he shoved his hands in his
pockets and leaned back against the cabinet, watching and assessing.
“However, I tend to agree with George Patton. Files don’t inform as
to how the man reacts.” He paused, watching the younger man with a
keen interest. “What do you know about MACV SOG, Lieutenant?”
an unconventional warfare task group… involved in highly classified
operations throughout southeast Asia. Studies and Operations Group is a
title given to it as a cover. Just hearsay.”
Goldman’s voice was flat and there was nothing behind it. When
he looked at Carl, the dark eyes were blank, showing no emotion at all.
Carl was already
aware of the situation, of Alex Devlin’s death and the relationship
the young lieutenant had had with her. He was prepared to see grief and
anger in the other man. But that wasn’t the case here, Carl realized.
He had no doubt the young man was hurting, but he had locked it down
tight and buried the grief deep.
There were three
men in the room, but only two were really there. Anderson kept flicking
his gaze to his lieutenant, but remained silent. Carl had no problem
with the read there- the sergeant was worried about his friend.
“At least the
Army’s rumor mill is alive and kicking.” Carl crossed his arms over
his chest, continuing to watch the pair. “Two dozen Americans are
assigned to SOG- mostly Special Forces. Plus eight thousand highly
trained indigenous troops.”
slipping further into himself, looking at the floor. Anderson gave
another quick glance to Goldman. “That’s good company,” he finally
spoke up for both of them. Goldman shifted his weight in Anderson’s
direction, something inside reacting to the sergeant’s voice.
Maybe the boy
hadn’t completely checked out- there might be something that could be
brought back to the surface, Carl considered.
Sergeant. I’ve been informed by MACV Headquarters that qualified
Special Forces personnel are no longer available. That’s why they sent
me your unit.” That wasn’t the entire truth, but Carl wasn’t about
to tell them that. But he wanted to get Goldman to react, to come out of
the daze he was in.
because of our availability?” Myron met his gaze, but still Carl saw
It was time to
push some buttons and see what he got. “Your unit has a lot to prove,
pardon, sir, I believe my unit has proved itself.” Myron raised his
head, but the words held no emotion behind them. For all the words were
spoken, Goldman wasn’t defending himself or his men. Carl had hoped to
spark some anger and defiance.
He looked at
Anderson who was watching Goldman with mounting concern. Anderson met
his gaze head on. “Lieutenant’s right…sir.” There was the
indignation Carl was looking for, but not from this man. Anderson had
picked up on what he was doing, and he clearly didn’t like Carl’s
tactics. “I’ve never served with better men, special training, or NO
was plainly there. Don’t mess with mine, I don’t care who you are.
A fiercely loyal
man and just as protective was this sergeant.
definitely a pair, even with Goldman locked down behind a wall of grief.
Carl had seen it back at Tan Son Nhut, before the reporter’s death. He
already knew what he was getting; he never went into anything blind.
These two went well beyond the officer/NCO relationship- they had a very
close and rare friendship. Carl had observed them, ignoring Major
Darling’s annoying presence at the time as he watched the pair walk
with their unit out to the slicks for another mission.
see.” Carl nodded, taking a deep breath. “Welcome aboard.”
sir.” Both men responded together. Carl watched as they started to
leave, Anderson stepping back to let Goldman precede him.
Anderson, I’d like to speak to you a moment.”
Both men paused,
Goldman not quite looking back at Anderson. “I’ll catch up to ya,
Goldman gave a
short nod and without looking at Brewster, left the office, pulling the
door shut behind him.
Carl waited and
watched as Anderson came back to stand where he had before. The sergeant
still wasn’t looking directly at him. Anderson stood with his head up,
and hands behind his back. Carl, arms still crossed, studied the
compound outside his window for several long moments.
something I need to know, Sergeant, concerning the lieutenant?” Carl
turned back to Anderson.
Anderson met his gaze, eyes darkening a shade. There was just the
slightest shift in his stance.
“I’d like to
know what the situation is, Sergeant. What has shut Goldman down?”
Carl came around to the front of his desk, standing directly in front of
Anderson. He rested back against it, hands braced to either side of him.
“He has shut down, hasn’t he?”
“No, sir, I
don’t think so.”
exactly is going on?” Carl could see the set of the other man’s jaw
and the flash of defiance in his eyes.
nothin’ he can’t handle, sir.” The words were clipped and edged
just enough to have Carl narrow his eyes. “It’s not my place to say
more, ‘cept that the L-T does best when he’s left alone… sir.”
need to be worrying about one of my men going over the edge,
Sergeant.” Carl decided to give Anderson some room and walked behind
‘n’ that ain’t gonna happen with the L-T.” Anderson shook his
head and shifted his stance. “I’ve been with ‘im long enough to
time he came out of the field.”
“He’s a damn
fine officer, sir. He belongs with these men.” There was a flash of
something across the dark eyes, something Carl wasn’t quite sure of.
“It won’t do anyone any good, least of all the L-T, to take him
Carl watched him
for a moment, taking a deep breath. He liked the other man, liked how he
stood by his lieutenant. Anderson clearly respected Goldman, and for a
man with as much time over here as Carl knew Anderson had, that said a
great deal about the young lieutenant. Anderson was straightforward and
down to earth, something Carl suspected Goldman centered on.
Carl looked back
up, meeting with the dark blue eyes. There was still that defiance, but
behind it Carl also saw worry and concern.
Lieutenant Goldman- he’s about the finest officer ‘n’ man I’ve
ever served with ‘n’ I stand by that.” He paused, Carl watching
him decide what he wanted to say. “And the men think just as much of
“I just want
to know what I’m dealing with.”
you everything, Colonel, that’s just who he is. But he don’t trust
easily, ‘n’ that, sir, you’re gonna hafta figure out for
yourself.” Anderson held his gaze without hesitation.
then. I appreciate the candor and the advice, Sergeant Anderson.”
Carl leaned back
against the filing cabinet, nodding dismissal to Anderson’s salute. He
watched the other man leave the room before he looked out his window
often he saw such a tight pair. Young officers did their time in the
field and then got the hell out and fast, leaving men like Anderson to
train up another green officer time and again. But Goldman hadn’t
left, nor had any intention of leaving. What did that say about him?
impressions were telling, but Goldman and Anderson didn’t know this
wasn’t Carl’s first impression. He’d seen a great deal back at Tan
Son Nhut and had been impressed. But that was before Miss Devlin’s
death and the young man who stood before him today was not that same
young man from several weeks ago.
already going to be a challenge, Carl knew that going in. Now everything
was that much more complicated.