Another part of A Walk in Darkness….

“Hey Sergeant, the Platoon Daddy is looking for you.”

“Thanks. I better go see what fresh hell awaits me.”

I trudge up the stairs and make my way to the office. The door is shut, so I knock. A loud voice demands that I enter. My platoon sergeant and section sergeant are seated at the desk.

“How are you sergeant?”

“Fine. You?”

“I’m okay. I have some bad news for you.”

“What other kind is there? Well, come on with it already.”

Both of my superiors look at each other. The tense situation blows up into an awkward silence. Finally, my platoon sergeant looks at me.

“You know that financial paperwork you filled out to change your status from married to divorced?”

“Yes Sergeant, I know the paperwork.”

“The “S” shop forgot to turn it in. You have been getting paid the married rate, now you owe them back pay!”

My heart starts beating like a war drum, my throat runs dry, and both hands clench into fists. I cinch my grip so tight that my knuckles whiten. I grit my teeth until the cooper taste of blood covers my tongue. Swallowing, I attempt to compose myself before I lash out at both idiots.

“And I suppose neither one of you felt compelled to do your jobs and check on it?”

Sort your crap out and leave this man’s Army.”

I walk out of the office and head toward finance to sort out this sordid affair. “Maybe it won’t cost me too much to fix this!”

Gradually, I make my way into the finance office. I take a number and wait for my turn to be called to the front. “These guys never get in a hurry, again it’s hurry up and wait.” Shifting back in the seat, I look across the room, as if I possessed the ability to cause these guys to find a higher gear. Finally, I lean back and try to catch a nap.

“Ticket 178, you can be seen at counter two.”

I open one eye and look at my number. “Holy crap, I am 178!” I leap to my feet and hurry to the counter.

“Hi! Sorry, I was dozing in the corner.”

“No problem. What can I do for you?”

“I filled out paperwork to change my status from married to divorced. My unit “S” shop forgot to turn it in, and I am trying to find out how much I owe you guys.”

“Wait one.”

After a precursory search, the clerk goes into the back. I notice that she is talking with an officer, each gesture wildly and finally she comes back to the window.

“Sergeant, you owe us 10,000 dollars.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m sorry Sergeant. That is the total that you owe.”

“How in the name of all things holy, am I expected to pay that amount prior to leaving the service?”

“Look there is a loan place on Academy. They can help you get this squared away, that way you won’t have any problem clearing the post. Here is their phone number. Good luck.”

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