Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4133)

Sitting Thirty-Two

Sergeant Minioz lay on his bunk, confined to his barracks, awaiting the outcome of the charges levied against him: absent without leave and dereliction of duty.

Plenty of time to think.

The first realization was that if he had used the time two weeks earlier to be just a little more reflective, he might not be sequestered, trying to figure out if the stink was coming from the room or from him.

Fresh in his mind was the questioning he endured from his major, a petty young officer with a jaw of granite and the disposition of a camel (if it had hemorrhoids.)

He remembered it well.

“What is your rank?” barked the major.

That one was easy. The stripes on Minioz’s shoulder told it all.

“Serial number,” came the next demand.

The sergeant had that one memorized. He also got the right platoon, company, commander and the days of the week complete and accurate.

Then the questions got tougher. The major drew in a deep breath and released it slowly, as he queried, “Have you now, or have you ever lost any military issue?”

Now there was the heart of the matter. Minioz paused for a second and decided it best for his cause to focus on the word “lost”—because certainly, he had never “lost” anything. After all, having something snatched by a little brat was not having it “lost,” right?

Minnioz spat out as quickly as possible so as not to appear tentative. “No, sir, I have never lost any military issue.”

The major spit right back. “Are you presently in possession of your entire weapon stockpile?”

Once again, the sergeant breathed a sigh of relief, thankful for the words “presently” and “in possession.” For Minioz had rectified his lack of a hand grenade by purchasing one at an Army surplus store in the city. It did not work—disarmed—and he hoped he would never have to demonstrate its purpose and power. But still, it hung impressively from his belt.

So the answer was simple. Yes, presently he was in possession of all of his military weapons. Of course, he did not volunteer the considerable span of time he was absent some hardware, which he had tracked down in the desert to two little punks who had outsmarted him and nearly killed them all.

The delay between questions was maddening. A bead of sweat broke on Minioz’s brow. He tried to stop the dribble but after all—how does one do that?

And then, the next challenge: “If you are in possession of all of your weapons, why was a report filed that you were attempting to retrieve a hand grenade which you alleged had been stolen from you?”

The brain of Sergeant Minioz exploded like a volcano. Report filed? Whom had he told? Who knew? Who had the evidence to derail him if he lied?

Of course, it’s very difficult to contemplate the correct answer without appearing evasive, so as quickly as possible, the sergeant retorted, “I know of no report, and know of no alleged charge and know of no one who would make such a claim.”

Minioz managed to stop himself before incoherency took over his reply. The fussy major stared at him but said nothing. Had he gotten by with it? Was his answer so twisted that the major was afraid to disassemble it?

But apparently, it was not enough. Obviously, the major knew more than Minioz thought he knew. Now it seemed that his superior officer was just stalling to watch him squirm.

The sergeant chose silence, limited his squirming and suffered through what was now a stream of perspiration.

After a long pause of scrutiny, the major spoke again. “So that is your answer?” he thundered.

Minioz widened his eyeballs to try to keep away some tears of fear. “Entirely, for now,” he piped back.

The major didn’t miss a beat. “So why were you absent from your post without leave?”

Minioz was not prepared to answer, but grateful to get away from the subject of the hand grenade. He cleared his throat and spoke slowly to the major. “Personal problems forbade me, sir, from arriving at camp at the designated time. Poor judgment prevented me from reporting my status, and utter stupidity kept me away a little longer out of fear of punishment.”

Sudden silence. The sergeant muted a smile. It was quite an answer, threatening truth. Matter of fact, in the history of all military justice, it might have been the best response ever offered.

The major nodded. The answer had even impressed Old Sour Britches. “One final question,” he posed. “Is there any truth to the rumor that a hand grenade is loose and available among the citizenry, which found its point of origin in our camp?”

“Sir,” said Minioz, “I do not know the whereabouts of every hand grenade in this camp. I do not want to be so presumptuous as to suggest that such an absence is not possible. All I know is that my hand grenade is hanging from my belt, and ready for further orders.”

Minnioz felt horrible. He knew he had lied. It wasn’t a big whopper, but certainly, a stinky fish laying on the dock.

But he thought to himself, “Is it really a lie, when the alternative is so dastardly and detrimental to all parties involved? Sometimes the truth is just a sword ready to behead everyone in the room.”

Sergeant Minioz was busy trying to make sense of his own failure. Whatever the answer, he was going to stick to his story. He chuckled to himself. After all, he had just purchased one dud to replace the dud the government had issued him. 

 

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Untotaled: Stepping 41 (July 14th, 1967) Needing Change… November 22, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2421)

(Transcript)

It had never happened before.

There was going to be a carnival set up at the Westerville Shopping Center, right across the street from Redman’s Hardware.

Even though that in itself was cool, even cooler was that this cavalcade of amusements was advertising unlimited rides and midway games for five dollars for the whole day.

It was great.

The only trouble was, Randy and I didn’t have five dollars apiece, so I was ready to do my usual small-town plan of giving up and spending my carnival time complaining about missing the parade.

Randy, on the other hand, had an idea.

He went down to our local phone booth, sitting on the north corner of the Town Commons, and stuffed a bunch of Kleenex into the change return, so that when people missed a call or had money coming back their way, it would get caught and would not return to them.

I thought it was the dumbest idea I’d ever heard.

I wasn’t so concerned that it was dishonest as that I didn’t think we would ever get ten dollars out of such an adventure, with the money coming out in increments of ten cents a throw.

But Rand did it anyway, and three days later, when he pulled out the Kleenex, we ended up with a haul of $10.75.

Apparently a very popular phone booth.

We could not have been more giddy. We went to the carnival and had a fabulous time, never once feeling guilty about how we acquired the funds.

No, for me it was four days later.

I was sitting in my mother and father’s loan company, and I peered out the window and saw there was a policeman inspecting the phone booth.

It scared the crap out of me.

I had to do something–not out of guilt over my misstep, but rather, because I didn’t want to go to Juvenile Hall, where I heard they only served partially cooked pot pies.

So when my parents weren’t looking, I snuck into the safe of the loan company and grabbed a roll of dimes. I quietly stepped over to the phone booth, trying to pretend like I was going to make a call, and as calmly as possible, stuffed that whole role of dimes back into the slot, one at a time, to do recompense for my sin.

Once again, it never occurred to me that I stole from my parents to cover my previous thievery.

It was nearly three weeks later, when my uncle gave me five dollars for school supplies, that my conscience finally showed up.

I determined to go to the bank, purchase a roll of dimes and slip them back into the safe, no one the wiser.

Unfortunately, my plan was foiled by the fact that my parents hung around all day long, never giving me the chance to do penance.

I decided to try again the next day, but on the way home I passed by the local five and dime, and they were advertising candy bars–six for 20 cents.

Well, the only 20 cents I had was in the roll of dimes, and I thought, what the hell? What difference would two dimes make?

The next day I forgot to return my dimes to the loan company, but I did stop off at the Dairy Queen to get a hot dog and a coke, which took another seven dimes.

Long story short, within a week I spent all the dimes I had planned to return.

I didn’t feel bad–I felt stupid.

I did make one determination, and that was to never steal from the phone booth again. And when Randy tempted me, I changed the subject and refrained from further iniquity.

From then on, I went on a personal journey in search of my own integrity.

It was ten years later, long after my dad had died.

I was visiting my mother at her home, and I walked up to her and gently placed a roll of dimes into her hand. She looked up at me, quizzically.

I patted her on the shoulder and said, “It’s a really, really long story…”

 

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