Marine Corps Stories: They Know
A Marine first lieutenant must continue to deal with being in the brig.
Colonel McCarthy Beal sat down as the scant amount of onlookers seated themselves as well.
“First Lieutenant Claire Howard, I understand you have been in the brig for six and a half months. Is that right?”
“You have been charged with attempted assault on a superior officer, unauthorized absence, willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, failure to obey an order, and three counts of assault. Is that correct?”
The judge cleared his throat. “Now, I know there are few people outside these walls who are pushing for your release. I am waiting, waiting to fully weigh the contents of your case. What I can do is ensure you’re treated like a human and like the Marine and officer you earned the right to call yourself. Is that clear?”
“I’m going to give you another six months in the brig in order to keep you safe from the people who are not looking forward to seeing you go free. This court is adjourned.” He pounded the gavel.
Claire returned to her cell, still strong in the knowledge she did not commit those crimes. She kept repeating it, over and over in her mind. The trauma. The trauma. The trauma. All of this stemmed from her alleged attack on her then-boyfriend from another unit, Captain Alpert Keefer. He was not harmed and begged for Claire’s charges to be dismissed. Still, she remained resolute and stern about the whole ordeal. She leaned her back up against the cell wall. She played solitaire and ate crackers. Still, her mind reeled as she placed cards down. In her head, she heard the judge say “another six months.” What does that mean? Will I have to keep moving around this cell? She ruminated, and played cards. This brig, known as NAVCONBRIG Miramar, was no five star hotel, but it still featured a slim enough number of amenities to suffice as a military prison.
“Can you hear me?” A voice rang out through the fairly well-lit cell.
“Yes, who is that?”
“I’m First Lieu—”
“Ain’t no rank in here. I thought you would have known that by now. Anyway, I know who you are and what you’re in for. I saw it on the TV in the day room. What’s your take?”
“I did none of those things. Sure I attacked my boyfriend, but he’s even saying I should be let out of here.”
“What the hell’s so funny?” Claire asked.
“You’re going to be in the brig a long time. But we might as well make the best of it.”
Claire got up and squeezed a cracker into her mouth. “Why do you say that?”
“That I’m going to be in here so long? What makes you say that?”
“With all those charges?! Do you believe in God?”
“I suggest you start praying to somebody to get you out of that mess.”
“I reject the thought. Everything that happened came from a major. He wanted to have dinner professionally, but then it turned informal. It was at my house on base. Al wasn’t home. He cornered and slapped me around, then he grabbed, and undid my clothes. He got what he wanted and left, as if nothing had ever happened. Fast forward a few months, and I’m going after Al with a steaknife.”
“Damn. I didn’t know it was like that.”
“Yeah, and I didn’t know you could be locked up in the brig for a complete mental breakdown.”
“You belong in a psych ward.”
“You’ve got that right.”
“Goddamn. I would make sure whoever’s speaking for you knows about all of that.”
“They know. They know.”