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Nobody's Perfect...We Are What We Are, Part Two
Reply to Strange MusicPosted to the RoswellSlash mailing list October 22, 2001
It might be a kind of sleep that they induced me to. But when I woke up afterward, my mouth feeling like dry desert sand, I knew it wasn't a restful one.
I hoped that the dryness had been because of the medication they had given me. But I had the knowing fear that I had done quite a bit of talking while I had been under.
I felt fatigued.
And worse, when I looked at them and knew from their eyes that they had found out.
"Captain Doty. I guess now is the time that we talk again about a few things"
It was 5 hours later that I found myself in that bar. Waiting for Hal to appear.
I felt tired, but not because of the lack of sleep or of the drugs that I still felt dragging me down.
I felt tired because of what I was here to do.
Waiting for Hal.
Betraying him, by protecting him.
Yet it was still betrayal. At least I know that it would be to him if he ever found out.
They believed me that he hadn't seen enough to be a threat.
But the bad thing was that he was turning out to be one in the mean time ever since.
Gaining information. Asking people that he shouldn't be talking with.
I was nursing my sixth glass of whiskey when he finally came in. The familiar brief smile almost painful to see. And even more painful the swiftness with which it disappeared.
"Tough day following orders? "
The first line and he already hit home.
"I'm a coward, Hal. Don't rub it in."
He sat down beside me and looked at me "You're drunk."
Talk about stating the obvious.
But I wasn't just drunk. Actually I wasn't nearly as drunk as I wanted to be. I was still too clear in my head. Still too clear about what was going on around me. But I had to let Hal believe what he thought he saw.
"And don't expect any more than that from me."
He looked at me in concern. And again I saw the friend come out.
As if it wasn't tough enough already betraying him knowing that he hated me.
Now I had to betray him while knowing that he trusted me.
But I had to.
I had to protect him.
"You were right. I saw stuff. I heard...what their plans were. I...I was a good soldier. I went along with it. I'm not...I'm not proud of myself. Makes you wonder if I'm on the right side. Are we on the right side, Hal? "
The words that I told him where easy. After all they were very much close to what I truly felt. I wasn't proud of myself. Only I knew that I most certainly wasn't on the right side.
I saw the friendship again and for the moment I wished nothing more than to be as drunk as I pretended to be. Because I wouldn't have to see it.
"It's gonna be ok. I've got friends. We've got people who want to know the truth just as much as we do. And by tomorrow the world will be one step closer to it. "
It was a question they expected me to ask. But I had actually only asked it out of self curiosity.
Hal had a plan. He always had a plan. And in a way that was almost comforting, that things like that didn't change. But only almost. Because I knew that this was what brought him deeper and deeper into the danger that I tried to protect him from.
"Check the morning paper. It'll all be there. Now you want a ride home? "
He waited for a reply of mine. But when he got none he just left.
"All right, then."
And with that he left the bar.
I just waited for what I knew would follow. Not disappointed by the slimy voice that soon followed.
"Well done, Captain."
I glared daggers at him. Well done. As if I had done it for them. As if I had done it to help them. My urge to get drunk to forget all this only increased.
As did the urge to wash away the dirtiness when Cavitt came over and touched my arm.
"Don't touch me."
Enough what he had done last night during the questioning. He knew my secret now. And also knew that I would do anything to protect it.
Only that there were lines. And this was one of them.
I downed my whiskey and ordered another.
Now I had only one more mission for today.
Drinking till I forgot.
Everything and everyone.
Today they had actually let me sleep.
It wasn't much comfort knowing that it was because they knew everything now.
And when I came to the office I again looked into the greasy smile of Cavitt. Feeling the urge to either throw up or once again get drunk.
"You are not feeling well I see?"
I snorted and didn't reply.
His voice swung with smugness when he looked at me.
"We might have the same rank. But you know that I am still above you. So you might try that again."
He repeated it slowly with a smile that made me want to throw up.
"You are not feeling well?"
"No Sir." The sir was definitely pressed through my teeth. And seeing his smile brighten didn't help much.
"What do you want from me.....Sir?"
"It's about your friend. Captain Carver."
What did they still want from him?
"The paper didn't appear. So the problem is solved."
He shook his head. "No it isn't. As long as Captain Carver is still around he is a liability, a problem. The paper might be prevented but he is still asking questions. Still sticking his nose into things that he doesn't need to know. I am afraid that he won't stop till we stop him."
The smile that he had on the last words showed me exactly what he had in mind for stopping Hal.
"I won't let you." It was the first thing in my mind. And even before he laughed I knew how senseless these words were. If they did only want to kill him I wouldn't have a chance. If they just wanted to kill him they wouldn't have told me about it and just done it.
There was something else. Something that they needed me for.
"Of course we can also just offer him his resignation. Without his uniform and means of search he will be just another nut spouting ideas about little green men."
"What does it have to do with me?"
"We...or better the people above me want you to work for us. We need people like you. "
Sure, people who have nowhere else to go.
"We have an offer for you. For letting Carver live, you stay with us. One life for another. So that your friend will see another day.
He might not be army anymore. But he will still be alive."
I closed my eyes in pain and nodded. Not trusting my voice enough to speak.
I had never seen what you call a devilish smile as much as this was. As the one that was now on Captain Cavitt's face as he handed me the map.
"And don't you think you are lucky! I choose you to be the lucky one to tell him. Congratulations, Captain Doty! You have just been given your first command in your new life."
If looks could kill, he would have been dead.
But they didn't.
So I went to do what might be the worst thing in my life.
Knowing that this time I would lose Hal for good.
When he came in I could see the fight in his eyes. The readiness to take on anything and anyone.
He faltered only slightly in his steps when he saw me. And for a moment he actually looked hurt.
But the moment passed much quicker than any other before had. It was as if a door had closed for the last time. Shut and closed and locked. Thrown away the key.
"Where's Cassidy?" He asked angrily.
"I'm holding down the fort."
"Did you know about this? Huh, did you?!"
I wished I didn't....know about this....do this...be here. So many "didn't"'s that I would have liked to choose from. Yet I didn't have the choice for any of them.
"It was a classified information..."
"You sold me out!" The hurt was now completely gone out of his voice. Only anger was left behind. Deep hateful anger. He knew that I sold him for a price. Only it wasn't the price that he thought I had sold him for.
"I had orders! I didn't have a choice." I knew that he heard as much as I did that my heart wasn't truly in that defense. And how could it be?
If only the part where I had no choice was true.
"Well, thanks for being such a pal, Dick."
I had known that he would fight me.
He wouldn't be Hal if he just accepted this.
But I hadn't thought how far he would go. Just as I saw the glint in his eyes I knew that it would be dangerously far. I had to stop him, tell him that his choices were as limited as mine. Before they change their minds and decided to kill him after all.
"Sign the letter, Hal, and make this easy. Pack your things. Take the honorable discharge."
Please. Don't fight them. They will win. They always do. They already have my soul. Don't let them have my heart as well. Let me live through all this that at least I did it for a reason. And that the reason was that you are out there safe.
Cursing the day I was born.
But at least safe.
"You will have to drag me off this base."
My last resort.
"You always were a punk, Carver. Why couldn't you be a lazy, self-centered, son of a bitch this time? "
That was finally what did it. So my face told me as his fist connected with it.
He definitely hadn't pulled the punch.
"A lot of people are very, very, upset. They wanted to get rid of you, but I convinced them to treat you like one of us. Sign the resignation, Hal, or they're gonna change their minds and take it one step further."
I saw him shuffle through the pictures on my desk. Without another word he signed the papers in front of him.
As he looked back at me, I had never seen so much hatred.
It hurt to know that I deserved each and every bit of it.
"I hope you enjoy your white picket fences, Richie...'cause you sure as hell earned it."
Yes. I guess I truly earned what I was getting now.
And as I watched him walk through the door the Captain Richie Doty died.
And Colonel Richard Doty was born.
Close to each other only by face and name.
The years passed by and I walked my way through life.
Gaining their respect and trust.
But they never gaining mine.
I didn't have friends.
Didn't want to risk it.
And in the end I did marry.
A major's daughter.
I had my white picket fence.
But like the marriage it was only part of the show.
We might not hate each other. Actually spent some good times together.
But neither of us ever loved the other.
When I heard about the reunion meeting of the old crew, I just had to go and see him.
Especially after hearing how little time he had left.
I watched them, him and the boy, come back from their little trip.
Talking animatedly with each other. I didn't know what had happened, but something between them had changed. The boy was no longer glaring at Hal but rather smiling at him. And Hal was laughing openly. As he slung his hand across the boy's shoulders.
Looked like some bonding between them had been going on.
Neither of them saw me as I watched them go closer to the house. Only stopping for a second as another boy drove up to them in a jeep.
He stepped up to hug the boy with Hal. And proceeded to greet Hal by extending his hand.
Something that Hal only after a certain amount of staring took.
I saw him turn his head and the boy nodded.
Then all three went into Hal's room.
I just sat down on the bench, not sure what to do next.
But when time passed and none of them came out. I started to get suspicious.
Casually walking forward to the window, I tried to catch a glimpse inside.
What I saw let my blood freeze in my veins.
One of the boys stood at the foot of the bed while the other held a glowing hand over Hal.
It was the same light as it had been back then in the truck. Had they come back for him?
And for the second time in my life I just reacted as I rushed forward and slammed the door open.
Only thinking that I had to keep them away from him and whatever they were doing to him.
I thought that Hal would at least be happy to be saved.
Well he wasn't. He only glared at me. And so did the boy standing.
The one sitting at Hal's bedside was only blinking at me in confusion.
"Richard Doty. Never thought that you would come here."
The moment he spoke my name I felt a burning gaze rest on me. A look almost a hateful as Hal's had been.
I can only imagine what Hal had told the boy. And I don't think he had told him lies. I guess reality was enough to make such disgust appear.
"Yes Michael...he is. Maybe you should leave us alone."
Michael gave me another look but then without a word went to the boy still sitting at the bed. Touching his arm gently as he helped him up. I watched them as they walked outside and closed the door behind them.
I smiled as I thought how much the fire in the younger man's...Michael's...eyes had reminded me of a younger Hal.
But now it was the older Hal that I had to deal with.
"If you have at least one good bone in you body left you will not tell anybody about what you have seen right here, Nothing."
He paused and waited for my answer.
I nodded "I won't." Even when I still didn't know what exactly it was that I had seen.
"Well, if nothing else, at least your word is the only thing that I can believe."
"Hal I am....."
"I swear to you...if you say you are sorry I will kick your butt from here to Canada."
It was what I had wanted to say. So now I didn't know what else to say.
He spoke on, mumbling as if talking to himself.
"You are still the same, aren't you, Richie? And to think that I actually was in love with you back then. "
I felt my feet give away as I sank to the floor.
The laughter that came from my lips must have sounded strange, and I assume not very sane. Especially with the tears that at the same time ran down my face.
There were no words for what was chasing through my mind. And the only thing I could whisper was. "I didn't know. My god I didn't know."
He looked down at me.
"Don't tell me you would have done anything different if you had known. Anything different from the way you did it?"
I shook my head as I drove my hands over my face.
"No, I wouldn't." It was almost inaudible. But Hal still heard it.
He snorted as he looked down at me in undistinguished anger and disgust.
"That's what I thought"
"No you don't see." It took me some time to realize that I had spoken the words aloud. And then there was no stopping as I continued. "I did all this to protect you. So that you wouldn't be harmed or worse...killed. I wouldn't change anything because what I did.....what I did was because I loved you".
There were no words spoken after that, as Hal simply looked at me in disbelief.
And I did my best to avoid his eyes. Even after his declaration afraid of what I would see there.
Instead I looked out of the window. Watching the two boys sitting on a bench not far away. Michael, Hal's friend, laying a hand on his friend's arm.
Causing the other a tired smile.
I didn't need to hear their voices to know what passed between them. Michael's other hand was raised and was now tenderly touching the other boy's cheek.
They didn't kiss. But there was no mistaking what they were to each other.
And it pained me to look at them and know that this actually could have been us.
When I turned around to finally face him I saw that he already had been looking at me.
Waiting for my reaction, for me to make the first step.
I just stood, not really sure what he expected from me.
What I was supposed to say do.
Afraid it would be the wrong thing.
I had already said and done the wrong things all my life. Why should it be any different now?
Because now I had something that I never had before. The knowledge of a chance.
I smiled at him and after a surprised look he actually smiled back. It wasn't a happy smile. Rather a sad one.
Too much time had passed.
He moved over on the bed to indicate for me to sit down. Which I did.
Then I wracked my brain for what I could say to him. Anything with less danger then "Why did you never tell me?" and more sense than "Nice weather."
And then, just as I was starting to think the first thing out of my mouth was the best thing to say, he started to laugh.
"We are a bunch of fools, aren't we?"
I laughed too...because he definitely was right. And it was comforting, as so many things had changed over the years.
But some things remained the same.
It felt nice knowing that Hal was among them. Still saying what he thought. Still honest in a way that very few people were.
"So what do we do now?"
"Don't know...start it slow? Go and meet. Dinner, Cinema?"
It just came to my mind. Yet I guess he got it faster than I did when he started to laugh out loud.
"You mean we should date?"
I had to smile too at the thought. Imagining ourselves in this situation.
"I guess I am too old to date again. Not enough time left."
That was the thought that sobered me up quite quickly as I remembered the reason that I had come here in the first place.
To see him before it was too late.
But before he saw my face he continued with a smile "But I guess as I got a bit more time now we might as well do it."
I took a deep breath "I heard about...I mean, I know."
He actually looked carefree when he laughed "No, you don't."
"But you are dying. They told me you are."
"I was...but things have changed. I can't tell you why and how. But believe me when I tell you that I have more time left than I had before."
I didn't really believe him, but the way he looked somehow made me accept.
"I guess we better go to the meeting now before it is over," I looked over to him as he nodded and stood up.
"I'd say the same. There is just one thing that I need to do first."
He looked at me with a smile, then reached into his shirt pocket to take out his packet of cigarettes and threw them into the bin. And I smiled back. Because without another word I knew what he was trying to tell me.
Whether or not he was really better, as he had said, I still had to see for myself.
Whether or not it was true.
But when he looked at me I knew one thing. He had thrown them away out of reason. And the reason was that he finally again had something to live for.
And as I took the hand he offered me I knew.....that finally.....so had I.
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