Chapter Seventy One – Caught By Their Own Words
Rick looked across the table at Sgt. Riehle, wondering what he needed to talk to him about, since his lawyer had just left the room. He was very suspicious of Sgt. Riehle’s behavior. Didn’t Capt. Letcher just say he should always have his lawyer present when being interrogated? This didn’t look like he was going to be questioned, since Sgt. Riehle was alone. However, it didn’t feel right.
Rick glanced around the room and didn’t see any mirrors that might be used for secret surveillance. Satisfied they weren’t being observed, he looked back at Sgt. Riehle, who was watching the young marine intently. Rick’s next thought was there was a hidden microphone somewhere in the room, so he decided he’d be on his guard. He had no reason to trust this man, or anyone else on base, for that matter.
Sgt. Riehle thought to himself, “He’s wondering if he’s being watched or recorded. I know I’d think the same thing, after hearing I was being held on possible charges of murder, etc. This one is the strong, silent type. I like that in a marine. He reminds me so much of my own son. I hope I can clear him of all wrong doing. I just have to convince him to trust me.”
Rick sat and stared back at Sgt. Riehle, waiting for him to speak first. The silence stretched on, as if there was a contest going on between them to see who would break down and speak first.
It was Sgt. Riehle who decided to break the silence. “Corporal Lernier, I believe you are innocent, but I need your help to prove that you are. If you want me to get Capt. Letcher before we proceed, I will stop now and we’ll get him in here. But before you answer, I’d like to say this conversation is off the record; because I need your full cooperation, without reservation. I give you my word of honor, as a fellow marine, that this conversation is not being recorded.”
Rick listened, and waited for Sgt. Riehle to go on. Taking the silence as Rick’s agreement not to have Capt. Letcher present, Sgt. Riehle continued, “I need you to wear a wire for the next few days. Everything you hear will be recorded. You and the other marines will be transported to Quantico, Virginia, where you will be prepared by your legal counsel for your defense. The evidence we gather here will be shared with your legal counsel. Since all of you will be travelling together to Quantico, I want to you to be my eyes and ears during that trip. I’m hoping your comrades will divulge to you something that may help your case. Will you help me help you?”
Rick thought for a moment, and then nodded. He didn’t speak, nor did he break his fixed stare, as he held Sgt. Riehle’s gaze. He thought, “What choice do I have?”
Sgt. Riehle stood up and left the room. He returned with Capt. Letcher. Rick stood and saluted. Capt. Letcher said, “At ease, let’s hear what Sgt. Riehle has to say.”
Sgt. Riehle said, “Sir, I believe I can help Corporal Lernier, if he is willing to wear a wire, so we can record all of the conversations he hears while in transit to Quantico. I believe his comrades will divulge enough information to bring this case to a close.”
Capt. Letcher looked at Rick. “Are you willing to do this?”
“Yes, sir,” Rick replied.
“Good. Then let it be so. However, Sgt. Riehle, do you plan to offer anything more concrete to this young marine than the fact that maybe he might be cleared of all charges?” Capt. Letcher asked.
“Yes, sir. I believe Lt. Col. Bachman has already authorized his attendance at his friend’s funeral. He will be on the same plane as the body, and will accompany Lt. Col. Bachman to visit with Corporal Meyer’s family, before being transported to Quantico.”
Capt. Letcher looked at Rick and asked, “Do you have any questions?”
“No, sir,” Rick said.
Capt. Letcher said, “We will see you in the morning.”
Capt. Letcher left the room. Sgt. Riehle turned to Rick and said, “Corporal Lernier, I promise you I will do my best to get you home to your partner. My son was a marine, and committed suicide, because he couldn’t handle being kicked out of the marines for being gay. I do not want to see that happen to you. I am warning you never to contact your partner using any method of communication while you are on active duty. I had your computer wiped clean and its hard drive destroyed, so it is worthless to you now.” He paused here and looked Rick in the eyes. “You need to talk to Glenn and tell him you will be completely out of touch for the rest of your tour of duty.”
Rick stood there in complete shock. How did Sgt. Riehle find out so much information? He even knew Glenn’s name. Sgt. Riehle, noting his words had the intended effect, said, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He turned and left, locking the door behind him.
Capt. Letcher was waiting for him in his office. “Do you think your plan is going to work?”
Sgt. Riehle smiled, “Yes. Everything is working out perfectly. I think by the time they reach Quantico, Corporal Lernier will be safely out of harm’s way, and we will have caught ourselves not only a murderer, but the ringleader of the drug dealers we’ve been trying to catch for months now. Now, all we have to do is to let nature take its course.”
Capt. Letcher smiled. “You are a very devious man, Sgt. Riehle!”
“Yes, I am but I also know how to protect those that are my own,” Sgt. Riehle said, with a smile. “Corporal Lernier is one of my own. He is so much like my own son. We will make sure he gets home safe and sound.”
Capt. Letcher agreed, “That is something we will do, no matter what else happens. He is a good kid, and I’d hate to see his promising career end with his death at the hands of such despicable creatures as the men we are trying put behind bars! It’s very fortunate we intercepted the drug dealers’ communication giving them orders to snuff him out, just in case Corporal Meyers told him anything about his supply chain. These thugs are ruthless, as evidenced by the brutality they showed when they murdered Meyers.”
When I woke up this morning, I had a horrible feeling that things weren’t right with Rick. I checked my blog and didn’t see any comments. I checked my e-mail and found a couple of e-mails from my family, but nothing from Rick. I sent a text message and got no answer. I got up from my desk and headed to the shower to get ready for my classes.
Ben noticed that something seemed out of sorts with me and asked, “Glenn, are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Ben. I’m just worrying about Rick. I can’t seem to shake the sense of foreboding that keeps dogging me this morning,” I replied, trying hard not to give in to the dark clouds that seemed to hang over me. I’ve never felt this way before.
Ben looked closely at me. “You worry too much, cousin. Let it go. I’m sure Rick is okay, and you need to give him some space. He’ll contact you soon enough.”
Ben left the room to shower, and returned a few minutes later to finish getting ready for school. We both went downstairs to the kitchen. We found Frank at the table, eating a bowl of cereal.
“Good morning, Frank,” Ben said.
“Good morning, guys,” Frank replied, between bites of cereal.
Frank likes to eat sugary sweet cereals, like the ones I ate when I was five or six years old. You know the ones, with the marshmallows or lots of chocolate puffs, etc. I can’t stand that stuff anymore, because it’s too sweet. Of course, as a kid, I hated cooked cereal and wouldn’t touch it; and now, I love to eat oatmeal or cracked wheat hot cereal. Before you start to think I’m a health nut, let me say I also like to add lots of brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins and nuts to make it more palatable! I know, I know, it’s not much better than the sugary, cold cereals Frank likes to eat!
Ben asked, “Do you want instant oatmeal this morning?”
“Yes please, maple and brown sugar would be great,” I replied.
Ben dumped the contents of an envelope into each of two bowls and added water. Next he put them in the microwave. I love our microwave! It’s makes things so easy for me!
I retrieved the milk from the refrigerator and placed it on the table. We joined Frank at the table and wolfed down our breakfast. We headed out the door and walked down to the corner and crossed over to the park.
Ben asked, “Did you get your scheduled straightened out yesterday?”
“No, but I’ll have everything done by this afternoon. I’m going to meet with Mr. Clarke to finish my new schedule, first thing this morning,” I said.
“Cool, I hope you get the classes you want,” Ben said. “I’m looking forward to seeing Janice tonight. Do you think we could have her over for dinner at our place?”
I replied, “Yes, but I insist on doing the cooking. You aren’t the greatest cook in the world, and I don’t want you to ruin any chance you might have with Janice by fixing a horrible meal!”
Ben laughed and said, “Thanks, cousin. I hoped you would volunteer to cook! I’ll spring for the ingredients, if you’ll plan the menu.”
“You’ve got a deal! I think we should have stuffed shells with fresh bread, a green salad and some fresh fruit. We can go get the needed supplies after your last class,” I said.
Ben said, “I’ll give Janice a call to see if her roommates want to come over, as well. You know Zach and Mark will want to come, too.”
I looked at Ben. “Okay, Ben, what are you trying to do?”
Ben gave me his “who me” look. “I’m not trying to do anything. I’m just being friendly, that’s all.”
I gave him that “look” and decided to let it drop. I listened as he called Janice, who was still in her dorm room. Ben turned to me and said, “They will all come: Donica, Patty, Irene, Holly, and Janice. I’ll call Zach and Mark.”
By the time we arrived on campus, Ben had completed his calls and had arranged for everyone to come to our house for dinner tonight. I was a little surprised he’d invite near total strangers to our place, but I guess it would be a lot of fun. Ben headed to his class, and I returned to Mr. Clarke’s office.
I knocked on his door and he looked up from his desk. “Good morning, Glenn. I’ve got some good news for you. You’ve been accepted into the School of Music. Apparently, you managed to impress Dr. Nohr, who has waived the audition requirement, and has already sent over the classes he wants you to take this semester. Dr. Nohr has requested you work directly with him on a course of study that will fit your needs. Here is your new schedule. Your first class is with Dr. Nohr. You should go early to class and visit with him. I highly recommend you make sure he knows you appreciate what he has done for you. Dr. Nohr is notorious for being extremely difficult; so, for him to waive the audition requirement means he sees something very special in you.”
I took the schedule from Mr. Clarke and looked it over. “Thank you, Mr. Clarke. I will do as you suggest, and go early to talk to Dr. Nohr. I’m just as surprised as you are, to be accepted into the School of Music so quickly. I’d expected to wait until next semester to be able to start music courses.”
Mr. Clarke smiled. “From what I’ve heard this morning, you must be exceptionally talented on the violin. Dr. Nohr couldn’t say enough about how well you play.”
I blushed at the praise. “Thank you for sharing that with me. I hope I don’t disappoint Dr. Nohr.”
“I’m sure you won’t. Dr. Nohr is pretty good at finding talented students for his music program. I suspect he plans to get you set up with a teacher really soon,” Mr. Clarke said.
I shook his hand and said, “Thanks, again, for all your help.”
“Not a problem. I’m very happy things have worked out for you,” Mr. Clarke replied.
As I walked from the counselor’s office to Dr. Nohr’s office on the west side of the river, I contemplated the beauty of the campus. The east bank campus is where most of Ben’s classes are located, while my schedule has all of my classes at the west bank campus. I entered the covered walkway over the Washington Avenue Bridge, and found my way to Dr. Nohr’s office. His secretary wasn’t at her desk, so I knocked on his office door. I heard him call out, “Come in!”
I opened the door and saw Dr. Nohr seated at his desk. He looked up from the papers he was reading, and indicated I should sit down. “I wondered if it was you, Mr. Nielsen. I see Mr. Clarke has told you the good news.”
“Yes, Mr. Clarke has told me I’ve been accepted into the School of Music, and I need to see you about the classes I’m to take this semester,” I said. “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me, Dr. Nohr.”
Dr. Nohr smiled at me. “You’re welcome, Mr. Nielsen. I was very impressed by your skill on the violin. I spoke with my colleagues about you yesterday, and they agreed we could count your performance for me as your audition and accept you into the School of Music. Of course, that means we expect great things of you. I will choose the courses for you that will enhance the talent you already possess. You will study music theory and composition with me. I also took the liberty of signing you up for the men’s chorus as well as violin and piano performance. Do you find that satisfactory?”
“Of course, Dr. Nohr, the classes are fine. I also intend to audition for the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus next week, as well,” I said, wondering what kind of reaction Dr. Nohr would have to the obvious reference to the fact that I’m gay.
I have to give him credit. He didn’t even react to the statement other than to state, “That will be a welcome addition to your musical experience. I’m sure you will have your horizons broadened by singing with them. My only caution is you will need to allow yourself time to practice. Hopefully, you won’t over schedule yourself, so that you fail to allow time for social activities, as well. No one should miss out on the wonderful opportunities of campus life because they are too busy studying, or rehearsing for performances!”
I could tell Dr. Nohr was going to be one of my all time favorite professors! “I agree with you Dr. Nohr. My cousin, Ben, is my roommate and is already getting me involved with the activities on campus. He’s on the hockey team and takes me to practice with him every day.”
Dr. Nohr smiled. “Fabulous! Musicians that are well rounded are the best people to be around. They are so much more fun, and can be the life of a party any time! I have one more request of you. I’ve arranged for a small group of friends to meet at my home on Friday evening. I would like you to join us for dinner, followed by a recital. Of course, I would be honored if you would bring your violin and play for my guests. Will you accept my invitation?”
I smiled at Dr. Nohr. “I’m more than happy to accept your invitation. May I bring a friend with me?”
Dr. Nohr replied, “Yes, of course, you may bring a companion.”
“I have a friend from Duluth who is coming to live with us. Robbie is a violinist as well,” I explained.
“Wonderful! Ask Robbie to be prepared to share some of his musical talent with us, as well, then. We love music, and we love hearing young people play,” Dr. Nohr said. He glanced at his watch and said, “It’s time for class to begin. Let’s go over to the classroom across the hall, where we’ll find the rest of your classmates.”
I followed Dr. Nohr out of his office and into the classroom he indicated. I entered to find Patty and Irene already seated. I joined them on the front row.
They both greeted me with a smile. “Hey, I hear you’re cooking dinner tonight. Can we help?” Patty asked.
“Sure. Come over about 4 PM, so we’ll have time to get everything ready for dinner at 6 PM,” I replied, just as Dr. Nohr began his lecture for the day.
The rest of the day went quickly, as I really got into the swing of things. I love each of my classes! Chorus is great! The music theory class may present me with a bit of challenge; but, it’s a good kind of challenge that will help me improve my musicianship. I arrived back at the house, just as Ben was coming down the stairs.
Ben saw me and asked, “How were your classes today?”
I smiled and high-fived him. “Great! Thanks, Ben, for helping me out. I’m very happy that things have worked out.”
I related to Ben everything that happened today. Ben whistled, “Wow! Dr. Nohr really must like you.”
I nodded my head. “I think you’re right about that. I think he may be gay or at least bi, since he didn’t even react to my statement I was auditioning for the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus. In fact, he told me it would be a good experience for me.”
Ben looked surprised. “I don’t think you can make that assumption based on what you saw of him today. You need to do some more observation before you can make such a statement.”
I nodded my head in agreement, “Yeah, maybe you’re right. Anyway, the girls are coming over to help me cook.” I pulled out the shopping list for Ben. “Here is a list of what you need to buy for dinner tonight. Can you get it without me? I need to get in a couple of hours of study, before I start dinner for us.”
Ben smiled and said, “Sure thing, cousin. I’ll be back shortly.” He opened the door and left me standing in the hallway. I was just about to head upstairs to start studying, when I heard someone crying in the front room. I turned and walked into the front room to see who it was. I was shocked to see Taka sitting there with a letter open on his lap. His whole body was wracked with sobs, as he sat there.
“Taka, what’s wrong?” I asked, as I sat down next to him on the sofa and put my arm around his shoulders.
At first, Taka didn’t respond. Then, he said, “My mother has accused me of dishonoring our family, because I’ve been writing letters to her with too many hiragana and katakana characters. She is ashamed to have a son who can’t write a proper sentence using the kanji characters. Glenn, I try writing using all kanji, but some of them I don’t know. My mother is very formal and says she is offended by my lack of respect for my parents.”
He continued to cry. After what seemed an eternity, Taka settled down and regained control of his emotions. “I’m sorry, Glenn. I shouldn’t have troubled you with my problems. I bring more dishonor to my family by involving strangers in my problems.”
I was astounded to hear Taka tell me that seeking help or assistance from a stranger constituted dishonoring his family. I said, “You do me a great honor to share your feelings with me Taka.”
He smiled weakly at me. “Thank you Glenn. I promise I won’t burden you again.”
Taka got up and moved toward his room. “I must go to meet Midori now.”
I said, “Tell Midori ‘Hello,’ for me, okay?”
Taka nodded his head, and made a quick retreat to his room. I made my way upstairs to our room and pulled out my music theory book. I started to work on the assignment Dr. Nohr had given us this morning. I was so involved in the assignment that I didn’t hear Ben come home with the groceries.
When he touched my shoulder, I jumped. “Ben, you scared me. I didn’t know you were back from the store.”
Ben laughed. “I know. I intentionally tiptoed upstairs, so I could get you to jump!”
I stood up and punched Ben in the shoulder. “You know I’ll just get even,” I said.
Ben smiled and said, “Promises, promises!”
There was a knock on the door, so we both went downstairs. Ben opened the door and invited the girls to come inside.
Patty smiled at Ben. “Thanks for inviting us over, Ben. Okay, Glenn, tell me what you want me to do.”
I took Patty’s hand and led her into the kitchen. Donica and Irene followed us into the kitchen. I pulled out the ingredients for making the stuffed shells and a green salad.
“Patty, will you put the water on to boil. Donica and Irene, will you make the salad?” I asked.
Donica replied, “Sure.” She picked up the lettuce and went over to the sink to wash it. “Irene, will you cut up the tomatoes and cucumbers while I wash the lettuce? I’ll grate the carrots as well.”
Patty picked up the box of giant shells and read the back of the box. “Are we following this recipe?”
“Yes, the spinach needs to be cooked. It’s in the freezer,” I said.
As we worked together to fix dinner, the girls started quizzing me. “Where is your boyfriend?” asked Patty
“He’s overseas with the Marine Corps, but I don’t know where. He says he can’t tell me that. I haven’t heard from him in a couple of days, so I’m getting worried that something has happened to him,” I said.
Irene asked, “What does he look like?”
“I’ll show you a photo, after we’re done here,” I responded.
Donica looked over at me from where she was grating the carrots. “We need to get you an updated wardrobe before he comes back, Glenn. I think I can help you choose some new clothes that will knock his socks off when he sees you!”
“What’s wrong with my clothes?” I asked, bewildered.
Donica replied, “They just scream Canadian farm boy! We need to change your image. You know, like making the change over to a hot stud from the University of Minneapolis who wants his guy to sweep him off his feet!”
I laughed. “I’m just fine, Donica. I don’t need to be advertising anything!”
Donica laughed and said, “Yes, you do. Glenn, you are a hot gay guy who needs to strut his stuff! Your cousin, Ben, needs a makeover as well. Maybe Janice and I can fix that, as well. You both need some fashion help in the worst way!”
Irene said, “Janice really likes Ben. She couldn’t stop talking about him all night last night. It was almost two in the morning, before I finally told her to shut the light off and stop talking about Ben!”
“Ben seems to like her, as well. He was the one that suggested that we invite you all over for dinner tonight,” I said.
Patty said, “I’m glad you did. It so nice to have a kitchen to cook in; and I’m really looking forward to a great home cooked meal! Glenn, you need to check the shells. They should be done by now.”
I checked the pasta shells, which were indeed ready. I drained them and ran some cold water over them so we could load them up with the cheese and spinach filling. I showed Patty how much to put in each one. Then, I spread some spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the pan and started to help Patty fill shells. We made two pans of stuffed shells. Patty topped them with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese, and we popped them into the oven to bake.
Donica and Irene were done with the salad, which they put in the refrigerator to chill, while we waited for the stuffed shells to cook. We walked into the front room and joined Janice and Ben.
I was the first one to enter the front room, and caught them kissing. I whistled and turned to the girls, who had followed me into the front room. “Wow! Ben, I thought I was a fast mover, but you put me to shame.”
Ben and Janice both blushed. “No, I think you have ME beat. You had Rick running after you from the first time he saw you!”
I laughed and said, “You’re right about that! Janice you’d better watch out for this man. He can be difficult to live with, sometimes. I should know. I was his roommate during our senior year of high school.”
Ben laughed. “I wasn’t the one who was difficult to live with. You forget that you were the one trying to decide if you wanted a romantic relationship with Ian, not me.”
I sat down on the couch next to Janice, while the girls sat on the loveseat and in the armchairs. “I agree I was pretty moody. Ben just doesn’t understand how difficult it is to have a serious romantic relationship, when you aren’t sure where you stand with the other person.”
Patty said, “Yeah, I agree with you, Glenn. Most of the guys I’ve met just want to have sex with me. They aren’t interested in having a romantic relationship. It’s all about the sex. I want a guy who will value me as a person, not just a sex object!”
The rest of the girls agreed. Janice said, “Ben, are you after me just for the sex?” There was a sudden silence in the room.
I said, looking over at Ben, “Ben, the answer had better be no!”
“Of course, I want to have sex with you, or I wouldn’t be normal. You are a very attractive woman. However, that being said, I want to find someone to be my partner in life. You know - someone with whom I can share the rest of my life with. So is sex my number one priority? No, it’s not,” Ben said.
Irene smiled at Ben. “I’d give that answer about a B+, but I’ll give you credit for being honest.”
Janice laughed and said, “See, Ben, my roommates are looking out for me. They don’t want me to get hurt; so, they wanted me to make sure you weren’t just trying to get into bed with me.”
Ben looked around the room at the other girls and protested, “This is so not fair! I’m being ganged up on by all these women; and, Glenn, you’re no better than they are!”
“Well, I can kind of see their point. You’ve never been used and abused by a guy who just wants you for sex; and doesn’t care about your feelings, or whether or not you want more than just a quick fuck and peck on the cheek,” I said. “I’ve been there and completely understand their concern for Janice. Yes, you’re my cousin, and I love you very much; but I don’t want you to hurt Janice by not being honest with her.”
Donica said, “I knew I liked you, Glenn, from the first moment I met you. I think that we’re going to be the best of friends. Way to tell it the way it is!” She high-fived me.
Ben sighed, “Okay, okay, I give. How can I win when I’m so outnumbered?”
There was a knock on the door. Donica opened it and in walked Zach, Mark, Devon and Jimmy. Devon was the first one in the door. “Wow! Hey, Babe, you look great!” he exclaimed, to Donica. “My name is Devon. What is your name?” he asked, as he put out his hand to shake hers.
“I’m Donica. Glad to meet you, Devon. Who’s your friend?”
Devon turned and pulled Jimmy forward, introducing him, “This is Jimmy.”
Jimmy said, “Hi Donica.”
Zach and Mark followed Jimmy and Devon into the front room. Donica made the introductions, “Jimmy and Devon, this is Patty, Irene, and Janice.”
I stood up and brought in some chairs from the kitchen for the guys to sit on. It was pretty cozy in our little front room, but nobody seemed to notice.
Donica had eyes only for Jimmy, it seemed. She asked him, “Where are you from, Jimmy?”
Jimmy smiled and replied, “I’m from Hawaii. I’ll answer the next question, too. How did I end up playing hockey for the University of Minnesota? My parents divorced when I was 8 years old, and my Mom moved us to St. Paul. I joined the local hockey club and have been playing ever since. My father is native Hawaiian and my mother is Japanese. My real name is Kimo Kye Kahoku Akina. Kimo is Hawaiian for James, so my Mom calls me Jimmy.”
I could see why Donica liked Jimmy. His dark, almond shaped eyes seemed to sparkle as he talked. His perfectly smooth brown skin contrasted beautifully against the tight-fitting white t-shirt. As he moved, I could see his six pack abs clearly defined under his shirt. He wore bright blue board shorts and flip flops. His short, jet black hair stood straight up on his head. Jimmy was a walking wet dream for a gay guy. He was charming, exotic looking and well built. Wow!
I listened to them getting acquainted for few more minutes before my attention was drawn across the room to where Devon was talking to Patty. She was laughing and had put her hand on his arm. I knew I had to warn Patty about Devon, before it was too late. Irene and Mark had migrated into the kitchen and were talking about camping and hiking.
Zach touched my shoulder and whispered in my ear, “It looks like you did well at matching up everyone.”
I smiled, “I didn’t do anything, Zach. Everyone just kind of gravitated toward someone they had an interest in getting to know.”
“Maybe you’re right, but it leaves just me and you to keep each other company,” Zach said with a grin.
“I just wish we were both single, so we could go upstairs and make out,” I said, grabbing Zach’s hand, pulling him into the hallway. I wrapped my arms around his waist and gave him a kiss on the lips.
“Zach, you are a great guy. I’m glad you decided to take Todd back,” I said.
Zach grinned as he put both of his hands down the back of my pants and squeezed my cheeks. “Maybe I can talk to Todd about making you part of a threesome!”
I was getting really turned on and knew I needed some time to recover, so I hugged him tight, then pulled back to look him in the face. “If Rick ever decides to leave me, I will take you up on the offer!”
Zach let me go and I moved into the kitchen. I bent over to look in the oven and Zach whistled at me making me blush. Mark and Irene stopped talking and laughed at my red face.
Mark said, “You shouldn’t be embarrassed, Glenn. Zach thinks you’re one hot stud; and that’s quite a compliment, given his high standards! Todd can testify to that fact!”
Zach laughed and said, “Glenn, you really don’t realize how cute you are, do you?”
I didn’t know what to say to that so, I remained silent and looked at the floor. Zach came over to me and lifted up my chin so he could look into my eyes. “Mr. Nielsen, you are one of the best looking guys I know. We are going to work on your self-confidence while your boyfriend’s gone. You’ve got to stop thinking of yourself as a loser; because you’re not.”
Zach hit a nerve when he said I thought of myself as a loser. “Zach, I don’t see myself as loser. I just don’t think of myself as the hot stud you say I am.”
Before I could say anything else, Zach pulled me into an embrace and gave me a deeply passionate kiss. “There! Did that convince you?”
I was blushing furiously. Irene said, “Glenn, Zach’s right. You’re very charming and good looking. That’s why Patty asked you if you are gay, because she thinks you’re pretty handsome. She was a little disappointed, because she wanted you to be her next boyfriend.”
“Thanks guys. I guess I’ll have to keep thinking about what you said, so I can change how I see myself,” I said. The timer went off, much to my relief. “Dinner’s ready. Help me get everything on the table.”
Mark, Irene and Zach grabbed all the food and placed it on the table. Irene called the rest of them to come into the kitchen. When everyone was gathered around the table, I said, “Is everyone okay if we say grace?”
I got a nod of agreement from the crew. So, I said, “I’ll say grace. Let’s all join hands.”
After the prayer, I said, “Help yourselves. We’ll have to eat in the front room, since there aren’t enough chairs for all of us to sit around the table.”
It wasn’t long before we were all sitting around, talking and eating. The food soon disappeared, and the girls joined me in the kitchen to help clean up. With so many helping hands, it wasn’t long before we were finished, and we rejoined the guys in the front room. Patty asked, “Glenn, you promised to show us a picture of Rick.”
“I guess I did. I’ll be right back,” I said. I climbed the stairs to my bedroom and returned with the photograph clock of Rick. I handed it to Patty.
She read the inscription on the clock and she smiled. “Rick is really handsome. It’s obvious he loves you, Glenn.” She passed the photograph to the rest of the room. Each one commenting on how lucky I was to have Rick as my boyfriend. After everyone had seen it, I returned it to my room. As I was coming back downstairs, I saw Zach waiting for me at the bottom.
Zach said, “Glenn, I’m glad you found Rick. Now I understand why you have been trying to stay faithful to him. I’m sorry I took advantage of you. I shouldn’t have been flirting with you like I did tonight. Can you forgive me?”
I was a little surprised, but happy he’d realized he shouldn’t have been playing around quite so much. “Of course, Zach that’s what friends do for friends; besides, I was as much at fault as you were,” I said.
Shortly afterwards, Zach offered to escort the girls back to the dorms. Of course, Mark and Ben did the same. The girls all gave me a quick hug and kiss as they left. Patty said, “We need to do this more often. We’ll cook the next time, if you’ll let us use your kitchen.”
“Sounds like a plan. Just let me know when you want to do it,” I said.
Patty said, “How about a week from now?”
“Okay, let me mark it on our calendar,” I said. I went into the kitchen and wrote it in on our apartment calendar, so we wouldn’t forget. “We’re all set.”
“Great! I’ll see you tomorrow in class,” Patty said. They left and I went upstairs. I stripped down to my jockey shorts and sat down at my computer to update my blog. I was getting kind of worried I hadn’t heard anything from Rick.
I was in bed by the time Ben returned from walking Janice and her roommates to their dorm. He came in, stripped off his clothes and got into bed. “Glenn, thanks for helping me find Janice. I think I’ve found my soul mate,” Ben said.
“You’re welcome. Just don’t mess up now that you’ve found her,” I replied.
“I won’t. If I start to screw things up, please say something to me to get me back on track, okay, cousin?” Ben asked, earnestly.
“Sure thing, Ben. Good night,” I said.
“Good night,” Ben replied.
I lay awake for a long time, thinking of everything Zach, Irene and Mark had said tonight. I also was worrying about Rick, and why I hadn’t heard from him.
Rick awoke the next morning, wondering where he was. After a few minutes, the memory of the preceding day flooded his mind. He’d spent a very restless night, worrying about what would happen to him if his buddies didn’t say anything about their illicit activities; or that they would say something that would incriminate him. Most of all, he had tried to make sense of what Sgt. Riehle had said about Glenn. It was obvious he knew Rick was gay, and he had a boyfriend. Why didn’t Sgt. Riehle take action to remove him from the Marine Corps, since that is what he was supposed to do if he found out someone in the service was gay?
Rick kept trying to figure out why he had been chosen to wear a wire and record his buddies’ conversations. What were they doing that was illegal or against the military rules and regulations? Why were they being transported to Quantico? He had a lot of questions and very few answers.
There was a knock on the door. Rick sat up in bed and pulled his uniform back on, as the door opened and Sgt. Riehle entered with Capt. Letcher. Rick stood up and saluted.
Capt. Letcher said, “At ease. Finish dressing so we can get on the road. We will get you some coffee and doughnuts, as soon as you’re ready.”
Sgt. Riehle came over with a small microphone attached to a transmitter. “You will need to put this on here.” Sgt. Riehle helped Rick get the microphone situated, and stood back, as Rick finished dressing.
The three men left the room together. Rick waited as they unlocked the other four doors and woke up the others. Sgt. Riehle said, “Go down this hall to my office, and take a seat.”
We followed his directions and entered his office to find coffee and doughnuts waiting for us. “Go ahead and eat,” he said.
As soon as we were finished, a couple of MP’s showed up and we were asked to follow them. We were taken into the men’s room to take care of our morning duties; after which, the MP’s patted us down to make sure we didn’t have anything on us. We returned to Sgt. Riehle’s office and were placed in handcuffs.
“You will remain handcuffed, until we are safely on the plane, headed back to the United States,” Sgt. Riehle said.
We were transported to the airstrip in the back of a supply truck. During the short trip, my companions started talking to each other. I sat quietly and listened intently.
Stan said, “I thought Sgt. Massey promised us he wouldn’t turn us in. We did what he asked us to, by giving Sam the message to meet him in the motor pool after we finished playing cards.”
Joe said, “Well, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised; because you know Sgt. Massey is a master of deception. He’s been running drugs for over two years now, and no one has been able to catch him. He has bragged about it many times, remember? He even bragged about how he had killed fellow soldiers and made it look like it was enemy fire that killed them when they started to get too close to him.”
Stan responded, “Yes, I know and that’s why we’re in trouble. We knew that we were sending Sam to his death when we gave him Sgt. Massey’s message. I didn’t think Sgt. Massey would be so brazen as to commit the murder right on the base.”
“Those photographs of Sam’s dead body really got to me,” Joe said. “Sgt. Massey gave me a message just before we were picked up by the MP’s.”
Stan asked, “What was it?”
“He said we were next, if we didn’t cooperate with him,” Joe said.
Stan said, “Well, it looks like Sgt. Riehle got to us first.”
Chip asked, “What did Sgt. Riehle tell you?”
Stan said, “He has evidence that we’ve been selling drugs on base to other marines, and that we’ve been caught on video, delivering the goods to Sgt. Massey.”
The other two men swore. Chip looked at them and said, “I think we’re going to spend some time in the slammer.”
Stan looked over at Rick, “Lernier, what did they tell you?”
Rick responded, “They told me the same thing they told you.”
Stan said, “That means they are lying. They don’t have any evidence, or they wouldn’t have told Lernier the same thing. I think they are hoping one of us will crack and rat out the rest of us. There’s no way that they know anything about us being involved with anything.”
Chip said, “Except, you forgot one thing.”
Stan looked at Chip and asked, “What’s that?”
Chip looked over at Rick. “You just told everything to Lernier. He could rat us all out.”
Stan looked at Rick with narrowed eyes. “Lernier won’t do that, because if he does, we’ll all testify that he was the one leading the pack; and he was the one who sent Sam to his death at Sgt. Massey’s hands. You aren’t telling anyone, anything; are you, Lernier?”
Rick just shook his head, and didn’t reply. The vehicle came to a stop and they were escorted onto the military transport plane.
Hours later, when they landed, they were separated and led into different rooms. Rick waited to see what would happen next. It wasn’t long before Sgt. Riehle and Capt. Letcher joined him. He stood up and saluted them smartly.
Capt. Letcher said, “At ease!”
Sgt. Riehle was smiling, as he removed the handcuffs from Rick’s hands. “Well done, Corporal Lernier. We have their entire conversation recorded, and you have been cleared of all wrong doing. Thank you for helping us put these guys behind bars.”
Capt. Letcher shook Rick’s hand. “Congratulations! I believe Sgt. Riehle has more to tell you.”
Sgt. Riehle nodded his head. “Yes. You will be Lt. Col. Bachman’s personal assistant starting today. You will be accompanying him to visit Corporal Meyers’ family. After that, Lt. Col. Bachman has authorized a two week leave of absence to allow you to return to your family and loved ones, before returning with him to your duty station.”
The relief that flooded Rick’s mind was almost more than he could bear. Sgt. Riehle grabbed Rick and helped him to sit down. Sgt. Riehle brought Rick a glass of water, and handed it to him.
“Lt. Col. Bachman will be leaving the base in about 30 minutes. We’ve been instructed to get you cleaned up and presentable,” Capt. Letcher said. “Follow me, please.”
Capt. Letcher led him to another room and instructed him to strip down and get into the shower. Rick followed his directions and left his fatigues on the bench, along with the microphone and transmitter, and stepped into the shower the captain had started for him. He quickly showered and stepped out, to find Capt. Letcher holding a towel for him. His fatigues had disappeared and were replaced with his dress uniform.
“Get dressed quickly. You need to grab something to eat at the mess hall before you leave,” Capt. Letcher said.
Rick put on his dress uniform, making sure that everything was in its place. Capt. Letcher inspected his uniform and pronounced him ready.
Capt. Letcher led him to the mess hall for a quick meal, then took him to meet Lt. Col. Bachman.
Lt. Col. Bachman returned Rick’s salute. “I understand I owe you debt of gratitude for helping us solve a murder, and, at the same time, break up the drug ring that has plagued our base for the last couple of years.”
“Yes, sir,” Rick said, smiling at his commanding officer.
“Great work, corporal. I’ve asked you to accompany me to visit with Corporal Meyers’ family, because he was your friend, and because I’m honored to have such a dedicated soldier serving under my command. After we return to our base, you will become my personal assistant. Is that acceptable to you, Corporal?”
“Good. Let’s get this show on the road,” Lt. Col. Bachman said.
They were driven to the nearby commercial airport and boarded a flight to Atlanta. During the flight, Lt. Col. Bachman and Rick got better acquainted. Rick quickly learned what his commanding officer liked and disliked. Rick was excited to be serving directly under this man. He was careful not to mention anything about Glenn, heeding Sgt. Riehle’s warning to be extremely careful.
They rented a car at the Atlanta airport. Rick drove to the address he was given by Lt. Col. Bachman. When they arrived, Rick parked the car and they walked up the stairs. Rick knocked on the apartment door. Rick did a double take when he saw the man who answered the door. He looked like Sam’s identical twin.
“Mr. Meyers, I am Corporal Meyers’ commanding officer and this is one of his fellow marines who knew him well. May be come in?”
The young man signaled for them to come in. They spent the next couple of hours talking with Sam’s brother and his partner. When they were finished, Lt. Col. Bachman said, “Corporal, where do you want me to drop you off? You’re officially on leave as of this moment.”
“You can drop me off at the MARTA station, sir,” Rick responded.
Lt. Col. Bachman asked, “Are you sure?”
“Yes, sir. I’m sure. You need to get home to your family. The MARTA will get me home soon enough,” Rick said.
“Okay, here you are, then. I’ll see you at the Atlanta airport in two weeks. Goodbye, Corporal,” Lt. Col. Bachman said, as Rick got out of the car.
Rick rode the MARTA back to the airport and booked a flight to Minneapolis. A couple of hours later, he was on the plane, and he finally relaxed, falling into a deep sleep. The stewardess woke him up just as they were beginning their approach to Minneapolis. After landing, he took a taxi to the address Glenn had placed on his blog.
It was late evening by the time the taxi pulled up in front of the house and Rick got out and paid the driver. He went up to the front door and knocked. He heard someone yell, “Someone get the door!”
Soon the door was opened by Frank who looked up at Rick in surprise, “Who are you?”
Rick smiled down at Frank and said, “I’m Glenn’s boyfriend. Is he home?”
“Yes, he’s upstairs in the bedroom on the right,” Frank responded moving out of the doorway to let Rick come inside.
Rick climbed the stairs two at a time and opened the bedroom door. I was sitting at the computer writing on my blog. When the door opened, I turned around to see who it was.
I screamed, “Rick!” and I threw myself into his arms. Rick kissed me for so long, we were still lip locked when Ben came home from studying with Janice.
Rick finally released me, leading me over to my bed. I snuggled up close to him. I started to ask a question when Rick interrupted me. “Not now, Babe. I will tell you everything. Just be patient.”
Ben came into the room. “Hey! Rick! How did you manage to get here! I thought you weren’t coming home for another ten months or so.”
Rick said, “You’ll need to sit down, because it’s a long story.” He proceeded to narrate everything that had happened to him and why he was there to spend two weeks with me. “Glenn, get your stuff. We’re staying in a hotel for a few days. I plan to do some things to you that will cause Ben to blush.”
I laughed and quickly assembled a few things, throwing them into a gym bag. “I’m ready.”
Rick laughed and said, “I’m sure you are. Let’s go.”
We called a taxi and Rick gave directions to a hotel. He’d called Grandpa who had made all the arrangements for us. We checked in and were soon enjoying each other as only two lovers can who’ve been apart for so long. All of our pent up desires for each other were unleashed, causing the flames of our passion to explode into a raging inferno.
After our passions were calmed somewhat, Rick whispered in my ear, “Glenn Nielsen, I love you.”
“I love you more,” I replied, caressing Rick’s cheek with my hand. Rick took my hand and brought it to his lips.
“I thank God every day for his gift to me – you,” Rick said, looking into my eyes and smiling.
“Ditto, my love,” I replied.
Author’s note: To read the history and photos of the Washington Avenue Bridge that joins the two sections of the campus click on this link: http://www.johnweeks.com/bridges/pages/ms14.html