When I arrived at the court, Colonel Allen was just dropping the guys off. He asked from the car, "Is Tony all set?"
"Yes sir," I answered as the Colonel drove off. "Well guys, what is the lineup for tonight?"
"Since Scott and I need to learn to work together, why don't we play together and you and Chip can be partners," Alex answered.
As we played, it was plain that neither Chip nor I was concentrating on the match. We were down 4-0 in the first set. Out of the clear, Scott said, "You two are playing like six-year-olds. You are not even trying."
"Time out," I yelled. I went to Chip and we talked. "Chip, you and I are thinking about last night. Let's agree to show these two clowns who just said that we were playing like six-year-olds that they have a lot to learn. We can talk about what happened last night, on the phone later."
He looked at me with a little twinkle in his eyes that had been missing and he winked. When the match resumed, Chip and I won the match without giving up another point,
When we shook hands at the net, Chip said, "I guess your mothers forgot to change your diapers before you came." Everyone laughed.
Scott said, "I should have kept my mouth shut. I think that Alex and I have a lot to learn this year about playing tennis."
We piled into my car and I drove the guys to Chip's house. When we arrived, Tim was standing there with a cute young lady. He came over and said, "Troy, Mother and Dad would like for you to go in and visit with them if you can."
I looked at Chip and he seemed very nervous. I got out of the car and the two of us went into the house. When we got to the living room, the Millers shook my hand. "Thanks for coming in. Let's go into the study where we can close the door. Tim doesn't know anything about the situation and we should keep it that way," General Miller said.
When everyone was seated, the General began. "When Chip told us what happened last night, my first thoughts were that I should restrict the two of you from seeing each other. But I realized that would accomplish nothing."
Mrs. Miller spoke up, "We know that Chip instigated the episode. We do not blame you in any way, Troy, but we want Chip to promise you that there will be no repeat occurrences. If something does ever happen, it has to be something that you both agree to. You two will know when the time is right."
The General looked at Chip and Chip nodded.
"Troy, I promise that I will never do what I did last night again. I just wanted to see all of you and to touch you. I think I love you and I want you to love me." Chip was sobbing. "I apologize."
I looked at the Millers trying to decide what to say. It was like my mind was frozen in space. Finally, I said, "Chip, I accept your apology." I turned to the Millers and said, "I was so completely startled by what happened and then when Chip started to touch me, I had a good feeling, but I knew what was happening was all wrong. I had never been touched like that before."
General Miller said, "I tried to call you last night because I figured you might be confused. After Chip told us what he had done, I thought you might want to visit. I tried several times to call you and decided you weren't answering the phone. Troy, it is up to you as to how you want to proceed."
I thought for a minute and then said, "Last night after Chip had left, I went to the club and had several beers trying to figure out what was going on. Someone came in and we started to talk and it took my mind off of what had happened. That person has had some really hard bumps in his life. Still when I went to bed I had a very difficult time getting to sleep. Even this morning, I was still preoccupied with what had happened."
"Thank goodness today was extremely busy so I didn't have time to think about what happened last night until I got to the tennis court this evening."
I added, "When the other two guys noticed that we weren't playing well, I figured that Chip and I need to talk about what has been happening. With your permission, Sir, I would like to go back to the Q and take a shower. Then I'll come back for Chip. We can go get something to eat and then decide how we can best handle this problem."
The Miller's nodded yes and then the General said, "Thank you, Troy. I am sure that you two will be able to make the correct decisions."
"I'll be back in thirty minutes, Chip," I said as I left.
I returned and Chip was ready. We got into the car and decided to go to a quiet local Italian restaurant that Chip knew about.
After we ordered, I asked, "Chip, where do you want to start?"
Chip said, "I already told you earlier how I feel. Dad made it quite clear that we must be very discrete and then if anything happens it must be something that we both agree to." Chip was looking at me for a response.
"Chip, I am really scared because what you did felt so good to me; but, if someone were to see us like that, I would be out of the Air Force immediately. I don't know what the kind of love you are talking about should feel like and I am not sure that you know, either."
Our food arrived, so we didn't talk much during the rest of the meal. I could see that Chip was thinking, as was I. When we finished, I paid the bill and when we got into the car Chip started. "Troy, I really want to keep seeing you. I know that Colonel Allen talked to you about coaching us and helping us with our tennis skills. Please do that. I would like for us to be alone sometimes, but I realize that we need to be careful so that people will not talk."
I thought for a few minutes, then said, "Chip, I think you have made a correct assessment of the situation. I really enjoy being with you, too. But, I also think that we must both really be extremely careful. I will seriously consider working with you guys, but I don't know how much I can teach you. I'll decide by Sunday and then let you know when I see you at church."
As we pulled up in front of his house, he jumped out and said, "I'll call you later."
When I got to the Q, it was already 10:00 so I decided to go to bed. Just as I started to crawl in, the phone rang. "Hello Chip," I answered.
"Hi Troy, I just wanted to call and thank you for the dinner and say goodnight. I'll see you tomorrow at the Allens'. We four guys are serving the hors d'oeuvres and then helping to serve the dinner."
"Good night, Chip," I answered.
The next morning I went to work, had the coffee made, and had distributed the daily schedule before Sam and Lauren arrived. The two of them arrived and looked at the schedule. "When did all these changes take place?"
I laughed, "This place was like a three-ring circus yesterday afternoon. I won't give you any details. It's a rather touchy subject."
"I'm intrigued now," Lauren said.
Colonel Allen walked in and said, "Good! All three of you are here. I would like to talk to you in my office. I have a feeling there are going to be some fireworks before the morning is over. Troy and I heard an interesting story about one of our officers. Both Troy and I believe that what we heard is probably true -- right, Troy?"
"Sir, I am even more sure after talking with Tony during the time I was getting him settled that what he said was true." I looked at my watch. "I had better go retrieve Airman Henderson."
"Bring him in when you get back. I have a couple of questions to ask him before Major Bishop arrives. I'll fill Sam and Lauren in so they know what is happening. All three of you will have jobs to do," Colonel Allen said
I picked Tony up and took him to the barracks. We went to his room and there was a thong lying on his bed. He looked at it and said, "This is not mine and I would never wear such a thing."
"Tony, get your clean clothes quickly and let's get out of here now." We made it out of the barracks without anyone talking to him. I took him to the Q and waited while he changed into his uniform.
When we got to the office, Sam and Lauren were still in the Colonel's office. I knocked. Colonel Allen said, "Come in Troy and bring Airman Henderson with you."
We entered and the Colonel introduced Tony to Sam and Lauren and then asked Tony, "What's the name of the friend who picked you up and took you back to the barracks on Wednesday night?"
Tony answered, "Sergeant Larry Dover, Sir. He works across the hall from Major Bishop's office in the supply room."
"Good." The Colonel turned to me and said, "Troy, call Sergeant Dover and see what he can recall about what happened on Wednesday evening?"
I did as directed. After identifying myself, I asked, "Sergeant Dover, what do you remember about meeting Tony Henderson on Wednesday evening? I understand that you gave Tony a lift home."
"Yes sir, Tony and I have become friends since we are on the same bowling team and his barracks is next to mine. I often give him a lift if I see him waiting for a bus. Last Wednesday a car was stopped beside Tony and the driver, who looked like Major Bishop, was leaning across the front seat. The passenger door was open and Tony was backing up. I honked and Tony practically ran to the car. When he got in, he seemed to be shaking."
Sergeant Dover continued. "I asked him if he was okay and he told me he was having a chill. He didn't talk very much on the way to the barracks, which is very unusual. He is not in any trouble is he? We need him for the game Monday night so we can win the Summer Bowling League Championship. He's our best bowler."
"Tony is not in any trouble," I assured Sergeant Dover. "We are just checking a small problem but Tony will be able to bowl on Monday night."
I had written down in shorthand everything that we said and then went back and read it to the Colonel.
"Good." Then he looked at me asked, "How in the world did you remember all that detail?"
"I put the phone on speaker so I could take notes in shorthand so I wouldn't forget anything," I answered and showed him my notes.
He took them from me and looked at it and handed it to Lauren and asked, "Lauren, can you read this?"
She quickly looked at it and laughed, "Troy's shorthand is more mechanically correct than mine. I can read every word of it."
"Then I want you to put it into the computer when you have a minute and make a hard copy." The Colonel said as he turned to Sam, "Sam, I want you to call Tony's First Sergeant about 9:20 and ask him to come see me about 9:45. When he arrives put him in the side office and let me know he is here."
"Troy, I would like for you to be in the room with me taking notes of everything that is said, In the meantime, call Tony's immediate supervisor and get an evaluation of Tony's job performance and then give it to Lauren to copy and make a hard copy."
Tony said, "Colonel, I could help Lauren out. I am proficient in shorthand and the computer. I could type the notes and then give them to Lauren to verify that I have transcribed the notes correctly."
"Tony, that would be great. I want you to remain out of sight in the office across the hall and don't come out until Troy comes to get you for lunch," Colonel Allen instructed him. "Lauren will bring and pick up things and there is a bathroom connected to the office that you can use if you need to."
Everyone was getting ready for the fireworks to begin when the phone rang. I picked it up, "Colonel Allen's office, how may I help you?"
"This is Ronda Bishop. My husband is the Commander of the Avionics Squadron. May I speak to Colonel Allen please? I think I have some information that he needs to hear," she said in a desperate voice.
"Just a minute, ma'am. Let me see if the Colonel is available."
I knocked on the Colonel's door. "Sir, I think you might want to take this call. It's from Major Bishop's wife. She sounds really upset."
"Troy, I'll take the call but stay on the line and take notes on what she says.
He picked up the phone, "Good morning Rhonda. How can I help you?"
"Sir, my husband came home last night totally drunk. He stumbled into the house muttering, 'That Henderson is so going to pay. I'll get what I want even if I have to rape him.'"
The Colonel said, "Rhonda, I think we should talk about this in person. Can you be here in my office at 10:45? I know that you have two children. Do you have someone to take care of them? I don't think they need to hear what is happening."
"Sir, they are with my parents for two weeks. They took them to Disney World. I'll be there," Mrs. Bishop answered.
Colonel Allen looked at me, "Troy, you have been here for four days and this place is becoming like a four-ring circus. You will be quite busy keeping these people apart."
"Sir, we'll take care of it. Between Major Parsons, Lauren, Airman Henderson and me, we'll cover your flanks. Is there anyone you would like me to call?"
Colonel Allen looked at me and said, "Yes, I think you had better call my cardiologist and my psychiatrist."
I laughed, "I'll call your pediatrician and gerontologist at the same time. That way we will have all bases covered."
The Colonel started to laugh, "Troy, go away. You are making me lose my train of thought."
The people started to arrive and by lunchtime, Major Bishop and the First Sergeant were going to be retired by the end of the afternoon. Their exploits were even more widespread than anyone could imagine.
Mrs. Bishop was to receive half of the Major's retirement income plus child support and alimony. Tony would be working for the Colonel. Lauren was going to go to work for Lt. General Miller because his secretary was pregnant and leaving. Before the afternoon was over, Troy arranged for Ian and Patty to join them at the party that night.
The Colonel left at four, saying he had to be home to make sure everything was ready. He threatened Troy and Tony, "Don't even think about calling me."
Troy took the opportunity to show Tony some of his responsibilities. Tony was a fast learner and Troy asked, "Tony, why aren't you in college?"
"Sir, I had to drop out of college because my father was having medical problems and couldn't afford to help me. I'll go back to college once I save enough money but my first priority is my family and fiancé."
The two guys closed down and Tony asked, "Sir, would it be okay if I head home for the weekend? Betsy is going to be home this weekend."
"Why wouldn't it be okay? I expect to see you back here on Monday by noon, dressed in blues with a fresh haircut and spit-shined shoes. You are the first line of the Colonel's team," Troy laughed.
Tony hugged Troy and said, "Sir, I'll do anything you ask as long as it doesn't involve sex or anything dishonest. I think that you and the Colonel are the greatest. Neither of you ever made me feel that I was guilty of anything. Thank you."
Tony left and Troy was stunned. He closed everything down and locked the office. Back at the BOQ, Ian was waiting for him. "Hey man, what are you doing to me?" Ian asked.
"Ian, you and I are covers for Lauren and Patty. They need us to help deflect attention away from their being a couple. I'm only telling you this so you don't feel obligated to do anything you don't want to do."
Ian looked at me and said, "Don't you mean to tell me that the ladies are good cover for us so people won't question why we aren't seen with women from time to time? You know my story, but you still haven't told me anything about you."
"Ian, there is nothing to tell," I assured him. "When you go to the Academy there isn't much time to form an attachment."
I have recently started re reading this wonderful story. It grabbed my attention when I read it the first time. At that point I was not the editor for the story, and now that I am reading it again, I have become hooked all over again. It is full of wonderful people whom I am sure you will fall in love with as much as I have, and there will be some wonderful situations as well as some very emotional incidents. I am ready to start reading the next chapter, so you should be seeing it rather soon.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher