“Lieutenant Angelo Pinino?” The security officer answered the phone as if he was in doubt of his own identity.
“Pinino!” The gruff voice of LCDR Norton jumped from the mouthpiece.
“Yesssir.” The junior officer was at full attention in his chair. He was the Christmas Security Officer assigned to the Hospital Lobby Information and Duty desk
“Pinino, get your ass up to ICU.” Norton continued shouting into the phone “We may have an incident or potential incident which has to be contained. After we assess the situation we have to meet with Friendly and Fascetta. Get up to ICU. Now.” I knew I should have started Security Rounds with that Arab pilot. Well the fucker is dead and he died on my watch. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
Norton took his job in the Navy as a Medical Service Officer more seriously than any other MSC officer in the entire U.S.Naval Command. Norton surveyed his to-do list and second from the top was Moustaffa’s name. The Egyptian consulate was scheduled to visit Moustaffa and begin arrangements for his transfer from the United States to Cairo. Norton’s job was to maintain security about the details of Moustaffa’s participation in the Vietnam War.
He surveyed the JNOOD’s report and tried to remember what Zettler looked like but he couldn’t bring her to mind. Huxley was a different matter. Norton had tagged Huxley for a devious prick. With his police oriented mind, Norton noticed that Huxley snooped all over the hospital. The respiratory corpsman kept to himself and was reported to be a good respiratory tech but he looked sneaky. He had a rodent-like face with a fine dark moustache and darting eyes. He never smiled. Huxley’s military record was clean and he had survived a tour in Vietnam. The last 3-months of Huxley’s Nam service was as Senior Corpsman assigned to a Field Medical Unit that was required to treat an entire company of North Vietnamese–the enemy. What the hell was that all about? It was as fathomable as Moustaffa being an Egyptian pilot flying missions against North Vietnam targets.
Norton remembered Huxley’s personnel record from that mission. The North Vietnamese Army commander spoke fluent English and both Huxley and the NVA Officer became very close as part of liaising with NVA patients. Huxley received a Navy Commendation Letter praising him for his actions. Rumor at Queen’s Naval Hospital, however, was that Huxley came back from Nam with an attitude of sympathy for the enemy. The feeling that the “United States was preventing just-unification of Vietnam by the North”, always emerged from Huxley after 2-or-more beers at the Enlisted Men’s Club on the hospital compound. Now the little fucker was involved with this fuckin’ Arab pilot’s death.
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