In the "Lentil Soup" freewrite, Commissioner Scott goes home to his loving wife and a lovely dinner. In this follow up, Captain Lee goes for his summer evening walk, and considers the path of rebuilding a whole life as a civilian and single man, thus putting a full stop to his 27 years of mourning the devastating loss of his late wife, Vanessa.
To get totally caught up on The Posture of Innocence, here are the prologue, day 1, day 2, day 3, day 3.5, day 4, day 4.5, day 5, day 5.5, day 6, day 7, day 7.5, day 8, day 9, day 9.5, day 10, day 10.5, day 11, day 11.5, day 12, day 12.5, day 13, day 13.5, day 14, day 15, day 16, day 16.5, day 17, day 18, day 19, day 19.5, day 20, day 20.5, day 21, day 22, day 22.5, and day 23!
Captain Lee took a long walk after work, something new he had learned to do after the Reserve Weekend for the month and the week off he had been granted by the sacrificial efforts of his division and the order of Commissioner Scott. It was just a walk … but it made a great difference in the captain's quality of life, life as seen as separate from the half-conscious re-creation of constant war readiness. He was home, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge in which he had grown up – yes, work was a mess, but it was getting better. Thus, he had time to work on a real transition to civilian life.
Captain Lee knew: it was close to time to lay down all title and position that would remind him of his years in the Army. He was still a colonel, still not retired … he had not felt comfortable enough in the civilian world, at first, to not have the option to go right back to what he knew best. After all, Mrs. Vanessa Morton Lee had gone home, and taken their son Henry Victor with her … there was nothing her widower wanted to call home to come home to. The Army had become almost everything.
Almost. The Morton family had decided they weren't going to let go of him, his Lee grandparents and cousins in the Blue Ridge were living on and refusing to let go of life or him, and his cousin Major Hamilton, also transitioning through a tour as a police captain in his hometown of Tinyville, would come and literally snatch him up if he felt it was necessary, and situate him in “Hamiltown” to soak up the life-saving love of the major's huge family.
Pieces of home … reinforcements the Spirit of God had provided so that the shattered colonel, who had battled thoughts of suicide throughout his entire brilliant career, had never done it. As the Spirit of God had given him the power to resist that temptation, he had resisted, with the reinforcement of those pieces of home … he just couldn't put the people he loved through it.
Yet there was still the work of putting all the pieces back together for himself … the first active steps were just that walk, three miles into viewing a life for himself in addition to that of the officer of force and law … something more like Captain Hamilton his cousin enjoyed, with his family. A whole life as a chaste single man … a whole life, to spend time loving and being loved by the people who loved him in the civilian world, and to re-discover all the things that he once had enjoyed, and had shared with his wife before she died … to reclaim them for himself... so, he had expanded his walks from his weekends and rare off time to every day, and planned his weekends to alternate visiting his grandparents in the Blue Ridge or flying up to New York to be with the Mortons, or, going down to “Hamiltown” to spend time with his cousin and his circle of family and friends.
That weekend, he would be in “Hamiltown,” since he had split his week off the previous week with the Lees of the mountain and the Mortons in New York. This weekend, he was taking his banjo and fiddle and mandolin … Cousin Ironwood was overdue to be schooled in a banjo duel … getting altogether too over-confident … the colonel had to get the major back in line …
Captain Lee was laughing as he walked through his door, knowing how out of practice he was on his instruments. But, the entire evening was before him … he had nothing but time, and would knock that rust right on off!
Yet there were more serious reasons for the two captains to come together, some of which they discussed late that night.
“There are people who would gladly kill Mr. Black and you and me, for combining our resources,” Captain Lee said to his cousin. “The situation is still volatile. I still find it hard to believe what I found out from just interrogating one retired officer. There are several more I may have to lay hands on, if they live long enough. I'm sure Mr. Black is using this occasion to get information to us that he under other circumstances could not get worked on, and wants information out – new information – that new investigations will provide.
“Well, there is no other way to get men exonerated, since everybody knows so many are innocent, but no one will move on evidence they have already ignored,” Captain Hamilton said. “Here's how I am approaching it, knowing how loathe any system of slavery is to release its slaves: do a prisoner exchange when possible. Keep the prisons quiet by exchanging a guilty man for an innocent one, thereby keeping them from losing money!”
“Ha!” Captain Lee cried. “A brilliant approach for the last ten years of cases. It will work because people have gotten so sloppy in this county because they thought they would never get caught up … ah, and I have five lieutenants now. We are now eight, Ironwood. Get some more lieutenants and get us to ten men! I rather think that we can have at least as much fun as Mr. Black and his friends at the * Free Voice* are having in this county, for our trouble since we have gotten back!”
“Why not – weird to be white men playing catch up, but hey: since we know world history, ain't nothing new, Harry!”
“One problem we will have whenever the county sorts itself out from losing both its corrupt prosecutors – it is true that two men cannot be tried for the same crime. Things have to be done with that in mind: solid evidence proving who is guilty, vacation of the conviction of the innocent party, and then prosecution of the actual guilty party. It's the first piece we can do, and the others ...”
“The others we leave in God's hands, and He has some good people at that job, like Mr. Black,” said Captain Hamilton.
“He has one other minor thing,” Captain Lee said. “My name is Lee. My face is my famous uncle's face. I think I know how to break a logjam, even if I have to throw it all in to get it done.”
“Be careful, Harry,” Captain Hamilton said. “We didn't put these innocent men where they are; we've been gone, and neither of us are going to inherit a prison plantation. Be careful, Harry Lee, my best friend and my cousin … we share that Lee heritage of taking too much on ourselves.”
Captain Lee considered that for a long moment, and then his cousin heard him heave a deep sigh.
“Okay, Ham,” he said. “I hear you. I keep trying to re-create a Special Forces solo mission for myself, with General Lee at Appomattox added on … PTSD plus this family legacy … I hear you. Let's just do Step 1, and God will have to tell us how to work on Steps 2 and 3 if we are meant to do it. He's got plenty of good people working it. We don't have to do it all.”
“Right, Harry, we don't.”
Another deep sigh.
“Thank you, Ham. I just don't know where I would be if I didn't have you as my cousin and best friend.”
“Likewise, cousin, and best friend. I love you, Harry, and you know I have your back like you've always had mine.”
“I love you, man, and you know I have your back, like you've always had mine. I look forward to doing some non-warlike things with you and yours this weekend.”
“Harry, the door is always open.”
One last phone call, from Mr. Black.
“Sorry to bother you after hours, Captain Lee,” he said, “but I hear that you are a very early riser, and start work early. What time should I get to your office?”
“I come in at 7:45am, but I don't actually start work until 8:00am.”
“What do you do in the meantime?”
“You are welcome to come and observe.”
“Oh, it's going to be like that, is it? I'll be in front of headquarters at 7:30am to watch you arrive.”
“See you then. Good evening.”
So, it was going to be like that, was it … a constant, friendly trial of strength. Captain Lee smiled.
“Good to know the civilian world is producing men of such caliber,” he said. “Maybe I can adjust, after all...”