Where Honor Lies – #5
By Bear Starfire McQuinn
C. 2021, McQuinn.
Several hours later, Jonquil stepped through the kitchen door, inhaling deeply. Pot Roast. Then, he sighed. As happy as he was to have his favorite meal, he regretted the news he least expected to be sharing.
Elizabeth heard the back door open and smiled. Jonquil was home, finally. She’d worried because he was so late. It was a rare occurrence that he was late without calling ahead. Before she could rush to him, he held up a hand to tell her to stay back. She took in his stained and torn uniform with a frown.
‘Jon?’ She swallowed.
‘I’ll change in the laundry room.’ He told her.
‘Have you seen the news?’ He ventured to ask.
‘Bits and pieces.’ She shrugged. ‘ You know how it is with Charles.’
‘I was in the Capital today.’ He spoke as if that would answer all her questions before disappearing into the laundry area off of the kitchen.
Elizabeth stared after him in shocked surprise. She had caught glimpses of the riots and heard a report that the dictator had been assassinated. But why would Jonquil be on that side of the wall? The base where he worked was at least several hundred miles on the free side of the European wall. Now, she was confused.
Soon, Jonquil returned, freshly showered and dressed in sweats.
‘What happened?’ She asked, dishing up a large plate of pot roast and all the fixings to go with it.
‘All hell broke loose.’ He muttered, smiling at the plate she set before him. ‘I’m starved. Thanks for keeping it hot.’
‘You’re late. You didn’t call. I was worried.’ She rattled at him.
‘Sorry about that. By the time I got to where I could call you, I was already on the way home.’
‘I’ll forgive you… for a kiss.’ She leaned into his embrace.
‘I’ve been called up for deployment, Liza.’ He came out with what he needed to say. ‘Word came down as I returned to base. I report next week.’
Elizabeth pulled back out of his reach. ‘No. They can’t do that. They don’t need a lawyer in combat. Just like I don’t see why you had to go over the wall today. You had no business in that place… and today of all days. Do you know what happened there today?’
‘People stormed the palace, Jon. They killed every official they could find. They – they even assassinated the dictator, Jon. Why the hell were you there?’
‘Sorry, Liza, that’s classified.’ He dug into the pot roast in front of him.
‘They can’t deploy you, Jon. You’re not a combat soldier.’ She swayed back to the deployment issue; knowing that once he said something was classified, she’d never get a clear answer. ‘You’re a lawyer, Jon. What are you going to do? Are you going to lob books at them, or fire words in their direction?’ Elizabeth bit back tears. Her worst fears were bubbling up to the surface and trailing down her cheeks.
‘I’m still a soldier, Liza, just like any other soldier. I’m trained for combat. I’m prepared for war. It’s what I do, Liza. You knew that before we married that there might come a time like this.’ He reminded her.
‘I – I never believed they’d send a lawyer into battle, Jon. It’s wrong. You’re a paper-pusher.’ She sniffled into the napkin he offered her.
‘I’m a soldier first, Liza. Look, it’s been a very long and tiring day. I don’t want to argue with you about this. I have my orders.’ He sighed. ‘I’ve trained for war my entire life, Liza. I’ve always prayed I’d never have to fight, but it has come. It’s just something you have to accept.’
‘I can’t. I won’t.’ She allowed him to wrap an arm around her waist.
‘I love you, Liza. No matter what happens, don’t forget that. He pulled her to him and kissed her deeply.
Coming up for air, she muttered against his lips. ‘Is there any way to get out of it?’
‘No. It’s my duty to serve God, the Corps, and family.’ He kissed her again.
This time, Elizabeth pulled back. ‘Family’s always last, isn’t it, Jonquil.’ She picked up his plate and took it to the sink. ‘I want to go back to America; Jon, and the sooner the better. After what I saw today… And now, you being called up… I want to go home. – sniff – If…if the worst…’
She didn’t have to finish before he responded. ‘I’ll make the arrangements in the morning.’
Elizabeth blinked back tears as she pulled the plug in the sink and watched the water circle down the drain.