Thursday, 27 December 2007

A Few Days Waiting

The next few days pass slowly. Robert and I have little to do, except wait for something else to happen. The weather is well below zero in Northern Indiana, and the hotel room's heater barely works. I watch cheap tv at night because I can find little inspiration to do anything else. I go for short runs while the sun is still up, slipping on ice in the road and running straight into snow and oncoming car headlights (there are no pavements in this part of the city).

Because Robert has no plan of his own - he is working based on Campbell's advice - he's often left waiting for Campbell before making any real decisions. He's very much alone in this - without family or friends to support him. On the days Campbell spends away from us, with his family, Robert is lost. He often asks me about the process, about how military law treats people like him (what should we call them? Conscientious objectors? Deserters? Criminals? Patriots? It depends on who you ask) Robert asks me about turning himself in, about protocol and procedures. I know only what I've been reading lately about it, but I try to put his mind at ease as best as I can. He switches quickly and constantly between acting very confident, and showing his true vulnerable self.

Most of the time, he considers everything he wants to say very carefully. Listening to his reasoning, his intelligent speech, you would never guess he was only 19. Most of the time he presents himself as a very relaxed, but angry kid.

But one night he gets a little drunk and I finally see the angry teenager. He vents his anger at the military, yelling at me in the deserted hotel bar as though I was the military.
"You just degrade me like that, trying to make me feel less than human! Everything is designed so that the men who were once soldiers being picked on and beaten up then become officer, and they pick on you and bear up the soldiers under their command because that's how they were treated. You de-humanise everyone! How can you ask me to respect when you treat me like shit!"

It goes on like this for almost an hour - occasionally looking up at the television above his head to distract myself - before I have to ask Robert to calm down, and I leave for my room to watch more cheap television and fall asleep.

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