I'm posting the chapters of Resolution 786. I'll post each successive chapter roughly every 3 or 4 days. Here's Chapter 32:
Dawn’s crimson lips parted on the eastern horizon, lighting the feathered belly of a wispy sheet of high, thin clouds. Her tawny eyes fluttered open as she arched her back in a sensuous, golden stretch, long, thin arms ending in bright, white fists. She receded into momentary repose, a pallid gray smile moving across her peaceful face, then fell forward and sprawled her lithe legs across the distant sand dunes, her yellow anklets sprinkling tiny spears of gold here and there, spears that touched and extracted a brilliant potpourri of colors out of the world that they touched. She held no grudges, she had no favorites, and she always started and finished her dance on time. She kept every confidence to the very end, having freely given her tender graces to Babylon, to Ur, and to every fresh king, conqueror, caliph and president who might or might not be passing across this, her antique horizon.
This morning, Colonel Klick’s order to fall in for an impromptu muster was given at reveille, immediately before breakfast. The soldiers of Platoon 110 were back in a block of shade in the middle of the desert, sitting in the sand under the tired, sagging, sun-beaten tarp.
“Gentlemen, thank you for taking time out of your mission to be here this morning. Let’s make this short.” Klick rubbed his hard, dry palms together and paced back and forth a few feet, mulling over what he had to say. “Gentlemen, war funds have been slow coming out of Washington. I’m sure that you’ve noticed that some of our resupply is short. That’s bad.” He stopped speaking, rubbing his palms together again, choosing his words deliberately, slowly. “But what’s also bad is when we take matters into our own little hands…and go outside proper channels…with perfectly good intent, mind you.” He bobbed his head up and down in small, jagged jerks to emphasize his contention that it was, in fact, good intent that had created the current situation. The top edge of his short, stiff haircut sliced a sharp silhouette in the desert glare behind him as he now thrust a finger at the young men, speaking loudly. “Some of us have let good intent lead us into doing that which we ought not.”
Klick stopped and cleared his throat, twisting his mouth in a series of quick, circular contortions. He exhaled, bringing his shoulders slightly lower and forward. “Now, I sat through a long meeting with JAG staff last night, a meeting I attended on your behalf, soldiers. The lawyers tell me that there seems to be an issue.” The expressionless teenagers listened dutifully. Colonel Klick cleared his throat again and put his hands on his hips, angling his head up and to the right, staring absently at the bottom of the sagging, beaten, listless tarp. The brilliant sun behind him framed his silhouette in crisp, bold lines, turning him into a marble statue. The still statue suddenly spoke as the hot glare from behind and around it cast blanketing shadows around its face and mouth, hiding any movements that may have accompanied its words. “Gentlemen, when you are executing a federal mission, the Congress appropriates monies to support that mission. And regulations state that private monies may not be used to augment and or support a federal mission. I know that resupply is currently a bit short. But that’s no excuse for going out and using your own…spelled ‘private’…money to buy toilet paper. Effective immediately, the good soldiers of Platoon 110 will not violate federal regulations by using private funds for the purchase or procurement of contraband toilet paper to be used in support of this war effort. Don’t do it, men. It’s not worth it.”
The soldiers and the Colonel stared at each other, mute. The sun’s hot rays fell like needles outside the tarp, piercing through the still desert air in a noiseless rush.
“But there ain’t no toilet paper.” Sanders’ whimpering southern drawl sounded trumpet-loud in the hot, surrounding silence.
“It’s coming, boys.” Klick stood strong and confident. “We’re dealing with only a few dead-enders here. We’ve broken the back of their little insurgency. We can all go home soon. And our toilet paper’s on the way.”
“But that doesn’t make any sense.” Lamech’s high voice rang softly through the shade. “Isn’t that regulation meant to keep large, well-funded non-government entities from funding non-government activities under the guise of a government program?”
“Say again, Private?” Klick walked towards Lamech.
“I mean that’s the spirit of the law, sir,” Lamech replied, a flinching tone of apology. Lamech was thin, non-aggressive. He had a gentle, consoling way and a pretty face with soft lips, a small nose and clear, round hazel eyes. The short, cropped remnants of his golden, brown hair looked like summer cornstalks.
Klick had moved to where Lamech sat in the sand, glaring down at him. “What’s your name, son?”
“Lamech, sir,” eyes up at the colonel, a cowering puppy.
“Look, Lamech. You’re not here to discuss any kind of spirit.” He said “spirit” so scornfully. “You’re here to follow the letter of the law.” Klick stood, staring down at Lamech for a few extra seconds, emphasizing the point that he had just made. He snapped his face forward and addressed the entire platoon one last time, “Don’t do it, men. It is not worth it.”