Alik Laryn slammed the alarm clock off the next morning with a harsh fist to clanger between the two bells. After that, his palm instantly went to his eye to try and rub away the sleep form his eyes and the slight pang of another night spent wallowing in one too many glasses of bourbon. If the Major every caught him doing that he would have his position sorely compromised, so he kept his drinking to himself. Even in mornings like this one where it did come up to bite him, he would still tell himself that it was perfectly acceptable to have a few hits of the bottle to relax.
He needed the shower this morning. It would have to be a cold one too for him to help clear his foggy head. He always had to shower. When he was closer to the front line after landing in France, he still always had to try and get his one shower a day. If he did not, he would start to panic if it went longer than 48 hours without him being clean. It was a quirk of his, a quirk he could never truly get over which was strange given that most men he had ever known would not care if they wore their underwear more than two days in a row. Even the high class men at Edinburgh Medical would still wear their shirts for weeks at a time and Laryn only found himself horrified if he had to wear his socks over again.
He needed his shower this morning desperately. It would also help the nights sweats that he had taken to getting lately when the barking of dogs and the shouts of commands in horrible English came marching into his dreams. They had started to come back more ever since he had been talking to that ex-Nazi. It had been barely a week and each night when he tried to sleep, the nightmares kept coming back.
He did not now why, he thought that he had control over himself, but he could not help the bad memories boring into him once again.
he swung his legs off the edge of the bed as he kept rubbing his eyes. His toes curled in his socks as he tried to flatten his hair that always stuck up at strange angles when he slept on it. He spent several minutes raking his fingers through it before giving up, his eyes squinting in the limited light. The sun was not even up yet, it had only begun to creep its orange glow over the edge of the horizon. 0600 on the dot.
The Major had wanted to see him at 0800, but he had plenty of work to deal with at the time. Over the last few days, Blake had been bringing him more and more cases of Germans who needed patching up before they were to be sent off. The doctor was trying to balance that and working on figuring out just what exactly was in Wilhelm Dieter's head.
Something gnawed at the back of his head that if he let the Scharfuehrer go they would be letting someone important in disguise slip right through their fingers. Or maybe it was just his paranoia. If that was the case, Laryn's name would come around as the man who let some mass murderer escape. His name would go down in history as the man who let Nazi X go from captivity and escape into obscurity unpunished. The doctor swallowed, he could not let that happen and he was going to try his hardest to break the truth from the monotone man holed up in the "hospital" basement.
He grabbed his clothes and shuffled off toward the showers. Laryn felt old as he walked, his body creaking despite him only being in his mid-30s. When he got back to the states, if he got back to the states at all, he'd have to go to some specialist to see if the Arthritis that struck his father early in his life was starting to come up on him as well. God knew that some days he felt like his joints had locked up against his will.
As he stood in the stall of the shower, he could not help but turn around to look at the mismatched mirrors that hung on the wall opposite.
His shoulder blades stuck out far too much for his own liking, the ridges of his ribs like the rolling hills back home as he stood naked in the near dark trying to not be too critical of himself. Although he was in the army, the muscle did not want to stick to him as much as he tried. Neither did the fat, nothing wanted to stick to him and that left him nothing more than a scrawny stick. He ran a hand through his hair before he let it slide under the stream of the water. Perhaps things will be easier when he returns home from this war. He will not have to worry about having to deal with Germans or Austrians or any other member of the Axis at all despite himself being second generation Italian.
Slowly the water ran over his fingers into his hair and down the nape of his neck making the hair on the back of his neck stand on end and goosebumps to break out across his chest. He would make sure that every inch of him was clean and that every bit of his clothing was spotless and pristine when he put it on. There was and would not be a thread out of place when he met with the Major in a few hours. he could not afford it, he heard rumors from Blake that he was stagnating and would be passed over for a possible promotion. He could not have that pass him up. The Doctor needed that promotion if anything, for it might get him out of this hell hole and one step closer to England and in turn that one step closer to home. As much as he wanted to avoid who was waiting for him at home, he needed this promotion.
"I've got some good news for you, Laryn," Major Eli Miller said as he sipped his morning coffee, sitting at his desk without his tunic on and only in his shirt and tie.
Quite a perk of a major as far as Laryn was concerned. if he was lucky enough and if this war kept going on longer, he might reach Major. If he did, than he might be able to lounge around in an office like this all day, or he might be able to wake up whenever he wanted, or he might be able to have people jumping around according to his schedule. That would be very nice and that would be a perk that Laryn would much enjoy. For once, people would have to run by him instead of running all over him and he would enjoy that immensely. His stature did not help his situation, but maybe if he got that promotion, the bars at his shoulder would do that for him.
"What is that, Sir?" Laryn asked as he remained standing at attention.
Miller, half way through a sip of coffee waved his hand and motioned to the chair opposite the desk he was sitting at. "Sit down, at ease, sit down, sit down."
The office was a small square one, much like Laryn's, only his was bigger. Perhaps belonging to the former head Abbott or someone important within the establishment. Major Miller had chosen to move in his own personal effects of a desk and a set of chairs, a gaudy green rug he had brought with him from South Carolina, and two flags of the united states to flank him when he sat down to work. The rug smelled God awful and that was because it was no secret the Major smoked when he had a lot on his mind, if he ever had a lot on his mind. The man was a certified doctor and he still held that disgusting habit. The smell almost made Laryn wretch in front of him as he entered the room. He clenched his throat and his stomach as he nodded and stepped forward to take his indicated seat.
"Thank you, sir." The doctor sat down gingerly in the seat, it barely even creaked under his slight weight.
The Major laughed and then said in his southern drawl, "Better best be eatin' more, boy, else you gonna blow away in the next storm." he chuckled and then drained the rest of his coffee. The Major's own weight was plenty and it rested heavily on his lap as he sat at his desk. He was looking over Laryn as he balanced his coffee in one hand and a pen in the other as he scribbled away on some papers.
"Yes, sir." Laryn said again as he obliged the Major in thinking that he was right.
"You wanna know something?" Miller said.
Laryn arched an eyebrow, forcing himself to be interested.
"Let me tell you something, You're a good man. That's what."
The doctor was taken a back for a moment. Despite the folksiness of the Major, he rarely said a good word about anyone in their presence. He was more apt to slap a man on the shoulder and buy him a drink than verbally say he was a good person.
"Thank you, sir, I-"
"But your too uptight."
Laryn could swear he was hearing his chest shattering. That was it, that would be the man passing over his promotion to someone else, to some other officer who was "looser" than him. "Sir? I-"
"And you tend to be more wrapped up in work than even the ol' General himself."
Laryn let his lips go tight.
"But that's what makes you the perfect man for what we need here."
If it was possible, Laryn's eyes flashed wide for merely a moment before returning to normal. Perhaps. Just perhaps, he might be able to snatch this promotion now if Miller would be happy with him and let him have it. "You want coffee?" the Major asked.
"No thank you, sir." the doctor shook his head. Him and coffee did not get along, he did not like the harsh jolt it gave him and he did not like the taste at all. Tea was his drink of choice if he needed a pick up. His wife always drank coffee, nothing but coffee and he had to live with that dry smell constantly in the kitchen. As much as he tried, his tea would never over power that smell with comfort and thus he was always forced to sit with it when he had breakfast.
"Ah, well. That’s your problem, son, not mine." The major laughed as he hauled himself from the chair and strode across the office to get more coffee. "Where was I?"
"I was the perfect man for a job, sir, as you were saying?"
"Right! Right, right, you, Laryn, are the perfect man for a job that I need done," his tongue poked out the side of his mouth as he spoke, concentrating hard on pouring his perfect cup of coffee without spilling any. "I've been trying to keep up with all these Germans and the logistics are insane." the Major shook his great head as he lumbered back to his seat.
"You are having trouble, sir?"
"More than trouble, son, I'm overwhelmed."
Laryn folded his hands on his lap, "How will I help you with that, sir?"
Miller pointed a finger at him with a chuckle, "I knew I liked you, always concerned with keeping things in order and smooth running. You don't take no bullcrap from no one. That is where you are gonna help me, boy."
The doctor leaned back in confusion. "Sir?" he asked dryly.
"Yes, sir-ee bob, that's what I need you to do for the time being. I need you to help me be my logistics man with all these goddamn Krauts coming in left and right and needin' help and needing be turned over to the MPs and things like that."
"... Come again, Sir?"
"Christ in heaven, Laryn, I’m putting you in charge of taking care of the prisoners. With your head for detail, you can help me get a handle on all this. You get that, you mad wop, Kapeesh and all that?"
Laryn felt his blood go cold. He was not getting a promotion; instead he was being put in charge... of the Germans?!
"Of course, sir... thank you?" was all he could muster.
Six Feet Deep: Chapter 2