Then I looked at the Captain. Was he going to say anything? Was it possible the men were to be allowed to choose a partner; was that the way it was done?
Instead of saying anything about partners, he simply said, "Odum, you're up next. Let's see what you can do."
Odum struck a cocky attitude as he stepped forward to take the gun. He took the revolver and spun it on his finger as though he were a gunslinger.
I waited for the Capt. to react with some kind of retribution; there was none, except for the look of disgust that crossed his face, followed by an inner rage that was obvious, at least to me. Uh-oh! I waited for an explosion that never came. Instead he spoke quietly.
"Odum, enough of that. We're not cowboys here. Just go ahead and take your turn; we'll talk later."
He had spoken quietly enough that only those standing very close to him could hear; but both Odum and I had heard the steel in his voice. I knew I wouldn't want to cross the Captain, under any circumstance.
Odum took his three shots and I could see he would have a lot of practicing to do. He smiled and stood back, returning the revolver to the Captain.
As the Captain reloaded, Odum stepped back into line beside me and clapped me on the back.
"Hey, buddy, not bad, huh? At least, not for a first time at a target." He smiled at me. "Yeah, you'n'me, that's how it's gonna be from now on."
I wondered to myself just then if he was right. What was his pull with the Captain, anyway? I'd seen enough of that kind of favoritism in the military to know Odum was kin to somebody important or else he had something on Wintermeyer. Which was it, anyway? Did it even matter to me who or what?
Deciding then and there to find out, without getting myself into hot water, I knew I would try.
We finished the shooting practice and then went back inside, where we were instructed on the cleaning of a weapon and taught about the importance.
While we had been outside, someone had come in and checked the tests we had taken. After looking them over, the Captain passed them to us.
I had missed two of the questions; I had misread them and I felt like kicking myself.
There were a few groans to be heard coming from some of the men.
I heard Odum wadding up his test paper and realized he must have failed miserably. I wondered what effect it would have.
(To be continued)