Throughout the day, John spent most of his time going through profiles on an administrative computer. He selected a few members based on ability and how many patrols they'd had in recent days. John strongly believed that even the most zealous of soldiers needed rest, even if that meant forcing it upon them.
After selecting a team, he organized the order report and filed it into the system. He then double-checked the schedule itinerary to ensure it had properly updated his information. Sometimes the system would have a hiccup and hours of work would be lost. Once he confirmed the schedule had been posted with the proper information, he closed the programs he had used to create the patrol orders.
It was at dinner, when he'd been sitting in front of an empty plate finishing some coffee, that Bobby walked in to the cafeteria and hastily walked over.
“I've been looking for you all day,” Bobby said, sitting next to him. “I saw the schedule,” he continued, looking at John with a glare that he knew all too well.
“Aw come on. I haven't been out that many times lately.”
“No, but you were out when Robertson … It's no.”
“Please John. I need to keep busy. Sitting around gives me time to think, and I don't want time to think.”
John sipped his coffee before speaking. “I know you were close, and I know how it is. You need rest, not more action.”
“Don't be so dramatic John. You're just taking a look-see. Nothing's going to happen other than a few Geiger counter needles bobbing around. I need to be on my feet, especially now.”
John sighed, followed by a moment of silence.
Bobby stared at him, waiting for a response.
John was looking into himself, his eyes flickering about but not taking in any of the local scenery. He shook his head lightly.
Bobby sat back in the chair. “Are you coming tonight at least?” he asked.
“Yeah, I'll be there.”
“I'm still bitter we never got him back.”
“Is that what this is about?” John asked, his eyes fixed on Bobby's face.
Bobby shrugged. “I don't know, maybe.”
“We're not going to the same place.”
“It's damn close, I saw the grid reference.”
“Bobby, you don't want to see that anyway, the van was on fire when we left. If anything's still there it's …” John stopped, his mind alight with the frozen images of the countless dead he'd witnessed in his lifetime.
Bobby sighed. “You're right. He's probably half melted into the springs of the seat, if not already eaten by the wildlife. I just wish I had something to put in the ground, you know?”
“I know,” John said. “I know far too well.”
“Just, let me come along. I promise I won't be a pain.”
Against his better judgment, John nodded.
Bobby's face lit up. “You're serious?”
“Get your shit ready.”
Bobby launched off of his seat. “Yes!”
“Seriously, we step off at four tomorrow, you'd better have your stuff packed.”
“Ah John it's already good to go.”
John laughed. “You were that confident in your sob story huh?”
“Heh.” Bobby's laughter subsided as reality set back in. “Well, you coming? It starts in about a half hour and you know there's going to be a crowd,” he said, alluding to Robertson's popularity.
“Yeah, I'm right behind you,” John said, tipping his coffee in Bobby's direction as if to say 'I'm not done yet.'
Bobby nodded, “Alright. See you in a few then,” he said as he began making his way out of the mess hall.