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Owen's Love (A Buzby Beach Novella) Chapter 09

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DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.

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Owen checks on his patient

By the time Alpha Company reached the battalion area on Friday morning, Owen had treated two sprains, a spider bite, sent one trooper back with suspected appendicitis – the soldier wound up having his appendix out, and was nearly out of adhesive bandages used to cover a myriad of small cuts and scratches.

It was late Friday afternoon when the company commander addressed the men in the assembly area in front of the barracks and told them they’d done a great job on the training exercise. Then he turned them over to the First Sergeant, who released them to the platoon sergeants, who released them until first formation the following Monday morning after a few words of caution and encouragement.

Owen spent the day cleaning his weapon and equipment and restocking his medical supplies. After they were released, Owen drove to the hospital to visit Lieutenant Abernathy.

"How are you doing, LT?" he asked when shown to the lieutenant's room. "I thought you'd be out of here and enjoying some convalescent leave by now."

"So did I, Doc," the officer replied. "I'm doing fine, but they wanted me to stick around for a few days to keep an eye on the leg. The surgeon wants to be sure the plates and screws are going to hold, I guess. If she gives her okay in the morning, my wife will take me home in time for lunch.

"I want to thank you, Doc, for what you did for me out there on the drop zone. The surgeon said your decision not to try and straighten the leg to apply a splint probably saved it, maybe saved my life. According to her, applying the pressure bandage the way you did kept the bone from severing an artery."

Owen swallowed hard. "I just did what I thought was right, sir. It's part of the job. I'm glad it worked out."

The lieutenant laughed. "Not nearly as glad as my wife and I are. Doc, you're the first person I've told this to. Savannah and I are expecting. Thanks to you, my kid will have a dad."

"I don't know what to say, sir."

"You don't need to say anything, Doc. Just salute and go enjoy your weekend."

Owen snapped to attention and saluted the lieutenant. Abernathy returned the salute as best he could from his hospital bed. Owen dropped his hand, executed a parade ground perfect about-face, and walked out of the lieutenant's room.

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Back in his room at the barracks, Owen retrieved his phone from the locked drawer it was stored in when he was out in the field. Personal communications devices were forbidden on training exercises. Some soldiers put the rule to the test and wound up with their phones being confiscated, searched by CID, receipt of an Article 15 - meaning loss of pay for a time and loss of a stripe if they had one, and waiting up to ninety days to get their phone back, if they ever got it back.

Owen never took the chance. His phone stayed locked securely in a drawer in his locked wall locker in his locked room when he was away. He often forgot to get it out, charge it up, and turn it on when he returned to the battalion area.

In this instance, Owen put the phone away fully charged and turned off. When he turned it back on, he was barraged with missed messages and calls. Most of the calls he deleted without a second look. If he didn't recognize the phone number and the caller left no message, Owen added the number to a long list of blocked callers and moved on.

There were two calls from people he knew. The first was from his father. Ben was letting Owen know that he and Reggie were taking the Queen – Regina’s sloop - out sailing on Saturday and that Owen was welcome to join them if he wanted to.

The second call was from Braelyn. She wanted to remind Owen of his promise to go with her and her family to church on Sunday if he was coming down for the weekend.

Both Ben and Braelyn sent messages via Facebook saying the same things. However, the third message on Facebook was the one Owen had been hoping to see.

[Kenzie] Hi, uh, what was your name again...oh, right Orin. No, Owen. That's it. Owen. Hi, Owen. You mentioned you might be interested in this weekend’s specials at the diner. Friday night is always fried fish with French fries and coleslaw. Saturday is chicken and rice using my grandmother's recipe. Sunday, instead of meatloaf, daddy plans to serve pork chops with peas and rice. You didn't say what day you'd be stopping by, so I gave you the whole weekend. Oh, and I'll be working Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast and lunch, and Sunday breakfast and lunch, just in case you were hoping to be waited on by your favorite server.

Owen checked the time on his phone. It's almost 6 p.m. I can change and get packed in ten minutes. Another five to get to my car and out the gate. It's about an hour’s drive.

[Owen] What time does the diner close tonight?

He didn't wait for a reply before changing out of his uniform into some civilian clothes and tossing a few things into his overnight bag.

[Kenzie] The diner closes at nine. Coincidentally, I get off work at nine.

[Owen] Please ask your father to save me a plate of fried fish. I should be there in about an hour.

[Kenzie] There might still be some left by then.

© 2020 DW Davis

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