Having known Beau for quite a long time now, Wade supposed he shouldn’t have been surprised by his request–but he’d gotten so used to helping wealthy men of alleged character and patriotism get their prized sons out of the war, that finding one eager to send his son away was a surprise all the same. “With your connections, I’m sure I could find him a spot as an officer,” Wade said, but Beau just laughed.
“Jeremiah couldn’t lead a blind horse to water. Do you want him to murder an entire platoon in the jungle? No–basic infantry, just like I was. If he wants to survive, he’s going to have to prove he has what it takes–though I sincerely doubt he has the guts.”
Wade nodded, “If that’s what you want, the army will always have a need for strong young men,” Beau chuckled a bit on the word strong, but Wade pressed on, “but the draft is going plenty strong–why not just…wait? After all, I can’t force him to sign enlistment papers.”
Beau leered at Wade around his pipe, “I may be old, Wade, but I can still smell a two timing skunk from a mile off. I know about the little deals you have running with some of the young men around these parts–and I even know about those little examinations you do at your office, after hours, with more than a few of them. What is it you say–that you won’t excuse them from service for something like homosexuality without a bit of…evidence first?” he took a sip, “Does your wife know about your taste for teenage whelps, I wonder?”
Wade remained stoic. He wouldn’t give him a denial–if Beau had wanted him found out, he would have been carted away by an MP by now. He wanted something still–though Wade hadn’t given him nearly enough credit, apparently.
“I will admit to…having enjoyed the company of the men on my platoon, on occasion. There’s really no harm in a bit of comradery, when one is without the pleasure of a proper bitch. I can forgive you your…infidelity and perversion, so long as my son is on that bus. Forge his signature–I’ll attest to its validity, even if he denies it. Promise him whatever you’d like–a position as an officer, if you’d like. Hell, examine him if he’s…your type, but my worthless son is going to need a war if he’s ever going to grow up and make something of himself. I’d rather he come back in a box than tarnish this family’s name by running around town, proud of his cowardice. Jeremiah may have been led to believe by his mother that I have listened to her pleas, and am presently persuading you to draw up and document…reasons for him to be exempted from service, even should his number come up in the draft. I will likely allow them both to believe that up until the bus pulls up tomorrow afternoon. All you need to do is keep the rascal in your office until then–and no one will need to know anything about the sordid little things you do on your own time. I’ll even defend your honor as if it were my own. Now, do we have an understanding?”
As far as Wade was concerned, this was easier than what he’d been expecting. Less paperwork, and he’d be one young soldier closer to meeting his quarterly quota. He agreed, and their conversation drifted off to other topics, though as the old hound across from him drank more and more bourbon, he was fairly certain that Beauregard kept sneaking glances down at his crotch. Apparently, someone hadn’t had any comradery in quite a while–perhaps he missed it. Wade wouldn’t have objected–despite what Beauregard had hinted at, Wade didn’t have an interest in young men in particular. Rather, he enjoyed the desperation, and the control he had over them more than anything else. Beauregard was too proud to be a good lay, as handsome as he was. It wouldn’t hurt to keep that information in his back pocket, all the same. They each finished their pipes, and Wade excused himself. Amber Hawthorne and Wade’s wife, Lizzie, were in the dining room gossiping about the business around town when they emerged–they said their goodbyes, and left. Lizzie knew better than to ask about what Wade and Beauregard had discussed, though she had her suspicions of course. Wade didn’t broach the topic–he was cool towards her, as he was always, all the way back to their home, where their son was already tucked in by the babysitter. Just another normal night. Halfway around the world, it was daytime, and young dogs, cats, pigs, and everyone else was fighting for their lives, if not for their country. Wade wondered if it should bother him more, the whole business. Then again, if it hadn’t bothered him yet, he doubted that it would any time soon.