On Shooting a Cathy
As a platoon leader for Alpha Company in the spring of last year, I hated my job, and everyday I feared I was losing control. I felt that what inconsequential pull I once held had slackened, and little by little, inch by inch, I was getting closer and closer to snapping. It’s strange though, at one time I had been the one defending them. I had stood by them when things went wrong, or I argued their cases when they got in trouble. I got them off. I had helped them, or at least I thought I had. For now, I couldn’t tell if anything that I did actually made a difference. You can almost feel their disregard and contempt. If I were to yell at them to get back in formation, eventually with out anyone telling them to do otherwise, they’d gaggle out of it again. You could constantly see them standing, laughing, joking. Is it about me? I would wonder. One time while we were marching, both platoons came around and encircled me. It seemed humorous, but it was a sheer sign that things such as duty, honor, and discipline were crumbling at their foundations. They were becoming savages. I got myself out by pushing through them. I could hear them laughing at me. I can still hear them laughing at me.
I, who was starting to hate my job, knew that this school’s tyranny would not last forever, but it seemed that way then. I had already decided within myself a year before that this school was a bad thing, and the sooner I could leave it, the better. My utter hatred of this school’s policies and rules was clashing with my job to enforce them. I would walk to the guard house, and I could see them—the penalty hour marchers, forced to march for hours in the hot sun. Their faces pathetic, sad and contempt full left images burned into my eyes. I seemed to be stuck between my hatred of this school I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible. Sometimes, I would like nothing more than to take my sword and stab them through the guts and back, especially the high schoolers and day students. My feelings at that time were normal. Ask any other platoon leader or commander, if you can catch them by themselves.
However, one day something happened—which in a roundabout way was enlightening. It was inconsequential in itself, but it gave me a better perspective than I had had before of the real nature of tyranny – the real motives for which this school acts. Early one morning, I had awoken to discover that one of the high schoolers, a Cadet Bowden, had been murdered. It seemed another cadet, a Cadet Cathey, had gone into a must and had raged out of control. Bowden had been bludgeoned several thousand times it seemed by one of those poles we use to keep our clothes on in our bedrooms. Bowden must have said something stupid like he always did to set Cathey off. However, it didn’t matter anymore. Bowden’s lifeless body just laid there in the hall-way like some sort of bloody rag doll left behind by some careless little girl. His back looked like it had been tenderized like a piece of meat. It was obvious what I had to do. The rules say that I must shoot Cathey.
Cathey had roamed his way out of the
barracks and was presently sitting out on the benches between Lovelace and
the academic wing connected to the chapel. I yelled for my platoon sergeant,
“Go get me my rifle.” It was an old 44
I propped my rifle onto the stone monument and carefully took aim. The crowd behind me started to breath heavily. Some of them had already taken out their Gurbers in preparation of the kill. The beast looked so peaceful, just sitting there grazing on a sandwich it had taken from the chow hall. It looked so child like. I couldn’t do it, but I had already come this far. The sound of sneers and laughter was crouching up. I had no choice. I couldn’t look like an idiot, or show signs of weakness. I was their platoon leader. I had to be strong. I had to carry out my duties like a good platoon leader would. I lifted my head up to breath some more, then I put my face back in place. I made sure I had the same sight picture I had had before. I aimed carefully, and then, slowly, I pulled the trigger.
I didn’t feel it go off. I didn’t hear it—one never does in that kind of situation. At first I couldn’t see an effect. Had I shot it? Then, slowly, the youth lifted from its face, and bits of bread and cheese came crumbling out of its mouth; but it didn’t fall. It just sat there. I shot it again. This time it sent the beast humbly to one knee. It rolled a bit and fell off the bench. Everything I was doing just seemed wrong. The beast just lied there, breathing heavily, not moving. I aimed again and fired. This shot finally did it.
At that time, the savages who had been surrounding me started off down the quad waving their knives in the air and hollering. They were already carving off pieces when I had to leave. I couldn’t watch. I was told later that it only took them an hour before all that was left of Cathey was his bones and his detestable parts. Later I was awarded a ribbon and a cheap medal for “Bravery and leadership in the face of adversity.” I never wore it. I always thought that we enforced the rules to keep order and control. Now I knew the real reason. We did it to keep the savages from eating us first.