“He said you took a rifle and held it to another soldier’s head and shot him,” Burton said. “Like an execution.”
Wilson began to breath heavily. “I can’t even comprehend that.” He slowly reached for the bottle. Burton grabbed and placed it on the counter behind them.
“When I talked with you while preparing your defense I felt the same way about you,” Burton said. “I was convinced you could not have done such a thing.”
“What happened at the trial?” Wilson said.
“There was no trial,” Burton said. “The charges were dropped.”
“So in the eyes of the Army I’m still a killer and traitor,” Wilson said.
“I suppose you could make that inference,” Burton said.
“I would think the best way to proceed was to go to trial so my innocents would be a part of the public record,” Wilson said. “My name would have been cleared.”
“A good lawyer never lets his client go to trial,” Burton said. “If they had a case they would have proceeded, but I worked hard to keep it from going before a court marshal. Strange things happen when you turn things over to a judge or jury. I was completely convinced of your innocents. When they knew the only reliable witness they had was an unreliable witness they dropped the charges.”
“Who was I suppose to have killed?” Wilson said. “What was his name?”
“He was a buddy of yours,” Burton said. “Everett Carpenter, does that name mean anything to you?”
“No,” Wilson said.
“Stay here,” Burton said. “I have the file in a box in the basement. I’ll get it. It has pictures and statements and some of my notes and things you wrote, maybe they will help you.”
Burton opened a door off the kitchen and stepped into the basement. He was back in a moment with a cardboard box. “W. Gentry” was written on the front of the box in black. Burton sat it on the floor next to the table and fingered through it.
He pulled a photo out and handed it to Wilson. “That’s me and you.”
“He looks like my son,” Wilson said. “I have a son. I want to believe that is me, but I just don’t feel it. Do you have a picture of Everett Carpenter.”
Burton bent down and rummaged through the file. He pulled out a snapshot of Wilson and Everett sitting together at table in a mess hall.
“That’s him?” Wilson said.
“Yeah,” Burton said.
“I suppose I should feel sad or something,” Wilson said, “but I don’t even know those two soldiers. We must have been good friends.”
“You were,” Burton said. “That was another reason I thought you were innocent.”
“Seems like you go a lot on intuition,” Wilson said.
“When there are no facts that is what remains,” Burton said. “Intuition is assembled facts and experiences in a flash; it’s not magic or mystical, it’s real. You don’t have to assemble a car in your head to know it’s a car; that’s as much intuition as anything.”
“What does your intuition tell you now,” Wilson said. “Here I am 30 years later and I don’t remember a thing; that might mean I’m repressing a horrible memory.”
“I think you are repressing a horrible event,” Burton said, “but not what happened to Everett Carpenter. I had you hypnotized by a psychiatrist. He could not dig any sort of memory from you subconscious.”
“Why was the Army so convinced?” Wilson said.
“They had their quack,” Burton said, “and he was convinced you were faking.”
“Did they give me a lie detector test?” Wilson said.
“Yes,” Burton said, “but they were sure you fooled the apparatus. It was a time when everyone was willing to think the worst of Americans soldiers. There were all sorts of reports of atrocities against other soldiers, the enemy, civilians, and so on. It was a tough time to be a soldier. They were all viewed as psychopaths.”