The General and the Lieutenant

 Glancing over at the mantelpiece, at the photograph in a gold frame, the General said:

“Lieutenant, did I ever tell you her story?”

“No Comrade General.”

“She was my first-born, back then we …”

“I know Comrade General.”

“No, not that, you can see she had a daughter of her own…

…She went out in the early morning of June 4, 1989. It was a heady few days. You could tell ‘freedom’ was in the air. Did you know that regimental troops marched with the people earlier in the week, Lieutenant?”

“No Comrade General.”

“Her husband and I were in the operations center. We had cameras all over the square. Wen saw her first and watched her for the rest of the night until….”

“Until, Sir?”

“I gave the order. All lights went off long enough to disorient the remaining crowds of people. Then the methodical pounding started. To frighten them, you know. They were warned to clear the square. They were warned… we had until 6 am to clear the square. Wen lost sight of his wife and child – my daughter and granddaughter – heading west when the lights went out….”

“What happened, Sir?”

The General stared the Lieutenant down.

“Lieutenant, did I ever tell you my daughter’s story?”

“No Comrade General.”

“Very well, that is all Lieutenant. Dismissed”

In the past, he would have sent the hapless Lieutenant to his death on some ‘important mission’ for such a lapse as he had just made in the Lieutenant’s presence. He thought better of his actions and did not do so, this time.