Flash: Collateral

Jonathan Ames had saluted with a blank expression on his face after they had pinned up his medal.

“Well done, Captain.”  the general had said, a man Ames had only known by name. “A vital contribution to the war against terrorism. ”

He remembered that moment every time they held their ceremony at the veterans day. They would raise the flag, play the national anthem and they would all salute. And he would have his blank expression on his face.

“What did you get the medal for?” someone would ask sometimes.

“Programming.” he would answer.

“Programming? Programming what?” the next question would be.

“A robot plane.”

“How does that get you a medal?” would be asked..

He could not tell because of security reasons, but if he could have, he would have answered, “It launched a guided missile that blew up a car containing Muhafeed Al Jazar.”

And the questioner would whistle and say, “That guy? Did you do that?”

But he never got to this point as he was sworn to silence, because several groups of fanatics had howled revenge for this high tech assassination and the deaths of twenty-seven men, women and children of the village the car had been in when the rocket exploded.

He sometimes wondered who had actually gained from this vital contribution.

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