He had been framed, but how could he prove it?
Sergeant Cole, given guard duty over the prisoner, saw Danny crush out his last cigarette and pat his pockets for another. He threw Danny his own package.
“Did you do it?” Cole asked. “Fall asleep on guard? If you did, it sucks, Top getting shot and all. What I’m sayin’ is, don’t let it get to you. We all done it at one time or another. You just did it at a real bad time, is all. Coulda happened to anybody.”
“No.” Danny shook his head as he blew smoke through his nose. “No, I didn’t. Smitty never woke me up. I’ve been sitting here thinking about it. At first, I wasn’t sure what with the confusion and all. It was a rough night.”
Cole snorted. “You ain’t said shit.
“No, but I’m sure now. Smitty never woke me up. He must’ve fallen asleep, and the miserable rat fuck is blaming me,” Danny said to the floor
“If that’s true,” Cole said, “and I was you, I’d kill that motherfucker.
Danny nodded. “Roger that.”
Lieutenant Chicarelli stepped through the hatchway. “They’re ready for you.”
Crushing out his cigarette, Danny watched the officer’s face for some hint of what was awaiting him. Chicarelli would not meet his gaze. He led him up one level to the captain’s cabin. Cole brought up the rear.
Danny faced the captain and all of the platoon leaders of Charlie Company. Beecher and Smitty were there as well. Danny was amazed that Smitty could look him in the eye, but he did, and the trace of a smile at the corners of his former friend’s mouth looked triumphant. Danny reported to the captain and stood at attention. He saw a dog-eared copy of the Uniform Code of Military Justice on the captain’s bed.
“Private Mulvaney,” Captain Arnold began, “regarding the matter of your sleeping on guard during the operation from which we have just returned, specifically, last night. Do you have anything to say for yourself?”