Until the World Stops - L.A. Witt
“They’re really booting you out? Over a Facebook post?”
MA2 Tristan Holloway folded his arms behind his mostly untouched beer bottle and stared at the small table between us. “Yeah. Admin separation, and my lawyer is pretty sure they’re not going to let the grass grow. Two months, and I’m gone.”
I whistled, sitting back in my chair. “Damn. That’s harsh.”
“Yeah, it is.” He laughed bitterly and reached for his beer. “Guess I shouldn’t have ‘incited mutiny’ or ‘disobeyed a lawful order.’”
I rolled my eyes. “For fuck’s sake. I think you were stupid to post it, but they’re making… I mean, you didn’t incite mutiny.”
“Yeah, well,” he muttered into the bottle, “not much I can do about it now.”
Watching him across the table, I actually felt sorry for him. We hadn’t gotten along at all since he’d been transferred to our shitty little base on the Down East coast of Maine, and there’d been times when finding out he was getting booted would’ve made my day, but he wasn’t actually a bad dude. Not someone I had any desire to be friends with. Not someone I wanted to work with. But someone who didn’t deserve the shit hand he’d been dealt, which was part of why I’d bitten the bullet and taken him out for beers tonight after shift. I could think he was an asshole and still believe he deserved a couple of drinks and a designated driver after getting shafted like that.
And…quite frankly, I owed him more than a drink. Though I hadn’t joined our chain of command in using Holloway’s post to sink his career, there was no denying that the way things had gone down was partly my fault. I felt like shit about that.
A few weeks back, one of our co-workers who was friends with him on Facebook had shown me the post. I’d confronted Holloway, and true to form, we’d gotten into it. Though I outranked him and I was his supervisor, he never hesitated to tell me exactly how he felt about things, including my leadership methods and where I could stick them. I’d never escalated that to our chiefs or made a big thing out of it because I’d always assumed he was one of those E-5s who’d been left jaded by his time at sea and in combat, and with some time and patience (okay, maybe I wasn’t that patient) he’d mature into a solid cop, a good Sailor, and maybe even a decent leader. I just had to keep at him and hope his mouth didn’t get him in trouble with our upper chain of command. Which it had.
I’d tried to handle the post in-house, mostly by telling him he was playing with fire and that he’d take it the hell down if he valued his career. He definitely didn’t want any of our senior leadership to catch wind of it, because they had little if any patience for insubordination and had, shall we say, some political leanings that would seriously color their response to that particular post. Chief and Holloway had butted heads over politics from day one, and I swore Chief had been itching for ages to find a reason to use Holloway’s “leftist bullshit” to screw him over. He’d even tried a couple of times to insinuate that Holloway was part of Antifa, something another chain of command had successfully used to threaten a friend of mine into keeping his beliefs to himself.
So I’d confronted Holloway on my own. Holloway had lost his temper. I’d lost mine. It had escalated into a shouting match that had drawn Chief Larson’s attention, and Chief had asked what was going on. That had led to Chief seeing the post in question, and suddenly the whole thing was yanked out of my hands, the response spear-headed by someone who was bound and determined to make an example out of Holloway. Our senior chief, master chief, XO, and CO had all had the same reaction, and with a single Facebook post, Holloway had bought himself a one-way ticket to Captain’s Mast.
Now, because I hadn’t been able to keep a cool head, talk sense into Holloway, and keep the situation out of sight, he was fucked.
Yeah, he’d been stupid, posting publicly about some of the failings of military leadership—including some of the leaders way, way on high—and urging those on deployment to push back against orders to effectively commit war crimes. It wasn’t that I disagreed with him. In fact, I didn’t. Every word