Knight:A Club Alias Novel(11)

By: K.D. Robichaux

“All right, big guy. Prepare to feel like a badass motherfucker,” she chirps, grabbing her camera before scooting the chair as close as she can to me. I tilt toward her as much as possible in my cot, trying not to move my leg too much.

As Clarice begins clicking different buttons on her camera, the nurse comes in, carrying a giant plastic cup with a handle and straw full of water, and a tiny clear medicine cup containing a giant white horse pill. I swallow it down and thank her before she leaves us alone.

“Okay, so I’m going to show you on the little screen on my camera instead of on my laptop. Later, if you want to see them all big and detailed, I’ll hook it up. But I figure we can start out small.” After I nod, she continues, “All right, here we are at the beginning of the day. We got there, went into the schoolhouse…”

She narrates her photographs, clicking through them at a slow but steady pace, allowing me to take it all in. I can remember everything clearly from when we were together in the building, and then she gives me time to think, seeing if I can recall anything from when I left her and the general to go secure the area.

“There’s a blank spot from the time I left the schoolhouse until the explosion went off. But then I can remember running back to y’all. I saw you were okay. I went in search of the rest of the team. And… found them,” I say, my voice lowering. “I remember telling you to stay back. And then it’s all a blur, like autopilot kicked in.”

“Do you want to see the images I captured when you told me to stay back? I’ll warn you they’re graphic as fuck, but amazing all the same.” She reaches out and places her hand on my bicep, and it’s right then I realize that with her by my side, I could face pretty much anything.

“I want to see,” I tell her, and she nods, tilting the camera in my direction once more.

As soon as my eyes land on the violent image, an entire alley strung with bodies covered in blood and gore, my heart drops to my stomach at the pain I see on all my brothers’ faces. I swallow thickly, but when Clarice tries to hide the screen from my view, I reach out and grasp her arm. “No. I’m good. Show me.”

She doesn’t question me, seeing the serious look in my eyes. She just nods and continues her scrolling. In every single one, she’s captured not only the carnage of the scene, but even I can spot the way she focused on the heroism of the lone soldier working tirelessly to save as many of his fellow infantrymen as possible. In one, she zoomed in on a leg as I tied a makeshift tourniquet above the knee. In another, the focus is on my hands putting pressure on a stomach wound. In all of them, the red blood stands out sharply against the all-beige backdrop.

She flips through more of the photos, and the scene changes as more people come into view. I work alongside three medics who arrived, doing whatever they told me to do. And then I watch in awe as she begins to flip through them more rapidly, making it play out like a movie in stuttered motion. The images she captured while following behind me as I loaded each wounded soldier into the helicopters were the kind that could make even the most hardass man weep.

“So that’s everything from the village. The rest are the ones I took while they fixed you up,” she explains, before she scrolls through photos of the doctor removing the shrapnel from my leg. There’s another of me being helped into my cot. And one of me sleeping. And the final one she lands on is of me looking directly into her lens, a drunk, crooked smile on my face as I give her a thumbs-up.

“Can I see?” I ask, holding my hand out to take her camera. She looks at me curiously before handing it over. I push a couple buttons until I figure out how to take it off viewing mode, flip the big, black piece of equipment around, and hold it far out away from me as I lean in closer to Clarice. “Say cheese,” I tell her, and then give my best Blue Steel as I hold down the shutter. Her giggle does something funny to my chest.

“Let’s check it out,” she says, giving a chin lift. When I flip the camera back around, she touches the little triangle button, and we both laugh when our faces fill the screen. “Perfect.” She takes her camera from me, smiling down at the photo for a moment before turning it off and setting it inside her backpack that hangs on the back of the chair. “I’m sending those out later today after I get a few more edited. The couple I sent to my boss made her cry, so she wants all of them back ASAP to do a whole spread.”