The President’s Daughter
The President’s Daughter
TO CATCH A KING
THE VALHALLA EXCHANGE
In fond memory
of my dear friend George Coleman
There is more truth in one sword than in ten thousand words.
* * *
Jake Cazalet was twenty-six years old when it happened, the incident that was to have such a profound effect on the rest of his life.
His family were Boston Brahmins, well respected, his mother hugely wealthy, his father a successful attorney and Senator, which meant that the law seemed the natural way to go for young Jake. Harvard and the privileged life, and as a college student it was possible to avoid the draft and Vietnam seemed far away.
And Jake did well, a brilliant student who got an excellent degree and moved on to Harvard Law School with enormous success. A great future was predicted. He started on a doctorate, and then a strange thing happened.
For some time, he had been disturbed by the scenes from Vietnam, the way he saw that brutal war portrayed on television each night. Sometimes it seemed like a vision from hell. A sea change took place as he contrasted his comfortable life with what life seemed like over there. The ironic thing was that he could actually get by in Vietnamese, because at the age of thirteen he had lived in Vietnam, when his father had spent a year at the U.S. Embassy.
And then came the day in the cafeteria at college. People were lining up for the lunch counter, lots of new students, and amongst them one who was no more than twenty, dressed in white tee shirt and jeans like anyone else, books under one arm, the difference being that where his right arm had been there was now only a small stump. Most people ignored him, but one guy, a swaggering bully whose last name was Kimberley, turned to look at him.
“Hey, what’s your name?”
“You lose that over there in ’Nam?”
“That’s about the size of it.”
“Serves you right.” Kimberley patted his face. “How many kids did you butcher?”
It was the pain on Grant’s face that got to Cazalet and he pulled Kimberley away. “This man served his country. What have you ever done?”
“So what about you, rich boy?” Kimberley sneered. “I don’t see you over there. Only over here.” He turned and patted Grant’s face again. “If I come in anywhere, you step out.”
Jake Cazalet’s only sport was boxing and he was on the team. Kimberley had twenty pounds on him, but it didn’t matter. Spurred on by rage and deep shame, he gave Kimberley a double punch in the stomach that doubled him over. A boxing club he went to in downtown Boston was run by an old Englishman called Wally Short.
“If you’re ever in a real punch-up, here’s a useful extra. In England, we call it nutting somebody. Over here it’s head-butting. So, use your skull, nine inches of movement, nice and short, right into his forehead.”
Which was exactly what Cazalet did as Kimberley came up to grapple with him, and the big man went crashing back over a table. Pandemonium followed, girls screaming, and then security arrived and the paramedics.
Cazalet felt good, better than he had in years. As he turned, Grant said, “You damn fool, you don’t even know me.”
“Oh, yes, I do,” Jake Cazalet said.
Later, in the Dean’s office, he stood at the desk and listened to the lecture. The Dean said, “I’ve heard the facts and it would seem that Kimberley was out of line. However, I can’t tolerate violence, not on campus. I’ll have to suspend you for a month.”
“Thank you, sir, but I’ll make it easy for you. I’m dropping out.”
The Dean was truly shocked. “Dropping out? But why? What will your father say? I mean, what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to go right down to that recruiting office downtown and I’m going to join the army.”
The Dean looked devastated. “Jake, think about this, I beg you.”
“Good-bye, sir,” Jake Cazalet told him and went out.
So here he was eighteen months later, a lieutenant in Special Forces by way of the paratroops—his knowledge of Vietnamese had seen to that—and halfway through his second tour, decorated, twice wounded, a combat veteran who felt about a thousand years old.
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