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The True Story Of The Texas Cadet Murder
By Peter Meyer
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2011 Peter Meyer
All rights reserved.
1A KNOCK ON THE WINDOWIt was well past midnight when Jay Green heard rapping at his window. Asleep, and not sure how long the tapping had been going on, he moved toward the sound, almost mechanically. He didn't have far to go, since he had taken his bed out of the room and slept on the floor."Graham," he whispered, as he reached over and popped open the window. He said it "Gram," in a crisp single syllable that showed the traces of his Louisiana origins. "What's goin' on?"Green reached out and gave David Graham "the P.J.," the handclasp from their para-rescue orientation course."You don't wanna know," said Graham as he clambered into the room.The window opened onto a quiet residential street in Burleson, Texas, a straight 20 miles south of Fort Worth on I-35. Graham had been through it many times and knew the drill. Knock. Pop the screen. Climb in. Put the screen back. Green's parents agreed to look the other way while friends came and went through their son's "front door," as long asthe screen was put back up. Usually, it wasn't this late."What's goin' on?" Green asked again, as his friend stood up. The two crew-cut teenagers were lean and muscled from their ceaseless exercising."I need to stay," said Graham. "Zamora's here too."Graham reached back and helped Diane Zamora climb through the window. She was a slim, dark-haired girl more than a foot shorter than the 6' 2" Graham. Like Green and Graham, she was a Civil Air Patrol cadet and also, contrary to military decorum, Graham's new love interest.Zamora mumbled something to Graham and quickly slid into the shadows as Green plugged in the lights to his corner Christmas tree, bathing the small bedroom in an eerie red and green glow.It was only December 4, but even Texas had Christmas coming and Jay Green, anxious to get in the holiday spirit, had thrown up the scraggly little plastic tree that he had carried with him from military school. He decorated it with shaving cream and, in place of a star on top, gently laid a model of a C-130 transport plane.Even at 16, Green's life, like Graham's, who had turned 18 the month before, was all military. The two had met at the Civil Air Patrol, an Air Force organization that trained teenagers for military careers. Graham, who had been in C.A.P. since he was 12 and was in line to receive the Spaatz Award, the prestigious honor the national military organization gave, was headed to the Air Force Academy. ButGreen, who dreamed of nothing but being a Marine, was worried that his best friend was blowing it.Just two weeks earlier Graham had been relieved of his Civil Air Patrol command by adult officers.Now this post-midnight visit."We were never here, okay?" said Graham emphatically. "If anyone asks, we were never here.""What's goin' on?" asked Green."You don't want to know," Graham repeated. "Don't ask any questions. We were never here. This never happened."Green looked at Zamora. "David, it hurts," she said to Graham. She was rubbing her right hand, still heavily bandaged from the September accident in which she wrecked Graham's pickup truck--and nearly lost her life. As far as Green was concerned, Zamora was a large cause of his friend's problems. With apirations of being an astronaut, Zamora had also joined the Civil Air Patrol. Everything was fine until that hot Tuesday evening a few months before, when Graham and Zamora began nudging each other affectionately at a C.A.P. meeting. Now they were engaged to be married."It's going to be okay," Graham told Zamora, Then he turned to Green. "Can we stay for a while?""Okay. Okay," Green nodded. "Sure."Graham was, after all, his commanding officer as well as best friend. With their fellow cadet Joseph Uekusa, they had shared many a good time over the last couple of years and Green considered Graham as close as a brother. "We were all on the samewavelength," Green would recall. "We all knew what we were going to do with our lives." All they dreamed of was living lives of patriotic duty--Graham in the Air Force, Green and Uekusa in the Marines--as members of anti-narcotics and covert operations teams fighting evil in South America, the Middle East and Asia. "Uekusa was so hardcore," said Green, "he considered the Air Force a civilian branch of government."David, who had a pilot's license at age 14, wanted to join the American equivalent of the British Special Air Service, the elite of the elite in counterterrorism. "He always talked about how he'd some day be flying me and Uekusa in to some covert place and drop us off and leave us," said Green. And Green and Uekusa wanted nothing more than to be dropped off in the jungles of enemy territory.While roaming the back roads in Graham's old pickup truck or sitting around tables in the Brahms Diner or the Dairy Queen, the three discussed the world's hotspots, allowing the Irish Republican Army a grudging respect for fighting against British imperialism and hating drug lords for poisoning America's youth. They considered themselves hard realists about the world and girded themselves for that. They made themselves good with guns--collected them, cleaned them, fired them--and hardened their bodies with constant push-ups and sit-ups, miles of running in the rain, sleeping in bags on hard floors.Next to Green's sleeping bag was a wall of floor-to-ceiling shelves that held mostly the stuff of battle--knives,ammunition, rope, gas masks, an AK-47 pouch, aerospace manuals--much of it belonging to David Graham, who, except for the last couple of months, seemed to spend as much time at Green's house as his own.The younger teen now motioned toward a section of the carpeted floor near his small writing desk, just a couple feet from his own sleeping bag. "Sure, stay if you want," he said.Green hadn't seen Graham for a few weeks, itself an indication of how things had changed lately. But Graham hadn't been himself ever since the summer, when he returned from a week-long international cadet exchange program in Ottawa. He had lost his virginity to a Royal Australian Air Force cadet named "Helen" and for weeks could talk about nothing else. And no sooner had Green and Uekusa convinced him that he couldn't carry on a love affair from halfway around the world--"Graham, why don't you find someone who at least lives in the States?" Green had laughed--Graham took up with Zamora, which had even more serious consequences."For one thing, she was an N.C.O.," recalled Green, "a noncommissioned officer, so there was a conflict in rank. Besides that, he was her commanding officer. A lot of times she'd just not do stuff because she could get away with it."Worse, Graham lost his edge. He started skipping C.A.P. meetings and haircuts. He began wearing rings--not trinkets, but gaudy things that cost $50 and $100 at the mall--and rock music T-shirts. Heoutfitted his beat-up pickup with $2000 worth of new stereo equipment, paid for with his dad's credit card, bought a pager and, for a few weeks, was calling Green from a new cellular phone. And he became irresponsible with guns. He fired off one of his Russian-made machine guns in his front yard and once put a hole through the floor of his bedroom with one; he especially liked his 9-mm Russian Makarov pistol, which he had begun to carry around with him. Green remembered the time he and Uekusa took the firing pin out of the Makarov as a joke."He and Zamora went out with it," Green recalled, "and he came back really mad. He didn't think it was so funny. He said some wild dogs came up on them and he was going to shoot them, but couldn't. It was pretty strange."It was a remarkable transformation for the ramrod-straight boy who carried the flag to the middle of the Mansfield High football field at halftime and whom Green and Uekusa counted on to figure out what to do in a crisis. These days Graham seemed to be doing just fine creating his own crises.One of the last times Green had seen his friend was the month before, when Graham returned from the regional cross-country competition in Lubbock, talking not about the race, but of another sexual conquest. "He told me that he had gotten it on with a girl from the track meet," recalled Green. "But I didn't know who she was or where she was from. He just said things got a little crazy."But by then, Green had stopped paying attention.Graham was going off the deep end. Losing his C.A.P. command twelve days earlier, a threat to Graham's lifelong Air Force dream, should have straightened him, Green thought.Instead, Graham was standing in Green's bedroom at two o'clock in the morning, a few weeks before Christmas, insisting, "We were never here."Green wondered if his friend hadn't finally gotten in trouble with the law. Graham had taken to speeding the backroads, 60, 70, 80 miles an hour, drinking beer and partying. Maybe he'd peeled out in front of some cop and needed to hide out; didn't want his parents to know.Leaving the lights to his tree on, Green lay back down on his bag on the floor while Graham and Zamora tiptoed across the hallway to the bathroom. Green could hear the water running.A few moments later Graham came back in the bedroom and asked if he could borrow a pair of shorts. Graham had on a pair of jeans and a gray track shirt, but Green couldn't see much in the holiday light."Don't ask," said Graham again, guessing what his friend was thinking. "We were never here. This never happened.""Okay, sure. That's cool," said Green again, handing a pair of his black shorts to Graham, who went back to the bathroom.The pair was running water for what seemed like 30 minutes. When they finally returned to the bedroom, Graham was wearing the shorts, but hadn't changed his shirt. The two lay right down besideGreen's desk. No pad, no blanket. Graham wrapped his arm around Zamora, who was shivering--then sobbing.Green was just beginning to doze off when Graham got up. "We gotta go," he said.Green went to the window, gave Graham another P.J. and said good-bye."Remember, this never happened," he said. "This is classified. Top secret. Okay?""Yeah," said Green. "So, put my screen back on.""Thanks, man. You're my best friend."The next morning Green went in to the bathroom to make sure his friends hadn't left a mess. He was concerned there would be bandages or dirt lying around. But the room was clean. Graham never returned Green's shorts and Green never asked about them. Top secret. None of them ever talked about that night again.Copyright © 1998, 2000 by Peter Meyer.
Excerpted from Blind Love by Peter Meyer. Copyright © 2011 Peter Meyer. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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