Weak Character Mistakes
Her "improved" version was more descriptive, more elaborated, but I'm not sure I saw how it strengthened the character -- what did y'all think?
"Devil's Laundry Room"? A good metaphor, but did it describe how the character felt about where he lived, where he was serving, or about himself?
The fat guy snoring? Yes, it covered his sneaking back in, but did it underscore a sense of commaraderie with said fat guy or with the other soldiers who might have been getting in trouble for our hero and his accomplice's malfeasance? That remained unaddressed. Does he disdain his fellows? Their lack of derring-do to go AWOL like him?
It's a character-development problem: the hero is acting anti-socially, he's not being a team player, he's putting others at risk and putting undue pressure on his relationships with them, he's being dishonest, selfish, yes. But...he's also taking a personal risk. He's thumbing his nose at an important, powerful, social institution -- the Army -- think what you will about the Army, it doesn't take kindly to its rules being flaunted and has the power to retaliate. Even if the others don't take the rap or are put under the pressure to rat him out by the sergeant, he himself is risking getting in serious trouble.
The Army probably keeps track of people missing muster, so this may not go away just by his getting into bed in time in time to muster for reveille next morning. What does he think about the possible long-term repercussions?
If he can just slough all that off, then it says a lot about his character, his devil-may-care attitude. Why did he do it? Revenge on somebody on the outside? A lover? A woman.....or a man? Family duty, unfinished business, unfulfilled promises. Just to see if he could get away with it? On a lark? Or in case it really mattered later? To test the sergeant?
If he did it for some of those reasons, then maybe he was deeply conflicted, deeply afraid, has trouble making those kinds of moral and risk-based decisions. Maybe that will come up later when he's under pressure later in life or on the battlefield, and this vignette will help us to believe the choice he makes then. Lost opportunity for foreshadowing, among other things, I think.
Maybe he's a drunk or an addict and he just needed his fix, or he couldn't stand to put his hand to the plough without looking back, or he just had to have one more hot link with mustard and saurkraut from Vinny's Deli down on 3rd Avenue and Morrison, where his dad met his mum or whatever, or where Vinny gave him a break when nobody else would. Maybe Vinny told him he had to get serious about this army thing, and not .... [do that thing he always did]...and get his butt back to those barracks and quit screwing around with his life.
All that and dozens of other questions could have been answered, addressed, hinted at, in the situation, but I didn't see that they were. Did we know anything more about our hero than we did before? Will it inform our take on his journey henceforth? I'm not so sure.
Maybe the authoress didn't think about those kinds of issues that might come up for her character in such a situation, maybe she couldn't because she didn't have the background or what-have-you, maybe she should've taken more time and care...or maybe not written about it at all.