Lost Angels

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Finally home. After four years of war hell.

Five minutes flying time to the broken German city. My duty is to the country, the aircrew, myself, in that order.

Ruthie will be waiting at the railway station, white coat, white shoes, white hat. My angel. Her baby blue eyes will fix on mine. I will bend her backwards. Her honey lips will meet mine. I’m burning to meet her.

Four minutes to where petrified women and children cower. How could we rain hell on them? Hitler’s down on his knees, bruised and battered, all done in.

On the concourse women linger. Mothers, wives, lovers. Some hopeful, some anxious. Every shadow throws a clue to the arrivals. Every guy gets the eye.

Three minutes to ponder what I’m doing on my stomach in this bubble on the bird’s nose. I didn’t ask to be a bomb aimer. I asked to be a wireless operator.

I wait at the centre, bright sunlight running stripes over me. Worn out suitcase packed tight with khaki, photos, letters. Around me, men find their angels. I don’t see mine.

Two minutes for the bird to ride the flak. My stomach is in my neck. Above the roar of four mighty engines the whine and bang of shells exploding. Air thick with the smell of aviation fuel, oil and cordite.

A woman steps into my air. Her fingers fuss my suit buttons.

‘Hi, Mom.’

‘I’m going away, Jimmy. I’ve come to say goodbye.’

Isn’t she pleased to see me? A survivor, an endangered species?

‘Don’t mess, Mom.’

‘Canada.’

I smell expensive perfume. Notice the pea-sized gem on her finger. The sable coat. The shiny black high heels. The green felt hat. She looks good. More than good. Glowing.

‘Canada?’

‘With Joseph.’

‘Joseph Lippman?’

Joey Lippman, draft dodger. Crew cut, bent-nosed, stomach straining a diamond white shirt. Always chewing on a big fat Havana.

‘When?’

‘Tomorrow.’

Her letters. Cannot wait. Come home soon. I’ll be waiting..

‘Where’s Ruthie?’

‘There’s no Ruthie, Jimmy. There never was.’

One minute. I key bomb load, altitude, and wind direction into the bombsight. A flipped crescent projects itself on to the sighting glass. Right hand grips the bomb release selectors. Sweat trickles between my fingers. The city center looms in the cross hairs.

Then.

This isn’t right. I can’t do this to innocent women and children. I just can’t. My fingers relax. There will be an enquiry when we return. The squadron will brand me a coward. I will not escape the court-marshal.

Mom’s hand settles on my cheek. ‘Why Jimmy? Didn’t you figure the consequences?’

‘Mom, I couldn’t­–’

‘Just like your father. No guts. Just rolled over when I told him about Joseph.’

Two military policemen clamp my sides. ‘James Benjamin Dahlberg? Come with us, mister.’

 


Submitted: April 29, 2020

© Copyright 2021 pchis1. All rights reserved.

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