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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story about a young boy who has a father in the military and whose great grandfather and grandfather served in the military.

Submitted: June 29, 2015

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Submitted: June 29, 2015





By: Arrow Ashton

A grandfather, a brother, a son, a grandson, and a great grandson. A ninety year old, an eighty-seven year old, a sixty-three year old, a thirty-five year old, and a ten year old. World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and Afghanistan. The generations have their own tragic stories to tell but each and every one of them still stands with a smile on their faces, and the great grandson, sits in awe and wonder at the feet of his great grandfather, great great uncle, and grandfather as they tell their stories with such intensity and passion that the ten year gets nearly as excited. Of course some of the stories are a little embellished, but what is a good story without a little embellishment? The boy is named after his father and grandfather, William Jackson Smith. William being his grandfather’s name and Jackson being his father’s name. The boy is called Lucky by everyone, for when Lucky was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped so tightly around his neck that his face was blue and his little neck was bruised. He was born early and it was unknown if the small baby would live. The doctors had told his mother that the chances were slim. Yet little Lucky defied the odds, and then nearly didn’t survive. He survived the choking of the umbilical cord but then got very very sick. He was in intensive care for over two weeks, and the hospital monitored him for another couple of weeks the illness was so serious. He had been so close to death, his mother had cried so many tears, his father had been whisked away to Afghanistan while he was sick, and that left his mother with her grandparents for support even though Lucky’s father always wrote a letter everyday to home. Little Lucky survived the illness and became very healthy despite the scare that he had given everyone. He was the only great grandson after all right now. Ten years later he sits at the feet of three men who had proudly served their country. Lucky’s father was still in Afghanistan. Lucky had met his father twice and could only remember him from when he was seven years old and the memory was vague, even though he had been seven. He received letters from his father regularly and always wrote back, even though he had rarely seen his father, he still loved him dearly. To make up for it, Lucky would see his great grandfather Raymond, who was always called Ray, his grandfather William, who was always called Will, and his great grandfather’s brother Leslie. They would tell him story after story. Today, Lucky’s mother had told him that it was a very special day, because it was great grandpa Ray’s birthday. They had all had cake and ice cream, any other family did not live near here and would celebrate Ray’s birthday when Christmas came around. Now great grandpa Ray sat in a plush recliner, grandpa Will sat on the couch, and Uncle Leslie sat next to him. The recliner that Ray sat in was a dark chocolate brown and was very inviting in the dark blue living room that was accented in chocolate brown and white. The couch was dark blue with blue and white striped pillows which Lucky now had laid side by side and laid on his stomach on them to listen to the stories. His mother was in the kitchen cleaning up the food and games that they had made a mess of .

“Lucky, did I ever tell you the story of when I nearly lost my leg when I fought in World War II?” Ray asked Lucky. Lucky looked up at the wrinkled face of his great grandfather, while his face was wrinkled, his eyes still shown a piercing bright blue, holding a treasure trove of stories, both in and out of the war. Ray was a very lively ninety-one year old and his laughter was contagious. There was not a soul in the world who had ever met Ray and not laughed because of him. Ray’s wife had died several years prior but that never stopped Ray from smiling. Ella had been a grumpy old woman since the day they had married Ray would always say. His wrinkles were mostly from smiling and laughing, very few were from age. He had a salt and pepper neatly trimmed beard and still had a full head of white hair. He looked a little bit like a lumberjack in that respect.

“No great grandpa you haven’t,” Lucky said now very eager to hear this story.

“Well now let me tell you, but you gotta do one thing for me first,” Ray said with a sparkle in his eyes and both of the other gentlemen smiled.

“Anything great grandpa!” Lucky said now very excited.

“Go fetch me some of that cider your mother made for me today will ya?” Ray said with a very playful childlike smile on his face. Lucky darted into the kitchen which was separated from the living room by a dining table and a counter. His mother, Lucybeth, already had it ready and Lucky carefully brought it over to Ray. Ray licked his lips and thanked Lucky.

“Thank you lad, now for that story,” Ray said after taking a few sips of the hot cider and setting it on the table between the couch and the chair. Lucky was on his stomach on the pillows, chin propped up on his elbows and his eyes glittering with anticipation.

“Now, let me think, oh yes I remember. My friends and I were sent on a special mission. You see a couple of soldiers had been captured and it was trusted with us to retrieve them. Boy were we in for a surprise. The Japanese knew we were coming and we walked right into their trap,” Ray said with his hands gesturing as he spoke and his eyes intently on Lucky who was unmoving and waiting for the next part.

“We were walking through some jungle because we knew where the captured soldiers were and out of nowhere, we were suddenly being shot at! We started running for our lives while trying to fire back. We ran to where the captured soldiers were and shot down the surrounding guards which weren’t many to begin with. We were being fired at and one of my buddies was shot in the shoulder. While another was shot three or four times in the torso. I was sure we were going to die. I was hit with a bullet in the thigh twice, which don’t sound too bad but after we managed to gun down the guards and busted our captured friends we made a beeline for the jungle which was a horrible stupid mistake. We had no idea where we were or what we were doing!” Ray said while stopping to take a drink of cider.

“Oh you ain’t seen nothing of jungle dad!” William said who had fought in Vietnam.

“You hush, I’m telling the boy a story!” Ray responded quickly but playfully. Will held his hands up in innocence. Ray resumed his story while Lucky was sitting and waiting anxiously for what was to come next.

“We wandered and wandered and wandered, we had two wounded, three including me, and four malnourished and dehydrated escapees. It wasn’t easy to try to keep the sanity, we wandered and survived out in that jungle for over two weeks. My buddy Jacob who had been shot in the shoulder wasn’t doing too well. His shoulder had gotten infected and I didn’t realize it at the time but so were the two wounds that I had. By chance or miracle or God, I do not know, we made it out and in the distance I could see a base of some sort. It looked like ours and it looked close. In reality it, it was about a two days trip at the rate we were going. My other buddy Luke had lost a lot of blood and was probably the worst off and Jacob’s health was suddenly plummeting faster than before. The four malnourished soldiers were not doing well either even though they were used to this. I was the strongest and I realized that this would be the longest two days trip of my life if we weren’t noticed sooner. I started marching forward and we made it a little ways before Luke collapsed and I carried him on my shoulders despite having been shot twice and malnourished, I would not leave a soldier behind. Luke eventually went unconscious, I could have sworn he was dead, but we marched on. Soon one of the malnourished soldiers dropped and Jacob bravely carried him despite his bad shoulder. We trudged on and on and on, Jacob eventually fell as well. We were a couple days away from safety and treatment and they were dropping like flies. I had the other three malnourished and starving soldiers help drag those two on makeshift mats that they pulled those two on while I continued to carry Luke. When we stopped for the night, I thought we were going to lose Luke. He had lost so much blood and his wounds were deeply infected,” Ray stopped again for another sip of cider.

“I don’t think you ever told me this story dad,” Will said with a bit of curiosity in his voice.

“I did too, you just didn’t listen,” Ray retorted like a child.

“Now, I was a day away from base and I had guys dropping all around me and I suddenly got an idea of what I was going to do in the morning. When the morning came, I checked Luke’s heartbeat, which was faint but there. I put Luke, Jacob, and one malnourished soldier on the mat and told the other three to stay put, even though they were so exhausted that they couldn’t move. I dragged that mat for I don’t know how long, but it left enough of a trail with the three men on it to find my way back to the other three and I piled them on and dragged them to the other three. I was in massive pain but I ignored it and continued this pattern until finally we were so close to base at sunset that a patrol group found me bringing the second three up to the first three. We were immediately rushed into a hospital. They identified us and my gosh was there a celebration. Yet while I was in the hospital they threatened to amputate my leg, to which I refused. I said I could walk it off and they didn’t believe me. So I proved them wrong!” Ray said finishing his story with a hearty laughed. Lucky looked up at his great grandfather with such fascination that it was laughable.

“You did all that great grandpa?” he asked almost in shock.

“Yes Lucky I did, ain’t that something?” he said as if it were no big deal.

“You always play off like that was nothing Ray, but you eventually got a congressional medal of honor for what you did,” Lucybeth said from the kitchen.

“Hush woman, I didn’t get no such thing!” Ray teased her and Lucybeth gave a small smile. It had been so long since anyone had heard her laugh, and who could blame her? The last time she saw her husband had been three years prior on a short visit, he had never been truly home since he had been deployed while Lucky was sick in the hospital.

“Alright, well if you’re finished Ray, I’ve got a good story for you Lucky,” Leslie said and Lucky turned toward his great great uncle who had been in the Korean War in a MASH unit. Lucky turned toward him curiously.

“Do you remember me telling you about the roomy that I had?” Leslie asked Lucky.

“Yeah wasn’t he really silly or something?” Lucky asked.

“That’s the one, Buddy Yotter, man oh man could he perform surgery and manage to make it funny. There was one time though where we were sent to the front to help save a man who couldn’t be moved unless instantly operated on. There were bullets everywhere even though we were medics, they still shot at us! I thought for sure I was going to die, seeing as I had no weapons with me and no means of protection and we thought we had already lost the wounded guy by the time we got there and had to perform the faster operation I’ve ever done. Yet in the thick of all of it Buddy says ‘Well on the bright side, if those bullets had been extremely small pillows, this fellow would be only minorly bruised.’ and I thought for sure Buddy had lost his mind at that point. He hadn’t, lord knows he hadn’t lost his mind because the operation we had to perform on that injured man when we were back at the MASH unit was an extensive and very very precise operation. Most doctors never have to do it but don’t normally do it one hundred percent right, but Buddy did. He saved the guy’s life, the guy was actually sent home and eventually became a very famous musician,” Leslie said with a look of longing as he talked about his friend Buddy Yotter who had become his best friend and like another brother to him. Lucybeth had a small smile on her face as Leslie talked about his best friend. Lucky looked at Leslie, obviously impressed with the story.

“Well how about a story from grandpa Will?” Lucky’s grandfather said and Lucky smiled wide and nodded. The two on the couch could not have looked more different even though they were uncle and nephew. Leslie had dark but warm glittering brown eyes and a wrinkled face as well. Similar to Ray’s, you could tell that Ray and Leslie were brothers. While Will looked more like his dad with bright smiling blue eyes and gray hair going white and a cleancut mustache. Leslie and Will looked absolutely nothing alike.

“Now, I was in Vietnam and my oh my was it hot some days, and other parts of the year, it rained and rained and rained and rained. It was during one of those storms that we had a crisis. Some men were deserting, which made absolutely no sense, I can understand why they didn’t want the war, but that did not require them to desert. I was charged with, along with some others, to go out and catch two deserters. In the rain. The heavy rain that didn’t seem to end. We went out anyway looking for these two deserters. We searched for days, we never lost track of where our base was but we had to watch out for the Vietcong and other fighters against us. There were several times where we thought we were going to be killed just trying to find these guys,” Will was saying when the doorbell rang.

“I got it,” Lucybeth said and walked over to the door. She was a beautiful woman, shorter than most, her hair was a long wavy brown, a little longer than midway down her back. Her eyes were a dimly lit gray, the last time they had been bright was when Lucky’s father had been home for a short time. She opened the door and an older gentleman in military attire stood there and Lucybeth just smiled.

“He’s just inside there with Lucky,” Lucybeth said to him before shutting the door behind him.

“Lucybeth who’s here?” Ray called.

“It’s the one and only Buddy Yotter,” Lucybeth said with a wide smile.

“Buddy?” Leslie said in what sounded like shock. Buddy hobbled into the living room with a happy old man smile.

“Remember me?” he teased Leslie.

“Remember? You? Are you kidding?” Leslie laughed and got up and hugged the man. Buddy and Leslie went and sat over in the kitchen to continue talking and catching up. Lucky looked at Will a little confused.

“Was that the man Leslie was talking about earlier?” Lucky whispered to Will. Both Will and Ray looked slightly teary eyed.

“Yes Lucky, and one day you’ll realize just how special that moment was, now I’m going to finish my story,” Will said solemnly.

“Eventually we gave the two men up for dead and on our final day, trudging home thinking of ways to say that we gave them up for dead. Well as we were doing that we were suddenly being expertly fired at and so we fired back. Once they stopped shooting we knew they were out of ammunition. We called them out and they moved forward with their hands up in surrender. It was probably one of the most odd surrenders there ever was. They ran away, tried to kill us, and still ended up surrendering us. The army took care of those two but the story I have ends with the fact that I still know all those men today, including the two deserters. The moral of the story that I have for you Lucky, is that letters are always the best way to let someone know you care. They’re personal and you’re able to keep those and they have a real meaning. Remember that,” Will said and Lucky rolled his eyes. He knew the importance of letters, he wrote to his dad everyday, and he received one nearly everyday from his dad, but Grandpa Will always had to have a moral to his story. Now Lucky looked back at Uncle Leslie and this Buddy Yotter. Lucybeth suddenly answered their questions.

“I invited Buddy here to see Leslie because I know Leslie’s granddaughter and found out that he doesn’t live too far from here. So I invited him over,” she said and went back to cleaning up the kitchen. Lucky went back to looking at his great grandfather and grandfather who continued telling them stories. Some of the wars and some of their childhood, the father and son duo shared a common trait in loving to tell stories. While everyone was talking Lucybeth was looking out the window down their long driveway that she always imagined watching her husband walking up towards the house when he came home. Sadly, it was always just a dream in her mind. Once she finished the kitchen she looked up sadly at the drive and went downstairs to do some organizing that she had been putting off. When she came back up the stairs she happened to glance out the window and saw a uniformed figure walking up the driveway. Tears were instantly streaming down her face and she ran crying out of the house and into her soldier’s arms. He caught her and wrapped her up so tight in his arms that for just a few moments she forgot the whole world. From inside the house Lucky could see his mother hugging the man and he vaguely recognized him.

“Who is that grandpa?” Lucky asked.

“That would be your father Lucky, my son is home,” Will said with his voice cracking slightly and a tear rolling down his cheek. Lucky sprinted out of the house and his mother moved out of the way just fast enough so that Lucky’s father could catch him in an enormous bear hug. Tears rolled down all three of their faces. Lucky’s father, Jack, stood up and passionately kissed his beloved wife.

“You said you weren’t able to come home. Your time wasn’t up yet,” she sobbed into his neck.

“I know I did, but my beautiful wife, I have been honorably discharged. I don’t have to go back, I’ve been sent home and I’m staying home,” he said wrapping his arms around her small frame.

“You’re staying home now?” Lucky asked looking up at his father who’s eyes were a bright blue, and Lucky’s eyes matched them. Jack smiled wide at his son and nodded.

“That’s right Lucky, I’m home, and I’m not going anywhere anymore,” Jack said and Lucky hugged his father as tight as he could before the three walked into the house where the four older gentlemen were smiling wide. Lucybeth was holding Jack’s arm and smiling brighter than the sun.

“That smile, I have not seen since the last time Jack was home,” Ray said.

“It’s not going away anytime soon. He’s home now,” Lucybeth said and Will looked surprised at his son.

“What does she mean son?” Will asked.

“I was honorably discharged. I no longer am an active duty soldier,” Jack said as he hugged his father. Needless to say all five men, Ray, Leslie, Will, Buddy, and Jack all talked for a very long time with Lucky sitting beside his father on the floor after they finished wrestling on the floor which made Lucybeth laugh.

“Well that’s a beautiful sound to have graced my ears!” Ray said smiling at Lucybeth who just smiled and went and sat in a chair in the living room with all the other men in the room.

As anyone could have guessed, since Jack was home, it wasn’t too much longer before Lucybeth and Jack announced that they were pregnant again despite the age gap between the new baby and Lucky was indeed, lucky. 

© Copyright 2018 Arrow Ashton. All rights reserved.

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