Before the Story Begins: This next story is fictional but based around historical events. The characters are fictional and are not meant to represent any particular real-life person. The intent is to honor both military veterans and what we have come to appreciate during this crisis many everyday unsung heroes such as the health services heroes. But not just health services heroes but many other people that we take for granted and barely notice until they make a mistake or inconvenience us.
I have thought about writing an essay, post or story honoring our everyday heroes. When I started thinking about it, I realized in many ways those of us who take our talents, abilities, and vocations seriously and try to do our best benefit someone. That doesn’t make us all heroes, but it makes us vital to one another (I Corinthians 12: 15 – 25). This is the underlying theme of this story. For some the risk can be greater, even life or death. Wartime emphasizes that most because that life/death risk affects all, some greater than others, but some risk to all.
In my hometown of Evansville, Indiana many factories produced or repaired weapons and other war materials during WWII. LSTs and P-47 Thunderbolts were produced here in Evansville as well. It is rumored that Evansville was on a short list of possible enemy targets during that war. My father and most of my uncles were in the military during WWII, my father in Europe. My grandfather and other relatives worked in the factories, my grandfather in the shipyards. None of them considered themselves heroes because none of them were constantly under fire daily and many of them never experienced ballistic attack. I write this story to honor them all. I write this to honor today’s COVID 19 heroes whether the risk is highest or not as high. Thank you and may God bless. Finally, here is my story.
“Would you like a cigarette, Naomi?” Private Stan Mason pokes the butt of his American brand cigarette under Naomi Kingery’s nose.
Naomi shakes her head and curls her lip, “I don’t see what you like about those things. My brother gave me one once. I didn’t care for the taste and it didn’t like me much, either.”
Pvt. Mason laughs, “They grow on you.” He notices the cup in her hands and adds, “Like that tainted water there. Awful becomes can’t -live-without.”
“I guess we all have our vices.”
Captain Don Hadley joins them. Pvt. Mason offers up a cigarette to the doctor who accepts it gladly.
“Thank you, Mason,” Capt. Hadley says as he bends over the small flame of Pvt. Mason’s lighter.
Straightening to his full six feet two inches, Hadley apologizes to Naomi for leaning across in front of her. She dismisses it with a wave of her hand. In the back of her mind, she admits to finding the brief moment of closeness to Don Hadley enjoyable. She would never admit it to him, though – at least not in front of Stan.
Stan raises an eyebrow when he notices a gleam in Naomi’s eye as she watches Capt. Hadley exhale three perfectly oval rings of smoke into the air.
“Do you like football, Doc?” Stan asks trying to divert Naomi’s attention away from the tall, blond, east coast suave Capt. Hadley.
“Tennis is my game, private,” Don replies punctuating every word with a puff of smoke. “American football’s fun to watch, though.”
“Yeah, well football is my game. I lettered in it in high school – all-division linebacker my senior year,” Stan stretches his five foot eight inch frame to it’s fullest and then flicks his still smoldering cigarette butt into the air and watches it soar and land.
“I can believe that. You’re pretty solidly built,” Don Hadley admits.
“I could never understand the game. Always confuses me why that sometimes you get to keep the ball longer than other times,” Naomi shares without taking her eyes off the young doctor.
“Feel that, Doc,” Stan throws his bicep purposely in front of Naomi’s face who just happens to be standing between the two men.
“Impressive,” Don Hadley glances at the rolled up sleeve on the arm of his WWII Army subordinate.
The conversation between the nurse, the doctor, and the truck driver takes place outside the Evacuation Hospital in Moorsburg, Germany. Capt. Hadley and Lt. Naomi Kingery are taking a much needed break after a surgery on a wounded Russian soldier. Many soldiers of several allied troops had recently been liberated from a German Prisoner of War camp. Many of them like the Russian soldier suffer from poorly treated war wounds. Stan drove several of the less ambulatory POW wounded here.
Don drops his cigarette butt to the ground and grinds it under his foot,”I’m going to head back in and to the next patient. There’s still plenty to do in there.”
Naomi takes the doctor’s declaration as a hint and follows him in after first giving Stan a snap goodbye and good luck. Stan watches them walk in to the tented hospital building and crawls back into his truck.
Stan has been part of a motor ambulance company for some time now during the war. He has seen a lot of the devastation of war, especially the physical harm to the allied wounded. He’s seen severe wounds, mutilations and now with these POWs, malnutrition and critical illnesses of all kinds. He feels lucky but also struggles with some guiltiness that it’s them and not him.
Stan began to whistle a tune he heard on the radio while in training back in South Carolina. Soon the tune washed away the current reality of war and the distance from his itinerant farm home in Iowa.
Stan began to sing, ” ‘What did they do when everything looked so dark? Man, they said, “We’d better accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative. And latch on to the affirmative. Don’t mess with Mister In-Between.” ‘ ” *
The 1/4 ton Jeep truck bounces and squeaks from the makeshift road from the tent hospital to the liberated prisoner of war camp.
* (Ach-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive, Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen)
Categories: Short Story
I write about what I'm thinking or what I've imagined in an effort to regain that childhood imagination and marry with my many years of real experiences. I'm getting better at it the more I write.I am a published author of two romantic intrigue novels.My books can be found at Amazon.com or if you want a personalized copy, by emailing me at email@example.com.