Chapter 1: Off to War
I can’t remember the last time I heard the rain falling this hard. The cold wind dancing through the window, slowly brushing up against me as I laid on my bed looking up at the wooden ceiling. Every now and then the wind would bring along a drop of rain making it land on my leg. I watched it tentatively as it ran down leaving its legacy behind.
I pushed my body up now sitting; I turned my head to look out the window to see the grey pale sky. I always wondered why I liked the sky most when it became concealed with clouds. I could always look up and let my mind run wild, exploring every possible question yet never really finding the answers to any of them, I never minded. Life is always filled with unanswered questions. My attention was drawn to the noise outside my bedroom.
I could hear my parents talking in the other room about me not going, about how it was suicide to go out there with a plane and defend what has given them life. War is something no one really likes to talk about yet it happens in everyday life, whether it’s internally or externally, God knows most of my battles take place internally. Life has always been a bit difficult for me in that aspect, ever since I was a child I knew I was different though I’d never let anyone see it. I spent most of my teenage years trying to be like everyone else, I had my own group of friends and a passion for adventure.
My father walked into the room with his hands behind his back and nodded only once. My father was a quiet man who valued the name he carried and hoped his child would carry those same values. “You’re an Arcklow,” he would say whenever I was about to compete in tournament as if the name itself was a source of invisibility. I kept my eyes fixed on him as he left the room to attend to my mother who I could hear sobbing from the kitchen. Without wasting another minute I picked up my green bag threw it over my shoulder and walked out of my room ready to embark on the journey ahead. It was time for John Arcklow to be his own man.
I looked at my parents and saw my mother’s eye bloodshot red, I walked over to her kissed her forehead and whispered “I’ll be home soon”, I turned to my father and gave him a strong hug, I felt him pull me even closer as if he was telling me not to go. Once I walked over to the brown wooden door I nodded my head at them and walked into the rain shutting the door behind me wondering if that was going to be the last time I ever saw them.
I felt the rain bouncing around me as if it were building a protective aura to shield me from the world around me; I almost smiled at the thought of it. The path to the train station was muddy; I could smell the carbon from the train and see the black smoke puffing into the air from a block away. I looked around and saw the same houses I would walk by my whole life only this time they looked different, they looked empty. Alone. The war had really impacted England; many people said it wasn’t very safe to live in the country while this crazy madness was going on. I wanted to tell myself this was the reason why I was going to fight but even I didn’t buy into that.
Before I knew it I arrived at the train station only to see a group of officers and a few soldiers getting on the train. I walked over to the nearest one; he was in a cadet uniform, most likely volunteering trying to feel like he was part of the war. Once I was face to face with him I noticed he was no older than 16, he was carrying a wooden clipboard with a sheet on it and looked right at me.
“Jack Arcklow,” I replied.
“Arcklow welcome aboard soldier,”
I can safely say that was the only communication I had for the rest of the night. I boarded the train and made my way towards the end of it. I looked around to see a few soldiers here and there but mostly everyone was quiet and scattered. Keeping my eyes forward I manage to find a spot far enough from everyone. I placed my bag overhead, sat down, took one deep breath and closed my eyes.
The sound of thunder caused me to wake up with fear and uncertainty. I had almost forgotten where I was but the sound of the tracks soon made me realize it, I was on a train, headed towards London. I looked down at my uniform and almost felt like a stranger in it, a pilot and soldier of England fighting against the Germans.
The engine slowly came to a halt; I looked out the window and managed to see a group of Officers outside the train waiting to greet the soldiers who were being dropped off. I really wasn’t looking forward to meeting any one of them, let alone shake their hand.
As soon as I got off the train an Officer who looked like he had been punched in the face 20 times greeted me.
“Welcome soldier, I’m commander Rhodes, I’ll be in charge of your squad for the next week. If you have any questions please come see me.”
“Yes, Sir.” I responded with no real emotion or effort to engage in a conversation. Before I was able to make a run for the car an Officer tapped me on the shoulder.
“Soldier is this yours?”
I turned to see a soldier in an Officer uniform and a Royal Distinguished medal pinned on his chest. I looked right at his face and was immediately drawn to his green eyes and froze.
“Soldier is this yours?”
Somehow I couldn’t put the words coming out of his mouth together until I looked down and saw my bag with my tag attached to it.
“I thought so, all the other soldiers had their bag and you were the only one without one, seems like you were in a hurry to get out of here,”
“Actually Sir I was I had a rough day and I have no mind to meet and greet.”
“That’s perfectly understandable but listen soldier don’t call me Sir, call me Grayson, Grayson Kent.”
“Yes, Sir I mean Grayson Sir.”
I felt like an idiot right now all I wanted to do was to get the hell in the car and ignore everyone else like I have for the last day. Something about this Officer seemed to have me babbling like an idiot, he was the very thing I’m was trying to run from.
“Thank you Grayson.”
I took my bag from his hand and walked away quickly before he could get another word in. What the hell is going on with me the only reason why I chose to join the air force was to prove to myself that I am a man regardless of what I craved or whom I wanted to be with. I was born a man and the air force was going to teach me what that meant. It was that simple it was something I had to do whether my heart was in it or not, it was the right thing to do and no one was going to get in my way.
The car we drove in seemed to be one of the newer versions Ford seemed to construct. It fit 5 people and the seats themselves were leather. I ran to catch the window seat of the car that way I had a chance to gaze out and create some random fantasy within my head.
London had changed dramatically since the last time I was here. Back in November of last year I came to attend a flight academy session in order to learn the basics as well as to fight and handle a gun just in case the situation called for it. It was now January and most of the buildings have been bombed to the ground. Every street we drove through had reminded us of how bad this war has gotten. We kept driving until we pulled up in front of a theater.
The building itself was beautiful, the lights lit up the whole front and the sign on top read the name of some movie along with price of the show. I imagine seeing people getting all dressed up on a Friday night and walking towards the theater to kill some time and find entertainment of some sort. What a night that must have been.
Chapter 2: Captain
I stepped out of the car and felt a group of soldiers dash pass me running through the doors. I walked up to the glass door of the theater and pushed inward, I stood there in utter suspense and had no words. This place was amazing. The walls were dark red and on each one contained a small British flag draped along to remind us of what we were fighting for. Right in the middle of the room were two staircases that curved, one to the left and one to the right and in the middle of them was a crystal chandelier, which elegantly hanged from the ceiling. It felt as if I were in the King’s palace. I looked around and saw all the soldiers gathered up in the lobby and noticed Commander Rhodes starting to walk up the stairs, once he reached the top he stood on a small podium and looked right at us.
“Attention young air soldiers. Welcome to your station, I trust that each of you have attended the flight training back in November and had time to say your goodbyes but I remind you that it is now January 1945 and I wish to end the war this year and with all your help I’m sure we will. Now I am your Commander, the highest authority in this station. If any of you have any questions please don’t be afford to ask your commanding officers or me. Now I want to divide each one of you with your Officer but before I do I want to introduce you to a hero which I know all of you have heard of, straight from Germany where he just took down an entire flight of Nazi air crafts unharmed I want you to welcome Captain Grayson Kent.”
Grayson, Grayson, Grayson why did that name sound so familiar? I suddenly felt a cold knot in my stomach and realized who it was. I drew my eyes towards him as he walked up the stairs to meet with Commander Rhodes.
“Thank you Commander.”
“No! Thank you for being here with us. Now listen up all of you, since Captain Grayson is taking a small break from fighting those bastards he has decided to stay here and take the role of an Officer and watch over you for the rest of the week before you’re made graduates and shipped off to make your country proud and finally end this war.”
All I heard next was a loud screaming roar from the audience as they drew praise towards the Commander and the Captain. After that the Commander began to call the name of each Officer followed by the names of the soldiers he was to watch over. Finally it was Captain Grayson’s turn to announce his squad. The Captain began to read his list each name felt like a bomb on my chest, I attentively heard each name and almost wanted him to call mine but soon snapped into reality and almost prayed he didn’t.
“…Jay, Evans, and Arcklow.”
Crap he called my name! I began to panic a bit and looked up to see the Captain who was now smiling and writing something down followed by him dropping the paper on the Commander’s hand as he walked away. He just had to say my name didn’t he? Don’t stress about it Jack come on this guy probably has a wife and children by the look on his face, there is no way in hell he would ever be single or even into you, and why do I care I want nothing to do with him, he’s my officer for the week that’s all, nothing more nothing less.
After all the soldiers were placed with their officer it was time to rally up and get some sleep. I walked into the room I was assigned and noticed I wasn’t sharing it with the Captain; it would be a dam fucken coincidence if we were. My roommate’s name was Alex Petrol he was average size, very skinny and looked like he would be no trouble. I walked up to the empty bed on the right side of the room and placed my bag right on top of it, I immediately opened it up and took out my toothbrush and walked over to the bathroom. Once I got there I brushed my teeth and splash some water on my face. I looked up at the mirror in front of the sink and noticed small little scratches on it, each scratch seemed like it was riding along with the reflection it emulated. I looked at my face and noticed my grey eyes, they seemed like pools of coldness, as if time had stopped when I looked into them, forever trapped. My face was stern and I had a small little scratch on my chin from shaving the night before. I remembered my home instantly but I had shaken it off right away reminding myself how it was one of the reasons why I am here to shaped my future and forget my past. I heard the door open and held my breath thinking it might be the Captain but it was only another soldier. I felt paranoid with no explanation whatsoever. I picked up my brush and walked back into my room to sink into the only sanctuary I had, sleep.
The bell rang at 6 am sharp which signaled us to get up and get ready for today. I got dressed quickly and found my way down to the lobby. I began to admire the movie posters, each one seemed to have the same message, a strong brave hero and a beautiful defenseless woman cringed to his arms, how I hated it was this way. I fixed my eyes on a specific one, right in front of me stood an image of a beautiful woman dressed in what I could decipher to be very expensive clothing. Her arm rested on her face with a tear running down it and in the far back a sailor stood with such a sad expression on his cold face.
“That one right there is a classic.”
My body jumped into a frozen shock as I heard the soft voice from behind me. I turned around to see Captain Grayson in his uniform looking right at the poster as if it were a candy shop.
“Movies are my passion aside from this, they offer a way to escape from reality even if its just a second, kind of like a book but only most of the imagination part is done for you,” he laughed a bit at that last part.
“Bag boy right?”
“Excuse me Sir?” I replied.
“Your bag boy from yesterday right and for the last time don’t call me that,” he smiled.
“I’m sorry Captain Grayson.”
“Right Grayson sorry,”
“You apologize too much you know that?”
“I know, sorry.”
He looked at me with a puzzled expression and then busted out into laughter.
“So Arcklow have you seen it before?”
“That movie behind you of course.”
“Oh, no I really didn’t watch movies growing up and sorry but how did you know my last name?”
“Your tag was on the bag remember plus you’re in my squad it’s my job to know your name.”
“Oh right, have you learned all the names of the other men already!”
“No just yours,” he said with a smile on his face still looking at the poster.
“Captain Grayson my boy.”
“Commander Rhodes good to see you.”
The Commander appeared from right behind us looking right at Captain Grayson not really even admiring my presence.
“Same my boy, I need to see you in my office to talk about the dance coming up, its in a few days and I need the contact info of every officer in the air force.”
“Yes, Sir I’m right behind you,” he replied as he nodded his head with courtesy.
Captain Grayson turned to smile at me and walked away following the footsteps of the Commander. What the hell did he mean by just my name? Stop it Jack, stop over thinking these things, it’s this type of thinking that will get you killed focus on the plan, fight your desires and instincts and focus on your duty.
Chapter 3: I Read Nazi
I really did not get to see too much of the Captain right after our morning conversation, if you can even call it a conversation. I was a bit relieved that I haven’t seen him yet I wanted to catch a quick glimpse of him, just a quick look. My focus was broken when a group of guys asked me what a word meant, I took the paper from their hand and read the following, “Axis 234 meet and follow the next set of directions some of the few radios on site are broken, find one and call 324-43.” I looked up to see the other guys looking right at me as if I were nuts.
“You read Nazi?”
“Nazi? What are you talking about?” I replied with a bit of precaution.
I looked down at the paper once more and realized it was written in German, the language always seemed to intrigue me, and the fact that I knew something no one else did back in my hometown made me feel powerful like I knew a secret no one else knew about.
“I learned how to read German when I was a little kid, all I did was pick up a book and the rest came naturally.” I replied quickly and quietly.
“Well, then Arcklow looks like you are going to be the only one who gives out the instructions since you are the only one who can read them.” The soldier looked right at me and nodded his head as if I was in charge but I felt that sense of distrust at the same time like if I were a German spy infiltrating the British force. I felt a smile land on my face for a split second but then I realized how this might not be such a good thought.
“Arcklow can you come here for a second my boy,” screamed the Commander.
“Yes Commander Rhodes.”
“I was going over your file and it says here you broke the record for quickest flight time as well as the bombing accuracy. How on earth did you go around not saying something like that! I’m sure the Captain would love to hear about this since he might recruit a few soldiers to join his PT-5 air squad and with this there is no way he would say no!”
I could see him focused on my filing looking at it with such amusement. To only think he saw me this morning and gave me no attention. Suddenly I’ve become a prize for him to stare at.
“Sir no disrespect but I rather have no special treatments. I’m here as a regular soldier and wish to continue my service as one. I understand that the PT squad is an honorable position but I don’t think I’m right for this.”
“Well, then I’m sorry to hear that but think it over I’m sure you’ll realize how big of a mistake you’re making, now go back out there and finish the rest of the day’s training.”
I walked back to my group and continued to complete drills as well as flight mechanic exams and a few translation exercises to improve on my German. By the end of the day I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to climbed into bed to get some rest.
I had not seen Captain Grayson since the morning and began to get a bit worried. Wait worried? Worried at what? I bet he’s off with some pretty little thing riding the night. By the way why the hell should I care I don’t even know him!
I walked up the stairs and placed my hand on the wood. It felt nice knowing things felt quite the same for once, wood was still wood and stairs were still stairs. The halls looked beautiful and I never paid to much attention to them until now, after all this was a movie theater. I placed my hand on the wall and felt the warmth to it, smooth and warm just like touching a warm piece of bread out of an oven. I made my way to be room and noticed my roommate was asleep already so I quietly laid on my bed and looked straight up at the ceiling. Somehow it drove me into the clouds and had me dreaming about being a small child back home extending out my arms and pretending I was a plane, no fear or problems to concentrate on, just me and my imagination.
The next morning we all gathered in the lobby to see the Commander standing up high looking down at us with his usual facial expression.
“Listen up soldiers Captain Grayson had to leave us on a short trip he was called back to a base not too far from here and is scheduled to come back tomorrow so have most of your officers meaning that you all have the day off to explore the town, go out, have fun, meet a nice young lady and fall in love, I really don’t care just make sure to not get into any trouble and be back here and report by 11 pm now go”
I quickly felt conversations breaking out and heard plans of a few “whore houses” around town and how they should get it in quickly. I felt the need to join in and experience this right of passage but it was just not my day. With most of the soldiers running out the door I thought about walking around town at least to get a feel of where I was stationed. I never got to go out during my stay here in November.
I placed my hat on in an attempt to feel a sense of pride and walked out the glass doors. The weather in London was very cold, the air here seemed to give me chills unlike the one back home, this air was different; it wasn’t my air. I saw a couple of guys trying to talk to a few girls outside a burger shop, what I loved about situations like these were how the guys would act. Usually what a situation like this looked like involved the guys flexing while the young ladies would bat their eyes at them and smile giving a few chuckles here and there yet somehow they both know how the night was going to end. I laughed to myself just a little and walked into the burger shop. I noticed everyone in the place look at me with some sort of fear yet security. I walked over to a table near the window and ordered a coffee. This uniform seemed to attract a lot of eyes as well as power. When I tried to pull my wallet out the waitress said someone had paid for it already, I looked over to see an older man along with his wife and they both gave me a small smile and waved at me like I had done something heroic for them. I raised my coffee mug and gave them a small smile out of my appreciation and took a large gulp from the cup.
That couple seemed to have something that I wanted, each other. Something about seeing older couples together make me believe in a reason to live and fight for. It must be nice having someone who you can depend on no matter what, someone who will stick by you through thick and thin regardless of the situation. Life has shown me no mercy whatsoever, who I am and what I want seem to be fighting each other every time I place the two thoughts within my head. I had always tried to run from the truth. God it feels like I was born into the wrong time period. I felt a tear fall from my face and run down my check. Here it comes again, the sad reality of my life, how I feel different from the rest of the world. Whenever I look at a face I never feel emotions towards the ones I’m told to love, only emptiness. It’s the one I’m forbidden to love that I feel some sort of home with. Before I felt another tear fall I snapped back into reality and looked around, no one was looking towards me thankfully. I looked down at my watch and noticed a total of two hours have gone by. Was I really here for two hours! Great!
I got up from my seat and left a tip and walked back to the station. When I pushed open the front door I noticed silence, no one was home yet. What was I going to do for the rest of the day? I turned my head to my left and noticed the movie poster Captain Grayson was talking about; I guess I’ll take a chance on it. I walked to the hallway located on the left and walked by the red line and crouched to get under it. I went through a door and up a couple of stairs, after I got to what I though was the projection room I found the stack of movie films and began to search for the one marked for me. After what I felt to be 45 minutes of individually sorting through the films I placed the movie role and hit the switch, which projected the movie on the big screen located in the room right under me. I ran downstairs and went through the door and found my seat in the lower section of the theater. I watched the movie and began to really love it. It was about a woman who fell in love with a sailor but had trouble being together due to class. I was stuck into the movie the whole time until I felt someone right behind me, which immediately sent, shivers down my spine.
“Told you it was a classic,”
I turned around slowly to see Captain Grayson looking right into the screen emulating the lines to it as the characters said it. He jumped over the seat next to me and landed right on it. He turned to look at me with a big goofy smile waiting for me to say something. Naturally I did.
“Commander told us you were scheduled to be back tomorrow Sir.”
“Okay Arcklow for the last time Grayson, say it with me G-r-a-y-s-o-n!”
I was almost shocked by his response and gave a laugh instead.
“So how are you liking the movie?”
“See I told you this movie is a classic, so what’s your first name Arcklow?”
“Jack Arcklow then, nice to put a first name, you went from bag boy to Arcklow to Jack.”
“So Grayson what are you doing back here?”
“Well, I went over signed some papers and the rest of the Officers went to go visit their girl, I decided to get back over here and relax.”
“So…you don’t have a girl?”
“Yes, I do, in fact she’s coming to the ball. She’s great!”
“What about you Jack? A guy like you would have a couple right?”
“Oh well don’t get too down I’m sure there’s someone out there begging for a guy like you!”
Well, there you have it Jack just like any other guy maybe now you can finally get these stupid thought of our head and quite putting yourself through this.
“So Jack why don’t you tell me a bit more about yourself you seem a bit interesting I’d like to get to know a guy with a mystery to him.”
Mystery? Guy? What the hell is going on here push and pull? What do I do now?
“Well, there’s nothing much to me actually I’m just plain and simple.”
“Really? Well, I was reading the case report and I heard you can speak German?”
“Yeah when I was growing up I felt it was a superpower to understand something no one else could.”
Where the hell did that come from, I have never said that to anyone before. I looked over at him to see him smiling as if he knew what I was talking about.
“ich verstehe.” he smiled.
“Wait you speak German too?”
“Ja.” he smiled
“So let me get this straight. You’re some bionic fighter pilot who can speak German?”
“I also speak French” he replied with a smile.
I felt my face going red and could not hide the smile I was carrying. Was there something this man could not do?
“Listen Jack if you’re not busy later would you like to go take a tour around town?”
“Sure why not after all I don’t think the Commander would get angry if he knew you were with me the whole time.”
“Sure,” I smiled.
What the hell just happened? Why did I agree to go out on a date with him? What it even a date? No! Don’t get tangled in a fantasy with another straight guy all it ends up doing to me is causing me pain, I have to hide my emotions this time.
I looked into his eyes and saw him give me a big smile. He got up and bide be farewell until later tonight and walked out of the theater room. The movie was still playing and by the time I fixed my eyes on it I could see the guy kissing the girl. From the background I heard the Captain scream, “I LOVE THIS PART!”. I busted out into laughter right after he said that and thought about how adorable he sounded.
Chapter 4: A Nightingale Sang
Can you remember the last time you were happy, like actually really happy yet scared at the same time? Well, I have that feeling right now. I paced myself walked back and forward in my room trying to form some sort of thought in my head, nothing. I had no idea what I agreed to with the Captain, was it a casual guys night out or something more? Oh crap this was driving me insane!
I put on my pants, grabbed the only dressing shirt I owned, and went to fix my hair. I looked straight into the mirror and for the first time in my life saw a stranger in the reflection I approved of. My grey eyes always felt cold whenever I looked into them but today I felt them actually smile back at me as if approving of the action I was going to commit. I looked around for a second and looked at a wooden box sticking out of my bag. The wooden box called to me as I walked towards it slowly. Carefully I let the box open to see a golden pocket watch laying on it as if it were resting blissfully in a sanctuary. I lifted it out of its box, it was amazing, beautiful, and handed down to me by my father a couple of years ago when I revealed to him my plans to make our country proud. I can think of it as being one of those days where who I was in my eyes no longer mattered, only how the world saw me. It was that moment that made me believe that I had to work at being happy and being given that happiness by society not by the individual.
“That’s beautiful,” a voice behind me whispered.
I felt no urge to turn back to see who it was but I instantly knew, temptation walks close to where your road is supposed to head hoping to change your course. I gave in it.
“It was my fathers,”
“I thought so, seems like both our fathers have the same type of style,” he said this while reaching into his pocket holding out his own treasure, of course his was shinier and bigger, great.
I continued looking at the watch until I realized him looking straight at me, I felt confused at the time yet said nothing about it, and it felt natural.
“Shall we go explore the town maybe even get something to drink?” said the Captain while still looking right at my face.
“All right then follow me and don’t look back,” he smiled.
What was this guy’s problem? I felt so drawn to him and at times I felt it right back. However I soon would remember that I would remember he had a girlfriend. I followed him around town and had random conversations with him. Everything coming out of my mouth were thoughts I felt, no one would ever want to understand or even care to hear but when I turned to look at him all I saw was a smile and the words, “Me too!” I talked to him about everything, childhood experiences, my family, and thoughts about the world and how it seems so big and amazing, like it had no end or beginning. All he would do is smile and listen. At a point he talked about his family and thoughts but never went too much in detail as I have been going though all night. He would just share a thought then ask me what my thoughts on it were, it almost felt like I was being interviewed or something.
What I managed to gather about the Captain was that he had an older brother and younger sister. He was born into a very wealthy family but joined the air force as a way to build his own reputation. He loved to fly and travel. Everything about him really made me feel close to him. Like I’ve been looking for him my whole life.
We walked up to a building and heard a woman singing a song, the song in particular was one of my favorites, and I began to sing the song at a low sound.
“I may be right, I may be wrong. But I’m perfectly willing to swear that when you turned and smiled at me, a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.”
I turned to see the Captain smiling at me waiting to hear the rest of the song but I felt stupid and just looked away and found a focus point right in front of me.
“You know this song?” he asked.
“Yes, it’s actually one of my favorite songs.” I whispered.
“I think I actually like it better when you sing it.”
“Yes I had no idea you had a voice in you soldier,” he smiled
Soldier, that’s what I was, just a soldier, nothing more nothing less.
“Well, how about we go in here and get some drinks?”
We walked into the bar, which looked like a part of the Royal House. Inside there were a few couples dancing and some enjoying their beverage. This place looked like it was created for a royal family, how was I going to pay for a drink in here! He walked up to the bar and ordered two glasses of Scotch and we both sat at the bar looking at the band play. The rest of the night we really had no conversation between us, he would only look at me a couple of times and throw a smile and nod his head. At a point he ordered a few glasses of wine for a couple of young ladies at the table, he felt that since they were looking at us all night it was the least he would do.
“So Jack I’m curious to know more about you.”
“Well, Captain ask me anything you want!”
“Why did you join the air force and please don’t say it was for your country?”
“Uh to be completely honest with you, I joined because I’m looking for something I just don’t know what it is yet. I joined because I thought maybe I would find my purpose you know, finally be able to discover what I want.”
“Makes sense. So you’re looking for a purpose to live for right?”
“Or someone one to live for…”
“Ah more like looking for someone to fall in love with right?”
I began to get a little red. He was able to get me to say things I was afraid to whisper to myself sometimes. I felt comfortable with the Captain, I felt safe with him.
“So Captain why did you join?”
“To serve my country.,” he said with a smile
“Okay what’s the real reason.” I teased
“Well in a sense like I said before I joined to make a name out for myself. Growing up in my family people just hand things off to you. I don’t want to feel entitled to anything I want to earn it. Plus I wanted to make my father proud of me.”
“I see, so it’s your father right?”
“I really don’t know, I was never my father’s pride and joy, that title went to my older brother John. He died as soon as the war started. With that my father was crushed and it seemed like the world was expecting me to avenge him and when I joined, well that’s when my father gave me this.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his big gold pocket watch I saw earlier. He opened it up and looked at it for a while. Just like that I saw something in the Captain, he was weak and vulnerable for a minute, like any word would crush him right now. I placed my hand over his and gave him a nod. I wanted him to know that I was here for him, and honestly I was.
“Well, enough of my sob story, lets get some drinks right!”
“So now answer me this really! Are you really single? I mean look at you!”
“Yeah I am Captain.”
“Why? I bet you could get any girl you wanted in this place. I mean really! You’re smart from what I can tell, strong, and have an amazing personality.”
“Thank you,” I blushed.
“Is it that you’re scared?”
“No not at all I just haven’t found anyone who has caught my eye yet.”
“I think maybe you have but won’t do anything about it because you’re scared.”
He gave me a smile that seemed to just scare me a bit. Did he know! I needed to play it just right or everything I worked so hard for will just come falling down. I looked over at him and tried to look as calm as possible and just drew a complete blank at him.
“Don’t worry, I’m still scared sometimes, you know to ask a girl for a dance. I don’t want to get rejected or anything like that.”
“Right, I get what you mean Captain.”
Before we could get in another word the drinks came. I only had one glass to drink he had five. The Captain looked as drunk as a patient waiting to get his leg cut off. I attempted to talk to him some more but his responses were either cold or sexual I could not tell which it was. I wanted to bash his head with the glass but just got up and walked away. I exit the bar without the Captain but felt he was right behind me trying to catch up.
“Hey Jack wait, wait up I think I’m dizzy.”
“Captain you drank five glasses of scotch how could you not be dizzy,”
“Oh well look I think it went great in there don’t you! Now look take me home because I have no idea where the station is,” he laughed, although this laugh was not the same ones from before.
I got hold of the Captain and walked him over to the base; luckily we were the only ones there. I guess everyone else is still out past curfew. The Captain was sound asleep but was able to walk somehow. How I hated him right now. He managed to turn a beautiful evening into an emotional carousal. I walked up the stairs and went into my room; I placed him on my bed and removed his boots. He was out cold, I covered him up with a blanket and looked right at his face, he was beautiful. His white face was perfect and his lips were rosy red and wet. Even after him getting drunk and leaving me to watch him intoxicate himself without even bother to acknowledge me I felt that I really didn’t hate him at all. Captain Grayson lived up to his name as being a manly brave soldier who would risk anything for his title as well as his country. He only belonged to his country and the woman he was with. He was not mine to have, not even mine to wish about, I was a soldier and had a duty. By now I could not control myself and fell to my knees and began to forgive and forget, let out all those feeling I had for him. Let out anything that made you wonder what if. After today I had to promise myself not to keep falling for the impossible.
Chapter 5: I Can’t
I woke up the next morning on my bed with a cover over me. What happened, how on earth did I end up here? Was last night a dream? I turned to see my roommate out like a light and looked around. I picked myself off of the bed and walked straight into the shower. I let the hot water run through my body trying to let it heal the wounds from last night. I heard the rest of the guys walking in and talking about last night.
“Hey I saw Johnny Boy leaving with that pretty blonde last night! Did you end up making a home run?”
“Ha yes I did boys and in fact I asked her to come to the dance, apparently the Commander has been pressured to ship us off in two days since they need more men up in the air.”
The commander has to push us into the war in two days? I really did not know how to react to this. In a way it all sank in and became real, the war is coming into my life. I have to fight to stay alive out there and say goodbye to life as I know it. I took a quick shower and fled to my room. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt like this, I felt alone. I don’t know where I even stand with the Captain. Last night he invited me in, I saw what was really inside him and I felt at home here, and something I’ve never felt before. I just can’t let him go. No matter how mad I was at him. His heart however belongs to someone lucky girl.
I slowly walked out of my room and made my way down the hall not really paying attention to where I was going. I just kept walking down the hallway and down a flight of stairs. Before I knew it was standing right in front of the Commanders door knocking slowly.
“Come in! Jack Arcklow my boy how can I help you today? Wait don’t tell me! You thought it over didn’t you! Are you ready to accept that proposal I offered to you a couple days ago?”
“Well, Sir I did think it over but I’m afraid I have to say no to that but actually I came to talk to you about something else.”
“What is it, I hope everything is ok?”
“No Sir it is but I was wondering if I could switch Captains.”
“Well, Captain Grayson has done an amazing job but I feel like I would best learn a thing or two from another Captain Sir.”
“Mmm well frankly this is a bit strange to me, Captain Grayson is the best I have I don’t think you’ll learn anything from anyone else son but if that is what you want then I’ll switch you over to my squad. Maybe I could learn a few things from you right!”
“Thank you Sir! Excuse me Sir.”
I walked out of the office almost kicking myself! Where the hell did that come from! I let my brain do all the taking instead of my heart and I guess it paid off this time, I hope that is.
The Commander made us gather in the lobby like usual and broke us up into our groups. I saw Captain Grayson at the top of the staircase walking down towards me with a smile on his face. As soon as he reached me he began to give orders to our squad. I nearly walked away and headed to my new squad.
“Solider! Where are you headed?”
Did he just call me Solider! Not Arcklow or Jack? Just Solider, great, another reminder of what I really was to him. Before I could say a word I heard the Commander chime in, responding for me.
“Sorry Captain Grayson but Arcklow has asked to join my squad. I hope that’s ok with you?”
I turned to see Captain Grayson look at me with big sad puppy eyes that made me want to run up to him and apologize as well as plant a big hug on him but instead he replied with a cold sad tone.
“No Commander Rhodes, I’m sure he’ll be happier learning from you.”
“Excellent! Shall we begin Arcklow?”
I looked at Captain Grayson one last time before I turned to join my new squad. I did not know what emotion to pull out so instead I just grew angry. I looked into his eyes and walked away from him.
The rest of the day went off quite normal, like any other day. I again was the only one in the group who knew how to fluently read German and gave out instructions. It seemed to amuse the Commander quite a bit. By the end of the day I was extremely tired. I walked up the stairs and planted myself straight on the bed and fell asleep.
Chapter 6: The Big Dance
Tonight’s the night of the dance! I was in no mood to dress up and have a bunch of women show their loyalty to the country by giving us pleasure for the night just to get shipped off and kill other men. I kept thinking about how and what I was going to do, most of all I kept thinking about Captain Grayson.
I got out of the shower and spent the rest of the day writing to my parents and working on more flight codes as well as learn some air maneuvers. The Commander called it time and sent us to our rooms to get ready for the big night. I opened up my closet and saw the uniforms designed to wear for a special occasion, which I guess was tonight. This uniform felt smoother and once I placed it on I felt like a true man. I walked up to the mirror and noticed my eyes were back to grey, dead and dull. I have never looked the way I did today; I felt pride in wearing the uniform for the first time letting it define me, as it should have always.
By the time I was finished I heard the music start and everyone was already here, the young girls standing around with a smile on their face and a giggle like always. I walked down the stairs and saw a group of the soldiers dancing with these young ladies. I searched the place completely trying to find the Captain but he was nowhere to be seen. I picked up a glass of Irish whiskey off a tray and took a big gulp. Finally I fixed my eyes on what seemed to be the Captain and a beautiful young lady wrapped around his shoulder. He was talking to the Commander and his wife while having his prize around his arm. I finished the rest of my drink and noticed his eyes fixed with mine for a second. I looked at him for a second longer and walked away with another drink in my hand. I sat down at a table furthest from the crowd where no one could care to look and drank my glass little by little.
“Is this seat taken?”
It was him. I looked up and shook my head and finished my second drink.
“Whiskey?” he asked.
“Yea it seems to relax me.”
“Well, you should have told me that last night, I ordered whiskey instead remember.”
I didn’t bother to look up at him and kept my eyes in the cup hoping he would just leave me. Tomorrow was the last day I would ever see him.
“Anyway Jack I want to apologize for last night I had too much and ended up in your bed with you on the floor right next to it, as a Captain I should know better.”
“Don’t worry about it Sir.”
“Here you go again with the Sir, what happened to Captain?” he laughed
“Sir I believe your young lady is waiting for you over there by the dance floor.”
I felt him look at me for a couple of seconds and saw him stand up without saying another word and walking back to where he was. Never in my life have I felt like this. I lifted my head to see him back with his girl saying a few words followed by her laughing, he looked back at me with these really big eyes but I got up and looked for another drink. I walked through the movie halls, which were now transformed to hold a marvelous ball. In fact this place no longer looked like a theater, it was beautiful in here, I had no time to look around when I was coming down the stairs but now as I looked around I couldn’t help but be blown away. I took another glass and walked into a living room type center and sat down. I looked and saw the Captain walking towards me and took a seat right next to me.
“So the Commander sends you off tomorrow to face your final test and off you go into the war, the dam bloody war. Listen Jack I know that the uniform and the glory makes it seem like it’s worth it and how your country thinks it’s an honor but in reality it’s just a death sentence. However once you go into something like that it’s the small things you’re thankful for. When and if you come back you realize just how special people become to you and just their presence makes you feel valued and cared for. Did you know I never told anyone that I loved them?”
“Why don’t you do it right now, go find that beautiful person who makes you value life. Who makes it worth living for, she’s in the next room, go right now and kiss her” I replied back.
I saw the Captain thinking about each word I said carefully and just sat there, before I could say anything else I saw him stand up and walk away. I finished my fourth glass and just wanted to go to bed. I stood up and dropped my pocket watch doing it, great. I bent down to grab it. I wanted to just fade away. I walked up the stairs and made my way to the roof of the theater.
Once I got to the roof I looked up at the night sky, it was beautiful. I sat down on a bench and closed my eyes. I could hear the music perfectly from up here and suddenly I felt a little better. Suddenly I heard the door to the roof open and knew the Captain followed me up here.
“Where you able say what you need too?” I asked.
“Yes, and no, I said farewell to the one I was told to love but haven’t said I love you to the one I want to love.” He replied.
I was trying to put together what he said but he interrupted my train of thought. He walked over to where I was sitting and pulled me off my seat.
“I love you.” He whispered.
I looked right at him with a puzzled look trying to realize what he just said. He leaned in closer and closed the gap between our lips. I felt amazing, his lips were soft and I felt paralyzed from that kiss, never in my life have I ever felt like this before. He pulled away with his eyes closed and a big smile on his face. He looked amazing; my heart was melting right in front of him.
“I love you too Sir,” I replied.
He responded by giving me another small kiss. I smiled back at him and could not believe what was happening. Right then and there a “Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” began to play, he looked right at me and pulled my hand. He led me into an open space and began to dance slowly with his hand on mine. I turned to see Grayson. He looked into my eyes with a smile. He whispered, “Please sing that part you sang to me yesterday.”
END OF BOOK ONE