was gray, mirroring the skyscrapers beneath it's clouded expanse, that new
year's eve. The birds above the window ledge I sat on seemed agitated in their
flight. Knocking into each other far more often then I'd ever seen before, as
they began forming their own sorts of clouds, though of wings rather than
moisture. 'About the same amount of soot in each sort' I thought, watching as
the gray squadron keeled left until their wings pointed to the sky and earth
and then pulled a sharp turn around a distant building in a formation that
would make my uncle, Captain Hawthorn of the 2nd Air brigade, jealous in it's
feet, by about eighty yards, I could see thousands of little people milling
about. I watched them, thinking about everything and nothing at all..
striding purposefully, as was a woman with a worn and patched brown leather
jacket and nervous eyes, but fisted hands around a pink paper showed some cause
of this as I had seen 'overdue payment' papers just three days before. She
paused for only a moment, then walked out of sight into the overflowing bank, just
across the great Harcourt building.
walked, as did a man wearing a black suit coat and red tie. He was larger than
some around the waist and had a jolly air about him, evident by the
straightening of shoulders in any he passed or paused to spend a word with. I
thought I saw him handing a younger boy some joy. I can assume it was such a
thing for as soon as the little scrap of a boy took the object he ran away a
short while, down to the next proud and soot-stained gas light about, then
turned and waved, his arm windmilling in a remembered thank you.
motorcars, sleek and rounded metal with burgundy highlights about the trimming
on it's door, one had. I leaned on the sill with an elbow, wondering if these
were quite so hot as the Brigade prer-planes were. I watched as it drove off on
it's black-wall tires, hurrying to off to anywhere at all.
stood, sat, lounged and paced. Hunched, skipped, tramped or drug their feet
behind. I saw one girl skipping past the same gas lamp the little boy had
stopped at. So many people. So many lives.
my last day to be here, here in the apartment my father had rented. I liked it
here, I felt him in the scent of the soft chair he had read in and in the smell
of burned sage in the pipe tray sitting atop the nightstand. I wanted to find
adjusted my cap, the red and black plaid one my father gave me last Christmas,
and slid back inside part way to escape the cold. For the wind was picking up
and I was not willing to risk getting ill just yet.
for another minute, devising what mysteries the policeman had solved, what
journeys the street vender had made for his exotic fabrics..and what would they
do when Christmas time came. Did they have a family? I looked down, a young lad,
like myself at the time, with his father, black fur hat still on from the guard
while he swung the lad ahead every few steps. Flight for a few moments at his
fathers arm. A wonderful gift for any boy.
of the new aircraft, and my uncle flying them. Gleaming prop pulling the proud
grays and silvers of the cockpit, the royal Blue and Silver blurring on their
wings as they flew towards the enemy. My father, First Lieutenant Hawthorn
wingman to Captain Hawthorn, flying to the enemy on Christmas day. My father
flying to protect every person I saw.
father, still away on new years eve.
Away in a
plane that had two hours of fuel on board when it should have had four.
out the open window, trying to feel my father in some of the people he fought
for. Another gust took my hat. Rather than grab for it I had a moment of child
like introspectiveness, as I simply watched to see who received it's warmth...
drifted down, down...down.
across from the Harcourt building, a void of people seemed follow the little
red hat as it settled on the gray sidewalks, a once regal lion statue and it's
guarded stairs the only witnesses it seemed.
I heard a
creaking behind me, 'Uncle Hawthorn' I'd thought, 'No more time'.
bracing to stop the sudden and fear fueled tears, an embarrassment to my
But I saw
the airman there, a frozen still in my mind forever..
and mud plastered all across his front. No white hat nor gloves, several tears
in his once smart black and silver aviators jacket. His left breast pocket had
it's golden button winking over a long hole with brown strips showing out from
underneath, what I would learn was a bandaged gash from a dislodged propeller,
and the blue silk neckerchief was missing entirely.
He ran as
I stood in shock, frozen.
vaulted me into the air with one arm and picked me out of it again and then
held me close. I saw him weep for the first time as he spoke my name. "Ray..I'm
home" He wept.
too could I.
Out of the
corner of my eye I saw the world again..the clouds had parted, just a bit, and
I saw a woman picking up the little red hat. She held it against her worn
jacket and just stood there for a bit, head bowed down, in front of the grand
and unforgiving bank. Then she put it on and began to walk again, but her pace
seemed to me.. more steady now.
AUTHOR: Taylor Goodwin
(C) Taylor Goodwin 2012
NOTE: The story above is 100% fictional and was written solely for the reading pleasure of Liberty's Standard visitors.
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