SONS, Chapters 1&2
Due to several request, I am reposting the first few chapters of my novel, Sons. It was hard to figure out how post this as a serial in chapter form. Here are the first two chapters and I will repost chapters 1-7
Every age seems to have its own particular tragedy, every generation its own guilt. The sins of the fathers are visited upon their children; each era must learn to deal with the transgressions of the past and those they will visit upon the future. Collective sin becomes collective guilt. And so it was with my generation. Especially for those of us who had lived through one of the greatest horrors of the modern age.
I was raised in Dresden by my grandparents who died along with the other estimated 35,000 Germans during the Allied fire bombings between February 13th and February 15th, 1945. My father died in the Great War and my mother, I was always told, had also died during ‘The War to End All Wars’. I was to learn, however, that she was English, having given birth to me and returning to England after leaving me with her German boyfriend and his parents. When the letter arrived informing me that as her son and sole heir, I had inherited a small fortune and her home in the midlands of England, I received the news with fear and excitement.
After the war the Russians moved into Eastern Germany with an amazing ferocity. To acquire my passport and traveling papers took a great deal of perseverance and tenacity. Serving in the German Army Intelligence and dealing with military bureaucracy played a large part in helping me to achieve my desired goals. Ultimately, I was granted permission to leave Germany. I had traded my uniform for civilian clothes and was traveling light. Four years after the end of the war, I left Berlin sharing a train compartment with an elderly gentleman and a woman with an infant.
The train stopped at the outskirts of Berlin and then again at the border between East and West Germany, each time filling me with terror as the conductor and an East German or Russian official checked our papers.
I watched the German countryside pass by as I said goodbye to my old life and the years of fear and strife brought on by the war. The old man snored as the woman nursed her child. As we approached the Dutch border the conductor came through checking our tickets and passports. A terror gripped me as he looked at my papers and then at me. I smiled as he handed them back to me. Soon we passed through the Netherlands where the old man got off the train as I continued into Belgium where the mother was replaced by American soldiers. Eventually, I arrived in France. Everywhere were signs of destruction.
I found a room in Calais and was up early the next day to catch my boat on a bright clear spring morning with clouds on the horizon. As the boat left its moorings and sailed into the English Channel, I stood on the bow of the boat, the wind and mist on my face baptizing me into my new life. Having no attachments gave me a sense of freedom I had yet to experience in my thirty-six years. As I watched the coast of France, the fear and hatred flew away, my spirit soaring with the gulls that accompanied our boat.
The room was filled with handsome lieutenants and colonels in their uniforms; the elite of the SD, Sicherheitsdienst, the security and intelligence division of the SS, Schutzstaffel. It was a hot September day and I longed to be far from this stuffy smoke filled room. I had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel two months prior because of my good work and affiliations with Dr. Franz Arthur Six, from the University of Berlin. He had been my economics instructor and later the Dean of the faculty of Economics. A fanatic, Professor Six had recruited me into the Nazi Party, eventually moving me into the German Army High Command and the SD, where we immediately set to work on Directive 16 and the invasion of Great Britain.
The air was somber after we had just been informed that Hitler had postponed Operation Sea Lion until the spring or summer of the following year; 1941. Hitler had shifted his focus to the Soviet Union and Professor Six had already moved into a position commandeering Operation Barbarossa.
Dr. Six and I worked together on creating a list of 2,300 persons who would be arrested and brought back to Germany after the invasion. The names for the most part came from a list previously compiled by Walther Schellenberg, who had been Heinrich Himmler’s personal aide and was now working with Reinhard Heyrich. Heyrich had been the first to suggest to Hitler that he invade Great Britain. Among those on the list were prominent politicians like Winston Churchill, scholars such as Bertrand Russell and Sigmund Freud, (although he had died in September of 1939), Freemasons, Jehovah Witnesses and Boy Scouts. We also made the plans for the Einstatzgruppen, the six death squads who would invade Britain and destroy all anti-Nazi elements, civilian resistance members, and of course Jews. They would target London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Edinburgh or Glasgow.
In July, thirteen divisions of soldiers had been moved in preparation for the first wave of the invasion. I was never convinced it would work and was relieved when the order came down to delay. The Luftwaffe was set into motion to continue bombing London and bases throughout England to demoralize the nation until the right time to invade would be decided upon.
I had just finished a brandy and was preparing to leave the meeting when I was approached by Schellenberg. He was a handsome man with a charm about him that unsettled me. I suspected he was a homosexual, but had no proof. His lips were full and sensual and when he smoked, he inhaled though his nose, making a big production of exhaling the smoke just past your face. In November 1939, Schellenberg played a major part in the Venlo Incident, which led to the capture of two British agents. Because of my knowledge of English, I had worked with him on the project. He had just returned from Portugal to intercept the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and tried to persuade them to work for Germany. The mission was a failure; Schellenberg managed only to delay their baggage for a few hours, but earlier I overheard him bragging that he had almost convinced them.
“So, Huber, what will we do now that we are not to invade England?” He smiled at me and took a drink of his brandy. He held my gaze with his brown eyes.
“I suspect you have something up your sleeve.”
“As a matter of fact, I would like to discuss a very interesting little proposition with you. You and I worked well together on the Venlo Incident. Do you know the name Kitty Schmidt?”
“Isn’t she the madam who was arrested at the Dutch border trying to escape to England?”
“Yes. We’ve converted her brothel with bugs and tape recorders. Madame Schmidt has been very cooperative. Did you know she had bank accounts in England and smuggled money out of Germany with Jews she helped escape? Yes, she has been very cooperative indeed.”
“I imagine she has.”
“I’ve hand-selected twenty prostitutes from hundreds we interviewed and trained them to help us spy on military personnel and foreign diplomats who frequent her establishment. Psychiatrists, doctors and university professors have helped us decide which of the girls were emotionally unreliable and unfit for the job. I need someone to train the girls in codes and deciphers and help them with their English. Do you think you’re up to it?”
“Anything I can do to help,” I replied. My palms began to sweat and I felt the sweat on my back drip down past the waistband of my trousers. Walther took another drink of his brandy and licked his lips.
“I realize you would be making a great sacrifice, Huber.” Schellenberg took a drag off his cigarette.
“What do you mean?” I tried to stay as calm as possible.
“Well, let’s just say that I know you’ve probably never been to a house of ill-repute before.” He smiled and winked as he blew smoke past my face.
“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean?”
“Oh, come now, Stefan, no need to play coy. Your little secret’s safe with me. Perhaps we might even share some secrets with one another if you’re not too busy.”
“What did you have in mind?” I was sweating profusely.
He finished his brandy and set down the glass. “Come with me. Let me show you what we’ve been up to. Besides, it’s way too hot in here. I can see the perspiration on your face.” He led the way and soon we were in the back seat of his car.
“Kittys.” He commanded to the driver.
The crossing was uneventful. The sea was dark with frothy white caps. British soldiers who had been part of the occupation of Germany and France for the past four years lined the decks as we approached England and the cliffs of Dover. A few were at the railing getting sick. The rest looked longingly as the coast appeared on the horizon. The closer we got the more animated their conversations became until the cheers rang out and they began hugging and slapping one another’s backs. Soon they began singing, “There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover, tomorrow, just you wait and see.” The deck filled with others from below singing and crying as we approached the coastline. My growing sense of isolation as an outsider became more acute.
As I stood on the deck of the ship, I saw a young man in army khakis standing off to the side, looking in my direction. His eyes caught mine, held the gaze for a moment and then returned to the coastline. There was sadness and a touch of sorrow in his gaze. He looked back at me, saw me looking at him and smiled. I smiled back as he walked over to me holding his hand out.
“Miles. Miles Sheffington. Nice to meet thee.”
I had assumed my mother’s maiden name, using the English pronunciation of my given Christian name. A gust of wind blew mist into our faces almost blowing our hats off. Miles held onto the rail and his side cap as he inquired.
“You might say that.”
I had worked out my story but it seemed like nonsense to lie to him.
“My mother died and I inherited her home in the midlands,” I hesitated. “I’ve never been there. I…I was raised in Germany.”
“So, yer mother was British? What about yer father?”
“German. He died in the first war.”
“Ye sound so British.”
“I woulda guessed thee was an earl or at least a lord.”
We laughed. He looked into my eyes and smiled again. I had studied English and during the war had done some translating, working hard on my pronunciation. When I received news of my inheritance having decided to go to England, I worked even harder on losing any traces of my accent.
“Where didja live in Germany?” he asked.
The smile left his face as he looked out to the approaching coastline.
“Dreadful business, war.”
I leaned onto the rail, looking to see how much time we had before we reached England.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“North, near the Scottish border. The Lake District.”
“If this great world of joy and pain revolve in one sure track; If freedom, set, will rise again, and virtue, flown, come back;”
He looked at me and finished the verse.
“Woe to the purblind crew who fill the heart with each day's care; Nor gain, from past or future, skill to bear, and to forbear!”
He smiled again, that sad, beguiling smile and touched my hand resting on the rail.
“Thankee,” he said.
He held his hand on mine a moment longer and squeezed before he let go, looking back out to the coast. A cheer rang out on the deck.
“For what?” I asked.
“Yer kindness. It’s been a long time.”
He turned and walked back to where the other soldiers were standing. I watched him leave and strike up conversations with the men. He glanced back, saw me looking after him and smiling walked back over to me.
“If yer ever in the North Country, I come from a place called Buttermere in Cumbria. Ask fer Miles and they should direct ye. It’s a small village.”
He shook my hand and turned away. The boat had entered the harbour at Dover. We docked and began to disembark. Having brought only one suitcase with me, I was soon on the dock, standing in the long line to pass through the customs house. A light rain began to fall. The shoulders of my overcoat were soaked at the shoulders. The woman behind me stood closer and held her umbrella over us both.
“No reason you should die of pneumonia after what I’m sure you’ve been through, lad,” she said and smiled.
“Thank you, that’s very kind of you.”
“Thank you, son, for helping to wipe out that demon Hitler and hold back the Hun once more.”
“I. . .I . ., you’re welcome and thank you for the use of your umbrella.”
I looked ahead and saw Miles waving at me on the other side of Customs. After a few dark glances and questions, I passed through to the other side and was welcomed by Miles.
“I see thee made it through the gauntlet unscathed. How ‘bout I buy thee a pint or two and we get stinking pissed my first night back in Merry Old? I think thee needs a proper introduction to yer new country.”
“No, in London Town. We’ll get a room and find us a pub.”
“Alright,” I agreed and we set off to the train station. Very soon we were heading north to London. We crowded into our seats and sat opposite another soldier with a head bandage, missing an arm. I looked into his eyes and smiled, but there was no recognition. He turned his head and cocked an ear as the door opened and another soldier sat down beside him.
“There you are, Harry, I thought I’d lost you,” he said and patted the other man on the thigh. It dawned on me at this moment the wounded soldier was also blind. “When we get to London yer sister will be meeting us at the station.”
I turned to Miles who was also watching the two men and then turned to look out the window as the countryside moved past us. It had grown dark and our car was soon in dim light. I closed my eyes and before I knew it, Miles was nudging me on the shoulder.
“Ye started to snore and besides we’re pulling into the station.”
I watched the two soldiers across from us get up and the one called Harry grabbed onto his friend’s arm with his one good arm.
“Makes me grateful I made it back in one piece,” Miles said as we watched them exit the car. He stood and grabbed his kit. I stood as the train came to a stop and we stepped out of the car onto the platform.
All around us at Waterloo Station soldiers were being greeted by loved ones. Everywhere I looked there were tears of joy and sadness streaming down faces as I caught sight of Harry being hugged by his sister. She was sobbing and holding him in a strong embrace. Tears welled up in my eyes as Miles grabbed me around my waist, moving me off into the direction of the exit.
“There’s a pint or two with my name all over it waiting for me, Stephen Reid.” We made our way out to the street and hailed a cab which took us a mile or so from the station, stopping at a small inn with the name Hatfield Arms. The old cabby refused payment of our fare.
“Thanks for coming home safely, lads.”
We thanked him, entered the lobby of the Inn and were escorted by a middle aged woman named, Sally, to our small room.
“Sorry, boys, I only got the one room with a double. All the others is taken. Will this do?”
“It’s perfect, Sally, thank thee for thy kindness.”
“Listen to him, will you. I just love the North Country boys. Now don’t you be bringing any ladies into my inn, you hear. Although, they wouldn’t be no ladies I should expect.” She laughed and kissed Miles on the cheek. “The bath is down the hall. Have a good night, boys. I’ll knock ya up when breakfast is ready.” She closed the door and Miles flopped onto the bed.
“It’s been ages since I slept in a proper bed.”
He looked up at me and smiled that wonderful sad smile as I held his gaze. The spread on the bed was white chenille and the curtains on the window lace. The room was small but efficient.
“Come, lay beside me.” He held out his hand and slapped the bed beside him. I was still holding my suitcase and overcoat. I sat them down on the floor and took off my jacket. Miles sat up and took off his khaki jacket and then stood up before me. He reached out and put the back of his hand on my cheek and ran it down the line of my jaw.
“Thou art amazingly beautiful, Stephen Reid.” His hand reached behind my neck and drew me to his lips; slowly kissing me softly. I caught my breath and held it as his tongue found mine. I stepped back and his eyes opened.
“I’m sorry. Did I offend thee?”
“No, I just. . .I never. . .” I stammered, feeling stupid and awkward. Although I had been with other men before, I had never experienced the intimacy that I now felt with Miles. All my encounters had been furtive and nothing like what was now happening.
“This yer first time then?” he asked.
“No, I . . .” He stepped up to me and grabbed my head with both hands.
“Shall we try this again, then?” He kissed me on the mouth, deliberately and much harder this time. His tongue darted into my mouth and this time I fought back with my own. He began to unbutton my shirt as I struggled with his tie and shirt. Before long we fell onto the bed naked and hard, pressing ourselves against one another and kissing long and deep. Miles rolled on top of me and kissed my ears and my neck and made his way down my chest to my nipple and bit down. I arched my back and cried out softly as his tongue trailed across my chest and found the other. I threw my head back onto the pillow, turning my face to bite the soft linen. Miles had stopped his journey. I looked up and saw him staring down at me. His look was disarming and it took a great effort to hold his gaze. He seemed to look right through me and see deep into my pain and longing.
“Thou art truly beautiful.”
He kissed me on the lips, again, softly and tenderly. His hand found my cock and stroked it with one hand as the other stroked the side of my face. I felt a rushing of blood as Miles lay beside me and took my cock into his mouth. I cried out and held onto him as I grabbed his hand and squeezed. He moaned as my body arched. I lay there exhausted and then reached down and brought his face to mine. I kissed him, tasting the salty sweetness on his mouth and lips.
“Well, that was quick. Been a long time I expect. I think I’ll save myself for later,” he said as I began to stroke him and he gently moved my hand away. “I’ve waited this long, I can wait a little longer.”
We found a lively little pub within walking distance of the Hatfield Arms. Sally suggested it, telling us to mention her by name. Miles wore his Army uniform and didn’t pay for any of his beers. I kept my head as I could see he was determined to get very drunk. Just after midnight I returned from the toilet, finding him passed out at the bar. Jenny, the friendly barmaid, was trying to roust him from his drunken stupor.
“Hey now, this ain’t no hotel, Luv. Nobody sleeps in my bar. Can you manage him?” She asked me as I walked up. I paid Jenny for my beers. Miles said something unintelligible. I took his arm, placing it over my shoulder.
“What a looker. I’d take him home myself if he wasn’t so useless,” Jenny laughed as she closed the door, locking it behind us.
We stumbled into the street, making our way back to the Hatfield Arms. Miles began to sing. I hushed him as we entered the Hotel.
“You’ll wake Sally and she’ll throw us out.”
“Get the old girl up and I’ll give her a twirl.”
We stumbled up the stairs whispering, making an effort to be quite. Just as we reached the top of the stairs, Sally poked her head out of her room.
“Don’t you be waking the other guests, now.”
Miles placed his finger over his lips. “Shhhhh.”
“Shhh yerself, you drunken lout.” She closed her door as we stumbled into our room.
Miles fell on his back in a heap on the floor, stifling his laugh.
“Shhh yerself, you drunken lout.” He tried to rise and fell back. “Hey Stevie, give us a hand.” He held out his hand and I helped him to stand. He grabbed me around the waist. “And give us a little kiss goodnight.” He leaned into me, planting a wet kiss on my mouth. I pushed him back.
“I think we need to get you into bed,” I said as I started to remove his jacket.
“Oh, ye want me naked do thee.”
“No, just in bed and quiet.”
He sat down on the bed, removing his boots and socks. “Don’t ye forget I gotta thrill coming my way. It’s my turn remember.” I began to undress as Miles worked clumsily unbuttoning and removing his shirt and fell back on the bed. I took off my trousers and wearing only my undershirt and drawers, walked over to where he lay. His eyes were closed and his breathing was loud and labored. It was obvious he was not going any further with his undressing so I began to unbutton his trousers, sliding them off his hips and legs. I picked up his legs and laid them on the bed. His odor wafted up as I caught his heady scent of sweat and beer. I glanced down at him as he began to snore gently.
He was so amazingly beautiful. His skin was like alabaster, smooth and white. His hair black as coal. His eyebrows were thick, outlining his eyes with a gentle curve. His lashes long and thick and would be the envy of many women. He had very little hair on his arms and legs. I was tempted to touch him, but grabbed the comforter from the end of the bed, placing it gently over him. I crossed over to the other side of the bed. I pulled the covers back and climbed onto my side of the bed.
The moon had risen, the light filtering into the room through the lace curtains on the window. The light fell across the bed, illuminating Miles’ forehead. I rose up on one arm and stared down at him as he turned his head towards me. His lips parted. I took a deep breath as his beauty overcame me. I leaned over, kissing him on the lips and then turned and rolled over, falling into a deep sleep listening to the gentle sound of his soft snore.
A few hours later I woke to the sound of a soft thud in the room. Miles was not beside me. I rose up and saw him lying on the floor.
“Sorry, I tripped on the way to the loo,” he laughed. “I gotta piss something fierce and I got a raging boner. Almost broke it with the fall.” Miles got up and made his way to the door, opened it and closed it softly behind him. I lay back on the bed and watched the light from the morning sun slowly fill the room. The door opened again and Miles came into the room. He closed the door and leaned back against it. “Much better” he sighed. I could make out a bulge in his drawers and a wet spot where the tip of his cock protruded.
He crossed the room and threw back the comforter and climbed into bed alongside me.
“Are ye awake, Stephen?”
He reached across the bed, putting his hand on my chest. He gently played with my nipples as they hardened.
“Sorry I passed out on ye.” He whispered in my ear as he slid closer to me. “I believe we have some unfinished business.” His hand moved down my body and rested on my swelling cock.
“Ah, I see thou art hard as well.”
His breath was only slightly sour as he kissed me on the mouth. We kissed long and deep. He rose up, removing his undershirt. He bent down and lifted my undershirt off my belly, kissing me just above the top of my drawers. He undid the first button and kissed me again. He undid the next button, kissing my pubic hair as he inhaled deeply through his nose. My swollen cock burst through the opening in my drawers, slapping him on the cheek. He chuckled as he grabbed the shaft and squeezed. A drop of moisture leaked out the end. He pulled up on my cock and my foreskin covered my engorged head as another drop of moisture spilled out. He swallowed deeply. He choked and lifted off my prick as saliva trailed from his lips to the head of my cock. He caught his breath and went down again and again.
I took his head in my hands and gently brought his mouth to mine. I tasted myself on his tongue as I took him by the shoulders and threw him back on the bed. I quickly removed my undershirt, getting out of my drawers as quickly as possible as he removed his own. I fell on his mouth with mine like a man dying of thirst. I kissed him deeply and grabbed his enlarged member with my hand. He lifted his hips, moving gently with the stroking motion of my hand. He moaned as I kissed him. I made my way down his torso to his nipples. They were like large coins and dark like chocolate. They hardened as my lips softly kissed them. I moved down his belly, opening my mouth to take him. I was not as adept as him, only being able to go so far before I gagged and had to catch my breath.
“Take yer time,” he chuckled.
His cock was much larger than mine, his foreskin covering half the head of his prick when completely hard. The skin of his scrotum and cock were several shades darker than his skin and the hair around his genitals, what little there was, was straight and black. He smelled musty and yeasty like newly baked bread. I was drunk on his odor. I closed my eyes, inhaled deeply and eagerly swallowed as much of his cock as I dared. His breathing quickened as I held his balls in one hand and with the other, slid up and down his cock that was wet with my saliva. I felt the skin of his scrotum tighten. He stifled a groan as I gagged, withdrawing my mouth as he continued to shoot onto his chest and stomach. He brought his hand to the back of my neck, drawing me to his lips
We kissed each other deeply. I rolled over and lay on my back as he took me in his hand and began to stroke. He kissed my neck and shoulders. My body began to tense as his mouth moved to my cock. I felt a wild rushing sensation as I arched my back uncontrollably. Miles held onto me as I unleashed into his mouth.
He fell back on the bed on his back, letting out a great sigh. The room had filled with the morning light, the sun slowly beginning to creep across the bed. As the sunlight fell across his body, the drops on his torso sparkled like jewels. I ran my fingers across his body and he took my hand in his and brought it to his mouth and licked each fingertip.
As I lay there with him I felt a calm peace come over me that I had not felt in years. I closed my eyes, feeling the warmth of the morning sun as it crept across our bodies. He drew me to him, our bodies intertwined, smelling of sweat and sex.
A sharp rap on the door startled us from our reverie.
“Breakfast in twenty, boys,” Sally’s voice announced as we scurried to cover ourselves with sheets and blankets. We lay back on the bed with our hearts pounding.
“She scared the livin’ bejeezus outta me,” Miles laughed and turned to kiss me. “Gotta clean up the mess, lad.” He jumped from the bed, quickly dressed, picked up a towel on a stand and was out the door. I lay there staring at the ceiling and basked in my good fortune. But just as quickly thoughts of what the day might bring when we had to part filled my mind.
A few minutes later the door opened, drawing me away from my thoughts. Miles came into the room, his hair slicked back and wet.
“Had to take a quick whore’s bath. Your turn.”
I got up, scrambled into my clothes and turned as I opened the door.
“I’ll meet you downstairs.”
“Done.” Miles smiled and I left for the bath with my kit. As I walked down the hall barefooted, an elderly couple from the next room was closing their door.
“Good morning,” the woman said and smiled. I searched her face for any trace of forbidden knowledge and found none.
“Good morning,” I replied.
“Sally makes a lovely breakfast, be sure you don’t miss it.” The woman smiled and her husband looked at me with a frown and escorted her away.
I hurriedly shaved, washed up and was soon in the dining room. Miles was across the room chatting with the elderly couple and another soldier. Time seemed to slow down as I watched him speaking, running his hand through his thick hair to push it off his forehead. His charms filled the room. He was like a god among mere mortals and I was amazed that I had held him in my arms. Miles spotted me and his smile drew me over to where he was standing.
“Stephen, have ye met the Caffreys? Louise and Harold.”
“We met briefly in the hallway. Nice to formally meet you.” I shook both their hands. Harold seemed a bit friendlier.
“And this is Barry. He was stationed near Paris.” Barry stood awkwardly and I shook his hand.
“Nice to meet you, Stephen. Miles was just telling us that you met on the crossing.”
“Yes.” I was getting nervous and thankfully Sally came into the room.
“Breakfast is on the buffet, dears. Please help yerselves.” She placed a final bowl on the buffet and hurried back into the kitchen.
“I’m famished,” Miles said and made way for Louise and Harold.
“Age before beauty,” Louise said as they crossed over to the buffet and Miles followed behind them. I followed him and Barry made his way right behind me. I turned to let him cross in front of me and noticed he was using a cane and was having a hard time walking.
“No, please go ahead of me,” he said. “I’ll be there in a moment. Takes me a while to maneuver these days.”
Sally came back into the room with a pot of tea. “Well, these two had a late night of it. Hope they didn’t wake anyone else but me.” She looked at me and winked.
“Didn’t hear a thing,” Louise said as she sat with her plate at the table.
“Tea, dear?” Sally asked.
“Please. Thank you, Sally.” Louise held out her cup and set it on the table. Sally filled it and moved on to Harold’s cup as a young couple entered the dining room.
“Oh, wonderful. I was afraid we might miss breakfast,” the woman said and tightly holding the young man’s hand made her way to the buffet.
Sally turned and said. “This is Jill and Ronald Hill, everyone. Newly married after Ronald returned safely from the front.”
“Jill Hill. Have to get used to that,” Jill laughed as she helped herself to the buffet.
“Hello, everybody,” Ronald said and smiled a very bright and cheery grin.
“I thought there might be someone on their honeymoon.” Barry said as he juggled his plate and cane.
Miles glanced at me and grinned. “Let me help thee with that, mate.” Miles jumped up from the table and grabbed Barry’s plate and set it on the table. Jill blushed and held her head down as she made her way to her seat.
“What branch of the service were you in, Stephen?” Louise asked. I froze. Here it was. The moment I had been dreading.
“Army,” I replied.
“What division.” Barry asked.
“Intelligence.” I looked at Miles who tilted his head to the side and was staring at me with a quizzical look on his face.
“How exciting,” Jill remarked.
“Not really,” I replied. “Quite boring actually. Tons of paper work.”
“Where were you stationed?” Barry asked.
“Oh, I see, top secret, eh?” Harold had perked up and seemed thrilled with the conversation.
“Well, yes, a little.” I looked to Miles and he still had that perplexed look on his face.
Everyone sat looking at me. I didn’t know what to say.
“How about you, Ron? Where were you during the war?” Louise had jumped to my rescue.
“On an island off the coast of Greece.”
“How lovely.” Louise really was a lady.
“It was until the Krauts invaded and put us all in a camp on far side of the island. We were POW for about a year.”
Louise looked shocked. “Oh, how dreadful, Ronald, I’m so sorry.”
“That’s why poor Ronnie is so thin,” Jill said. “I shall do my best to fatten him up.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
Louise reached for his hand and patted it. “Thank God you made it home to marry Jill.”
“Damn Krauts, we should have taken care of them like the Americans did the Japs,” Harold barked. “Never let them rise up again!”
“Harold had some very bad experiences with the Germans in the last war.” Louise wiped her mouth and set her napkin back in her lap.
Miles stood up. “It’s been lovely chattin’ with thee, but I’ve got a train to catch if I’m ever to make it home.”
“Yes, thank you all and I wish you all the best.” I had folded my napkin and placed it on the table. “Miles, I’ll settle up with Sally, if you can grab our bags in the room.”
“Where is home for you, Stephen?” Barry asked. There was something about his nature that was beginning to unsettle me.
“Midlands,” I replied.
I gave a little bow with my head as I turned and walked out the door to the lobby. I heard Barry remark to the room after I had left.
“Seems too good for likes of us.”
I made a mental note to not be so nervous when people questioned me.
I met Miles in the lobby after paying Sally for the lodging. Miles came down the stairs with my suitcase and his duffel bag thrown over his soldier. He came over and gave Sally a kiss on the cheek.
“Thanks fer everthing, Sally. Yer a peach.”
“Yer quite welcome, I’m sure. Please come back and visit an old woman when yer in London Town again.”
“I’ll be sure to do that.”
“Thank you again, Sally. It has been a pleasure,” I said.
“And you come back too, yer Lordship.” Sally winked at Miles and he laughed.
“I thought he was a Lord fer sure when I first met ‘im.”
I blushed and shook Sally’s hand. Why couldn’t I be more like Miles? I took my suitcase from Miles and walked out the front door with Miles following behind me.