Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rough Draft #17: "Honestly, I didn't like her too much either"

((Subtitle: Goat Wagon?))

Real title:
Seminole Airmen Rough Draft
  I grow tired of the roar of my Mustangs engine.  The constant rattle of the propeller inside the cockpit rocks me to sleep over long missions.  Wind hits me in the face from an opening where a bullet hit the side of my windshield to remind me how close to death I came.  This constant reminder changed the way I see this war, because in war only the heartless live.  And some might say I lost my heart that night in Tallahassee during fighter training. 

 I had just graduated college when the war hit, before the U.S. started sending men to Europe to fight a war we didn’t believe in.  I had always dreamed to fly ever since I saw a picture of my father in a Sopwith Camel during WWI.  I haven’t seen or spoken to him in five years.  He was an Ace pilot; his favorite story to tell is the time he “shot a German son of a bitch clean out of his cockpit with his trusty sidearm.”  He never told me the story however; I just heard it from his peers I encountered through my training.

  My dreams of following in his footsteps were a failure from the start.  My grades weren’t high enough to apply for fighter school.  I put in endless hours of work, played golf with the right people, and even dated some of the general’s daughters just to have a fighting chance to get in.  Each year I would fall into a depression from opening the letter saying I wasn’t good enough.  Then when we declared war on the Axis powers, the floodgates opened.  They lowered their standards greatly and put me behind a screaming metal death trap capable of massive destruction.  I often second guessed myself thinking I didn’t have the confidence to fly this plane, and secretly hoping I would get disqualified somewhere along the training pipeline.  My mom, who hasn’t worked or gotten job in the 5 years since dad left us, was so proud of me.  She went all over the small town of Blountstown telling everyone her son was a fighter pilot.  I couldn’t disappoint her.  If I was going to do this, I was going to be the best.

            After going through commissioning, I got assigned to the nearest fighter training school to my home.  I traveled about 60 miles away from the already small town of Blountstown, Florida to the slightly larger town of small Tallahassee.  I left my fiancĂ©, Alice, back home with momma to take care of her.  Alice couldn’t stand my mom because she knew how difficult it was for me to support me and her while going to college.  Honestly, I didn’t like her too much either.  She always stirred up drama and just sat on the couch listening to the radio all day instead of trying to find a job.  She blames it on her depression when dad left.  I don’t even know where he went or why.  He just left a Dear John’ letter on the kitchen table which I never read. 

              I arrived at my temporary duty station at Mabry Field.  I always knew where it was because I used to drive by it on highway 20 going to get groceries in Tallahassee.  My neighbor, Frank, owned a plane there.  He was a crusty old Major with a good heart.  Some people saw Frank as mean and blunt, but he was always a father figure to me since dad left.  He often took me up in his plane and we would fly over the Appalachia Forest looking for good spots to hunt deer.  Frank was going to war too; he was offered an assignment to train a few fighter classes at Mabry Field because he was plenty of action during WWI.  I got out of my beat up old Buick and saw Frank, standing by the base’s gate with the crooked grin of his.  He always had an unlit cigar poking out of the side of his mouth. 

Harrison, you little shit-eater, good to see you finally made it to the Boy’s Club” Frank always called the Air Corps the Boy’s Club’ because him and his fighter friends had little nicknames and went out drinking all the Time.  Frank’s call sign was Front Runner. 

“You’re going to love it here at the Big Blue Screw; we are going fishing tomorrow in the river.” 

The Big Blue Screw was on the patch of the 3rdFighter Training School at Mabry Field.  “Get yourself settled in, and I’ll introduce you to your squad-mates.” 

I Followed Frank to the garrison where there were four cots, one was empty for myself.  There was a pale, scrawny, and tall boys lying on the cot across the room from me.  He obviously wasn’t from round these parts.  “Harrison, meet Tree.  He’s a Yankee from North Carolina.”  Tree didn’t look up from his book when he replied “Damnit Front Runner, I have killed more deer and drank more beers than you have.” Tree had a forced southern accent, as if he was trying to hide his Yankee brode’.  “Anyways Tree, meet Harrison.  He’s a new lieutenant from Blountstown.” 

I threw my bag onto the cot, “Nice to meet you, Tree.”  “Hey, man” Tree said standing up “Nice to meet you, let’s head on over the DFAC and grab some chow.  It’s almost noon.”   
            Tree introduced me to two other new lieutenants in our squad; one was a grizzly looking man with hair that was obviously out of regulations.  He even had a full beard.  “Harrison this is Jack, We call him Goat Wagon because he’s gross as shit.”  Goat Wagon made a grunt as he continued to eat a spoonful of lasagna, a little fell onto his shirt leaving a stain on an already speckled white t-shirt. 

Sitting next to him was a tanned skin boy who looked barely 18.  He was adding pomade to his already neat-greasy hair and combing it to the side using the reflection in his metal food tray.  “And this guy right here is Guido.  He’s from New York, and was in a gang that robbed old ladies of their breath mints.” 

Guido gave tree a look from hell “Screw off’” Guido said “I bet you haven’t even been in a fight in your whole life, you funny looking scruff.”  Guido looked at me “who the hell are you new guy?”  I took a nod at Guido; I never liked Greasers’ like him. Tree and I sat down with our metal trays containing a generous portion of lasagna.  We chatted with the other two lieutenants until Frank and a One Star walked in.  Frank hit a bell with a hammer like it was a Nazi. 

 “ALRIGHT LISTEN UP” the One Star said, “Welcome to Mabry Field.  I will be the Commander over this operation, and I expect nothing but the best from all you new guys.” 

“This is Major Frank C. Dawson.  He is my second in command.  If you have any gripes, concerns, questions, complaints see him.”  Frank belched out “AT EASE BOYS” and we continued to finish our meals.  We started to head back to our garrison on the other side of the dirt runway.  I spotted out of the corner of my eye a familiar face.  It was Jason from the town across the bridge from Blountstown.  Jason was a short, stalky fellow from Bristol.  He had a negative attitude towards everything, but was one of the most popular people in Bristol.  I think it’s because he was a football star and had a scholarship to play ball at Notre Dame.  He played one game and broke his foot under a linebacker the first play.  He was a softy.  Jason caught me looking at him and his face lit up.  He came over with a pearly smile on his face, “Doug Harrison! I can’t believe you’re here! Nice to see you buddy.”  Jason called everyone buddy even if he hated them.  Jason and I hated each other.  We got into a big fight which included 5 players from each football team at the only restaurant in Blountstown.  The police were called and the Blountstown players were all arrested.  I think Jason and his teammates only got away with it because the police didn’t want to ruin Jason’s chances of playing college ball.  “Hi, Jason. What are the odds we both got assigned here.”  “You always were a bit of a titty-baby Douglas, how’d you grow the nuts to leave your mommy for six weeks.”  I balled up my fist and bit my lower lip.  I always bite my lip when I’m determining whether or not to hit someone in the jaw.  “Anyways Harrison, me and my squad, Alpha company, are top-dogs around here.  You better learn some respect when talking to us.”  I couldn’t take his lip any longer.  I hit Jason right in the damn mouth.  It was a punch that knocked him clean on his ass.  One that will make me smile whenever I think back to how it felt on my knuckles.  “WHOAAA” Tree screamed as he grabbed me; however the fight was already finished.  I could hear Jason snoring on the ground, he was knocked out cold.  Two other members of Jason’s squad realized what was happening and ran up to us.  “I don’t know who the hell you are, but you really messed up.  You just knocked out the General of Mabry Field’s son!”  My heart sank when one of the young men from Alpha explained this to me.  I had really messed up now. 

            Later that night around 6:00pm, Frank moved the cloth door to our garrison back.  “Harrison! Get here right now!”  I knew Frank was fixing to jump down my throat about knocking that boy out.  “Yes sir” I said; my voice and body were shaking.  “I know you didn’t know, but Jason is the General’s son.  He’s a little upset with you, but I’ve calmed him down some.  He wanted to expel you from the school, but I reminded him of a scuffle he had a few months ago at a bar.  Anyways, he would like to meet with you tomorrow at 0700.  It would be in your best interest to attend.”  “Thank you, sir.  I owe you a favor.”  Frank just put up his hand and walked out without saying another word.  I didn’t sleep a wink that night. 
            I eventually looked at my watch and saw it was time to get myself together to meet with the General.  I wasn’t nervous anymore.  I saw the General’s jeep parked in front of the nicest building around the airbase.  It was all white with a wraparound porch.  I assume it used to be an old plantation house renovated for the General to sleep in.  A young private was sitting by the jeep reading the newspaper.  “Is the General here?”  “I hope so, I woke up at 0600 to drive his ass here” the young man replied.  I had reported in to senior officers before, but never a General.  I was pondering how to do it as I opened the door to the old plantation house.  Inside were several old men in their service dress.  All adorned with silver medals you could eat a hearty meal off of.  They all looked up from their coffee and snarled at me.  As if I wasn’t even supposed to look at them.  I greeted them with a subtle “Good morning, gentlemen” and they returned to their morning coffee and newspapers.  The Commander turned into the room once he heard my voice, “Ah, Harrison.  You’re early, good.  Come with me into my office where we can chat without all these ears.”  He pointed at the elderly senior officers sipping coffee.  One had just dipped his coffee spoon into a can of snuff and stirred it into his coffee.  We went up the stairs into a giant library with a desk and a singular chair right in the middle of the room.  The library itself was bigger than my entire apartment in college.  “Take a seat son” I waited for the General to sit down first.  “Now, I don’t think I’ve introduced myself to you before, have I son?  Well, I’m General Caines.”  I thought about replying but I knew these were rhetorical sayings.  “Anyways, enough with formalities, I understand you and Lt. Caines had a little argument by the flight line yesterday after lunch.” 
Comments: Watch how you get WW2 Started (the Axis suddenly declare war? how? with words or bombs?); cite your research; break up dialogue into separate paragraphs for each speaker.