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Wednesday, December 5, 2012


The drone of the jeep engine was easily as lulling as the purring of my Grumman F8F Bearcat, affectionately referred to as “Papa Bear.” This borrowed mechanical monstrosity was as drafty as my bird, and each pothole I seem to find (I think I found every stinking one) was the equivalent of a quake from an aerial bombardment blast. When would it end? This quest of mankind to rule the world as it slowly killed one country at a time. Never, I supposed.
I let my thoughts drift back in time to a day between the Great Wars. Every American boy dreamed of joining the military, traveling to an exotic country, and falling in love with the most beautiful woman on some beach under the light of the silvery moon. Didn't every land of exotic beauties have a beach? Well, at least that is what my buds and I fantasized about day in and out. After school we would get our nickel Cokes and run to the orchard. Laughing as we ran and staging mock dog-fights in our jet fighters! “Vroom! Pft! Pft! Pft!” Arriving in our sanctuary, we would collapse under a giant apple tree and await a Newtonian moment to fall upon us as we discussed our understanding of world politics. Taking turns we would surmise when and where the next Great War would occur. We would offer our heroic tactics and plan to save the world; and of course, the beautiful damsel in distress. I always chose France, because I had forever wanted to kiss a woman atop the Eiffel Tower. The guys always laughed at me and called me “Romeo.” Those Spring days were some of the best days of my life. I miss Russ, Jeff, and the others. Where are they now?
{{{screech}}} Whoa! I had almost passed the place as I swam in the warm mental waters of yesteryear. There it was! The most well kept secret in all of war-torn France, the infamous “La porte du Ciel!” I had paid a pretty penny to get directions to this “Gateway to Heaven” getaway. It's story better be prettier than the cover! This place looked like a dive. But what should I expect in a country ravaged by the evils of mankind’s aggression. Rumors in the wind had it that this was the last place in France one could get a good shot of single malt Scotch to warm the belly while listening to a true siren melt your heart with her songs of love. I had seen a lot of dames and ogled twice as many gams, and had yet to near internal combustion. We shall see.
The blue smoke drift upward in spirals and fought for existence in the same space occupied by the airy musical notes that drifted through the room from the band hidden in the jukebox. My Zippo erupted light into the shadows and I saw the house was full tonight. As I gazed around, I saw German officers, Italian soldiers, French, English, and fellow Americans; all under the same roof, at the same time. Had there been a world truce? Was the war over? I should be so lucky. Wait! I think the day is Thursday! Was she going to be there? I had heard that a woman with the voice of and angel and the body of Betty Grable performed here on Thursdays. Was this my lucky day?
As an eerie hush fell over the unlikely calm mix of cultural diversity, one of the German officers locked eyes with me for a moment. What was it I saw in his gaze? Was it a tear of humanity shadowed and hidden behind secular and religious ideologies? Yes, I believe I saw…
*♪ ♫ *♪ ♫ * Je t'aime *♪ ♫ *♪ ♫ *…My thoughts and life itself were interrupted by the most ethereal voice I had ever experienced. I turned my gaze from the stranger in the SS uniform to the swaying figure upon the dimly lit stage. It was as if her voice had permeated my being and was caressing my heart. The song slowly moved deeper into my essence and left a blanket of love’s residue covering my soul. All the wounds of war were forgotten in that moment, both psychological and physical. After her number was over, our specter of light disappeared behind the side-curtain of the stage. A strange din arose that was not too unlike having my aircraft strafed with bullets. I looked around to see the crowd banging steins and glasses on the tabletops, chanting “encore!” She was gone...
Glancing around, I wondered, “How many of these patrons were here creating memories vs those reliving them?” A whispered voice from behind me answered, “Votre choix commence maintenant.” I felt a hand come to rest upon my shoulder at the same time I realized that I had spoke my question aloud. I started to quiver. It couldn’t be her. I closed my eyes and tried to shake the scotch-created phantom from my mind. Wait! Phantoms don’t speak French. I slowly opened my eyes and turned to see it was her. I fumbled my only French, “Parlez-vous Anglais? Je suis désolé. Je ne peux pas parler Français.” A tiny sigh escaped her lips that lit up the entire room. “Very good French for an American,” she laughed. “Shall we dance, or do you plan to continue drowning yesterday in your Scotch?”

© Dec 5, 2012 ~ DBC, Duke of the Arctic

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