October 2nd, 1940, Oakdale, IL, USA
Oakdale Times Head Offices
Luke sat at his desk trying to think of a way to convince his temporary editor that they should focus on more important stories right now than school children being given too much homework and not having time for chores and more on the war in Europe
“Not that it matters Mrs. Ryan never listens to anything anyone has to say anyway.." he said and sighed
"What did you say Luke? Of course Mrs. Ryan listens to you. To all of us." His colleague and brother in law Hunter said, taking a break from working on his article on the upcoming Halloween festival.
“No I'm afraid she doesn’t Hunter. She pretends to for manners sake, but she doesn't actually listen."
“She got Reg that position in the London offices when he asked for it."
“He's perfect for the job, besides I find what she says hard to take at face value, also..” Luke said when a knock on the door interrupted him.
“Come in." Hunter said, leaning back in his chair to get a better view of the door.
The door opened and Emily Ryan, temporary editor in chief of the Oakdale offices of the Oakdale Times walked in. Wearing a simple yet elegant black dress and with her perfectly styled hair she always looked like she was on her way to a party rather than run a newspaper. It was unusual for a woman to be in charge of an entire company but Mr. Ryan, who owned the paper had set up office in London, England to cover the war and left his wife in charge back home.
"You two, my office, now." She demanded.
“I'm still working on your story Mrs. Ryan” Luke said, standing up from his seat.
“Never mind that story. Come with me” She said and turned around and walked back to her office, expecting the two men to follow her.
"Is there a problem Mrs. Ryan?" Hunter asked, following her through the corridor.
“No but this is very important.”
"Another festival we have to write about?" Luke asked
“Hardly, this is even bigger”
“Like what? We finally get to write about the war?"
“Come into my office" Emily said, ushering the two men into her office and closing the door.
"I'm right aren’t I?"
"In a way, sit down and I’ll explain." Emily said as she sat down behind her desk and pulled a file from her drawer.
Both men did as they’re told and sat down on the uncomfortable wooden chairs on the other side of Emily’s desk.
"I received a telegram from my husband in London. Two of our reporters died in an air raid. We need more staff there to cover the war. You two, will be that extra staff. You’re going to London"
“We..we’re going to London?" Luke asked, not sure he understood what his boss had just told him.
"Yes, that's what I just said Mr. Snyder. Go home to pack. you'll be leaving in 3 days" Emily said, giving him a stern look.
“Three days!? But..Mrs. Ryan..my wife is pregnant and..” Hunter stammered.
"You'll be living in the staff housing in London. You’re going by boat. The next boat with US troops to leave for England. You can bring your wife."
“C-can I? but.. I.. we can’t afford a boat ticket.. and.. there's a war on over there.. that's no place to raise a child.."
“The boat is paid for Mr. Hunter. You’re going on work sponsored benefits. Just go home and pack. The ship leaves in three days as I said. At noon sharp." Emily said, handing them both some papers with information on their trip.
“Mrs. Ryan...will we..be returning to America?” Luke said, voicing the only thought that had been running through his mind the last few minutes.
“You'll be covering a war Mr. Snyder. Those are dangerous."
"So that's a no then." Luke stated.
“We will see Mr. Snyder. I don’t know. Now, if that's everything, I have work to do” She said and turned her attention to another file on her desk.
“You’re just going to dismiss us like this after sending us to a war Mrs. Ryan!?" Hunter said, trying and failing to keep his calm.
“Mister Hunter I'm sending you to our London bases office to work for my husband. You'll be doing your job there just like you're supposed to here."
“You’re sending us to a location to replace two now deceased reporters.”
“Life is full of risks mister Hunter. This is one of them." Emily said, clearly dismissing them from her office.
“Come on Hunter, let’s go pack up” Luke said, trying to get the other man to come with him before he got himself in trouble with the boss.
“How surprising Mr. Snyder.” Emily said, briefly looking up from her work.
"What is Mrs. Ryan?"
“It is your nature to throw some argument at me. I’m surprised to see you’re not fighting me on this.”
“The job is dangerous but I embrace it, it’s more worthy than reporting on homework.”
"After 3 years..and Everything my husband has tried.. It takes a war to get you in the right state of mind." Emily said, sounding almost surprised.
“I'll ignore that retort" Luke said and stood up from his seat, pulling Hunter up with him. “Shall we?"
They leave the office, unaware Emily Ryan isn’t as focused on her work as she seems and is following them with her eyes.
"London?! She's sending us to London?! she's going to get us killed! There’s a war on there!" Hunter said, panicking.
“Hunter calm down!” Luke said, grabbing the other man’s arms, making him look at him. “You can't go home and tell my sister, your wife that you’re going to London in a freaked out tone like that. How do you expect her to be calm when YOU’RE not? Pull yourself together!"
"How can I calm down?! We're going to war in 3 days! We could be dead by this time next week!"
"We’re not going to WAR were going to report on a war”
“Because the two other guys got killed Luke!"
“Well.. we just have to make sure that doesn't happen to us.." Luke said, after considering Hunter’s argument for a minute.
“I'm sure those guys thought the same thing Luke!”
“Well.. that's all we can do isn’t it? Just.. be careful.. don’t do anything crazy.."
“We could quit this job right now and just don’t go.” Hunter suggested.
“Right. And then what? You have a family Hunter. You need this job to provide for them.”
“I could find another job.” Hunter said, not really believing it himself.
“Another job? Like what? The country is just getting out of a depression and there is a war on in Europe that could very well pull us into the mess too. There are no jobs Hunter. It’s this or the Army. You know the only reason we’re not in uniform right now is because Mr. Ryan said we are essential to the paper. If we quit we’re going straight to war. To fight.” Luke said, trying to make the other man see sense.
“You’re right.. you’re right..” Hunter sighed “But...we have our families..”
“Well you do..I don't have a wife and child on my hands.”
“I just wish you'd settle down and get married Luke. Find a nice girl and be happy.” Hunter said, suddenly changing the subject and taking Luke by surprise.
“I told you, it’s not something I want to talk about.” Luke said quickly.
“You always say that. Don't you want to start a family Luke?"
“I don't want to talk about it. Don't press me”
“Alright, alright. I’m sorry I said anything.” Hunter said, holding up his hands in defeat. "I guess I better go home and tell Faith.."
"Yeah, see you in 3 days." Luke said, anxious to end the conversation.
“Yes..have a good evening Luke" Hunter replied, clearing his desk, looking downright scared.
“You as well...I'm sorry for snapping at you.” Luke said sincerely, trying to calm the other man’s nerves.
“It's ok. I get it. This London thing is freaking me out too." Hunter said giving him a small smile. "Well.. I guess I should go home to pack now.." He said, not making a move to leave the office.
“Yeah.. I should too. Take care Hunter. Give Faith my love. I’ll.. see you guys in 3 days." Luke said, pulling on his coat and walking out the office, desperately wanting some fresh air to clear his mind.
October 2nd, US Air force base - Oakdale, IL
"Gabe? Why are you here too?" Noah asked his friend who was sitting outside colonel Mayer’s office.
“I was summoned"
"You too? I thought he just wanted to talk to me about my mother again.." Noah said, somewhat relieved.
He’d grown up in a loving home with his mother and the man he always thought was his father. Until he got into an accident when he was 10 and needed a blood transfusion. Winston Mayer had been first in line to donate but the doctors told him he didn’t have the right blood type and that he couldn’t be Noah’s father. Ten year old Noah hadn’t understood much of it all but he understood the fights and his mother taking him to live with her friend, Dusty Donovan, who turned out to be Noah’s real father. At first Noah refused to call the other man dad or even talk to him. But now, 12 years later, he couldn’t imagine a life without his father. Yet Winston, who was now his boss in the air force still was special to him. Even though neither man would ever admit it.
“I think it's something different.” Gabe said, his voice pulling Noah from his thoughts.
“Hey guys, what’s going on here? Having a party?" Casey said, grinning as he walked down the hallway to the office.
Casey was the kind of guy that didn’t take life very seriously and usually decided rules didn’t apply to him. Most high ranking officers would love nothing more than to punish him in every which way possible.. but Casey had ways of getting hold of things that were hard to come by. No-one knew exactly where the stuff came from and no-one asked but everyone that could afford to do so asked Casey to shop for them.
“We've been summoned.” Gabe said once again.
“Why? To do my bidding?” Casey joked.
“Isn’t that what you have all those girlfriends for?" Gabe replied
“What do you mean all those girlfriends?" Casey asked, trying to look offended “I've only got one for every day of the week” He joked.
“Sure, does your wife know that?"
“That ring is just for show remember? Since she's abroad and won't know what he does here while she’s away." Gabe explained.
“How cruel to the poor girl”
“Why? It's not like it's a real marriage. Alison only wanted a husband to stop people from talking." Casey said and shrugged.
“Talking about what? Her affair with Aaron Snyder? A married man?" Gabe asked.
“No...something else..but I don't know"
A loud voice coming from inside the office interrupted the conversation.
"Mayer, Hughes, Sands in here now. are you waiting for a written invitation?"
The three men got up and went into the office right away, knowing that keeping the colonel waiting would only put him in a worse mood.
“At ease but stay put, this is very important information." Colonel Mayer said, while looking through a pile of papers on his desk.
“Yes, sir.” Casey replied, knowing he wasn’t supposed to talk but wouldn’t be told off since he didn’t actually say anything offensive.
“You three are some of our best pilots. You have signed on to serve your country and its allies. Which is what you will be doing from now on. You three are joining the Eagle Squadron" The colonel said after shooting Casey a dirty look.
"The Eagle Squadron sir?" Casey asked, sounding nothing like the care-free guy he usually was. “As in...the American pilots fighting with the Brits in the War in Europe?
“No Hughes, the Eagles in DC. Of course you idiot ,what else?" Col. Mayer snapped at Casey.
“We.. are going to England?" Noah asked carefully.
“That's right. You'll be stationed on a base near London. You're leaving in 3 days."
“Sir..are we..is this a permanent transfer?” Gabe asked
“For the moment it is Sands”
“But.. aren't we needed here?" Noah asked the Colonel.
"Our country isn't directly involved in this war. That’s why we have to support our allies and send them our best men and women." The colonel said and turned to Casey. "Your wife is over there isn’t she? You'll get a nice early reunion."
"Ah..yes sir..she.. she is over there..” Casey said softly.
“Well that's about everything. I’ll only be needing you all to sign these transfer papers." The colonel said, handing them the papers with their orders and details on their trip. “The Eagle Squadron is made up of Americas top pilots. You should be honoured. Even you Hughes. You’re a dumb ass but I know what you can do in a plane."
"Thanks sir..I guess.. but only 3 days to pack?"
"How much time do you need to pack your spare uniforms Hughes? You’re going to war not on holiday.”
“It’s not that sir. It's more..I.. was hoping to say goodbye to someone.”
"I think 3 days should be enough to say goodbye to your mother Hughes."
"You’re dismissed. Get out of here and get ready to travel. The boat leaves Friday at noon."
“What is it Hughes?" the colonel asked a few minutes later after noticing Noah and Gabe left his office but Casey was still there.
“I was wondering if I could have a quick slip for visitation rights to Camp Morris..in Northern IL”
“For tomorrow? What for?”
“I was..hoping to say goodbye to my brother sir..” Casey said, a sheepish look on his face.
The colonel thought about the matter for a minute and decided letting the kid visit his brother for what very well could be the last time ever was the least he could do before sending him off to war.
“Alright, granted, be back here in less than 48hrs however”
"Thank you sir. I’ll be back in time, I promise."
“I'll let camp Morris know that one of our men will be arriving early tomorrow, stick to the time limit though Hughes”
"Yes sir, I will sir, don’t worry." Casey said and quickly grabbed the forms from the desk before the colonel would have time to change his mind.
"And Hughes..” The colonel said, making Casey stop dead in his tracks. “Don't let them catch you in London."
“I will remain evasive sir, so that I may return” Casey said in a way he knew pleased the officers.
"Yes. But you know what I mean.. don’t.. get involved in.. the kind of business you do here."
The colonel sighed as Casey gave him another sheepish grin.
“We know, Hughes.”
“I will be alert and do my upmost best to not disgrace us sir."
“Yes. you do that. And come back in one piece or your mother will skin me alive."
“Yes sir. I will do that sir."
“So, London..” Gabe trailed off, kicking a rock across the road.
“Yeah..London..” Noah repeated, not sure what else to say.
“Well..I always wanted to travel..”
“Oh yeah, going to join a war is a highlight of one’s vacation Gabe”
“Well.. not that but.. the things you heard in school.. the far away countries.. and we won’t be fighting the whole time right? We can explore the country a bit.”
Noah sighed but decided to keep his mouth shut, not wanting to burst Gabe’s bubble.
“Seriously man, you need to find yourself a girl, and let loose a bit, might help those stiff shoulder muscles of yours!” Casey said, after slapping Noah on the back.
“Hey it works for me.” he said and rolled his shoulders to prove this.
"How is it that you’re so loose and relaxed when your wife is halfway across the world?" Gabe asked in an attempt to get Casey to admit what everyone is thinking.
"Come to think of it you could use a good lay too Gabe" Casey said grinning.
Gabe shook his head after deciding not to mention the fact his ideal lay would be a lot more masculine than the nurses Casey liked to surround himself with.
“Not every man beds anything with nice breasts and easily opened legs Casey”
“Hey! I have more standards than just that thank you.”
“You do? First I’ve heard of it."
“Yes, I do. Anyway..I have to split. I have a 5 hour drive ahead of me”
“Where are you going with such little time left?" Noah asked.
“Camp Morris. Got permission.” Casey explained.
"Adam is still there then?"
“He is...and I want to say goodbye. Yeah, yeah go ahead and laugh."
“Why would we do that?” Gabe asked. “How tasteless do you think we are?"
“And besides..we get it" Noah told him.
"Yeah.. I have some people I want to say goodbye to too. Just in case.." Gabe trailed off, not wanting to finish that sentence.
“Yeah...me too.” Noah admitted.
“I'd rather not be seeing a plaque of cement with 'Gabriel Edmund Sands July 8th 1919-1940 something on it” Gabe said a few minutes later.
“Oh god Gabe, how much more depressing can you get? We haven't even LEFT yet."
"Ok that’s my cue. I’m out of here. You'll have plenty of time to depress me on the boat" Casey said, making his way over to the barracks to pack his gear.
“Bye Case. See you on the boat.” Noah said and sighed, trying not to bemoan the fact that he had a VERY long trip ahead of him with Mr. Depression.
“I'm only trying to be aware of the situation Noah.” Gabe said, picking up on his friend’s mood.
"I know you are. But just.. don’t do it out loud ok?" Noah pleaded.
“Hmm.. I can do that”
“Besides, you want to see the country remember? Can't do that in a box."
"Yeah.. you’re right. We’re going to get through this. Together."
October 2nd, 1940, Oakdale, IL, USA