“- Hurry up Gaston, you’re going to make us late!” Lieutenant Dagonet’s impatient voice could be heard down the corridor. Gaston was finishing a letter to his wife Violette. He wanted to have it done before they leave this mid-morning. The weather turned bad overnight and all flights have been cancelled. A few pilots decided to go to town to eat and find some entertainment. Gaston agreed to tag along. He wanted to try something ... something not from the mess. Dagonet, Boillot and Garrigou were waiting by the car and as soon as Voscadeaux came down they all packed into the worn Peugeot and headed for Châlons. The city was a short distance NW of Senard and by the noon the group of pilots were stretching their legs after the cramped ride. There were soldiers everywhere, many with ladies on their hand. Dagonet and Voscadeaux went directly to a nearby restaurant, while Boillot and Garrigou went looking for some entertainment. The local establishment was filling up and it took a while before they were able to get a table. The pair ordered some fresh bread and cheese to go with a jug of local wine. They didn’t mind that the service took twice as long due to all the orders. They whiled the time away talking and drinking the wine and waiting for their onion soup to arrive. They’ve noticed an unusual amount of women around for a town so close to the front. They’ve come to the conclusion that where there are soldiers, there will be women too. Men have their needs. Their empty plates were well peppered before the hot onion soup was poured into them. They gorged on it until their throats were raw. It was time to replenish their wine jug. Smoked coq au vin was next. The meal was satisfying in taste and quantity. Gaston wasn’t sure he still had any place for the dessert. They ordered the flaugnarde stuffed with peaches, plums and apples. The two men were stuffed themselves and could barely move. They’ve left the restaurant after four hours of feasting and were trying to find their car to take them back to the aerodrome when turning a corner they bumped into a group of soldiers. One of them fell to the ground after bouncing off Gaston. Their tunics gave them away as pilots. “- Excusez-nous, Monsieurs!” Dagonet apologized. “- The fault was ours. You see our friend James here, had one too many and wasn’t looking where he was going. You have to excuse him, he recently lost his brother.” “- Désolé mon ami. Sorry to hear that. What happened?” Gaston felt for the young man still laying on the floor trying to gather himself. “- Lost the lower wings in a dive, chasing after some Boche.” “- Ohhh, that’s terrible. Hope he didn’t suffer. Well, take good care of your friend. He’ll have a heck of a headache in the morning. Au revoir!” Gaston and Dagonet continued on their way. The young man on the floor mumbled something that resembled “Nieuport 17”, then heaved uncontrollably and vomited on the sidewalk. “Nieuport 17”.
"Take the cylinder out of my kidneys, The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain, From out of my arse take the camshaft, And assemble the engine again."