Fullofit, thanks, glad you enjoyed it. I wrote it up in about 2 1/2 hours over the course of a couple of early mornings with a portion of that time spent checking some historical facts. So when are we going to hear if Chesty's last three claims were approved or not? You must keep us abreast of his progress.
Lou, 2.5 hrs? That's fantastic. It takes me that long to come up with a title (that's why I don't do 'em) And you are a dirty, dirty man!
Harry, excellent installment. Let them fear the man, not mock him. I guess he will have to win them over with his skills in the air, yes?
Raine, thanks for that. I had it surgically removed from my brain long time ago. Now it's back.
The mess hall was very loud. It was the sound of excitement created by the allure of winning the odds and the disappointment of a sudden loss in a game of chance. The noise was coming from the table in the corner lit by a solitary lamp hanging above it and casting long shadows through thick clouds of tobacco smoke. The familiar redolence of alcohol was hanging in the air to keep the lamp company. “- No way! Three more anchors. That’s twice in a row. These dice are loaded!” Art Whealy was highly suspicious of Ray’s good fortune. “- The only thing that’s loaded is you, Art.” Raymond Collishaw retorted, defending his honour. “- You’re blotto and you can’t see straight anymore, not to mention that you can’t even count.” “- An Officer never gets drunk.” Art’s speech was slurred. “- And as for counting, I can count on this fine Gentleman over here.” He slapped Tobias on the back. “- You know what he did this morning?” Whealy was now embracing Toby with both arms around his torso and rocking him from side to side. Mulberry tried to free himself, but the bear hug was too strong to get out of. He remained trapped in Whealy’s clutches, squirming to try and place his bets. “- Okay, no more bets!” Yelled John Page. “- I’m rolling the dice!” Whealy continued: “- We were over Colmar. You know that factory south of the city? We’ve just made our delivery of the fresh forty-pounders and were in the process of forming up, when all of a sudden this gaggle of Huns appears out of nowhere. Page broke right, I left and Toby over there didn’t even catch up to us yet. They zoomed by us and soon everyone was being chased by these Germanic Devils. I caught the green one on my tail and we went round and round in circles. I don’t even know what happened to Page and Mulberry tangled with another Hun. I could see he almost had him when one more attacked us from behind.” Whealy took another enormous gulp of his pint. He followed it up with a prolonged wipe with his backhand and the edge of the sleeve. Page wasn’t paying attention. The dice rolled and came to a stop near the edge of the table. Collishaw made a triumphant whoop while jeers came from two other, less fortunate pilots. “- A crown and two spades!” Yelled Page. “- Pay up!” Whealy continued his story: “- The bloody green Fokker was gaining on me and my gun layer had a terrible gun jam. I was in trouble!” “- What happened to Mulberry and the Eindecker that was about to attack him from behind?” Ray reminded Art where he left off. “- Didn’t I explain it already? He let go the monoplane he was chasing and turned into his attacker just in time to avoid his fire. Pay attention Collie, eh!” The beer finally hit the spot and Whealy let out a loud burp. “- Ahh, that did the trick. He then parked his Strutter on the Hun’s tail and proceeded to make a sieve out of it. The poor Hun didn’t know where to run. He finally tried to stand his Fokker on its tail, but Toby had him in his sights and peppered him good. It looked like the Eindecker tucked its tail between its legs and fell out of control. It was a long way down. We were at 9,000 feet. I lost him near the ground, but I’m certain he didn’t make it. This is when Toby came to my rescue.” Art tightened his grip on poor Mulberry. “- He was back in action and chasing my Hun. I remember at one point we came so close to each other I had to dodge out of the way. That would have been a nasty collision.” He made a sour face after that recollection. “- What happened next? Did you get that Hun?” Ray was now intrigued. “- I dunno. As soon as the Boche got off my tail I flew straight for home. Toby, finish the story.” He gave the macerated youth another shake. “- I will, but you have to let me go. I can hardly breathe!” It was Toby’s last chance to escape Art’s clutches. Whealy obliged and Mulberry instantly moved out of Arthur’s reach. He took a deep breath and his chest swelled back up to its normal size. Toby took a swig from Art’s pint and continued the story: “- After Art had left, thanks for that by the way!” He gave Whealy a skunk eye, but the Canadian simply shrugged and smiled. “- We were left alone, just him and I. We continued to circle each other and at the end he cut across under my nose, nearly colliding in the process and then disappeared. I could only see Art fading in the distance. I wasn’t about to go deeper into the Hun-land looking for him. The only thing I could do was turn around and return home. That was pretty much it.” Toby concluded. “- No wonder they call you the Killer. How many does it make now, 4?” Ray started to count them down. “- The one on your first sortie, then the two Fokkers from a few days ago and now this one. That makes it four, right?” “- Nah, just three. I’m still waiting for this last one to be confirmed.” Toby corrected Raymond. “Enough of this chitchat, who’s turn is it?” Page was getting impatient.
"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."