Harry, I am already fully invested in this Lazlo character, wonderful stuff. Keep it coming!
Raine, thanks, it's good to be back. And I've been a fan of the McGarrigle sisters for years so I am very familiar with that classic. Thanks for sharing it.
Fullofit, a fun vignette there, thoroughly enjoyable. Super video too. And I'm with Trooper, your gunner needs to be taken out behind the woodshed and have things explained to him. Also, I am not dirty, I shower every day.
23 August 1916
Captain Swanson was up and dressed very early, enjoying a cup of ginger tea before getting in a jog around the south field at Fienvillers. Truth be told it would be more of a limp than a jog, given the fact that his left calf was still recovering. But he was determined to work it back to full strength and shed himself of the cane. With the smell of peppermint in the air he started out on his run, the dull ache in his head intensified almost immediately thereafter. However, it was nothing like it had been yesterday morning, it was crippling then and his own damned fault.
The binge on the night of the 21st had been fun at the time, and the alcohol in its many forms had helped him forget about his headache temporarily. But he had the devil and all the minions of Hell to pay the following morning. Even after dissolving three packets of Sitruc's powder in his morning cuppa' and gulping it down it did little more than scrape the smallest edge off. It took everything he had in him to dress, climb up into the cockpit of the Strutter, and lead 'A' Flight on a morning patrol over Old Mossy Face. Thank God there had been no enemy planes about. Just guiding his mount there and back had been a Herculean task. The one plus to the outing was the fact that the cold air up at 9'000 feet made his head feel somewhat better, almost tolerable. Enough so that he loitered above Fienvillers for an additional fifteen minutes before landing. His G/O did not ask why, the fellow knew full well the reason. After he was back on the ground Swany, still in his flying gear, trudged over to the irrigation canal that ran along the southwest edge of the field and laid down next to it, dropping his right hand into the water. He lay that way for a minute or two before undoing his flying scarf and dunking it into the cool, rippling stream. He then balled up the now-drenched cloth and plopped it on his forehead, feeling the wet coolness run past his ears, across his face, through his hair, and pooling behind his neck. When the makeshift compress lost its soothing goodness he removed it, dunked it back into the water and returned it to his head. He repeated this ceremony for the next hour, moving nothing save his right arm, and likely would have laid there the rest of the morning doing so had it not been for the soft, elderly voice that called out to him.
"Monsieur,are you alright?"
Swany was startled by the unexpected visitor and sat up suddenly, wincing from the pain that throbbed in his head as he did so. An old women with a basket in her left hand and a pruning scissors in her right was standing not five feet from him. Captain Swanson slowly got to his feet as he responded politely, "Sorry Madam, yes, I ah - I am fine, thank you."
The women, who had been gathering rose-hips from the wild bushes that dotted the edges of the narrow canal, gave the young pilot a concerned look. She could see quite clearly that he was in pain and asked, "You have the headache, Monsieur?"
Swany gave a weak smile as he slipped off his flying coat in order to retrieve a comb from inside his tunic pocket. He ran it through his mussy, wet hair in an effort to make himself a bit more presentable. "Yes Madam, I'm afraid I do. Was shot here back in July and have been suffering with them ever since." As he spoke he motioned with the end of his comb to the spot just above his right ear where the Hun bullet had bounced off his skull.
"Ah, I see", the elderly women responded in a knowing tone. "My husband, he had the headaches too, many years ago, after a mule kicked him. But I started him on ginger tea and peppermint oil and that took care of it. I wasn't about to have him laying about all the time."
The Captain looked at her quizzically. "Ginger tea and peppermint oil? And that helps?"
"Oh yes", she assured. "Fresh ginger is best, but powder will do if that's all you have. And the peppermint oil is for your temples."
Swany listened intently as the aging matron explained how he should prepare the tea, and how he should massage several drops of peppermint oil into his temples at least twice a day. Further, he should drink a glass of water every two hours, and limit himself to one glass of wine a day until the headaches were gone. And exercise, lots of exercise. If he would follow this regimen she assured him his headaches would subside in a few weeks. Captain Swanson thanked the kind women for her sage advice and offered her a few francs which she flatly refused.
"I do not take charity Monsieur, but if you would like to buy some of the wonderful syrup I will be making from these rose-hips I wouldn't say no. Besides, it would be good for you as well, in particular if you are not getting much fresh fruit."
Swany laughed as he took the old woman's wrinkled, calloused hand and gave it a gentle squeeze, being careful to avoid the scissors she was still clutching. "I thank you sincerely Madame and will most certainly come by and purchase some. Just let me know when and where."
After providing the requested locale and date the woman continued on with her gathering while Swany headed back to camp and went on his own quest for the ginger and peppermint oil. While his head still pounded, his hopes of relief were at least bolstered.