#4592431 - 02/22/2209:29 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 716epower
Joined: May 2012
Wow - 128 views since I posted. I always wondered how many lurkers were out there in addition to the regular posting crowd. Cool!
OK, back to it.
#4592459 - 02/23/2204:10 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 716epower
Joined: May 2012
Make that 331 views since my posting and Raine's reply. Interesting. OK, enough with the forum statistics. Our story continues. A huge thank you to Raine for lending and voicing one of his favorite characters. ___________________________________________
À la Recherche du Temps Perdu - Part 117
2 December 1918 No. 24 Squadron RAF Ennetières, Flanders
Orders from Colonel ‘Pierre’ van Ryneveld, our 11th Wing CO: We will begin ferrying Fokkers and other German machines from Nivelles near Brussels, to Rely near St. Omer.
Mail delivery today. Incredible news! A telegram from Smokey!
Reports of my death inaccurate. No. 57 Hosp. Paris. Old Bull.
Gods be praised the Old Bull is alive!
Spent the remainder of the day making travel plans and altering the leave schedule. I was set to go December 18 but will swap with our RO, Lt. Bridgewater and depart on the 4th. For his part Bridgewater was greatly pleased to be heading home for the actual Christmas holiday.
I hope I haven’t blown up my chance for a leave with Eliza.
4 December 1918 Hotel Franklin Paris, France
What luck this ferry duty. Instead of a ghastly ordeal on French trains, I flew one of the ferried Rumplers to Paris. I can see now why they were so difficult to catch. Scruffy Longton tagged along as Observer. He would take the machine to Rely.
Hotel Franklin sits a mile north of the Louvre, not far from Notre Dame de Lorette. When Eliza arrives, I’ll move to someplace more luxurious and closer to the action but I’m quite comfortable here for now.
5 December 1918 Hotel Franklin Paris, France
Had one hell of a time finding American Base Hospital 57. They moved recently into an old school. The place is huge. An orderly told me they had 2000 beds here.
Smokey was awake and sitting up when I arrived. He looked terrible. Gods, he must have lost at least 20 pounds! His left arm remained in a sling and a frame underneath the sheets kept the bedding elevated off his left leg. My poker face deserted me completely. He smiled weakly.
“Young Bull!,” he croaked, reaching his right hand toward me. I held his grip a long time. “You’ve gotten prettier since I last saw you,” he said, letting go and indicating the fresh scar on my jaw. He ran his finger the down the longer jagged line that decorated his own. “Not quite as pretty as old Smokey yet, but it’s a start.”
“That’s just the one you can see,” I replied.
I pulled a stray chair up to his bed and sat down. On the small table to his right was a stack of three books and a deck of cards.
We played a few hands but Smokey didn’t have much zip. When I told him I’d be in Paris for two weeks his spirits brightened but after another 30 minutes he looked tired. I left him to sleep. I’d be back tomorrow and every day after that.
Smokey’s vigor and great strength were things I’d always taken for granted. Universal constants like gravity or the density of iron. To see him in such a weakened state shook me to my core
6 December 1918 Hotel Franklin Paris, France
Walked to the Champs de Mars today and saw the Eiffel Tower up close. Incroyable! I need to save most of the sightseeing for when Eliza is here but there’s so much to see.
Went to American Embassy at Number 5, rue de Chaillotand. Made inquiries about reclaiming American Citizenship when the time comes. A short while later I met with a vice consul, Mr. Harlan Thomas who explained that I had indeed forfeited my citizenship by serving and accepting a commission from a foreign military. However, I need only swear an oath to the Unites States in the presence of a US Consul and all would be back to normal.
“I can perform that function here if you desire. Obviously, you would first need to resign your commission as a British Officer. Excuse me for one moment, Major Winningstad while I check on a minor detail.”
Mr.Thomas left the room. When he returned a full 10 minutes later his news was not encouraging.
“I’m sorry, Major Winningstad but there appears to be a problem. I don’t understand quite how this occurred but your name is on a list of individuals considered a threat to the security of the United States.”
“What?! How is that possible?” I said. “All I’ve done is fight the Germans.”
“The situation is highly irregular, I admit. Let me investigate. Can you meet me tomorrow, 10 o’clock? I’ll know more then.”
Walked north from the Embassy up the Avenue d'Iéna to the Arc de Triomphe. Remarkable, the geometry of Paris.. I need to take a closer look at the larger map.
Smokey was much more alert today. I think he was looking forward to my visit.
He told me what had happened during the attack on St. Etienne-a-Arnes. After covering the withdrawal of two companies, Smokey and the two machine gunners were about to pull back themselves when the Huns made a determined rush at their position. Both gunners were killed in the close quarter fight that followed. Smokey was shot in the leg, bayoneted along the ribs and finally knocked senseless by a nearby grenade blast. At some point during or after the fight his left collarbone was broken.
“They called on me to surrender but I told them to go to hell. I wasn’t popular with the Huns. They hated this Teufulhund after all those nighttime raids. I thought they would murder me if I surrendered so I figured I’d go out fighting. Get a better Honor Guard in Hell and all that. When they rushed us, I killed 5 with my automatic and 3 more with my sharpened shovel after they shot me. The grenade that killed Harris and Martin knocked me for a loop and a rifle butt upside the head did the rest. Those Huns were some hard-nosed sons of b!tches. They just kept coming on, no matter how many we mowed down. I don’t know why they didn’t kill me. A sense of honor maybe. I found out later they were a different regiment and didn’t know me as the Night Devil, so they took me back to their docs. Those German medicos were first rate, I’ll say that for them. Saved my life. Patched me up but I wasn’t strong enough to move. A few days before the Armistice the Huns left me and 8 other badly wounded fellows in their clearing station. They gave us a two days’ worth of food and water then buggered off east. Our boys were nearly on them and by that night we were in an American field hospital.”
Lost in thought walking back to the Franklin. Distracted, I nearly got run over by a taxicab. This ‘security’ issue is worrisome. I do hope Mr. Thomas can find a solution.
With the war now ended, the hot water in Paris is back on 7 days/ week. Long soak in the tub before bed.
7 December 1918 Hotel Franklin Paris, France
Morning meeting at the US Embassy with Mr.Thomas led to an audience with the Hon. William Graves Sharp, American Ambassador to France.
“Major Winningstad,” he said shaking my hand. “Your reputation proceeds you.”
“That’s a good thing, Mr. Ambassador?”
“Indeed. Please be seated,” he said smiling and offering me a chair. “I wish I had better news for you, Major, but it appears that you are, for all practical purposes, persona non grata. I haven’t the foggiest idea why this should be the case.”
“This is outrageous! I’m an American. One of hundreds, if not thousands who came to fight …back when President Wilson was having his attack of the vapors. We weren’t too proud to fight the Hun, so we all swore an oath to the King. I don’t hear about anybody else having a problem reclaiming citizenship. What the hell is going on here! My mother’s ancestors fought beside Washington at Yorktown for Pete’s sake!”
“My dear fellow, there’s no need to shout,” Ambassador Graves said with a practiced diplomatic calm. “I am not unsympathetic. Let me see what more I can learn. From what Thomas was able to determine the objection comes from US Army Intelligence, though the exact nature of the complaint remains unclear at this juncture. I’m sure it’s all a misunderstanding. Let me continue to make inquiries. Will you be in Paris long?”
“Until the 18th,” I replied.
“Excellent. Let Thomas know where he can reach you… “Actually, I have an idea,” he said, then opened a desk drawer from which he retrieved a square envelope. Handing the envelope to me he continued, “Here’s an invitation to the Embassy Gala at the Ritz tomorrow evening. There will be a number of high-ranking American General officers present. It couldn’t hurt for you to mix with them socially. Have a few drinks, talk shop, discuss the military life, that sort of thing. It can only help you in the end.” ___________________________________
I told Smokey about the day’s events. He offered no consolation.
“It’s still a mess in the Air Service. Sounds as if you’ve ruffled some feathers, Young Bull. I don’t know if an evening with a few generals will change any of that but it can’t hurt to try.”
8 December 1918 Hotel Franklin Paris, France
Spent much of the day with Smokey. His left leg has healed to the point where the blanket frame is no longer needed. The nurses told me he might soon be walking again. When I asked if I could take him outside in a wheelchair, they thought it possible in a day or two.
He was tired today. I think it was the morphia. I didn’t want to bother him with my troubles so I said nothing. I spent our last hour of our visit reading to him as he dozed. The top book on the pile was always his favorite, Moby Dick. How did he get this here?
The Ritz lit up for the evening
I moved into the Ritz ballroom. The Embassy Gala was making full revs. Some yards away near a grandiose marble fireplace an older, elegantly dressed woman, held court. At her side was a familiar face. I thought to escape into the larger crowd but she’d seen me. Nothing for it now. I walked over to greet her.
The same strong and angular face. Long regal nose and piercing blue eyes. She was always strikingly attractive, though I was never sure if I thought her pretty. However, on this night, wearing a dark green evening dress in place of her reporter’s tweeds any doubts fled. Her trademark horn rimmed spectacles were gone, revealing her eyes to stunning effect. The allure was palpable. Alexandra Anderson held a champagne flute in one hand and in the other a cigarette in an amber holder.
“Major Winningstad! Speak of the Devil, we were just talking about you.”
“Miss Anderson, you’re in different uniform this evening.”
“Call me Alex, please.”
Addressing her older companion, “Edith, this is the very same Major Winningstad.” “Major Winningstad, Edith Wharton.”
“Mrs. Wharton,” I replied taking the proffered hand.
“I imagine you’ve read some of Edith’s books.” continued Alex.
“Nary a one, I must confess.”
Mrs. Wharton laughed aloud at this. “Perhaps we can tempt you to one of your own, Major.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Our meeting is most fortuitous.” said Mrs. Wharton. “My publisher sent me a manuscript recently purporting to be your very biography and asking me if I might verify the material. Since Alex wrote an article on you, I came to her for assistance.”
“The manuscript is transparently rubbish of the most sensational kind, obviously drawn from what few press clippings exist as well as suspect interviews with American pilots representing themselves to be your comrades in arms. I believe those interviewed seek to advance their status and reputations by association. The writing is dreadful.”
“I haven’t read the manuscript, Major Winningstad,” said Alex. “So that there can be no possibility of a copyright claim should we proceed.”
“Proceed with what, exactly?”
“Major Winningstad this manuscript is clearly fiction, if not an outright forgery,” said Mrs. Wharton. “Why not let Alex write your proper, authorized biography? I’d be happy to recommend it to my publisher.”
“What would you title it, Miss Anderson? Winningstad, VC?” I inquired sarcastically.
“Oh, that’s gold,” Alex replied, ignoring my vitriolic tone. I thought something like ‘An American Airman in France’ but ‘Winningstad VC,’ has a real snap to it. Don’t you agree, Edith?”
“It does, rather.”
“You’ll forgive me if I don’t share your enthusiasm, Miss Anderson. I’ve gone to considerable lengths to keep my name out of the newspapers, and with good reason. Your human-interest article last Fall caused me no end of trouble.”
Idiot! Why did you tell her that?!
A server parsed by with a silver tray of champagne glasses. Alex clenched the amber cigarette holder in her teeth and, her green-gloved hand now free, deftly plucked one of the tall glasses and handed it to me. She drew in the smoke of her Sobranie, exhaled, and raised her own glass with a wink.
“If I caused you any discomfort then I apologize. It was unintentional and frankly unimaginable to me that it would be a problem. Consider the champagne the first of my peace offerings.”
She had matured slightly and if anything was even more striking than I remembered. There was something playful and devilish about this woman, and behind those cerulean eyes a keen brain was ever at work. Alexandra Anderson was a formidable adversary. I thought back to our original meeting and how I’d stumbled blindly into her ambush then. I would not make that mistake a second time.
“Well,” I said, affecting a confidence I did not feel, “a peace offering. Cheers then, Miss Anderson.” I said draining half my glass. “The first of many, you say? What else are you planning?”
Alex moved closer, glancing at Mrs Wharton, and began in a conspiratorial tone. “Certainly, the last of my peace offerings will be the book itself. I would like it to be genuine, straightforward, and a bit of an appeal to our nation – airpower has to be worked for. You proved that Americans can lead the rest of the world in the air, but our military and industrial leadership fell short.”
Was she trying to provoke me? The trap she laid out was so obvious that first I thought it a ruse. Could she be serious? Tread very carefully, Oliver.
“I’m sure my dead friends will rest easier knowing that. They wore Royal Flying Corps and RAF wings in case you’ve forgotten. As for American industrial leadership, I couldn’t say. From my view the military leadership didn’t fall short, so much as it fell on its arrogant arse!”
Oh hell, I‘ve done it again. Moron!
“Yours is a terrible generalization, Miss Anderson.”
Alex did not miss a beat. “Of course it is,” she said. “But you need to tell that story – that full story. If you don’t speak up, others will speak for you. Now I realize that your time is limited, so I will rely on you to point me at your most honest and trustworthy former colleagues. That way not all of the weight falls on your shoulders, Major.”
That will be the day!
“Let me think about it. Now, if you will excuse me…”
“Please, Major, take my card. Whatever you decide, I would like to meet you again.”
I glanced down at the card, which bore the Gothic masthead of the Chicago Daily Tribune and the address 58, rue de Varenne.
Alex noticed my expression. “It’s Edith’s house,” she said. “She has been kind enough to let me stay with her while I am in Paris.”
“Do call on us, Major Winningstad,” urged Mrs. Wharton. “We’ll open a bottle of wine.”
“A pleasure meeting you Mrs. Wharton. Good evening, Miss Anderson,” I said, turning on my heel and heading for the main lobby. I was supposed to be building rapport with American Generals but now, shaken as I was, my only thought was escape.
I was nearly to the Grand Escalier but large crowd blocked the archway. Friends greeted one another and the group cleared slowly. Moving amongst their number, I smelt a hint of jasmine as an arm linked into mine.
“Mon aviateur magnifique,” said a familiar voice beside me.
<to be continued>
Last edited by epower; 02/23/2201:53 PM.
#4592588 - 02/24/2204:12 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 716epower
Joined: May 2012
Fat-Thumbed it and clicked "Post Reply" instead of Preview halfway thru getting the last entry posted. Do check to make sure you're seen the full posting. ____________________________________
À la Recherche du Temps Perdu - Part 118
(continued from previous entry)
“Clarissa!” I cried. Her unseen approach startled me. Her presence here took me completely aback.
“You’re not leaving, are you? The party’s just getting started.” she said, gently guiding me back toward the main ballroom.
Now clear of the throng she stopped. Turning to face me she extended her hand. I kissed it eagerly. The thought of so much more was overwhelming. My lips lingered on her skin. Heart racing now, my mind swam with the memory of our last meeting, our last parting. How I wanted her then. Did that even happen?
Her eyes shining, Clarissa smiled and drew her hand back. The blue dress was a more sophisticated design than the one she wore at the London embassy last Fall but it reminded me of that evening all the same. Like that first meeting, I stood thunderstruck.
“I need to dance Oliver.”
After three numbers a pressing need for champagne drove us off the floor. Thus rearmed and refreshed we toured the periphery. I thought to pursue my original goal but speaking with General Officers no longer held my interest. I had eyes only for Clarissa. Completing our circuit, Clarissa stopped unexpectedly. Before us was a thickly set man, bald with a white van dyke beard. I’d only seen him twice before and never up close but I remembered the hooded eyes.
“Zed Zed. What a surprise!” said Clarissa. “I didn’t know you were back in Paris.”
“Cher Clarissa,” he intoned in a deep silken baritone . He kissed her hand in greeting.
“This is Major Winningstad,” she said by way of introduction. “Oliver, may I present Sir Basil Zaharoff.
Every instinct for self-preservation leapt to full alert as he trained the hooded eyes on me. I nodded in greeting. I felt the jolt, the elevated pulse, the heightened awareness as before combat. By the greatest effort I refrained from baring my teeth in a fighting smile.
“I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Sir Basil,’ I said.
“Now, I can thank you in person for all those bottles of Champagne at Rules.”
He waved his hand dismissively, as if such largesse were beneath mention. “One must acknowledge a touch of an opponent’s foil. You have proven yourself to be most capable duelist, Major Winningstad. I find you …interesting.”
“Good evening,” he said and with a nod, walked away.
“Zed Zed?! How the hell do you know a man like Zaharoff?” I exclaimed, trying to keep my voice from carrying. “If half of what Tennyson told me about him is accurate, he’s quite possibly the most evil man in Europe.”
“He was part of my little adventure in Germany. As to the rumors, they’re true, Oliver. All of them.” she said, eyebrows raised as though waiting for me to catch on.
She drained her champagne flute and set it on a nearby table.
“Shall we go?” she offered.
“Where are we going Clarissa?”
“You know where we’re going. We have unfinished business. I never did thank you properly for saving my life again.”
Some part of me knew this was a bad idea but ensorcelled as I was, I didn’t care. _____________________________
Her chauffeur drove the Rolls with considerable caution. We arrived at a three-story townhouse. I think we were in the 6th Arrondissement but I wasn’t sure.
A mustachioed butler let us into the well-appointed home. His appearance reminded me of Clemenceau.
“Thank you, Dramont,” said Clarissa. “Major Winningstad and I will be in the Library. See to it we are not disturbed.”
M. Dramont nodded and taking our coats and my cap, he departed down the hall.
Clarissa led us into an extraordinary room. The library was a full two stories tall, wood paneled with three sliding ladders on tracks. An iron staircase spiraled to the upper-level walkway. In the grand fireplace several logs burned brightly. I stared up at the books with in undisguised envy.
“I thought you might like this room. It’s my favorite too,” said Clarissa beckoning me to the enormous couch near the fire where she now sat.
I joined her there, knowing her intentions. I moved as one under a spell. It was then I noticed the diamond ring she wore.
“Is that an engagement ring you’re wearing, Clarissa?” I asked.
“Yes, it is. I’m getting married Oliver…”
The vision of a female praying mantis and her post-mating habits sprang immediately to mind.
I stood there stunned. I felt a numbing unbelief as though his were a bad dream and soon I might wake.
“Don’t be shocked, Oliver. It had to happen sometime.” “Well congratulations then. Who’s the lucky fellow?” “Antoine de Rochefort.” “Antoine…” The name was oddly familiar. No. It couldn’t be… “Antoine?” I repeated, this time with more certainty. “The dandy I saw you with in London?! Not the Comte de sash? Surely not.”
Her eyes betrayed the answer.
I’d not meant to sound so dismissive but the surge of unexpected and crushing disappointment found voice in my own. She laughed merrily at my rebuke.
“You wield derision with the skill of a courtier, Oliver,” she said, still laughing. “Touché!”
“Do you love him?”
The very thought was like a steel shard driving through my heart.
“Does it matter?” she replied.
“Of course it does! Why are you doing this if you don’t love him?”
“Mon Aviateur Magnifique, ever the romantic. I’m flattered. Antoine is very sweet, and he’s frightfully rich. A girl has to maintain herself.”
Was she in trouble? With child? No. Clarissa was far too careful for that.
The roaring fire warmed the room to a nearly uncomfortable level. Clarissa reached toward me. I took her hand before it touched my face.
“We can’t do this, Clarissa.”
“Because I’m engaged? That hardly matters,” she said. “We’re in France after all.”
“That’s not it, Clarissa.”
“Oh, I see now,” she said. “You’re back with that lovely nurse, aren’t you?”
“How do you know about Eliza?!” I asked. Alarm bells toned softly in my mind.
“Oliver, it’s my job to know such things. She’s is Tennyson’s cousin, after all. Not such a secret.”
Fuming now, I made no move toward her.
“You’re angry about Zed Zed. Don’t be. That was for the greater good.”
“You used me, Clarissa. You used me! You pretended to love me, and you used me for Tennyson’s schemes.”
“I did use you, at first anyway. You were an asset when we met at the embassy dinner, but that changed. How quickly it changed. You weren’t like the others.”
“Your playthings…” I said woodenly.
She smiled, eyes arcing fire. The dragon was fully awake.
“What is it that dear Freddy and his Carthusian friends call me?”
“The Games Mistress,” I replied.
“Yes, of course. You think me cruel? A hedonist? Perhaps I am, but it was necessary. It was training.”
“Training? What do you mean?”
“You remember Nana?” she asked.
“My family are Walsinghams, Oliver. Do you know what that means?
"Wasn’t Walsingham Elizabeth’s spymaster or something like that?”
"He was exactly that," she said. "We continue that legacy and serve England from the shadows, as we have done for seventeen reigns. 500 years and more.”
Gods have mercy!
“Oh no, Clarissa. No! You love life too much to chain yourself to that. Duty is one thing, but this is a prison sentence.”
“We must be true to our nature,” she said gravely. “The life domestic, it’s not for us. Oh, I have no doubt you will try and I wish you good fortune but we are both of us restless voyagers. We are explorers. Seekers of some infinite which lies just beyond our perception. I though sensation and the game of shadows. You, by the great tests to which you set yourself.”
Was she right? I already knew the answer, even if I raged against it. She had me exact, just as she recognized the truth in herself. I tried to hide it but she read my pain.
“Don’t be sad, Oliver. This is who we are. We will move through each other’s lives, our reunions will be memorable but fleeting, like two ships of old acquaintance who happen upon each other at sea.”
Her eyes misted as she pulled the silken rope near the wall. In a quick sudden movement, she took my face in her hands and kissed me then as never before, with longing and delicate sadness, as if the entire course of our lives together distilled into that short sharp moment.
“Adieu, Cher Olivier. Go now, while I still have the strength to let you leave.”
Just then, the library door opened and M. Dramont entered.
“Dramont, Major Winningstad is leaving. Be so good as to show him out.”
“Very good, Madame,” replied M. Dramont.
I stood and looked at her one last time. Grief for a path denied stood plainly on her features. In that moment the life I imagined with her vanished. A new one stood in its place. She was no mere Games Mistress triumphant but something much more. Here was the true Clarissa, fully revealed at last.
I turned and brushed past M. Dramont into the hall. He promptly closed the two doors behind but not before I heard the stifled cry from within the library.
I walked unsteadily, as though some irreplaceable part of me was torn away. She would haunt my dreams. That much I knew.
I imagined I could hear her whispering to me, her voice following me down the brightly lighted streets.
“The wild part of you, that which rejoices in the struggle of flying horses, that part which revels in the test of mountainous typhoon seas…the Oliver who walks through time to imagine a dry, dusty plain under the walls of Priam’s city… he will always seek me.”
9 December 1918 Hotel Franklin Paris, France
Telegram from Eliza. Arriving Evening 11 Dec. Time for me to find a new Hotel. I liked the Franklin but wanted to treat Eliza to a fancier place.
Day cold but clear. The nurses allowed me a short trip outside with Smokey. He had great fun directing me about the hospital gardens as I pushed his wheelchair. He’s grown visibly stronger in the 6 days I’ve been in Paris.
I read to him again before I left. I’d forgotten how much he loved this chapter.
Reading these words on the heels of Clarissa’s revelation filled me with horror.
“The life domestic, it’s not for us. Oh, I have no doubt you will try…”
Was hers a revelation or a curse?
#4592642 - 02/24/2203:54 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Lovely episode, Epower. So many threads to pull together, and so masterfully done! Encore, Maestro, please.
#4592702 - 02/24/2210:06 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 716epower
Joined: May 2012
À la Recherche du Temps Perdu - Part 119
11 December 1918 L’Hotel, 13 Rue de Beaux Arts Paris, France
I’d thought to take a room at the Ritz but after the embassy ball fiasco and the devastating meeting with Clarissa I took Smokey’s advice and moved here. A short walk north to the Seine, and just east of the Palais du Beaux Arts, L’Hotel was perfect. I thought the name providential and the tub was nearly the equal of the one we shared in Corbie. The cost was extravagant to say the least.
The concierge told me our room was where Oscar Wilde lived his final two years.
15 December 1918 L’Hotel, 13 Rue de Beaux Arts Paris, France
President Wilson arrived in Paris yesterday. A great fanfare as the procession moved through the city. He sat in the carriage with President Poincare gleefully waving his hat to the crowds.
Eliza harbors a deep and abiding loathing of the man, given his opposition to women’s suffrage.
I’ve had my ideological differences with the President, most especially with the way he’s stepped on the First Amendment during the war, but if he really can get the victorious powers to accept the Fourteen Points then I’ll be the first to offer congratulations. A League of Nations! I wonder if such a thing is really possible.
Losing both houses of Congress in the November election won’t make his job any easier, and then there’s Clemenceau and Lloyd George to contend with. Let’s hope the Princetonian nincompoop doesn’t fumble the ball at this Peace Conference.
17 December 1918 L’Hotel, 13 Rue de Beaux Arts Paris, France
Eliza’s last day in Paris. She wore her uniform when we visited Smokey.
Eliza and I entered the clean, well-lit ward. Smokey was sitting up in his bed. A good sign. His strength looked to be coming back. He was not alone, however. Sitting on his bedside was a woman I knew all too well. Fresh in her burgundy tweed jacket, calf-length skirt, and matching burgundy boots.
Alexandra Anderson held his hand in both of hers. The way Smokey looked at her, the way they looked at one another….
The Old Bull never gave his heart easily, not like me. But the connection I saw before me was undeniable.
The very thought of those two together set my teeth on edge. Were they lovers? Merciful Gods! I could never ask Smokey the truth of it. Such things just weren’t done, but the evidence was plain to see.
She stood when she saw us enter. The two exchanged a farewell I couldn’t hear. Smokey’s hand lingered briefly in hers as she stepped away and walked to greet us.
“I’m very pleased to see you, Major Winningstad, and you too Sister. I hoped we might continue our conversation from last week but you decline to answer my messages.”
“What are you doing here, Miss Anderson? You trespass into my private life. If I didn’t know any better, and I don’t, I’d say you were plying your female charms on my greatest friend, when he lies wounded in hospital, all for the sake of some story. How many times have you done this in the past, I wonder?”
Alex looked genuinely hurt. “You needn’t worry that I was prying into your affairs or researching a book about you, Major. Few people have had a more interesting life than you, but my good friend Smokey is one of them. I would not abuse that friendship by using it against you. I haven’t asked Smokey about you. Perhaps you should ask him about me.”
Good friend?! Ask Smokey about her?! What insanity is this?
She extended a hand to both Eliza and me, and from force of habit I shook it. It would have been bad manners to refuse.
“Major Winningstad, I am not your enemy. In fact, I hope that in time you will see that I am exactly the opposite. I still look forward to your call at Edith’s house.” ______________________
The subject of Alex Anderson was one I avoided on this, our last visit to Smokey. He was getting stronger each day and walking now, albeit with a cane. His road back to match fitness would be lengthy but the Doctors remained optimistic about complete recovery. He might move to a Convalescent hospital soon. Not a prospect he greeted with any enthusiasm.
“Paris has its charms,” he said cryptically.
After we bade farewell to the Old Bull, the subject of Smokey and Alex Anderson returned in force.
“She’s all buttoned up and proper with her tweed suit and the glasses,” sniffed Eliza, “but she has the look of a girl who knows what she wants. Odious woman! Do you really think they were lovers?”
“Could be. Smokey wrote me from hospital in July after the Belleau Wood fight. I remember he said something about a lady reporter that he liked. He must have meant Miss Anderson. When he recovered, he was in Paris on staff duties for two months before he going back to the line. Plenty of free time for a romance. Paris in the Summer…”
“I can’t imagine them as a couple,” said Eliza. “She’s a career woman if ever I’ve seen one. Trust me on that. Won’t Smokey go back to sea now that the war is over?”
“He will, and she’ll probably return to Chicago after the Peace Conference. Maybe that’s why they aren’t together anymore.”
“They looked friendly enough when we walked in on them today,” said Eliza with a sidelong glance that made her meaning clear. ________________________
What a time these past 6 days! A dreamlike week with Eliza in the City of Lights with no time for keeping up a diary. Eliza knew Paris well and proved a superior tour guide. Long afternoons and pleasant nights in our Wilde room.
We’ve talked a great deal about the future. Eliza was furious when I told her about my difficulty reclaiming citizenship and tore off a letter to her father, the lawyer, that very evening.
“We’re writing our parents about each other now, are we?” I teased. How cross she’d been with me that day at Tincourt when she discovered I’d written home about her.
“Will you stay in the RAF, then? Or will you go for Oxford?” she asked.
“I don’t know. This ‘security risk’ business sets everything at sixes and sevens. I’ll stay in if they’ll have me. Ideally I can do both. I can sit the exams in April and then see what happens. Either way, I think I’m going to be in England for the next few years. Would you stay here with me, Eliza? Is there something in England for you?”
“Besides you, Oliver?” she asked, smiling her Eliza smile. “I have a few ideas, and Mr. Grey Turner offered his help. We’ll see.”
10 January 1919 No. 24 Squadron RAF Bisseghem, Flanders
Back at Bisseghem these past 3 weeks. The squadron moved while I was in Paris.
Colonel van Ryneveld visited today. After two months in limbo, we now have definite orders that the squadron is to be disbanded. While no surprise the news hit hard. It’s really over now.
Many calls for volunteers to go fight in Russia. No takers so far. Few are keen on the prospect of joining the occupying forces in Germany, but we may have no choice in the matter.
22 January 1919 No. 24 Squadron RAF Bisseghem, Flanders
Today we flew our service machines to Izel-le-Hameau and handed them over to No. 1 Squadron. F5459 was a good ship. She saw me through my last fights. Gutting to let her go.
As a squadron, No. 24 now ceases to exist.
I reflect on these past months, on the climactic days of the war. Smokey’s prophetic words come back to me:
“Command will be the hardest test there is. It will be doubly so for you. Men will die and it will be you who led them or sent them to their deaths.”
Five months of the most intense aerial fighting of the war: June – Nov 1918, No. 24 Squadron losses as follows:
Killed Dawe Haigh Sterling Miller Carpenter
Accidently Killed while flying Daley Pertus
Wounded Wilson Watkins
Prisoner Beauchamp Larrabbee
Far fewer than most squadrons at the time.***
***The names and fates of those mentioned during Oliver’s time with 24 Squadron are taken from the historical records. One must acknowledge the superb leadership of No. 24 Squadron’s actual Commanding Officer during this period, Major Vyvyan A. H. Robeson, for the (comparatively) low rate of casualties.
In usurping such an important role, even for the fictional purposes of the DiD campaign, I felt it critical to honor those who where there in Real Life. Fortunately I had the resources to do so in exacting detail. Just as Revel’s High in the Empty Blue was my day-to-day bible for Oliver’s time with 56 Squadron, so Illingworth’s ‘A History of 24 Squadron’ and the RAF personnel records have been my guides in recounting the tale of 24 Squadron in 1918. Someday I will get over the pond to the IWM to examine Vyvyan Robeson’s personal papers. What detail they might have added. Maybe for the book.
1 February 1919 No. 24 Squadron RAF Bisseghem, Flanders
The King of the Belgians has invested me as a Knight of the order of Leopold. It’s a pretty medal. Mail caught up after another delay bringing with it the January Gazette listing the New Years Honours. Eliza has the Royal Red Cross!!
11 February 1919 No. 24 Squadron RAF Boulogne, France
We left Bisseghem early this morning. Tomorrow we cross the Channel and head to London Colney.
Yesterday, we put a cross on the burring rubbish heap at Bisseghem, with these words chalked on it: “Here lies the Remains of Good Old Twenty-four born October 1915 – died February 1919”
JWW sang a ditty in the mess:
“Some lucky lads will to ‘Blighty’ go, Others on the Rhine their face must show, But high or low, where ever they go, Twenty-four will be their one great show.”
25 February 1919 RAF Club London
In limbo these past two weeks attached with the Cadre to No. 41 Training Depot Station at London Colney. No further news about my standing with US govt.
Met with Boom today at the Cecil. He offered me a permanent commission! I nearly fell out of my chair. He wants me for the new Royal Air Force. Technically, I’m a British subject at present but before accepting his offer I’d need to formally renounce my American citizenship and become a full-time Briton. I’m not ready to do that and told him so.
I was honest with him, perhaps too honest, and recounted my current citizenship predicament as well as the possibility of Oxford. Surprisingly, he knew about the former and seemed undeterred by the latter. Boom was at his most cordial. I got the impression that he was quite keen on me staying with the RAF. He then put forward a most intriguing proposal: Transfer to the unemployed list.
Brilliant! I can sit the Oxford examinations and if admitted, I can decide which path to follow. Boom told me that a number of RAF officers will follow a similar path: completing their educations then returning to the Air Forces.
The prospect of a flying career is wildly tempting. I might even throw Oxford over if need be. This is the Rubicon. No going back after this and the finality of that choice has me stuck. G-ddammit, I’m an American. An American! Whatever some elements of US intelligence might think. If I ever find the SOBs who blackened my name, I’ll take more from them than their apologies.
7 March 1919 Oxford, England
Events proceed apace. Unemployed. I shall miss collecting my 33s/day. The Paris holiday ate a large chunk of my available funds but I spent almost nothing in the months after so my finances have recovered, though not to their previous flush level. I must economize.
I’ve taken a room in Oxford. Mrs. Broadchurch, whose home this, is frets around me like the proverbial grandmother hen. Like so many families, she lost a brother and one of her sons in the war. I think she likes having me around to spoil with tea and cakes. I have no complaints on that score.
At Professor Murray’s recommendation, I’ve engaged a private tutor to help me prepare for the Entrance examinations. I have access to all the libraries and spend some time each day walking the grounds. In some ways, I feel like I’m a child, pressing his nose up against the window of a sweet shop. I have only 5 weeks so there is little time for other pursuits. I must not fail.
News from Eliza: She remains busy at No. 41 hospital in St. Remy. Rumors that her unit will be demobbed in early May.
15 April 1919 Oxford, England
Examination complete. Now the interminable wait for an answer begins. I hope to hear by the end of May.
I thought to purchase a bicycle and tour the countryside but have decided to hoof it. I had access to the Oxford gymnasium but used it to blow off steam and not serious training. All this sitting on my arse and study has left my body unfit and my brain dull.
Vagabonding about the country for a few days at a time will just the thing. I shall keep my room with Mrs. Broadchurch and use her home as my base.
Mens sana in corpore sano.
11 May 1919 Hotel Cavendish London, England
Spring threatens arrival but then reneges. Brilliant one day, dreary grey rain the next. London, how I have missed thee.
Rosa Lewis was in her usual top form when I arrived.
“Captain Whingeingstone!! How delightful to see you again!” she cried. Old Kippy barked twice from his perch on the sofa but didn’t stir beyond that.
I made arrangements for tomorrow’s dinner. Eliza is demobbed at last. She arrives on the evening boat train. I can’t wait.
17 May 1919 Hotel Cavendish London, England
A week a bliss in London. Finally got to see the British Museum. I could send a month in this place and barely scratch the surface. Sent Father a sheaf of postcards from the place.
Eliza may have a position at the Royal Free Hospital. She met today Dr. Ethel Vaughan-Sawyer, the famous surgeon and gynecologist. There are so few for women in the medical field in England and certainly not in surgery. The recommendation of Mr. Grey Turner should carry considerable weight so I hope she can find something here that furthers her knowledge and skills. Otherwise, she’ll have to return to America, where I cannot follow as yet.
Using the RAF Club as my mailing address. Checking each day but no word from Oxford yet.
Aunt Rhea invites us to Pepperell Cottage for the week. Despite the uneasy memories there, I’m looking forward to seeing the old girl again, General Aubrey too.
26 May 1919 Hotel Cavendish London, England
Marvelous time at Pepperell Cottage. Went riding every day and I didn’t scalp myself or fall a single time. Eliza paid off her long overdue debt of temptation. Down by the stream in the moonlight. General Aubrey looking frailer than when I last saw him. Aunt Rhea ageless as ever. I think she’s contemplating a new automobile.
Not all sunshine. After months of untroubled sleep, the dreams are back. They started the day after we arrived. Maybe it was being back at Pepperell, maybe it was the wounded men we saw at the train station, I don’t know. Some nights they’re almost funny. Pixley singing his stupid Eton boating song. Other nights it’s Voss I’m trying to kill. It doesn’t happen every night but when it does, oh boy. Eliza woke me on the fourth night. She’d heard me shouting though two closed doors and came padding down the hall to shake me awake. It was the Arthur dream, the bad one. He lay pinned under the wreck, screaming for me to help him as something tore at him from below. I couldn't move. Unseen hands held me fast. He was screaming.
27 May 1919 Hotel Cavendish London, England
Back in London 3 days now. I returned to a stack of mail at the RAF Club but nothing from Oxford. Eliza out this morning, meeting with Dr Vaughan Sawyer again. I’m off the RAF Club for lunch and a mail check.
Incredible news! I’m accepted to Christchurch College, Oxford. Christchurch! I suspect Professor Murray had some hand in this but I shall make the most of this chance. Eliza will be back for tea. I have just enough time to make dinner reservations. The Savoy Grill. I want a happy Eliza memory at that place.
28 May 1919 Hotel Cavendish London, England
I woke with a startled groaning cry uncertain if I were awake or still in the dream.
Eliza sat up over me, speaking softly.
“It’s all right Oliver, it just a dream. She caressed my forehead. “Go back to sleep.”
I sat bolt upright. The dream was already fading.
“I have to write it down! I have to remember.”
Grabbing my diary from the nightstand I tore it open. As I set the pen to the page the nib snapped clean away. Ink bled onto the page like blood from a wound. The black stain, as if somehow connected to my thoughts, flowed into memory obscuring the dream.
“#%&*$#! I’m losing it. Eliza give me a pen!”
“I don’t have one.”
“No! No! No! I have to remember!”
“Tell it to me, Oliver,” she said, her voice calm. It was the nursing sister who spoke now. “Just tell it to me.” _______________
“I was walking by the sea overlooking the sea. The Channel, I think. I could hear the waves crashing against the cliffs but there was a music playing too. An old man stood there, gazing up and out over the water. He looked to be 90 at least. He wore a grey tweed coat and a blue silk cravat. RAF blue. I thought for some reason he might be myself in some future but when I looked more closely, his eyes weren't hazel like mine. They were blue. They were pilots’ eyes.
He didn’t speak to me or acknowledge my presence at all, but I could hear his voice in my head.
He was talking about his friend. It’s all tumbled around in my head now…Tommy Lund, that was his friend’s name I remember now…”
“Tommy Lund was a lovely chap,” he said. “Very dear friend, very dear friend. He went into the Channel, but all the best blokes did, and the blokes like me got away with it.”
“That’s me Eliza. That’s me exact. I’m one of the blokes who got away with it.”
“Strange thing is, we didn’t fight over the Channel. He couldn't have been talking about this war. My God! He was talking about another one, the next one.”
“Don’t try and make sense of it, Oliver. Just tell me what you remember. What else did the man say?”
“We were on a different part of the seacoast. It looked like Cornwall. He was staring out to sea again. This part I recall vividly. I must never forget what he said:
Last edited by epower; 10/01/2212:20 AM.
#4593433 - 03/05/2203:58 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 716epower
Joined: May 2012
A little something to accompany your AM/PM/Evening beverage.
25 April 1920 Kościuszko Squadron Warsaw, Poland
The Polish drive on Kiev begins tomorrow. Finally, after 4 months we’ll see some action. I’ve put my time here to good use, training some of the less experienced men. All our Ack Ems are Poles so I’ve picked up quite a bit of the language. For now, I’m with our CO, Major Cedric Fauntleroy and some others stuck in Warsaw getting our new machines - Ansaldo A1s, nicknamed ‘Balillias’. Spring rains today and forecast for the same tomorrow. We’ll be going nowhere for a day. Maddening. Only Merion Cooper, Ed Noble, Ken Shrewsbury, Chuck Clark, and Harmon Rorison remain at the front. I commanded Rory’s younger brother James in 24 Sqn before he transferred to the USAS. Small war.
Almost a year since I kept any kind of diary, and what a year. Admission to Oxford. Glorious Spring and Summer travels with Eliza.
My plan to stay on the unemployed list came to grief early. Bloody Navy tried to strangle the RAF in the cradle. D@mn the Admirals! The Senior Service act like the eldest spoiled child. For a century they had things their own way, now they saw an independent Royal Air Force as a threat. Boom fought like the devil to keep the force intact and he now required me to commit to a service career. A fork in the road. I resigned and chose Oxford. A bitter pill but a £400 war gratuity helped wash it down.
Eliza and I were madly in love and with my demobilization money and the remains of Father’s birthday funds we had enough to travel comfortably enough. Eliza had her own money but I tried to keep her from spending it. When I won another £300 at cards in Monte Carlo, we were flush. Three months of touring through England, and the continent. Back to Paris, then through France, and on to Spain. The splendor of Rome! Wondrous! We stayed in the same hotel where Keats died, just south of the Spanish steps. Grand times.
Life with Eliza was a paradise unto itself. I asked her to marry me. She refused.
“Never,” she flatly.
Like a ship caught in the Norway Maelstrom, my mind whirled round.
Seeing my confusion, she continued. “No, Oliver, you don’t understand. I will never marry anyone. To do so would surrender what few legal rights I have to a husband.”
“What if the law…” I stammered.
“Changes?” she said, finishing my question for me. “We live in hope but until that day, No. I shall not marry you, Oliver,” she repeated, this time in a more conciliatory tone, “but I will love you for all the days of my life.”
An understanding of sorts, just not the one I hoped for, yet we were happy and the future stood before us.
Any hope for a just and lasting peace died that Summer. I saw a glimpse of it then, but paid little attention at the time. The Huns accepted Armistice based on Wilson’s 14 Points, few of which were found in the Versailles Treaty that blockade and starvation forced them to sign. All the disparate German factions now united in common cause – vengeance. The seeds of our next war grew in that perfidious, fertile ground.
The redrawn map of the near east mandates looked like a child’s coloring book, straight lines, and all. The guns were barely silent before the victors began their games and scheming. England to check France lest they cede complete hegemony over Europe. France to crush Germany. Both to bamboozle President Wilson and keep a triumphant United States away from the Mideastern spoils. The war was about Oil, Power and Empire after all.
How the Hell did I get here? Merion. It was in Paris last July I met Merion Cooper. He flew DH-4s with 20th Aero and since the war ended, he’d been working for the US Food Administration in Poland. His 4th Grandfather served with Count Casimir Pulaski at the siege of Savannah, and as the story goes, was with him when he died of wounds. Cooper considered it his family duty to repay America’s debt to Poland. When I told him my great, great, grandfather was at Yorktown and maybe Savannah too, that was all he needed to hear. He immediately invited me to join the group of American pilots he was recruiting to fight in Poland. A kind of Polish Lafayette Escadrille.
“They’re fighting for their freedom, just like our grandfathers of old,” he said. “For freedom and to stop the Bolsheviks spreading into Europe.”
Much to his disappointment, I turned him down but he promised to write General Rozwadowski, the Head of the Polish Military Mission in Paris, on my behalf. “Just in case you change your mind, Ripper.”
Fall brought me to Christchurch College, Oxford, and Eliza to the Royal Free Hospital in London, working with the famous surgeon, Dr. Ethel Vaughan-Sawyer. We stole time together at the weekends.
Oxford was all I hoped it would be. The Fall term was an extension of my Grand Tour with Eliza, except now there was so much to learn, and not just the Classics with Professor Murray. History, Economics, Oriental languages. Brilliant minds everywhere. No longer with nose pressed against the window, I was inside the candy shop feeding voraciously.
Then there was Reggie. Dear old Reggie. Both in our first year, we shared a suite of rooms. Captain Reginald Alistair MacEntyre, MC, late of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. We caught on like a house on fire. It was one of those friendships that happens instantly, like there was some kind of otherworldly recognition. Always the life of the party, Reggie. His was an infectious joie de vivre. None could stay glum in his presence.
There was so much to do. Reggie studied the law but had the acting bug. I tagged along when I could and though I had no talent for ‘treading the boards,’ I picked up some craft through osmosis. What I found far more intriguing was the work of turning a 22-year-old into an old man. False noses, mustaches and tacked on beards, just like Sherlock Holmes and his disguises.
I joined the boxing club after the trainer saw me pummeling a heavy bag. I was always quick but after all those hours in various A Flight Hangars I now had power as well. My defense and dodging, by contrast, needed a bit of work. Mr. Chaney saw to that. ‘Bob and weave, Winningstad!’ The gutter fighting Mr. Fairbairn and Smokey taught me lacked rules, emphasized the attack and had no place for Lord Queensbury. Giving an opponent a fair chance to strike when fighting for one’s life… not recommended.
There were two populations at Oxford: The post-war generation fresh from public school, and the older veterans of the war now returned to finish their degrees. There were a few like me and Reggie, newly matriculated. Frivolous 18-year-olds and serious, diligent ‘elders’ as they called us didn’t mix. We ignored one another socially.
As I threw myself headlong into a new life, so did Eliza. We saw less of one another. Change crept up stealthily - a weekend skipped, a date postponed or cancelled. We wrote less frequently. When we were together it felt different than our ‘stolen time’ during the war. She spoke of needing a medical degree if she were to progress in her field. That meant a return to the States where such opportunities existed for women. The Royal Free was the only option for women in England and Eliza wanted something more.
Reggie and I drank a great deal but where Bacchus made me merry and mellow, he often sent Reggie into a darker place. Couldn’t see it then. How could I have been so blind?
Three years in the infantry left deep scars both physical and spiritual but Reggie never let on. Brilliant actor that he was, he hid his pain well. It took some time before the first cracks appeared in the facade. Reggie suffered the odd nightmare, we both did. Just parting gifts from the war, or so I thought at the time. I often dreamed of the fight. When I woke, safe in my Oxford chambers, I felt relief but also a growing sense of loss. Looking back, we were both overspeeding the engine
One evening in November I returned to find Reggie deep into a bottle of whiskey and brandishing his service revolver, a great monstrous Webley. He would wave it about, then put it in his mouth, then to the side of his head, calmly and with apparent due consideration.
He hadn’t seen me come in. I thought about making a grab for the Webley but the risk was too great.
“Reggie, you scoundrel!” I said lightly, greeting him with a broad smile. “We were saving that bottle for end of term. Nothing for it now but to give it a good sent off.”
He looked up in startled surprise.
“Well, aren’t you going to offer me a drink?” I asked with mock severity.
One of the few times in my life I’d said the right things at the right time.
Reggie set the Webley down, rose and retrieved another heavy bottomed tumbler which he dutifully filled. His back turned, I quickly took up the revolver, unloaded it, and put the shells in my pocket.
“Let me keep this for you,” I said. “Bottoms up, now.” We finished the bottle. When he finally passed out, I threw the Webley in the river.
I was uneasy when he went away to hospital. His family expressed great concern yet failed to understand why Reggie couldn’t put the war behind him and just ‘get on with it.’ How was he to do that? Over the next week he looked to be on the mend. My visits always cheered him. He went home in early December and shot himself in the head. One more casualty of the war.
The news arrived two days after Reggie’s funeral. I wired General Rozwadowski in Paris that same day.
Christmas with Aunt Rhea at Pepperell Cottage. A real English country Christmas. Idyll shattered when we finally shared our separate plans. Plans we both made without consulting the other.
“Oliver, I have a place at Cornell Medical College in New York City. I know it’s a long way and four years seems a lifetime but you’ll be at Oxford. I can come see you there in the Summers. You’ll have your citizenship back, I know it. Then you can travel to America.”
“I’m leaving Oxford, Eliza. I’m going to Poland. They need pilots there.”
“What!? Oliver, no! Why would you do such a thing?!
Eliza was furious. Furious, then frightened, then resigned. She’d seen my growing restlessness. She knew.
“I can’t explain it, Eliza. I simply know that I have to do this…just as you must now go to America and become a Surgeon. You asked me once, could I survive peace? Could we survive peace? I still don’t know the answer, but neither of us will find it here in England. You feel it just as I do – the gnawing agitation, a sense of something missing.
“I’m not yet done with war. It’s not done with me. I need to fight for something clean, something unsullied by Empire building.”
“You could come with me, Eliza. There’s work for you in Poland. They need skilled hands. Think of what you could learn.”
It was a vain hope and I knew her answer even before she ruefully shook her head.
Long discussions late into the night, full of tears, acrimony, passionate reconciliation. Our understanding, such as it was, we dissolved by mutual agreement. Papa Ludlow remained optimistic about his latest efforts on my behalf but I knew it might be years before I saw home again.
A heart wrenching farewell at Aldermaston station. This time it was I who left. Eliza’s anger and fear now cooled, gave way to sadness. For two years she prayed every night that I might survive the next day, now she would face that trial again. As the train pulled away, Eliza stood there looking back at me with characteristic resolve. Iron. She was iron. _____________________________
I returned to Oxford to collect my things. Professor Murray made no effort to hide his dismay, yet he understood.
“I’ve seen your growing unease, Winningstad. I’ve observed it in the other veterans too. I hoped Oxford and the joys of learning might bring you peace but I see your war isn’t over.
He began then a recitation in that remarkable singing Greek of his but this time using spare prose more like my own translations.
“Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways, who was driven far journeys, after he had sacked Troy’s sacred citadel. Many were they whose cities he saw, whose minds he learned of, many the pains he suffered in his spirit on the wide sea, struggling for his own life and the homecoming of his companions.”
So he spoke, and offered his hand.
“You see, Winningstad, your modernist ways have infected me after all. May God protect you on your Odyssey.”
Last edited by epower; 03/05/2204:02 PM.
#4593467 - 03/06/2202:13 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
I was afraid of something like this happening between Eiiza and Oliver. On top of that, the tragic loss of Reggie. I have a feeling the Great War has not yet finished claiming all its victims.
Still, Oliver's "Odyssey" continues!
“With Major Lawrence, mercy is a passion. With me it is merely good manners. You may judge which motive is the more reliable.”
#4593580 - 03/08/2201:50 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 716epower
Joined: May 2012
BB - Two strong minded people going in different directions. It happens sometimes. As for the Great War claiming more victims, that ravening monster feeds still. ______________________________________________
20 July 1920 Kościuszko Squadron Hołoby, Poland
The May Offensive lanced east at tremendous speed but failed to bring the Red Army into a decisive confrontation. The Bolsheviks merely retreated and regrouped. Ultimately, Kiev proved ground of no value and we didn’t hold it for long. Symon Petliura, lacking popular support, failed to form a working government and the Ukrainian People’s Republic died in the cradle. When the counteroffensive came a month later, we retreated as fast as we advanced and now fight to hold Lwów.
No losses to enemy action since Ed Noble caught a ‘dum dum’ bullet to the elbow in April and had to be evacuated to Paris. Now, we’ve lost four pilots in the past week. Coop didn’t return from a ferry mission. Fate unknown. Kelly and Starzynski shot down by AA fire on the 15th. Neither survived. Ciecierski killed the same day Typhus epidemic raging through the Ack Ems now under control. Two men dead.
Possible that Coop is alive and gone to ground in Red-controlled territory. That’s a common thing for the squadron of late. Rory was gone two weeks, hiding out with friendly locals before he managed to get back across to Polish lines. The rural peasant farmers here suffered greatly over the last 6 years of war. Independence merely brought more strife and privation and an uncertain future what with Cossack raids and the Reds invasion, but despite the risk of Bolshevik reprisals, they continue to help the cause.
18 August 1920 Kościuszko Squadron Lewandówka aerodrome, Lwów, Poland
Situation grim up North but with the Red Army at the gates of Warsaw, the disparate factions of Polish society rally to the cause. Even so, it may be too late. Endless patrols for the last 10 days as we try to keep General Budyonny’s 1st Cavalry Army, the Konarmia, from crossing the Bug and encircling the Lwów.
The Red Army have no combat aircraft, but we haven’t had things completely our way. Budyonny’s men adapted very quickly and now move at night and use the uneven ground and numerous forests for cover. They’ve grown frightfully disciplined and no longer give away their position by firing indiscriminately at our aeroplanes. Now they stay in cover and draw us to lower altitudes before opening up. The new horse drawn tachanki carts put up the same volume of fire as a nest of machine guns.
Kościuszko Squadron’s attacks over the last two days hit the Reds hard and checked their offensive action but not without cost. What began with 26 Ansaldo Balillas and a stable of Albatri (DIII) is now a motley collection of six five aircraft after today’s excitement. We push the machines and ourselves to the limit. One mission on, one mission off, all day. Our Ack Ems perform miracles to keep the machines flying.
This afternoon, flying with Faunt we caught two companies of Budyonny’s Red cavalry out in the open and gave them all our bombs then one hell of a strafing. The Reds got theirs back on my final pass, sending a round through the engine. The Mercedes clanked in protest but continued making revs despite rising temperature. Belching a long trail of black smoke, I climbed southwest toward Lewandówka. Approaching the field, the Mercedes groaned in its death throes. I saw a trio of Brisfits parked near the hangars. Was this the RAF come to assist?
As I set the Alb down it seemed as though every available man raced out to greet my smoking, stricken craft. Dismounting in some haste as the Ack Ems took hold of the wingtips, I saw a tall gangly fellow in RAF uniform loping toward me.
It was Freddy! His awkward gait and gap-toothed grin recognizable for yards.
“Ripper old sport, you’ve been shot down again!” he cried.
“So it would appear, Freddy.”
He clapped me on the back in greeting. Walking away from the wreck shouts of alarm suddenly rose behind us. Looking back, we saw Ack Ems scattering for their lives. Just then the petrol tank exploded igniting a conflagration.
“Make that… 209 German aircraft destroyed!” I declared, linking my arm in Freddy’s. How many times had I done that with Arthur after a patrol?
“Haw!” You Americans and your humor!”
25 August 1920 Kościuszko Squadron Korczów Aerodrome, NE of Lwów
Victory in the North!! The Reds checked and shattered before Warsaw. Piłsudski driving east. News sketchy but reports of heavy Russian losses and over 50,000 made prisoner.
We stopped the Konarmiacold before Lwów and now harry Budyonny’s retreat.
29 September 1920 Kościuszko Squadron Lewandówka aerodrome, Lwów, Poland
A busy month. From 26 Aug to Sept 2 we fought it out with Budyonny just east of Zamość and gave the Cossacks a d@mn good thrashing. The Konarmia lost at least 4000 dead. Utterly beaten, they flee east.
After victory at Warsaw, Piłsudski pursued Tukhachevsky to Grodno on the Nieman river and in the last 10 days fighting sent the Red Army into full retreat. For all practical purpose the war is over.
Today General Haller decorated all the original members of the squadron, including me, with the Virtuti Militari. This is Poland’s highest decoration and with it comes a grant of land and an estate for each of us. In the spirit of Tadeusz Kosciusko’s refusal to accept land from George Washington after the Revolution, we arranged instead to have all the parcels grouped together into a single estate which happened to contain a large chateau. We gave this entire property to the Polish army for use as a convalescent home for wounded soldiers.
30 April 1921 Kościuszko Squadron Lwów, Poland
Letter from Freddy. When he departed Poland in September, he said he was planning something a little different if he left the RAF. Boy did he ever do that! His new ‘lady’ is a Supermarine flying boat! He’s taking her south to explore the Med.
7 May 1921 Kościuszko Squadron Lwów, Poland
With the Treaty signed yesterday at Riga in March our work is finished. We are due to leave Polish service on the 15th. Farewell squadron dinners these past two weeks given by our friends here in Lwów.
Tomorrow we board the train to Warsaw for our official discharge. ______________________
Coop is alive! A telegram arrived this afternoon.
“Will report for duty on May 10. -- Merion C. Cooper.”
10 May 1921 Kościuszko Squadron Warsaw, Poland
Ever one for a dramatic entrance, Coop arrived today on the train from Riga. He stepped out to a thunderous ovation. After escaping Moscow with two Polish prisoners, he and his companions travelled 500 miles on foot and crossed into Latvia a week ago.
Faunt collected him and brought him to Belvedere Palace where Marshall Piłsudski decorated Coop with the same Virtuti Militari that Chess, Corsi, Buck Crawford, Faunt and I received at Lwów in September.
Later this afternoon at the Mokatów airfield in central Warsaw, General Haller decorated the entire squadron with the Haller medal. Only fitting that the new men should also receive decorations.
Massive reception immediately afterwards in the service hall beside the field. Celebrations continued into the night.
This is a far better way to end a war. Victory on the field. Independence for Poland and freedom for her people.
23 May 1921 Copenhagen, Denmark
Five days on, I still feel the strength of her spell. I imagine the scent of Jasmine in her hair. I relive the moments of our brief reunion, and feel the pang of loss.
Formal discharge and final payment on May 15. The money wasn’t much but I hadn’t come to Poland as a mercenary. With no concrete plans, I thought to spend a few days exploring Warsaw then catch the train to Danzig. From there I would to take ship for England. After that, I had no idea what I might do next.
My Polish adventure would end in a most unexpected manner. A hand delivered note arrived on the morning of the 15th. When I queried the courier, he fell mute. I tried to tip him but he merely smiled, shook his head in refusal, and departed.
Unfinished business indeed. We be of one blood, Clarissa, and I. There’s not a thing I can do to change that. The urgency and overwhelming power of her need drove me mad with desire.
“Love me, Oliver. Love me,” she whispered.
Again and again in a timeless cycle. Her voice, her touch, the electric pleasure of our bodies entwined became my entire universe. We didn’t leave the hotel for two days. Thoughts and memory of any other lay far way.
Last edited by epower; 03/08/2201:54 AM.
#4593871 - 03/11/2204:24 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
What an education it has been to read Oliver's story. Of course, I am referring to the Polish-Russian war stuff and not the hot and heavy goings-on at the hotel Bristol, although that too could be an education in its own right.
Thank you for continuing this wonderful saga! I suspect we will be seeing Oliver in WOTR before too long.
#4594853 - 03/23/2202:09 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
To; Hugo Collinsworth # 12 Plaze Apts. Brighton, England
From C. Farnsworth 342 Fairmont st East End London, England
Date June 1950
Hugo old son , what a joy to read your post that you retired as a Wing Commander after being called back to service during the Big War. As you know with a Pub to run and my wound from WW1 I did a little Home Guard My Pub the Pigs Stern you can guess what the sign looks like old chap. I even ran for a public office Lost by a large margin so gave it up However, a couple of my young Dancers said they will spot on get positions in the government Give my regards to any of our old Squadron mates
Last edited by carrick58; 03/23/2202:14 AM.
#4594863 - 03/23/2209:43 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Thank you to everyone that has written down their exploits - they have been a great read with my morning tea - some could quiet easily be made in to books or films - so much research has gone into some of them - Cheers - keep them coming. Regards
BOC Member 'BWOC BWOC BWOC'
#4599754 - 05/18/2201:27 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 716epower
Joined: May 2012
Many thanks to all for your kind words.
Carrick - I am overlate in complimenting Cecil's choice of female companionship. Scandalous but so enticing. I wonder if Oliver will cross paths with the 'Profumo' set? Bah! He should live so long... ______________________________________
And speaking of overlate, what can I say about Oliver's denouement? Waaaaay too long in the making, but here it is :
"And what rough beast, its time come round at last, Slouches toward SimHQ to be born?"
I feel Oliver spring to life again as I resume the old pattern of posting. So too the bygone age I've inhabited for the past two years. I thank you for your forbearance, those of you still here. I shall endeavor to drop these final episodes daily, or failing that, on alternate days.
5 November 1923 Royal Automobile Club London, England
Guy Fawkes Day and I’m snared once again in Tennyson’s scheming. Seems appropriate. For two months I’d been shuttling between Antwerp, Paris and London turning our ancient plunder into hard currency. Back in London for less than a day when a note arrived for me, right here at the RAC. I deduce from this that he is still having me watched when I’m in London but I can’t spot any sign of a tail. Disturbing. The b@stard knew my curiosity would eventually get the better of me so some days later I found myself in the War Office.
Tennyson’s presence remained as ominous as ever but now I held his gaze with less difficulty.
“I have work for you, if you wish it,” he said. “Work, you say. What is it this time? Opening other people’s mail?” “No, we have trained experts for that sort of thing,” he answered dismissively. “I notice that you have some new business associates. These connections could prove most useful for what I have in mind.”
“And why exactly would I accept this generous offer of employment?"
The bushy eyebrows flicked briefly, not unlike a cat twitching its tail before the fatal pounce.
“Why indeed?” Tennyson mused. “I would tempt your baser mercenary instincts but in light of your recent activities and good fortune, I suspect that approach would fail. I might also appeal to your patriotism, if only you had a country to call your own. Most regrettable.”
His insouciant manner sparked my anger.
“What the hell does that have to do with anything?” I snapped.
“Nothing at all. I only mention it because at this very moment I am attempting, despite the machinations of his Majesty’s government, to prevent a war between Great Britain and the United States.”
“War? Why would our two countries fight each other, and for what?
“Power, of course… and world domination for the next 100 years. The means to that power, my dear Winningstad, is oil.”
“Zaharoff again?” I asked.
“No. He is peripherally involved but chances a different game.”
Tennyson saw my continued hesitation and incredulity. In his final play he led out his trumps.
“You have no desire to become a British subject yet you remain unable to reclaim your American citizenship. That impediment can be removed.”
Was it possible?
“How?” I asked, trying to keep my voice level and non-committal.
“I am not without influence. Does my offer interest you?” Nothing for it. Sometimes, ‘What the Hell’ is the right answer.
“Excellent!” he said, with a irritating note of triumph in his voice. With this, Tennyson handed me a red folder marked 'Most Secret.' “Now, does the name Calouste Gulbenkian mean anything to you?”
28 May 1924 RMS Laconia Liverpool to New York Mid Atlantic Ocean
What an education these past months! The chance to set right one of my past misdeeds and gain a friend in the process was an unexpected boon. I must admit I enjoyed the shadowy game and the theatrical craft I learned in my time with poor Reggie served me well when it came to disguises.
Our adversaries were no innocents, far from it. The threat of an Anglo-American war recedes but the Soviet threat remains real. I cannot help but think myself a pawn in the great game. The scope of Tennyson’s security apparatus chilled me to the core. It still does. If directed against everyday Britons it could lead to a tyranny worse far worse than the Kaiser or the Bolsheviks themselves.
Those dark memories drift behind me now. Tennyson kept his word. I’m finally going home.
I’m arriving well ahead of the festivities. I had a terrible time finding a berth and was lucky to land this one. Trip up to Liverpool was small price to pay. Speaking of price, this first-class passage didn’t come cheap. While that fact may not signify after what I’ve been up to the past few years, I can’t let this newfound fortune go to my head.
I sail on Laconia. Second version. She launched in 1923. Whether irony, or an ill omen I cannot yet say.
My mind turns ever to Eliza. Barely a handful of letters between us the past four years then a flurry in recent months. There may be a chance after all. The thought occurs that I must now court her anew, as if meeting her for the first time. Like living a life over again, but where only one of us remembers the past. She doesn’t know I’m coming. I hope surprising her like this isn’t a mistake. If I fail now, I might lose her forever. I must take the risk.
“But even so, what I want and all my days I pine for is to go back to my house and see my day of homecoming. And if some god will wreck me yet again on the wine-dark sea, I will endure it, keeping a stubborn spirit inside me, for already I have suffered much and done much hard work on the waves and in the fighting. So let this adventure follow.”
8 June 1924 Algonquin Hotel New York, NY
Breakfast and the morning paper. 100 Trillion Mark notes! Gods below! It’s getting bad in Germany, counterfeit, or no. I nearly skipped the adjacent article on the hapless French envoy, then the victim’s name caught my eye. Oh no. The Comte de Sash himself. Senseless. Poor Clarissa.
I read the article several times. Something here didn’t pass the smell test. A random mad assassin? I thought it unlikely. Did Antoine’s murder have any connection to this latest Tennyson caper and my work with Special Branch?
11 June 1924 Algonquin Hotel New York, NY
I didn’t know if she would accept my invitation. Had she found a lover? I hadn’t the courage to ask in my recent letters. I spent the morning at the New York Public Library then returned to the hotel to find a message from Eliza. She had plans for dinner but would meet me at the Algonquin for tea.
Tea? What did she mean? What time is tea in the US? Same old Eliza and her ambiguous messages.
At 2pm, newspaper and a sheaf of magazines in hand, I settled into one of the lobby chairs to wait. An hour later with the newspaper read completely, I found myself absentmindedly thumbing through women’s fashion magazines.
Precisely two hours later she strolled into the Algonquin. I leapt to my feet.
Eliza wore a white, medium-brimmed cloche style with a white silk band. One I’d seen in Vogue magazine not ten minutes ago. Her dark hair she kept short as was the current fashion. The sweeping French bob framed her face. The beautiful face that haunted my dreams…
I took in the sight of her.
She wore a light long-sleeved jacket of the finest linen, open at the throat. A design I now recognized from Paris - Chanel. Not quite grey, not quite blue. The broad white bright lapels of her elegant garment met just below her breastbone. No camisole beneath. Her exposed skin invited jewelry of some kind. Strings of pearls, maybe, like those women I’d seen in the magazines. Flouting current fashion, Eliza wore only the Jade pendant I’d given her. A good sign…It shone warmly, changing color with the temperature of her skin. A dark leather belt closed over the jacket. Her knee length skirt matched the jacket. Two-toned shoes, black and white with a short heel, graced her feet. I’d seen these before on the fashionable women of Paris. Eliza always liked her fancy clothes. That part hadn’t changed at least.
My heart slammed in my chest. I realized I was holding my breath. She smiled, light brown eyes dancing and hinting mischief.
“Oliver, you’re mad! What are you doing here? I can’t believe it, I…”
We moved toward each other at the same time. I held her tightly in my arms. She returned the embrace with equal intensity. I felt her breasts crush against me. Her head pressed into the crook of my neck as I held her strong back in my hands. The powerful figure remained but she was so thin now, as if the travails of the past four years had winnowed away any excess.
We took a table in the restaurant, not far from the famous Round Table frequented daily by the famous literary set.
Tea and treats arrived soon thereafter.
“I remembered you need provender late afternoon,” I said, offering her the tray of scones. Taking one, she split it open and topped it with a generous dollop of clotted cream.
“Did you find what you were looking for in Poland?” she asked.
“We repaid Kościuszko and Pulaski and their followers. The Poles have their freedom. What they do with it and whether they shall keep it remains to be seen.”
We spoke of her schooling, and of the extra work she did in the lower East Side slums..
“My congratulations Doctor Ludlow. What beckons?”
Eliza harrumphed. Looking frustrated she took another scone …
“American medical schools grudgingly opened their doors to women but not so with hospitals and surgical residencies. I couldn’t find one in the USA, but I did secure a spot in France, so that’s where I’m going - The American Hospital in Paris. The head of surgery remembered me.”
“Tremendous!” I cried. “You should see Paris now, Eliza. It’s incredible. As if all the entire world of poets, writers, and artists now gather there. I don’t really move in those circles but even so, it’s impossible not to get caught up in the torrent.”
“I can imagine,” she said. “I did so love your recent letters, Oliver… and the postcards you sent from all over the Mediterranean. ..and the pictures of you three with Freddy’s floating aeroplane. How marvelous it must be to travel so.”
“It is, Eliza. There’s nothing like flying. I think I might buy an aeroplane. I did promise to take you up when we first met. Do you remember? We never got round to it when I was at Oxford. Are you still game?”
She smiled at the double entendre. “Yes, I’d like that.”
“I have something for you, Eliza.” The last time I’d given her a gift like this was in the Dupont’s ancient wood, the day she told me about Tommy. The day we chased the rainbow.
Opening the black velvet box, she stared open-mouthed at the earrings. Would she accept them?
“Oliver, they’re incredible. They must have cost you a queen’s ransom. Did you and Freddy turn to piracy?”
“As a matter of fact, there were pirates involved. Things got a little spicy right at the end. Real Boys Own stuff. So yes, these are stolen goods, technically, but I think the statute of limitations passed a few centuries back.”
Seeing her quizzical expression, I continued.
“This was pirate treasure long ago. You see, there was this sunken ship we saw from the air… We needed someone we could trust who knew boats and salvage. Thank goodness Smokey was still in Paris.”
“Smokey was in Paris after all this time. Was that horrid Miss Anderson there also?”
Eliza’s antipathy toward Alexandra Anderson was alive and well.
“No, she was gone. I called at the Rue de Varenne address she gave me only to find Mrs. Wharton moved to St. Brice sous Fôret in the northern suburbs, and Miss Anderson decamped to Chicago. You know, Eliza, we may have misjudged her. I handled her roughly at our last meeting. Do you remember what she said? That I should ask Smokey about her. So, I did.”
“What did he say?”
“Nothing. And by doing so he said everything.”
“I see. Well, that’s enough about her. Tell me about your sunken ship.”
I gave her an abridged version. Eliza didn’t need to know about the last fight and how close we all came to getting murdered…
“…so, I spent the last months selling off my share. It fetched a tidy sum. One of the advantages of having shady contacts in London and other places. All this frenzy for old King Tut sure primed the market for art objects. Doing some work for your mysterious cousin didn’t hurt either. All very hush-hush that last bit. Can’t talk about it.”
Eliza rolled her eyes at the admonition, then grew more serious. “Oliver, it’s none of my business but what did you do with all this… booty?”
“I gave most of it to Freddy’s broker, Mr. Finlay, to invest for me. I kept some of the gems and had a Parisian jeweler make these for you. The remaining funds I stashed in a Swiss bank, for a rainy day. I have an income now.”
“Oliver the gentleman!” she teased.
“Gentleman adventurer, if you please” I retorted.
“It doesn’t matter that you have money, Oliver. You do know that..."
Eliza paused mid-sentence. I lived an eternity of terror in the seconds before she spoke again.
“I would love you if you were penniless,” she said, eyes shining.
Her graduation was a humid and sticky affair but all the newly minted Doctors relished the moment, long awaited after four hard years of schooling.
Eliza made introductions and insisted I join her family at dinner. I was nervous meeting Eliza’s parents. Despite Mr. Ludlow’s legal efforts on my behalf, I wasn’t sure how he or Mrs. Ludlow might feel about my squiring their unmarried daughter all over Europe four years ago. I needn’t have worried. The Ludlows greeted me with affection. I suspect Eliza smoothed over any concerns and I’m sure her parents knew the true character of their independent-minded and thoroughly modern daughter.
I thanked Mr. Ludlow profusely for his assistance.
“I’m greatly pleased the situation is resolved in your favor, Captain Winningstad,” he said. “The affair was most baffling. After years of stonewalling, the official objection to your return vanished overnight. I’d like to claim credit but I really have no idea what transpired.”
Obligations fulfilled and with her parents returning to Chicago we finally had time for ourselves.
Eliza proved a superb guide. She laughed when I told her, with a certain smugness, how I’d smuggled in a bottle of 12-year old. I soon discovered why. Chumley’s, 21 Club and Felton’s were just the tip of the iceberg as far as Manhattan speakeasys. The Cotton Club was my favorite. I’d not heard much in the way of authentic jazz but Eliza, Chicago girl that she was, knew the music well.
‘What are your plans? Where will you go now, Oliver?”
“Home to California. I haven’t seen my parents in over 7 years.”
“And after that?” she asked.
“There’s this girl I love, heading to Paris. I thought I might meet her there.”
Last edited by epower; 05/19/2212:36 PM.
#4599827 - 05/18/2211:53 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Oh, but I have missed reading Oliver's exploits! Thank you, epower, for bringing us this latest instalment. I recently read "The Silk Roads" by Peter Frankopan – a great read spanning the history of Central Asia from prehistoric times until today. Oliver's friend Calouste Gulbenkian makes an appearance, of course. It took me a moment when I read the name in your story to recall his importance. The New York montage is absolutely brilliant. Great to see Oliver and Eliza together again. Now it's time to beat some sense into the two of them so they stay together for good!
#4599834 - 05/19/2212:33 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 716epower
Joined: May 2012
25 December 1924 Paris, France
Our first Christmas in Paris. We’ve met so many people in our first months here. So much going on. Of the remarkable souls we’ve encountered, Ernesto and Alice stand out. I don’t know why Alice took such a shine to me, given that I’m a rank amateur as a writer, especially when compared to those she and Gertrude host in their Saturday evening salon. Alice met Eliza at the hospital and things went forward from there. Next I knew, I was taking Alice for a ride in my aeroplane. After that, both Eliza and I had an open invitation to their Saturday evening salon.
Eliza attends infrequently, due in part to Gertrude’s insistence on segregating the sexes, keeping the men to herself, and leaving the ladies with Alice. In any event, Eliza’s work occupies most of her time, so we prefer to spend that spare time together. I do cart her off at the weekend and we explore France in increments. In fine weather I take Eliza flying and when aloft she’s as happy as a child at an amusement park.
Paris is chock full of sporting gymnasiums so I’ve resumed my training. There are also men here practicing the French Boxing art, Savate. Savateurs, they call themselves. I recognized some of their techniques from Mr. Fairbairn’s teaching. I’m particularly interested in the very nasty low kicks designed to use the toe, heel, and hard edge of the European shoe as a weapon.
I write these words and remember poor Fortescue, who I ambushed in the shadows of Exchange Court. I can close my eyes and still feel the toe of my left boot penetrating his liver.
The forgotten art of Bartitsu
Four Englishman train here frequently. They practice the lost Edwardian art of Bartitsu, brainchild of E. W. Barton-Wright. I’d not heard of it before. It may be less practical now that many gentlemen no longer carry walking sticks, though an umbrella serves well enough. So do keys, hatpins, hands, and feet. Even the overcoat has a role to play. Bartitsu is very much a hybrid art, and like the system Mr. Fairbairn teaches, it borrows from Savate, Jiu Jitsu, English boxing, and fencing. Very popular with English suffragettes, who used it to good effect in their battles with the police. Eliza found this fact intriguing and expressed interest in learning more. I shall make inquiries. Sherlock Holmes mentioned ‘Baritsu’ when recounting his final struggle with Prof. Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. It must be the same art.
I’ve met another expatriate American, Ernest Hemingway. He fancies himself a boxer and though unskilled and wild, he is constantly demanding to spar with me. I refuse. I know full well that any sparring would turn into a fight in short order. The trainer told me that when Jack Dempsey came to Paris in 1922, Ernest pestered him relentlessly about a match. Dempsey steadfastly refused for the same reason.
Hemingway is a regular at Gertude’s gatherings of writers and artists. While I’m far from their class as a writer, our association makes for good times. So much of this is new to me. The art, modern painting, futurism, and then there’s the writing. I’m soaking it all in like a sponge.
Eliza took an immediate dislike to EH. The feeling was mutual. He would never say so in my presence but knowing him as I do, I believe Ernest sees Eliza as the Archetypical B#tch. I hate that these two can’t get along.
Under a ‘nom de plume’ I’ve sent a few short stories to Flight and Boy’s Own Paper. To my great shock and delight, two were published. Someday, I will tell the real tale of my comrades and to do that properly I must learn to write with greater skill. Ernesto took a genuine interest in my writing and my style is much the better for his criticism and advice. His ability to express so much in such spare prose amazes me. The easy way the words flow, seemingly without effort leaves me envious. So often I sabotage myself in my desire to get it right at one go.
I showed him a recent draft. He read it over with a blank expression.
“Most of this is sh#t, Ollie. Write and don’t worry about whether it will be a masterpiece or not. I write one page of masterpiece to ninety pages of sh*t. I try to put the sh#t in the wastebasket.”
“All you have to do is write one true sentence,” he once told me. “Write the truest sentence that you know.”
His short stories about the Nick Adams character are my favorite. EH let me read all the ones he’s written so far. Some few he published in his latest collection. I hope he finishes the others.
He’s an odd one, Ernest. Such a great soul. Larger than life, lethally charming. At times he would give his last centime or the shirt from his back to a stranger but on other days he can be a dreadful bully. Ernesto knew Barker in Italy and didn’t have much good to say about the man. Barker’s Christmas Day strafe of the Austrian aerodrome deeply affected EH. I don’t understand this incongruous delicacy. What does he think war is about? All his manly bluster masks some deep pain, but I don’t know him well enough to guess what it might be. We all have demons, and Ernesto’s appear more terrible than most.
15 April 1925 Paris, France
Eliza dragged me off to the exhibition that’s taken over both banks of the Seine. Despite my time spent with Picasso, Dali, Man Ray, and the others who frequent Gertrude’s Saturday gatherings I still understand little of art. I should buy some of their paintings but haven’t a clue where to begin. I must ask Gertrude for advice in this matter. Of architecture I know even less, though I know what I like and what I do not. Eliza is in love with the furniture, especially that of the Frenchman, Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann. I suspect we will be redecorating our apartment very soon.
14 July 1926 Paris, France
Bastille Day and we may be storming different walls. The new director at the hospital is now officially a problem. Reactionary view that women have no place in a surgery. I think often of killing the man with my hands, or at least thrashing him within an inch of his miserable life. Eliza is certain that he will not renew her contract in August. I see in her the same growing frustration and disillusion we faced before I left Oxford. Eliza was never one to back down from a fight but what would be the point of staying?
Eliza and I talked it through late into the night. We were both of the same mind.
“Onward,” I declared. “I’d say home but I’m not sure where that might be these days.”
“Meaning America?” she asked.
“Yes. But let’s take the long way and travel the wider world. I’ve always wanted to circumnavigate the globe.”
“I thought you wanted to do that alone, in a sailboat,” she said.
“I do indeed, but that’s a trip for another time.”
You’re mad, Oliver.”
“Very likely, but only when you’re in the room. We’ve seen Paris, it’s time for a change. We have money, let’s spend some of it and make a fresh start.”
“Wherever the Orient Express, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, and the winds of fortune take us. Constantinople, Jerusalem, Egypt, India, then Australia and the South Seas. Smokey has a new schooner last I heard. We can meet him in Tahiti.”
She laughed at that. “You’ve been planning this, haven’t you?! How Marvelous!”
12 Sept, 1926 Winter Palace Hotel Luxor, Egypt
The Orient Express was quite the adventure, as was Constantinople despite the late summer heat. The dusty rail journey to Jerusalem and on to Egypt, less so. The timing of our great escape from Paris left something to be desired but we are now ensconced in the Winter Palace, along Corniche Avenue on the East bank of the Nile. The room overlooks the river and the constant breeze provides a cool respite. The regal hotel is French run and boasts a delightful swimming pool, lush gardens, and any number of excellent restaurants. We are just a short walk from the Temple of Luxor which we shall explore tomorrow.
Energized from our short swim in the delightfully cold pool, I read by the window as Eliza napped.
Subtle, but present nonetheless. Deep into the book, I read the passages twice to be certain. Despite the protestation in his note, I knew who inspired the character Jake.
“That Son of a B*tch!”
My exclamation startled Eliza out of sound sleep and brought her to full alert.
“Oliver, what’s wrong?”
“I’m sorry. I didn't mean to wake you. I’m reading Hemingway’s book. It’s frightfully good so far. The best of his stuff I’ve read, but the main character, Jake, is a Flying Corps officer rendered impotent by some war wound. There’s no mention of any specific details but Jake cannot perform sexually. This is Ernesto’s revenge for our boxing match."
“What boxing match?” she asked. “You never mentioned a fight.”
“No. It was a private thing, and not for telling. He’d been after me for months to spar with him. He’s got the heart of a lion but he’s a terrible boxer. After months of his entreaties and more than a few jibes, I finally agreed. Mistake. So what began as a training session soon hit full revs, at least on his part, and turned into a fight. I kept him at bay with the jab and controlled the middle of the ring. I wasn’t going full out and I could see that he was getting frustrated. Ernesto is a big fellow, outweighs me by at least 20 pounds. He charged like a wild animal, throwing punches in quick succession, and backed me into a corner. Caught me with a glancing blow to the ear that hurt like hell. It felt like he’d ripped my ear clean off. I saw red and instincts kicked in.”
I started reliving the sequence now as I told her the story.
Hemingway’s hard left I picked up with my right shoulder and forearm, but the force of the punch jarred me to the left. I dropped down slightly so that his swooping Haymaker right just nicked the top of my head instead of laying me out. Strong left foot, pivot, and the slanting left hook drove into his liver with a sickly audible slap. The right uppercut that followed was one of the purest punches I’ve ever thrown. It caught him perfectly on the chin. So rare when that happens. He was out before he hit the canvas, and he stayed out for a long time. I got scared then. I feared I’d hurt him but he eventually came round.
“Scott Fitzgerald was there and saw the whole thing. I swore him and the two trainers to secrecy and never said a thing to anyone. Ernesto kept demanding a rematch and got pretty sore when I refused.”
“Impotent?” she said, smiling her Eliza smile. “Ernest must have some other man in mind.”
14 October 1926 RMS Narkunda Colombo, Ceylon
Our tour of the Near East and India now complete, we set sail this morning for Australia. Three weeks traveling India. Good times. Eliza nearly caused an international incident when she accepted the coolie’s invitation to ride atop the train with me. Thankfully she was wearing Jodhpurs and not a dress.
Eliza profoundly distressed by the state of the poorer villages. So much wealth in India but the disparity between rich and poor could not be wider. The conditions some people live in are appalling. Lacking clean drinking water or public sanitation it is small wonder they often fall ill. I see such poverty yet I am amazed by the kindness of the people despite their hardship.
On the way back from Kashmir we visited the Golden temple in Armistar, the holiest city of the Sikhs. In the same city was the walled enclosure called the Jallianwala Bagh, site of the 1919 massacre. Was this the spark that would ignite revolution? Indians want their freedom, like any other people. Kipling’s stories enchanted my childhood. His notion of a ‘white man’s burden’ and the need for the British to rule the darker races…not so much. There are a quarter Billion Indians. When that independence movement picks up momentum, the British will be powerless to stop it, no matter how many innocents they might slaughter.
Can the Empire survive the loss of the British Raj?
29 October 1926 Adelaide, Australia
We bid farewell to Narkunda. Spring here in the Southern Hemisphere and we shall explore eastern Australia for a week before setting out for New Zealand
28 November 1926 Auckland, New Zealand
As much as I love the green splendor of the British Isles, the landscape of New Zealand is like nothing I’ve ever seen. New Zealand has a unique natural beauty, as do its native people, the Māori. Great fun catching up with old friends, Grid Caldwell and Mac McGregor. Both are farmers now if one can believe such a thing.
The New Zealand Territorial Air Force. Mac, Len Islip (center), and Grid Caldwell flanked by and two other chaps whose names escape me.
Mac took me fishing. Incredible the size of the wildlife. They throw back trout under 2 feet long! Grid seems none the worse for two years war service. He is happily married with two small children. I worry about Mac. It’s easy to see the scars, not so easy to help a man heal. I hate to see my friend in such pain. Mac lost his farm in the 1925 depression, and now manages his father’s farm at Rukuhia. He talks about starting an aviation company once aeroplanes become more readily available. I wonder if doing so might help him find his way back.
An idyllic fortnight here. Tomorrow, we take ship to Fiji, then on to Tahiti where we shall rendezvous with Smokey.
Last edited by epower; 05/19/2212:33 PM.
#4599913 - 05/20/2201:01 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 716epower
Joined: May 2012
Raine - Thanks for the recommendation. I dream of reading for pleasure again some day. For now it is all research, all the time. I shall add Frankopan's book to my list. Yes, "Mr. Five Percent" does figure prominently in the early 20th C history of the region. We might see more of him if I write a book about Oliver's skulldugerous adventures in 1924-25. The history of the oil wars, 1895-1930, is some shocking reading. One might almost start to believe in global conspiracies. The term, 'Perfidious Albion' seems invented to cover Britain's actions over that time.
MFair - There's a present for you in this post, which I know you'll appreciate. I tried to find a photo of the entire model but struck out. I believe it sits currently at MIT.
26 December 1926 Papeete, Tahiti French Polynesia
Smokey met us in Tahiti with his new schooner, Marguerite. A magnificent vessel, richly appointed.
“She’s Herreshoff built in 1915,” said Smokey, positively bristling with pride. In addition to Marguerite, there was another lady in Smokey’s life. If he still carried any feelings for Alexandra Anderson, one would never know it by the way he looked at Camille.
Camille was tall for an islander, with the high full cheekbones characteristic of the Malaysians but it was clear she had a European ancestor. She spoke perfect French and a slightly accented English. I later learned of her childhood in Saigon. Her face was often alight in a calm beaming smile and her laugh came easily and often. Soft brown eyes, slightly large for her face, flashed in the sun. I thought her in her middle thirties but her strong, full figure was that of a much younger woman.
Marguerite close hauled to windward
In the richly paneled and appointed main lounge, a highly detailed model of Marguerite
We’ve rented a small house right off the beach and spend our days swimming, fishing, and exploring the islands. Sailing with Smokey on Marguerite is like traveling back in time. Some days I set off with Eliza in one of Marguerite’s sailboats seeking adventure. We shed our clothes and swim naked in the warm sunlit seas. Two weeks on we are nearly as brown as the islanders. ________________________________
We walked along the beach, hand in hand. The sun lay just below the western horizon but splashed riotous purple and orange colors on the illuminated clouds.
Eliza stopped and turned to me. There was a peace to her expression, a light in her face, as though some revelation had come upon her. Everything slowed down then, just as it had that day when I first kissed her in the Grovetown wood. My pulse quickened. My breath caught. I felt lighter
I moved toward her. She took hold of both my hands the way she used to when we first met. Her eyes glistened and she spoke softly like the evening breeze that always blew cool against our house.
“You asked me a question once, more than once if I recall,” she said. “Please ask it again.”
Question? What question?!
Like that day with her in Corbie, so long ago, my mind went completely blank. Words fled.
Please not now. Why does this happen?
“Now?” I asked, desperately playing for time.
“Yes, Oliver,” she said with a knowing smile. “Ask me now…”
Could she mean…?
“Uh, has something changed?” I stammered.
Idiot! Don’t make a hash of this Oliver
“That’s not the right question,” she said in the long-suffering, patient tone she reserved for those times when I was being unusually obtuse. “But if you must know, everything is changed. I’ve changed and, most importantly, I’ve changed my mind.”
“Will you marry me, Eliza?”
27 December 1926 Papeete, Tahiti French Polynesia
“I don’t want a big churchy wedding,” Eliza sniffed. “I’ve always had a stormy relationship with the Roman church however much I believe in God and to be honest, my family are Easter Sunday Catholics. Like I told you, I’ve not set foot in a church or gone to mass since Tommy died. Besides, Oliver, they’d never countenance the union. You are at the very least a heretic, and most likely a pagan. I might get a dispensation for those but you were also raised a Protestant.”
“That’s worse than the other two?” I asked, knowing full well that it was.
“Very much so and I’d never ask you to convert,” she said. “Let’s just find a magistrate.”
“I can do better. But before we enter into this, I insist on a contract, so we’ll need a lawyer if we can find one here.”
“What are you talking about?” she asked, suddenly wary.
“I want it in writing that I renounce all spousal claims on your wealth or property after we’re wed. Let no man say that I married you for your money. Now, as for our marriage, I say, ‘Sod the churches,’ all of them. Like I said, I can do better than a magistrate. We will marry, Eliza. We will marry, and any gods who wish to attend shall be welcome.”
“Oliver, I do wish you wouldn’t say things like that. It’s… never mind.” she shook her head in exasperation. “You don’t really believe in those old gods, do you?” she asked
“Why should I not? Homer’s gods were ancient, long before the Hebrews wrote the Old Testament, yet they are young compared to the Gods of Egypt. Krishna, Vishnu and the Indian Gods are older still. The most saintly man I ever knew believed in them. For what it’s worth, he believed in the Christ and the Buddha too but that’s a longer story.”
“Who was that?” she asked.
“Cook. Cook, on Astoria. Akshay Chandra Bharadwaj was his name…is his name. I was one of the few on the ship who could pronounce it correctly. Such a humble man. He was Brahmin, of a caste unimaginably high, yet he was perfectly content to be called ‘Cook.’ He was the most remarkable of men. There was something of the next world about him.”
“You’ve never mentioned him before, not in all your fantastic tales of Astoria,” she said in surprise.
“No. When I think of him, I feel sadness…and shame. We parted badly and that was my fault. He left Astoria in Hong Kong. Spring of 1915 it was. A year before we made the crossing to Seattle in 1916. He must have been 60 years of age then, at least. He was going home, he said, north to the Himalayas to seek the divine. It was just like that Kipling story, the one about the holy man… The Miracle of Puran Bhagat. I cried myself to sleep for a week afterwards.
“Is that why we went north to the Himalayas? Were you hoping to find him?”
“In a way. I always wanted to see Kashmir. Cook had a great love of his home. He would go on and on, telling me how beautiful it was. He wasn’t wrong, if anything his descriptions failed to do the place justice. As for meeting him again, that was always a vain hope. If he’s still living, he’d be high up in the mountains.”
There are no farewells for us, Oliver. Look for me standing in the sunbeam.
“He gave me a book before he left…”
“What was the book?” asked Eliza.
“The Bhagavad Gita. He inscribed it. Something to the effect that it would help me to ask better questions.”
“And are you able now to ask better questions?” Eliza asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I don’t know. I never read it.”
“What?! He gave you the Hindu Gita and you never read it! Oliver! Oliver!!” she repeated in a louder voice.
Eliza’s rising tone and outrage took me aback. Was she shocked because it was the Gita or because I’d rejected a heartfelt gift in parting?
“I was so angry. I thought his leaving a betrayal of our friendship. I was young, stupid, and childish.”
“What became of the book?” she asked.
“I left it on Astoria when I had to run. Smokey brought it to Father with the rest of the things I left behind. It was there in Father’s library when I visited two years ago.”
“Then we must go to California and reclaim it,” she declared in a voice that brooked no refusal.
31 December 1926 Marguerite 17° 25’ 21” S / 149° 38’ 05” W 7 Nautical Miles NNW of Tahiti
Marguerite had a full complement of wedding guests as we sailed NNW under a crisp azure sky. Our new Tahitian friends and the crew who were practically family at this point made the number nearly twenty. No reception planned at sea. Champagne would have to do until we returned to shore for a proper wedding feast.
“Is this even legal?” asked Eliza.
“I think so,” I replied. “Yes, most certainly. Sea Captains have always had this power. Anyway, does it really matter? Might be better if it’s not. Even with our contract I might find a way to embezzle all your millions as your husband.”
She smiled her Eliza smile, then whacked me on the shoulder.
I left her in the cabin, went back on deck and stood at the head of the assembled company.
Camille was Maid of Honor to Eliza. This was only fitting as the two were now fast friends.
I stood alone. I wished with all my heart that Freddy was here (Gerard too) but I’d no word from them in over a year. My recent telegrams to Birchley House went unanswered. He must be off adventuring with Gerard. Smokey was the only other living man who might have stood with me but he had other duties this day. He was at once, father of the bride, best man, and officiant.
It was Smokey himself who walked Eliza down the aisle, such as it was. The sight of those two took my breath way. Eliza wore the traditional tapa cloth wedding dress of the Polynesians, lightly embroidered. Her sun-browned skin providing a lovely contrast to the light-colored fabric. In her hair by the left ear, a hibiscus flower. At her throat she wore the jade pendant of the Qílín and Phoenix.
A feeling like an electric current moved through me and the familiar icy tendrils rose from my abdomen. I had the oddest sensation that this was not the first time I’d lived through this scene. Smokey approached calmly beaming a huge smile. With a nod he joined Eliza’s hand in my own. Seeing my obvious agitation, he set a calming hand on my shoulder then took his place.
I’d forgotten that Smokey’s father was a devout Quaker. The influence of this upbringing revealed itself in his service. This was a Smokey I’d never seen before. Hezekiah Augustine Butler. Major of Marines (Ret), Captain of the Marguerite.
A ceremony free of blusterous invocation. One of perfectly appropriate simplicity yet one impossible to experience without strong feeling. Any gods in attendance failed to show themselves but I felt a presence. Our wedding guests were not the only witnesses.
Smokey’s invocation concluded, he dispensed with any traditional vows. “Take this ring,” he said to Eliza, “in token and pledge, of my constant faith and abiding love.” She spoke the words and placed the ring on my finger. I repeated the litany and slid the gold band gently onto Eliza’s finger.
“Before God, the vast ocean and by the power invested in me as Captain of the Marguerite, I invite you to call one another by those old and distinguished titles, Husband, and Wife.”
Last edited by epower; 05/20/2201:12 AM.
#4599915 - 05/20/2201:48 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Wonderful stories, e! Simply wonderful, although I could do without some of the name-dropping. J/K. Gertrude Stein, Papa Hemingway, etc. No Noel Coward or Dorothy Parker, though!
So, Oliver has his Penelope--or is it Aphrodite, I'm not sure. In Oliver's eyes, perhaps Elisa is both, all wrapped in one! Lucky man, nevertheless.
And the adventure continues....
“With Major Lawrence, mercy is a passion. With me it is merely good manners. You may judge which motive is the more reliable.”
#4599970 - 05/21/2201:21 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 716epower
Joined: May 2012
Raine – Oliver can be frightfully slow at times, especially where ladies are concerned, but he got there in the end.
BB – Glad you’re still following. Looks like Papa’s name wasn’t the only thing of his that Oliver dropped. As for Miss Parker, obviously, Oliver had more interesting women on his mind when he visited NYC and the Algonquin. The Tale does have to END at some point. Noel Coward, OTOH. Guilty as charged. …Gods below! What a missed opportunity. “Hay Fever” first premiered in London in 1925. Oliver and Eliza might definitely have seen it on one of their cross channel hops 1925-26. “He can sleep in the Japanese room!” Classic stuff. Loved it, but I haven't thought about that play in 35 years. Ironic, since it was the very first play I saw in an actual NY Broadway theater. There was a lady involved… Long story.
As for ladies, yours is a fine list. Penelope (Cruz, not Wilton), Aphrodite, and how about Kalypso, shining among goddesses? Played by Vanessa Williams in the Armand Assante ‘Odyssey.’ Meow
A very special thank you to Raine for his kind participation. Without his superb reanimation of the legendary Alexandra Anderson, this episode would have been impossible. ____________________________
15 July 1927 Oak Park, Illinois USA
Lindbergh’s US tour lands here one month from today but I won’t see him. There is a more important guest about to arrive…
Not long now. Eliza is “great with child” as the literary expression goes. ‘Big as a house,’ is the way she described herself. Looking at her, I don’t agree. To my eye she is positively radiant. I’ve never seen her more beautiful.
I feel completely useless. I’m nervous as a cat. I try to help Eliza but she’s terribly uncomfortable and the cloying August humidity isn’t helping her mood at all. Thank goodness Papa Ludlow hid his wine cellar before the 18th Amendment took hold. I shall enjoy a stiff drink this evening. Irascible as ever, Eliza finally ordered me away again at lunch.
“Oliver, your fidgeting is insufferable. Go fly that aeroplane of yours and don’t let me see you before dinner.”
My recent extravagance. A Pitcairn PA-5 Sportwing
Some model as the Mailwing but instead of a cargo compartment mine has the forward cockpit for two passengers. I can’t wait to take Eliza up but that must wait until after the baby comes.
Six months here in Chicago now. Eliza teaching at the Northwestern University Hospital until her condition forced her into confinement. After Tahiti, we caught the steamer for Hawaii, then San Francisco. Mother and Father both quite charmed by Eliza and ecstatic at the prospect of Grandparenting.
We found a house to rent, only a few blocks from Eliza’s parents. I was apprehensive at first, I admit, but Mama and Papa Ludlow are the best of in-laws.
Much to my dismay, and to Eliza’s everlasting amusement, it turned out that sea captains do NOT have the power to conduct marriages and so we soon found ourselves before the Justice of the Peace and a second ‘wedding’ in the Ludlow’s stately home. All to the good in the end.
23 July 1927 Chicago, Illinois USA
Met Alexandra Anderson for lunch today. My letter sent to her care of the Tribune languished unanswered for two months as she was in Europe chasing a story. The Locarno Treaties, Piłsudski’s May Coup of 1926 and its aftermath.
She suggested we meet at the Drake Hotel – close enough to walk from Tribune Tower and far enough away that she would not likely run into other Tribune staffers. I found her there at a table near the window of the elegant Coq d'Or room. She stood to greet me as I entered. So like her. She was never one to sit demurely and offer a gloved hand. The years had treated her kindly. The blush of youth still highlighted those high cheekbones. The long, regal nose and grey eyes were striking as always. She wore a simple black pleated dress, the bodice of which was slightly bloused over a patent leather half belt. I recognized it immediately as one of the recent Chanel designs from Paris. Alexandra Anderson was going to show Chicago how it's done.
"Major Winningstad," she said, "it is such a joy to see you again after a long time. Thank you for your lovely letter. I do apologize for not having written, but for once I couldn't find the right words."
“Not at all, Miss Anderson and I’m just a retired Captain now.”
We shook hands and I sat. She fastened a cigarette into her amber holder and lit it before I could unlimber my lighter. She had abandoned her Sobranies for Camels, I noted. We began with small talk. She spoke wistfully of Paris and when I made the error of mentioning my two years residence there, I found myself revealing far more detail than I might have wished.
“It doesn't compare to Paris.” she said, “but the Art Institute here has a superb collection.”
I declined to mention that I still knew little of art.
She was safely ensconced back at the Tribune, but railed against the way the few women reporters there betrayed their sex. "The silly cows will claw each other's eyes out for a chance to get a lead article in the social pages. Put them on the crime beat and all they want to do is find maltreated women to write victim sob stories about.”
She explained to me that she had hopes of getting an editor's position. The city desk editor would retire soon, she said.
"Let's turn to the international news. I would love to hear about your time in Poland. You fought with the Kościuszko Squadron there, I believe. That must be quite a tale,” she said, taking a long drag from her cigarette.
“Full of sound and fury,” I teased. “One I’m sure you’d love to tell.”
She smiled broadly. “Is that a possibility?”
“No. But you might tell the Poles’ story, while you still can. I fear the Locarno treaties doomed them. Germany’s western border set, but not the eastern boundaries. Russia and one side, Germany on the other. Poland sails between Scylla and Charybdis."
A waiter paused at our table and asked me if we would like to order. She replied for both of us, ordering smoked salmon on rye bread. I laughed inwardly. Alexandra Anderson was anything but shy. She was drinking ginger ale and I ordered one as well. Then she leaned forward with a conspiratorial smile.
"Have you begun work on your autobiography yet?" she asked.
When I answered ‘no’, she offered her assistance. If I chose not to write it myself, she remained available to pen my authorized biography. I shook my head.
“For now, Miss Anderson, I’ll confine my literary efforts to the articles I write for various aviation magazines and the occasional cracking yarn for Boys Own Paper. All under a nom du guerre as it were.”
“Captain Winningstad, you must be the most anonymous flying ace of the Great War.”
“I prefer it that way, Miss Anderson.”
“Fame hasn’t harmed Captain Rickenbacker any,” she remarked diffidently.
“Anonymity has its uses, and trading on my accolades doesn’t suit me.”
D@mn! I shouldn’t have said that. How does she always get me talking so much?
I deflected frantically and asked what brought her back to Chicago.
“Someone I’ve been hunting for a long time.” she said. Her features hardened for the briefest instance as she stubbed out the cigarette.
"Do tell," I said.
"I don't know how much you know about the city, Captain. Our mayor, William Thompson – he likes to call himself Big Bill – is a blustering hypocrite. He has an abiding hatred for all things British. He has even convinced himself that the British are infiltrating American education and American thought and that Chicago's educators are part of the plot. He is systematically undermining his predecessor's efforts to control the liquor trade and is currying favor with some of the worst thugs and gangsters you can imagine. I don't know if you realize it, but nearly every block of Chicago has its own gang, but there are several major players…"
"Like Al Capone?" I asked. "I've read about him."
"Mayor Thompson would prefer you didn't. Capone is a major source of financial support for him. And the mayor has a special hatred for the Tribune. He's had a long-standing feud with the McCormick family who publish the paper. He would prefer that we ignored the Capones of this world, or better yet painted them as Robin Hoods."
Our lunch arrived. Alex Anderson barely touched it. She was under full steam and talking about her inquiries into the mayor's rotten government apparatus and his connections with Capone and other gangsters. "I plan to do an in depth exposé of the dark underside of Chicago politics and policing. I suppose I may have to go back to Europe when this is all done if I want to stay safe. As much as I'd like that city editor job, it may have to wait."
She was keen, no question about it. The bill arrived and I reached for it as a matter of course. To my horror, she grabbed it first, holding it across her chest in her left hand. Was that a glint of triumph I saw in her eyes?
"Miss Anderson, really…you cannot."
"But the Tribune can," she replied.
I held out my left hand, palm up. "Please, Miss Anderson. If I ever get around to that book, I guarantee you’ll be buying me a number of lunches and something stronger to drink than ginger ale."
“I’m Alex to my friends,” she replied.
Time to bury the hatchet for good. Best not to tell Eliza about this for awhile.
“And I am Oliver to mine.”
"Then we have a friendship, Captain? I'm so happy about that."
With a flourish she gave the bill into my left hand. I extended my right and she shook it with a smile.
26 July 1927 Chicago, Illinois USA
At the Chicago Air Park this afternoon, I was set to take the Sportwing for an afternoon flight when two impeccably dressed if rough looking gentlemen strode into the hangar. They wanted a joyride in an aeroplane and were happy to pay. Some alarm bell sounded in the back of my head, no doubt informed by my recent conversation with Alex Anderson.
“I was going up anyway,” I said, declining their cash. “Come along.”
Introductions followed then, after which I secured Emilio and Nicky into the tandem seats of the forward cockpit. Having only one intercom set I gave it to Nicky.
Flying helmets and goggles fitted then off we went. The fellows were game and kept calling out for more aggressive maneuvers. I gave them the full treatment, ducking down in my cockpit in case one or both of them spewed. Neither did but I didn’t need a headset to hear their cries of terror and exhilaration. After 30 minutes of this roller coaster flying, they cried ‘Uncle.’ I gave them an aerial tour of downtown and Michigan Avenue before returning to the Air Park.
Emilio and Nicky thanked me profusely and promised to come by again.
1 August 1927 Chicago, Illinois USA
Eliza took Tommy to visit her mother this evening so I made my way downtown to investigate the new Stevens Hotel, rumored to be the world’s largest.
Exploring the place, I eventually made my way to the rooftop deck where I found an 18 hole miniature golf course, of all things! Paying the 35¢ green fee, I scanned the crowded course and recognized two familiar men halfway through their round. I walked over to find Nicky and Emilio, accompanied by an enormous fellow in a shimmering grey suit, their associate Big Sal. Sal mumbled an unintelligible greeting then said nothing from that point forward.
Golf round completed, Emilio mentioned a drink. Unfortunately, The Stevens observed Prohibition but the boys knew a club just round the corner and invited me along.
Once settled in, Emilio and Nicky couldn’t stop talking about the plane ride and aeroplanes so it was easy enough to hook them into conversation. Sal remained silent. As the liquor flowed, the two grew increasingly talkative. They were in ‘business’ and having a very good year. I suspected them to be Capone’s men.
As the three settled in for a serious binge, I drank less and less. They had no such inhibitions and their drunken conversation soon turned to local politics. I played dumb as the recently arrived newcomer. Subtly, I tried to probe them on the subject of the gang violence and a police crackdown on bootleggers.
“They don’t interfere,” said Nicky. “It pays to have friends in high places. Good for business.”
“Shiddy Hall,” slurred Emilio suddenly. This interjection brought Nicky to attention. He put his arm around his drunken associate. “Don’t mind Emilio.” Nicky said smiling. “He’s ubriaco.”
“Difficult knowing what to believe with all the conflicting stories in the newspapers,” I said.
“Fottuti paparazza!" exclaimed Emilio, gesticulating with a hand under his chin. My Italian was weak but that didn't sound like a compliment. He saw my confusion and continued in English. “Tramp lady reporter shticking her nose where it don’t belong! Puttana better watch hershelf…”
Emilio was clearly blotto.
In vino veritas?
Something was afoot but I knew better than to press too firmly now. I had a pretty good idea about which lady reporter. Nicky shook his drunken friend and made a few jokes at Emilio’s expense before signing for the bill. I gave them my flying instructors card and told them they could leave a telephone message for me at the airfield. Nicky and Big Sal helped Emilio as he staggered out of the club.
Reviewing the chronology of our meetings, I wondered if this was some kind of setup. I dismissed the notion. If Capone or his men wanted to threaten Alex Anderson, they would so directly.
2 August 1927 Chicago, Illinois USA
I telephoned Alex at her office.
“We need to meet," I said. “It’s rather urgent. You mentioned a place that doesn’t compare to Paris. Do you remember? Don’t say it, just answer yes or no.”
“Yes, of course I remember. What is this about? You know I'm not buying lunch without a deal for the book." I could hear her giggling to herself.
“Assume you’re being followed," I said. “Do you know how to shake a tail?”
"Oliver, what kind of question is that to ask a lady?" She waited for me to laugh. I didn't. Her tone changed suddenly. "You're serious. You're really serious. What is going on?"
“Not on the telephone. 4pm. Can you make that?”
Smokey showed me the ropes in Shanghai, Hong Kong and the ports of Asia. That was the start. Clarissa taught me further still, but it was my recent time with Special Branch and good old Fortescue where I learned the most about the art of personal surveillance. More importantly, how to detect and elude a follower.
Chicago’s elevated train, the ‘L’, snaked all round the Downtown Loop. If any of Capone’s stayed with my convoluted trail and quick boarding and exits they deserved to catch me. I arrived early at the Art Institute and after a thorough recce found a perfect spot - an exit to a secluded rubbish area behind the building. Not the most idyllic locale but it had the advantage of being private and would allow us to each depart in opposite directions.
From 15 yards distance I caught Alex’s eye as she entered the main concourse. When I was sure she saw me, I turned and walked away. She followed. In an empty sculpture gallery, I caught up with her. She took my arm and we walked casually through the corridors and galleries and eventually out the back. I wedged the service door open behind us.
I related my conversation with Nicky and Emilio.
Alex interrupted. "Oliver, listen to me. I don't know what you think of me. I'm not some damsel in distress. This is my home town and I think I can handle myself perfectly well. Besides, the godd@mn city editor has just killed the story. I have THE story about Chicago that people will want to read and the idiot insists that it is going 'too far, too fast.' If Capone and his boys want to find me, they'll have to follow me to the Cook County Fall Garden Show, because that's the only kind of godd@mn reporting they seem to want from me!"
Her hand trembled as she fit a Camel to the amber holder. The match snapped as she struck it, sending the partially lit head flying.
“Dammit!, she hissed, fumbling for a second match.
I was there with my lighter. “Allow me.”
Her eyes flared as she dragged fiercely on the Camel. Exhaled smoke swirled. Rage. Furious rage, controlled with difficulty. I knew the signs all too well. Hometown Chicago and a taste for Chanel weren't the only traits Alex and Eliza held in common. I paused, letting her find her calm. When I spoke again it was with level voice.
“Alex, they were serious. Trust me, I have experience with men like these and they don’t like loose ends. They act preemptively. We have no idea what they know about you or your story but they clearly consider you a threat. You might be safer abroad as an International Correspondent. A corruption story in Chicago isn’t going anywhere. It’ll be waiting for you when you return.”
Last edited by epower; 05/21/2202:24 AM.
#4599972 - 05/21/2202:02 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)