Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 1944

Dear Bob:

War has made us many things: Fighters, factory workers and experts at going through the day while disaster hides in the next ridge, the next island, or the postman's next bag of letters.

Now I'll have to add another item to that list: Assassins.

There's a strange new fellow at the factory. His name is Jim and he doesn't talk much. And when he does it's always abrupt, as though all the extraneous chatter that fattens ordinary conversation has been burned away from his thoughts.

Jim says he met you in New Guinea. That you were part of a secret mission to ambush Admiral Yamamoto. That your handpicked squadron of Lightnings flew for hours at wavetop height to arrive at the exact place and moment Jim's coastwatchers said the enemy's plane would appear. That the architect of Pearl Harbor was blown out of the sky and smashed to the jungle floor still strapped to his seat.

The papers have recently had news of that year-old event, but I never guessed you had a hand in it. I imagine we'll never talk about it, but I'll always know in a warm corner of my heart.

What a strange thought: I'm thrilled to learn my husband stalked a man across the vast Pacific and killed him.

Well, since secrets are coming out, I'll tell you mine: I murdered someone, too. Not exactly premeditated, and everyone at the plant says it was an accident. But the man's just as dead as Yamamoto. He was awful fellow who made it his business in life to torment me. I finally snapped back at him when were were both on a Fortress wing. He came at me. I raised my rivet gun, his foot caught in the air hose, and over the edge he went in the wink of an eye. He left the factory feet first, and I was horrified. But inside the horror was a tiny bright speck of gladness.

I pray this war won't go on much longer for fear of what we all might become.

I'm going to go burn this diary page now. I'll watch the ashes flare golden for an instant and wink out as they spiral up the chimney, carrying away our secrets away to the garden. Next year they'll be nothing but bright flowers.

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