My Stories

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by pongo6863, Feb 4, 2013.

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  1. After going to the effort of translating my stories for Kindle and having very few sales I though of posting them on ARRSE as a serial. Here's the first chapter of book one 'The Meeting':

    The Meeting
    Chuck Rogers

    Copyright © 2011 ChuSan Services

    With thanks to:

    Sandy for her encouragement, suggestions and corrections. (ARmy Rumour ServicE) for ntroducing me to:
    Andy Kay for his help and encouragement and Neil Adamson for proof reading and correcting my German. - Long Range Desert Group for information about the vehicles and armaments used in the Western Desert Campaign.

    This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner.
    Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

    Locations are as geographically correct as possible but all individual buildings and establishments are fictitious or coincidental.

    image004.jpg image003.jpg image002.jpg


    Norfolk, England. December 20[SUP]th[/SUP] 1985 - 1720 hours.

    The taxi pulled up at my front door. I paid the driver, unlocked the door and dumped my suitcase at the bottom of the stairs. Before closing the door I watched the taxi drive over the virgin snow as it completed the half-circle of my drive back onto the street. I put my briefcase on the hall table and half-consciously counted the flashing ‘you have messages’ light on the answer-phone; seven. Not too bad as I’d been away ten days, over twice as long as expected.
    I removed my coat, hung it on the coat rack and picked up the small pile of mail that Mrs Pilkington, my ‘little lady what does’ as she was affectionately know by my family, had placed there. Walking into the kitchen I put the letters on the table, turned up the central heating thermostat, filled my Russell Hobbs percolator with water then ground a portion of Blue Mountain Jamaica coffee beans, poured the result into the percolator and switched it on. In the fridge was a fresh pint of milk; “Good old Mrs Pilkington!” I thought as I splashed a little into a mug and set it down by the percolator, then sat down at the table and started sorting the mail.
    Advert, Christmas card, advert, credit card statement and then; a black-bordered envelope with my address written in that distinctive, spiky script used by many Germans. The postmark was crystal clear. It read Marienhafe, Ostfriesland and was dated two days previously.
    I pushed the rest of the post to one side and opened it slowly. Inside was a printed card, also with a black border, which informed me, in German, that Harald-Heinz Schick aged 62, had died peacefully in his sleep and would be interred at Sankt Marienkirche, Marienhafe in three days time. On the back of the card was written, ‘Please to come.’ It was signed simply ‘Eva’. Coffee forgotten I stared at the card. This death made me, I realised, the last of a small group of men who were thrown together by unusual circumstances in a foreign land a long time ago. We had kept in touch, sporadically at times I had to admit, ever since.
    My reverie was broken by the bubbling and wheezing of the coffee percolator that signalled my second cup of the day was ready. I turned the machine off, poured the fresh coffee into my mug and went into the office, taking the mug with me. Sitting at my desk I opened my address book at the entry entitled ‘Schick, Harald’ and looked through the list of the people in Harald’s life. Jutta, his wife, died 4 May 1983, Heiney, his son, also deceased, tragically young, in a boating accident, and Eva his 25 year old, married daughter who lived in the family home in Leezdorf, a suburb of Marienhafe. I reached for the phone and dialled her number.
    The phone was answered by a young girl “Schumacher”, she said. This was, I knew, the name of the family into which Eva had married and the young girl must be Victoria’s seven year old daughter Tina.
    “Hallo, Tina”, I said, in my best German, “Kann ich mit Deiner Mutti sprechen?”
    “Onkel Paul!” she cried, “is it you?”
    “Yes, it is”, I replied, “Your English is getting good!”, and asked again; “May I speak to your mother?”
    “Moment”, she said, and I heard her call, “Mutti, Onkel Paul ist am Telefon!” and then, to me, “Will you come to the, ach, wie sagt man Begräbnis auf Englisch?” she asked.
    “Funeral”, I replied, “And yes, I will try”.
    There was a muted discussion at the other end of the line and then Eva said, “Hello Paul, Tina says you will come”?
    “Yes, Eva”, I answered, “Does Katje still run her Gasthaus?”
    “Not so much now, but for you there will always be a bed!”
    I laughed; it had been a standing joke for many years that Katje, the widow of Uwe, another late member of our select little group, would have been happy to share her life, as well as her bed, with me.
    “If I can, I will be on the overnight ferry to the Hook and be with you late tomorrow”, I said, “We’ll talk then”.
    We said our goodbyes and I rang Sealink. Ten minutes later I had booked an open ended return on the night ferry. I drank my coffee and threw away most of the mail, there was nothing there which required urgent attention, then listened to my messages on the answer-phone. Three of them were from Eva, the rest I deleted.
    I glanced out of the window at the snow covered garden and the dark, yellow-tinged clouds. Picking up my car keys from the hall table drawer I went into the garage via the interior door. My nearly new Volvo 740 estate car stood there. The steel, winter wheels, with no hub caps, which I habitually fitted on the 1[SUP]st[/SUP] November every year (a habit picked up after years of working in Europe) looked out of place, and the brand new winter tyres still glistened in the fluorescent light. The feeling of control those heavily treaded tyres give in snow has to be experienced to be believed! I opened the door, inserted the key and turned on the ignition. Good, almost a full tank, I wouldn’t need to fill up until I was in Holland or possibly Germany. I switched off the ignition, closed the door and walked round to the back of the car to open the tailgate. After trips to the garden shed, the kitchen and the wardrobe in the small bedroom where I kept my outdoor clothes, unfortunately rarely used this last year or so the car boot contained snow chains, a shovel, a camping gas stove and an emergency pack of food and drink. An Arctic jacket, mountain trousers and my trusty hiking boots lay on the back seat. I’d been caught out once in heavy snow: never again!
    Back in the house I lugged my suitcase upstairs and tipped its contents onto the bed. From the pile that ensued I rescued my shaving kit and wash bag, several unused items of underwear and then repacked the case with clothes and shoes more suited to a winter in northern Germany. After a few moments thought I included the small, cardboard box which was kept on the top shelf of my wardrobe. I dragged the case back downstairs and stowed it in the back of the Volvo, then from the small safe in the office, I removed 1,000 German Marks and 500 Dutch Guilders. An hour and a half after arriving home I was heading down the A12 towards Harwich.

    Would anyone be interested in me continuing?
  2. No thanks.
  3. You crack on mate, but it's a bit turgid for my taste. Good luck but I'll not be browsing further.
  4. So how is the suitcase now - It must be knackered after all that
  5. DieHard

    DieHard LE Book Reviewer

    Please carry on i wanna find out more about the weather in norfolk in nov 85.
    On a serious note crack on, i will have a read of it

    Sent by Crapatalk. Sitting on my bog having a dump.

  6. yeah but will you live long enough to finish it ? Or I can Tarot you later.....0800 departed.....
  7. Signallers

    Signallers Book Reviewer

    Cortinuously Intriguing.
  8. Go for it Pongo :)
  9. Sorry for the delay, but this has been an annus horribilis for me. First an emergency gastrectomy - six weeks in hospital followed by six weeks recuperation in a nursing home. Home for three weeks then a minor heart attack and a week in Papworth having a new stent fitted! I'll be glad when this year's over.

    Anyway, back again so here's chapter two - you may need to read chapter one again first...

    Chapter 2

    5 miles South-East of Sirte, Libya. December 15[SUP]th[/SUP] 1942 - 2320 hours.

    We were in deep trouble. The raid on the German airfield at Sirte had failed dismally when the boss’s Jeep had hit an anti-tank mine five miles away from our target. The blast had blown the Jeep high into the air, parts of it spinning past the other vehicles with vicious whirring noises and one of the Lewis guns impaled itself in the bonnet of the Chevy, narrowly missing Paddy O’Rourke. Other pieces rained down on the remaining Jeep. We had left Jalo Oasis six days previously in three vehicles, two of the new, American Willys Jeeps and a 30 cwt Chevrolet truck. The route chosen was a circuitous one through the southern desert to avoid detection; and now, only five miles from our goal, this.
    There was no point in continuing, the explosion would have been observed by both the Germans and the British and at first light reconnaissance aircraft from both sides would be out looking for us. Usually they sent fighters, Messerschmitt 109s or Hurricanes, but it really didn’t matter because, if we were seen by either side, then we’d probably be strafed.
    Sergeant Chalky White, a regular army soldier, took charge. Nominally, Lieutenant Palfrey was now in command but not only was he was a newcomer he was also, as his nickname implied a sailor. He had been coerced by the boss to transfer from the navy only three weeks before as his navigational skills were legendary. He could use a sextant and navigate by the stars, he had mastered the sun compass that had been developed by the Long Rang Desert Group in ten minutes flat and his sense of direction was uncanny.
    Mickey Finn and the Chevy crew set to digging shallow graves to bury the boss, Captain Peter Simmonds DSO, Staff Sergeant Owen (Taffy) Jones and the youngest member of the troop at just 18, Trooper William (Billy) Little who had all been in the boss’s Jeep.
    Lance Corporal Peter (Sammy) Samuels was attending to Trooper Albert (Bird) Finch who had been thrown clear of the boss’s Jeep and had, we guessed severe internal injuries as well as a broken collar bone. He was alternately swearing and crying with pain. A shot of morphine from his first aid kit quietened him down and Sammy set the shoulder as best he could.
    The rest of us were scavenging the wreck of the Jeep for anything serviceable, water, fuel, ammunition, and so on. It was amazing what had actually survived. Several jerry cans of both water and petrol, an untouched box of Compo, a bag of Lewes bombs and several belts of ammunition were loaded into the Chevy and the remaining Jeeps. Our only radio was, unfortunately, a mess of twisted metal. Incredibly the boss’s Sten gun had survived intact but with only one magazine. I stowed it beside my seat anyway.
    We all stood around the three graves, each marked with a rifle stuck in the sand, while Lance Corporal David (Dicky) Bird, the only semi-religious member of the troop said a prayer, then we carefully strapped Finch, as comfortably as we could, onto the bonnet of my Jeep and set off back into the desert.
  10. And as it's been so long, chapter three.

    Chapter 3

    Hoek van Holland, The Netherlands. December 21[SUP]th[/SUP] 1985 – 0645 hous.

    It had been a good crossing. There were rarely a lot of passengers aboard on Tuesdays and after a late dinner in the restaurant, I retired to my cabin and was asleep before we sailed. The next day, after clearing Dutch customs, I ate a light breakfast in a motorway services on the A7 which I followed round the Amsterdam Ring and over the Afsluitdijk, that fantastic, 20 mile long causeway that separates the North Sea on one side from the Ijsselmeer on the other, to Sneek where I stopped for a rather overdue lunch. I filled the car with petrol and topped up the washer bottle with anti-freeze screen wash.
    There had been barely an inch of snow when I left home but now, as I drove round Groningen, I saw that the roads had been snowploughed and there were banks of it a yard high on both verges. At Nieuweschans I passed through the Zollamt into Germany with minimal delay and at Holthuserheide I turned north and followed the A31 into Emden. The outside temperature had plummeted as night fell and was now showing as -8ºC on the dashboard. I decided to stop at a small Schnellimbiß and ate Jägerschnitzel mit Pommes followed by coffee and a much needed sugar-rush in the shape of a large portion of surprisingly good Apfelstrudel topped with a walnut-whip of Schlagsahne before continuing on to Leezdorf where, I knew, I’d be greeted not only by Eva and her extended family but also by many of the friends I’d made in the area over the last forty odd years. The last few miles, after turning off the main road in the centre of Marienhafe, was made difficult by a recent fall of snow that had quickly compacted into ice. Even my winter tyres were pretty well ineffective and progress slowed accordingly. Finally, at just after nine o’clock I arrived, twenty-eight hours after leaving home.
    As soon as I pulled up, the house door opened and light and people flowed out into the garden and onto the road. It was overwhelming. Once inside and tea and coffee had been dispensed (more tea is drunk in Ostfriesland than in England) and everyone had greeted me, we all talked in a mixture of bad English and my even worse German about Harald, Uwe and all our mutual friends, until my brain cried enough and I walked the few hundred yards with Katje to her little Gasthaus and went to bed.
  11. chrisg46

    chrisg46 LE Book Reviewer

    I suspect i will regret pointing this out, but are Chapters 1, 2, and 3 all connected to each other? I mean, usually chapter 2 isnt so much a plot twist, as in a "wtf, have i picked up a different book" twist?
  12. Way too much writer intrusion, "I...[did some mundane task]. I...[did another trivial task]."
  13. Paragraphs FFS - the "Wall of Text" is off-putting ...