Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Safe"

Well....
Hmm....
I usually have an interesting story to go along with why I wrote a piece or what inspired me. But I don't have a really good explanation for this one. I love WWII period films and stories, and this sprung to my mind. I wanted to write a piece about safety, and someone whom you wouldn't expect to need it. 


Okay, I won't spoil it. Just read it!


"Safe"
Aaron Matthew Smith- September 2010



I leaned in and covered Samantha’s ears as another blast rocked our cramped shelter. The Baker Street tube station was a large one (as tube stations went) but it felt like a sardine can. I would have sworn that half of London was shoulder to shoulder in the nearly pitch-black cavern.
We were all couched and huddled, a writhing, sweating mass of humanity. My daughter clung to my legs and buried her face in my knees. My jacket was tossed across her, sheltering her as much as I could from the noise.
Not that the noise was the worst of our problems.
The image of a bomb tearing apart our shelter and raining concrete and shrapnel onto us leapt into my mind. There were hundreds of us hidden here. I stuffed the image into the back of my mind, focusing my mind on covering my daughter. Hell, she and I were lucky to have gotten in here as it was.
We were on the way to the grocery store when the air raids went off. I gave up looking for a parking spot and left the car on the street outside Baker Street station just before they closed and bolted the doors.
My wife and son are still at home. Were still at home. They’d have made it to the shelter nearest the house by now. They had to have.
Another blast, nearer this time, shook dust and chips of concrete and plaster down from the ceiling. I felt them collecting in my hair. Samantha let out a tiny whimper and huddled closer to me.
I leaned my back against the steel security door behind me. The last ones. Samantha and I were the last ones to make it inside before they closed the doors behind us.
“Daddy?” She whispered, tears causing her words to wobble.
“It’s okay, sweetie,” I cooed.
“Are you going to catch the bad guys?”
“Yes darling,” I assured her. “Daddy’s a policeman. That’s what policemen do.”
“What’s going on outside?”
I knew that she was asking questions to keep from bottling up her fear. “Well honey, there are a lot of bad guys out there. And there a bunch of policemen out there, too, trying to catch them. And they will catch them, I promise.”
“How long is it gonna take?” She asked. Her voice was stronger now.
“Not too long honey. We’ll be okay, I promise.” I couldn’t tell if I was reassuring me or her.
Two heavy thuds on the steel door at my back made me jump. A tiny scream leapt from Samantha’s mouth before she stuffed it back down again.
There was someone else out there.
The other people around me began to whisper among themselves in a hushed panic. I could feel the fear beginning to bubble up in my stomach as well, but Nazis wouldn’t have bothered knocking. They wouldn’t have even bothered with the door if they knew we were here. They would’ve just dropped enough bombs directly on top of us to cave the whole station in on our heads. It had to be a survivor.
I pulled my badge out of the pocket of my coat, draped across my little girl, and flashed it to the people around me. Their fear seemed to melt away as they saw it. At least they could feel better.
I stood carefully and leaned against the steel door as I pushed it open, just enough to allow a tiny sliver of light to leak in. The tunnel hall lights were out, but the hallway lead right to the street, and just a little light seeped this far into the tunnel.
Near the jamb of the door, I saw fingers.
“Stay here, okay sweetheart?” I whispered to Samantha. “Daddy has to go rescue someone, okay?”
She looked up at me and nodded, tears in her strong brown eyes.
I slipped into the hallway, leaving the door open just a hair. There was a man curled into a tight ball on the dirty concrete floor of the tunnel. His gray coat was covered in dark spots. I couldn’t tell if it was blood.
“Hey, are you okay?” I whispered. “We’ve got to get you inside.” I reached to him and tried to slide one of his arms over my shoulders to get him back on his feet.
When I moved his arm, I saw the pin. A long silver eagle on his right breast.
“Nazi,” the word whispered from my lips as I unconsciously lost my grip, letting him slip to the floor in a heap.
Hilf mich,” he wheezed.
“I…I…” I stammered. I looked around for something, anything I could use as a weapon. There was nothing.
Ich bin fahnenfl├╝chtig.”
“I don’t speak German,” I said. I could hardly believe I was actually talking to one of them.
“Ich will kapitulieren.”
Wait. That word sounded familiar. Capitulation.
Surrender.
I opened his coat and checked his waist. He carried no weapons, not even a holster. He was totally unarmed. My eyes fell on a deep wet spot on his gray shirt, near his stomach. He’d been injured, and badly. But I couldn’t bring a Nazi into the station with all the others. There’d be a riot, he and I would both be buggered.
I yanked his leather jackboots off and tossed them as far as I could. Then I snatched the eagle pin off of his coat and did the same with it. He nodded as I did so. He allowed me to peel the coat off of his body, which I flipped inside-out and crammed into a tiny ball in the corner of the tunnel.
“Now, be quiet. Understand? Nein speaken?” I held one finger in front of my mouth and prayed that he understood the meaning of the gesture. He tried to sit up from the concrete and winced against the pain. He nodded frantically.
I took the weight of hi body on my own shoulders and hauled the heavy steel door open with my free hand.
“Make room,” I called. “We’ve got another, and he’s hurt.”

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