Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More
Capt. David Heffner: I’m David Heffner. Nice to meet you. No, haven’t been Captain Heffner in quite some time. Come on in and have a seat. Have you ever been to Whaling, Minnesota before? Well, it’s cold. This is where I’m from. Originally born and raised. Small town. Nothing ever changes here. Still not much going on here… sorry, I was just thinking… sometimes I can still see the snow falling. Like a photo. Can still see my parents getting bundled up in there Sunday best to trudge through the snow to get to church. There was this kid… Tommy… no, Timothy, Timothy Blanchard. Good kid. He would deliver papers in three foot of snow. Used to get a sled and strap it to his dog and have it pull him like one of those Huskie dogsled deals while he threw newspapers at your house. Good kid. Some memories are like that aren’t they. They stay with you like they just happened. Crystal clear. Not bad for the good ones. Shame you can’t pick the ones you want to keep and dump the others. I’d love to be able to take a mental dump sometime. Well, you didn’t come all the way here to hear about that, suppose I should tell you what you want to know. Probably don’t want to hear me babble on about all that other stuff. You wanted to hear about the war. Let’s see, December ‘41 I was still in high school. I was a good student, Boy Scout and all that. Good kid. More interested in girls than Europe or the Japanese. After I graduated I was drafted into the Air Force. Got sent down to Army Air Forces Training Command down in Louisiana. Never been to a place like that before. So humid you could boil eggs by holding them in your hand like this. Met my wife there. Oh, I was on leave and was coming out of this dance hall over in New Orleans. A group of young ladies was coming in and I held the door open for the prettiest one. When she said ‘thank you’, I said ‘I’m going to marry you.’ She stood right there in the doorway and said ‘I reckon you are.’ Good girl. We dated regular for a couple of weeks until I was getting shipped out. When I got my orders, I went straight over to her house. Asked her right there as soon as she opened the door. If it don’t beat all, can you believe she just stood there and stared at me. Wouldn’t say a thing. ‘Well just take your time’, I said. Didn’t tell me until later that she already had picked out a dress and had it laid out on her bed in the other room. Guess she thought I might not ask her, got all froze up. Anyway, we got married and I was shipped out overseas. Stationed in England in ‘43. Spent the next year training for the Normandy invasion. We ran more than a few missions over there to soften up the Germans. The whole invasion, you know, depended on us having air superiority. And trust me when I say we were working on it. There were times when… sorry, there were times when you’d come back and you’re the only one who did. I had two bunkmates. We stayed in these tents, three men to a tent. We called ours The Alamo. Kind of joke on the being an American thing and a last stand thing. Lost both those guys on one trip. You never see bodies. Not like the boys on the ground. Most of the time you don’t even see the plane go down. To much flak. Takes a lot of concentration to keep a plane in the air under those conditions. Both those guys. Harold Troomer from Sweetwater, Michigan. 21 years old. Johnny Worsher from Waco, Texas. Two days short of his 20th birthday. Kids. Good kids. I quit making friends after that. Didn’t really matter anyway, most of those guys never lasted long enough to get to know their names anyway. Might sound harsh and cold, but it was the only thing we could do to keep from losing someone we were close to. Easier to lose a stranger. That’s the way it was. Planes are easy to lose, people aren’t. For a while there we were losing two out of every three planes and their pilots. Bombers go down… you loose ten bombers, there goes a hundred men. Sorry, I don’t really spend a lot of time talking about this stuff. On D-day and after we accompanied bombing runs and then would peel of to look for opportunities on the way back. There were days where you could catch whole convoys stuck out in the open. I remember coming down on this truck right out in the open. So I come right and lay down fire on it. They had those cloth covers on the back and it just rips to shreds while… while men start trying to jump out the back trying to hide. They didn’t… they were just kids too. Good kids, I imagine. After a while you just got tell yourself its a job. Just do the job. You know, I never had a problem while flying. I’d get back to base and throw up until I couldn’t throw up anymore. Things like that tend to stick with you. I… I was out one time firing on a column of trucks coming through this open area. My hand stopped working. My right hand, I’m right handed. Couldn’t get it to work anymore. Couldn’t press the trigger anymore. Had to land with one good hand. For years… still happens now and then actually, I’ll have a dream about making one of those strafing runs. I’ll wake up and my right hand is just useless. Can’t move it at all. Takes a while to work it out. My wife has never said anything about it. I know she can tell though. After one of those dreams I’ll come into the kitchen, she won’t say a word. She’ll just give me a cup of coffee… always putting it in my left hand. Good girl, that one. Good girl. Anyway, I got promoted and spent time on the ground coordinating air strikes. Which might sound like a good idea right up until they start shelling the castle, yes sir a real castle. Pushing into Germany we were in an honest to God castle when shells took out two of the four walls of the room I was in. I was on the horn calling in orders and couldn’t stop. Even to clean up the maps on the desk that were covered with what used to be a corporal assigned to assist my command… he was standing about ten feet from me… sorry. Not much to tell after that. I came home. My wife and I moved back to Whaling. Took over my father’s business. Went from good kid to fighter ace to successful business man. Nothing else to it really.
Hope that helps you with your, whatever it is your working on. Well, thank you. I appreciate the company at any rate. Find yourself in Whaling again, don’t hesitate to drop in. By the way, some people say nothing ever changes here. I’m not so sure I believe that anymore.
Mark Bate, who resides in Southern California, started writing as a standup performer. Later evolving into a staff writer for sketch comedy shows like B-Movie Bastards, The Comedy Bunker and the late night soap opera Ambition. His contributions to serial theatre shows in Los Angeles have included UFO: Undeniably Funky Objective and Kung-Fu Jesus for Sacred Fools Theatre as well as various monologues performed for Eclectic Voices. Recently, he has completed two full-length plays: I Love A Rainy Night and Ghostwriter.