Vigilant – Sunday Photo Fiction

Photo by: Alastair Forbes

Vigilant

The statue, sculpted from pale stone, depicted an RAF pilot waiting vigilantly to be called to his Spitfire. It was a common pose during August 1940. Pilots often sat in the sun, if there was any, until a call to action sent them into the skies against the German air armadas of World War 2.

As the park manager passed the memorial, he saw an old man standing before the sculpture and leaning upon a cane. The man stared at the sculpture with a quizzical smile while a tear slipped down his cheek. The manager thought this quite curious, and he walked up to the pensioner. “Begging your pardon, sir,” he said. “Are you alright?”

The old man turned slightly. “Yes, of course.” He gestured at the statue with his cane. “Do you know anything about the artist who made this?”

“As a matter of fact, I do. Why?”

***

In August 1940, Squadron Leader Jeremy Houghton hobbled out of the radio shack to watch the squadron take off. Weeks before, a stray German bullet had struck his foot while he attacked a bomber formation in his Spitfire. The injury left his foot in a heavy cast and him unable to fly. As the last Spitfire disappeared above the clouds, he turned about to see something that made his blood boil.

Pilot Officer Williard Willets slept deeply on the grass, again. For the third time, he’d slumbered through the outrageous noise of horns and shouting men during a Scramble. Houghton whacked Willets hard on the thigh as he always did to wake the boy up. Willets jolted awake to Houghton’s screaming. Gushing apologies, Willets ran to his Spitfire in a sprint.

Sergeant Thanesby stood by Houghton as they watched Willets take off alone.

“He’s a good lad, you know,” said Thanesby.

“I know it,” growled Houghton. “A damn fine pilot too. I just wish he’d stay vigilant!”

Later that night, Houghton sullenly nursed a pint at the pub, Thanesby at his side. Normally, officers didn’t socialize with enlisted men, but on this day Houghton needed a good friend nearby.

“Coastal watchers saw four Messerschmitts catch him alone,” said Thanesby. “He sent two packing before his Spitfire was hit. He radioed a message for you. He promised to never fall asleep again.” Thanesby drank deeply. “Later, they found his plane where it crashed at Blackhorse Quarry.”

Houghton said, “Do you remember his ring?”

Thanesby smirked. “The one like a smiling sun? His mother gave it to him. Willets wore it for luck.”

“And that stupid crooked smile.” Houghton sighed. “Perhaps, if I’d whacked his leg harder…”

Thanesby chuckled. “You’d have bloody broken it!”

***

The park manager said, “The artist found the stone at Blackhorse Quarry. He said it isn’t anyone in particular. He just released the figure that was already in the stone.” The manager shrugged. “Sounds like mystical claptrap to me.”

“It makes perfect sense,” said Houghton. He touched the statue’s ring, one like a smiling sun. Gently but firmly, he rapped his cane against the sculpture’s leg. “Good on ye, Willets,” he smiled. “You kept your promise.”
___________________________
Author’s Notes:

The Battle of Britain pitted the RAF (Royal Air Force) against the far more numerous German Luftwaffe of 1940. It was the incredible efforts of a small number of airmen, “The Few,” that saved Britain from a German invasion in the early months of World War II. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Britain

The Spitfire:

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. I apologize for not writing my usual humorous post. This is a subject I’ve studied since I was a child, so it’s near and dear to my heart. I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless. Look here to see what other folks wrote for the week: https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/sunday-photo-fiction-july-26th-2015/

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About EagleAye

I like looking at the serious subjects in the news and seeking the lighter side of the issue. I love satire and spoofs. I see the ridiculous side of things all the time, and my goal is to share that light-hearted view.
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20 Responses to Vigilant – Sunday Photo Fiction

  1. Very nice! So touching! You hit it out of the park again. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LRose says:

    Very enjoyable!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Francesca Smith says:

    β€œNever in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”. Winston was right, of course.
    A very well written piece on a topic which is also of great interest to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      Most excellent! That’s one of my favorite quotes from Churchill. He put it so succinctly, that an entire nation was saved by just a “Few” airmen.

      You probably already know this, but there’s a great movie entitled, “The Battle of Britain” made in 1969. It’s wonderfully done. I has Michael Caine, Robert Shaw, and Trevor Howard. Some of the finest British actors ever. If you haven’t seen it, it’s very very good.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story. Thank you so much! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. luckyjc007 says:

    I enjoyed this story very much! 😐 We are truly blessed to have our country protected so well and so willingly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      That is so very true! The Battle of Britain was truly one of Britain’s Finest Hours. I’m glad you enjoyed this change from my usual comedy. Thanks so much! πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. Lyn says:

    This is definitely different to your usual offering. I enjoyed it thoroughly. A little touch of humor and a whole lot of satisfaction and nostalgia.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s an awesome story Eric. If you want, I can send you all the other photos that come from that memorial

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great story. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  8. storydivamg says:

    Fantastic story, Eric. I can tell you know your subject well.

    Liked by 1 person

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