Monday, March 06, 2006

What date is Christmas this year?

Just this thought, as the nurse bends over the bed, her overalls smelling fresh and her forage cap at a jaunty angle: What was the name of that bar, the one where the chaps who'd been too close to the blast sat out their afternoons? You know the one I mean. A bare-bones affair. Just the counter, about a half dozen chairs and two or three tables. I believe they had chess sets behind the bar for the asking, and a hoop board on the wall (but no hoops).

Dominoes was always a favourite game. I can picture the bandaged hands even now, carefully sliding tiles into place on the many-cornered snake of dotted tiles that was the sign of a good, hard-fought game.

Now that I think of it, some of the players had no eyes. Not entirely necessary, I suppose; anyone with fingertips can get the hang of a set of dominoes quickly enough. But what memories they must have had, to retain the whole game in their heads as it unfolded! Absolutely ace chaps; former navigators, many of them.

No doubt I'll think of the name of the place there later. The reason it came to mind was that it was there I met Bonnie. Bonnie from the aerodrome, with a smile like a sad song that played in my heart for the fortnight we had before she was demobilised. The sheets of her bed were white and cold. She had told me about the scars on her legs, but was nonetheless nervous when she removed her trousers. I sank to my knees and kissed her wounds, and she cried and stroked my hair. Then, in the morning, only this note: Forgive me.


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