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Authors: Garry Ryan

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Two Blackbirds

BOOK: Two Blackbirds
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TWO
BLACKBIRDS

A NOVEL

N
E
W
EST
P
RESS

COPYRIGHT © GARRY RYAN 2014

All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication — reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system — without the prior consent of the publisher is an infringement of the copyright law. In the case of photocopying or other reprographic copying of the material, a licence must be obtained from Access Copyright before proceeding.

LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION
Ryan, Garry, 1953–, author
Two blackbirds / Garry Ryan.

Issued in print and electronic formats.
ISBN
978-1-927063-50-7 (pbk.). —
ISBN
978-1-927063-51-4 (epub). —
ISBN
978-1-927063-56-9 (mobi)

I
. Title.

PS
8635.
Y
354
T
86 2014                        
C
813'.6                        
C
2013-907185-7
                                                                                                 
C
2013-907186-5

Editor for the Board: Jenna Butler
Cover and interior design: Natalie Olsen, Kisscut Design
Cover photography: © Peter Gudella/
Shutterstock.com
and Piotr Krzeslak/
Shutterstock.com
Author photo: Ben Ryan

First Edition: April 2014

NeWest Press acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the Edmonton Arts Council for support of our publishing program. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund for our publishing activities.

#201, 8540–109 Street
Edmonton, Alberta
T
6
G
1
E
6
780.432.9427
www.newestpress.com

No bison were harmed in the making of this book.

Printed and bound in Canada

for

Walter Stuckart, who served in
WWII
and came back to tell the
story of a man who was murdered in Darlington,
UK
.

Ernie Ryan, who enlisted but didn't see action,
because the atomic bombs dropped.

Meron Chorny, Lancaster navigator and university professor,
who taught us that “Bullshit baffles brains.”

L-
104580
Private Leslie Carr, who was killed in
Italy in
1944
and is buried at Italy's Gradara War Cemetery.
His sister Elaine never forgot him.

Mafalda and Ernesto Stamile. He was a soldier in Italy's army.
He taught me that “The wine is the life.”
She taught me how to laugh and to swear in Spanish and Italian.

Hedi and Cas Kowalewski.
She said “During the war you didn't know if you'd
be alive or dead from one minute to the next.”

The red-winged blackbird

of the Canadian

prairie is

unremarkable in

size and the female is

unremarkable in colour.

Little larger

than a sparrow, the more skilled flyers

of this species

will drive away intruders many

times their own size.

In fact,

blackbirds have been

known to perch between the

wings of an airborne hawk or crow,

and peck on the

head of the predator

until it

withdraws.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1: [TUESDAY, JUNE 13, 1944]

CHAPTER 2: [WEDNESDAY, JUNE 14, 1944]

CHAPTER 3: [THURSDAY, JUNE 22, 1944]

CHAPTER 4: [FRIDAY, JUNE 23, 1944]

CHAPTER 5: [SATURDAY, JUNE 24, 1944]

CHAPTER 6: [MONDAY, JUNE 26, 1944]

CHAPTER 7: [THURSDAY, JUNE 29, 1944]

CHAPTER 8: [SATURDAY, AUGUST 19, 1944]

CHAPTER 9: [MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 1944]

CHAPTER 10: [TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1944]

CHAPTER 11: [WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 1944]

CHAPTER 12: [WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 1944]

CHAPTER 13: [SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14, 1944]

CHAPTER 14: [WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 1944]

CHAPTER 15: [SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1944]

CHAPTER 16: [SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1944]

CHAPTER 17: [SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 1944]

CHAPTER 18: [MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 1944]

CHAPTER 19: [WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 1944]

CHAPTER 20: [WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 6, 1944]

CHAPTER 21: [FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1944]

CHAPTER 22: [SUNDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1944]

CHAPTER 23: [SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23, 1944]

CHAPTER 24: [MONDAY, DECEMBER 25, 1944]

CHAPTER 25: [TUESDAY, DECEMBER 26, 1944]

CHAPTER 26: [MONDAY, JANUARY 1, 1945]

CHAPTER 27: [TUESDAY, JANUARY 2, 1945]

CHAPTER 28: [FRIDAY, JANUARY 12, 1945]

CHAPTER 29: [SATURDAY, JANUARY 13, 1945]

CHAPTER 30: [MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 1945]

CHAPTER 31: [WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 17, 1945]

CHAPTER 32: [THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 1945]

CHAPTER 33: [FRIDAY, JANUARY 19, 1945]

CHAPTER 34: [WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1945]

CHAPTER 35: [THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 1945]

CHAPTER 36: [MONDAY, MARCH 19, 1945]

CHAPTER 37: [SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 1945]

CHAPTER 38: [SATURDAY, APRIL 14, 1945]

CHAPTER 39: [SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 1945]

CHAPTER 40: [SUNDAY, APRIL 29, 1945]

CHAPTER 41: [MONDAY, APRIL 30, 1945]

CHAPTER 42: [MONDAY, MAY 8, 1945]

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

CHAPTER 1

[TUESDAY, JUNE 13, 1944]

“What's that noise?”
Sharon stepped out of the hangar and away from the mélange of oil, grease, petrol, and paint. She inhaled the fresh air, felt the sun on her face, shaded her eyes, and looked east.
It sounds like an airplane, but different
, she thought as she used her free hand to pull her non-regulation ponytail out over the collar of her blue battledress jacket.

Edgar Washington joined her. He was a bronze mountain of a man. The shovel looked like a child's beach toy in his hands. He leaned it against the wall of the hangar and looked in the direction of the noise.

They stood in the mouth of the White Waltham hangar to get a better look.

About ten feet in front of her, a wrench skidded along the concrete. “Goddamned British spanners are as useless as tits on a boar!”

“Can you hear that?” Sharon looked inside at Ernie.

“What the hell is it?” Ernie Shane stepped out of the hangar. He wore the sleeves of his dusty coveralls rolled up to reveal his Popeye arms. Ernie had a long, powerful body, short legs, and brown eyes that faced Edgar's chest whenever he looked straight ahead.

“There!” Sharon pointed south and east. The aircraft was grey, flying at a bit over two thousand feet.

“It's fast.” Edgar looked over his shoulder toward London.

“Sounds like someone with the green apple quick step shitting into a forty-five-gallon drum,” Ernie said.

Edgar frowned.

“It's got an odd silhouette. It looks like the engine is mounted near the tail.” Sharon shaded her blue eyes with her right hand.

“It looks awfully small for an airplane,” Ernie said.

“It must be some kind of jet propulsion engine,” Edgar said.

Ernie nodded. “I've heard of that. Never seen one, though.”

They walked around the other side of the hangar to keep their eyes on the aircraft. Sharon stood in between Edgar and Ernie. She was shorter than either of the men, but their posture revealed that they deferred to her.

The aircraft's engine stopped and it nosed down.

“Get down!” Edgar grabbed them both, pushed them to the ground, then covered their bodies with his.

“What in Christ's name are you doing?” Ernie huffed.

The answer was an explosion. The ground heaved. There was a whistling sound. When they got up and brushed themselves off, there was a piece of shrapnel the size of a dinner plate stuck in the hangar wall. It sizzled in the wood about four feet from ground level.

Ernie looked at the ragged chunk of metal, then at Edgar. “How did you know?”

Edgar shrugged. “It was coming from the direction of France, headed toward London, and it wasn't one of ours. A reasonable conclusion.”

Sharon looked at the piece of shrapnel and checked to see if any of them had been wounded. “Thank you very much, Edgar.” She picked dry grass from her disheveled brown hair.

Ernie slapped Edgar on the back. “I owe you one.”

BOOK: Two Blackbirds
6.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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