It was a day George had looked forward to for a long time. We all had. George’s family were close-knit and were rightly proud that “our George” had made it through the ranks, finally becoming an officer. They were a lovely lot who’d welcomed me with open arms into their loving, noisy family. Even before our wedding, George had worked on airships. 20 years – there wasn’t a man with longer service – yet he’d had to accept he’d be the junior officer.
We’d talked about it that last night. All of the other pilots were younger than him, but like he said, they were professionals – with bags of experience, and they’d all worked their way into the post through hard work and application – just like George. Except for Him. The whipper-snapper. The Chancer. Mr fly-by-night, glory-hunting Edwin Thurow.
So, who’d George get partnered with on that day of days? Yup – Thurow. I heard from one of the others that he’d tried – but the skipper had waved him away, suggesting it would be a good test to see how he coped taking orders from younger pilots. Didn’t he realise George had been taking orders from younger officers his entire career?
Being the junior officer, it was George’s job to do the radio reporting. The girls in the control tower said afterwards they could hear Edwin bloody Thurow in the background of every single report – contradicting George, shouting over him, at one point even snatching the handset away from him. The last report made was Thurow – saying they were going down to check out an oil slick … and that was the last we heard of them.
The airship came back – it chugged on, getting snagged on all manner of stuff, finally losing height till it flopped down in a city street. No-one was hurt, but neither my George nor Thurow were there. The cuppola door was open, the safety bar was pulled back, and the life jackets were gone.
They pulled George from the water a few days later. It took a while, but he recovered. They never found any sign of Thurow. There was an enquiry of course. George told them Thurow had sent him out of the cuppola to scoop up a sample of the oil slick. While he was hanging off the framework, the airship had jerked, and George had fallen in. The airship had circled for a bit, and George assumed Thurow was radioing for help, for there were ships in the area. But Thurow never made a report.
There were all kinds of rumours – one about a feud between George and Thurow was especially loud. Now my George didn’t like Thurow, but neither did any of the other pilots – because he was cocky and relied on luck way too much. But you know what they say about dirt sticking …
George took early retirement, still an ensign. That supposed feud did for his navy career. But my George never complained. He believed he was lucky – for he’d got to come home to me.
© Debra Carey, 2020
The inspector straightened up, snapping the tape measure closed. He looked over the fence at the immaculate gardens on either side of the boundary line, and the scowling figures stood in each garden. The inspector sighed. This was the fourth time he’d been here in six years. Each time the gardens looked even more lovely, and the gardeners ever surlier. Completely different in looks and stature, nevertheless, the two wore identical scowls. Where they should have been united in their love of gardening, they were divided by the paths they had taken. Instead they were united, for all the wrong reasons, by the fence that divided the gardens.
“Gentlemen, the fence-line is exactly where it always has been and sits on the boundary line as defined in the deeds.”
“It can’t be!” Sullivan Doyle’s face looked like one of the beef tomatoes growing in his green house. The inspector, who enjoyed cooking, mentally added a froth of cottage cheese, to finish off the picture. Yes, a stuffed tomato if ever there was one. “This blackguard used the rebuilding of the fence as an excuse to claim an extra couple of inches!” You can see where the runner-bean wig-wams have been knocked over!”
“They look like they were rather close to the fence-line” the inspector said mildly.
“His runner-beans! What about my roses!” Gilbert Carte’s darker complexion was not so infused with blood as his neighbour’s but his face was no less animated; neither were his arms still, gesticulating wildly at several beautiful rosebushes with a few leaves hanging limp where they had been brushed against by the men replacing the fence. “They’ve been damaged irreparably by this half-wit’s attempt to bribe the men building the fence to move it a foot into MY garden!”
The inspector sighed again. He’d been here before and would no doubt be here again. There was very little he could say or do that would make an impression on these two.
“As the fence is exactly where it should be, I think you’ll have to chalk it up to experience that it’s a bad idea to change a fence in the middle of the growing season – ”
“But he – ” both gardeners exploded.
“- and,” the inspector continued, “the council will be in touch about the costs of having this survey conducted.” He left, leaving the two men bickering across what, it must be said, was a very lovely fence.
The inspector was also a retained firefighter. As fate would have it, he was on-call that night, and ended up back at the gardens he had left just a few hours earlier.
©David Jesson, 2020