A Dream About the Nightmare: War
A short story by Bill Russo
2017 – published by CCA Media, Cape Cod, U.S.A.
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I was a War Baby, a going away present to my Mom from my father after he was drafted into the United States Army in the second ‘great’ war to end all wars. When I made my entry into the world at a Massachusetts hospital, my Dad and the men of his unit were watching bombs fall around them in the “Pacific Theater”.
“Pacific Theater”: a wonderful euphemism for the deadly islands and bloody beaches where 62,000 American soldiers lost their lives in a fight where they almost always started the engagement as “leaping ducks” from boats; wading through water and a hail of bullets to engage a well fortified enemy schooled in the Samurai tradition of battling to their last man.
An American soldier fighting in the Pacific is said to have stated, “You can surround a 100,000 Germans and they will surrender, but surround one Japanese, and he will keep fighting.”
Chances are you’ve seen a number of films or read books and articles about World War II. It’s equally likely you have read little of how the home folks were affected. Here then, to the best of my memory, is a brief recollection of how the global devastation impacted my family……
A Dream About the Nightmare: War
I woke up from a dream in the predawn this morning and for a moment thought that it was still 1945.
It was early evening and our town was covered in a blanket of darkness and total silence. Not even a radio was playing. Nick, the Air Raid Warden, shattered the eerie stillness when he blew his whistle and shouted from the sidewalk: “All Clear!”
My brother, my Mom, and I left the small “Blackout Room” where we had been huddled for what seemed like hours. Suddenly the pitch blackness of the house, and indeed the whole street was instantly swept away as the lights were turned on. From our tiny third floor apartment, I could see Nick walking towards the railroad tracks – his flashlight blazing a path in front of him. His white helmet gleamed under the strong bulb of a street lamp.
It was rumored that a torpedo laden Japanese Submarine was lurking in the waters just off Cape Cod, so the “Blackout” seemed especially urgent to Massachusetts coastal communities.
“Mommy, why does my Daddy have to be in the army and Nick gets to stay home?”
“He has a job that is needed here. He does his part by working in his job during the day and by taking care of our street as an Air Raid Warden. Everyone has a job. Your Daddy’s is as a soldier and ours is to make sure that we show no lights during the blackout. We can’t give the enemy any targets.”
Mommy hugged us, my brother and me, and then gave us milk and cookies before sending us off to bed.
Our room had wooden bunk-beds. Originally I had the top bunk, but after falling to the floor in the middle of the night a few times, I was assigned the bottom bunk and my older brother was given the top one.
Our bedroom was dark, but when my bother turned on the table radio, the glow from the tubes brightened it, painting a warm reddish glow on the wall behind the open back of the set.
My brother twisted the tuning knob until he found the station he wanted….
The radio was silent except for the chiming of a clock striking a loud gong twelve times in succession. Between the chimes a scary voice floated out from the speaker….
“It” (GONG) “Is” (GONG)” later than you think” (GONG) “LIGHTS OUT!” (GONG) “Lights out brings you stories of the supernatural and the supernormal, dramatizing the fantasies and mysteries of the unknown” (GONG) “We tell you this frankly, so if you wish to avoid the excitement and tension of these imaginative plays, we urge you calmly and sincerely to turn off your radio…NOW!” (GONG) “LIGHTS OUT – EVERYBODY!” (Gong)
With the world at war and thousands of bombs dropping daily all over the earth, my brother and I would lie in our beds and fall asleep with “Lights Out”
And now that I have written this dream out of my system, just like that night long ago in 1945, I will turn my “Lights Out” and go back to sleep.
Bill Russo, retired on Cape Cod, was educated in Boston at the Huntington School and at Grahm College in Kenmore Square. He was editor of several newspapers in Massachusetts as well as a former disc jockey, news writer/presenter, and broadcaster for various outlets in New England.
His sighting of a swamp creature just before the turn of the century, led to appearances in the Bridgewater Triangle Documentary Film, America’s Bermuda Triangle, and on Destination America’s Monsters and Mysteries series.
In addition to his radio and newspaper work, he held management positions in logistics and warehousing as well as a stint as an ironworker and President of Boston Local 501 of the Shopmen’s Ironworkers Union.
Contact Bill at [email protected] All e-mails are personally answered
Bill’s Blog is called Adventures in Type and Space: http://billrrrrr.blogspot.com/
He also shares news and videos on his Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/billrrrrr
A little boy's brief recollection of a time when the whole world had a nightmare.