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 werewolves of london [18+?], awwooooooooooo
bird
 Posted: Mar 2 2016, 09:47 PM
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Perched up high on green rolling pastures by the sea, Symington Airfield wraps itself in blackout curtains and tamps itself down for the night. In Hangar 3, the single-engine planes have been pushed up all to the side, curling up their canvas wings in the grim shadow of a hulking bomber. The brass band folds up their sheet music and their stands, and the privates fold up chairs and sweep up an ungodly amount of tinsel and glitter. A squat man in a bad brown suit folds up the stars and stripes by a toy piano. Behind him, two men on a ladder struggle to roll up a canvas banner that reads

USO PRESENTS

★ MARVIN HAYES and the LIBERTY BELLES ★


There's an eagle involved, of course, because there has to be.

It's only the third show they've done since they'd landed in England. Before that they toured bases from El Paso to Wichita, sometimes one each night, a slapdash assortment of vaudeville and music and a kickline. Since then they've filled up a hotel with wolf-whistles and an officer's club with derisive laughter. Even after that, spirits are high: Symington ends in a standing ovation.

Elsie is a chorus girl. Small and Oklahoma-farm girl pretty, with big brown eyes and skinny ankles and a mezzo-soprano that carries a tune through sheer force of will rather than any kind of musicality. After the show she shares her compact mirror with Ginger, who is as much a natural redhead as Elsie's a blonde, which is to say that they help each other out with the touch-ups. Ginger, on the other hand, is a soloist, all long legs and New York glamour, and if she was ever Rachel Zinn from Brooklyn before she's shrugged off that unpleasantness like a cheap fur. Now she's chattering at Elsie's shoulder about this corporal she's just met who works for an agent back home in Los Angeles -- says he worked with Betty Grable, can you believe it? Elsie blots her lipstick and doesn't point out that there's been one of those before. Everyone knows Ginger's star in the sky is Hollywood, after all. Already someone's promised to paint her on the side of a plane.

So then there's the corporal, a Donovan, James-call-me-Jim, and then there's his friend and the back of a transport truck. It's lucky that PFC Hadley just talks at her until he falls asleep mid-tale of action on her shoulder. When he starts to snore, Elsie wraps his flight jacket over her shoulders and sets out to walk a little across the tarmac to get her head on straight.

PFC Hadley also has a few cigarette stubs saved in his pockets, so she sticks one of those in her mouth and lights it with his damp little matchbook. It takes her a few tries -- the matches are flimsy and she's not much of a smoker. Looks tacky, Ma used to say. Stains the teeth. The night is clear enough that she can see the silver barrage balloons overhead loaded with ordinance, the full moon rising clear over the grass.

And then she sees the dog. At least, she thinks it's a dog. If Elsie saw it back home she'd think it was a coyote, but she's pretty sure they don't have those here in England anyway. Whatever it is, it's big, even bigger than Pa's sheepdogs back home, and certainly bigger than the skinny little wolves at the zoo in Cincinnati. Light fur, thick and shaggy like the dogs she's used to. Paws that would span a grown man's hand and then some. Maybe it's some kind of giant Army breed - there are all kinds of stories. Elsie toes her way towards it, careful not to let her heels sink into the grass.

"Easy," she says, putting out her palm to sniff. "Good boy."

The dog isn't breathing so well now, pale fur matted down by something black and oozing. Elsie isn't any kind of doctor - she doesn't know how to stop any kind of bleeding beyond nosebleeds and tap shoe blisters - but she sinks to her knees and presses PFC Hadley's too-long sleeves against the wound all the same. "Oh honey," she tells it. The dog puts its snout in her lap and whines at her, a long red tongue lolling out of its snout.

Soon enough, Ginger's running to her, trailed by the good corporal fumbling with his shirt. They both stop a few feet short, aghast. "Oh my god," Ginger says, "Elsie -- are you hurt?"

"You girls don't worry," Corporal Donovan tells them. "I'll take care of it." He stands above Elsie now with his silver service pistol, a pair of spit-shined boots at the end of a starched column of olive drab. Big hands with little blonde hairs on the knuckle. Something in his tone that she doesn't like. "Elsie, sweetheart, you gotta get out of the way."

The dog opens one large yellow eye and starts to growl. Elsie feels it shiver through her hands.

"Elsie, for God's sake just listen to him --"

What can she do? Elsie lifts her blood-sodden arms, running her hands one more time over the soft, matted fur in apology. There's blood all down her star-spangled front when she picks herself to her feet, blood on her skirt and ruining her stockings. Blood on her cheek, too, when she swipes at it with the back of her hand.

Stupid, Elsie thinks. Stupid, stupid. She knows what Ginger wants to say, what anyone else would -- that it's just a dog, just a stupid dog, and maybe even rabid, and who knows how she'll manage to sew a new costume or find a pair of nylons now when they've got a show in Manchester coming up. "Okay," she says, shivering in her borrowed jacket. "Okay." Ginger just looks at her and puts her hands over her ears.

The corporal fires twice.

It happens quick. The corporal fires twice, and then the corporal is falling backward and the dog has two paws on his chest and yellow teeth opening on his throat. He goes down like a ragdoll, and someone is screaming, and all Elsie wants is to make it stop so she reaches down into sharp crushing pressure --

-- and hits the grass with her shoulder just as Ginger gets the gun.

When her hearing comes back the dog is gone, and there's just the click click clicking of an empty magazine and Corporal Donovan burbling in the grass beside her. Ginger drops the pistol like it's burned her, and now someone's yelling and a storm of jackboots starts to gather around them on the field. Elsie's arm is throbbing something awful. She wriggles onto her elbows to get a better look.

"Aw," Elsie says. Six oval punctures ooze blood sluggishly out of her sleeve. "Shit."
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Erik
 Posted: Mar 3 2016, 12:46 PM
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STAY COOL EVERYONE
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"Matron wants to see you," the other nurse says, low by Mary's ear so that they don't wake the ward.

The silence immediately after lights out is already thin, an endless disturbance of coughs, snores, and rustling bedsheets-- the sound of too many bodies in the same room. Peering through the dark, Mary tries to read the other nurse's face, but the girl is behind her in another step, revealing nothing more of what the summons could mean. Her voice is familiar but no name comes to mind, only a sleepy face glimpsed at the start and end of shift.

A hand on her back makes Mary stiffen before the low voice returns with new warmth. "Don't worry, you’re not in trouble. I'm to finish your rounds."

"Thank you," Mary whispers, fighting back a sudden surge of emotion. The little country hospital has been filled to over capacity since the Royal Infirmary was bombed, and even with extra staffing from the Infirmary the hours have been long. Ever since transferring here she's slept poorly; this small gesture of kindness, given so freely, at once makes her realize the paucity of it everywhere else. And to think she'd never even bothered learning the other girl's name.

The sensation of the hand on her back lingers as she makes the trip to the Matron's office. This, too, has been scarce. Though she knows it was applied in all innocence, the afterimage of any touch burns too brightly now. It isn't like school anymore; never again to laugh and let Philippa under the sheets.

She stops outside the open door of Matron's office, waiting to be called inside. A low desk light is the only source of illumination in the room, throwing off shadows that engulf the tiny space. Matron sits behind the lamp penciling something in a file. Her expression, when she lifts her head to look, is disgruntled but not at present parties. With a rather mannish gesture of the hand she beckons Mary in.

"Somers, is it?"

"Yes, Matron."

"Prepare a partitioned bed in the ward, as far from the others as possible. The orderly will help you."

The news is flabbergasting. For a second too long Mary stands speechless. She would be quicker to respond with more sleep behind her -- in fact is already developing a reputation for bland competence -- but the head nurse’s air of weary displeasure is already beginning to crystallize into something sharper. Mary says the only thing on her mind.

"But there aren't any more beds, ma'am."

To her astonishment the Matron breaks into a sardonic smile.

"That's just what I told them. But the Americans reason that if they are here to bring us salvation, then we should not dream of being so inhospitable as to refuse them beds that don't exist." Even weak laughter seems ill-advised, so Mary waits silently for the directive.

"I was hoping we'd have something I'd overlooked. Very well, prepare a cot for Corporal Barker in the hall. Then wake him and let him know he's to be transferred in the morning."

"Yes, Matron."

--

Mary hears the truck driving up to the hospital before she's finished changing the sheets on the partitioned bed. There's no hope of keeping things quiet in the ward anymore, not with the corporal's grumbling after his ignoble wake-up, and now with the new patient due to arrive in the dead of night.

“Don’t sound like no ambulance outside.” A whispering spreads down the aisles of beds.

“That the guy who’s replacing Reg?”

“We getting the Queen herself or what.”

“What a load of crock.”

Hush, now, she hears the other nurse say, followed by a begrudging lapse before the whispering starts again. It can’t be helped. She whisks the old sheets into the hamper and finishes up.

--

The hospital waiting room is in an uproar. The manager of the Liberty Belles stands blocking off the orderly in outrage, sweating through his bad brown suit. The Matron only looks on dispassionately, first at the man, then the girl behind him. The girl stands huddled under a flight jacket, a makeshift bandage on her arm. She is covered in blood-- most of it not her own. Under the white light of the waiting room, the colours of her star-spangled costume look garish and unreal.

“Listen, lady, we just drove here for a patch-up-- what do you mean she has to stay?”

“If it were up to me, Mister Hardy, that is exactly what would happen. But the fact remains that I received a telephone call from one of your colonels requesting very strongly that I prepare a private bed for an American patient headed from Symington Airfield. If you would like to contest this decision, I suggest you take it up with your own military after we save your employee’s arm.”

That does it—Hardy falters at the thought of lasting damage. One look at the arm and any doctor would know it was scaremongering, but it’s enough for the Head Nurse to gain the upper hand.

“Nurse Somers, take this patient and go clean her up.”

“Right away, Matron.” Weaving behind the manager, Nurse Somers puts a hand on the girl’s shoulder and guides her to the wheelchair waiting with the orderly. Somers is tall, but moves with a brisk, young efficiency that doesn’t apologize for the space she takes up. A few limp strands of brown hair have slipped out from beneath her cap, framing a nose and mouth slightly too large for the face they inhabit. Only the eyes – clear and blue – rescue the image from conventional plainness. They linger on things in silent observation, betraying nothing of the thoughts behind them.

Together nurse, patient, and orderly leave the waiting room behind, into one of the bleached examination rooms.

“Thank you, James,” Somers says, as the orderly manoeuvres the wheelchair to a spot by the wall. “I’m all right to do the rest.”

Somers checks the blackout before switching on the lights. After the orderly shuts the door behind him, it is just the nurse and the patient left-- a plain girl and a pretty girl. The ongoing argument in the lobby travels to them as if from underwater, muted and faraway.

“What happened to you, then?” Somers draws near, coming to help Elsie out of the ruined flight jacket. For the first time a fine line appears between her eyebrows as she takes in the sight of this unusual patient-- puzzlement, curiosity, or dislike.

--------------------
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bird
 Posted: Mar 4 2016, 05:37 PM
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number one dad
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Joined: 25-February 11

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The truck ride over passes in a blur, with half the squadron and some of the troupe staring back from the rearview mirror.

Elsie sandwiches herself on the cab seat between a beet-faced Hardy and a tight-lipped airman behind the wheel, and tries not to bleed too much on either of them. As soon as the engine sputters to life, so does Hardy: an express train that roars through did you even think and makes stops at where the hell would I get another dancer, Elsie, what if that had been you and you're goddamn lucky I don't fire you right here and finally honestly is there anything in that damned head of yours.

"-- I could sew on some sleeves?" Elsie volunteers, as they come to a halt outside the country hospital. "On the costumes, I mean. That'd cover it up, wouldn't it?"

"Sleeves," Hardy says, pressing his palms into his meaty face. "Jesus fuckin' Christ."

The vestibule is surreal, and more so with Elsie in it - a sequined vision in red, red and red. All the while she stares blankly, catching on words like save your employee's arm and one of your colonels that make her clutch a little harder at her throbbing wrist. Elsie could balance on a three-inch heel until the cows came home - she doesn't teeter - but her lipstick is all but chewed off, her powder smeared away down to the freckles. The antiseptic whiteness of this place rattles her. She is pliant when the nurse comes to take her away.

"There - there was this dog," Elsie starts, wriggling out of Hadley's cavernous jacket. Something about the nurse's eyes on her makes her stammer and look away; the absence of judgment supplies space for this is your fault to nestle into. "One of the GIs tried to put it down - it was hurt or something - and it panicked and -- oh god --" She can't remember seeing what happened to the corporal.

"Do you know if he's alright?"

Elsie hugs her arms around herself, and resolves not to burst into tears.
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Erik
 Posted: Mar 6 2016, 08:00 PM
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STAY COOL EVERYONE
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“The dog?” Mary says, before realizing the stupidity of her response. All this blood. It couldn’t have been shed by the American girl -- not if she was standing -- but she’s been the only one to check into their hospital. It doesn’t bode well.

“Er-- I’m sure he’s fine. They’re tougher than they look,” Mary concludes lamely, without specifying which she meant. As she folds the jacket out of sight, she sees how vulnerable the girl looks without it, and feels a stirring of pity in spite of herself. Just a dogbite after all; what a flagrant waste of a bed. But still.

“I’ll just be a moment.”

She gives her hands a vigorous scrubbing at the sink before returning to Elsie’s side, pulling with her a trolley of things: washbasin, clean towels, sutures, gentian violet. She is familiar with the girl’s precipitous tearful look, and knows that one word of sympathy is enough to break the dam. And as much as it pains her, now is not the time.

Mary tries for curt and no-nonsense instead, mimicking an old schoolteacher. Looks archly at Elsie’s closed-elbowed posture and holds out her hand: “Now, Elizabeth.” (At least she had a chance to look through the check-in forms!)

“Your arm, please.”
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