Canvas Eagles: A Narrative

24 May 2017

At the risk of producing something only for that something to fade out very quickly, as has been the case with previous writing offerings, I am posting this effort, as an experiment to see whether it lasts as long as Haidley

This piece is part of an article I am producing for the August issue of Quarterstaff, my own personal hobby journal.

Also, in this day and age of both political correctness run amok and terrorism alike, a bit of old skool irreverence won’t seem out of place given the chaos of life at the moment. Sometimes, the writing ventures take you in certain directions that requires exploring. Cheers.

The Darling Tinklers

Remy Graf von Schlipschloppenschlapp eyed the assembly of pilots and ground crew. His pilots and ground crew. That thought filled his little Swabian bohemian heart with immense pride.

“Gentlemen and not-so-gentlemen, I have called you here today zu greet you all. Zis is our first assembly as Jagsfliengruppen Drei, ze Darling Tinkles…”

He paused as a loud chorus of cheers, ja’s, and wolf whistles erupted inside the tiny tin hut that was formerly a garden shed but which now served as the unit’s dining, briefing, debriefing, laundry, formal lounge, and indoor volleyball court. As the din died down, Remy puffed on his cigarillo, blowing esoteric smoke rings into the already clouded air. He smiled curtly and was rewarded with curt smiles back from the front row of seated officers, some holding their tiny Pomeranians also smiling curtly.

“Zank you,” he resumed when the room had settled down sufficiently to be heard once more. “Our first mission departing at 1000 hours vill be ein full squadron patrol of ze No Man’s Lund near Nomme du Guerre. I vill be leading ein fliegen vile Hauptman Baron von Esterschutzenhausen vill lead ze udder fliegen. Any questions?” There were none. “Gut! Now ve prepare, ja?” A loud and clear “Ja!” was the reply.

The Fliegen Darlink Tinklers were on the warpath.


The Flying Posties

Over on the Blighty’s side, Captain St John de Bornmouth Hyphen Lee, or Bertie to his friends, was busy studying the Times. It was all drear he feared as he scanned the Sporting Review Page. “Damned Percy,” he grumbled out loud. Tom Williams, or Jaffa as he was nicknamed because of his wiry black hair, looked up questioningly. “What’s up, Bertie old chum?”

“It’s the Club, run by that swindler Percival Stillwaterfall, Jaffa. He and his damned committee have banned whites on Thursdays. Now, how are we going to know the difference. Damned inconvenience if you ask me,” he replied, offering the print he was reading. Tom grabbed it and read the section.

“Deuced if that’s going to go down well with the members, what?” Tom said. “It’s always been House days on Thursdays. There’ll be havoc loosed upon the pitch now that we won’t know their House, what?”

The others took note at the news and generously offered their insightful opinions — all at the same time. St John settled back to puff ponderously on his pipe, a gift from an old sea dog in Shanghai when he had been press ganged in his teens. Ah, those were the good old days, he reminisced.

Into the room, one of several in the requisitioned manor house that now served as home to the Flying Tarps, or the 4567th Air Reconnaissance and Postal Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps, hobbled Major Sir Bingham Yardley Pothersham, Esq., the unit commander.

“What’s up Potty?” St John asked.

“Oh, hello there Bertie. Do you know where Basil is? I have something from that damned fine wife of his. Damned handsome filly that.”

St John looked around the room. “He’s not here, old boy. You might try the workshop. Last time I saw him, he and Muther were in deep discussion over the merits of tipping after a meal.”

The CO nodded and handed over the parcel. “Right-o. Can you give him this then? I have to go to a briefing over at Canelot-sur-Mer. Seems there’s a large offensive being planned and we’re probably going to be in the thick of things.”

“That’ll please the lads. These postal runs are the worst, Potty. An offensive is welcome relief from the drudgery,” St John said as he rugby passed the parcel to a surprised Tom who caught it adeptly.

“Jaffa, be a good chap now, and take this to Basil for me?” Tom nodded cheerfully upon extricating himself from the ruck with the parcel relatively intact. He straightened himself before he sped off like he was on a bicycle in a race. Unfortunately, he wasn’t in a race or on a bike. But he managed to collide with the table, several chairs, a fellow flier, and then the doorway on his way out. They often said you could plot Jaffa’s course from the wreckage strewn path he left wherever he went.

“Damned eager, what?” said Bingham sitting down and extending his aching leg. St John stared carefully at the opened door left by a hastily departed Tom. “Damned indeed.”

Le Huit-Neuf

Pierre Confrere Haulbert, newly arrived member to the Escadrillon Huit-Neuf, stood outside the small hut. Two sentries stood together lazily eyeing him as he marched up to them. He waited in front of them. One of them nudged the other.

“I think he wants us to salute him, Olivier.”

The other sighed loudly. “He will be waiting a long time then, Essien. I am all saluted out, no.”

Pierre’s impatience began to simmer, making the ends of his perfectly waxed pencil-thin moustache twitch.

“Ooh, look, Olivier, he is getting annoyed. Perhaps you should tell him the rules around here. Maybe you…”

“Stand to attention when you address an officer, soldat.” Pierre had had enough. “I am an officer of the Republic and, as such, expect due respect for my commission. Am I making myself heard?”

Both men smiled. Essien even burped. But it was Olivier who replied.

“M’excuse, Sous-Lieutenant. What my comrade fails to mention is that we do not salute junior officers, especially ones who are new to this unit. You see, we have such a short lifespan in the Huit-Neuf that every time we salute any officer, be it green — such as yourself — or veteran, like our dear departed Padre, they end up dead. Toute suite. So, if you do not mind, we will acknowledge you by simply ignoring you. Okay?”

“Well put, Olivier,” chirped Essien. “I could not have done better myself. Here, have another canapé.”

Olivier’s eyes suddenly lit up as Essien produced a silver salver from behind his back. Expressed upon them were a colourful arrangement of appetisers that even Pierre had to admit looked invitingly delicious. Olivier offered the tray to the new junior officer. Pierre daintily accepted a bright yellow and green one on some thin wafer biscuit.

“Thank you,” he said. It tasted delicious.

“You are most welcome, Sous-Lieutenant. And, on behalf of us two, welcome to the Huit-Neuf.”


© 2017 L. Tafa


Author: b20f08

I enjoy solo wargaming and writing. The first caters to the boy that never grew up; the latter satisfies a deep desire to communicate. Cheers.

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