Ball Turret

Submitted into Contest #76 in response to: Write a story told exclusively through dialogue.... view prompt

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Fiction Historical Fiction Suspense

“I’m sure glad that’s over with.”

“Me too, Pete. A tough one. But it’s over. We flew our twenty-fifth mission. We’re done. We can go home now.”

“Home. What’s that, Tommy? Home? Been so long since I saw home.”

“For all of us, Pete. I don’t know how I’m going to handle being home. Is it still there?”

“I hope so. I miss my family so much. My little brother, he joined up and is somewhere in the Pacific. My folks must be so worried.”

“Ever show you a picture of my Betty, Pete?”

“Yes you did, but I’ll take another look. Yep, Tommy, she’s a sweetheart, all right.”

“We’ll get married after I get home. Her letters are about all that’s kept me sane. Twenty five missions. Can you believe that? This old bucket of bolts held together for us one last time.”

“Mostly. From down here I can see all kinds of damage. We lost one engine, holes ripped where bullets and anti-aircraft hit us. But we still have two wings and our tail is intact.”

“Nice view from down there, huh?”

“Actually, it is a great view. When German fighters aren’t chasing us, that is.”

“Well, it’s over. Just a nice cruise back to England and climb out of this old crate for the last time.”

“I’m gonna give this old crate one big ol' sloppy kiss when we land. Right on her plexiglass nose. Then I’m gonna give the ground a kiss too.”

“And stretch your legs after riding in your little ball for the last few hours.”

“It isn’t as bad as it looks. Not that uncomfortable, Tom. At least I have a place to sit.”

“You’re right about that. I had to hunch over when I fired my fifties. I’m a little tall for this waist gunner job.”

“Lucky for me I’m a little guy. I took a lot of guff in school about being short. It worked out for me, didn’t it?”

“As long as you can get out of there, Pete.”

“Don’t even joke about that, Tommy. I’ve had nightmares about getting stuck in here.”

“Why not get out now?”

“Nah, I’m comfortable.”

“You say so. At least you got two ways out.”

“One way. Depends on which way the hatch lines up. Point the guns straight down and the hatch lines up there where you are. Or open up the hatch after we’re on the ground. So what do you plan to do once we get home?”

“My folks have that drug store that’s been in the family for years. I can go back there until something else opens up.”

“After seeing all this scenery from up here, I’m thinking about doing some camera work. Shoot some movies. Aerial photography.”

“You have an in, don’t you?”

"My dad is a carpenter at Warner Brothers in Hollywood. Union job, he works on movie sets. Stagehand wages, he does okay. He knows people there.”

“You lucky stiff. Working in the movies?”

“I hope so. Sounds good, doesn’t it?”

“As long as we can get home before something happens…”

“Hey! What the hell was that?”

“I don…don’t know.”

“Feels like something hit us.”

“Can you see anything down there?”

“My glass is cracked. Like spiderwebs. Hard to see through it. Some pieces of metal hanging loose.”

“Anti-aircraft I’ll bet. They aren’t letting us go without a fight.”

“I didn’t think they could reach us way up here.”

“All the more reason to get the hell out of here.”

“Yo, Cap! Hit the gas, bud! Get us home!”

“No answer. I wonder if the interphone is knocked out.

“From what I can see, we lost another engine. That gives us two now.”

“Might save us some fuel. If we don’t have any leaks.”

“We’ll leave it up to Cap. That’s his job, right?”

“About hour, maybe less, that’s all.”

“Maybe it’s time to see if I can get out of here. Don’t like any more surprises, and here I am hanging out of the bottom of the plane. I’ve had enough being a target.”

“Pete, I can’t get the hatch to open.”

“Try it again.”

“Damn. Whatever hit us jammed the hatch. It won’t line up. I can’t get it open.”

“Oh, don’t tell me that!”

“I’m not fooling around. The hatch won’t line up. It won’t open.”

“Well, I sure as hell can’t climb out of this little opening. I’m small, but not that small. Keep trying!”

“C’mere, Eddie. Give me a hand and see if we can get this hatch to line up so Pete can get out of the ball turret.”

“C’mon, guys! Get me out of here!”

“It’s jammed. It won’t move.”

“Do we have a pry bar anywhere on the plane?”

“Come on, guys. Give me some room here.”

“Tommy! Is this gonna work?”

“I don’t know, Pete. We’re doing what we can.”

“I just hope we don’t have to belly land.”

“Don’t talk like that, Pete. Don’t even think that way!”

“When we land, we can pry this around so the hatch opens. Or break it open. Whatever we have to do.”

“When we land.”

*

“Tommy?”

“Yeah, Pete.”

“Listen. If something happens to me, like if we crash or something, please take my belongings and send them home to my family, okay?”

“Don’t talk that way, Pete.”

“I gotta cover all my bases. Please do that for me?”

“If you say so, Pete. Just don’t make me have to do that.”

“That’s up to Cap to get us home in one piece.”

"I just want to see those wheels come down. That will be a message from God.”

*

“Cap says we have landing gear problems. The wheels aren’t coming down.”

“Please tell me you’re joking? This ain’t no time to be telling jokes!”

“No, Pete. Cap says the landing gear is damaged from that last hit. The hydraulics are blown away.”

“Backup cranks? What about the back-up manual cranks?”

“They tried them. They’re jammed.”

“You mean to tell me I’m stuck in this belly turret and the landing gear is damaged? Where does that leave me? Huh? Where does that leave me?”

“I’m sorry, Pete.”

“Is Cap going to go around another time? To see if they can get the gear to work?”

“No, Cap says we can’t go around. We have to land. We’re about out of fuel and the two remaining engines aren't running right. No other choice.”

“So we have to belly land, is that it?”

“Not much else we can do, Pete. It’s all or nothing now. To save what’s left of the ship and the crew.”

“Nothing for me, you mean.”

“Pete, I …”

“Remember I asked you to send my belongings back to my family? It looks like you’ll have to do that now. My wallet, things in my pockets, my watch.”

“I’ll do what I have to, Pete.”

“Cap just yelled back that the field is in sight. We’ll be home in just a few minutes.”

"Lucky me.”

“Pete, I’m right here with you.”

“Thanks, Tommy. You were my best pal all though this mess.”

“Pete, you know why the minimum rank of a B-17 crewman was at least a sergeant?”

“I dunno, why?”

“It was said that the Germans treated POWs who were officers and NCOs far better than they treated privates.

“Glad we didn’t get captured. Why tell me that now?”

“I dunno. Just small talk.”

“Well, Tommy, small talk me all the way down.”

“I’m right here, Pete. Just like in every mission, all twenty-five of them, I’m right here with you.”

“We sure did some damage to those Germans, didn’t we?”

“We sure did, Pete. We sure did.”

“It’s been a pleasure, Tommy.”

“It has, Pete. Hey, Cap just yelled back to hang on, we’re coming in hot, wheels up.”

“So long, Tommy. Thanks for everything.”

January 14, 2021 19:44

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