In January of 2013 I wrote a novel taking place in and around the events of World War II. I used the progress of the Canadian Third Infantry as the timeline and made up the rest. So these characters are not based on real people, they are figments of my imagination.
The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and will be available in paperback and eBook this Friday, January 9th.
Here is a sample of the story:
He lived for his nights out. It was the only time anything was … different. Out of the ordinary. The only time he felt like he was taking part in something bigger than himself. When else would he have the chance to stumble shit-faced down a street in London with Brits, guys from British Columbia, Nova Scotia, even an American who could throw a punch like a prize fighter. It was so random. The randomness was what he craved.
“Oh–best behaviour, boys. I think that’s Sergeant Murphy.” Walton’s back straightened and he swallowed.
“It doesn’t matter how hard you try to look sober. He’s going to know you’re shitfaced,” David told him.
Murphy was talking with another man in uniform, a Canadian, but David didn’t know him. Due to the loud singing behind them, both men saw them coming about a half block away. Murphy broke off his conversation with the other officer and approached them. His face was … even more serious than usual.
“Sergeant Murphy!” Craig Jasper greeted him enthusiastically. “I’d like to buy you a drink! What’s your poison?”
Murphy just smiled, but it didn’t touch his eyes. David felt his feet slowing, the rush of the alcohol and the fight slowly waning. Something was up.
Murphy had his cap in hand, and he was twisting it. David stopped, and the Yank had to as well. “Gentlemen,” Murphy greeted them in his usual, cordial way. “I see we’re having fun.” He looked at David, frowning. “What happened to your face?”
David squeezed the shoulders of his new American friend. “Alfie Hopkins happened to me. Just a little fun, don’t worry, sir.”
“You fellas might want to head back early, get a good rest.”
It was his voice. Murphy knew something was coming, but he wasn’t going to spill. He felt everyone around him tense, backs getting straighter, a few cleared throats. Even the Yanks and Brits could sense it.
“What do you know?” David asked.
Murphy turned his pale blue eyes to him. “Can’t say for sure, Cleary. But you’ll all want to be feeling healthy the next couple of days. Head back now, find somewhere to flop, you might be able to get a decent amount of sleep. Either way, do not stay out late. I mean it, sleep this off. You’ll thank me.”
That done, he put his cap back on, turned and walked back down the street the same way they were going.
“Holy shit,” Walton whispered. “Is this it? Are we finally going in?”
“I don’t know why you’re so eager to get thrown at the Germans. Did you hear about those poor bastards from the First at Dieppe? Nineteen hundred were taken prisoner.” Lou Reinhold could always be counted on to go in to hysterics.
“Shut up Lou,” Higgins snapped. David agreed. Finally they were being taken off the shelf and put to use. Scary or not, they were going to serve their purpose.
“I heard it could be as early as the day after tomorrow,” one of the Brits said.
“No one will know when it happens,” Alfred added. “If anyone has heard anything … it was likely … what do you call it? Misinformation?”
“Maybe we should head back to the base,” David said slowly, mulling it all over.
“Easy for you to say,” Higgins laughed. “Not everyone here got lucky tonight. I want to get laid.”
David shook his head. “I want to head back. You’re on your own, Higgins.”
“Well I’d hope so. I’m not going to need your help for this, Cleary.”
They all laughed again, but the ball of … whatever it was in his stomach didn’t let him so much as crack a smile. Maybe it wasn’t fear … not exactly. Just the uncertainty. Or maybe the possibility that it was all wrong and the war would end without so much as a single shot being issued from his rifle.
Hopkins shook him back to the present. “Cleary. You all right?”
“Yeah, I’m good. Tired.”
“I’ll bet, you tom cat.” Walton lit his cigarette. “Where they keep the women at, Green?”
One of the Brits was deciding where they should go next to meet women. All David could think about was his bunk. How he’d like to put his head down and just pass out for the next ten hours.
“You guys go ahead,” he said. “I’ll head back with Murphy.”
They all called him a pussy and a pansy, but he ignored them. David loped off after Murphy’s silhouette, calling after him. Murphy turned, waiting for David to catch up.
“You done for the night?”
David smiled. “I tend to work fast, sir.”
Murphy smiled back. “You look like shit. Why’d that guy make meatloaf of your face?”
“He wanted a good fight. I doubt I delivered.”
“I can’t remember having that much testosterone.”
“You do,” David assured him. “You’re just not drunk right now, so you’re aware of how stupid people are.”
They walked briskly but silently. The streets were emptying as bars were closing. They passed a group of American paratroopers, loudly making their way to the next pub just as Cleary’s crew had been. Once they were past them David had to ask.
“I know you’re a Sergeant, and that means you’re maybe three percent more likely to know anything … but are we finally being sent in?”
Murphy shrugged. “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know anything. All I know is that as of tomorrow all passes are going to be suspended indefinitely. Even that much I’m not supposed to share.”
David sighed. “I’m not in a rush to die, but honestly … sitting around waiting to be of use is just ridiculous. Another month and I might go out of my mind.”
Murphy stopped. David did too, turning to face him. Murphy’s expression gave him pause. “And I’m terrified for the same reason. I hate not knowing what the point is of what we’re doing. But I’m scared.”
David was taken aback. “I’m sorry to hear that, sir.”
“Don’t apologize. Christ, stop calling sir.” Murphy stalked away from him, rubbing the back of his neck. David followed him anyway, a few steps behind. Seeing the Sergeant terrified had him stone-cold sober.
It was June 3rd, 1944.