Fleming Unit #3: Predatory Polish (Finished!)
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Posted by Kwiykov on: 01:29 PM, 11/ 5/17
This is a placeholder until I get something written, text will be changed once I do!

« Last Edit: 07:43 PM, 12/ 8/17 by Kwiykov »

(I did not forget about this! Real life and distractions got in the way. Anywho, have the start of a draft I've been working on. I will probably finish it tomorrow. Probably.)

As the storage unit shuttered door opened with a loud clang, the next noise heard beyond the faint echo was the sound of skittering vermin. It only made sense that the collection of items from Great Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Felix would have, eventually, attracted bugs. Both were horrible hoarders of things no one wanted but might "need". Aunt Beatrice lived through the depression so it made some sense; Uncle Felix just couldn't part with things out of fear of not having them when the day arrived where he would need it.

That is how I ended up in the odd end of Montana, where Felix had lived and where a section of the family's items were stored. As I stared into the depths of the storage unit, items of various types stood out: a small collection of hotel soups from Holiday Inn, newspapers of every election since 1944, and a wall filled to the brim with Bounty paper towel rolls, unopened and giving the storage unit the appearance of an obscure outlet store that you would find in the very back of an outlet mall.

Yet they were not why I was here.

I was looking for items from Great Uncle John. He served in World War II, fighting in Poland against the Nazis, where our family was from originally. Fighting for both America and kin, he saw the Liberation of Warsaw and gained medals for it. I admired him, as did my whole family. I knew Great Aunt Beatrice would have something of his, she kept everything. The rest could be tossed for all I cared, I wanted to see if she hid away his medals.

It was a long search, and as I looked through the piles of junk, I thought of the few times I met the old man. All the stories he had of being a pilot during the War, the time he worked at airports flying people during such a golden age of aviation, and some stories he had about when he was a kid. My favorites were the stories about the World's Fair and the soveniers he got, including a green plastic dinosaur from Sinclair that still sat on his office desk, watching him as he wrote. I kind of wanted that dinosaur too, I wanted something, something to link me to the man we boys were compared to growing up. Something of the man whose name I shared.

It was then that I saw it: a box that blended in with all the others, and that dinosaur. It sat proud, like a guard dog watching over his masters' grave, and I knew, I just knew I had found what I wanted. Taking the dinosaur and stuffing the plastic green toy under my arm, I opened the box and there they were. His Air Medal, his Distinguished Flying Cross, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign medal, WWII Victory Medal, and of course, his Purple Heart. All on display in a small box along with the ribbons that went to them. There was another one, Polish in its writing, less official looking but it was the one that Great Uncle John never said what he got it for. Whenever I had pointed it out, he said he got it for "being a hero that Warsaw needed" and never said anything else beyond that.

As I went to get into my truck, I realized exactly how late it had gotten: the place was almost closed and those who were still around were making their way to their cars. Thankfully, I had the foresight to get a hotel room that night. I wouldn't be staying long though, I got what I wanted and I had no desire to stay in this microscopic town another day more than I had to. It felt like a generational weight had been lifted as I walked into the hotel room, and as I went to set my things down, the dinosaur slipped out of my grasp. As I reached for it and spoke a few choice words to myself in Polish, the box's balance in my arms also gave way, leading to it also bouncing out of my hands. As it hit the floor with a thud, the box's lid flung open, revealing that there was something under what I thought was the bottom of the box.

Raising an eyebrow as I walked over toward it cautiously, I saw that the golden lining had under it a grey, unfinished underside, with something dark and bristly poking out. I carefully set the medals aside, finding bristle like bunches in the shape of ribbons like what you'd get at military events or breast cancer awareness. Tape held each down to the grey inside, with a quick scribble of a name and a date under each. Yet the names didn't catch my attention as much as the phrase I recognized immediately written above all the "ribbons": Za naszą i waszą wolność; For our freedom and yours.

I knew that phrase, Great Uncle John told me about it. It was the phrase he used during the Civil Rights movements he helped in after the war. He was a man determined to never see the Nazi-like horrors ever appear in America. He was a fighter for freedom, through and through. I went to move my finger across one of the "ribbons" and that was when an involuntary shiver went down my spine. It felt like hair? Like hair that you trimmed because you were too lazy to go to an actual barber. It was at that point I put the box back together and set it on a nearby tan table, not wanting to think too hard on it or at all. Yet considering how little was in that room beside the box, I needed to escape. Taking the room key and shoving it in my back pocket, I bid the various green and purple colors of the inside of the hotel room goodbye to go clear my head.

Looking around for somewhere open, I came upon what looked to be the only drinking establishment in this damn town. It was a tex-mex sort of joint called "Marg Madness", one of those that made me doubt you could find anything remotely authentically Mexican, for God's sake, the waitresses had sombreros on, but I wasn't looking for the Southwest of the Northwest. I sat down at a far back booth, away from the regulars as I could get and ordered a drink that was probably too sweet but at least would have something in it and something burrito-like.

As I sipped my drink, listening to what I think was "Despacito" on loop, I thought of Great Uncle John. Momma said I was named after him because she felt that I "had his spirit". Dad said that all boys should be named after heroes so it just made sense. But what sort of hero keeps hair in a box? My burrito showed up with a false smile from the brunette who waited on me, the smile of a woman forced to be polite for a living and for tips. I always found it disturbing, rather Stepford Wives-like, to have such service with a smile.

"Never trust a pretty smile," the old voice called to my memory, "You don't know the intention behind it."

It was among the rare bits of advice my namesake gave me, and here I was, questioning it. Why though? There was no reason to doubt except for the fact I found hair in his medal box. But it couldn't be that sinister, it was just hair right? Yet the only people who kept things like that were...well, freaks. But this was Great Uncle John, the war hero, the man who took me out to get pączki when I was younger for Fat Tuesday, though I barely remember it. Maybe that was the problem, I barely knew the man I looked up to. My mind was wracked yet as I went to pay and signed for my food, it came to me. There were names in that box. Maybe searching the names would prove innocent intent. Maybe these were just women he dated? I wasn't sure I would find anything, but what other options did I have?

Entering the hotel room with my cell phone in hand, I closed the door firmly as I glared at the box that threatened to ruin my opinion of my relative. My fingers went to the box again, opening the lid and then uncovering the medals with a gentle touch, and there I saw the names. It was then that I realized all of them were women: Erika Shumacher 1949 Seattle, Angelika Zimmermann 1950 Kansas City, Hilda Hahn 1952 Madison, Gisela Konig 1953 St Paul, Fiona Wagner 1955 Colombus...those were the ones I could make out but there were a lot more. I typed in the first name and a report came up of a Erika Schumacher who went missing at that date and place and my blood ran cold. My naive heart left my chest and entered the pit of my stomach as with each name, confirmation of a possible horrible family secret came to light. It was more than I could take, tossing the box aside and putting the phone on my bedside table, deciding to get ready for bed.

My dreams were haunted by visions of faces that came up in missing and presumed dead reports. Stories of women who went out for an evening of fun and never came back. Women who were no longer searched for, as by now old age would have taken them into death's grasp, along with anyone who missed them. As morning came I knew what I had to do as I packed everything up into my truck as fast as I could. I made my way back down to my family's storage unit and opened it up again, same mess as it was when I left it. Giving the box of medals one last look, I threw it deep into the depths of madness that represented my family's inability to let go of anything, including their heroes. I slammed the door shut on the unit and, with that Sinclair dinosaur in the passenger seat, I left Havre for good.

« Last Edit: 07:41 PM, 12/ 8/17 by Kwiykov »

Two paragraphs added, will add the rest tomorrow and if people wanna give feedback, please do!