Preface: To be honest, I would call this as an experimental fanfic. I've given a lot of thought about this fic, whether to publish this or not. Well, I finally got the guts. This story was inspired from the World War Two movies I watched, videogames I played, and stories that I've listened from World War Two veterans that I've spent time with. And considering Grandpa Steely Phil was in the war, I thought, what the heck. It's entertaining and educational. IT'S EDUTAINMENT! I really did my homework when writing this, but as always, some of the contents written maybe historically inaccurate, made up, and dramatized a little bit. Hey, if Hollywood can do it, why can't I?
Legal junk: I don't own Hey Arnold, but Nickelodeon does and Mr. Craig Bartlett created it. But this fic belongs to me. Clear? Good.
Chapter 1: The fifth letter, the first reply.
Arnold stood in front of the boarding house with his father, Miles. Ever since both of his parents were found near the Colombian border in Panama when he was eleven, he now stayed a couple of blocks away with them in a three-storey rowhouse near the boarding house. In today's visit both of the kin promised the boarding house's caretaker, the grandfather to Arnold and father to Miles, Phil, to help him clean up the attic, because it has been nearly five years since the place was last being spruced up. Arnold is now fourteen years old, just about three times younger than his father. He rang the doorbell, waiting for somebody to show up. And someone did, a short, in his late 30's, balding person showed up, goes by the name of Ernie Potts, one of the boarding house's tenants.
"Thank God you two finally showed up. The old man is inside the attic. And I tell ya, he's driving us nuts! He's been bugging us the whole day, asking when'll you guys going to show up."
"Glad to see you too, Ernie," Miles said.
"Yeah, yeah, my soap is on in just about a couple of seconds, you two know the way right?"
"Thanks, Mr. Potts." Arnold said with a smile. And the son and the father proceeded to the attic.
"Hey, dad." Miles said.
"Good afternoon, grandpa." Arnold greeted.
"Well, well, looks who's finally decided to show up," the old man said sardonically.
Phil stood up, placing his arms at his waist, "well, as you boys can see here, we've got a lot of work to do…" he was right; dust was everywhere, boxes of items were placed untidily, various items were scattered on the floor and messily on the shelf, and vermin droppings littered across the floor. Miles had that 'holy crap' look on his face while Arnold sighed heavily. "Why don't you ask the boarders to help, grandpa?"
"Those deadbeats? Phooey! Those people wouldn't help me out even if I paid them!"
"I'll help you for a hundred bucks, grandpa!" somebody said, it was Oskar, poking his head inside the attic.
"Over my dead body, Kokoshka!" grandpa said angrily, throwing a duster at him. Oskar managed to dart away from the projectile but unfortunately he misplaced his footstep and went tumbling down the stairs. Miles looked at his son, and Arnold looked at his father back. They both shook their heads, and walked off to each other's opposite direction. They started to work, and 45 minutes have passed. Arnold picked up a very old shoe box, while Miles grabbed the broom and began to sweep. The box was so old that it tore itself up when Arnold was carrying it, and the papers inside the box fell down, but surprisingly, still sturdy, although they were yellowed out due to aging. With a sigh, Arnold started to pick them out but then realized that those papers were letters.
Grandpa's World War Two letters to Gertrude, his wife, Miles' mother, and Arnold's grandmother. And also letters of Gertrude's replies.
"Hey, grandpa… I think I found something here…"
"You found gold? There's gold in our attic?!" grandpa said, with a trail of glee.
"Uh… no, I mean, this box… has something important, letters and stuff." Arnold replied back.
"What are you talking about, boy? What letters?" grandpa said back, becoming impatient. Miles paused at what he was doing, looking at them.
"Your letters to grandma, grandpa; back from World War Two."
"Ohhh, THOSE letters! Let me see those papers short-man…" Arnold went over to his grandfather and handed him the papers. "I haven't seen them since 1957! Ahh, memories from yore…"
"Can I read it?" he asked.
"Sure, I think we all deserve a break about now!" grandpa said. "Read it out aloud."
"Okay…" Arnold cleared his throat, and begins to read it. He was sitting on the floor, while grandpa was sitting on a stuffed taxidermy goat that Stinky had to given Arnold when they were in the sixth grade while Miles placed his chin on the end of the broomstick, still standing.
August 9th, 1943
I have come to realize that you are not going to reply to my letters, all four of them, excluding this - which I doubt that you are going to reply anyway. If that's the case, consider this will be my final letter to you. How are things going? How's the war effort? The latest news from the hometown said that you've got a job as a weapons mechanic for the warships they constructed at the shipyard, like Cindy. Speaking of her, I hope both of you have finally get along fine with each other. I mean, we are all adults now, and the incident at the annual city dance should be forgotten, and shouldn't be dragged along. I know you are still bitter about it, but trust me; time will eventually heal it away.
How do you like the job? Being a mechanic and all? I hope that you won't find the new job too difficult for you, since construction and mechanics is not entirely a woman's domain. How's your family? Is your father still annoys you as much as you think he is? Well, my advice is you should give him a chance, for I think deep inside, he is a good father, like most fathers are. And how is your mother's recovery from her illness? I hope she gets well soon.
"Grandma's mom was sick?"
"Yeah, she was recovering from the heart disease she had," grandpa clarified. Arnold then continues to read.
I just finished my basic training and rumors says that we're off to Italy tomorrow to fight the Germans in Sicily. Sounds like that they desperately need more men to help the boys there. I am now writing near a baseball field in the afternoon. My campmates are all here playing a game, before the 'graduation' night, so to speak, while I'm sitting on a bench feeling like an idiot. It's not like I hate baseball; I love it, but I feel like writing letters to my friends back home more, especially you, since, well, I miss you the most. I don't know why, but maybe not hearing your scowl for the past fourteen weeks can really drive me nuts. I miss it, a lot. Hopefully if I got home still alive and kicking, you will have the honors to be the first to mock me and push me around.
"Wait a minute… weren't you an assistant cook?" Arnold asked, lowering a half of his eyebrow.
"Dad… you told him that hogwash of a story?" Miles whined, disappointed. It was the same story that Phil had told Miles when he was eight.
"Hey, he was nine back when I told him that. I had to tell him a G-rated story." Phil said to his son.
"So... the whole Cham story is all a bunch of crock, huh, Grandpa?"
Oh, no, no. That Cham story is true."
"And you actually let grandma make fun of you?" Arnold snickered.
"Hey, it felt weird if I ain't listening to her scowls and sarcastic remarks for a day, let alone fourteen weeks,"
"Just like if your friend Helga didn't make fun of you for a day. It does feel weird, doesn't it?" Miles intervened; Arnold smiled back, and continues to read.
Guess who I met at the training camp just recently, our old friend, Mike. Yeah, the guy who's been courting Marie Vitello since forever. He's in tip-top shape, good and ready but he's assigned to a different place, far away in the South Pacific, to fend off the Japanese. He's going to depart there on this coming Thursday. Tell Marie that he loves her. And much to my annoyance, he's with me sitting next to me right now, snickering and giggling at every word I've written. I would stab his eyes with this here pen, but I'm not going to send a letter with blood drops on it. Boy, his laughing annoys me to no end… yeah, with the Popeye cackle.
"The same Vitello who owns the flower shop."
"Ohh, so that's her first name…"
This concludes my letter, Gerthie. The boys are asking me to come out and be the batter. I am extremely hopeful that you will reply to my letter, like my family, and most of our friends did. I hope you will be strong and confident as always, and pray for us, The Allies will win this war. And please send my regards to Will, James, Margaret, Mae, Lisa, Marie and Diane.
"Where are the other four letters, grandpa?"
"You know what, Arnold? I have no idea. But keep reading, read the next letter."
August 27th, 1943
"Chin-boy?" Arnold said with a laugh.
"That's my nickname she gave me. Kinda like your 'football head' that girl Helga use to mock you."
How's it going? Don't be such a diluted fool thinking why I'm sending you some silly ol' letter. I just got bored that's all, and for your information I am tired and I just got back from the shipyard installing some artillery guns on the warship. Twas easier that it looks, actually. My supervisor said they're going to sail the God blasted ship to the Pacific they say. So I got nothing to do, and there's nothing but updates about the war on the radio, so I thought to myself, what the heck. Since all of the other gals have already written letters to every Joe outside the country, I guess there's no harm in joining the fad. Well, to be honest I am slightly proud of you, since you've finally got the guts to actually enlist in the war rather than wasting your time at the canned food factory uptown.
I got all your letters, but by now, you should've known pretty darn well why I'm not going to reply back. But ever since you've enlisted in the army yourself, you've earned a teensy bit of respect from me. You should be grateful for that, chin-boy.
"Man, she really does hate you, doesn't she, grandpa?" Arnold asked, smiling.
"Yeah… well… that was a long time ago, when we were young and full of youth."
I feel the work here is tiring, and I sweat a lot too. Before coming back to home, my arms and face were always full grease, and I actually accidentally swallowed some oil along with it. I do get along with some of the gals here just fine, and they're all happy to help the cause. That skank Cindy is a total moron, she actually insisted on not helping or she'll break her nails. What kind of excuse is that? What a sap, people are dying out there for a noble cause and she just sits there and cares more about her nails? It's people like this I feel like going berserk and want to kill them all. Yes, I am still bitter about it, so never mention about that incident ever again.
Dad got back into the army too, since the fellows at the Pentagon needed him for his experience in the First World War. That slob didn't do anything back home and when the government called he was up and ready and caught the first train to Washington. That's neglect, I tells ya. He doesn't care for his family at all. Always war this and war that. Don't get me wrong, wars are inevitable and necessary sometimes but is that a justifiable excuse to run away from your responsibilities to your family? Poor mother. But what about his family? What about us?
I assume that the people that you've written had already told their own story, so I won't bother to retell it here, except for my best friend Margaret, and Marie - since Mike asked for it. Margaret just graduated from nursing school and was assigned to Sicily, Italy at some base there; maybe you could meet her. And if you met him, please send to her my regards. I miss her a lot, for she is my best friend since grade school. And please look after Margie Phil, I know she wouldn't last long if, God forbid, something terrible would happen to the base.
"Wow, grandma was really concerned about her."
Grandpa didn't answer, but had his head dangled, with a sad, melancholic look on his face. Arnold wanted to know what was wrong but his mind telling him that he shouldn't. At least not now. Arnold continued on.
I know you don't want to hear anything about your sister Mitzy, good or bad news, but think I should anyway, just to spite you off. She went to New York to become an actress/supermodel but I have yet to see her pictures in the magazines. Well, that's what you get from not helping the war cause.
A chuckle was heard from Grandpa, "Heh, stupid Mitzy."
Regarding Marie, she's still here of course along with Lisa, and they're at the arms factory making weapons for our boys. Oh well, at least there's someone here from the old gang can keep me company while all of you are at different corners of the world. And don't worry, I've told Marie, and she shouted some profanities when I told her about Mike. Better luck next time, Grand Canyon.
"When Mike wrinkled his forehead, it would reallllly look like The Grand Canyon." Grandpa tried to expain it visually, with a grin. Arnold and Miles was amused.
Well, chin-boy, I think I've reach the end of the line, as I have nothing to add as of now. But please do me a favor, keep on writing to me. Since you're ready to fight, I think it'll be the best for you to write so I would know you are still alive out there. I… actually has something to say, I do miss you. I miss your stupid looking chin and your stupid antics. I just hope that you won't be that stupid to get shot at right between the eyes. And thanks for that 4th of July postcard you sent to me. It was very sweet.
P/S: If you met Craig somewhere out there, tell him he still owes me ten bucks for that rodeo ride.
Best of luck,
"Boys, everyone, come down here and eat! I've baked pies for all of you!" grandma yelled from downstairs inside the kitchen.
"Ahh… your grandma's pie… nobody bakes better pie than her! Now come on now, and bring those letters with you!" grandpa said, inviting them to go with him.
"But grandpa, I don't think the boarders would like me reading these letters when they're dining…" Arnold tried to reason.
"And that's the whole point, short-man! With them out of the way we can have the whole pie to ourselves!"
Well, that's that. I hope you enjoyed the fic, and I apologize if the fic somewhat manages to offend you in any way. Comments, reviews and constructive criticisms are welcomed and appreciated.