Disclaimer: IN THE FIRST CHAPTER
May 4th 10:20 A.M.
Mary, Deborah, and Carter, who had graciously offered to help, had been dutifully clearing away the breakfast dishes when the phone in the living room rang. The extra long rings alerted everyone to the fact that it was an overseas call. Everyone immediate froze and turned to stare into the living room, and then the three people at the sink turned in unison to the man sitting at the kitchen table. Hogan swallowed the suddenly heavy lump in his throat, rose carefully from his chair, and walked stiffly into the living room. Mary, Deborah, and Carter followed seconds later and quickly gathered around the man.
Before lifting the receiver from the cradle, Hogan silently prayed to a God he wasn't even sure was there, and then nodded and lifted it to his ear. He choked out his greeting and then closed his eyes tightly - the only way he could think of, of shielding himself from, what he figured was impending misery.
However, as soon as the man on the other end spoke, his eyes flew open and he smirked. His eyes met Carter's just as quick and Carter smiled and then turned to the two beside him and told them whom it most likely was. Louis LeBeau, a friend from the war. When Hogan nodded in affirmation Carter grinned and walked silently to the armchair closest to the chair Hogan sat in, and listened to the conversation as best he could.
Hogan listened and replied when necessary and then laughed aloud and paled considerably almost as quickly. One look at the sudden ashen face made the on looking trio pale in unison and gather more closely. Seconds later, Hogan said his goodbye and hung up.
He stared at the expectant trio for a couple seconds and then smiled ever so slightly and rose shakily to his feet. He then slowly trudged into the kitchen and almost literally collapsed into the nearest chair. He waited until they appeared a couple seconds later before starting. He started with the nicest news. It had been LeBeau. He was calling from the British Ministry of Defence in Whitefall, Westminister, London. He and Newkirk were there on an invite from the newly appointed Chief of the Air Staff, Denis Spotswood, who Newkirk had been friendly with since the war.
When a curious Carter asked him why LeBeau was in England, Hogan took great delight in informing the younger man that LeBeau had been there since 1950. He had met a met a young woman in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, not two months after the war, who had been based in and around Germany since 1943 and quickly decided to follow her back to England instead of going back to Paris. They apparently married not long after landing in England. A year later they had a son, Francis and not even a year after that a daughter, April. Sometime between Francis' and April's birth he had gotten a job in the kitchen at the Great Western Royal Hotel, a swanky British hotel. He happily relayed that four more kids followed later for the LeBeau's and that his youngest, Gregory, had just turned eleven, and his oldest and only grandchild, Lillian, just turned three.
Carter laughed aloud at the news of the Frenchmen being a grandfather and then inquired about Newkirk.
His smile grew as he began to tell Carter about the thrice-divorced Air Commodore. Newkirk moved back to England after the war where he was promptly promoted to Sergeant. He met a young teacher from Sheffield. They married, had a boy in 1947 they named Henry after her father, and divorced in 1949. He remained a bachelor until 1952.
Within the span of 1953, he got married again, gotten promoted to Flight sergeant and became a father again to a girl named Eileen. They had another child, James, the year after, and because of a situation he apparently refused to go into, they divorced in 1955. Hogan paused when Carter burst into a fit of laughter before commenting on just how like Newkirk that sounded.
He shared Carter's mirth for a few seconds before continuing – Newkirk was offered the chance to be a Flight Lieutenant, which he took surprisingly enough, and spent the next 2 years in Northern Ireland based at Aldergrove. Not long after getting to Ireland, he got wind of the death of his second ex wife in a car accident.
Hogan paused and swallowed at the broken look in Carter's eyes, but continued when Carter nodded.
Newkirk quickly flew back to England on a pass, applied, and eventually won full custody of his two youngest children. He flew back to Ireland 2 months later with Eileen, James and his new wife, the lawyer he had hired to help him with his case against his exes' parents. They had a boy, Stephen not long after and separated not long after that. She disappeared back to England sometime later, but not before giving him full custody of Stephen. Lebeau had told him that apparently, she had told Newkirk not long before disappearing that she wasn't cut out to be an R.A.F. wife.
Mary, who had, as of yet, stayed silent, spoke up by asking rhetorically if the "poor" man ever did manage to find love. Hogan nodded and continued yet again.
He returned to England at the beginning of 58' as a Wing Commander, settled into a flat on the east side of London, and was just able to rework his relationship with his first wife, who still lived in Sheffield, before she died of cancer the following year.
Again, he paused in respect for Carter and didn't continue until he nodded.
His oldest Henry was in secondary school and hadn't wanted to relocate in the middle of the school year. Therefore, Newkirk requested a transfer to Waddington, the closest base to Sheffield, and moved his young family into his first wife's family home to be with Henry.
He lived quite comfortably as a single father for almost four whole years until he met another single parent, Cora. He dated her for almost 4 months before he asked her to move in with him. Cora, along with her three children moved in with Newkirk and his four not long after New Year 1963, and except for the addition of one more child, Marilyn, in 1966, and a couple spats here and there, Newkirk and Cora were still coexisting quite nicely. Newkirk, after getting the ok from Cora, had refused to marry in case it all when south afterwards. He figured he was getting too old for divorce anyway.
Carter smiled appreciatively then asked why LeBeau had phoned from the Ministry of Defence when he could have surely gotten their number from a regular phone book somewhere. He was sure that the Britons weren't fighting in Viet Nam. Hogan swallowed the encroaching dread and lowered his head before he started on with another story.
Like Carter's son, Rob, Newkirk's oldest, Henry, joined the Forces on the eve of his 18th birthday. He decided against living in his fathers shadow and joined the army instead of the Air Force. He was quickly assigned to the Royal Engineers and then, once B.T. was done, he was quickly shipped to Cyprus, and after partaking in a handful of difficult assignments, and after a few mysterious positive reference letters, he was promoted to Junior Technician. After only a couple more months in Cyprus, and against what Newkirk apparently wanted, once the opportunity arose, Henry put in for a transfer to the No. 2 Squadron in the R.A.A.F.
Carter spoke up again and asked why he would want to volunteer for such a harsh transfer, but then paled and swallowed. Hogan nodded. No. 2 Squadron was right in the heat of it in Viet Nam. Henry had wanted to fight.
Deborah and Mary gasped as Carter drew away from the group and crossed his arms over his chest. He'd been waiting for the girls reaction, but Carter's had taken Hogan by surprise. He quietly called the man's name and then slowly rose to his feet. Carter must have noticed he'd moved, because as soon as Hogan took a step towards him Carter blinked and then sighed. Hogan paused and flinched at the pain in the younger man's voice as he asked quite possibly the hardest question he'd ever face.
Weren't their kids supposed to be smarter than them?