Wherein Jack thinks bad things are happening, and shares some snippets
I have a working plan for the next Loyalty book now, but I don't want to talk about it today. Right now I need to get through the third Haphazard book, then see if everything else is going to work out in any way or form. I am trying not to kill my brain by over thinking, a huge possibility for me.
Also, I have been commenting on all of your blogs, but I am not sure the comments are working. Something weird is going on, and therefore, my comments may be showing up or they may not. I'm not sure. So if I am there, HI! If not....someone in the internet world is probably reading your comment.
Lastly, I have this horrible fear the edits I've been making to A Test of Loyalty are being eaten, because I am sure I am doing edits I have already done. It has given me mini heart attacks and I must see if I can see what is going on, or if I just dreamed of making the edits.
All that said, today is the 4th! Happy 4th to all of you!
I have no inspiring 4th post, but I have had a lot of requests for more information on the Historical Fiction book which took up all of my June. And since it is a war story, I figured sharing snippets would solve my need to give more information on it and serve as something as a 4th post.
And...you know...all of the other things I might put here before revealing snippets. "Blah, blah, blah...."
“Did you take it?” he asked.
There was something in that grin. Some kind of comradely Japhet had never seen before. Unwilling, he had returned the grin.
The evil grin widened.
“I did that to one of my sisters last week.”
“Summer will be over in a week and I haven't really done anything to make my sisters' lives miserable. Nothing they will remember for the rest of their lives. And they have done plenty to me. Kirsten keeps bringing her boyfriend over-”
“They might get lonely, all alone in my big house. You know how it creaks, especially at night.”
“You told me there was a ghost living in the attic the first time I slept over. I didn't sleep the whole night.”
Franz would always be at his side, always have his back.
Franz would never leave him.
“Franz. I should have known.”
“Was Japhet with him?” Now Hadi was at the window, shoving up next to Bea so she could fit her head out as well.
“Of course he was,” Bea snapped. “They are over at your house, alone, together. They were both in on this! When I get my hands on them I am going to wring their necks!”
“But he's a Jew!” This was from a boy named Amell.
“Duh,” Franz muttered. “Everyone knows he's a Jew. Everyone has always known he's a Jew.”
“I've never liked Amell. That is why I put those ants in his desk last semester.”
He prayed it was death. He would never be able to forgive himself if he broke and the men he had fought with were found out and killed because of him.
Japhet ignored him even then so Franz retaliated and snatched his pillow. Japhet's head hit the floor, and as he came up fighting, Franz smacked him with the pillow, momentarily stunning him. There was something satisfying about knocking his best friend slightly senseless on his tenth birthday.
“Just Franz?” Franz retorted, catching the last part as the window jerked free of the ice which held it to the window sill. “Since when did I become 'just Franz'? I'm pretty much another member of your family!”
Japhet leaned on the frame, not caring when cold snow seeped into his sleeves. “That is when you became 'Just Franz',” he replied, smiling. “Like Ruth is 'Just Ruth'.”
“It's my battle scar,” Franz had proudly declared, and Japhet had smiled in spite of the pain. He half wished he had a battle scar.
Japhet didn't wear his star. Instead he wore a baggy suit, a crooked tie, and a hat. He looked like a gangster out of a book on American history he had once been reading. Franz would have laughed, except he recognized the suit. It was the same one Japhet had worn on Hadi and Ross' wedding day and it should have been too small for him by this time. It shouldn't have hung off his body like it belonged to his father.
It was fun and exciting until the creepy flying monkeys came onto the screen. Franz and Japhet hid at the same time, ducking behind the chairs in front of them, and Franz knew neither would be able to pick on the other since they ducked at the same time.
As they left the theatre though, shocked over the movie's ending, they stopped outside the door and looked at each other for a minute without speaking, then they made a pact.
“Let's keep the monkeys to ourselves,” Japhet said.
“I'm a grandfather!”
“What did she have?” Mr. Buchanan demanded as if it were his own daughter who had just had a baby.
“Didn't you hear me?” Mr. Kappel was practically jumping up and down. “I said I am a grandfather! She had a boy!”
Most days after he got into fights he ended up at the Buchanans'. It wasn't that he didn't want his mom to see him with cut lips and skinned knees, he just always wanted to see Japhet after school. So he would limp into the house, sit on a chair, and hold cold, wrapped meat to his eye while Japhet poured him milk and hunted around for some of Ruth's fresh baked cookies. One time Mrs. Buchanan had come in and caught him holding a package of chicken to his eye. She had clicked her tongue, snatched it from his hand, and handed him a steak instead.
“We are having chicken tomorrow, and steak tonight,” she had said before walking out to hang up laundry.
“Do you really think they care about that, Japhet?” Franz demanded, his words stern but not sharp. “You're family. You're my brother!
“Why not? How good can you ride a bike?”
“Not good enough to ride across the ocean,” Japhet admitted. A smile pulled at his lips, the first he had felt in a long time. Too long of a time.
“Really?” Franz pretended to look surprised. “I thought you had more talent than that.”
Rupert Hoffmann. Franz was certain Karl had something to do with his new name. He'd gotten Japhet renamed as Stephen. Stephen was a good name. Rupert sounded like someone sneezing. And Hoffmann sounded like someone hacking.
It took an hour for Franz to calm his friend down. His parents, he knew, had been awakened by the sobbing but hadn't come into the room. They had all learned, after Japhet's third nightmare, that it was better to leave him alone with Franz. Franz was the only one, it seemed, who could really comfort him.
Franz wasn't sure. He was having trouble focusing, but he pushed himself to his knees.
“Let's go,” he whispered. He shoved himself to his feet, took a step, and fell over into blackness.
“I am Japhet Buchanan.”
The hand came out of nowhere. It connected with his cheek, snapping his head back, and Japhet saw stars.
“You idiot!” the old man shouted. “What if I was a Nazi? Do you want to end up with a bullet in your dumb head? You are no longer Japhet Buchanan! You have to get that through your thick head, do you understand? It doesn't matter what is going on around you, who is dying, who is talking to you. You have to become Stephen Achen! You have to be so convinced you are him no one will ever have need to doubt you!”
“Japhet! It's me, it's Franz! Come on, Japhet! Wake up! It's going to be all right, but you have to wake up!”
It was a feeble promise, because the nightmares weren't just in dreams, not this time. The nightmare was all around them, closing in on them, ready to kill them given the chance. But Franz didn't care about that right then. All he cared about was his friend who refused to wake.
Japhet saw his chance, a chance he knew would likely not come again – or if it did it would be years from this moment. It was not something he could pass up and dashed up behind his friend, shoving him as hard as he could.
“Who did it?” Franz demanded, his tone sharpening.
He was going to go out and strangle them, Japhet could see it in his eyes. He could only imagine what the resistance fighters would do if they were confronted by a German who wasn't a Jew. They'd unjustly assume he was a Nazi, and use the pistol on him, only with real bullets.
“Glad he was still here, Hoffmann. If he hadn't been I would have been under the impression you had warned him and helped him escape.” His smile deepened. “Silly of me, wasn't it?”
His name was Jimmy Rodgers. He was a pilot, American. A farm boy from New York State who had moved to the city with his best friend when they were old enough. Everyone said Jimmy had more rash courage then brains, which is likely why he had enlisted the first day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
“Fight, Japhet Buchanan? Fight? When have you actually fought? We get into scuffles with the Nazis and you hide in the alleyways. All you ever help with is smuggling supplies from them. You're no help when it comes to real fighting.” Jacob glared, his eyes glinting in the candle light.
“You should. I am starting to think you are helping out that Nazi friend of yours.”
Seeing red, Japhet stood up and curled his hands into fists. He didn't care that Franz wasn't there to help him when he got into another fight over his friend's honor. He'd teach Jacob to call Franz Kappel a Nazi. However, before he had a chance of rearranging Jacob's nose, the basement door opened and their last member arrive, with two men at his side.
“Farm?” Japhet was interested even though he didn't want to admit it. “Like, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz?”
“How do you know about The Wizard of Oz?” Jimmy asked, his eyes widening in surprise.
“What are you talking about?” Franz asked. He came around the couch but stopped when Japhet moved back. His forehead wrinkled in concern. “Come on, Japhet, tell me what's wrong!”
“I saw you,” Japhet whispered, lowering his eyes and staring at the floor.
“Saw me?” There was a hint of fear in Franz's voice and Japhet sagged against the wall. It was true. Franz wouldn't sound like that unless it was.
“You're a Nazi.” The words tasted bitter and a shiver went up his spine when he said them.
“I don't make it a point to get shot,” Japhet muttered.
“Really? Because you sure do get shot a lot for someone who is supposed to be avoiding it.” Jimmy propped himself up on one elbow and Japhet could see his outline even in the dark. “If I didn't know any better I'd almost say you were trying to get yourself killed.”
“You were following me?” Japhet demanded instead of answering him.
“Of course I was following you!” Jacob nearly shouted.
“And who gave you the right to follow me?” Japhet ignored the fact Jacob thought he had a right to be mad and tried to turn the tables on him. He might have just been nineteen, but he was now over Jacob as far as resistance leadership went and he tried to pull rank.
“I was assigned to watch you,” Jacob muttered bitterly. “Everyone is worried you're going to do something stupid since you've been so upset lately that I've been assigned to watch you while you are in Berlin and Odis keeps an eye on you when you go out on missions.”
They were supposed to get out together. They had been planning on it when they came to Berlin. Now Japhet would be going alone and Franz would have no idea that he'd even left. It felt like betrayal. The deepest form of it he could inflict. And it also felt like he was breaking off the tie he had held so tightly to for so long.
“Not that it matters. We can settle this once and for all. Franz Kappel, who are you really? Make your choice – either you shot your childhood friend – or you join him.”
That is all.
I have to get back to work.
Quote is from Captain America