The Gift of War

Photo Credit: Time for Lyric, by Swissrock, courtesy of Flickr


The Gift of War
by Brian Wethington

Jill sat at the sleek, white formica bar sipping her café au lait and mentally kicking herself for agreeing to meet with Michael.  Again. I could just leave and go back to the hospital, she thought to herself, he wouldn’t even know I had been here.

Downing the last of her coffee and sliding off the stool, she sighed as she placed a handful of French francs on the counter.

“Leaving so soon, Madam?” said the old man behind the counter, a note of concern clear even through his thick accent.

“Oui. I need to get back to the Hospital.  We’ll have wounded coming in from the front lines near Ardennes soon.”

He slid the coins back across the counter, a thin smile spreading across his face. “Merci. We appreciate your service in this time of war, Miss.”

“Thank you. Keep it.” She slid the coins back. “ If Adolph and his henchmen come into Paris soon, you’ll need the money more than I do.”

She gathered up her purse and shawl and was hurrying toward the front door when Michael burst through, soaked from head to toe, holding a soggy newspaper over his head, the headline of Le Temps screaming Hitler Advances.

“Jill!  Thank God you’re still here,” he said, as he tossed the newspaper into a nearby bin and shook off his coat. “I’m sorry I’m late.”

She watched him shake the rain from his coat, her mind flooding with the memories of their stilted and awkward love affair, her heart filled with a mixture of longing and embarrassment. He was still handsome in a bookish sort of way, and still tall in a gangly sort of way.  When she added his innate intelligence and his love for French poetry into the mix, she should still be madly in love with him.  But, she wasn’t.

“It’s okay, I just got here myself,” she said, covertly looking at the old man behind the counter, raising her eyebrows.

“Oui.  Mademoiselle just arrived.  Why don’t you take the seat by the window and I’ll bring you each a café, no?”

“Great,” said Michael. “Tea for me, if you don’t mind. Green.”

“Of course,” said the old man, with a genuine smile. “Un café et un thé. Tout de suite.”

Michael and Jill sat down, he laying his satchel on the table, the rain water pooling around it’s edges, she setting her purse and nurses hat in the chair closest to the wall.

“I’ve got something I need to show you,” he said, lifting the flap on the satchel, pulling out a small package and setting it between them. “This came through post last week, and I’ve been dying to show someone.”

“Oh? Why me?”

“Well, I was going to show it to Professor Villette, but I’m certain he’d just dismiss it as a joke…but, well, it isn’t.”

“Okay,” she said, holding her out, “let me see it.”

He snatched the package up, holding it to his chest as if he had suddenly changed his mind, a mind full of suspicion and distrust. Setting it in his lap, his eyes cast downward, he regained control of his emotions and cleared his throat.

“Sorry. It’s just really important that you believe me.”

“Michael, what is it?  Why wouldn’t I believe you?”

“Because, in this package is proof that Adolph Hitler wants to end the war,” he whispered, setting it back on the table. “In here is a Codex that will give Churchill and the Allied Forces complete access to all of the German communications.  This is Hitler’s white flag; he wants to surrender.”


Idea: Hitler gave Churchill a book of poetry, inside of which was a codex that could have ended WWII 2 years earlier than it did.

Concept: A young professor finds an obscure book of German poetry, in which is a hand written note indicating that Hitler wants to end WWII as he is being pressured to cleanse Germany of the Jewish citizens; this book was sent to Winston Churchill, but it was not opened until it had been donated to a British University in 1942.

Premise: Michael Dunnet, a young Professor of Comparative Literature at Oxford University, receives a package from Sir Winston Churchill (who opened the package, but didn’t look in the book) containing a single, obscure book of German Poetry still wrapped in the post packaging. After unwrapping the package, he finds a plea from Adolf Hitler to Winston Churchill to help him end WWII in 1942. In the book are clues to a hidden codex that will give the allies the key to decipher German communications.  He then feels the need to share it with the only person he knows in the Allied Military, an ex-lover who happens to be a nurse in the Paris field hospital, hoping she will be able to tell someone.

Note: Gedichte is poetry in German, as far as I know.


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