Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
Original characters and plot copyright Richard J. Lobinske. 2004.
This is the tenth story in the Falling into College series.
Daria Morgendorffer climbed the steps to Nevis Hall at Raft University, and her second class of the day, U. S. History from 1876. With insufficient time since her first class, Beginning Archery, to reach her dorm, and not wanting to carry a bulky change of clothes, she'd just thrown a heavy jacket over her sweats for the trek across the snow-covered campus. The cold January wind that passed through the sweat pants told her to add a second pair in the future.
Daria noted that Dr. Miller was teaching, the same professor she had for the first half of U. S. History the previous fall. He'd completed writing the class basics on the whiteboard and was writing in a separate column to one side.
Reliable word processor/transcriptionist
10 hours per week
$9 per hour
See me after class
Daria found a seat in the auditorium and settled in with a fresh notebook and a microcassette recorder in front of her. The class was the usual first session of the semester: make sure students are in the right class, hand out and go over syllabus, somebody asks stupid questions about grading, make sure everyone is buying the correct textbook, and finally, maybe ten minutes of real teaching. After class, Daria hesitated a few minutes while students cleared away. She idly thought. I'm typing at eighty words per minute, could be an easy way to pick up a little buffer money for renting an apartment this summer. She walked up to Dr. Miller. "What kind of transcription are you looking for?"
"Daria, I was hoping someone like you would apply. I have a set of recovered recordings of the old SBC radio reporter, James Simon. They're from the Korean War and could be useful in a book I'm working on."
"Sounds kind of interesting, but why somebody 'like' me?"
He smiled. "You turn in papers that are readable, and faculty talk. You have a developing reputation for quality work."
Dr. Miller started toward the door. "I'm on my way to the office; you can stop by and fill out a student employment form there."
"Can I stop by later? I'm meeting someone for lunch."
"I'll be in or around my office until three. You can pick up the form from the department secretary and drop it in my mailbox if I'm not there."
Daria crossed campus to her dorm room and changed to wool pants and a dark green pullover shirt. Both were a little loose, but not baggy. She wore a single malachite pendant over the shirt. She quickly opened the door in response to a knock.
Michael Fulton walked in with a carry-out bag of Thai food. "Nice to know we're being watched. Checking in at the RA desk is a real pain." He draped his camouflage jacket on a chair back.
"I'd have to do the same thing at your dorm."
"True, but this is such a nicer place for lunch." He set the food down on top of Daria's dresser and started to remove the containers.
Daria gave him a hug as he finished dividing the lunches. Michael returned the gesture, kissing the top of her head. He looked around the room, from the piece of grey fabric padding attached to plywood resting on the work desk, the Kafka poster, anatomical models on the shelves over the desk, to the poster of the half exhumed skeleton on the wall above the bed. The other side of the room was much simpler. A single poster was beside Daria's roommate Karen's bed, a horse at full gallop. On the desk was a framed photo of Karen, brother, and parents. A small boom box occupied part of the dresser top.
Daria pointed to the pot among the array of small appliances on her dresser. "Coffee's ready."
"Thanks for picking up lunch. One of these days I'll have to return the favor."
"Well, you can pick up the tab, but I really think we'll be better off if we eat here."
"With my roommate, just believe me that it is not safe to bring any foodstuffs into the room. Providing you can get past the shoes I make him leave in the hall."
"It can't be that bad."
"No, it's worse."
Daria looked dubious.
"There is stuff growing on the dark side of my room that's banned by several strategic weapon treaties." He wandered next to the bed to examine the skeleton poster. "Big archeological print right next to the bed. Trying to get me excited or something?"
Daria blushed. "No! I've had that poster for years, that's the only place it would fit. I'm not trying to give you any ideas."
"Whoa. Sorry, only making a little joke."
Daria still looked uncomfortable. "Good."
Michael walked back too her. "I'm sorry, that was in very bad taste. I promise I won't do anything like that again."
Daria relaxed some. "Okay."
He pulled the second chair over. "Why don't we try our lunch? I got mild for you so you can get an idea of their spice level. Their traditional spicing is definitely an acquired taste."
"Thanks." Daria sat and started to nibble.
They ate in silence for a couple minutes. Michael hazarded to speak. "I just screwed up big-time, didn't I?"
Daria sighed deeply. "Not that big. I'm nowhere near ready for something like that. It startled me."
Michael nodded. "I should have known better. If push comes to shove, I doubt if I'm ready either."
Daria raised both eyebrows.
It was Michael's turn to be nervous. "Please don't take this as too cold or impersonal, and it says nothing against you. A cost/benefit analysis says no. The potential damage to my, or your, future is too great, even if the risks are minimized as much as possible."
Daria sat silent for a moment. "So, you have thought about it."
Michael blushed. "I...uh...ulp."
Daria developed tiny smile. "I take it, then, you don't carry protection in your wallet."
He shook his head. "I know some guys do that, but I've never figured it out. You sit on your wallet several hours a day and move around, everything inside get crushed and abraded. I'll wear out an ATM card in a year. Can't see the thin rubber in one of those things holding up for too long."
Daria's eyes widened.
Daria released her held breath and rubbed her eyes. "Okay, we are going to change the subject now. We are not going to revisit it for a long time."
Two days later, Dr. Miller stopped Daria as she left class. "The transcription job is yours if you want it."
Daria turned. "That was quick."
"I didn't see a need to drag things out; it is unlikely I'll find someone else with your typing speed, vocabulary, and...strong stomach."
Daria raised her eyebrows.
"Remember the description? These are unedited interviews with combat troops. Some of the material will be unpleasant."
"I'll take the job."
"Can you start today?"
"I get out of Education Techniques at two-thirty."
"How about three to five?"
"You have an employee."
At 3:00 PM, Dr. Miller showed Daria to her work station, just outside his office. "Space is a little tight around here. The broadcast company transferred the original reel to reel recordings to CD. It will run through the computer media player. That way you can easily note the track number and time stamp of any point in the recording for future reference, if needed. The player is operated with this foot controller." He demonstrated how to start, pause, stop, fast forward and reverse with the unit.
Daria watched. "Nice touch."
"I've set the word processor preferences on this computer to save files to the proper directory. Just use the CD title as the document filename."
He showed her a large CD file next to the desk. "I've got about two hundred hours of interviews to be transcribed."
"Looks like job security."
Daria sat at the computer and logged on through her student identity and password. She started the word processor and clicked save. After she picked up the first CD, she typed the title as the filename, and finished the save. She then placed the CD into the player tray and closed it. Seconds later, she was typing away.
Later that Thursday evening, Daria sat on her bed, reading. Daria's high school friend, Jane Lane, sat cross-legged on the floor as she sketched Daria's roommate, Karen, working at her computer. In Daria's hands was one of Mrs. Blaine's diaries, a volume marked '1950'. Daria and Mrs. Blaine had developed a friendship during Daria's high school volunteer reading sessions at the retirement home Mrs. Blaine had lived in. The many volumes had been willed to Daria the previous summer after Mrs. Blaine's passing.
Karen's loud voice filled the room. "You filthy, scum-sucking sack of rancid porcine afterbirth!"
Independence Day was subdued. American soldiers are once again going to war. Less than five years after VJ day, and the world still hasn't learned. I fear for them. Korea. I had to find the place on the globe. Right next to China. I hope they don't get involved too.
Jane's eyes opened wide at the outburst. Daria leaned over. "She's only mildly annoyed at the computer now; wait 'til she really gets ticked off."
Jane looked at the book. "How's that going?"
"Interesting, and kind of eerie. Reading words written at the time, and now hearing others talk from the same time, puts the whole thing in a different light."
"Still can't believe you took a real job without any arm twisting."
"I liked to think making sure I could get an apartment this summer was sufficient arm twisting."
"Only you would twist your own arm."
"Like I'm going to let one of you two do it? You'd have too much fun. Anyway, how's life in the big art college treating you?"
"Glad I learned to sleep with Mystik Spiral practicing, or that damn squeak from the elevator on the other side of the wall would drive me nuts. I'm liking not having to be in school thirty-five hours per week anymore."
"How's your roommate working out?"
"Not too bad. When I actually see her, we mainly just stay out of each other's way. She's an odd one, kind of like some of the art colony residents, if they turned half-psycho."
"She did seem a little high strung."
"I'm thinking about trying to set her up with Max when the band drops by."
Daria looked dubiously at Jane.
Another loud string of language exploded from the far end of the room. Karen described, in graphic language, the computer's interspecies parentage, unorthodox sexual habits, and several bovine internal organs.
Jane stared at Karen. "Wow. I didn't know it was possible to describe...anything in such...colorful terms."
Karen turned and looked a little embarrassed. "Oops. Sorry. It just gets so frustrating at times."
Daria placed the book inside a large trunk and locked it shut. "You're getting a time-out." Daria grabbed her wallet. "Pizza."
Jane flipped her sketchbook closed. "I'm in."
Karen nodded. "You better be buying."
Daria settled into a work schedule of two hours per day. It wasn't a heavy work load and the work was mostly interesting. She got a first-hand experience with the reporting process. Some of the stories were fascinating, others horrifying. On this Wednesday, she'd started a disk marked "Troopship off Inchon, 1st Mar. Div. 14 Sept. 1950".
Half an hour into the recording Daria was startled when she heard what sounded like her father's voice.
"Oh, hi. Sure, I guess I can talk to you. Not like they'd let us corporals know anything important." The following laugh also sounded like her father's.
Daria's hands froze on the keyboard.
Mr. Simon asked, "Well, let's start with your name."
"Corporal Nathan W. Morgendorffer."
"Cpl. Morgendorffer, tell us a little about yourself."
Daria fell back in the chair, face fading to white.
"Well...I...married my sweetheart, Ruth, right out of high school, and was drafted a little over three years ago. Got two sons. Bruce is two years old, Jacob is eight months."
"You don't sound like the typical marine."
"I guess not. But, not everyone needs to act like that, the important thing is to be reliable and work together. I'm the loader on a fifty team. I don't need to be as aggressive, just make sure the ammo keeps feeding."
"How are you feeling about going ashore soon?"
"Scared to death. Don't let them tell you otherwise, most of us are. Except a few of the old timers who'd made through landings like Saipan or Iwo."
"Any messages to send back home?"
"Can I say something to my family?"
"Go ahead, son."
"Ruth, I love you. I promise to take care of myself and get back to you. Bruce, Jacob, I love you. Damn, I hate being not being able to see them I miss all of you."
She continued to listen.
"Daria?" Dr. Miller's voice registered and she jumped. Her foot kicked the stop control.
"Oh, sorry, you startled me."
"Are you doing okay? You look like you've seen a ghost."
Daria looked at the beginning of the transcription, then at Dr. Miller. "I heard one."
Daria and Michael sat at a table in the Raft Student Union, coffee in front of each. Michael watched the continued, far-away look in Daria's eyes with concern. He waved a hand in front of her.
"Earth calling Daria."
Daria blinked. "Sorry."
"Anything you want to talk about?"
Daria started to shake her head, but sighed and gave him a slight smile. "Heard something in one of the recordings today that got to me."
"It must have been something brutal to affect you like this."
"It was my grandfather's voice."
Michael tilted his head. "Was it something he said?"
"I've never heard it before. He died four years before I was born."
"Oh, guess that would feel strange."
"He didn't sound like I expected him to. He sounded like...Dad."
Michael shifted his eyes in confusion. "You were surprised he sounded like your father?"
Daria slid down in her seat an inch. "My father always made him sound like a barking, sadistic bastard. I always imagined it to be a growling voice full of hate. What I heard was a kind of normal guy, who loved his family and wanted to get back to them. He wasn't the gung-ho bloodthirsty maverick I'd heard about. He was scared to go into battle. He wasn't the man who sent my father to military school and told him to stay there during Christmas. The two versions don't add up."
"Something must have happened to him."
Daria nodded. "That must be it. Some of the recordings I've heard are scary; no wonder they were never broadcast at the time. But I also keep thinking about what things would have been like if that man I heard today was the one my father knew. What could have happened to make him the man my father still dreads?"
Just before quitting time the next day, Daria looked around the corner of the door frame to Dr. Miller's office. "Can I ask a couple of favors?"
"You can ask."
"Can I make a copy of my grandfather's interview?"
"I don't see a problem."
"Do you mind if I stay late on my own time? Mr. Simon often tried to do follow-up interviews on his subjects; I'd like to try searching for more on my grandfather."
Dr. Miller thought a moment before shrugging. "Go ahead. I'll let them know in the front office that you'll be in here. Make sure you pull the door closed when you leave, otherwise it won't lock. Good luck."
Daria searched the stored CD's chronologically forward until she found a candidate. It was marked "Hospital ship. 1st Mar. Div. Dec 16, 1950." Daria loaded the CD and began the playback, skipping forward at intervals and stopping to see if she, by chance, could catch the voice again. After going through over an hour of material, she heard a voice that sounded familiar, but changed.
"Filthy Chi-Com bastards wouldn't try that trick again. Just as a warning, I put bayonets on two of their rifles, jabbed 'em through the leader's back and propped him up, facing toward the reservoir."
Daria stopped the recording in shock. It sounded like Jake's ranting, injected with pure hatred. She reversed the playback several times to find the start of the interview.
Mr. Simon narrated. "I'm with another of the young marines I interviewed before the Inchon landings four months ago, Corporal, now Sergeant, Nathan Morgendorffer. Or, as some of the other marines call him, Mad Dog Morgendorffer."
Daria paused the recording and took a drink from the water bottle on the table. She steeled herself and restarted the recording.
"Yeah, I remember you. Whole damn different world out there now. We need every good marine we can get out there, and the stupid pencil-pushers are sending me home."
Daria stopped the playback and stared at the screensaver pattern bouncing across the monitor.
"You look pretty banged up. A lot of guys would be happy to be heading home."
"Well, those prissy little bastards can run if they want. I want to go back, and they won't let me."
"What kind of injuries do you have that prevents your return to duty?"
"That's what pisses me off so much. Four stinkin' rifle slugs through me and they're not a problem. No, I lost half my left foot to damned frostbite. That's what's sending me home."
"Those are some nasty-looking stitches on your neck, what happened there?"
"Ever try to shave with a straight razor when everything in your body was numb? Dammit, almost slashed my throat clean open before I even felt it. Then one of those lame-brained doctors at the aid station tried to get me psychiatric treatment for trying to kill myself. He might be eating solid food by now."
"Oh...yes. Could you tell us about some of your experiences at Inchon?"
"That was by the numbers. Donaldson and me would set up the fifty, provide cover and support fire for the platoon. Once they secured that objective, we'd pack up and move to the next. More fire support, move on. Whole operation went like that for us. Inchon broke the North Korean's backs."
"Care to talk about your more recent experiences?"
"Why not. Maybe someone back home can hear about these cock-ups and hang someone from a meat hook for it. We were pulled back for refit, then the powers-that-be horsed around with this and that before finally putting us back in the field in late November around the Chosin Reservoir. That's where the crap hit the fan. We were ordered to attack up the basin to relieve pressure on troops to the west. Ran smack into the middle of the Chi-Com army coming down for their big offensive. They had us surrounded within a day. Word came down the line we were outnumbered better than ten to one. We didn't have enough decent cold weather gear for a squad, let alone the division. Weather reports said we had temperatures of thirty-five below zero out there. We had to fight our way back out of that god-forsaken trap."
"The First Marines are already being recognized for their courage."
"Yeah, courage to get our asses out of the trap those idiots on high sent us into. We learned to rely on ourselves; nobody was going to save our butts out there. We crawled and scratched our way back to Hungnam. Taking our wounded and dead with us every step of the way."
"I understand that was when you were promoted."
"Field promo. Only corporal left alive in the squad after the Sarge took a bayonet through the lungs. I didn't think modern armies did that much hand-to-hand combat any more. We'd been doing it off and on for a week by then. Donaldson took a load of shrapnel the same time, blinding him. We picked everyone up and kept marching."
"What about this name, Mad Dog, that you picked up?"
"Grrr. My squad started calling me that. Don't ask any of these idiots; they'll only give you one of the bullcrap versions floating around that make me into some kind of one-man marine regiment. We were leaving a small hilltop after covering the platoon withdrawal. Burned out the last barrel on the fifty that night to keep 'em back. Only five of us were still on our feet. I had the rest carry the three wounded while I took point. We had a Chi-Com patrol blocking our escape. I was cold and just plain tired; wanted to get back and get my men taken care of. I cut loose with a Thompson and marched toward 'em. Caught 'em by surprise and the whole squad went down by the end of the mag. Once we got up to them, we found they had a bunch of gear looted from the Seventh Infantry. That stinkin' pissed me off. I dumped a second clip into the bodies, just to make sure they were all dead. Filthy Chi-Com bastards wouldn't try that trick again. Just as a warning, I put bayonets on two of their rifles, jabbed 'em through the leader's back and propped him up, facing toward the reservoir. We made sure we collected all the personal gear they'd looted. Hope Graves Registration can get them where they belong."
"Uh...that was...quite a story."
"That's when the corpsman told me to sit down while he bandaged my leg. First slug I took. That was the story all the way back. Cover, rear-guard, fall back. Bring everyone with us."
"Didn't you get that leg taken care of then?"
"Had the corpsman stitch it up. Didn't have time for anything else."
"What about the rest?"
"Does it really matter? I got popped here and there. Another in the leg, one sliced my boot open. Probably why I got frostbit. Took one in the arm. If you could get patched up and carry a weapon, you stayed on the line. It was all just one frozen stint in hell. I don't remember which was worse, guard duty at night, or trying to sleep at night. We were constantly being hit by infiltrators. Kind of like up close and personal snipers. Sneak in, kill a guard or a sleeper, and creep back out. Or just being cold. Every day, every night. That damn cold."
"A lot of people will probably think you are heroes."
"Big frickin' deal. I'd rather they patch me up and put me back on the line were I'm needed than think wonderful things about me. The Chinese are just rolling right back down the peninsula. Looks like we could lose everything we gained in the last few months. These people have to be stopped, and stopped here. We've lost too many good men. Do it for them."
"What about your family, do you look forward to seeing them?"
"Only damn thing to look forward to in going stateside. I have two sons I can raise right. Make damn good soldiers out of them before they're needed. Make 'em the kind of men to come out to these hellholes and do the work that needs to be done. Raise them to be tough, to do things right. They may not let me keep up the fight. But, I'll do everything I can to make sure my sons can."
"Moving on to the next marine."
Daria sat on her bed, staring at the telephone. She breathed deeply several times to calm her nerves. She quickly punched in her phone card code, and then consulted her address book for a phone number.
Ruth Morgendorffer quietly sat in her small, neat Virginia home. She set down the thin romance novel she was reading and turned on the television. Just as she was watching the local weather forecast, the telephone rang. She reached over to the far side of the table next to her chair and answered. "Hello."
Daria was relieved and shaken to get a pickup. "Hi, Grandma Ruth? It's Daria."
Oh, I know who you are; I was merely surprised to hear from you. Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Grandma. I was wondering. Could I talk to you some about Grandpa?"
"Oh. I suppose so. I'm a little surprised, you've never really asked about him before."
"Well, I've been working for one of the history professors and came upon something. Did you know he was interviewed on the radio by SBC when he was over in Korea?"
"Oh, Daria! That was so long ago, but I still remember it. I remember him saying how much he missed me and the boys. How did you know?"
"I've been transcribing interviews and found it."
"That's wonderful. Would it be possible to get a copy for me?"
"Sure Grandma. But...did you know he was interviewed a second time?"
"That's why I'm calling. Grandpa almost sounded like Dad in the first interview. In the second, he was very different. More like the way Dad describes Grandpa."
Ruth's voice became quieter. "Nathan was changed over there. He didn't come back the man that left."
"I could tell by the interview. Grandma, some of what happened to him was very frightening. Did he ever tell you about anything?"
"No. He refused to talk about it. But I knew bad things happened to him. He always slept with a pistol after that. He'd wake up screaming some nights. He could never shave himself; he always went to the barber."
Daria blanched a little at remembering the interview.
Ruth's voice saddened further. "I wish he'd tried with the psychologists when he came back. They made him go while he was learning to walk on the prosthesis. Maybe it could have helped him. He thought it was all a waste of time and wouldn't budge."
"Maybe." A lifetime of untreated Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; that explains a lot. "I'll be honest; there are some very disturbing things in the interview." Daria paused. "But, I feel I should offer. Do you want to hear a copy?"
Ruth was silent for a while. Finally, she quietly said, "No. It's bad enough that I lost the man that went there. After this long, knowing the details won't help any. That's why I told that one man to go away all those years ago."
"Blind man. I forgot his name. Said Nathan and him were the only two members of their squad to survive the fighting that sent Nathan home. I told him that Nathan was gone, and I didn't want to know about what had happened to the two of them back then."
"Oh. Um, thanks Grandma. I know this probably wasn't easy for you, but I think I understand Grandpa a little more now. I'm sorry if this has upset you."
"Some. It's good you wanted to know about Nathan. I didn't marry a bad man."
"I know, Grandma."
Ruth began to cry. "The real Nathan died out there."
Daria sat in stunned silence for a few moments. She quietly spoke. "Yes."
"I've never...been able to talk to anyone about this. At last, somebody does understand what happened."
"I understand the facts. I won't pretend to understand what you have felt."
"I hope you never do."
"Sometime, I'd like you to tell me about him. Before he went away."
"Daria, I'd love to tell you."
"Are you going to be all right? This has been a lot to surprise you with."
"It'll be a little rough, but I'll make it. You knowing will help."
"Okay, Grandma. Good night."
Daria pressed down the cradle and released. She dialed again.
At the Morgendorffer house, Quinn yelled, "I'll get it." She quickly jogged from the living room to the kitchen to answer the phone. "Hello."
"Daria. So brings you to the phone tonight? No hot date with Michael?"
Daria blushed. "Not tonight. I worked a little late."
"Actually, can you put Dad on?"
"Daria, you can't need money already!"
Jake jumped up in the living room. "What! Do I look like I'm made of money?"
Daria shook her head. "Quinn, tell Dad I'm not broke. But, I want to talk to him."
Quinn placed a hand over the phone. "Dad, Daria wants to talk to you. Says she's not broke. Though she might be pregnant."
"What!" Jake sprinted to the phone. Quinn handed it over with a smirk and quickly headed for her room.
"Daria! How are you holding up? We're here for you, whatever you need."
"Dad? What are you...what did Quinn just tell you?"
"God Daria, we never expected you to get pregnant."
Daria rolled her eyes. I don't need this now. "Dad, Quinn was pulling your leg. I am most certainly not pregnant."
Jake slumped down into one of the kitchen chairs. "What a relief."
"Did you get your birthday present?"
"Oh, yeah!. Thank you. Those letterhead and business card templates for my word processor have been great. Really 'wow' my clients with them. Plus you're saving me a bundle in printing costs."
"Glad you liked them. Um...Dad, can I talk to you some about Grandpa Nathan?"
"What do you want to know about that black-hearted bastard?"
"Did Mom tell you about my new job?"
"Typing for one of your history teachers. Sure."
"Well, it's a bit more than that. I'm working with a bunch of old radio interviews from the Korean War, and...I found two with Grandpa."
"Boasting about how great a soldier he was, I bet."
"Not exactly. Dad, he does talk about some of what happened in one interview, but it...wasn't boasting. The other, he talks about Grandma Ruth, Uncle Bruce and you."
"Probably talking about his plans to make real men out of us."
"Like that's news."
Daria sighed. "Dad, I think you need to hear these."
"Why, so I can hear how I screwed up being born?"
"Dad, no. Grandma and Grandpa didn't talk about this to you much, if at all."
"Oh, he talked about it. Told me it would make a real man out of me. Told me how I had to be tough and ready to fight. I know all about it." As he spoke, Jake's voice rose to a scream.
"Dad, please. This is something they didn't tell you."
"Keeping secrets, that doesn't surprise me."
"Dad, in a way, he was right. Korea made the man you knew. But, I think you need to hear what made him, and the man he was before."
"I don't believe this! You too?"
"No, Dad. Not that. This doesn't make what he did to you right. Not by a long shot. It might help you though."
"By learning what made him. His mind was as much, if not more, of a casualty as his body."
"Dad. What he experienced changed him. Mentally, he needed to be a certain way to survive. Somehow, that mind-set stayed with him."
"Dad, I'm going to send you the recordings. Please hear them. And call me if you need to talk."
"Daria, I trust you. I will."
"Dad, this also made me realize...I haven't...said this lately. I love you."
Jake sat quietly. "I love you. I'll listen."
Jake's hand lightly quivered as he set the CD into the player. He sat on the nearby sofa end and put earphones on. With a quick jab, he hit the play button on the remote and listened. Several times, he stopped and reversed the CD to replay sections of the interviews. His reactions varied from surprise, shock, disbelief, and finally, great sadness.
Quinn came in from work tired and ready for a light dinner. She saw her father sitting in the living room, intently listening. Curious, she went to him and did a double-take when she saw the tear on his cheek.
Jake jumped in surprise. He unplugged the earphones, reversed the CD to a spot he'd already learned, and hit play.
Nathan's voice came from the speakers. "Ruth, I love you. I promise to take care of myself and get back to you. Bruce, Jacob, I love you. Damn, I hate being not being able to see them. I miss all of you."
Jake looked at Quinn. "That's the first time I heard my father say he loved me."
About 12,000 men of the U. S. Marine First Division, Regimental Combat Teams of the U. S. Army Seventh Infantry Division, along with elements of the Republic of Korea and Australian Armies, advanced toward the Chosin (Changjin) Reservoir. On the night of Nov. 27, 1950 the Chinese Ninth Army group, comprised of approximately ten times the troops, surrounded them. For the next two weeks, until Dec 11, 1950, the "Chosin Few" fought what is generally considered the most difficult and arduous combat in U. S. history as they made their way out of the trap.
Thanks to Kristen Bealer, SteveBlumDeckler, Isa Yo-Jo, DJW, Roger E. Moore, Lawndale Stalker, Parker-man, gearhead, Mike Nassour, and Steven Galloway at PPMB for comments and suggestions.
Thanks to Kristen Bealer and Steven Galloway for beta reading.
Revised February 2005