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Copyright © 2021 by Bill Walker

DeLarge Books Edition 2021

ISBN-13: 978-1-7358796-2-8 (Trade Paperback)

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author, or his agent, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a critical article or review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper, or electronically transmitted on radio or television.

This is a work of fiction.

Cover Design: Damonza Studios

Typesetting and Design: Bill Walker Designs

Printed in the United States of America

To my late friend, Sean Barry Weske,

whose marvelous tale fired my imagination...

“Bill Walker is a consummate storyteller. Always inventive and always entertaining. You will have a great time with anything he writes.”

—Richard Chizmar

Bestselling author of Gwendy’s Magic Feather

“Walker is a hell of a writer!”

—Harlan Ellison


THE SON: 1951

Chapter 1


Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

THE SON: 1984

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15


Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

THE SON: 1984

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

THE SON: 1989

Chapter 34

THE SON: 1951

Chapter One

The boy stared at his father’s effects, his eyes wide with fascination, his nose wrinkling at the pungent odor of naphtha. He’d been told a hundred times to stay out of the attic, could hear his mother’s admonishments that it “...was not the proper place for a boy to play....” But her stern words could not overcome the boy’s innate curiosity.

And now the dusty old steamer trunk lay open, its sand-colored exterior battle-scarred and dented, the stenciled name barely visible on its lid:



He knew the contents of the trunk by heart: On top lay the khaki blouse of his father’s uniform, the single crown on each epaulet denoting his rank. It was devoid of any other markings. Below the blouse lay the pants, leggings, and boots. At the bottom of the trunk sat his “Tommy” helmet, leather “Sam Brown belt,” and a small automatic pistol, its blue-black finish gleaming dully. Instinctively, the boy reached for it and held it in his small hand, marveling at its weight. Looking closer, he spied the name, Carl Walther, etched into the barrel slide.

Curling his hand around the gun’s Bakelite grip, he aimed it toward the rough-hewn beams overhead and squeezed the trigger. It stuck. A sudden chill slid up his spine then, as if the temperature had plunged, and he quickly replaced the pistol next to a shiny German Pilot/Observer’s badge.

He turned his attention to a beloved relic, a leather-covered box with “Military Cross” stamped in gold on the lid.

Smiling, the boy reached for the medal, swung open the lid and stared in awe at the silver cross with its four crowns at each tip, the royal cipher—GR—in the center. The ribbon felt silky smooth under his ten-year-old fingers, its alternating stripes of white/mauve/white, the one splash of color.

The boy replaced the medal with a reverence that belied his years and reached for the helmet and the Sam Brown belt. He put them on, as he’d done countless times before, then stood. He turned to a tailor’s dummy enshrouded in a lacy wedding gown, the fabric yellowed with age.

The sun came out from behind a cloud, shooting shafts of golden afternoon light through the one oval window, making the dusty room glow like Aladdin’s cave.

Snapping his heels together, the boy brought his hand up in a salute, his palm facing outwards, his hand bouncing slightly as it hovered over his brow. He stared at the dummy. “Lieutenant Michael Thorley, Jr., reporting as ordered, SIR!”

The dummy remained silent.

The boy dropped the salute sharply to his side and nodded. “Very good, sir, at once.”

Hefting an imaginary rifle, he began to march around the attic, executing a Manual of Arms. He threaded his way through boxes of old books and newspapers with headlines that screamed: “MONTY TROUNCES THE DESERT FOX!” and “HITLER IS KAPUT!” He marched past a crate filled with his old toys, ignoring his once treasured clown doll, watching him now with its one remaining eye. The boy did an about turn and pretended to thrust a bayonet at an ancient Victrola, its brass horn now dulled and flecked with spots of corrosion.

“Die, Nazi bastard!”

Suddenly somber, he returned to the trunk and replaced the belt and the helmet exactly as he found them, and then lifted out an old photograph, browned and ragged at the edges. It showed a young man seated in the passenger side of a Jeep, his eyes staring out past the camera, his expression one of sadness.

“What happened, Dad?” the boy whispered, his index finger tracing the shape of the face in the photograph. “What bloody happened?”

Sighing, the boy returned the photo to its rightful place and reached for the trunk’s lid. It was time to go; his mother would be returning from her daily shopping any moment, and he wanted to be safely downstairs engrossed in his homework.

It was then that he noticed the slight bulge in the gaily colored paper lining the lid. Was something under there, or was it just a fault in the glue allowing the paper to bubble up in one spot?

Now more curious than ever, the boy reached forward, his slender fingers only inches away from the tell-tale bulge.

A door slammed downstairs.

“Michael? Where are you, dear?”

He slapped the lid closed, snapped the clasps, and heaved it off the floor with a grunt, his muscles straining.

“Michael?” his mother called out, closer now. “Are you up in the attic? You know how I feel about that. I’d better not find you into your father’s

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