10/7/14

May, 3rd, 1935, Cuxhaven, Germany, Aboard the RMS Sixsmith

Dear Hildebrand,

Today we set sail on the RMS Sixsmith bound for Whitby. There, it is my understanding, that we will take on freight and passengers before setting a course across the Atlantic.

Hadn’t an opportunity to meet the others bunking with me. Fell quickly to sleep–you know how travel exhausts me. The cabin smellt strangely of some sweet floral perfume, that stuffed my sinuses right up. Dreamed of nothing at all and didn’t wake until the flushing of the toilet alerted me to fact others were in my room.

I sat up to find I had been bunked with three women–by some strange mistake or no. In their teens they looked and not one of them pleased to see a man waking up on this top bunk. I apologized and asked if they might leave so I could get dressed. A futile attempt, I had fallen asleep with most my clothes on.

“You already have clothes on, mister,” said the girl with a rather pink nose, turned up like a pig.

I told her she was quite right in a tone that could have turned the words to ice, I expect. Slipped from my covers and felt my stomach give a growl of hunger–that pitted feeling. The girls must have heard it as well.

“You’d better hurry if you want to catch breakfast at the diner,” said another of the girls.

“Yes, of course,” I said, checking my watch. Nearly ten o’clock. “What time do we set sail?” I asked.

They gave me a look as though I was a beggar, which then struck me wasn’t far from the truth.

I introduced myself as Samuel Honeysett. Instead of taking my hand they waved in turns. I knew not why they’d be so shy and reserved. We had Ava the pig nosed, Bethany the redhead, and Juniper the tall–and I mean tall, Hildebrand, perhaps taller than you. I was shocked. Said they had been vacationing in Germany, visiting Ava’s grandparents from England.

I bade them farewell and left the perfumed room far behind looking for a porter that might explain why I’d been roomed with three young women, quite against regulations I would guess and social norms, I would know. Couldn’t find a porter. Little surprise there, I was sure once the issue was resolved I’d be able to find nothing but. Typical, Hildebrand, I’ve never been able to find what I’m looking for, always stumbling upon something I’m not. Some might say it is a blessing and I suppose it is for without it I’d not have met you.

As I had no money left after paying for my ticket I didn’t make my way to the dinner, but instead to the deck to look out on the day. It was quite sunny with low hanging puff ball clouds. I felt almost as if I could reach out and nab one of them, maybe eat one, though I don’t think that would have fixed that knot in my stomach.

 

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10/6/14

1943, New York

 

Dear Hildebrand,

 

No idea if my letters are reaching you anymore. I do hope you’re alright, I haven’t heard a response for so long.

I went to the movies the other day. Right bloody muggy. No place to escape the heat, I thought I might die of heat stroke. Slipped into a shabby theatre in order to escape it–the heat. Paid my fare and stepped in as the lights were just dimming. Hardly enough else in the place, and the screen itself looked to have a small tear in the upper right hand corner. The seat I took was springing and creaked whenever I moved. The images flickered on. The narration was slightly behind but the images were not diminished in any way.

The enemy forces are on the run. After Landing in Italy the fighting was fierce and the enemy gave little ground [grainy images of soldiers firing from behind trees, behind rocks, behind anything they can take cover behind]. But after weeks of brutal conflict the allies gained the upper hand [A man pulls the pin of a grenade and lobs it over head into a fox hole. There is an explosion of dirt and the charges forward]. In this way did our brave American son’s capture Palermo Sicily.

Meanwhile in Europe, bombing raids continue to be the popular strategy. [A payload drops over a city. One I might have walked not so long ago]. The enemy city of Hamburg has been swept by firestorm after due to extreme heat and the constant assault by the allied forces.

Machine gunners fight off Nazi planes while the bombers make their escape. [A machine gun swivels and blasts off a series of rounds. And again].

I could not watch anymore, Hildebrand. It is too sad that humans must do this to one another, just as it is too sad that I have been kicked out of all the society I truly admired.

That is what I’m writing about to you, Hildebrand. Not the war on German soil, but the one within my heart.

Three days ago it was that I arrived at Merlin’s studio as to work on the manuscript I told you about. It was a sunny day, as most have been even into early october, even with uncharacteristic heat.

My shirt stuck to my back as I swung open the doors and climbed the steps to where I hoped to find Merlin sitting in his chair, typing away on his manuscript as well. But as I approached the door I heard not clack of typewriter nor scratch of pen. Just my own sorry footsteps and breathing, the heart within my chest–oh, Hildebrand, it has taken on a coldness there that I scarce thought possible. Going into the studio I found my small station as I had left it the previous night. My typewriter was untouched and so it looked as though Merlin’s was as well. Thinking it strange that he would not be here, but consoling myself with the fact that he had probably stepped out for a drink or a drink–it was nearly lunch–I sat about organizing my thoughts. Jotted down the main plot points I would cover in the scenes I was to write this day.

 

10/4/14

September 30th, 1938, New York City

Dear Hildebrand,

At long last I have landed a job and will not longer be living off the good graces of Ana’s family. Makes me delighted to pull my own weight but I have enjoyed the vacation. If I hadn’t have had it I’d never have met Merlin and he’d never have introduced me to the writings I now make my living from.

I went to central park as I usually do. The colors in late September–Hildebrand, I’m sure you’ve seen nothing like it. Not even the Rhine boasts such colors when the seasons change as New York and England sees a country of black and white in comparison. It’s as if the trees were set alight, but they won’t burn you. Went there everyday just to breathe the crisp scent of decay. So many people visit central park, unfortunately, that all the leaves that touch the ground are turned black by footsteps.

I finally know how Frost felt when finding not one, but two paths with not a blackened leave. I’d not know which to take either, Hildebrand. I suppose I’ve already made that decision.

I went to my favorite bridge. I looks out onto a large pond where some people will paddles little diggys about. The water seems to absorb nothing dull lighting when overcast. It makes the colors of the trees that much more extravagant.

Early that week I’d stumbled upon a curious book at the local shop. Inside cover reads published by John Lane, The Bodley Head, in England of this year. How the book came to be in The Blank Page. A charming little shop, quite as nice as anything we have in England, and twice as musty, which adds to its charm. Merlin enjoys spending all day there squeezing himself into the cracks and corners to find the most forgotten volumes. When he does this the owner watches with interest and a kind of bemused smiled. A black man works there from time to time also, most brilliantly read man I’ve ever met. First time I spoke with him he said he enjoyed Plato’s Republic. I told him it was a fine elementary read in the way of philosophy, but held little of interest in our current day and age. Told me if we couldn’t learn from men like Plato who could we learn from?

I’m afraid he has a point.

Asked him what he was reading now. Handed me the book in question. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis. I’d told him I’d never heard of the man. The negro seems surprised. Said a rising star in literature, was Mr. Lewis. Englishman, like myself. I asked the negro what the book was about. Said it was about a man who travels into space. I say, Hildebrand, there is not a race more fanciful than the english. It is rather embarrassing.

Oh, dear. Ana is calling me to dinner. Do take care of yourself and keep your head down. I’ll pick this line up soon, just don’t be angry if there’s not resolution in this letter. I feel as though I can’t write more than a sentence without digressing.

You’re friend, Samuel Honeysett.