TWAS BRILLIG: Larches Goddons

II. LARCHES GODDONS

Thirty-two hundred tons of quarried Cornish granite formed the 200 foot tall Tumtum tree that Larches Goddons called home. Like a metronome’s weighted blade, he patrolled the widow’s walk outside the lantern room of the Bellwether Bight lighthouse. A patchwork of tulgey fog and clouds lingered another 500 feet above his lofty perch. With large binoculars at the ready, Larches scanned deep into the slithy toves up and down the coast. His two glass eyes peered outward in search of the singular bulbous glass eye of a furtive unterwasser monster.

Far above he heard the lone Nazi photo recon bomber passing overhead. The black hearted devil. The HE-111 bomber followed the exact same pheromone route as yesterday. Soul-less. Efficient. Timely. Just like clockwork. He heard the distinctive, sickening jub-jub-jub of both Daimler-Benz V12 engines. They droned on. Jub-jub- jub-jub-jub. Every Britisher knew the warning all too well. “Beware the Jubjub bird.”

And then the sound of long far away whistles permeated the air. He had heard the sound too many times in the last month. It was getting closer. Much closer. A hard rain. A hard brass rain. Larches leaned back against the warm glass of the lantern room. Hundreds of spent .303 machine gun shells fell onto the top of the metal cupola. Sharp impacts rattled the roof with reverberating hollow pings.

Then silence. Maybe they got something. He scanned the clouds above with his naked eye and spied a cascading trail of shimmering flakes. And then, a dark mass hurtling to earth. Not at all what he expected. A body fell from the sky head first as if in slow motion. Emotions flooded over him. Dread. Shock. Wonder. Surprise. With some wild arm maneuvering, the man turned his body upright. Larches saw the dread, shock, wonder and surprise in the young man’s blue eyes. The man landed feet first with a splash, smaller than Larches would have thought. The wabes snatched the sound of the thud as the falling flesh hit the water at 122 miles per hour. Uncertainty turned to jubilation turned to revulsion at having seen the exact moment of an enemy airman’s death.

A persistent streak of black lit across the sky like a charcoal smudge on fine linen paper. An interloping Nazi bird was falling from the sky. Odd bits of this and that fell away from the stricken aircraft as the crew threw anything overboard to lighten the load. The bomber streamed away into the early morning haze of the distant marine fog layer. A parachute poofed open but then withered unattached, as it was, to anything. The engines jubbed, puffed and chugged black, oil burning smoke. The bomber lost its grasp on the air and sent up a large impact geyser in the Channel. Larches scanned the wave tops with his binoculars. As the thin T-shaped tail section slipped under the surface, a burst of yellow appeared as a large life raft inflated. Blast. Survivors. He couldn’t believe it. The mome raths outgrabe. They were stuck in the perishing cold of the Channel. No Man’s Sea. Welcome to Ole Blighty’s Moat.

Inside below the light room, Larches poured himself a large snifter of “war emergency” rum. By God that smells good. They were Jerries after all. By God that tastes good. Why shouldn’t he let them slip into the chilling embrace of a fatal Channel swim? By God that warms the bones. He lowered his glass with a shaky hand. For a moment, all mimsy were the borogoves. He steadied himself, and so rested he. He glanced back out toward the Channel, but what he sought wasn’t out there. By God indeed. And still, the black hearted devils. As he stared out to sea through the salt stained window, he stood in uffish thought.

Larches looked at the black bakelite telephone with two preset calling buttons, one red and one black. Under the red button were the handwritten letters: “Dover ASR.” Under the black button were typed the words: “RAF Hawkinge.” Taking a long look out to sea, he held the bulbous handset to his to gray face, and pressed the button.

 

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