The Bomber Jacket
I've been asked about my short story, The Bomber Jacket. It was published in the book Beach Life (see below). For your enjoyment, I've posted it here as well...
The Bomber Jacket Brown leather, cracked with age, yet still supple after all these years, first worn by a man of the greatest generation in war, later acquired by a young boy to appease a passing style, and now hanging here in a consignment shop on Second Avenue. The embroidered patches spoke its heritage: 827th Bomber Squad on the back, the Flying A on one shoulder and Old Glory on the other. But setting this one jacket apart from any other, a red Maryland Terrapin pin. The ornament took my breath away. That pin, I put on this jacket many years ago. Holding the jacket to my face I smelled the salt and smoke of that night at Dewey. He was so young, or so it seems now when everything becomes younger as I get older. Dark green eyes, black hair and a swagger that made him seem taller than he was. He wore this bomber jacket over a white tee prideful in the latest fad more than to stay warm in the cool weather of spring break at the beach. His swagger put me off, but his charm won me over that spring. So cool, so confident, he drew me in. Walking with him made the delights of the Boardwalk more delightful. Dolle’s popcorn was heaven’s manna; a burger from Gus and Gus, fine mignon; the odd flavors of The Ice Cream Store became culinary exploration. His irresistible laugh made me love him. It was deep, exposing no care in the world. “What do you want to do in life?” I asked. “Everything,” he answered. I was sure he would. How I remember the unlimited possibilities, the adrenaline rush of what might be possible when the world is still new to you. If I could recapture that gold nugget possessed by youth. We sat by a bonfire on Dewey’s beach in the dark evening as the short break neared its end. The stars over the ocean were magic. Despite the warmth of the fire, I shivered. He took off his prized jacket and placed it over my shoulders. I could not have gotten a more personal token from anyone. We swore we would stay in touch. No texting back in those days. Just a postcard sent and received now and then. Like all spring romances for the young, forever does not live long. He, like me, must have continued with real life. I never knew. I married, raised kids, divorced, on my own. From time to time, I would recall that spring break. What drew me into this shop, I do not know. I never go to consignment shops. Yet here I am, holding this vestige of the past. It was his bomber jacket. There was no doubt about it. It was that night at the bonfire I put the pin on his jacket. Something from my school to remind him of me. He said he would keep it there always. It appears he did just that. I must have held the jacket in my hands for the longest time. A sales girl asked me if she could help me. I asked her why this jacket was here. “Estate sale,” was the simple answer that spoke volumes. Forever does not live long.
Read other fine short stories in Beach Life - Rehoboth Beach Reads