Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Zeppelins Over The Mississippi

Elizabeth’s Story

It had only been a day since my world had changed.

I sat by the window, opening it a little. The cold air of the lounge was refreshing after the stale air of the cabin. It had been slightly more than a day since I’d left Los Angeles.

A lot of peoples’ lives had changed - after all nineteen twenty nine was a year of changes, a year when the world turned upside down for so many. A year when broken souls jumped from city buildings, when money was lost and scattered to the four winds; I was one of the lucky ones, my family had money. 
We came from a little town on the river Hudson in New York State, a place where many influential folks had put down roots. Sure, we all made money in the city but we spent it in the country. We’d been there as a family since 1777. We were the elite, the privately schooled, Harvard educated elite and didn’t we know it.

Papa had felt I was becoming bored at home and had sent me on a trip around the world, primarily, I guessed, to meet a future husband.

I had done as my father had wished and travelled the world but I had done so in a matter of days on the newest mode of transport, an airship, the Graf Zeppelin. I was in Germany by the time Papa had found out, naturally he’d sent someone from the American Embassy to intercept me but to no avail, when I didn’t want to be found I could disappear.

I had flown the Atlantic, over Europe, taken in the vastness of the Siberian wastelands, spent a wonderful time in Japan and then crossed the Pacific Ocean. I was on top of the world in every sense.

I’d first met Samuel in Berlin where he was working for an American bank and was mainly involved in investments.

“Money, my dearest, is what I am all about.”

I can’t remember when he started calling me my dearest but I do 
believe it wasn’t long after we met.

My current thoughts were interrupted by a steward bringing me a welcome cup of coffee. The service aboard the airship was done with all the usual German efficiency and style. I took a moment to look below, there lay the vast plains of America and even at this height I could smell the wheat fields. I would recommend a flight in an airship to anyone. It is both thrilling and breathtaking. If I have to grumble, and it is only a small one, it is the fact that there is a strict no smoking rule. Something to do with the explosive gas we have on board. 

But, as I say, it is only a tiniest of complaints.

After our crossing from New York to Berlin, the airship was taken into the hanger for a complete inspection and repair before we set out to take on the rest of the world. That was when I fell in love with Samuel and him with me. It was an easy place to fall in love, Berlin and Samuel was an easy person to love.

When it was time for me to leave, Samuel and I had already made plans for us to meet up in New York for the holidays. So it was a complete surprise when we landed in Los Angeles that I found there was a telegram awaiting me in my hotel along with a package. The telegram said only ‘Please marry me, love Samuel’ and the package contained a diamond engagement ring sent from a Los Angeles’ jewellers. There was a note with the ring that said ‘don’t give me an answer until we meet in December’.

I had to have another look at the ring. I had tried it on my finger in the privacy of the cabin but I would not wear it publicly until Samuel placed it on my finger, himself. And, yes, of course I was going to say ‘yes’.

There must have been a gust of wind as the steward opened the lounge door from the corridor, because, all of a sudden, the diamond ring, still in its box, blew out of the window and dropped to the earth below.

Joshua and Jennifer’s Story

They had never spent that long away from each other’s company. Josh was nineteen and so was the love of his heart, Jen. They had grown up next to each other, gone to school together and now they both worked in Mister Finnegan’s grocery store. Josh was the floor manager and this meant that he enjoyed talking to folks whereas Jen was the accountant. At least, that’s what Mister Finnegan called her. Mainly, she just counted the money and put it in jute bags. Mister Finnegan was the one to take it to the bank as he trusted no one in this life.

“Don’t take on so, it ain’t personal, it’s just I’ve been burned too many times.”

So he had - and too many times to go into any detail here - but let’s just say that he had just cause for his stubborn attitude.

One warm and balmy September afternoon, Josh’s father’s entered the store. Now Josh knew exactly what that meant, his father had just been released from jail in Montrose County and was looking for money.

“I know what you’re thinking boy and you’d be wrong, I ain’t looking for money and don’t go think I am. I’m just here to say ‘howdee’ and see how you’re doing.”

Josh knew they’d be more to his father’s visit than a ‘hello’ but he was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Now at the same time every day, which happened to be around noon time,Mister Finnegan would take the previous day’s takings to the bank - having slept with the bag under his pillow the night before. 

During these absences, Josh and Jen would take this chance to have some food together and talk about the day’s woes and anything funny that had happened to them.

It was while the two of them were talking about this and that, that Josh’s father took the opportunity to help himself to all the money in the wooden drawer.

“Where’s my Pa?” Asked Josh when him and Jen had finished talking.

Jen shrugged her shoulders, as she hadn’t seen him leave. It was just then that Mister 

Finnegan returned to find out he’d been robbed.

Now he wasn’t blaming Josh or Jen for the theft but they had been on watch when the crime occurred and he had no option but to let the two of them go.

No matter how much Josh pleaded or Jen wept there was no changing Mister Finnegan’s decision.

So Josh did what he always did when he tried to cheer up Jen and took her for a walk by the river, the great and beautiful Mississippi.

“I reckon we should move somewhere my father can’t find us.” Said, Josh.

Jen just smiled and kissed them.

It was then that the miracle happened, right out of the sky as if it had come from Heaven above. It almost hit Josh on the way down and when he picked up the box, he found it contained a diamond engagement ring.

He took this as a sign from the Almighty and got down on one knee and asked Jen to marry him, right there and then.

Without hesitation, she said yes. 
bobby stevenson 2012

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