The war was rough on young Josh Simmons, but it was finally over. He had just returned to the United States and was headed back home to his wife and newborn son. Then things took a sudden turn for the worse as his rental car runs out of gas leaving him stranded in the middle of nowhere forcing him to hike to the nearest lodging, a small B&B run by a husband and wife, who seem to be in the middle of an arguement. While suffering from short blackouts, and intense flashbacks, as result of some mino
Sergeant Josh Simmons was finally back; stateside after his last and longest tour in the jungles of Japan. The war was hard on everyone, but it was coming to an end and Josh was headed home to his wife and one year old daughter in Iowa. Not being the type for long bus rides full of people, he ordered a car from a rather shoddy looking rental store then strolled out into the parking lot and climbed into a new 1945 Buick. He intended on staying the night in a small motel once he made it half way home because he wouldn’t arrive until tomorrow anyways. He made a quick stop at a gas station for some gas and got directions to the interstate.
As the radio began to play “Till the End of Time” by Perry Como for what seemed like the twelfth time in the last four hours Josh switched off the radio and kept driving. The last sign he’d seen for Toledo, Ohio, his desired stopping point, said there were 200 miles between him and a good night’s sleep. His stomach growled at him harshly and he pulled off for a quick bite to eat in a small town. It was a one-way street all the way through town and there was only one restaurant. It was a small building with bright pink walls and neon sign, written in cursive that simply read, “Lisa’s Café”. He smiled thinking about his wife, Lisa, who was probably sitting at home anxiously waiting for her heroic husband to return, then went inside and eased himself onto a barstool that was as pink as Pepto-Bismol .
The waitress, a tall woman with curly dark red hair, pink apron, and a clean white uniform, walked over and slid a menu in front of him, “What can I gettcha’ stranger?”
“I think I’ll have a cheeseburger and some apple pie, please.” Josh said. He folded the menu and handed it back to her. The food came out and he shoveled it down before it was even cold. The waitress came back out and smiled at the sight of the empty plate. Josh pulled out his wallet, “I noticed that it was a one-way street all the way through town. How do I get back to the highway?”
“Well the only way to do that is to follow the road out of town until you come to the first gravel road, it’ll be on your right. Then at the end of that road you’ll take another right and you’ll come out in another small town that’ll take you to the highway. It’s about 30 miles total, but it’s the only way.” She replied and took his plate back into the kitchen. Josh sighed and got back in the car. It was starting to get dark outside.
The gravel road was easy to find, but the cars suspension wasn’t very good. At every bump the Buick felt like it was going to shake apart and Josh was beginning to question his choice in dealers when His suspicions were confirmed. A pot hole snuck it’s self under one of his tires, giving his car a large jolt. The sound of bouncing metal rang out in the engine compartment and the Buick came to a sudden stop. He cursed and climbed out. The sun had just dipped below the horizon and there wasn’t enough light for him to see the problem. He kicked the car angrily and turned around leaning on the hood. He paced a little ways down the road thinking of what to do when a sign caught his eye. As he got closer the small black lettering stood out clearer on the green wooden sign, “Paul and Julia’s B&B” then directly under it smaller letters said, “2 Miles Ahead.” Sighing silently to himself, Josh went to the car and grabbed his bag out of the trunk then started walking.
It was completely dark out and the crickets were chirping loudly when he came up on the small house pushed back a little ways in the trees. A sign similar to the one he’d seen earlier stood outside in the lawn, “Paul and Julia’s B&B”. The lights were still on in the windows and he could see two people downstairs. The man was waving his hands over his head, his mouth wide open like he was yelling. The woman was in a similar position, but her face was shining from tears streaming down her face. Josh contemplated whether he should turn back now or not, but he was already tired and the ache in his legs brought back memories of only a few weeks ago….
… Josh was alone, surrounded by nothing but trees and flying metal. He’d been cut off from the rest of his platoon and had stumbled straight into an enemy camp. They spotted him almost instantly and he spun around leaving nothing but his boot tracks in the mud and a group of angry Jap’s chasing after him. He led them on a mile long journey before he rolled his ankle on a wet tree root and fell to the ground in pain. He stood up and hobbled behind a bush before collapsing again and then shots rang out all around him.
“Over here!” someone shouted in English. Josh straightened up to look for its source and was tackled to the ground again, “Simmons, stay down!” his attacker shouted then let loose a spray of bullets. The rain picked up and he felt himself being sucked into the mud, but he stayed where he was until the fight was over. The pain in his ankle was intense, but the look on the platoon leader’s face was worse as he stood over a limp body. The dead man’s face was covered in blood and the light had faded from his blue eyes. Their medic had been shot…
… Josh made up his mind and knocked on the door. The man in the window spun around and rubbed his forehead, “Do you think I wanted this, Julia?” He shouted, His voice growing louder as he neared the door, “I’m sorry!” The door flew open and Josh snapped to attention. His drowsiness was bringing back some of his army habits.
“I’m sorry to bother you so late sir. My car broke down about two miles from here and I saw your sign. I was hoping that maybe I could stay the night and call for a ride in the morning.” Josh started nervously. The man sighed and waved him in.
The woman walked in from the other room. Her eyes were puffy and her cheeks were red from wiping away the tears. Josh’s stomach tightened into a knot. Her long blond hair clung to her damp face and she was staring daggers at the back of the man’s head as she spoke, “I’ll…” She choked and cleared her throat, “I’ll go set up the room.”
“I’m sorry,” Josh exclaimed, “If this is a bad time I can…”
“No, it’s alright. Me and my wife were having a…,” the man paused as though he couldn’t think of the right word, “discussion. We’re always open with a room ready for free, just in case someone needs it.” His wife left and went upstairs.
“Thank you, sir. I was on my way home to my wife and the engine just gave out.” The man closed the door a little harder than necessary and the sound of it slamming against the frame stirred up more memories…
… Josh stood over the lifeless medic; Josh’s best friend was dead. He slowly reached down to close the young man’s eyes and was thrown sideways by an explosion that set his ears ringing…
… “Son?” The man started, “Are you ok son?”…
… Josh started to crawl away from where he’d landed. Someone in the distance shouted his voice was barely audible over the ringing in Josh’s ears, “Mortar fire! Get down!” Josh kept crawling and pooped out of a bush at the feet of one of the enemies….
“You must be tired, “The man started again, “Let’s get you to bed… um… what’s your name son?”
Josh was too focused on the man’s face to answer, “He looks just like one of the Jap’s!” Josh thought, taking an angry step towards him, “He killed my friend!” The man placed his hand on Josh’s arm and Josh blinked wildly snapping out of his daze. ”What am I thinking? He looks nothing like them. I must be more tired than I thought...” his thoughts trailed off and Josh answered the man, “Sergeant Josh Simmons, sir. You must be Paul? I saw it on the sign.”
“That’d be me!” Paul exclaimed, “Now let me show you to your room.” Josh was led upstairs to a small, cozy room with light blue walls and a soft bed. Paul said goodnight and closed the door leaving Josh alone with his thoughts. He wasn’t alone long enough to fall asleep unfortunately. There was a knock on the door and the man’s wife, Julia, came in with a warm drink, still wearing the same sad look she’d had on earlier. Her red eyes stared straight into his reminding him of the poor women and children he’d seen in some of the villages in Japan and he remembered some of the cruel unmentionable things that he’d seen taking place.
Josh’s mind slipped and suddenly he was waking up on the floor with a strong urge to pee. He rose up slowly off the ground, but stumbled and tripped over his bags. Sighing he decided to toss them in the closet so it wouldn’t happen again. The floor under the door felt wet, but Josh assumed it was a side effect of fatigue and pulled the closet open. His jaw dropped almost as fast as his bags. Julia hung from and exposed beam in the ceiling of the closet her body swaying slowly back and forth. The rope had cut small gashes into her skin and blood was slowly trickling from them and down her body, leaving a dark red puddle on the floor.
Josh bolted from the room to looking for Paul, not quite sure how he was going to tell him that his wife was dead.