it's the waiting
|(Word Count 281)
Charlie sat on the edge of his bunk wearing nothing but an issue undershirt and a pair of boxer shorts. His uniform was folded beside him. A neat stack consisting of trouser, shirt, socks, tie, belt, shoes, and finally his service cap. There were no hanging lockers in the Pacific Theater. Through the window he could see that dawn was still hours away. Still, an Airman could be here any minute to take him to the airfield. If the mission came, then he needed to be ready.
Back in Utah, he'd run this drill a hundred times. Every combination of weight and wind had been practiced. They ran high and fast, low and slow, and argued the benefits of a level drop or an arching dive. Regardless of the approach, post-drop was always the same: Everything trimmed for speed and distance...don't look back. His crew was ready. Not one of them would flinch or fail.
Three nights ago, on the tarmac, Paul had waved at him through the cockpit window with a broad smile on his face. Paul and his crew got the first call. They would take it straight to them. Charlie rankled a little. No flight crew likes to watch another plane take the mission they're trained for. Hours later Charlie saw him again as the Enola Gay crew passed on their way to debriefing. As Paul pushed through the crowd, he wasn't smiling.
Two hard knocks rang against his door. Major Charles Sweeney stared long into the mirror as he squared his cap and then pulled it a quarter low to show he meant business. "All right, Charlie," he said to his reflection. "Bockscar has her mission."