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       How He Comes Out of the Sun (A Digital Short Story), p.1

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How He Comes Out of the Sun (A Digital Short Story)

  How He Comes Out of the Sun

  by Carlyle Clark

  How He Comes Out of the Sun

  By Carlyle Clark

  Copyright 2012- Carlyle Clark

  All rights reserved.

  Cover Art by Najla Qamber of Qamber Designs

  Thank you for downloading this free ebook.

  You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete original form, including the sample, all the links, and proper credit to the author and cover artist.

  Thank you for respecting the hard work of the author and the cover artist.

  © Carlyle Clark 2012.

  Table of Contents

  How He Comes Out of the Sun

  The Black Song Inside

  Chapter 1

  How He Comes Out of the Sun

  By Carlyle Clark

  OF COURSE IT happens on the last mission when our B-17 is pocked with so many holes it makes an afghan seem airtight, but still flying, still air-friggin'-worthy, mister, with a pair of propellers thropping through the blue, black smoke coughing from one of two remaining engines holding aloft a crew of bone tired boy-men with Laughing Jack at the helm, and dumb ass Sweet Potato stuck in the belly turret.

  It was either that damn Kraut ack ack, screaming up from the ground guns, bursting around us in murder blossoms of smoke and shrapnel, or the machine gun fire from the sack-tightening fighters, sleek Messerschmitts and plug-ugly Focke Wulfs. They had swarmed us, their guns chattering, bullets punching through the hull of our so-called flying fortress like the fangs of a wolf pack chomping through the hide of a winter-weakened moose. And that's what we feel like up there, a tired, clumsy moose, a snarling pack all around, and us with only four guns to spit into the madness. Now in the belly turret Sweet Potato is, for the first time any of us has ever heard, swearing. Not just cussing in general either, cursing me, and my mother and my father, and my sisters and everyone who has a drop of Hopewell blood. A man says the things about your womenfolk that he's saying about mine, you got to kill him. Period.

  But he ain't got nothing to worry about from me. He's already dead. Besides, God Almighty I love the hell out of him. We all do, runty Sweet Potato and his mine-shaft black skin, his half-starved alley cat frame, that forehead of his so big we say it's gotta be a fivehead or maybe even a sixhead, that sweet potato lump of a nose, and those wide naive eyes. You'd never believe a boy with eyes as sweet as his could shoot at human beings, or even Krauts. But he's the best I've ever seen, zinging tracer rounds out there, jack hammering death into Kraut fighters. And—hell with the rules!—fertilizing Krautflowers, which is what we call peppering parachuting German pilots with .50 caliber rounds the size of man’s thumb, sending them to Valhalla.

  Like I said Sweet Potato is cussing me fierce on account of I just told him he's dead. Who can blame a man for cursing you for that? Especially when right now he's perfectly fine. Problem is we can't get his narrow ass out of the belly turret for all the bats in Bombay. Which wouldn’t be a big deal, ‘cept Laughing Jack dropped the whammy. Since he ain't much for talking, like always, I'm the one that's got to be the mouth for the Nobodies—even if it's to a Nobody. That's what we call ourselves, Nobodies.

  We don't officially exist, won't be in any of the records, aren't even really in the military. Even our plane, which we dubbed The Great White Hope to really stick it to 'em, was listed as lost at sea under another name. Niggers aren't allowed to crew bombers, barely allowed to fly. No such thing as a bomber crewed by Negroes. Wish they would've mentioned that to the goddamn Krauts. Shit. Anyway, how it works for the Nobodies is that Laughing Jack is our soul. I'm our brain. And Sweet Potato is our heart. And now we're losing him.

  Sweet Potato's cursing me in particular because I'm the one who told him the reason he's stuck is that we lost the hydraulics that control the belly turret. Laughing Jack's whammy is that the hydraulics also power the landing gear, or rather they did. Not anymore. This means a belly landing. This means Sweet Potato smeared down a quarter mile of runaway. They'll have to clean him off the landing strip with a goddamn fire hose. Except they won't because we'll be using an abandoned airstrip. Won't be a soul there but the same peckerwood white boy sergeant with a truck that doesn't exist, red-faced and sweaty mad because he has to yet again go into the desert to pick up Negroes that don't exist.

  "You got the shit end of the stick, Sweets," I say, trying not to cry. "So I ain't holding what you're saying against you none."

  "I don’t give a damn what you do with it, Hopewell," he shouts. "At least you'll be alive doing it. What about Verna? She ain't gonna have no one now. Other men don't see what I do in her. They'll hurt her."

  And they would, whole world would, and something awful fierce. I shut up. You can't say nothing to the ugly truths. We've all seen the picture of Verna that Sweet Potato totes around. None of us has ever seen an uglier woman. She looks like a narrow sack of hog fat in a dress, with a big pumpkin head complete with a jack 'o lantern scary face. The only thing she has going for her is a pair of angel eyes as beautifully naïve as Sweet Potato's. The sort of girl you oughta marry—but never would—because you could tell that inside she is too beautiful for this world, that each time you make love to her it would be a baptism where, without even knowing, she blesses and forgives every ugly thing in your heart. Oh God, how we love those two kids.

  I clomp back to the cockpit while the rest of the Nobodies strap on parachutes, pretending they can’t see me, don't know what I said to Sweet Potato, don't have anything to do with it.  Belly landings are so safe it's not even recommended that you bail out and we had Laughing friggin' Jack flying. He's belly-landed, water-landed, crash-landed, damn near every kind of landed and walked away from every one. But Laughing Jack has given the order; everyone jumps.

  We're all telling ourselves that it's because Jack feels a bit of a wobble in the fuselage, or a weird waggling in of one of the wings, and just to be on the safe side—as if Jack has ever known where the hell that is—he was having us bail out. But we knew the truth of it.

  Us lucky Nobodies would leap into the blue, pull the cord, and turn ourselves into Negroflowers, until we all thump into the desert sands. Then Laughing Jack would switch The Great White Hope to auto-pilot, slide out of the captain's chair and, amidst the shrieking wind and creaking tresses, take a short lonely walk—carefully quiet to keep Sweet Potato from hearing him approach—and put a thumbuster .45 caliber slug into that boy's brain. Better than letting the poor kid sit there helpless, watching his own death rise up to meet him. And hell, I'll say it, better it be on Laughing Jack than me. He can take it. Take anything and hide it behind those sad circus eyes.

  Before I jump, I feel like I got to say something to Jack. I'm the brain and that means I'm the mouth. I'm supposed to say smart stuff, hit the guys with the snappy patter, make everyone feel all right. But I can't. A mouth that can't talk. A soul that can't save. And a trapped heart that gonna break into a million, billion pieces. You never want it to end ugly, but too often it does, flopping around like a broke-leg horse. Jesus.

  "Jack," I say, squeezing his shoulder, "you're doing the best that can be done with it. Even you can't always come up aces."

  He looks at me, eyes more circusy then ever. "I cain't, huh? Tell that to them what's back there waiting for a miracle. Tell it to Verna."

  Nobodies' Mouth ain't got shit to say to that.

  Laughing Jack nods. "This thing's over for us. Our sides gonna win the war. Take a few years, but we'll
win. Then it's back to America and being all nigger all the time. You ready for that?"

  "I know I'm ready to not have to worry about getting my balls shot off, or our plane blown up, or shot down, or any of the million friggin' ways to die in this war."

  "Ain't asked that."

  "All right, Jack. I don't fucking like how it's gonna be, but you know me. Go along to get along. Things are better than they were and they'll be better in the future. Until then I can take, it."

  He turns away, looks straight out at the horizon. "Yeah, I believe you can, Hopewell. Sweet Potato could’ve too. This fucking world."

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