Characters: The Simstern Union man
Rating: PG for subject matter
Summary: The thoughts of the man who delivers the worst possible news.
Notes: This is canon, though this character won’t feature per sea. Can be considered a spoiler, but as names are not mentioned it shouldn’t be too bad.
Word Count: 792
He hated his job.
He knew from the moment that he heard about the bombing of Plumbbob Harbor that he wouldn’t be rushing off to war like all his friends would. When he was eleven, he was stricken with polio, and while he’d been lucky in that he kept the use of his legs, his right arm hung useless at his side. Still, he’d wanted to help in the war effort, feeling the need to do something to help his buddies overseas. Obviously working in a shipyard or at a munitions factory was out of the question. After lots of careful research, he found employment at the Simstern Union office delivering telegrams. At first, there were many messages home about safe arrivals in SimEurope or the Simcific. Then, things took a sudden and sharp turn.
The War Department began sending telegrams to notify families of the wounding or deaths of their soldiers. He thought it was terribly impersonal, but with the volume of notifications he imagined it was the only practical way. That knowledge didn’t make his job any easier.
The first telegram he’d delivered had been to an older woman, one his mother’s age. Her son had been killed in battle. He’d trembled as he handed the small envelope to her with the simple words, “I’m sorry, ma’am.” The wail that came out of her mouth – he swore he’d never forget it. He’d stood at her door, shifting his weight uncomfortably until a neighbor had come out to see what all the commotion was. Once he knew the poor lady was in good hands, he’d hurried away as fast as he could until he found a deserted alleyway where he quickly lost the contents of his stomach.
“I can’t do this,” he muttered, leaning against the cool bricks for support.
He took a few minutes to catch his breath before standing up and straightening his uniform. He’d found a nearby drugstore, bought himself a Coke to get the horrid taste out of his mouth. After the briefest of hesitation, he pulled out his list of telegrams to deliver, steeled himself, and began his rounds.
As the war went on, he became numb to his duties. He learned to knock on a neighboring door when there was a particularly bad reaction from a mother or a wife. He ignored the looks he got as he walked into a building in the city, or a neighborhood in one of the smaller towns. He knew that he wasn’t a popular person, but there wasn’t anything he could do about it.
The past few weeks had been brutal. In the wake of the D-Day invasion, he’d been working from sunrise to sunset, until the blackout curfew forced him inside. He’d lost enough weight to make his mother cluck over him like a hen, but all her efforts to make him eat more were futile. His stomach was constantly in knots, and he knew it would stay that way until the war was over.
He was nearly at the end of his delivery list for the day – just one more telegram to deliver, and he could go home. It wasn’t part of his regular route, but that fellow’s wife had gone in to labor with their firstborn late last night, and he’d been happy to pick up his coworker’s route so he could be there to meet his child as soon as he or she chose to make their appearance. He wasn’t familiar with the streets of the small town, and had to ask directions to the location of his final delivery. The teenage girl at the general store looked sad as she quietly explained how to get to his destination. He thanked her politely, and quickly headed down the street in the direction she’d described.
He drove out of the main part of town, and soon found himself in front of the house that the store clerk described. It was clearly an older house, but was kept in good repair. He pulled up the road a bit before parking the car, not wanting to alert them of his presence just yet. He was quiet as he shut the car door, and straightened his uniform as best he could. One more scene, and he could go home for the day.
It was still warm, and one of the windows was open. Through it, he could hear the chatter of ladies’ voices; there must have been a Red Cross meeting going on.
That’s good, he thought. At least they’ll be someone there to support her when she gets the news.
He took a deep breath and climbed the front steps. Lifting his left arm, he knocked on the door three times and waited for it to open.