Alfie’s Triumph

Alfie’s Triumph

Alfie sat there with Sophie’s muzzle in his lap he stroked her with blue-veined hands, his skin mottled with liver spots. He was in his mothball-smelling arm chair, so old and dusty that the original colour had been faded to beige. His wife had chosen the furniture and they had been a rich velvet blue, but she was long gone, bless her. His lovely Margery lost barely a year after they were wed.

How could he ever forgive himself? But they had both wanted a family, something they’d almost had. He’d tasted paradise and had then been plunged into hell. On the cusp of having all he had desired, all he had craved and hoped for – it had been snatched and dashed on the shore of life.

Her letters had been all that had got him through France and onto the Queen Bodacea II. For his eighty-ninth birthday his great nephew had taken him back onto that savour of a boat once again as it had been returned to the river cruise industry from which it had been stolen during the war. He’d been amazed that it was still going and yet there it was with its shiny Dunkirk plaque; he’d sat there, covered in a blanket reminiscent of the ones they’d had back then only this was a brightly coloured tartan rather than the drab bottle green in itchy wool. He was going home to her, how ironic that his survival would spell out her death. These thoughts had circulated in his mind for decades. Others had told him to find a new wife but how could he? No one could ever have compared to her, and how could he risk another woman’s life? And no matter what they said they’d want a baby sooner or later and he just could not bear the risk.

He’d seen so many die, so many bodies. He’d thought of them as meat in the end, you had to to remain sane whilst wading though corpses. But she had lain there, his beautiful angel, with what should have been her joy next to her, a little girl she’d have loved and shown to cook her own mother’s welsh recipes. The little hands where cold just like her mothers.

He had wept, sobs racked him but he had failed to grasp what a world without them would be like. All the horrors of war could not have prepared him for that. The army had refused to take him back, not with that piece of shrapnel in his leg. The same piece that ached beyond endurance when the frosts arrived.

Sighing, he pulled himself out of the chair. It was painful; his finger tips permanently tilted sideways with arthritis. Marge would have known some remedy, he was sure. Sophie, dislodged, looked at him expectantly; he smiled gently and patted her boney head. Other similar heads rose with large round eyes.

‘Now you lots!’ he said affectionately to the dogs, ‘you’ll all get a walk in turn don’t you worry!’ He moved slowly through the room to the hooks the dog-leads hung from. His jacket on, he clipped it to Sophie’s collar and headed for the door.

‘I’ll have to polish me medals tonight Sophie! I haven’t done it for a month,’ Marge had been so proud of him and had made him promise to polish his medals so they always gleamed. And he did. He also polished the old service revolver; he knew he shouldn’t still have it, but noone had asked for it back. Of course that might have been because it was actually Corporal Williams’ gun, but the poor sod had told Alfie to oil it and what have you, when that shell had landed. To many things then happened and Alfy had forgotten to say he still had the officer’s gun.

He’d sat there with it on his lap when he’d returned from the hospital, it would have been so easy to join his wife and child but the thought of Marge’s disapproving hurt look had stopped him. All through the war her letters had made her wish clear.

‘Live for me, if I am gone live for me.’ and so he had. He’d kept the gun even when the law had changed, making him a criminal. There had been gun amnesties and still he had kept it. And he looked after it just imagining old Williams’ face if he hadn’t.

Sophie and the other seven dogs were for Marge, he smiled at the memory as he walked briskly (if creakily) up the road. The greyhound pulled at the leash. ‘Don’t worry Sophie, soon you’ll be able to run as much as you like.’ He’d taken Marge to the dogs just before the war. Her friends had been aghast, so uncouth and down right dirty masculine but she had adored it. Had cooed over the greyhounds in their stalls. Initially she had thought the dogs half starved, lamenting over the fact their ribs showed but he had appeased her, and they had won a whole ten bob.

It had become their thing to do together, she’d loved the dogs so much and they had planned to have their own. She’d never got to have her greyhound so Alfie had adopted them one after another. Old ones who could no longer race, whilst he was working he’d only been able to take one at a time. They were highly strung beasts and their hearts weren’t very strong. He made their last days as fun and stress free as possible.

Sophie was the oldest of the current pack and therefore got preferential treatment. The park was deserted, which was good; he didn’t like giving the dogs free rein if there were small children playing as the over-excited animals could scare or knock the little ones over. It was a consideration he felt sure Marge would approve of. He let Sophie off her lead.

‘Hi Alfie!’ He turned and smiled at the two school girls with Cassy, a beautiful Collie.

‘Hello girls! Running late today?’ They shook their heads.

‘That mean guy’s about again so Dad said we not allowed to walk to school anymore, just take Cassy for her walk and come back.’ They looked slightly crestfallen; Alfie had known them since they were toddlers in the park and they’d been so proud that they were allowed to walk to school now.

‘Is that the man with the British Bull Dog?’ They looked at him slightly blankly, he smiled inwardly, ‘The Churchill dog?’ they nodded. ‘He told his dog to chase us and Cassy, Dad said that’s dangerous, it sucks, we’re going to have to get a lift. It’ll be like being in Junior school again.’

‘Oh dear,’ said Alfie, vaguely. He recalled the man, he was older than a lot of the solders had been, older than Alfie had been when he lost Marge, and yet here he was, bullying school kids.

‘And he looks like he’s stuck in a time warp!’ the girl flushed, ‘Not like you, Alfie, though.’ Alfie smiled again, he knew what she meant; he still wore his tweed suits but Marge had liked him to be smart.

‘Yeah,’ chipped in the other one, ‘He looks like he’s from the ninetees! And he’s really fat,… and’ she said, lowering her voice, ‘He’s one of those horrible people, you know, a neo-nazi.’ Alfie looked at the girls, both frightened and excited; he remembered that look from kids during the war when they shyly approached the solders to ask questions.

‘A neo-nazi?’ he asked. Did this little girl, born so long after the atrocities he fought, even know what a nazi was?

‘Yeah, he threatened my friend just ‘cos she’s from Shri Lanka,’ Alfie felt the fear rise in his gut. How had they let their guard down? How had they not seen the echos of the Third Reich?

‘Anyway, we’ve got to go! See ya!’ He waved as they bounded away with more energy than he’d seen in a few decades.

Troubled, he continued to watch Sophie sprint in high speed around and around in circles.

‘Call that a dog!’, someone called from behind him. Alfie turned unhurriedly so as not to give the enemy any sign of fear. There he stood with his dumpy dog tethered, the opposite of Sophie’s rangy elegance.

‘Yes, sir, I do,’ The man really was a slob, the girls were right; he wore a Union Jack t-shirt which didn’t even cover his beer belly. Alfie had thought such visages only belonged on the boxes of the music the kids listened too.

‘Eff of you old fart! Chalston doesn’t share this park with no skeletons of a dog.’ Alfie looked at this man. ‘My God’, he thought, ‘and he is wearing the British flag’. It made Alfie feel sick, he’d fought under that flag and this was a grotesque distortion. It was even printed badly.

‘I will walk my dog where I like, thank you very much.’ Alfie could feel the adrenaline rack his old frame, but he would not back down from this bully.

‘Nah you old git, you ain’t walking that here,’ He’d bent and was unclipping Chalston who was growling wetly, great stream of drool escaped his flabby jowls. Surprised, Alfie just stood and watched as an exhausted Sophie made her way back over to him.

‘Attack!’ the man screamed pointing at Sophie. The small dog may have looked comical, but it was vicious. It headed straight for the exhausted greyhound. Chalstan locked his teeth around one of Sophie’s fore paws.

‘Stop! stop! Call him off!’ Alfie shouted but the man just laughed. Alfie knew such an injury would probably prove fatal but he was desperate to rescue Sophie. Sophie turned her boney head to him, pleading; whimpering. Softly Alfy saw her bright eyes begin to fade. He was beside himself and rushed to her side and. ignoring the protests in his knee he knelt to cradle her. ‘Weak hearts!’ was all he could whisper. The man just kept laughing, just kept on about how pathetic Alfie was.

Alfie looked at the obese piece of shit. He was meat, like all those Jerries he’d killed, and this one was Nazi meat, the girls had said so. Sophie had been for Marge and this fucker had killed her. Marge would disapprove of Alfie’s language but she’d have to lump it.

Alfie stood up with Sophie in his arms and strode home. He cried silent tears, for Marge, for Sophie, for those who were gone. He laid her on the kitchen table, something Marge would go spare about. He opened the drawer and checked the service revolver. The other dogs whimpered. ‘Don’t worry,’ he mumbled to them, ‘I’m going to get that Nazi.’ He shoved the well-oiled machine into his pocket and left the house again. The journey back to the park passed in a red haze of vengeance. The park was still empty, good, because he couldn’t do this in front of children. The man was there, Chalston back on his lead.

‘What you gonna do, old man!’ he laughed and spat in Alfies face. Alfie didnt say anything, he just raised the gun. The man’s eyes flew wide with fear, his doughy face took on a waxen texture. Alfie smiled slightly and pulled the trigger.


A whimper.

God, he’d forgotten how much recoil hurt.

‘Wha…? the man said, shocked to find himself still alive. Alfie turned and walked away, he had one dog to bury and seven more to walk.

‘Chalston! You sick fuck you, killed ’em! You fucking shot Chalston!’

At home Alfie cleaned the gun and put it away. He sighed, and went to dig yet another grave. He’d be in trouble for that, he knew, but he was sure Marge would have approved. Well, she would have pretended not to, but that didn’t matter.

Sophie buried, he sat quietly, waiting for the police.

Posted: Friday, June 6th, 2014 @ 9:20 pm
Categories: Short Stories.
Subscribe to the comments feed if you like. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply