Chapter 15 - I Don't Want to Set the World On Fire

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Jonathon had just opened the window in his office to let in the warm, late April air when Mrs. Gibson walked in.

"Mr. Blackwell, the mayor is on the phone."

"He is?" Jonathon said with surprise, heading to his desk. From the look of concern on Mrs. Gibson's face, she knew how unusual it was for the mayor to be calling too. He lifted the receiver as he sat at his desk.

"Mayor Shaw, this is Jonathon. What can I do for you?"

"I have news. I found out this morning the town has lost our first casualty in the war."

"Who is it?"

"It's Abe Dwyer's boy, Walt"

"Oh, my god," Jonathon said. Mrs. Gibson stepped closer, covering her mouth with her hand.

"I understand you and Mary attended school with him," Mayor Shaw said.

"Yes - we did." Does Helen know? "I didn't realize he'd gone to fight."

"I heard he was among the first who volunteered. He was on a supply ship heading for Hawaii when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. Only forty men survived."

"That's terrible." Poor Walt, he thought. What a horrible way to die.

"There's going to be a funeral on Friday. I'm calling all the business and town leaders. I'd like us all to attend as a sign of unity and support."

"Yes, of course I'll be there."

"Thanks, Jonathon. I know Walt won't be the last boy we lose, but this will be a shock to the community. We have to do what we can to keep up morale."

"I understand. I'll see you at the service."

He hung up the phone and slumped back in his chair.

"What did he say?" Mrs. Gibson asked, coming closer.

"Abe Dwyer's son was killed in the war. He was on a ship that was sunk by the Japanese."

"Oh, no!"

"Clear my schedule for Friday. I'm going to the funeral."

"Yes, sir."

"And you can let the others in the office know."

"Should I order flowers to be sent from the company?"

"Yes, that's a good idea."

"Alright." She headed out of the office.

"Close the door on your way out."

"Yes, sir," she said pulling it behind her.

Jonathon turned his chair to face the window. It was unbelievable. Walt was dead. As the implications of what that meant settled over him, his heart swelled even though he knew it was wrong. With Walt gone, he had another shot at winning Helen's heart.

He shook his head and turned back to his desk. He shouldn't be thinking such thoughts. Helen had to be devastated right now. They'd been in love after all. It would be a while, maybe a really long time before she'd get over her grief. He pulled the production report he'd been reading towards him, determined to put Helen out of his mind. With the mine operating at maximum capacity, he had more than enough to deal with. He couldn't afford to get distracted.

She'd be at the funeral on Friday, and when he saw her, he'd get a feel for how she was dealing with the loss. He'd offer his help and friendship, he'd do what he could to support her through her grief. But at the same time, he wasn't going to let this opportunity slip away. When she was ready to love again, he'd make sure he was the only fellow around.

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