Chapter 30 - Johnny Zero

9K 659 143

March 1944

Jonathon rolled down his window while James pulled out of the office parking lot. It was the first warm day of spring, and he'd decided to leave work early that afternoon. As the war dragged on into its second year, the mine had remained busy, and Jonathon had been forced to work longer and longer hours.

Keeping up with the contracts had become complicated because he'd lost so many men to the draft. The situation had become dire and he'd been forced to hire women to work in the pit. He hated having to do it. In his opinion, the work was entirely too dangerous for women, but he didn't have a choice. His only other option would have been to close the doors.

Jonathon rubbed his temples and then leaned back, resting his head on the leather seatback while warm air blew over his face. If only Billy was there to help him. Instead, the army was benefitting from all the experience he'd gained in the family business. He was stationed in California, working in an office charged with shipping war material overseas.

At least he wasn't fighting, Jonathon thought grimly. Although in his letters home, he expressed a wish that he was seeing more action. Jonathon wasn't sure if he understood how bad it would be. Even though they weren't losing the war, things weren't going well for the allies.

The marines were locked in a fight with the Japanese for control of each tiny island in the Pacific, trying to make it to the Japanese mainland. In Europe, the army was bogged down in Italy. No matter how hard they tried to break through the German lines, the enemy had them completely stalled. After all this time, it seemed there was no end in sight, and the loss of men was mounting.

James stopped the car in front of the locked gate, and Jonathon straightened. Taking in a deep breath, he let it out slowly, pushing away his thoughts. It was rare for him to be home so early, and he wanted to enjoy the time he had with his family without his troubles intruding.

As the car emerged out of the woods, Jonathon saw Helen in the yard, pushing Douglas in a child's swing James had hung from one of the large trees. When she saw him, her face brightened and she waved at him.

"Stop the car here," he commanded as Helen lifted Douglas out of the swing.

He got out and strode across the lawn with a grin. Douglas had picked up his favorite red ball off the ground and toddled towards him, looking like he might fall at any moment. He'd only just started walking the month before and was still unsteady on his feet.

"Where's my big boy?" Jonathon said, catching him and swinging him up high while Douglas squealed with laughter. Then he hugged his little body tight, nuzzling into his neck while he made growling noises. Douglas tried to wriggle out of Jonathon's arms, dropping his ball in the process.

"Ba! Ba!" he cried, reaching for it as it rolled away, and Jonathon set him on the ground.

"You're home early," Helen said, smiling with delight, and he pulled her close for a lingering kiss.

"I couldn't stay at work any longer. It was too nice outside, and I missed both of you."

"Well, we're glad you're here."

He knew she was holding back from saying she missed him too, wanting to spare his feelings. Most days he got home so late Douglas was already asleep, and she was ready to go to bed herself.

Jonathon felt Douglas tugging on his trouser leg, and he looked down. Douglas was holding his ball up. "Ba?" he said.

"You want me to throw it?" He took it from Douglas and rolled it across the grass.

The Man Inside the Iron Fence (The Boy in the Woods Pt. 2)Where stories live. Discover now