Polar 44, Ring 5
Ken studied the terrain and wondered whether his four years of collegiate training as a
major in geology would be of any conceivable use in his new assignment. This thought
and several others danced around the gnawing subconscious question: Would he ever see
this friendly countryside again? This trite idea lurked in the dark recesses of the busiest
mind. The Air Force printed orders that allowed the recipient a minimum of information:
2nd Lt. Kenneth M. James, Jr., was assigned to the 6033rd Air Base Group. The
grapevine information placed this station in Northern Greenland.
A few pairs of silver rails branched off to the right and on to South Plainfield, Allentown,
Bethlehem, and eventually to Buffalo. Ken had never gone as far as Buffalo, but he knew
the stops by memory. The other set of rails pointed to Philadelphia, Washington,
Harrisburg, Altoona, Pittsburgh, and Youngstown. He had been farther west than
Youngstown on that road, but his thoughts stopped at a hospital where in a plain room a
girl shifted the position of her pillow so that she could read more easily a letter written in
a long slanting hand.
She was not beautiful yet she was strikingly pretty. Ken thought of their first meeting and
recalled that it had been as unique as the two participants.
A brilliant moon bucked the clouds that rushed forward with the October wind, carrying
the scent of woodsmoke and apples on the ground, as Ken and his roommate, Cal, pushed
open the cumbrous door to the Lakeside Club and joined the students who were waiting
in line for food. The club which hugged the shore of Haven Lake served hot sandwiches
and soft drinks to those who could spare the time from their studies. In the rough-beamed
dining room, laughter and light talk overflowed from the groups around the wooden
tables in the middle and filtered around the tables for two that overlooked the ruffled
reflections of the lake.
Ken scanned the coeds with casual thoroughness. In his wallet were two tickets to the
Boston Symphony Concert and, up to that moment, he had found no sweet young thing
who wanted to hear serious music.
“Let’s bother Brother Kodell over there.”
“Where is he, Cal?”
“Behind that post… . Get a load of the girl he’s with…” Ken stepped sideways to get a
better view, and in one short glimpse he saw a face that he liked immediately. He
followed Cal closely. “Friar Kodell, may we join you?”
“Well, if it isn’t the closet case twins. Cal Fenway and Ken James, Miss Jane Worth.”
The how-do-you-dos were perfunctory, but Jane’s low, warm voice resonated in Ken’s
memory. The symphony tickets seemed too insignificant to win the prize of her company,
but they were his only advantage. After a while he withdrew them from his pocket and
placed them carefully on the table as if he were showing a royal straight flush.
“What you got there, Ken?”
“A couple of Boston Symphony tickets—anyone want to go?” He looked directly at Jane.
“Oh yes, I would… What day is it?”