The following passage is one I wrote this morning on my upcoming novel, A Spent Bullet. The novel is now at 80,000 words. This selection takes place on a country road during the Army Maneuvers of September 1941 and is seen through the eyes of brothers Levon and Ben Reed.
Ben walked beside Levon as they made their way toward the army camp. Each carried a hamper full of folded army fatigues. Their mother was taking in washing and ironing for the soldiers and the two brothers served as delivery boys.
They walked along the ditch trying to keep the swirling dust off the clean uniforms. A long convoy of trucks headed north, forcing an infantry company, marching four abreast, to hug the edge of the road.
“Listen. Do you hear it?” Levon said.
Levon looked behind them. “I hear a plane—coming in low.”
Ben heard it, too and realized neither the trucks nor marching soldiers were aware of it.
Just then, a plane roared over the horizon heading straight toward the road. “It’s a P-51—a Mustang, ” Levon said.
Ben was always impressed with his brother’s dead-on recognition of aircraft. A soldier had given him a plane identification booklet that he carried in his back pocket and studied religiously.
“Three of them—and they’re coming in for the trucks.”
By now, the infantrymen had scattered trying to avoid the raid. The staccato burst of machine gun fire erupted from the plane, identifiable as enemy by the red markings on its wings and fuselage.
Ben heard the futile pop-pop-pop of small arms fire coming from the foot soldiers, and heard his brother say, “They’re just wasting ammunition shooting M-1’s at planes.”
It was then Ben saw a bomb drop from the second plane. The lead truck also saw it and veered into the ditch, nearly taking out several running soldiers. The hurtling bomb slanted right toward the next truck as the brothers watched in amazement.
The flour bomb hit right on the hood exploding into a cloud of white powder that mixed with the thick dust.
“Dead hit,” Levon yelled.
The driver, evidently blinded by the flour, careened wildly and nearly tipped over as he hugged the roadside, finally screeching to a stop.
The boys had a ringside seat, determined not to miss any of the excitement as confused soldiers jumped out of the trucks cussing, hollering, and running.
As the tumult died down, Levon turned to Ben, “Little brother, I done made up my mind—I’ve much rather be up there dropping bombs than in a truck or on foot dodging them.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that when I join the Army, I’m getting in the Air Corp.”
“Join the army?”
“Yep, I’m not waiting until they draft me. I’m joining—and I’m gonna fly.”