STORY
On Porchester Road in Liverpool, there lived a much feared woman, Mrs. Weiland. About 42 years old, built like a mansion gatepost, she'd recently got rid of her alcoholic husband, and was raising her ratsy looking brood of five by herself. The kids on the street didn't even ask if they could get errant balls back from her garden. They'd only come back in two halves anyway. Yet we recognized that Mrs. Weiland was a great character. A good strong woman who knew her worth.

For instance: several times a week, all the fathers on the street were required to go to our local school for air raid warden drills where they were trained by city firemen in such skills as extinguishing the phosphorous incendiary bombs that would be dropped by the Nazi bombers that were sure to be coming to Liverpool. They learned in groups of two to work with stirrup pumps. Not unlike a bicycle pump with the stirrup outside a bucket of water and a tube inside, the dads pumped for week after week. Using the shelter of a nearby wall, one Dad would man the pump and bucket; the other Dad would crawl along the base of the wall and, reaching around the corner, would direct a dousing jet of water to kill the spluttering rain of flaming molten phosphorous arcing everywhere from an incendiary bomb set into action by the fireman-trainer. And they learned how to smother a bursting bomb with a 20 pound bag of sand. Every lamp post throughout the city was ringed with a dozen sacks of sand ready to handle this dangerous duty. Grand excitement. Intense concentration. Great loud conversation in the pub afterwards. Great way to get out of the house.

Inevitably, the Nazi 'planes worked their destruction up the length of England and, after the fall of France extended their bombers' range, they could finally reach us in Liverpool and the city's ordeal began. After battering the docks for weeks, the raids reached out to the edge of the city where we lived. The incendiary bombs usually fell in dozens but over several streets, rooftops and backyards. One particularly hard night, five of the terrifying bombs fell in the street at once -- night was turned to day as white hot metal was hurled five feet high, eight feet wide from each of the long cylinders, the asphalt of the road turning black and roaring into flame, here, there, over there, outside Carter's house, in Mrs. Weiland's front garden.

Dads came dashing from their houses, pulling on white ARP helmets -- "Air Raid Precautions, madam. You're going to have to cover that light, madam. It'll guide the German bombers, you know." -- calling for Mr. Humpheries -- "He's got the stirrup pump in his house! 'Urry up! He should be out 'ere by now!" They're running around in total panic when out of her house comes Mrs.Weiland, 11 month old child on one hip.

She strides over to the lamp post, picks up a 20 pound bag of sand with one hand and, backing to a flaming bomb so as to shield the baby, she lobs the sack onto the incendiary and it's out immediately. Back to the lamp post. Does it again. Then again. Three bombs are gone in grey smoke on the blackened asphalt before the men, stopped like a paid audience, finally come to life and attend to the last two spluttering bombs. Mrs. Weiland looks at no one. Hitches the baby up on her hip, goes back into her house.

All is silent for a moment. Then, under the bursts of antiaircraft fire overhead, the men chatter among themselves "like a bunch of women" and start to clean up the destroyed road surface.

One day, a very young priest from St. Teresa's Church at the bottom of the road came on to the street, making calls on his flock. He turns into Mrs. Weiland's gateway, strides to the front door and knocks loudly. No reply. He knocks again. Then he walks around the side path to the back of the house and walks in through the kitchen door without so much as a by your leave -- after all, he is a priest -- and walks right into Mrs. Weiland stripped to her waist, her huge breasts over the kitchen sink as she cools her great armpits with water.

Out on the street, we were distracted from our hopscotch by the sudden crash of Mrs. Weiland's front door and looked up to see the half naked Mrs. Weiland almost carrying the young priest up the front path by the back of his habit and the scruff of his neck and throwing him head first out into Porchester Road. He scrambled to his feet and ran off desperately in the direction of St. Teresa's, Mrs. Weiland with her big breasts heaving, and yelling, "Who do you think you are, you black hearted bath-tard?! Don't you EVER come back here! I mean EVER!!"

And he never did.
_______

© Eric Hall 2001


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By ERIC HALL ERIC HALL


This story was added on 7th May 2011

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