Exactly one year ago today, as I stumbled into my ninth decade of drawing breaths on this planet, I wrote a blog with my views on growing old. I allowed a long-time friend, Barbara, to review it before posting. In no uncertain terms she told me it sucked and that I needed an attitude adjustment. (My words, not hers, but that was the essence of her critique.)
That’s where the fairy tale began. You may have followed it. Here’s the epilogue.
The long-time friend is now my wife. I’ve moved across the continent to be with her. In what should be my dotage, I’ve settled into a new life in a new land. I’m happy and content. I have someone who loves me, who feeds me (Barbara is wonderfully skilled in the kitchen), who fixes me a Gentleman Jack before dinner. And makes sure I write.
My writers studio, which I’ve christened Schloss Bernard, is still under construction but coming along nicely. Except for the windows. We ordered them last July and just learned they now won’t be installed until next month. Damned supply chain issues.
Still, I have no real complaints. Yes, there are things I miss. My writers groups. My weather friends. My golf buddies. The quietness of living on a golf course.
Here, in the drylands of Washington state, my home—a beautiful and well cared for old Craftsman-style house—is in a long-established section of town. The dwelling embraces me like an old friend. But there is a three-lane avenue in front of the property. It’s not overly busy, but neither does it offer the stillness of a golf cart trail.
And then there are the railroad tracks. They are perhaps a mile distant, but I hear the Midnight Special blowin’ down the line (phrase borrowed from James Lee Burke) as I fall asleep each evening. Actually, there are apparently three or four Midnight Specials, mile-long BNSF freights that snake along the banks of the Columbia and rattle through Kennewick with their horns at full throat.
In a way, their sounds are comforting. Life on the move. As mine has been.
To reiterate, my complaints are minor. I am truly happy. My writing efforts continue. The third novel in my When Heroes Flew trilogy, The Roof of the World , about the pilots who flew the “Hump” in WWII, is at my publishers being edited. Its release remains targeted for late spring.
By the way, my friend and fellow novelist Tom Young (Red Burning Sky, release date February 22) had some warm and fuzzy things to say about The Roof of the World: “Imagine flying a route so dangerous, so littered with aircraft wreckage, that crews called it the Aluminum Trail. Such was the heroism of the aviators who crossed the Hump–the Himalayas–during World War II. Yet their sacrifices remain one of the lesser known corners of World War II history. Buzz Bernard’s gripping novel brings their story to light with stark detail and white-knuckle authenticity.”
Now, while I wait for the launch of Roof, I’ll be mapping out my next novel. Strictly speaking, it may not be part of the When Heroes Flew series, but it will certainly harbor some of its DNA. It will be based on another little known true story from the war—a stunning tale of what a young U. S. Army lieutenant and his patrol stumbled upon in Austria during the closing days of the conflict.
As envisioned now, characters you may meet, besides the junior Army officer, will include a Luftwaffe jet pilot—yes, the Germans flew jets at the end of the war—an American B-24 bomber pilot, an Austrian hausfrau, and a Waffen SS Standartenführer.
Oh, and before I close out, I must acknowledge Stormy who made the long journey west with me. What a trooper. And now, like a true castle-dog-in-waiting, he spends most of his day regally curled up in a warm, cushy arm chair.
Maybe I will join him . . . at least until the darn windows get here.