Perkins The Secret Is Out

"Secret's Out"

Who: Perkins & Kathleen
When: September, 1918
Where: L'Eglise de Saint Boniface, Arras

What: After Perkins is taken back to Arras for further treatment to his leg,
Kathleen notices something…odd about the young sapper.

L'Eglise de Saint Boniface
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[The Grid]-----> > > > > THE LOST GENERATION < < <


Even in a place like this the war has left its marks, the once great windows
of the church depicting the lord saviour have been blown to pieces. Some of
the rafters from the roof are broken, and here and there holes from shells
and rounds score the walls of the church. Where there once were benches for
people to sit during sermons are now temporary tables upon where wounded
soldiers and civilians can be seen. The moans and cries of the wounded never
cease to stop, as they just keep coming in with every day that passes, a
numberless throng. Nuns from the local abbey along with nurses runs along
with blood stained rags trying their best to aid the doctors and field
medics that works in here.

At first glance it might be hard to think that faith in god can still linger
in a place so torn apart by the war as this, but the sheer compassion by
those who work here makes up for the tarnished facade of the church.

It is currently daytime.

Contents
Kathleen
Perkins

Backyard Garden <BG> Out <O>

After a few days at the aid station, it's become clear Perkins' leg requires
more treatment than can be gotten in the field. So in the soldier is hauled
by a couple of stretcher bearers, nearly unconscious, nicely doped up on
morphine to dull the pain.

Kathleen is just finishing up with another patient when Perkins is brought
in. She happens to be closest to the door, so the lead stretcher bearer asks
her where their new arrival should be put. "Over there," Kathleen says,
pointing with a hand that's currently covered in blood from the soldier
she's tending. She indicates an open cot across the way and says, "I'll be
over presently."

The stretcher bearers get Perkin laid out on the cot without any protest or
struggle. The morphine has had a potent affect. The soldier's head to lulls
to one side after being set down. Hands do idly twitch toward the right leg,
which shows signs of bleeding despite fresh bandages. A nasty bayonet hit,
was that.

Kathleen murmurs some quiet words of comfort to the young Englishman with
the shrapnel in his gut. From the sad pall on her face, one might get the
impression that that's about all she can offer. She squeezes his arm and
rinses the blood off her hands a bit before coming over to Perkins' bedside.
"'Allo there," she greets the nearly-unconscious soldier. "Can you tell me
your name, soldier?"

Perkins's green eyes roll up blearily to regard Kathleen. Even through the
haze of the drug, there's a look of dread in them. "Dav…." the chap
struggles to answer, licking lips. A deep breath is taken before the soldier
continues, in a soft and strained voice, "That is…P-p-Perkins, Nurse.
R-Robert Perkins…"

Eyebrows shoot up just slightly at what sounds like the chap getting
confused on his own name. But Kathleen well knows what the combination of
pain and morphine can do to a soldier's state of mind, so she lets it pass
with a gentle smile. "I'm Nurse Campbell. Rest easy, Perkins. We're going to
fix you up, good as new. Just the leg, then?" she asks, stepping down a
little along the bed so she can get a better look at the wound. "When'd this
happen?"

Kathleen is standing by the bedside of the newly-arrived injured soldier,
Perkins.

"A…a day or so ago…I think…" Perkins says in that blurry tone.
"Days…they all seem to run together here…We…we were scouting 'round
the hill. They took the hill. Later. But I wasn't with them. Haven't
made…much of an account of myself…Father was right…shouldn't have
come…shouldn't have come…" The Private stiffens a bit when Kathleen
bends down to examine the wound, but there isn't much can be done to stop
her.

"I'm sure you did your best. Your family'd be proud of you." Kathleen takes
his reaction for a jolt of pain, and murmurs apologetically, "Sorry, mate. I
know it hurts but I need to have a look. See how bad it is, and then get it
tended to." She reaches for a pair of scissors, and starts cutting the pants
leg, starting from the ankle and working her way up to the waist. Going very
cautiously around the wound itself. "Bayonet?" she asks, noting the
characteristics of the wound.

Perkins laughs weakly. "Proud? I doubt it…" An equally weak nod is given
to Kathleen, affirming her question. "A bayonet. One bayonet, and it's over.
I…I suppose…they'll send me home…" The Brit sounds near tears over the
idea.

Kathleen looks up at the young soldier's face. "Here now - buck up, lad,"
she says, balancing firm encouragement with a kind smile. "It's more than a
scratch, aye, but it doesn't look…" Her voice trails off as she finishes
cutting away the pants leg, something just now striking her as a little odd.

"No…" Perkins moans softly, but the soft voice is getting more and more
abstracted. The soldier is slipping into unconsciousness. "That isn't
it…all wrong…it's all gone wrong…" Those green eyes droop shut. The
private is slipping unconscious, beyond whatever oddness Kathleen is struck
with.

It's nothing obvious, really. But four years experience tending injured
soldiers set off warning bells somewhere in Kathleen's mind. It takes only
another moment to confirm her suspicions. "Sweet Mary," she murmurs,
stepping back and just staring. One of the other nurses notices her
expression and asks if everything's all right. "Fine, fine," Kathleen
assures her, snapping out of her surprise. The other nurse wanders off, and
Kathleen steps back towards Perkins' head and shakes his - her - shoulder to
try and rouse him. "Here now, don't you go drifting off on me."

Perkins is jarred somewhat alert by the shaking. Those green eyes open
again, with a pained blink. Perhaps it's something in Kathleen's expression,
or her voice. Whatever it is, Perkins's eyes widen in horror. If the Private
could run, she'd be doing so right now. But between the morphine and the
torn up leg, that isn't going to happen.

"What in the name of…" Kathleen trails off, starting over with something
less accusatory for the injured young private. She leans in closer to speak
in a whisper. "You've got a free ticket home, mate, if you want it. If
anyone finds out. But I'm getting the feeling that's not what you want?" Her
tone phrases it as a question.

"I…I don't know," Perkins whispers, eyes darting about. She's getting more
and more conscious now. It isn't a pleasant feeling, clearly. She takes a
deep breath, trying to ward off panic. "I can't go on. I can't. It's not…"
Another deep breath. "I won't say it isn't horrid. Back in England…oh.
What they say is nothing like the truth of it. But if it was just that…but
I can't. I can't go on this way. It's like being hunted…Any moment, you
could be caught…"

Kathleen nods and then murmurs, "Well, you won't have to. Don't you be
worrying about that any more. You're safe here now, we'll take good care of
you. No more of that hell for you."

"Please!" Perkins gasps, reaching out to try and catch Kathleen's arm.
"Don't…don't tell anyone. I will myself. I swear it. But…" She sighs. "I
need a moment to get my head aright. Private Sidney. Yes. That's it. I can
tell him, I think. Perhaps he'll know what to do…how to…oh. I don't
know. It's all such a horrid mess." She sinks back into her cot with a deep
sigh.

Kathleen seems surprised by the reaction, turning back as Perkins grabs her
arm. She leans in once again to whisper, "Look, I won't tell any of your
mates, but it's going to be hard keeping it from the doctors."

Perkins nods weakly. "Yes. Yes, I know." She sighs again. "There's no point
anymore, anyway. It's over now. All over. Everyone will know soon enough as
it is. I only hoped I'd get a chance to explain. I…I feel I owe
him…them…that much."

Kathleen lets out a little sigh, and glances over her shoulder towards the
other side of the church. Seeming to consider something. Then she murmurs.
"It might be possible. There's a lady doctor on our staff here. If we're
discreet, it could be nobody need even know about this."

Perkins smiles up at Kathleen. A smile of desperate hope. But it fades a
second after it comes. "I…I can't ask you to do that. No one else should
be mixed up in my…oh, damn. I never thought…I suppose I didn't think at
all." She takes a deep breath. "You can't hide it. It's got to come out now.
Just…a little time. Could you give me a little time? Perhaps if I tell
them myself it will…" She can't finish that. She can't imagine the
situation could be in any way improved.

"You're off your bleedin' head for even trying this," Kathleen says, and
though the words may seem harsh her tone is not. There's a note of
admiration in her voice. "Least I can do is help you see it through. All
right, then?"

Perkins nods shakily. "All right." She pauses a moment before saying, in the
barest whisper. "Thank you. Thank you ever so. I'm terribly sorry about all
this. Nurse Campbell, wasn't it?"

"Kathleen," she offers with a slight smile, though she nods to the full
name. The nurse touches the young woman's arm and says, "Now let's see to
this leg, shall we?"

Perkins pauses before supplying in kind, in an even lower whisper, "Susan.
Susan Davies. Thank you, Kathleen." That said, she just lays back and lets
Kathleen get on with her work, staring at the ceiling. Her eyes are very
wide and alert now, her mind visibly racing. But it's just as visibly not
coming to any peaceful conclusions.

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