Blackbirds by Garry Ryan

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Authors: Garry Ryan
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    â€œThat’s what everyone was intended to think.” Michael eased back onto the left side of the road.


    â€œThere’s a gentleman waiting for you in the dispersal hut.” Mother passed her on the way to the hangar.
    â€œIs he wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase?” Sharon asked.
    â€œAs a matter of fact, he is,” Mother said over his shoulder.
    Michael was right. Uncle Marmaduke has sent someone . Sharon carried her goggles and flight helmet with one hand and unzipped her flight suit with the other. The sun dropped its ample belly over the western horizon. She opened the door to the dispersal hut.
    The man was wearing a tweedy brown three-piece suit and had unruly salt-and-pepper hair, and a pair of equally unkempt eyebrows.
    He held a briefcase in his lap as he sat on a wooden chair and appraised her arrival. “Miss Sharon Lacey.”
    â€œThat’s correct.” Sharon took a chair across the table from him and leaned her back up against the wall. She watched him warily.
    â€œMy name is Walter McGregor. I represent Marmaduke Lacey, your mother’s brother.”
    â€œIn what capacity?” Sharon rubbed her face. God, I need some sleep .
    â€œThe family solicitor. My father and I have represented your family for more than fifty years.” Walter reached inside his briefcase and removed a manila file.
    â€œMy family? Somehow I don’t think dear Uncle Marmaduke would include me as a family member.” She looked out the window at the setting sun and wondered at the richness of the greens.
    â€œQuite perceptive of you. And may I say, you bear a very close resemblance to your mother. A lovely person. We were very sad to see her leave the country. Her personality was nothing at all like that of her father or brother.”
    â€œSo I’ve heard.” How come I’m not nervous? Just a few weeks ago, my stomach would have been in knots.
    Walter put several pieces of official-looking paper on the table. “Marmaduke Lacey has asked me to have you sign these documents.”
    â€œWhat kinds of documents are they?” Go ahead. I’ll play dumb for the moment .
    â€œYour uncle wants you to give up any and all claims to property held in the Lacey family name.”
    Sharon heard the change in tone when Walter said the words “your uncle.” She waited.
    â€œMay I ask what you do?” Walter asked.
    â€œI’m a pilot in the ATA .”
    â€œThe Air Transport Auxiliary?”
    â€œThat’s correct.” Where’s he headed with this?
    â€œMy sons have signed up. One in the Royal Air Force. The other is in the Navy.” Walter tapped his fingers on the documents.
    â€œI hope your sons are safe.”
    Walter stared at her. “That’s exactly the kind of thing your mother would have said. And it’s precisely what your uncle didn’t ask me the last time we talked.”
    â€œYou knew my mother well?”
    Walter nodded. “Yes, and I liked her very much. We spent some years together in school.”
    Sharon leaned forward to look at the documents. So, Mom, how many beaux did you have?
    â€œAs I’ve said, we’ve represented the Lacey family for some time, and since you’re a member of said family, I feel I must advise you not to sign away your rights. I did tell your uncle that I would present these documents to you.” Walter reached for the papers and put them back inside the folder. “I would feel comfortable reporting to him that you respectfully declined to sign.”
    Sharon frowned. “Why come all this way, then?”
    â€œTo find out if it was true that Leslie’s daughter had returned. And now I find that you’ve come halfway around the world at considerable risk. And I’m assuming that flying for the ATA must involve some risk?”
    You have no idea. “You heard what happened to Linda Townsend?”
    â€œYes, and

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