(inspiration) Lost Leaf by Mathilde Vhargon
Regimental Sergeant Major Cameron Little (ret.) stood, hands on hips, looking down at the cluttered desk. It was covered with stacks of file folders, books and papers, and volunteer William Mayfair, in the chair behind the desk, was almost hidden.
“No luck yet, Mayfair?” Little asked.
“No, sir,” William Mayfair jumped to his feet.
“How the …. Um … how can you tell? There is so much clutter there; I don’t think anyone could be sure.” Little eyed the desk with barely disguised disgust.
“Sir, I have read every paper, file and note there, and have checked all the books for any information or mention of a Sgt. J. B. Sutton, and have come up empty. Is it possible that he came from another province?”
“Hmmm,” Little stroked his chin in thought. “I suppose he could have joined up elsewhere and moved to Ontario after the war. That’s a good thought, lad, do you have any ideas on how to find out?”
“Yes, sir,” William said. “I’ll just check Legion Branches in other provinces on line. I already did for Ontario, and didn’t find anything. I’ll start right away.”
The door opened behind the Sergeant Major, and a young lady came in. “Hi Willy,” she smiled. “I have the trolley now, so I can clear the desk off and get everything re-filed.” She moved quickly, gathering books and files and taking them to the outer room. It seemed to take no time at all, and the desk was cleared, leaving only the phone and other usual equipment.
Just as she closed the door for the last time, the phone rang. William picked it up “Port Colborne branch, Royal Canadian Legion,” he said. “Good morning, William Mayfair speaking.” He stood silent for a moment, then said “Really, Ma’am? Your husband’s grand uncle, you say?... Yes, indeed, we would be happy to speak with you. … This afternoon around two? ... Fine, we will be waiting.” He hung up and looked up at the Sergeant. Major.
“It seems I won’t have to do any more research. That was a Mrs. Wallis, and the name on the headstone is that of her husband’s grand uncle. She saw the article in the paper, recognised the surname and called an aunt. She confirmed the relationship. Mr. and Mrs. Wallis will be here at two If you wish to talk to them.”
“You can be sure I’ll be here. I am filed with curiosity. How the hell did that headstone get into a load of landfill from Elm Avenue in Port Colborne to a farmer’s field in Wainfleet? And where is the body? Buried in the back yard? This whole thing has been eating at me since the headstone turned up. A soldier’s grave should be properly identified, hos body honoured.” Little’s scowl was fierce. “Well, it is to be hoped that it will be cleared up this afternoon, and the headstone returned to its proper place with full honours soon. Good work, Mayfair. See you at two.”
William nodded, and watched as the Sergeant Major turned and marched from the room. He looked at his watch – just enough time to finish the list of dignitaries who would be coming for the first of July ceremonies, and work out the seating arrangements, before lunch.