Dear Diary by Nicolas Guevara-Mann

September 2
Mr Marc Beaumont
Born November 16, 1922

“Why don’t you have a seat and we can get started,” I said as I led the elderly man to the reclined chair. He put his head back, closed his eyes, and brushed his white hair off his face.

After he had gotten settled, I asked, “What seems to be the problem?”

“Problem? I don’t have no problems any more. And I know what it means to have problems. Try just having escaped from a prisoner of war camp and your stuck hiding in some bomb-struck French home. Now that’s a problem! Or being trapped in no-man’s land without any ammunition! I know problems. Your generation has no idea,” he said. He turned his head away. I glanced down at his file on my desk.

“So, Mr Beaumont…”

“Lieutenant Beaumont to you!”

“Yes, sorry, I’m just curious as to why you have an appointment booked if there’s no problem,” I inquired.

“Now, please understand that I didn’t book no darn appointment, doctor. I have too much respect for doctors’ contribution to the war effort to waste your time on something like this. It was my daughter, Sarah, you see. She forced me to come. Sarah and my wife, Mabel. They set me up. Said I was having nightmares, that I had a problem…” his voice carried off.

“Well I’m sure…”

“You know Mabel is a nurse,” he interrupted. “She helps out with the wounded soldiers. Do you know her?”

“No Mr Beaumont, I’m not familiar with your wife,” I said.

“Lieutenant Beaumont, doctor,” he corrected.

“Yes, sorry.”

There was a knock on the door. Beaumont sprang up from his chair like a jack-in-the-box as my secretary walked in.

“Here are the files you asked for Dr. Thompson,” she said. She handed me a pile of neatly sorted folders.

“Thank you Ms Schwartz.”

I watched Beaumont as my secretary walked out of the room. He was eyeing her up and down. When she closed the door behind her Beaumont spoke up,

“Ms Schwartz, eh? Blonde too! Gotta watch out for that type, German I mean.”

“Mr Beaumont please have a seat,” I insisted.

“Lieutenant Beaumont!”

“Yes but please sit down. My name is Dr Thompson and before we begin I’d like to get to know you a bit better.”

Beaumont walked over to his chair and sat down.

“Well I started when I was seventeen, in the French army. I couldn’t just sit back one year underage and watch those invaders take over my homeland! Vive la France!” he shouted. He jumped up and skipped all over the room, like a little boy who just watched his home country win the world cup.

“Vive la France! Vive la France!”

I watched silently until he sat back down, out of breath. When he appeared to be collected again I asked,

“Then what happened?”

“Well that’s when disaster struck. They got a hold of me, the Germans I mean. They got a hold of me and took me away. Horrible things I’ve seen, horrible.” He covered his face with his hands and shook his head. He got up and looked out the window.

“There are people out there moving things into a truck,” he said. I thought he was talking to himself but then he turned and glared at me.

“Yes,” I explained, “we’re doing a little remodelling downstairs.”

He nodded and headed back to his seat, this time not so relaxed. His eyes flickered across the room as if he was looking for something, but he was perfectly still.

“Okay Mr Beaumont, I think we can…”

“Shh!” he interrupted. “Do you hear that?”

I listened. There was nothing but the occasional soft bang coming from downstairs. Suddenly, without warning, he sprang up from his chair with such speed, the likes of which I didn’t think a man his age could possess. He threw me off my chair and laid flat beside me on the floor.

Startled, I asked him, “Mr Beaumont! What’s going on?”

“Shh, stay quiet. They’re coming,” he whispered in my ear.

“Who’s coming?”

“The Germans of course! Who else?” He cocked his head sideways. “There are the gunshots. They’re getting closer,” he said, panicking now.

I heard nothing.

When the beating of my heart slowed down a bit and I realized there was no immediate threat, my patient grabbed me by the collar of my shirt and pulled me close so our noses were almost touching. He was crying now.

“Please doctor, you can’t let them find me. You can’t let them know I’m here.”