A few days before her 50 th birthday, Denise Lawrence recieves an invitation from a London lawyer to recieve the will of her father, Peter Marsahall, a man she has never heard of. She finds out that she was adopted during the second world war and the father she never knew was one of the unsung heroes of World War Two.
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The Peace child
The fallen imperium
The Szilard Petition
Gone to Flowers
Thousands of chimneys
The Super chief
A new city and a new life
The LA Times
The first day of war
San Joakin Valley
Project Vought – Kingfisher
Operation Silver dove
I come in peace
The cul de sac
Denis’s break through
Tears for a Hero
Operation Rolling Thunder
The deadliest War in history
The current global situation
When the distant thunder of the guns fall silent and
the warm summer winds carry whispers of hope.
When the tired warrior rests on the war scarred
earth, and the peace child wakes again.
Time will heal all wounds she says
and picks flowers where her warrior once lay.
But when the summer breeze of hope turns cold
and the leaves of hatred fall.
The peace child dances one last dance
her warrior standing proud and tall.
Weapons ready to silence the threat.
Armor shining in the last silent sunset.
The peace child lays down to rest and whispers.
"when will you ever learn"
"when will you ever learn"
In the final months of World War 2, Japan was bracing itself for one last attack, an anticipated allied invasion of its country. The once feared military power of the Japanese imperium was almost totally destroyed and most of the Japanese population was suffering from malnutrition and diseases caused by the War. The capital city, Tokyo had been reduced to a burning pile of rubble.
The anticipated allied invasion would however never be executed, the option being too dangerous for allied troops and the expected high casualty count would be unacceptable for the allies at this stage of the war. However the final attack on Japan in the last days of world war two would turn out to be more devastating than anybody could imagine.
The first atomic bomb, known as Little Boy, was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. It was followed three days later by a second atomic bomb, known as Fat Man which was detonated over Nagasaki. The attacks caused an estimated 250,000 civilian deaths, over a million refugees and Japan's eventual surrender.
Many scientists involved in the development of the atomic bomb, when realizing how devastating these weapons would be when detonated and the long term consequences of using them in a theatre of war, were against using the weapon and Leo Szilard, one of the key scientists, drafted a petition in spring 1945 to try and stop the use of the atomic bomb.
The petition failed, paving the way for the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the start signal for the nuclear arms race “cold war” had been sounded.
Leo Szilard had hoped that the United States and its allies in World War two would chose not to use nuclear weapons in theatre.
Stating that, the mere threat of the potential devastation of such weapons, would force the enemy to surrender. Szilard had predicted the longterm effects of nuclear weapons, stating that their use in World War 2 could start a nuclear arms race once the war ended and drafted the “Szilard petition” However his attempt to talk the U.S Government out of using the atomic Bomb to attack Hiroshima and Nagasaki, failed.
The petition was signed by 70 scientists who were working on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the Metallurgica Laboratory in Chicago, Illinois.
Szilárd asked his friend and fellow physicist, Edward Teller, to show the petition to further scientists working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, hoping to get more Scientists zo sign but Teller showed Szilard’s request to Los Alamos director J. Robert Oppenheimer, who told Teller that politicians in
Washington were already aware of the issue and that the lab scientists would do better to stay out of it and just get on with the job in hand. Thus, no new signatures for the petition were collected at Los Alamos.
In the spring of 1945, Szilard took the petition to the future Secretary of State, James F. Byrnes, hoping to get it to President Truman on time.
Byrnes was not sympathetic to the idea at all and decided not to show the document to the president and due to his decision; President Truman never saw the petition prior to the dropping of the bombs.
The story “Gone to Flowers” was inspired by and
is dedicated to Leo Szilard and the 70 Scientists
who signed the Szilard petition.
It was a late august morning in 1992 and Manchester was slowly awakening to the sounds children making their way to school, car doors being closed and people driving off to get on with their daily business.
Denise Lawrence was having breakfast after getting ready for work when she heard the clacking sound of the Post being delivered through the slit in the front door of her small terraced house. She put her coffee down on the kitchen table and went so see what bills she wouldn’t be able to pay this time, but let out a sigh of relief when she saw that only a few advertisements, a letter from a Friend in London and the morning paper were all that was scattered on the floor in the hallway.
After gathering up the post and making her way back into the kitchen, she noticed a very official looking brown envelope that had been hidden between the morning paper and one of the advertisement brochures.
Frowning and wondering what it could be about and who would use such official looking envelopes, she turned the letter around and saw that the sender was a lawyer’s office in London.
“Hmm what could this be?” she thought, as she opened the envelope, a queasy feeling rising in her stomach.
Apart from a few outstanding debts that weren’t all that bad, she didn’t think of any reason why a lawyer would want to send her a letter and after reading the contents, she was more confused than she was before opening the envelope.
It was an invitation to a lawyer’s office in London, explaining that that she had inherited the assets of her deceased parents, Peter Marshall and Jenny Chandler.
“Jenny Chandler and Peter Marshall, who the hell are they?” She thought out loud. She had no idea who these people were and thought that maybe the letter was some kind of joke, or a probably even a mistake.
She finished breakfast; put the Letter into her handbag as she made her way outside.
After closing and locking the front door of her small red brick terraced house, she made her way to the bus stop at the end of the street. Still wondering about the strange, official letter and decided to get in touch with the lawyer in London as soon as she could.
She smiled as she walked past the chimney smoking, bay windowed houses and the smell of burning coal and the cheerful people around her made her feel happy and secure.
Now and then she brushed her long, dark- brown wavy hair from her face, only for it to be blown back by the warm breeze a few seconds later and she eventually lay her handbag on the floor between her feet, took a hair band out of her pocket and gathered her hair into a ponytail, promising herself to get a new hairdo with less fringe, as soon as she had enough money to pay for it.
She looked back at the street and house she had lived in for most of her adult life.
“It isn’t perfect but its home.” She thought to herself, before walking the last few meters to the bus stop.
Later that day during her dinner break, she sat in her favorite café, not far from the office and read through the letter again.
It definitely didn’t seem to be a joke and it looked very professional, but she didn’t know these people and they couldn’t possibly have been her parents. Bill and Katy Lawrence were her mum and dad, not Jenny Chandler, Peter Marshal or anyone else for that matter. She put the letter back into her bag and decided to ring the Lawyer as soon as she got home from work.
“Brian Thomas Heritage Lawyers.” A man said, with a very youthful sounding voice and a strong cockney accent.
Denise frowned; it seemed strange for her that he had answered the phone himself and he sounded much too young to be a lawyer. They usually had a good looking young assistant to do all the work for them and never had the time to answer the phone themselves anyway and although the letter looked very official, the whole thing was beginning to seem like a silly prank to her and she began wondering which one of her friends would set her up for something like this. Maybe someone in London, some of her old student gang did have a strange sense of humor.
But she wasn’t really sure who it could be. It was her 50th birthday in a few days and the fact that it could be a joke was becoming more and more feasible to her as time went on.
She shook her head trying to clear all the thoughts from her mind.
“Yes good evening this is Mrs. Denise Lawrence speaking.” She said.
“Ah, I’m glad you have got in touch Mrs.
Lawrence. We have contacted you on behalf of an American colleague and we are inviting you to London because you have inherited the Will of Peter Marshall, which was then passed on to you by Jenny Chandler, who died a short while ago.”
The lawyer explained.
Denise asked him if he was sure, as she had never heard of Peter Marshall or Jenny Chandler.
There was a pregnant pause as the lawyer seemed to be sorting out papers on his desk, after a few seconds he picked up the phone again.
“You are Mrs. Lawrence, daughter of Bill and Katy Lawrence, who moved from San Francisco, California and settled in Manchester, England in 1964?” The Lawyer asked.
“Yes that’s me, Bill and Katy are my… were my Parents, mom died ten years ago and Dad last year.” Denise explained to the lawyer.
“I’m sorry but if this is this some kind of prank, I am not amused because it is not funny at all.” She added, now sounding quite agitated.
There was another pregnant pause and Denise heard the lawyer whispering to somebody and the sound of papers being sorted again, after about 30 seconds that seemed to her like 10 minutes, the Lawyer picked up the phone again.
“Mrs. Lawrence. I think you should make your way to London as soon as possible, it is very important, I can assure you that this is not a joke or a mistake and we have very important information for you.” He said sounding very sincere.
Three days later, on her 50th Birthday she was sitting in a very uncomfortable leather chair in Brian Thomas’s office. Sitting opposite on the other side of a huge oak desk was a scruffy, very young looking Lawyer and his not so good looking assistant.
Denise began to smile, thinking that all her student friends would burst in any minute singing “For she’s a jolly good girl, or happy birthday.”
Brian Thomas seemed to miss-interpret Denise’s smile as he nodded and smiled back whilst opening the will, nervously clearing his throat to speak.
“In the case of my death I leave all my assets, Land and the contents of my bank accounts in Los Angeles and Chicago to Jenny Chandler.”
Signed, Peter Marshall on 23.12.1941
Brian then turned to the second page.
“In the case of my death I leave the contents of Peter Marshall’s will from 23.12.1941 to our daughter Denise Lawrence, who should not receive this will as long as her adoptive parents, Bill and Katy Lawrence, are alive.”
Signed Jenny Chandler 14.01.1957
“As all four are now classed as deceased, Peter Marshal’s assets now belong to you, Mrs. Lawrence.”
Brian Thomas said nodding again to Denise who was now looking at him as if she wanted to ask an important question. The young lawyer held up a hand, smiled and nodded again.
“We will cover any inquiries when I have finished.” He said before reading out the rest of the document.
“Denise Lawrence, daughter of the deceased Jenny Chandler and the missing, presumed dead, Peter Marshall is to receive the following,-
Land plots in California worth 6,5 million dollars.
Bank account contents in Los Angeles and Chicago worth 4,2 million dollars.
Assets and company shares in the following companies,
Marshall real estate.
Chandler Real Estate and the LA Times Newspaper, together worth 3 million dollars”.
“Mrs. Lawrence I am not sure if you realize but your life will never be the same again after today.”
Denise didn’t hear the last sentence the lawyers assistant had said, she was just staring at the will in disbelief.
“13.7 million?” She asked.
“Are you sure there is no mistake?”
“We are sure Mrs. Lawrence.” The girl answered.
“We advise you to think carefully what you would like to do with the Land and company assets, we have been assigned to assist you where possible, you can however of course, decline our help if there is no requirement.” Brian Thomas added, nodding firstly to Denise and then to his assistant.
“The Deposited money in the two bank accounts can be sent to your UK Account within a few days if you require.” Said the girl, who now nodded to Denise in the same way Brian Thomas had done the whole time.
Denise began to wonder if they both had the same illness that forced them to nod each time they wanted to say something or if it was some kind of secret ritual that only lawyers carry out during meetings.
“Yes I think that would be a good idea.”
She said and both Brian Thomas and his assistant nodded simultaneously in agreement without saying anything and Denise had to cover her mouth with the back of her left hand and had problems trying not to break into spontaneous laughter.
For most of the Train journey back up to Manchester Denise didn’t think about the money she had inherited or that her life had changed forever.
Thoughts that she was adopted by her parents Bill and Katy Lawrence and that her real mother and father were Jenny Chandler and Peter Marshall had locked themselves in the back room of her mind and weren’t letting anything else in. When she eventually arrived home she made a coffee and began straight away to write a “to- do” list.
Quit job…. New car…. Get a new hairdo…
She had to laugh at the fact that getting a new hairdo was one of the most important things on her agenda and paused for a while, to sit back in her chair and look out of the kitchen window at the rows of streets of red terraced houses, the roofs now changing color in the sunset. She had actually painted a picture of this very scene some years ago and called it “Thousands of chimneys”.
She thought about her first Exhibition as an art Student in London where critics had said that her painting was very similar to the Manchester Artist L.S. Lowry.
Smiling, she began to hum the tune of “Match stalk men and match stalk cats and dogs.” A well-known folk song from the seventies, about Lowry and his art work.
She looked out of the window again at the town she had fallen in love with as a young woman and began to sing.
“He painted Salford's smokey tops. On cardboard boxes from the shops And parts of Ancoats where I used to play.……”
The smell of coffee and voices of children playing outside in the street bought her back to the present day and the thoughts about her adoptive Parents who had always been very kind and loving to her.
They were never rich and weren’t interested in material things, but had made her childhood worth more than all the Money this Jenny Chandler could ever pass on to her. A tear ran down her face, dropped off her chin and landed on the to-do list.
She thought about her childhood in California and how her adoptive parents Bill and Katy had always been there for her no matter what and was disgusted that her biological mother, Jenny chandler had given her up for adoption, fifty years ago and that her real Father, this Peter Marshall probably didn’t care less about her.
She read through the will again.
“Written on 23.12.1941.” she thought.
“Hmm, I was born end of August 1942, nine months later.” Denise frowned, and then shook as a cold shiver went down her spine.
“My Father couldn’t have been more than thirty years old at the time, so why should he think that he might die, it is possible that he knew that he was going to do something dangerous or…. Go to war?
Of course, December 1941 was the attack on Pearl Harbor and Peter must have written the will shortly after, more or less the same time America had joined the Second World War.
He then went missing and was presumed dead.”
She said to herself and scratched her head sitting back in her chair again, staring at the will of her father on the kitchen table.
“He either knew he was going to die…..or he knew he was going to be missed, presumed dead.” She said out loud to herself. She thought about the second option. Had her father used the war to get away from the life he had been living, maybe to make a new start somewhere else, or he was on the run?
She thought about what Brian Thomas had said as he drove her to the train station after their appointment.
“Your real father, Peter Marshall was a scientist and involved in a scientific military project in the 1940s, he was apparently piloting a plane on a secret mission off the coast of Japan a few days before the end of World War Two, but he never returned. He was declared as missing and when the War ended he was presumed dead.”
Brian had parked his car on one of the Taxi stands at Kings Cross Station and handed Denise a further Envelope
“All the information our colleagues in America could gather about your father is in this document, this information now belongs to you.” He said.
She thought about Jenny Chandler and the fact that she had passed on the will of her Father Peter Marshall, knowing full well that it was worth so much money, which made Denise think twice about what kind of woman she was, or could have been.
“Ok so she wasn’t greedy, or she was rich anyway and didn’t need the money.” She thought Denise tried to weigh up the whole situation for a while and how it might have been back in the days of world war two.
The fact that Jenny had given her up for adoption still disgusted her, but she was happy that her adoptive mother had given her everything she could have wanted, her adoptive father too.
“But who was her real father?
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