On Ogmore beach the sea is calm, the wind is still and all is at peace. It is the 17th of August 1950. In North Korea the last of thirty-nine American prisoners of war are executed on Hill 303.
Roger, aged six, is with his parents, Martin and Janet. Summer sun shines as he stands on a sandy path holding a metal Mickey Mouse bucket in his hand. He wears a short-sleeved shirt, short trousers, white ankle length socks and buckled sandals.
His parents have set up a ‘base camp’ on the shore at the foot of enormous sand dunes. It is a day without wind: there is no need to use sand to weigh down the edges of the rug on which they are encamped. There is a hamper with food, a Primus stove, the necessaries for making a pot of tea and a bottle of Tizer for Roger. It is time to play. Janet ties a handkerchief around his head and Martin inserts a gull’s feather and says, Behold the Indian scout. Janet tells him not to go too far and don’t get lost.
Roger runs up a steep dune only to hurtle down its face as fast as his legs can carry him, his feet slipping and sliding in drifts of golden sand. He loses control, tumbles, falls, and ‘laughing’ rolls to the bottom. It is the best of all times.
Roger searches for the white man’s wagon train; stealth is of the essence – his life’s at risk; he’s unarmed. He keeps the sea to his left so he can find his way back along the shore: Indian scouts are clever. Gulls double as vultures. At the top of a particularly large dune he crawls through marram grass to the edge to look down.
A tent is pitched on the floor in the middle of the valley of sand. He hears the faint sound of male and female laughter. The end of the tent facing Roger is closed. He retraces his steps and circles away from the sea and climbs the opposite dune from where he’d first seen the tent. It takes some time. The flaps of the tent are open and tied back but he can’t see inside.
On his stomach he crawls across the valley floor to see inside the tent. A man’s naked white bottom bounces up and down between knees. There’s a lot of groaning coming from what he thinks sounds like a lady in pain. The man is making awful grunting noises like the pigs on his uncle’s farm.
Roger sprints away and as he reaches his parents he’s shouting, Murder! Murder! Murder!
Martin grabs him, Stop! Tell me what you’ve seen. Go slowly. Tell me exactly. His parents listen to his breathless jabbering. Janet tries not to giggle.
In the face of Martin’s laughter Roger insists, It’s murder, Dad!
Janet wipes tears from her eyes, asking, Want some pop, love?
Korea is a long way from Ogmore.
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© Phil Cosker 2020
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.