Gryphon sat under the terrace awning of a brasserie in Colmar with Wolfgang and his barracks bag at his feet, nursing a cold Meteor and a sore head. The former was helping with the latter, as was the fact that the freak storm which had swept through the region had abated. The rain was still drumming on the awning above his head, but it was only ordinary mortal rain now, not the tempest that had helped sweep him off the road up in the hills north of town.
He made a mental note to write a nice thank-you letter to the proprietor of this establishment, who was staying open past his usual closing time so that Gryphon could await a ride home on his terrace with a steady supply of his beer. The man had even loaned him half a dozen towels to deal with the worst of his soddenness, incurred by staggering back down from the crash site in the rain. Really damned decent of him. And people said Gallians didn't cotton to foreigners.
The beeping of a horn heralded the arrival of his ride, as Shirley Yeager pulled up at the wheel of the Opel Blitz truck she'd swiped from the Luftwaffe during what she insisted on calling Operation Rocket Heist.
Rolling down her window, she leaned out and said, "I see you're alive, that's good! You want a hand with your bag?"
"Nah, I got it, thanks," Gryphon replied. "Let me pay my tab and we'll get out of here." Rising stiffly, he finished his beer, then went inside and pressed a larger sum of money on the publican than was strictly necessary, overriding the man's protestations by pretending to understand less Gallic than he did. Satisifed with his good deed, he went back out and put bag, dog, and self in the truck.
"I saw what was left of your jeep on the way down," Shirley remarked as she guided the Blitz back out of town. "The heck did you hit? It looks like a mine went off under it."
"Hell if I know," Gryphon replied. "I was trying to swerve around something in the road and the damn thing just let go on me. Next thing I know I'm lying up against a tree." He ruffled Wolfgang's head. "Lucky you were strapped in, huh, buddy?"
"Hrf," Wolfgang agreed.
"You look freezing," Shirley said. "Hold tight, we'll get you back to base. A nice bath, some dry clothes, get some hot soup into you. Lynne and Yoshika were already firing up the kitchen when I left."
"That sounds great. Hey, Shirley?"
"It's good to see you again."
Shirley gave him an odd look. "Are you feeling OK? You just saw me, like... six hours ago."
"Well," Gryphon replied with a faint smile, "it was a long six hours."