Beyond the Call of Duty

by Paul Jump

I can remember the first time I saw Beatrice Vabrenque as if it were five minutes ago, instead of sixty years. The truth is that I had been eagerly anticipating her arrival ever since I had chosen her name from the list of newly trained nurses sent from military headquarters. The other three nurses I had working under me, after all, were forty-plus matrons, as akin to Queen Victoria in appearance as in manner: certainly not the kind of women for the promise of privileged access to whom I had slogged my way through medical school in the second half of the Thirties. Nor, for that matter, was a glorified tent in the Ardennes exactly the calibre of establishment I had envisaged practicing in upon qualification. God, I wasn’t even properly trained as a surgeon, yet here I was, stitching up the shattered bodies of soldier after bloody soldier, that arrived at our field hospital from the nearby battlefield like coals into Newcastle. The Battle of the Bulge, they called it, and ‘bulge’ was certainly the operative word as more and more beds were crammed into our makeshift ward.

Still, I counted myself lucky. For if I hadn’t been patrolling the ward, no doubt I’d have been lying in it, wailing to the nurses about the injustice of losing both my legs at the age of just twenty-nine. Not that the nurses would have offered much in the way of consolation. They would simply have smiled weakly, told me not to worry and then moved on to the next bed. God, it was as if they were made of clay, unanimated by anything approximating to a soul. Nor, to make matters considerably worse, did that clay possess any redeeming aesthetic qualities. I know you’re not supposed to say such supposedly sexist things these days, but the truth is that I could have borne the damp and cold, the explosions and the screams, the complete absence of any entertainment or privacy if only my nurses had not been so irredeemably ugly.

Ah, but now Beatrice Vabrenque was going to arrive: just twenty-one years old and, as she had put it in her letter of introduction, eager to do all she could to aid the liberation of our continent from evil. I hoped that she would be to our bulging ward as refreshing as the warm, soft breeze that sometimes blew up from the south of France in the summer. Nor was I remotely disappointed when she walked in on the stipulated morning, dressed in a long, green military coat with a red cross on the arm, her black bob of hair mysteriously dry despite the rain that was drumming on the roof of our tent with such volume that we couldn’t even hear the fighter planes patrolling the skies above the black clouds. Indeed, it is fair to say that my heart was leaping with joy as I showed her into the screened-off corner of the ward that constituted my office.

‘So, Mademoiselle…’ I began, sitting down and gesturing for her to do the same.

‘Miss,’ she corrected, boldly, in what sounded like a perfect Home Counties accent.

‘I’m sorry, miss,’ I replied, somewhat abashed. ‘I assumed from your name that you were French.’

‘My father was French,’ she remarked curtly, evidently weary of delivering the same explanation to everyone she met.

‘I see,’ I murmured, leafing through her file awkwardly. Not that I was particularly embarrassed by my faux pas regarding her name. It was just that beautiful women always made me nervous at that inexperienced age. ‘Well, it’s nice to have you aboard, Miss Vabranque. I’m sure the patients will appreciate the presence of such an… inspiring nurse.’

‘Inspiring?’ she repeated, her cheeks dimpling in amusement at what she presumably took to be my bashful euphemism for beautiful. For you could see by her poise that she was used to being complimented on her looks – and that she never tired of it.

‘Absolutely!’ I continued, hastily, grateful for the opportunity to pay her a compliment. ‘I don’t think women such as you, Miss Vabrenque, realize the extent of their influence over men. I don’t think they realize that they could inspire a man to do almost anything. In my considered medical opinion, the sight of a beautiful woman attending to his every need is the best treatment a stricken man could possibly receive. There’s nothing like a reminder of how sweet life can be to rouse a man to cling on to it and not let it slip through his fingers.’

You could say things like that to a woman in those days and not be taken for a chauvinist ass.

‘I hope so, doctor,’ she replied, smiling demurely, ‘because I’m not sure how good my actual nursing skills are. I only finished my training last week.’

‘I’m aware of that,’ I replied. ‘But I requested you anyway because we have three very experienced nurses here who all think they are far too senior to do the dirty work – if you know what I mean.’

She assured me that she was not too proud to do anything that might help the men to recover, so I left her in the charge of one of the matrons to learn the ropes.

It only took two days for her to return to my office in a flood of tears. She had lost her first patient: a Scottish captain for whom, frankly, there had never been any hope once the shrapnel had lacerated his liver. The truth is that I had deliberately assigned his care to Beatrice in order to begin, as soon as possible, to process of inuring her to death. For I remembered how I had been when I finished my medical training, my head so full of treatments and medications that I thought I could cure anyone of anything. She had to learn the hard way, as I had, the grim reality that there was really nothing we could do for a good seventy percent of the men assigned to us.

Still, I couldn’t help feeling deeply sorry for Beatrice as she sat before me wracked by sobs as if it were her own brother who had just passed away.

‘I’m very sorry Miss Vabranque,’ I said, gently, staring through the saline sheen of her dark eyes. ‘But I’m afraid you’re going to have to get used to the fact that even a lovely girl like you can’t inspire everyone to recovery…’

At this she began weeping even more violently. So – I admit it – I seized my chance to take her in my arms and press her heaving bosom gently against my chest. And, God, I don’t think I have ever had such a thrill from such a chaste act in all my life. Perhaps it was just the sexual deprivation imposed by the war – I hadn’t had a girl in three years, after all - but the seeds of my passion for Beatrice were well and truly planted that day.

I often contrived to follow her as she did the rounds of the ward every morning, delighting particularly at admiring her bottom as she bent over the patients to tuck them in and sometimes even whisper things – words of comfort, I presumed - into their ears. I’ve always had a thing about women’s bottoms; even now, at the age of eighty-nine, my eyes are still instinctively drawn to them whenever my grandson wheels me down the high street in my chair. And I admit that I fantasized many times about reaching up Beatrice’s knee-length skirt, pulling down her underwear and taking her even as she administered to the patients.

If I hesitated about propositioning her in those first few weeks, it is only because any kind of private relations between medical staff in that high-pressure environment was officially forbidden. Only a few months previously a doctor had been transferred to another field hospital in disgrace when he was caught with one of his nurses in his bed. I just didn’t want that kind of ignominy and upheaval. And nor, moreover, did I want to run the risk of never seeing Beatrice again.

But eventually, after several weeks, I decided that it was no longer enough to simply ogle her bottom every morning. I simply had to touch it. I simply had to have her, no matter what the consequences might be. The only question was how it could be effected.

Obviously I had to mention my feelings to her in private. The problem was finding that privacy. For she was surrounded by the matrons and the patients in the ward, and by all the nurses of the entire field hospital in her dormitory. My only option, I concluded, was to go to the ward during the night-shift, which Beatrice took it in turns with the other nurses to do on her own, and hope the that patients were sleeping. Besides, the ward was neutral territory, so, I hoped, she would feel less threatened by my proposal if I delivered it there.

Accordingly, I left my bed about two o’clock in the morning and crept through the almost total darkness and silence to the hospital tent. My heart pounding, I opened the door of my ward without a sound and peered inside. Everything was still: the men were, indeed, all sleeping, and Beatrice was nowhere to be seen. I supposed she had gone to the lavatory but rather than going to my office to wait for her, I stood indecisively still, pondering whether I ought to take the opportunity to slip out again before I made a fool of myself. Then I noticed that all the mobile screens in the ward had been wheeled around one bed in particular: that of a gentle, refined young lieutenant from Yorkshire who had contracted some kind of consumption. Why could that be, I wondered? Intrigued, I crept up to the screen on tip-toe and listened. And, to my amazement, I heard Beatrice whispering, ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry,’ over and over. Then she said, ‘If you’re still alive next week, I’ll take off my skirt too. How would you like that?’

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I tried to find a gap in the screen through which to look, but they were overlapped in such a way that they were impossible to see through. So, instead, I crept back outside and skirted around the ward tent until I came to the window at the head of the consumptive’s bed. And, standing on a discarded wooden box used for delivering medical supplies, I was able to see, to my utter astonishment, Beatrice sitting at the head of the bed, holding a candle in front of her perfect, naked breasts and smiling lovingly into the lieutenant’s sickly, disbelieving eyes. Ah, it was like a vision: a vision of some long forgotten saint depicted by some long forgotten Renaissance artist in a pose of holy beatitude. I watched mesmerized as the shadow of her nipples, swollen like an expectant mother’s in the unheated night air, flickered back and forth across the surrounding breast as the candle-flame shivered in the draught. And I couldn’t help myself: I reached into my trousers and brought myself to a climax long before she put her brassiere and blouse back on and nonchalantly wheeled the screens back into their original places. After that, I went back quickly to my bed. Even if I hadn’t been cold and stunned and ever so slightly ashamed, I couldn’t have marched into the ward and propositioned Beatrice with my underpants full of semen.

Two days later the Yorkshireman died. Beatrice was obviously upset, but this time she kept her feelings to herself. I wondered whether she had been particularly drawn to him, or whether she would extend such wondrous boons to all of her patients. Subsequent reconnaissance missions during her night shifts soon led me to conclude that she had taken to heart, in a way I could never have dreamed of, my words about female beauty inspiring men to recovery. She had devised the extraordinary tactic of promising all (but only) her seriously ill or injured patients that the longer they stayed alive, the more of herself she would reveal to them. And surely no man, even one passionately committed to his sweetheart back home, could fail to be bolstered by the prospect of seeing Beatrice Vabrenque entirely naked.

Nor could any doctor fail to be motivated by that same prospect to work even harder to save his patients’ lives. Aye, despite the fatigue engendered by spending so many sleepless nights watching and masturbating over Beatrice through the windows, I toiled like never before to restore the shattered limbs and ruptured organs of my patients to something like working order, carrying out all manner of experimental operational techniques on the critically ill which, given their low chances of success, I would not normally have even attempted. Nevertheless, despite my best efforts, they kept dying, so that the furthest I saw Beatrice strip during the subsequent six weeks, was down to her knickers, stockings and suspenders. And though that sight was exceptionally thrilling, I became increasingly obsessed with the idea of seeing her go even further.

Eventually, I resorted to desperate measures. By desperate, I confess that I mean distinctly unethical. I am not particularly proud of what follows in this story, but it is the truth - and a man who will be ninety years old in a few months no longer has any need of secrets. About three months after Beatrice’s arrival, a Cornish private was admitted to the ward suffering with pneumonia. I was confident that such a young and otherwise healthy fellow would recover, but I took advantage of his loud coughs and ashen expression to remark to Beatrice, sotto voce, that I didn’t think there was much hope for him. And, sure enough, not ten minutes had passed before I saw her bending over him and whispering in his ear.

I realized that on her first subsequent night shift she would only take off her brassiere, but I had got it into my head that I wanted to see her breasts in the flesh, as it were, without a pane of mud-spattered glass between them and my lustful eyes. Hence, immediately before her night shift began, I gave the Cornishman just enough sedative to send him off to sleep. Next, I wheeled one of the screens into position between his bed and the rest of the ward (I had made sure when he arrived that he was given the bed in the corner). Then, checking that none of the other patients were watching me, I slipped behind the screen and slid under the bed.

It was extremely uncomfortable on the cold, uneven wooden planks that constituted the floor of the ward, but my endurance was well rewarded. For eventually, once the Cornishman had woken up again, Beatrice came, drew the remainder of the screens around the bed and fulfilled her first promise to him. Tilting my head out from under the bed, I peered up at her, trusting that the contrast between the brightness of the candlelight and the relative darkness of the floor would be enough to render my face invisible to her even if she glanced down. As it was, however, she just stared lovingly into his eyes like the very Madonna. So I was able to fix my gaze on the thrilling profile of her glowing red nipples, and bring myself gradually to an inconspicuous but thoroughly satisfying climax.

I had told Beatrice to give all the men a little sedative just before her shift ended at six o’clock, on the pretext of allowing them, for once, to continue to sleep even as the guns started firing at dawn. Thankfully, she remembered my order, so I was able to slip out of the ward soon after she left and slink back to my tent to snatch two hours of sleep before my own shift began.

Despite the tiredness and the chronic backache, I continued my lecherous vigils under the Cornishman’s bed during Beatrice’s next few night shifts, reasoning that any drop off in my own performance as a doctor would be more than compensated for by Beatrice’s unparalleled performance as a nurse. Nor did Beatrice squander the magical medicine that only she possessed. On the contrary, as she did with all the other scarce medical supplies we had, she eked it out as sparingly as she could. During her next shift, as I expected, she only removed her skirt; during the next one, rather disappointingly, she only removed her panty-hose. By now I was feeling utterly wretched: even Beatrice herself remarked how haggard I looked – upon which I must have blushed as brightly as if she had seen me naked.

To make matters worse, the Cornish private was, by now, well on the way to a complete recovery. Terrified that Beatrice would accordingly deem further special medication for him unnecessary, I resorted to surreptitiously injecting him with a cocktail of sedatives and expurgatives calculated to make him look a lot worse than he really was. Of course, I could have been court-marshalled if any of the matrons had suspected what I had done, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of the ultimate prize being snatched away just as I was about to grasp it. That would have been even worse than the Nazis driving the Allies back all the way to Dunkirk again.

And, God, what a prize it was! In fact, even Beatrice’s next night shift did not mark the climax of her special medication regime: sure enough, she removed her knickers – slowly, seductively, shamelessly – but she did so with her back to the Cornishman. Nevertheless, for me this was the ultimate thrill. For the way she rubbed her fingers up and down her hips while arching her perfectly soft, white bottom towards him was the most erotic thing I have ever seen in all my eighty-nine and a half years. Moreover, even though she allowed the private to gently stroke her buttocks, I still counted myself even more fortunate than he was since, lying on the floor, I could see what he could not: a dense tuft of jet-black public hair protruding from between her slightly parted legs. This time I masturbated furiously, uncontrollably, hardly caring whether Beatrice heard the pants which it was impossible to entirely repress as my semen burst from my penis like a veritable V2 from its launch site somewhere behind the enemy’s lines.

During her next night shift, she also stripped completely, this time standing face on to the Cornishman, and even allowing him to run his fingers through her dense black triangle of pubic hair. Meanwhile, buoyed by her apparent success in saving his life, she was at various stages of undress with other patients too. Indeed, her whole night shift became an almost comical exercise in wheeling screens around the ward and dressing and undressing behind them, most of which I was able to observe through one window or another whenever I felt the urge - which, despite the fact that I had already seen everything of her, remained frequent.

After all, it was not as if I saw everything of her every week. In fact, it took another two months for her to get to the stage of full-frontal nudity again. The beneficiary this time was a somewhat uncouth cockney private in his early twenties, who I had honestly thought would not survive the night when he was admitted with his whole body flayed by shrapnel. Eventually, after numerous operations – including the amputation of his right lower leg and left arm – the poor wretch’s condition had just about stabilized, but he was still destined to remain in the ward for several months.

Assuming that Beatrice’s relations with him were over after the exposure of her genitals, it was with no great hope of seeing much that I went to the windows during her next night shift. Indeed, I wouldn’t have gone at all if only I had been able to sleep. But, by now, I was so used to staying up half the night twice a week that it had become difficult to fall asleep at the normal time. So I thought I might as well go and take a quick look. Ejaculation was almost as effective as a sleeping pill, after all. And, after what I had seen, it would be easy to ejaculate over Beatrice even if she were fully dressed.

As I pressed my face to one of the windows, however, I was intrigued to see her administering sedatives to each of the patients in turn and then wheeling the screens, once more, around the cockney private. And, making my way around the building to the window at the head of his bed, I watched in utter astonishment as she stripped fully naked once more, drew back the bed sheets, pulled down the cockney’s pyjama trousers and began gently stroking his penis.

And for the first time since her arrival, I felt jealous. For her revealing herself to the patients, even her allowing them to fondle her was one thing, but her actively giving them sexual gratification was quite another. It just crossed the line: not of what I found morally acceptable, but of what I found emotionally bearable. Previously it had only been my semen which her astonishing actions had caused to be spilled. But now here she was climbing up onto his bed and crouching backwards, on all fours, over this common, loutish private. And as I stared into the vertiginous darkness of her anus, pointing directly up at me, I sincerely wished that I had never put myself through medical school after all. For all I wanted was to be that enlisted private: that sickeningly unlucky young man with his whole body scarred, charred, disfigured and mutilated: that sickeningly lucky young man with his nose in Beatrice’s pubic hair and his penis in her mouth. I couldn’t even masturbate. My penis was as stiff as the tent post against which I was leaning, but my hands remained firmly clenched around the random objects they found in the pockets of my jacket. I just couldn’t do it this time.

And when Beatrice finally rose up and turned around to reveal the cockney’s semen trickling down her smiling face and dripping onto her breasts, I decided that my voyeurism could go on no longer. Admittedly, the devil in me longed to see whether she would go all the way with him next time, but I also knew that watching another man penetrate her would make me insanely, dangerously jealous. Besides, if she did start giving the ultimate womanly reward to her surviving patients, it would be only a matter of time before she ended up pregnant – for, God knew, there wasn’t anything in the way of birth control available in the Belgian forest. Moreover, even if she never went further than oral stimulation, she still ran the very real risk of catching a disease from one of them. Either that or her antics would be discovered; not that every last one of the patients didn’t worship her, but that fact, I reasoned, only made her discovery all the more likely. For it seemed inevitable that one of the less badly injured men, to whom her favours were never extended, would one day become so jealous of his mutilated comrades that he would tell one of the matrons all about what she did with them.

No, there was nothing for it. I had, finally, to make my move. Six months’ delay would not make my feelings any easier to voice, but it had to be done. I had to save Beatrice from herself. I had to experience for myself what the cockney private had experienced.

Accordingly, as soon as her next night shift started, I went to the ward and invited her into my office.

‘So, Miss Vabrenque…’ I began, sitting down, gathering my resolve.

‘Yes, doctor?’ she asked, sitting opposite me, staring at me quizzically, slightly uneasily, with those bewitching eyes of hers.

‘Beatrice, do you remember what I said, when you first arrived, about female beauty inspiring male patients to recover?’ I asked, at last.

‘Yes,’ she muttered, non-committally. I couldn’t tell, in the dim candlelight, whether she was blushing.

‘Well, you ought to know that it can also inspire doctors to perform medical feats previously undreamed of.’

‘What do you mean?’ she asked, her voice breaking slightly.

‘I mean, Beatrice… that I love you… You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and I want you. I want to hold you and protect you from this accursed war.’

She stared at me wide-eyed for a few moments, apparently not quite able to believe what she was hearing.

‘I can’t deny that I’m flattered you should feel that way towards me, doctor,’ she began, eventually, with startling equanimity, ‘but surely you must agree that a field hospital in the Ardennes is no place for a love affair?’

‘Why not?’ I demanded, provoked by what I perceived to be the slightly mocking smile with which she had concluded her response.

‘Because there is no privacy anywhere!’ she declared, apparently surprised at my naivety. ‘We would just live in a state of constant anxiety - or frustration.’

‘But what about this ward?’ I persisted, wildly. ‘Surely we could do whatever we wanted here, during your night shift - with the application of a little sedative in the right veins…’

‘I don’t think so, doctor,’ she said, coldly, and rose to her feet. Evidently she had guessed what was coming.

‘I know what you’ve been doing, Beatrice,’ I confirmed, irked by her brusque rejection: seeking, I suppose, to embarrass her into submission. ‘I’ve seen what you do here with the patients during your night shifts. I saw what you did three nights ago with Private Matthews.’

‘Have you been spying on me?’ she demanded, glaring at me like Nemesis herself.

‘Can’t you at least do the same for me?’ I asked, ignoring her question, likewise rising to my feet. ‘Surely that is not asking so much?’

Perhaps it was the wrong thing to say in the circumstances but I honestly couldn’t believe that a girl who had allowed all manner of common privates to ogle and fondle her would balk at permitting a respectable doctor with a double-barrelled surname to do the same. Yet she stared at me in utter horror and disgust.

‘Are you out of your mind, doctor?’ she asked, her eyes wider than I had ever seen them.

‘On the contrary, Beatrice.’

‘The answer is no,’ she said, fiercely.

‘Why not?’

‘Because you don’t fucking deserve it,’ she hissed, moving towards the door: ‘because you’ve never even held a rifle in your life, let alone been shot at by the fascists.’

She glared at me contemptuously.

‘But neither have you,’ I returned, lamely.

‘Just fuck off, will you?’ she snapped, opening the door. ‘And don’t you dare spy on me again, you fucking filthy pervert.’

Those, alas, were the last words we ever exchanged. After watching her for a while as she went about her chores in the ward, hoping vainly that she would relent, I left silently. Lying in bed that night, her obscenities still ringing in my ears like the explosion of a fifty pound bomb, I thought of reporting her to my superiors – who would surely court-marshal her for gross indecency. But I soon thought better of it. I didn’t want to ruin the poor girl’s life. Besides, she had given me a great deal of pleasure over the past six months, even if it had only been inadvertently.

Nor did I act on my initial inclination to have the cockney transferred to another ward. For one thing, I just couldn’t think of a valid excuse to do so. Besides, the situation was not his fault and, God knew, the poor wretch deserved some pleasure after what he had been through (and before what he still had to go through - for surely no girl in the real world would dream of giving fellatio of a disfigured, one-armed cripple).

So I did nothing. I didn’t even go to spy on them during Beatrice’s next night shift to see whether they really did go all the way. The rain was falling steadily and I was too depressed, chastened and ambivalent to brave it. I simply lay awake all night, sobbing over the emptiness and wretchedness of my existence. I couldn’t bear the thought of life on the ward without Beatrice, but I also felt sure that she would be gone within the week, having requested a transfer to another field hospital ‘for personal reasons’. Soon I would be alone again with the matrons, in the mud of a Belgian forest in the middle of the most interminable period of mass slaughter in human history.

But I survived. After the war ended I set up a lucrative practice in Harley Street, married one of my prettiest patients and had four children with her. Nevertheless, sixty years later, I still find myself thinking of Beatrice almost every day. Doubtless that fact can at least partly be explained by the fact that, as my daughter puts it, I am a dirty old man. But the truth is that I am still fascinated as much by Beatrice’s motives as by her body. For even in these decadent times of topless beaches and nude weathergirls it strikes me as rare for a girl to be so brazen, to exploit her sexuality with such equanimity as Beatrice was doing in 1944. What can possibly have been going through her head?

Obviously, the fact that she was working on a battlefield contributed significantly to emboldening her. War is an extreme time in every way, during which one calmly says, does and witnesses all kinds of things from which one would recoil in horror during peace time. I’ve no doubt, too, that she must have been terribly lonely, sharing a ward with three stuffy matrons old enough to be her mother and a doctor who could never think of anything natural to say to her. True, she had colleagues of roughly her own age in other wards, but I’m not aware of her having formed much of a bond with any of them. Hence, she must have enjoyed the amorous attention of all the young men in the ward: all the more so because the matrons – against whom she was instinctively inclined to rebel - so obviously disapproved of it.

Nor do I doubt that there was something of the exhibitionist in her, leading her to derive a genuine sexual thrill from revealing her body (which she obviously knew to be beautiful) to strangers. Perhaps she was also encouraged by the fact that, unlike in normal male-female relations – especially in those days – she, the female, was the party with all the power: not only in terms of authority, but even physically. Perhaps, indeed, that was why she was so horrified by the thought of repeating her strips for a strong, healthy, doctor ten years her senior.

But, for all that, I can’t help concluding that her extraordinary actions were driven, first and foremost, by a heartfelt desire to give her all in order to save as many men’s lives as possible. After all, her grief at the death of her patients was undeniably genuine, and it is not as if she selected the recipients of her favours on the basis of their handsomeness of face or pleasantness of character. No, I believe that Beatrice Vabrenque had the heart of a veritable Florence Nightingale - and might well have made a medical breakthrough just as significant as any of Nightingale’s sanitary reforms during the Crimean War. Alas, it seems unlikely that her breakthrough will ever be put into practice by the grey-suited fools who run the modern NHS. Nevertheless, when I finally find myself on my deathbed at the hospital down the road (God knows, it can’t be long now) I hope and expect that the last face I see, smiling over me reassuringly as my heart stutters to a halt, will be that of Beatrice. And it will be dripping with my semen this time.


Paul Jump is a journalist in London, UK. This is his first stab at erotic fiction, so be gentle with him. And don't tell his mother.

email Paul Jump

Beyond the Call of Duty
© 2005 by Paul Jump
All rights reserved.





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