No one will tell me where my Isabella has gone. They say she was only a dream. But sometimes I hear her whisper. I know she’s not only a dream. I know she is real. I know that have to find her again. If I don’t… I may very well go mad.
When the Great War started I was twenty-six years old and a Lieutenant-Commander in the British Royal Navy. I served aboard the HMS Bacchante, a Cressy-class armoured cruiser with a crew of well over seven-hundred souls. We were the flagship of the Live Bait Squadron, blockading the English Channel from German traffic in the North Sea. For my role during the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915 I earned Command bars. Still, and despite what else my service jacket may say, my real story didn’t begin until June 27th, 1916.
I was twenty-eight years old when the Bacchante docked in Bilbao, Spain. I had a few months shore leave saved and planed to take in the local sights. The sights turned out being exclusively local women until that one particular evening. The evening that forever changed me.
I was in my third bottle of wine when I saw her. Standing at the end of the bar was the most stunning women I had even seen. I smiled at her and she smiled back. I ordered her a glass of wine and she came over to drink it with me. We danced, talked, laughed, and drank more. At the end of the night she took me back to her villa where we danced until our naked flesh was warmed by the morning sun.
Her name was Isabella and I spent my remaining three months of leave with her, her family, and her friends. When my leave ended I promised I would return to her as soon as the war was over. When I set foot ship side I immediately told my captain these plans. Captain Grant was a good man, and more than happy to see me decide to take up a family instead of a career.
On June 28th, 1919 after a Treaty was signed in Versailles my discharge papers were signed in London. The next morning I was aboard a civilian passenger ship bound for Bilbao and my beautiful Isabella. My spirits were high and the war was over. I couldn’t have asked for more. Or I thought I couldn’t.
When I returned to Isabella’s villa I couldn’t find a single soul who had heard of her. I had met her family! I knew her friends! We drank at the bar she worked in! Still no one, even the people I met three years before, would even admit to knowing her. I was heart-broken and lost. But I refused to give up on my love. I vowed to find her.
In Spain, I didn’t have a place to live, a job, or even friends. I had no choice. I stowed away on a ship bound back to London and took up a job until I could start searching for Isabella. It wasn’t easy for a thirty-one year old retired naval officer to find work though. After months of destitution I chanced across a friend from the service who worked for Lloyd’s. Lieutenant Carl Towne brought me in as a claims investigator and helped me get my feet back under me.
Because of my time with the Navy I was placed into the Maritime Division. I pushed to be transferred to an office in Madrid and by the next winter I got my wish. Now, Madrid doesn’t offer much in the way of Maritime Insurance but they were just starting to offer a form of Aviation Insurance. These policies were similar to their Maritime policies and I was deemed a smart fit.
During the week I’d investigate claims of aircraft malfunction and failures. On my weekends I traveled to Bilbao and searched for Isabella. That was my life for almost six years.
On June 27th, 1926 I returned to the bar where I first met Isabella ten years prior. I was three bottles of wine into my evening when I passed out and had the most surreal and beautiful dream.
I was in a city I didn’t recognize with Isabella. We kissed and she whispered to me, “I’m here. You’d better keep moving on.” When I woke I was covered in cold sweat at my bar table. I grabbed a pencil and a napkin and began furiously drawing what I could remember of my dream city. That was how I met Patrick O’Donnell.
The Irishman looked over my drawing and asked, “That’ supos be Boston?” I must have looked confused because he laughed and told me that he knew that street. His son worked there and he’d just gotten back from visiting. I begged him for more information and he told me all he knew… After I bought him a bottle of the finest whiskey I could afford, of course.
As fate would have it, his son, Cyrus, was a bigwig for an Insurance company in Boston. Patrick gave me a recommendation and I wrote asking for a job the next day. Two months later I was shipped off to Boston in search for my beautiful Isabella. I set foot on American soil for the first time in my life on November 30th, 1926. I was to meet Cyrus the next day to begin work, but there was another surprise in store for me before then.
Every night since I arrived in Boston I’ve seen her in my dreams. That first night was no different. At first I would only see her and hold her but then she started showing me things. Beautiful and terrible things. Clues to where she was and what had happened to her. Clues to finding her.
During the day I worked for Cyrus, helping him to develop specialized Aviation Insurance and investigating claims in both the Maritime and Aviation Divisions. At night I’d see Isabella and she’d tell me “You’d better keep moving on.”
It’s been two years now. I can’t find a single living soul who even admits to having seen Isabella. As close as I can figure from my dreams, she was on a plane bound for Mexico two years ago. I can’t find a single receipt or ticket to confirm this, but my dreams are so vivid. If only I could find a way to spend more time with her or make the visions stronger…