from Hunter Leath
It had been close to around a week since the weapons cache incident. HQ had us doing shitty stuff like moving boxes and guarding roads nobody cared about. I was bored as hell. But of course this is when we actually got to do something. You know I wouldn't bore you with the non pivotal stuff right? Well we had been ordered to move south to some village that had a bridge that was still intact so we could move tanks and stuff. Naturally though we didn't get those damn tanks to help us take it, but hey what the hell right? The bridge was pretty far to the south so it was going to be quite the drive. I was not looking forward to it at all.
There was however something to be thankful about, the weather was astounding. let me tell you. You couldn't have asked for better weather. You know rain. So on top of the fact that we had to drive around half a day to the south, we also had to spend most of that time getting our trucks out of the mud. I swear I could have walked faster. I almost did. Tucker felt right at home being covered in mud, damn country boy right? Rose was not as impressed. I had to agree with Rose.
So I guess my explanation of France is still pretty accurate, dark and wet. Now it was muddy to boot. The shitty weather almost reminded me of the times that we would pop a hydrant in New York when I was little, except that this wasn't fun at all. Also there was no candy. That is the big difference.
So after about five hours or so of digging trucks out of mud, we were stuck again in some country side town. The people there were so curious and I swear one of them kissed me. I promise I wouldn't lie about that. It was strange though. At one moment we had Frenchies all around trying to help and give us food and shit like we were the fucking Romans coming to liberate them or something. Then they were gone. I felt really uneasy now. As soon as I went to tell Coldwell about my gut whispering to me, it hit us.
Someone yelled out something that I really cannot remember because over the rain it sounded like he said confetti or something, but I'm sure that's not what he said. One of our trucks went blasting in the air. From what I remember it went almost thirty feet in the air, but it probably only went like five or ten, but still. The truck was burnt to shit and we all scrambled. Coldwell and I ran into an alley way in between two stone houses. Rose and Tucker were somewhere else, but to be honest I was almost worried.
Coldwell motioned for me to follow him. All the while he kept swearing under his breath like he was at some shit job and they just asked him to do more work. It was hilarious, but I held in my amusement. As we moved through the alley ways, the sound of gunfire continued to go off. I carried my M1 grand, still complaining for a Thompson. I bet Coldwell didn't give it to me for the express purpose of watching me complain about it.
We went into one house, clearing it, and went upstairs to get a vantage point. There was a firefight going on in the center of town as far as we could see. Some random German squad must have found us. Bastards. We made our way towards the square. We ran across the street and jumped behind the cover that our boys were fighting from. There were about ten of them all firing at the Germans across the square. Most of them were in some building while some were out front behind some cars and fences. Our guys were behind more vehicles and some buildings.
I jumped behind a car and started to fire back at the enemy. Coldwell started to give orders. He sent some of our guys into a house right next to us. Then he rounded up me Rose and Tucker. We must have struck him as the guys up for anything, because what he told us to do was pretty ridiculous. Of course I was down for it because I am a prideful bastards who is always up for a near death experience. So let me tell you what he wanted us to do.
He had Rose, Tucker, and I take one of the cars with tires still on it, put it in neutral and walked it around the square. Yeah I know right? What an idea. So we were to be the bait while Coldwell and the rest of the guys went around the right side. So naturally we said yes, I mean come on this was going to be awesome if it worked. So I took the front side and opened the door while Tucker took the back seat door and we pushed the car. It would have been nice to have the steering wheel on the left side of the car but these damn Frenchmen just have to be opposite of us. Yeah, yeah I know we are usually backwards from them but shut up. While we pushed, Rose shot with his BAR. So we wouldn't fully be sitting ducks. We had one gun right?
So this is what we did. We slowly started to move the car, trying to stay as low as we could so that we wouldn't get shit on by the German's MP40s and STGs. Coldwell and his guys left to go around the right side while we moved. Great plan this was. The entire time we were moving I could hear Tucker laughing about how we were going to die, as if he welcomed the change in scenery or some shit like that. Rose just kept telling him to shut the fuck up. I had a mixture of both sides of this interaction.
After we had moved about twenty yards with the car, Rose yelled rocket. That was our safety word of sorts. I found the idea of a safety word in this situation funny. With my screwed up mind, I compared it to sex. Yeah I know I'm crazy. So all three of us jumped away from the car. I ran into an alley with Rose on my ass. Tucker went God knows where. The car exploded into a giant ball of fire. I could feel the heat as I ran. Reminded me of a bon fire. To be entirely honest it made me want barbeque.
So Rose and I tried to take the alley ways around the back of the Germans. By the sound of it, Coldwell and the boys had engaged the Germans. Little did we know that our little distraction worked and the Germans were falling back. Guess where they were retreating towards. Seriously guess. Fine whatever they ran right into Rose and I. I couldn't tell who was more surprised Rose and I or the Germans but as soon as we rounded one of the corners there were three of them.
I never used to believe it when people would say that time slowed down for them until I reached this moment. Literally I bet if there were a butter fly or some shit I would be able to hear his wings beat. So Rose started to shoot his BAR from the hip, I let go of my M1 Grand and pulled out my colt because it fires faster, for those who don't know the Grand shoots a tad slower. I dropped to one knee and pulled up my colt. It was something like three seconds but it seemed like roughly around five minutes or something like that. They all dropped and Rose and I were left there in shock.
After the noise had ended, one of them was crawling away. Now a little disclaimer so you don't think less of me than you already do, this guy was going to bleed out I could just tell. It was almost like a mercy killing or something. I walked up with my colt, lifted it. He stopped crawling. Shortly after this, we ran into Coldwell and the boys. Coldwell's crazy plan actually worked. I still wasn't too happy about being the bait but we did get major props. We finally found Tucker, who apparently had ended up in a building with a few of them and almost blew himself up with a grenade. Not sure how it ended for the other guys though. I was glad to finally find him, I was getting a little worried about the kid.
After the shit storm of securing the area and finally making sure that we weren't going to get ambushed again, we hit the road again. Now is the part where I tell you the weather actually cleared up right? Yeah if only life were that kind. It was still pretty shitty weather. Life right? Yeah not like the movies. Surprisingly though our cars stayed out of the mud a little better. We only had to stop a couple times.
The rest of the ride we sat and listened to Tucker talk about this girl back home named Courtney. He went on and on about how beautiful this girl was and how they were in love and all. It was pretty touching really. Rose didn't say a word the entire time and just continued to look at his boots. I would like to say I am decently good at reading people, and at this moment I could tell that he was thinking about that girl back home. Mainly because that was what I was doing. My gaze stayed locked out the back of the truck into the rainy country side here in the heart of France.
I didn't really think I was going to get super personal about my life but hell why not? While I sat there and watched the rain drip off the tarp of the truck, my mind floated back to the states. You know it is always so interesting that everyone wants to travel and see the world. After all my years of seeing it, I have realized something. You miss home and are allowed to fully appreciate what you have. That is patriotism. But I digress. So about this girl.
Her name was Curby, which I saw her name being as unique as her. I'll tell you something, I was a trouble maker, but there was nothing that this girl enjoyed more than going out on adventures and making trouble. Going places we weren't allowed for the express purpose of going where we weren't allowed. We were thick as thieves, quite literally. Yeah she moved out west to California. That was when I left for the war. She was always against it. That may have been another reason for my going to war. I thought that maybe she would see me more as a man and have sympathy for me going to war. Lofty goals right. I know pretty immature of me but the decision had already been made. I try not to think about it too often.
I turned my attention back on to Tucker as he continued to spin tall tales about the parties that they would have in the south. I listened intently as he told about long fields with roaring fires and white tents with live music playing the entire time. Then they would stare into the night sky and see the stars. Then he would end the night running from the girl he had slept with's father as he shot at him through the woods. It sounded great. I enjoyed the opportunity to be taken away from the tides of war.
We finally reached that town that had a bridge running across a river. I have no idea what the river was called, I rarely paid enough attention to know that. If you haven't figure this out already, I am quite bad with locations. The entire city was down to rubble, it was actually rather daunting and ominous. To my surprise, mainly due to our luck thus far, the town was completely empty. It was a ghost town. I almost wish that the enemy would have been there. I would rather know where they were rather than not.
The sun was setting as we pulled in. Coldwell gave the orders to set up a defensive around the bridge for the night. Most of the crew set up shop in one of the more intact buildings. I was assigned to first watch. I am telling you my luck is incredible. I welcomed it though. After a day of reminiscing about home, I had grown accustomed to being with my thoughts. I was set up on the bridge with sand bags and all. We also had an MG set up. It was me and some other guy from our Company who never really talked. I want to say that his name was Gill or McGill or something like that but I can barely remember.
I was leaning on the side of the bridge, looking up at the stars. It was a beautiful night. After it had been raining all day, the skies cleared up and the moon and stars came out. It was quite beautiful. The bridge was made entirely out of cobblestone with the gothic style that applied to the entire town. The river trickled on as you could hear it slowly moving in the direction it was headed. The sound soothed me. I think about that night often actually. It was peaceful while it lasted. After an incredibly pressing day, it was nice to have time to relax a bit.
McGill had a harder time than I as he struggled to stay awake. The trick is occupying yourself physically and never getting caught in motions like doing things the same. Like pacing will kill you. We were scheduled for something like two to three hours. All I knew was that the next watch would be awake shortly. So I held onto that. As I continued to keep myself occupied by thinking of home and Curby and what she might be doing in California, my gaze drifted to the other side of the bridge. I couldn't tell for sure, but I felt as though there was some form of movement hiding out in the darkness.
I focused my sight but it seemed to be gone. Something ate at me though. I couldn't help but feel as though I had to go check it out. I knew another patrol was coming any minute and figured it wouldn't hurt. I told McGill, who wasn't very supportive of the idea at all, but to hell with it right. Coldwell doesn't give a shit as long as we don't get killed. But yeah I'm too proud to die right?
I made my way along the dark streets. So let me try to explain something about myself. I enjoy the idea of being alone. And it's not like an intrinsic thing completely but like, imagine this. I see myself in a third person view walking along a lonely street with the moonlight shining down on me. It's this view that I look like a painting almost that I enjoy. This was one of those moments.
As I walked, I heard what sounded like the shuffling of feet. I pulled up my rifle and went into a deep concentration and focus. I walked into the dark house, weapon drawn, the entire time thinking about how to react to any and all situations that could present themselves. It's all about being conscious of what could happen so that if and when it does happen, you aren't surprised. So anyways, I walked through the dark house and checked everywhere that I could.
I heard that shuffling upstairs and slowly crept up the stairs. Those damn wooden beams get me every time. They creaked so loud I swear I woke up the entirety of France. I got upstairs and entered the first door on my right. I looked to my left and swung to my right. A hand grabbed my rifle and all of the sudden I was being pushed back into the wall. I saw a knife shimmer from the moonlight that crept in through the window. I lifted my stock and blocked the knife with my rifle. I let go with my left hand that was on the front of the rifle and hit the knife from his hands. He took advantage of me letting go of the rifle and rammed it into my forehead. I kicked at him and he stumbled back. My rifle fell to the floor. I pulled out my pistol and fired at him. I know I hit him somewhere. It's just one of those things you can tell.
He rolled out of the room and I wanted to give chase, but I felt a searing pain in my right shoulder. I stumbled back and looked. The bastard had thrown his knife into my shoulder. I wanted to pursue this guy but I knew I had to patch up this shoulder. I tore a part of my jacket and prepared for the daunting task of removing the knife from my should. It stung to the touch as I gripped the handle. I counted to three and then yanked at the knife. This is one of the moments that I failed to find any humor in what so ever. I was pissed. I rapped the cloth tight around my shoulder. My movement was restricted but I would be fine.
I grabbed my weapons and went to the window. I could see the bastard just run out of my sight down the street. He was a scout. I knew I had to warn the others. I stumbled down the stairs, more pissed than is actual pain. I put my rifle around my back. I couldn't fire that gun with my shoulder in this state, so I stuck with my colt. I got outside and started to slowly jog towards the bridge. It wasn't too far and I would reach it soon enough. I could see the three men waiting for me to come back. they must have heard my gunshots.
So, like I said today was not my day. This was one of the few times in my life where my facade that I hide behind of arrogance, pride, and sarcasm left me. I felt the rush of wind as the shell landed to my right. It must have been far enough away to keep me from being completely obliterated by it. I must have been just outside its kill radius. What followed was in no way less pleasant. I went soaring through the air and hit into a wall. I blacked out. It turns out that the German's had started their attack with a bombardment on the bridge.
I'll tell you the truth, I had a dream, or more like a memory when I passed out. I'll tell you about it. It was one of the last nights before Curby left for California and I left for the front lines. We had just finished eating dinner at my parents and had went to one of our favorite places. It was this building a couple blocks from where we lived that had a great view of the city. We went up there a lot through the fire escape and would just sit on the roof and look out over the city.
"Are you afraid?" she asked me. She had a way of changing tones very easily. Like at one moment she could be very goofy and then all the sudden become very sincere in the way she spoke.
I looked into her blue eyes. They got me every time man. I'm telling you there is no drug or drink on this earth like looking into that girl's eyes. "I'm afraid I'll miss you." I replied. This was usually how our relationship went. She knew how I felt about her. We had discussed it many times, but for some reason she couldn't commit to me.
"Shut up." she said laughing "Tell me. Are you afraid? Like when you get over there that you might die or something?" The question seems morbid but trust me it's not. You'd have to have known her. I can't do her justice trying to explain everything about Curby, so I'm not going to try.
"I'm not afraid. It's just another adventure right?"
She didn't seem content with my answer. Her gaze went to the sky. She remained silent for quite some time. My eyes remained locked on her. She looked back to me. "The stars will keep you safe..."
I woke with my back on the ground. It screamed from what had happened. My shoulder tried to out scream it, almost like they were fighting for my attention. It is because of this moment that I have feared to have kids before. My eyes opened and closed. I woke to see the stars and was reminded of Curby. I quickly shook off that memory and remembered where I was. I slowly sat up and fought not to grimace at the pain in my back. I was lying on the side of the street next to one of the buildings. I looked out to see the bridge. There were men on it, but they didn't look like any of ours. Their helmets gave them away. The Germans had taken the bridge.