Earnest Stanley, call this war, his war, WWI, the wench, or strumpet, or wild girl, it was all the same to him, it was on a Bridal horizon you might say, the war took him away from his wife, new wife, a wench grabbed him, and he had to yield to her call to active duty in the United States Military, the Army, this youthful blue-eyed and handsome man had just married, and off to war, to WWI, for it had just started for America, once in Europe, he was among the many foreigners mixed together like goulash, it was 1917, only one year would he remain there, not even that, perhaps eight-months, but he had marred Ella in 1916, and she would wait, and it was hard for him to keep his mind on a war, when he had a new wife, a plantation, well kind of a plantation, he had put money down on it, it was rocky, it had to be cleared, it was not what it could be, would be, if he could take care of it, all the things a young man dreamed of, and her comes a war, he never wanted to fight another mans battles, but I guess some did, and he was part of the pack that elected that someone to office, so he could get drafted into the Army.
It was a traumatic experience for him to see the dead, the maimed, to know about the Missing POW's, the trenches filled with Germans shooting at him nine-hundred feet away; colonials, privates, the French, and the British among him, among the Americans, God's human masses colliding together, collectively trying to eliminate an enemy, sometimes at lightening speed. Cigarettes lit one after the other, as men stood waiting for the next onslaught, trying to understand this war of mud and trenches, and death and diseases, while remaining in a repugnant stalemate.
He was one of the Ammo Humpers, who delivered Ammo to the trenches, he didn't attack over the trenches, like his comrades did, like Corporal Justin C. Abernathy did, although they bother were from the same location, here in combat, and back home: twenty-one miles outside of Fayetteville, North Carolina, they were neighbors, neighbors that hand only met once, when he put money down on the land he purchased, but in this war, on the French front, they were combatants, soldiers of a different kind, Private Stanley was condemned, all to the dodging of bullets and incoming artillery, as he ran from trench to trench, over the fields to get to them, his comrades in arms, to supple ordnance to them men who would, and who did, go over the top, of the trenches, to bombard the Germans in their trenches, to kill, and be killed, by other Germans leaving their trenches to reinforce the trenches their comrades were being killed in, so it was his replacement for a direct attach, which he was not subject to.
The only thing that didn't settle well for Earnest was that the ammunition he delivered of course, in time would kill others, to kill a man you don't know, by proxy, he didn't do it face to face, but had a stand-in you might say, someone like Corporal Abernathy, to do it for him, that bothered him, but on the other hand, out of sight, out of mind, was a good way to live and survive in this mud licking war, I mean if you had to kill, it was a better way of killing.
The Americans had come, and that brought a new spark to the war, and he heard there might be an armistice in the making; General Pershing was in Paris, calling a meeting, he had become General of all the European Armies, under protest of course by the French, but it was a matter of: you fight your own war then, so the French gave in.
He, Earnest, like so many Americans came rushing across the Atlantic, before there was no more England or France to talk about, the Germans were no pushover, they had the war licked, won, but not now, France reminded America of there contribution to the war, that war long forgotten, the Revolutionary War, yes they went back a hundred and twenty-five years to make their point, and I guess according to Private Stanley, they must had made their point loud and clear, and dramatically; before they became homeless; in the process of course, the French had to swallow a lot of pride, something they never like doing, but it all worked in their favor. They knew the old saying, ‘Pride comes before destruction, ’ and they were not that dump to play the pride game to the hilt; the new American troops would be the counterbalance in this war. And so the counter attacks with the Americans where in place. It was a bigger war now.
And then the war stopped, just like that, grim and grimaces, and smiles filled the trenches, and the soldiers went home to rebuild their exhausted countries, fad into its lingering society. And Earnest Stanley was about to home also, first to St. Louis, picked up his wife, Ella, and go onto North Carolina, where he had put down that money on some land that would be called Stony Meadows in time, that would take place in 1919. But before he left France, he explored Germany, just a few weeks, something like fourteen days, total.
While in a little town called Dieburg, they didn't know there was a truce, or a few soldiers pretended not to know, and Corporal Judson Small a soldier from Huntsville, Alabama was with Private Stanley, it was forenoon.
There were three German soldiers less than a hundred yards away, one took his rifle-which was being carried, as if he had just come from the trenches, mud caked on him from heal to head, and even on his rifle, and he must had jumped off a truck, one was going the opposite way, and was about to go home or something, he positioned his rifle deep into his shoulder, aimed, and a shot it, the bullet passed through the air like a bee you could hear it coming, and it hit Small, tore the side of his face right off to where his teeth were showing, ripped it from the eye socket, to the lower jaw, from the ear to the nose, ripped it to shreds, meat, flesh hanging like spaghetti, he fell with a thump, flat on his back, and Private Stanley had no weapon, he stood waiting for the second bullet, looking at Small, not sure if he should run, hide, or remain where he was, but not moving, was also an option, and that was his decision, and that is what he did, and someone in the background yelled, “Ceasefire, there's a treaty. . . !" it was a German woman. And the soldier ran, with the other two soldiers, and Private Stanley had a man with the side of his face blown off laying down by his feet, not knowing what to do, whom was ready to go home, tell his wife, the war he fought, was over, we won; the wench was dead, deceased. Now as Private Stanley looked down upon him, he wondered just what he'd tell his wife, they'd try to put that face back together, if they could, and he'd be ugly as hell. His wife would have to find a spot on the other side to kiss him good night. He didn't show him in a mirror what he looked like, he just told him, it was bad, real bad. And Private Stanley sat cross-legged by him for the longest time, that is what the corporal wanted, and he died, just like that. It wasn't from the wound; Private Stanley would tell folks later on, it was what he saw in the mud buddle next to him, the mirrored reflections of his face.
The Elegy in Thoughts for a Comrade:
What were the thoughts of Private Stanley while sitting cross-legged, on the ground in Dieburg, Germany, as Judson Small passed on? No one really knows, but my guess is the following thoughts were in his mind:
Here was a war, perhaps started by a few factors, but once looked at clearly, it was just a few people in history that did not get their due in this war, called the Great War, WWI; meaning, Kaiser Wilhelm, who will have had to take his place in the evil top ten list, of Private Stanley, he being most responsibility for the nearly 20-million lives lost because of this war, and another 20-million wounded, lasting from August of 1914, to November of 1918. And it was because of him the Americans came over the Atlantic in 1917; lost 115,000-men to this evil war that now America would have to protect Western Europe forevermore.
It is a simple fact how it started, and proliferated beyond its seams, when it could have been so simply avoided- he conjured up in his minds-eye, , and we have an instigator who can take what responsibility is left, that which Czairist Russia will not take-Gavrilo Princip whom was the assassin. Austria declared war on Serbia, a Balkan Nation because of assassinations, coming out of the Serbian Government, and the trigger being the assassination of Archduke Frances Ferdinand and his wife Duchess Sophie; the assassination took place in Serbia (Bosnia, now). The Archduke was the heir to the throne of the Austrian Hungry Empire.
This is all perhaps an oversimplification-he told himself, but these are the basic roots that extend above the others, the poisoned roots that budge out of the jungle ground, and now out of the head of Private Stanley. Thus, this war developed into one tri-headed monster against another tri-headed monster, until there was a forth monster to eat up the first monster with the help of the second tri-headed monster-: Austria declared war on Serbia, the Germans declared war on Russia and France, so there was now an alliance: Italy, Germany and Austria, against Russia, France and England; then came the Americans.
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