photo: AP

"...so we had evacuated our position... about twenty miles south of the Culdhini Station, and... you know Culdhini Station, don't you, son?"

"Oh yeah, Culdhini, right right."

"I ask because there's a lot of people nowadays that don't remember Culdhini Station. I'm not one of them. Anyways, we were all shot up from the Germans... you know the Germans, don't you?"

"Sure, the Germans, yeah."

"You're a world away from me, son. I'm talking World War I."

"Well first off, Mr Buckles, don't call me son. And second, the Germans are the Germans no matter what war it is."

"The Germans of World War I were a different breed entirely. No comparison. Now as I was saying, we had just abandoned our position south of Culdhini... did I say abandoned? I meant evacuated, we had just evacuated our position south of Culdhini Station and we were, to put it frankly, pretty banged up. And it was raining. Oh lord, was it ever a cold and bitter rain, the likes of which I've never seen in all my days."

"It rains pretty hard in Texas sometimes."

"This was a rain from hell itself, as if God had split the sky apart to laugh darkly at the vain futility of our efforts, mocking mankind for the barbarity at it's very core."

"That was some rain."

"Indeed it was. And we were hungry. Oh lord were we hungry, our bellies were like shriveled pits, and we were cold and we were drenched and the Germans were out there waiting for us somewhere but we didn't care, bring em on, kill em all and let god sort em out. We..."

"Metallica had a record by that name."

"What?"

"Nothing... go on."

"As I earlier mentioned, we we weak with hunger, delirious really. One lad had gnawed at the bark of an old charred tree, a type of evergreen peculiar in that area, and he had come down with a really bad case of the trots. So along with our wounds and the fear of imminent death and the icy rain and the terrible hunger, there was now a ghastly odor which hung over the men like a cloud of doom. So even if we had rations, I suppose it would have been difficult to ingest them due to the all too real specter of nausea."

"Well, it's been special having this opportunity to reminisce with you, Mr Buckles, and I, uh, want to thank you for your service to your country, way back in, uh..."

"Germany."

"No, not Germany, I was trying to think of a year... 1917. I hope you, uh... here comes the photographer, let's just get a quick shot, and... you know what? I've got to get going."

"But I didn't get to finish my story."

"It's alright, I know the end of the story. You got out in one piece, am I right? And today you got to meet the president of the United States. Now look at the birdie and smile."

 

 

2005, Mark Hoback