Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dear Simon 5

“That was a wonderful service,” Simon said.
“Yeah, it was,” Matthew replied. A truck whizzed past them, traveling to the rear. They were sitting in a back up of traffic a mile long. “So, what are you going to about Amanda?”
“I think I’m going to let her go. I can find a better girl than that… thing.”
“That sounds like a good idea.”
“Yeah.” Suddenly the car three places up exploded into a fireball. It took a second for everyone to assimilate the fact that they were under attack, men began pouring out of their vehicles. Another truck exploded, spraying metal shards into the few men yet to exit it. Simon rolled into a ditch, coming up right next to Matthew. Shells started bursting more quickly now, like iron rain. A man was stuck in the middle of the road, screaming in pain. He had his left leg torn off. He was holding in his guts with one hand, trying to crawl out of the line of fire with the other. Simon leapt up, and started to the injured man. “Simon, get back here!” Matthew cried.
Simon reached the injured man and began to drag him to safety. A shell struck the ground a few meters behind Simon, spraying his legs in shrapnel. Even in his pain Simon continued pulling the man toward the ditch. Another soldier sprang up from the ditch and began helping Simon. And another, and another. Eventually they got the injured man into the ditch. Matthew rushed over to Simon, and looked over his legs. By this time Simon had stopped moving. Matthew checked his pulse, nothing. And the world stopped. And Matthew screamed. And it all ended.

Dear Simon 4

“Matthew? Are you in here?” Simon called. “ I want to talk to you.” Simon ducked into Matthew’s dugout, and looked around. At first he didn’t see anything, but at a second glance around he saw Matthew standing in the corner. Not just standing, he had a coarse rope looped around his neck. The other end was tied to one of the rafters supporting the wall. “Matthew, what are you doing?”
“I’m ending it! No more! I can’t go through this another day!”
“Just take the rope off and we… we’ll talk about it. Ok?”
“No! That’s not going to happen! I’m done! Done with this whole fucking war!”
“Just come down. It’s going to be fine. Just come down.”
“No… I’m not… I’m done with… this!” Matthew sobbed.
“It’s ok. Let me help you down.” Simon lifted the rope from around Matthew’s neck. He sat the sobbing form on the cot. He tried to calm Matthew down, but it just made it worse. So they just sat down together for a time, only the muffled whimpers breaking the silence. After a long time Matthew suddenly spoke, “You know, Simon. I used to think you were like a brother to me. It was like I had two brothers, one in blood, one in spirit. Now I only have one left. You. And now you are acting like my worst enemy. I never meant to sleep with Amanda. Really. And I’m so sorry that I did. But we can’t change what happened in the past. But we can shape the future. Our future. I would like you to came to the funeral with me. Can you do that for me? Be my brother for one more day? Just one day.”
Stunned, Simon just nodded.

Dear Simon 3

When Matthew blinked his eyes open, he just saw a blur. After a few seconds his world came into focus. He was sitting in the infirmary, surrounded by moaning men and doctors scurrying frantically about. He tried to sit up, but the effort was too great. So he laid back and let unconsciousness wash over him once more.
The second time he came around the headache was not quite as bad. He was able to stay awake long enough to get a better view around. He noticed a unopened letter next to his cot. He looked to a nurse who was checking his temperature, “What’s that?”
“It’s a letter for you. Came for you when you were asleep. I think it is something from the War Ministry,” the nurse said.
“Could you read it to me?”
“Are you sure you can handle it?”

To: Corporal Matthew Voltari
From Secretary Of War
Dear Corporal,
We regret to inform you that your brother, Ensign Theo Voltari, was killed in action two days ago at sea. Please accept our deepest regrets.

“I’m so sorry Corporal. I didn’t mean… I’m sorry.”
“I want… I want to… be alone.”
“Of course.”

Dear Simon 2

He couldn’t bear it. One more day of this torture would drive him over edge. Matthew did not think he could stand to sit in this muddy, hell pit. He just had to get out of here. But how could he? He could just leave, walk away from it all. No, they would catch him before he left the front trench. There was another way. A more permanent way out. “Germans! Battle stations!”
Matthew peeked his head above the lip of the trench, praying he didn’t get shot doing it. Thousands of German troops were pouring out of their trenches, charging straight at him. Or at least it seemed like they were all heading for him. He had to get out of here, back to his unit. But that entailed a hundred-yard dash through hell, with only a small dirt wall between the german bullets and his head. He had to do it.
It was the longest run of his life. Matthew dipped and dodged, slamming into the sides of the trench at every turn. As he reached the final turn a shell landed in front of his feet. Mathew dived over it into the nearest dugout. He made it just as the shell exploded, spraying burning shrapnel into the dirt wall of the trench. The sound blast from the explosion did more damage than the metal itself. Matthew only heard the first second of the blast, before he lost consciousness.

Dear Simon,

Dear Simon,
How are you my love? I miss you dearly. I have some bad news I feel I must share. Two months ago, when you were home on leave, your friend Matthew stayed with me. While he was here we became quite attached. We had a very lovely affair. I am so sorry I did not tell you sooner. I deeply regret it now, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

Your love,

Simon was still a long time. Thinking. Begging. Begging for it not to be true, for it all not to be true. He cried out to the darkness; short, stifled sobs. He cried for a long time, rocking back and forth on his cot. He didn't even hear the gunshot.
"Medic! Medic! Get a goddamn medic over here!" screamed the corporal. "The captain's been hit. Medic!"
The medic ducked and weaved through the tangled mass of bodies in the trench. He reached the captain just as Matthew pocked his out of the dugout. When Matthew saw the captain's face, he turned away. The medic leaned over the body and began to work. He moved rapidly, pushing in a needle of morphine and wrapping the head in gauze. The litter arrived moments later. Matthew reappeared as soon as they turned the corner.
"Will he be all right?" Matthew asked.
"No way to tell. That head wound was pretty bad. I've never seen a man lose that much of his skull in one shot. I did what I could to keep his brain in his head, but he'll still have some serious damage if he survives," the medic replied. "So who's in charge now?"
"I think that would be Simon, he's the only other officer in the unit."
"Ok, do you want me to tell him he's in command now?"
"No, I'll do it. I'm going that way anyway."
"Yes sir." The medic turned to collect his kit. Matthew stalked off, not relishing the next conversation. But when he duck down into Simon's dugout, he didn't see anyone. He struck a match against the wall and looked around. There wasn't much in the room to look at. A regulation table was pushed up against the wall under a not-so-regulation picture. Matthew had to admit, it was a good picture of Amanda, a very good picture. The only other place he could be was under his cot. Matthew pulled back the covers to reveal a shrunken version of Simon laying there. A letter in hand.
"What are you doing in there Simon?" Matthew asked, nervous.
"Nothing you bastard!" he spat back.
"What's with you Simon? Why are you so... odd today?"
"Why don't you tell me, woman stealer." Matthew froze. How had he found out? Amanda had assured him that no one would ever find out. But of course she would tell him. She might not think about things before she did them, but she always felt bad after.
"Listen, Simon, I'm sorry about what happened. It wasn't my fault! She cornered me. I didn't want to do it, but she was very persuasive."
"The hell you didn't! Just get out! Leave! Now!"
"Fine. But you have gotta come too. The captain’s hurt and you're in charge." As Matthew stormed out Simon sat up. The captain, hurt. That meant he was in command of the whole company. And he could finally make Matthew pay for what he did. Yes, this might just work out. He kept repeating this as he dressed for the day.