Thursday, November 30, 2006

Trouser pocket hi-jinx

DISCLAIMER: The following post is a bit of a departure from the norm. It’s in response to the House of Sternberg’s assignment to whack together 700 words of bad writing (which I think I have achieved admirably), under the heading, "The holidays were no fun for someone with holes in his pockets."

DISCLAIMER II: Sorry people, there’re a few Australianisms in this one, let me know if a translation is necessary.

The holidays were no fun for someone with holes in his pockets.

“Fark!” screamed Harry as we slopped onto the muddy trench floor for the fifth time in as many minutes, “That one was real close … What do ya reckon, Stu? You think Fritz is lookin’ to join us for Christmas dinner?”.

“None of my business, H!,” I ventured with forced humour as I wiped mud and debris from my face and stumbled further along the trench, “I’ll be in St Patrick’s for midnight mass and Soho for an early pressie before Santa has even started loading-up. Give Gerry a kiss for me, though!”

“Lucky Bastard”, Harry laughed, and I mouthed a prayer for deliverance as another mortar exploded, sending us face-first into the filthy muck once again. With numb feet thanks to the cold water seeping through the holes in our boots, we scrambled off down the muddy line.

Later, we stopped to rest and I bummed-around for a smoke and a jiffy - like my boots, me pockets had finally given up the ghost the day before, and I’d lost me lighter and fags somewhere in no-man’s land, along with most of my ammo and me only photo of Jules. Bloody army!

As if he could read my thoughts, Harry, an unlit rolly hanging out of the corner of his mouth, complained loudly, “How the hell are we supposed to fight a bloody war in the snow without any decent clobber?” He held up his soaking, mud-caked sock which he’d received in his red-cross parcel three days before; the label read, “Knitted by the Griffith Ladies Auxiliary for Our Boys in Wipers”. Poking three fingers through three separate holes, he grinned, “I reckon Stu’s missus must’ve knitted these … probably reminded her of her Old Man’s brain”.

That earned him a few good-natured grunts, but I wasn’t really up to humouring anyone. The shells were going off almost every other minute, and were definitely nudging closer. All I could think about was getting out of that muddy hell-hole and onto a boat for London by nightfall. I was bloody lucky to have been given Christmas off, my first holiday since arriving in The Somme four months earlier; I was exhausted and cold, my ears were shot, I had lice and foot-rot and I hadn’t slept in days. I was desperate to get back home to Jules, but until then, London was gonna have to do. Just a few more hours…

“Look out, Joe!” We all hit the mud again as a shell exploded right on top of us, blowing half the trench apart only yards from where we’d been sitting. I looked up and waited for the smoke to clear, and despite the buzzing in me ears, I still caught the guttural screams of a dozen berserk Germans as they roared down upon us. As usual, Harry was there first, letting fly with his rifle and sending one of them screaming onto his back. I was right behind him, with a similar result but was vaguely aware of Stevo going down beside me. I fired again and set off towards the ‘krauts who were retreating off into the muck.

I slid along in pursuit, but pulled-up short when I rounded a corner and stood facing a lone German. He was fumbling in his pocket for bullets and I shouldered my rifle and fired…


I remember what followed in minute detail. I reached into my own pocket for bullets and felt cold daylight on my finger tips as they protruded through the holes. With a sudden chill, I charged forward, my bayonet poised, but I knew it was hopeless when he raised his rifle. As I dove into the mud, I felt the hot, painful tug in my shoulder. My last memory was a blurred Harry, followed by the blood-curdling crunch of steel on bone as he drove his bayonet through the poor bugger’s ribs.

I lay unconscious in the mud for eight hours while the Germans came at us in waves. Harry, with two broken ribs, carried me three miles to the field hospital where, on Christmas day, they removed my right arm. Not quite the holiday I’d been looking forward to, but at least I was goin’ home.

Allied soldiers in the trenches in The Somme. Pic:


Stewart Sternberg said...


Blonde Vigilante said...

I have to come back to read this. Just wanted to let you know that I stopped by.

Susan Miller said...

Okay, so I read it and feel like I'm missing something here. Maybe bad was lost in my translation because this seemed really good to me.

I got caught up in the story and may have missed all the literary fouls. Thus, I am grateful you did the assignment for Stu because that is what led me to the reading.

Thank you for submitting your not bad but good story.

DonkeyBlog said...

Thanks Susan,

In truth, after reading some of the other posts, I now see the error of my ways and realise what the true purpose of the activity was, however, I recognise some clangers in my own post that should never again grace the pages of pulp or literature!

Thank you for dropping by, and I will be sure to do the next assignment properly.

SQT said...

Yes, I'm afraid it's too good to be in the company of the stinkers the rest of us put up.

Never fear, you'll get the hang of it. ;)

SQT said...

Yes, I'm afraid it's just too good. I got into and actually cared about what happened next.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I have been trying to do a horror story that occurs in world war one so I was extremely interested. And yes, I agree its not bad, but hey. Not a problem.

We'll have another assignment up in about a week. I invite you to tackle that. I get the feeling there will be more people taking it on as the subject will be unconventional addictions or fetishes. We'll see.

So stop by.

sabrina said...

Hey come all my comments are now Anonymous? :{

DonkeyBlog said...

SQT - having read and been amazed by a lot of your stuff over the last couple of weeks, I receive your comments with the highest gratitude. Thanks for stopping by.

Mr Sternberg - never fear, I'll be a regular, and perhaps soon-to-be unwanted houseguest. Thanks for opening up a new world to me.

Sabrina - dunno, I noticed your laughing maw had disappeared off the radar last night but thought it might have been my drunken haze ... it anyway, it seems rectified now, which is great :)

It might have had something to do with the cross-over to Blogger Beta, 'cause you're not the only one.