albright's blue spruce

the crackling of gunfire in the distance woke the young man from his forbidden catnap and he sat up, cupping his hands over his mouth and huffed into his frozen gloves for warmth. chandler albright was a young man of nineteen years from a small ass crack in the world called anadarko county, which was just southwest of oklahoma city. with swirling dreams of combat and heroism, chandler had signed up with the infantry on valentine’s day in the february of 1942 with his best friend will hatchell in the hopes of winning the love of gail evansworth. one year later, he was entrenched in a snow covered forest in god-knows-where and will hatchell was working as a grocery bagger at evansworth’s market in downtown anadarko. it turned out the lucky bastard had flat feet. everyday ran into the next in a freezing blur of digging, marching, and waiting. chandler had overheard someone say they were in italy, but nobody was sure. there were three lines on the eastern front, the barbera line, the bernhard line, and the gustav line. private albright was on the bernhard line and was appointed as the sole lookout at the southernmost tip of the flank. his job was to watch for any movement that might try to cross the garigliano river. if he made contact, he would radio back to the main line, holding off any advancement as long as he could. “what the hell does that mean?” he thought to himself, “as long as I could?” he was to dig the standard foxhole and cover the opening with brush and snow, but when he got to his designated point, he found the ground frozen solid. he settled for a slight dip in the snow that had been formed by an uprooted blue spruce. chandler unfolded the bipod at the end of the twenty pound browning automatic rifle and checked the magazine for ice. the bar’s clip was designed to be changed within 2.5 seconds, but he had never been able to do it in under five, and in icy conditions during combat was a whole different ballgame. he breathed into the slide of the weapon to melt the ice that had formed in the metal. he looked out over the top of the snowy knoll and took in the beauty of the tall black pines against the gray european sky. he saw a small flash of light across the river. chandler albright never felt the round of the german kar98k sniper rifle as it tore through his head, sending his helmet flying five yards backwards into the snow. three thousand miles away on a dark deadend street in oklahoma, a young man sat up in the backseat of a dusty 1933 packard, “did you hear something?” will said in a panting breath. “no, now get back down here tiger” gail whispered, pulling the young man back to her lips.

1 comment:

finnegan said...

There are more ways to "get a head" seems to be the moral of this one. Ouch. Our man from Anadarko County loses his head over a girl while she's giving it to his best friend.