There I was...
The man sat at the work table sipping coffee quietly by himself, staring out the hanger windows. After a few minutes he heard his co-workers approaching and he cleared his throat and put his hands on the table.
His co-workers knew that pose, all too well. The man sitting at the work table, hands on the table like he had something profound to say. The two people in the back turned and walked back the way they had come, break could wait! But the three in front were caught.
“There I was in the damned trenches. Knee deep in muck, blood and shit, it smelled horrible.” He put his hand over his mouth and nose and wincing his eyes.
“The Hun artillery barrage went on forever it seemed. We were huddled with our weapons in hand and those damn gas masks on. Those things smelled almost as bad as the muck! But it was better than getting your lungs and eyes burned out with gas!”
He shifted in his seat a little, and reached for his coffee.
“The Hun always targeted the HQ first, then our artillery, then us on the front lines, and it was our turn. All over the line explosions ripped the ground, it shook everything, it was the most frightened I ever was.”
An odd look passed over his face for a moment.
“Well there was that time in Paris with that ballet dancer. Do you have any idea how strong their legs are?” A mischievous smile crept onto his face.
“Thats a story for another time.”
He took a sip of coffee, a little bit dribbling down his chin.
“Then they came, thousands of the Hun bastards with their pointy helmets!”
He put an elbow on the table looking like he was aiming a rifle.
“I took aim.”
He was motionless and silent for quite a while. He wiped the back of his hand across his forehead.
The other people standing around the table listening jumped. And truth be told, the man jumped too. He hadn’t meant it to be that loud, and he nearly knocked over his coffee.
“Bang, bang, bang!” He continued.
All my buddies around me opened up at the same time, as did the brownings. Hun were dropping like flies.
“Bang, bang, bang!”, his head jerked to his right.
“My buddy Marco just took a bullet to the neck!” The man looked back forward, “Medic!” I yelled as I started firing again.
“Bang, bang, bang!”, his head jerked to the left.
“My buddy Phil just took a bullet off his helmet,” The man squinted, “He looks ok.”
“Bang, bang, bang, I just kept firing. And more of my buddies were dropping all around me. Jenkins, Marty, Bill all dropping.”
The man looked around him, quite a bit of frothy drool was accumulating at the corners of his mouth and he was getting that crazed look in his eye.
A young man was listening, very much against his will. But if he tried to leave he would have a large hand grab his shoulder and drag him back. And if he tried to make a comment, he would be told to “Show some respect.” He didn’t understand why he had to put up with the ravings of this lunatic. Sure he was a pretty good mechanic, but he had never been in any war! They had both been deployed for Desert Storm, but they had been far away from the fighting. They were aircraft mechanics after all, we sent our officers off to get shot at, which is how it should be!
The young man knew the story was winding down, the frothing mouth was a sure sign it was about to end some how.
“…Mickey’s head just exploded, good thing he was a good ten feet away or I would have been covered in blood and brains! But a little piece of skull did hit the side of my face.”
The man reached down to his belly and leaned forward a little and a pained look crossed his face.
The people listening were a little concerned, he looked like he was in real pain.
“All of a sudden, out of no where, my appendix exploded! Out of the blue, no warning!”
He doubled over, both hands on his belly now.
“Oh I envied poor Mickey, Jenkins, Marty and all the others! It wasn’t a bullet that got me, or even an artillery shell or gas! It was that disgusting food! Those rations were probably from the Civil War! They were disgusting!
The young man shifted his stance. This was a new angle for the story. No glorious death, but it was boring none the less.
“I slumped over, trying to keep my head up and fire my weapon, but the pain was just too much. I sat down, leaned my weapon against Marco’s body. Wow this pain is amazing.”
He was looking down at the ground, his hands still on his belly.
“Get up you bastard, fire that weapon!”. The mans head snapped up.
“There was some pasty faced officer standing right in front of me with his side arm out and pointed at my head!”
The mans eyes were wide.
“You have got to be kidding me! Well I guess it is better than dying from appendicitis!”
The pasty faced bastards head exploded.
A curious look was on the mans face now.
“But the brains shot out to the side…”
The man looked to his left.
“Damn Hun storm troopers got into our lines and shot me in the head and I died, the end”
He stood a little shakily, stretched his legs, picked up his coffee and walked away.