Hello and Merry Christmas! Welcome back to day 3 of 12 DOC! If you missed part one of this story, click here, then continue with this second installment! Enjoy!
Part Two: The Soldiers
“Sarge, I want to go on record of being 100% against this.”
“I understand how you feel, Adler, but we have to get Joey in out of the cold. I don’t fancy keeping him out in the cold for a third night. And you’re worn out too, so don’t deny it. Please, just cooperate.”
“You can’t trust krauts,” Adler snapped, as he helped Sgt. Edwards lower Pvt. Joseph Fuller to the ground. “Not even the civilians.”
“It’s Christmas Eve. Surely they’ll be more inviting on a Holy Night like this.”
“I bet they will,” Adler said, rubbing the side of Joey’s face in an attempt to warm him. In his other hand, he clutched a hand gun, ready to fire it if things turned bad on them.
Sgt. Edwards knocked on the door. He heard movement inside, but for nearly a minute no one came. Then the door slowly opened, revealing a motherly woman who, in spite of her efforts not to, was shaking. She gasped, then clasped her hand over her mouth. “Nein!”
“Please, er, bitta, Frau. Do you speak English?”
The woman shook her head. “Nein.” She said something else and prepared to go back inside.
“Wait, Frau, bitta!” Sgt. Edwards said, grasping the doorframe. “We’ve got a wounded man. We only ask one night’s shelter. Please!”
Marta wasn’t sure what the American soldier was saying, but she glanced around him and saw the two other soldiers, one propping up the other, whispering something into his ear. She stepped just inside and grabbed a low glowing lantern, turning up the wick as she stepped back outside. She looked at the faces of the three men. Her eyes softened. “You are just boys,” she whispered in German. She thought of her Peter…
She set her jaw, startling Sgt. Edwards. “Come, schnell.”
She held open the door. Sgt. Edwards hurried to help Joey back onto his feet. “Thank you, Frau. Danke, Danke!”
“On the bed,” she said. She couldn’t keep herself from talking to them, even though they had no idea what she was saying. She pointed to the wooden frame on the other end of the room. Adler pulled down the covers and carefully helped the sergeant lower Joey onto the wood and rope frame.
Joey moaned as the woman took over. She kept up her chatter. “Well, I’ll just use my hot tea water to clean this out,” she said, ripping the material further away from the soldier’s injured leg. She tisked as she surveyed the makeshift bandage. “Poor work, but probably all they could do…”
“Do you speak French?” Sgt. Edwards asked.
Marta’s eyes lit up. “Oui!” Soon the two were discussing Joey’s condition, making Marta’s job that much easier.
As the wash rag made contact with the injury, Joey hollered and tried to sit up and push Marta aside. Adler held him down while Sarge spoke to him calmly, but firmly, ordering him to lie still and let the nice lady care for his leg.
Tears squeezed their way out of the boy’s eyes as Marta continued what to him was akin to torture. But at last, the wound was wrapped. “Help me get him out of his things,” Marta said, proceeding to unbuckle Joey’s utility belt. Adler quickly took over, removing his friend’s gear and outer coat and jacket.
Marta pulled the blanket up about Joey’s shivering body and spoke softly to him in French, patting his shoulder and assuring him that he would soon feel much better. Joey closed his eyes.
That’s when Hilde’s crying was heard. Sgt. Edwards turned quickly towards the crying child. His heart melted when he saw her frightened eyes. Without thinking, he scooped her up and began to rock her as he carried her over to Marta.
“German brat,” Adler muttered.
Marta snapped her head towards him as she comforted her child. She might not have known English, but she knew exactly what he had said. “Would you like to sleep outside, soldier?” Adler glared at her. “Don’t ever call my child a brat again, American.”
Adler growled something at Marta before crossing the room and taking off his pack, coat and helmet. He left his toboggan on, cradled his carbine in his arms and proceeded to station himself near the fire, facing the door.
“Sorry about Adler, Frau,” Sarge said, his voice low. “He’s a good fellow, but he’s still wound up from our last engagement.”
“So I see,” Marta replied. She hugged Hilde again, whispered something to her and stood up. “Are you lost, Sergeant?”
Sarge nodded. “Two days and two nights now. The storm hasn’t helped.”
“Well, then you must be hungry. Come sit at the table and I’ll fetch you some food.”
“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” Sarge protested.
“Go sit,” she ordered with a smile. She carried Hilde over to the table and sat her across from Adler. Hilde’s lip trembled as she saw her dolly beneath Adler’s elbow. Tears formed in her eyes. Adler glanced down at her, his face dark, lips drawn into a deep frown. He followed her gaze down to the cloth doll.
Rolling his eyes, Adler moved his elbow and tossed the doll to Hilde. “It’s not worth crying over.”
“It is when you’re five and some mean fellow’s got your baby,” Sarge teased as he took a seat next to Hilde. He smiled. “Isn’t she adorable?”
Adler grunted and kept his eyes on the door. Sarge shrugged and checked the pistol at his side: loaded and ready for him to use whenever he pulled the trigger.
Steaming cups were placed in front of the two GIs. “Tea. I was able to make some with the left over water. The soup will be just a moment.”
“No rush, Frau. You’ve done more than enough as it is.”
Adler sneered and shook his head. Sarge narrowed his eyes. “Adler, she could die just for giving us shelter, let alone tending our wounded and feeding us. Show some respect.”
“I mean, ‘Yes, Sergeant.’”
Sarge laughed. “You’ve been in the army how long and you haven’t figured out that you don’t say ‘sir’ to a sergeant?”
The corners of Adler’s lips twitched as he broke his stare down with the door. He settled onto the bench and said, “I’ll get it figured out when we march into Berlin.”
Sarge grinned. He knew Adler would come around before long. He never could stay uptight with his friends. Adler even offered Hilde a half smile. The child blinked her big blue eyes at him, then rewarded them both with a dimpled smile and a childish giggle.
“Here we are,” Marta said, placing two bowls on the table, half filled with hot soup. “Wait a moment and I’ll get you some bread.”
Adler’s stomach growled. He dipped his spoon into his soup and took a bite. He closed his eyes. It was so good!
Hilde frowned at him and said, “Mama, he’s a bad man! He didn’t thank Jesus for his food!”
Marta laughed and translated her daughter’s outrage to the Americans. Adler grunted. “My apologies.”
Knock, knock, knock.
Hilde jumped up. “Mama! It’s Papa! I know it!”
Who do you think is at the door? You’ll have to check back to find out! God Bless! (Click here for more Christmas fun at Stories by Firefly!)
Christian. American. Southern. Author.