Merry Christmas and welcome back for part four of my WWII Christmas story. If you missed the previous parts, you can find them here, here and here 😊 Enjoy! (Also, click here for more Christmas fun!)
Part 4: Rudi, Walking Wounded
“Don’t let him touch Joey, Sarge!” Adler said, coming to stand between Joey and Rudi.
“Are you a doctor?” Sarge asked.
“No, but I do have some medical training,” Rudi replied. “I was wounded once. Walking wounded men help the doctors. Maybe I can help him somehow.”
Sarge pushed Adler out of the way. “Let him examine him. He can’t hurt Joey with us standing right here.”
Rudi sat on the edge of the bed and opened his pack of medical supplies. “He’s got sulfur packs,” Sarge said, very pleased.
Rudi smiled at Joey and patted him on the shoulder. “Got hurt up, did you? May I take a look?”
Joey looked up at Sarge. “It’s okay, Joey.”
Joey slowly nodded his head. Rudi smiled again and removed the bandage Marta had rigged up for him. “Let’s take a look at this…” Joey tensed, fighting the urge to push Rudi away.
Stefan edged closer to them, craning his neck to get a better look at the wound. Harold, keeping to the back of the group tried to get a look too. Rudi shook his head and glanced up at Sarge. “My assistants,” he teased. “Stefan, bring me a light.”
“Jawohl.” Stefan took the lamp Marta offered him and held it over Joey, his hands shaking.
“Harold, you hold it,” Rudi said. He took a closer look at Joey’s leg. “The cold has kept it from becoming infected. You are very lucky, Pvt. Fuller. You’ll be just fine with some good rest and nourishment. I’m going to put some sulfur powder on the wound and dress it properly. You just lie still and relax, alright?”
Joey nodded and bit his lip, bracing himself for more pain.
Rudi worked fast and before Joey knew it, he was bandaged up properly and the pain was beginning to ease off.
Marta was again working over the fire, adding a few more potatoes and mushrooms. “I have a few bratwurst, if you want them,” Lars offered, pulling the items from his food pack.
“I too,” Harold whispered, fishing out his own.
Sarge dug into his pack and pulled out a can of baked beans and a second of mystery meat. Adler opened his pack and scrounged around. He pulled out a wrapped item and placed it on the table. Hilde furrowed her brow and unwrapped the cloth. “Mama! The American brought stollen! He brought stollen! Oh, you are my favorite!” she said, jumping up to hug Adler.
Her affection startled Adler. Cautiously, he placed a hand on her shoulder. “I take it she likes that stuff?”
Marta nodded. “Stollen is a Christmas tradition here. Where did you get it?”
Adler shifted. “Found it.” The German soldiers exchanged glances but said nothing. They knew he had found it on a dead soldier. How many times had they, on the verge of starvation at times, taken from their own comrades in arms and the fallen enemy troops to stay alive?
“Never mind that,” Marta said, handing Adler a knife. “Would you mind slicing it up for us? You can put it on this plate.”
Adler nodded and sank the knife into the bread like loaf. Sarge and Lars helped Marta set on the table what seemed like every dish in the house. Adler glanced at Rudi, who was timing Joey’s pulse. “How’s it sound?”
Rudi shrugged. “It’s a little fast, but that’s to be expected. He’s had quite the excitement this evening.” Rudi tucked Joey’s hand back under the covers, stood and stretched. He looked Adler up and down. “You look sturdy. Are you a carpenter?”
Adler shook his head. Rudi arranged the stollen on the plate as Adler continued to cut the slices. “What do you do back home?”
“Nosey aren’t you?”
Rudi furrowed his brow. “What has my nose to do with anything?”
Adler looked up at Rudi and almost smiled. “You know, you’re sticking your nose into other people’s business.”
“Oh! Oh, that makes sense!” Rudi said with a laugh. “Nosey! I like that.”
Adler shook his head and finally smiled a little. “You still didn’t tell me what you do,” Rudi reminded.
“If you must know, I’m a pushcart produce salesman and that’s probably all I’ll ever be.”
“Why? In America, you can do anything! Why would you want to be a pushcart whatever it was you said?”
“Because I’m…because where I live, no one wants to hire me. Our country has been in a depression, remember?”
“America too?” Rudi asked, surprised. “I always thought Americans had everything. Now, it really seems silly for us to fight each other, since we’ve both just come out of depressions. I remember how bad it was where I lived. We saw people pushing barrows into town filled with marks just to buy a loaf of bread.”
Adler raised an eyebrow. “Well, ours wasn’t quite like that...”
Rudi lowered his voice and said, “Maybe that’s why so many of our people were fooled by Hitler. We were so tired of living like that, we wanted change…” Rudi sighed and shook his head. “We sure got it.”
Adler grunted. “Hope you’re real happy with it. But then, things will be changing again before too long.”
Rudi nodded, his face grave. “I believe you’re right.”
And that’s all for now! Hope you are enjoying the story so far. What do you think will happen next? Stay tuned! We still have four parts to go!
 Yes or Yes Sir
Christian. American. Southern. Author.