Tuesday, July 19, 2011

STORY-"The Cleaners"

     The Scout walked over and asked, “Sergeant, have you ever seen the like?”

     One of my men hawked and spat on the snow, muttering God Damn’s under his breath. Thomas my machine-gunner stared wide eyed while fingering his rosary. All of us were transfixed by what we were looking at. Over a hundred US Army soldiers had been executed by the Nazis and thrown into a frozen Ardennes creek bed. Their bodies were slumped over each other in a bone-less doll sale bin fashion; Unlocking them would be pure hell, a frozen jigsaw puzzle of human flesh.

     “Turkey Creek.” I said staring.

     “What? Umm what’s Turkey Creek?”

      “It’s a small creek that runs from the base of a series of bluffs. About ten miles from my folks old ranch, about fifty miles north of Amarillo, Texas.”

     “It was as bad as this or was worse than this?”

     “Well to me it was. A Blue Northerner came down out of Canada, caught our herd out in the open. I was riding fence, when the storm hit. Our herd ran for cover and I ran with them. A day and a half through white outs and blizzard conditions. I don’t know how many fences I cut for them.”

     “Cut fence? Why would you have to cut a fence for cows?” Corporal Vincent Marineo from Long Island asked.

     "To keep them from bunching up. If they bunch up they will stop moving and freeze to death.”

     We stared as the Graves Registration boys tried to un-lock the corpses. They were finally forced to use chains and ammo trucks; Hauling out long ropey sections of men. My face was closed like a fist as I thought back to that Texas landscape.

     “Sometime during the second day I lost the herd. Morning of the third, I found what was left. They had run into a gully leading off Turkey Creek. They were packed in there cheek to jowl. Those that didn’t freeze to death, suffocated. Three hundred and fifty dead Herefords. You could walk from one edge of the gully to the far side without touching the ground.”

     “Sounds pretty damn awful Sergeant.”

     “Yeah it was.”- I spat on the snow trying to get an unpleasant taste out of my mouth. “That storm killed my folks ranch as surely as those Nazi bastards shot our men.”

     “What did you do with all those dead cows?”

     “Only thing we could do. We soaked em down with Kerosene and lit a bonfire. Folks said you could see them burning for ten miles.”

     The Scout looked at me for a while, glanced over at that frozen creek and said, “I guess Sergeant it doesn’t matter if you get killed by a bullet or an ice storm.”

     I lit a Lucky Strike, sucked the smoke deep into my chest and held it, feeling the nicotine burn its way into my body. Scrubbing my face I said, “Nope it’s always the living that get stuck cleaning up after.”

-The End-

DS Baker

1 comment:

  1. Dave,
    I just learned something new about cows.

    At one point I had to figure out whther you were in the past or the present
    We stared at the graves etc
    into the next paragraph sometime during the second day
    Perhaps( and this is only a suggestion)
    If you

    place the sometime during paragraph right after
    to keep them from bunching up
    The transition between time would be smoother

    Godd story
    I wasn't kidding I did learn something new. Which is a good thing

    Just wish there was a bit more to the story
    perhaps a little mre of the past