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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Nineteen Forty One

It weren’t me I don’t ‘member being there. No sir.

This’s not how I’d do and I never left this place to do nothing. Not me. I’d sure ‘member something like that. I’m not going down for something like that. I’m clean in this respect.

Permission to speak, sir?

Some other guy might’ve but I wasn’t the one done this and that’s the truth. Somebody done point the finger at me to cover their own tracks. Might be I’ve got more mash than him or extra gravy, something, I don’t know if it was that or something else. Something he got in his head pointing me out but it’s a lie ’cause I never went near that. Not even thinking. Not me. You can say what you like. It’s not me going down. I wasn’t the one there. I’m not interested in that.

I might’ve thunk it. Permission to speak, sir?

Any soldier can think a thing like that in a dream. I’m on sentry or something and my brain’s working on by itself. But I wouldn’t’ve left my post for it. And I ain’t been off this post in weeks. I’m working here and sleepin’ and eatin’ and buffing and dreamin’ and when I have to go out over the wall I’m puttin’ my life on the line and sometimes getting back and being suprised I’m still breathi’ but that’s all I’m doing. Reading letters sometime from back home. Being punished one way or another. Keepin’ my nose clean, trying to. So it wasn’t me. No, sir. I’m the one didn’t do that. Not me.

Anyone say different he’s a liar. Should say his prayers. Wash his mouth out with soap. Talkin’ lies. Middle of a war an all.

Permission to speak, sir?

OK. It can come into a guy’s head. That stuff. Listen to the others talk, how they at it all the time. An if there’s plenty liquor and she’s begging me and whispering in my ear and smellin’ sweet an everyone’s saying the next time we go over there we’re not coming back. It could happen then but I ain’t admitting nothing ’cause there’s no memory of it or any names and I’d sure ‘member a thing like that if it happened to me.

If it’s a sin, whatever. I don’t care what they call it, that’s not what I’m saying. It’s not a question about me. It’s a question about somebody else.

Permission to speak, sir?

I don’t mind taking a bullet. I’m not arguing for it, cause no one wants a bullet. But if the bullet’s coming for a man that’s what he’s gonna get. There’s plenty of men with a bullet had their name on it and even if you’re ducking and weaving that bullet’s gonna keep on coming till it makes itself at home. Guys on the field with their mouth open and that startled look. Flutterin’ eyes. Sometimes dead and dyin’ and there’s no blood.

No, sir. Wasn’t this soldier. Other things I done I’ll stand up and take the rap. This thing wasn’t on my tab.

Permission to speak, sir?

I might’ve agreed to it or not. I don’t have no memory. I don’t know her face, sir, or her name. I don’t know how she knows my name. Five foot two don’t mean nothing. Fair hair. Nobody said nothing about getting pregnant. If somebody’d said something about getting pregnant it would never’ve happened. Not with no female. Not on my watch. What we were saying was all through the liquor and we should have some fun one time before we die. That’s no way to die and still be a virgin like some of those guys we bring in. Bodies not been anywhere or done anything ‘cept with their folks. They got mud on their faces and might’ve shot somebody and been to school and never seen a woman. And now they’re not gonna. The train’s left the station and they’re not on board.

Permission to speak, sir? It couldda been me I suppose. Couldda been any of us. We all in the same boat.

No, sir, that is not an admission, sir. No way. Not me. I’m sure. That’s the one thing I can say I’m sure.

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