Sunday, December 17, 2006
Concluding part of Chapter Eleven, THE BLACK ICON, A novel.
THE DEATH OF THE IDIOT
Kalyna Ostapovna was worried. All through the fighting, she and her wild-eyed son had hid in a ditch near their cellarless home, the standard Neolithic brand with the dirt floor. Tanks had ground to within a hundred feet of where the pair were crouched. The idiot, though not being able to hear the battle sounds, had nevetheless felt and seen all, becoming excited, tongue lolling out, shaking at each flash of the Russian Katiusha rockets and each freakish tremor of the earth. Kalyna looked at him. He could be dangerous. All the signs were there. She may well be in for more lumps. He'd beat her before.
By morning, when the firing died off, mother and son returned to their mud cottage, Kalyna clearing up broken glass and thick dust shaken loose during the shelling. Chyvago, meanwhile, peered through the paneless windows and shook his head from side to side.
The nearby railway depot had received a direct hit and was a smoking pile of rubble, telegraph poles and wire stretching crazily from the jumbled stone.
It was his spot, where he had "talked" to all the nice people. They would never come there again. He pointed at the former deport with a shaking finger, howling.
Kalyna tried to settle him down, to get him busy, asking him, gesturing to him, to help with the cleaning.
Chyvago insited on making for the depot.
"You'll get hurt over there," Kalyna said slowly, so he could read her lips. "There are Germans around. They will shoot you."
"Uhnngnoooo," the idiot insisted.
He rushed for the door, while Kalyna tried to stop him. Rushing after him Kalyna put a foot in front of Chayvago, tripping him, bringing him to his knees in a howl.
"Don't go there," she said to his face. "They will kill you."
Thie idiot rose from the floor and faced his mother. With an angry burble, he stood up suddenly and lashed out at her with a heavy, twisted hand, bringing the woman down.
"Go then," Kalyna cried from the floor. "All right. Go. Get yourself killed. I hope you get yourself killed. Go, you demon, curse of my life. Go. I hope you die."
Gefreiter Muller, high cheeked, fair and freckled, squatted behind a watertank, fingered his black mauser and cursed his luck. All the others, tired after the night's fighting, were allowed to sleeep in any quarters they found, providing they were in wire contact with HQ. But his lieutenant had ordered him to watch over this section of track, challenging anyone who approaced, shooting anyone who refused to halt.
Something big and hulking moved towards where the railway depot had been. An enormousman in a quilt coat. Now the figure bent over to pick up something.
Muller crouched down and yelled "Halt!"
The tall, bent man kept picking up bits of rocke, examining them against the sun. Now he straightened and began walking toward Muller.
Muller lifted his machine pistol and let go a slow burst that stiffened and toppled the approaching figure.
Afterwards, when Muller examined the body, he shook his head. "Stupid civilian. Why the hell didn't he stop?"
Back at his post, Muller fell asleep, tugging at his gritty eyes, while only the occasinal chatter of birds broke his watch.
............end Chapter Eleven THE BLACK ICON, a novel.