Billy was helped to his feet by the lovely boy, by the heavenly androgyne. And the others came forward to dust the snow off Billy, and then they searched him for weapons. He didn't have any. The most dangerous thing they found on his person was a two-inch pencil stub.
Three inoffensive bangs came from far away. They came from German rifles. The two scouts who had ditched Billy and Weary had just been shot. They had been lying in ambush for Germans. They had been discovered and shot from behind. Now they were dying in the snow, feeling nothing, turning the snow the color of raspberry sherbet. So it goes. So Roland Weary was the last of the Three Musketeers.
And Weary, bug-eyed with terror, was being disarmed. The corporal gave Weary's pistol to the pretty boy. He marveled at Weary's cruel trench knife, said in German that Weary would no doubt like to use the knife on him, to tear his face off with the spiked knuckles, to stick the blade into his belly or throat. He spoke no English, and Billy and Weary understood no German.
"Nice playthings you have," the corporal told Weary, and he handed the knife to an old man. "Isn't that a pretty thing? Hmmm?"
A gruesome little passage, Billy and Weary facing their captors. Billy--the innocent, unarmed and already beaten--seems to be pitied by the German soldiers. Roland, on the other hand, armed to the teeth and caught pounding the shit out of Billy, is treated with suspicion. Violence begets violence.
Before I came to my university office this afternoon, I heard a news report on NPR about the increase in anti-Semitic acts across America. Bomb threats being phoned in to Jewish schools. Jewish cemeteries being vandalized. At the end of the report, the commentator actually said, "There's no indication as to why there has been an increase in anti-Semitic acts . . ." I sat in my car and actually said out loud, "Are you kidding me?"
I suppose the commentator was trying to be unbiased and/or objective, not wanting to connect the dots between Donald Trump and the rise in acts of hate. It seems to me, however, that the Roland Wearys have been given the keys to the car in this country, and, until someone comes along and takes those keys away, there are going to be a lot of innocent bystanders who are going to get hurt.
So, I guess my job in this mess is to be kind. Just like violence begets violence, I think kindness begets kindness. At least, that's how I'm going to respond, by making a difference one kind act at a time. That's my message for tonight. Short and sweet.
Saint Marty is thankful this evening for the apple juice he drank at dinner.