A Fable

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   Johnny is in trouble and he knows it. Of course, this is nothing unusual as Johnny is always in the thick of things; but it is now an established fact and Johnny realizes it as a shell fragment zips through his trouser leg and starts unravelling the revealing shade of O.D. all over the countryside. Now Johnny realizes a miss is as good as a mile and he also realizes that to be a mile away from there at that time is much more comfortable, even though you take the chances of unravelling all the cloth in your pants leg as well as displaying your mentionables and unmentionables to the public eye; and Johnny is bashful, so rather than lose his entire pants as well as his modesty Johnny digs deeper and faster and those shells do likewise; and it is very monotonous indeed because Johnny is not the kind of a guy to lie there so still and so long and so ragged with a tear in his pants leg.

   So Jerry keeps tossing them in over the plate, as if he is very worked up about something or maybe Fritzie from Munich has been guzzling too much of his uncle's private stuff from the home town lately and forgets to elevate or lower the muzzle of that artillery piece; and as a result one round after another keeps stirring up a breeze which fans the bare spot under Johnny's torn pants leg and makes it very cold there, as well as all over Johnny's insides.

   By this time Johnny is getting pooped out from digging as well as getting worked up over this little occurrence because he knows the men in his outfit and beings they're a good bunch of guys, he's afraid someone is liable to get hurt with Jerry slopping those miniature earthquakes all over the area. And Fritzie keeps forgetting about the business at hand, or maybe he doesn't care because Tommy isn't returning any complements in exchange; and so he keeps setting there thinking about the second thing he's going to do when he breezes into Munich, and thinking chances are pretty good of getting there too, because those dumb Americans either don't know where he is, sitting there thinking of Munich, or what; but it doesn't make any difference because this is hot stuff and the gun going off reminds him of his old man's belching afters he's had a couple of mugs of that foamy Munich milk.

   Meanwhile, Johnny is about the most disgusted he's ever been, in fact he's even more disgusted than the time he was really disgusted when he rushed to a party without a belt in his pants and not realizing it until he was dancing with that blonde number, Lemondrop, in Shorty's joint, that the only thing that would keep his pant up was either a belt or his hand; and not having a spare belt there on the dance floor he had to resort to his left hand to do the job, while in turn he had to turn loose of Lemondrop as it was almost impossible to keep his arm around Lemondrop and hang on to his pants at the same time. Which, all in all, would make anybody disgusted, especially Johnny, as he is never one to turn loose of a blonde's wrist, except maybe to keep his pants from showing his pink garters.

   Johnny has been digging lots of dirt and cussing lots of people, especially the artillery people, because they aren't answering Fritzie's call and stopping this entire business, or maybe they don't know this long range demolition is going on or maybe they don't know just where Fritzie is, at the present time fooling around so carelessly with his artillery, and at the same time making Johnny more disgusted, and it is indeed a vicious circle, because Johnny suddenly remembers that maybe he could have avoided getting disgusted, getting dirty, and getting the tear in his pants leg which has been fanning in the breeze something terrific but didn't blow away even with the closest bursting shell because the Americans have good materiel and with his pants being in the same category, it is naturally good stuff. Except that a piece of paper has worked itself out of the pocket of his shirt and that makes him remember that he forgot something this morning when he captured Fritzie's cousin, Emil, from Hamburg, just as he forgot his belt that night he had Lemondrop's figure leased on the dance floor.

   So the shelling stops and everything is quiet except for Johnny and he is beating up a terrific storm with his torn pants leg and his cussing. He's cussing Fritzie and his torn pants leg, and Lemondrop for wanting him to send her an authentic souvenir, and most of all he's cussing Johnny for not turning in that paper immediately to an Officer; because those chicken scratches might mean artillery positions of which Emil from Hamburg was the observer of, and, anyway, Lemondrop later on is running around with some 4-F'er and why should he send her a sketch which might give the S-2 a chance to let the artillery knock Fritzie off his feet and at the same time keep Johnny from getting a torn pants leg.


Author: Unknown; perhaps 1st Lt C. E. Markcus, 34th Inf Div G-2 Section)
Source: The Personal Papers of Maj Gen Charles L. Bolte, CG 34th Inf Div, at the Bradley Library, Military History Institute, Army War College, Carlisle Barracks PA

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