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Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 74, Part 3

“Hey, captain, come take a look at this!”

The Animal crossed himself and walked away from Moon’s grave. Hep ut his cap bak on and walked to the grave where Jones was standing.

“What is it, chap?”


Jones pointed at the grave he was standing before. It read: AUBREY DANSWORTH. Arrington took his cap off again.

“Who is this fellow?” Daltrey asked a bit reluctanlty.

“He used to be our driver. Took over for Moon after he died in Bayonne.”

“Yes,” Jones said, “And afterward the captain and I made a bet that the next time we saw our friend he would be a civilian. It seems that I’ve won.”

Jones held out his hand. Arrington reverently placed a large wad of cash into it.

“I can’t believe you two!” Daltrey nearly screamed, “A man is dead and you are passing money around! Even worse, this means that I am the third in a line of drivers of your god damned tank, and the first two died!”

“Well, statistically that gives you better odds of survival,” The Animal said.

“What, and break the streak? Not likely.”

“Were you friends of Aubrey’s?”

The three of them turned around. A woman was standing there in a black dress and holding a few flowers. The two crewmen took off their hats. Arrington reached to remove his, but realized it was already in his hand. The lady bent down and placed the flowers on Dansworth’s grave. She was quite beautiful and the three of them were staring at her.

“Were you?” she asked again.

“Oh, uh, yes, ma’am, we were. We fought with Dans...Aubrey at Bayonne. He was a hell of a man.”

The woman’s face hardened.

“So you’re the famous Arrington who got him so keen on joining the army?”

“I am Richard Arrington, ma’am, but he seemed to want to enter the army very much on his own. We rather tried to discourage it.”

She nodded.

“I know. I shouldn’t blame you, but I still do a little bit.”

“I understand perfectly. And I would like to apologize. He would still be alive today, and famous and rich and so forth, but I suppose there is no use bothering with ifs.”

“My name is Tricia Marsden. Aubrey and I were very close.”

Arrington nodded.

“Man, that dead fellow was a lucky bastard,” said Daltrey when they had parted company with Tricia.

“Don’t speak like that of the dead,” Arrington said, “Let’s get some coffee."

A few minutes later The Animal upended his mug. The coffee grounds fell to the dirt. He licked the inside of his mouth, trying to get rid of the terrible taste.

"You would think they could get some real coffee for tired soldiers on leave," Jones complained.

"Leave? Why haven’t we been discharged yet? Christ, what more do we have to do? Spain has surrendered, and the Eastern Bloc has been beaten. What more is there to do?" Daltrey exclaimed.

"Don’t forget Mongolia," Arrington said, drinking some water from his canteen and then spitting it out.

"Oh, yeah, I forgot about the damned Imps. They’re in Asia Minor, for God's sake! How far must the British Empire stretch it's battered army?"

"Don’t tell anyone, because officially I am not supposed to tell you," The Animal said, "But there have been rumors going around about something big called the Winter Offensive. Big Mongolian campaign or something. We might get caught up in it soon."

Daltrey buried his head in his hands.

"There is no rest for the weary," Jones pointed out starkly.

"Well, while you two fellows are not altogether unpleasant company, after a few years of seeing your filthy faces I would like to be with another, more female one. So, if you will excuse me."

"Captain, you dog," Daltrey said, looking up roguishly, "You have been holding out on us. What's her name?"

"Jean Marie."

"What does she look like?"

"Kind of like you, but not as ugly."

"How many..."

"Would you idiots shut up and let me see my lady in peace?"

"We are just interested, that is all," Jones said.

"Well, you can leave your interest at the door, Jonesy. As of this moment, I no longer have to put up with you two. Why don’t you discuss your own little strumpets and call girls? Afternoon, gentlemen."

Arrington left. Daltrey sighed.

"You are married, are you not, Jones?"

"Yes. I haven’t told her I’m back in England yet, though."

"What is her name?"


"That is a lovely name. What color are her..."

"How about you, Daltrey?"

"I had a girl back in the day. Her name was Sally Joy."

Jones grunted. Daltrey grunted back. It was going to be a long leave.

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