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If Hitler Had a Son
The train was moving fast now. It was a long train, thirty-seven cars in all. It had a food car, a car for meetings, and a few cars for cabins, but most of the train was taken up by sleeping quarters. There were rows upon rows of neatly made beds. Each bed had green sheets and a single white pillow. This train was one of five trains specifically built for the army. Each one was slightly different than the next. On this particular run there two-hundred men, almost too many for the seven day trip.
Arthur slowly opened his eyes. As he sat up, he scanned the compartment. The walls were a dull brown and the maroon seats felt as soft as velvet. He groaned, rubbing his neck; it had been a long night.
As he ran his hand across the seat, a yawn struck him, forcing him to close his eyes. It had been a long night. He stood up, smoothing out his wrinkled shirt. Note to self: Don't wear nice shirts to bed. He stretched, his long skinny arms brushed against the ceiling. Then he took a look at his mangled pants and shook his head in disbelief. He was not normally that lazy. After a quick change, he moved closer to the door.
On the first night of a long trip, some of the men liked to party and party they did, too much in fact. Arthur slowly opened his door and was bewildered by the mess. Beer bottles strewn across the floors along with a couple of men who never made it back to their beds. The smell came at him like never before; he wanted to puke.
He made his way down to the mess hall, eating room, or whatever they called it, where the mess was at it’s worse. Finally, Arthur made hi way to the back corner and began throwing everything in sight into the closest trashcan. Arthur, of course, had nothing to do with the mess. He wasn’t allowed to drink, but many of those who did weren’t old enough either.
Before Arthur had made any real progress, he felt a light tap on the shoulder. He turned around to reply. It was a young man maybe only a couple years older than Arthur. He wore clothes similar to Arthur but they were much cleaner and almost new, not dirty old rags, as Arthur thought of his pants.
With a beer bottle still in his hand, the young man began to talk: “Waz ya doin’? Huh? Uz shouldn’t be cleaning dis up.” Hi speech was still a drunken slur. “Dis is da way it should be! Life iz a party man.”
“To heck with life! Jut wait ‘till the man gets down here! He won’t be pleased,” Arthur harshly replied. “We’ll be lucky if he doesn’t whip us all!”
“Oooo, look at da baby whining. Do we take babies here? I don’t’ tink so. Go home baby. Go back to your mommy. We don’t want you here.”
“What’d you say?” Arthur said, jumping up on his feet. “What did you just call me?” anger clearly etched on his brows.
“You heard me baby. Go back to your mommy.” The young man began to laugh.
Arthur threw the first blow and it struck the young man square in the nose. If anyone else were there, they would’ve heard the distinct crack when the blow struck. Neither of the expected it, especially the young man.
He slowly reached up to feel his nose and cringed at the sight of blood on his fingertips. “You’re going to pay for this!”
By the time the words came out of his mouth, Arthur was already out the door scrambling for a place to hide. He ran down the hall, his eyes separately searching for a place to hide, but he was not too far ahead. In fact, Arthur could feel his open’s breath on his back. He darted into the closest cabin, barely locking the door before it began to shake violently.
"Open the door!" the young man cried violently cried. "I'm going to kill you!" Arthur believed him, of course he would. The other guy was drunk. The door continued to shake and Arthur was frightened. He cowered in the far corner, not daring to make a sound in hopes that he would be forgotten, yet the door continued to shake. It was begging to show signs of weakness.
"Yes," the young man muttered in glee, "I'm getting in." Arthur was mortified now, his heart throbbing in his chest. All of a sudden the door slammed open, the young smirking happily.
"You're going to get it!"
Arthur saw a flash and all went dark.
Arthur floated in and out of consciousness as if in a dream. He could even almost see her, his mother. Her face radiated with a golden light. Then it all came back to him and her face turned gray.
It was a clear summer day and only a couple days until August. Arthur and his mother had been fighting. "You will not be going on that field trip! I have said it a million times and I will say it again! You will not be going! That is the end of it!" She always looked pretty when she was yelling at him. Her long blond hair fell down to her waist and it waved in the wind. It didn't help that her skin was as lovely as could be. Arthur was honored to have such a beautiful mom.
"But mother," he always called her mother when he was trying to get his way. "You can't expect me to tell them no now. I already made plans with all my friends! "
"I don't care what plans you made or who you made them with! You are not going!"
Angry, Arthur looked away and muttered, "Not that it's going to matter anyway."
"What did you just say? 'Not that it matters anyway.' What do you mean? What are you planning?" she screamed. Arthur didn't reply. He only dropped his head down in shame. "Answer me!" she exploded. Her face was red and her eyes were bulging.
"Well..." he said scanning the scene. All the trees were green and the flowers had bloomed. "Do you really want to know?" he asked glancing up. She frowned. "Well... here it goes. I'm leaving."
"What?" she shrieked. He did not expect her to react like this. He thought she would plead with him, begging him not to go. She did. "What? Where are you going? You're my baby. You CAN'T leave!"
"I've joined the army mom. I'm leaving tomorrow." Her expression went blank. "I have to mom and you can't stop me."
Then she began to break down into tears and she beckoned him to come to her. He didn't move. "Baby, baby, baby. You can't go. You're only 17. You're not ready for the world. Someday but not yet."
"I'm going. I lied about my age to get in. You can't stop me!" He threw up his fist for emphasis.
"I see," She was still distraught. "What will does your father think?" She paused, "You haven't told him, have you."
The rest of the day they spent apart, each of them dreading it in their own way. Finally it came time to say good-bye. Arthur’s father was out of the house and still had no idea about where Arthur was going or even that he was leaving at all. His mom was crying her eyes out. Arthur felt sorry for her and gave her one last hug. She buried her head in his chest. She wasn’t going to make it easy. At last, Arthur gave her a peck on the cheek and left, never looking back.
To be continued