The Eulogy of CPL. James Bell
Sequel to 'In the Depth of Bella Woods'
The overturned field was dotted with small pools of bright red blood. Loud booms marked the passing of the hour followed by the faint screams of dead and dying and call of lain prayers. If there was ever a hell upon this earth then that hell must have been the fields of Florien. Once in a long forgotten time of peace and prosperity the fields might have hosted pickets or funfairs.
But not almost a year into the tragic civil war among European nations called the Kaisers war the field only hosted mass graves and a sea of small pools of blood that seemed to remind the soldiers sent here of the mental pictures of hell so preached to them by the parish's priest.
The Battle of Isabella woods had just ended a few weeks ago, The battle had been hailed by the public as a great victory for both allied powered. And once more rumors where exchanged among fighting men that a truce would be reached before Christmas and at long last they home with there love ones and family.
But among the men that marched over the small mole hills and ant hills that dotted the narrow raised dirt road that cut the field in half there was no talk of a Christmas leave or even going home. The only thoughts that ever entered there mind was the thought of making it one more mile.
Among these shells of men was a young man by the name of James Water flower Bell. The young man had had entered the army has a Private and upon completion of drill he had been promoted to Lance Corporal a rare honor in those times for a young man straight out of basic. Had had made Corporal before the battle of Ivy Field the last and possible bloodies battle of the whole Isabella Woods Campaign.
Slowly he opened his mouth to speak but no words could be found. So he closed his mouth once more and peered with lifeless eyes toward over the hellish field. There had been a skirmish here, the harden youth could tell by the way the air smelled of spent black powder and dozens of dead lay upon the field there once youthful faces puffed from the late summer sun. And there wooden tunics soaked to the max with blood.
"Damn poor chaps." Said James stopping in mid stride. Slowly he reached down and peered into the dead fish like eyes of the fallen solider. Green flies where starting to work there way inside the open mouth and ants and other such animals had already had there fill of his flesh.
"Sheer madness this be." Came a voice to his left. The voice belonged one of the older members of the unit. His hair was white like winters snow and a full white bearded graced his chin. In a more peaceful time the old fellow might have been mistaken for the fable saint nick. But now he was simply another name upon a long roll call of soldiers.
"Copper Cash." Came another response from the rear of the marching column of men. There was a hint of cheekiness to the voice. A few men smirked and shook there heads while others simply grinned. The phase was becoming a common one. Copper Cash was street slang for a small, thin copper coin. The coin was called a Cash and it took one hundred of them to make a solid yen.
"Copper Cash indeed." Said James standing up and crossing himself. A strange transformation had happen in his short time away from home. The stress of combat, the fact that each day he woke up he peered into a vast enemy sky from which at any second a enemy fighter could appear and bring death down upon his head had caused him to embrace the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Softy under his breath he whispered a Latin prayer a hope at best that the poor fellow soul would be at rest in the here after. Because he knew looking around the hellish landscape that there would no peace found in this land as long as brother crossed sword with brother.
The minutes slowly ticked away, and slowly they melted into hours. Enlisted and non-commissioned alike where forbidden to carry time pieces. Only the officers on horseback where allowed to. But the age old way of marking the passage of time by the position of the sun had been reborn it seemed.
Finally just before the sun vanished behind the spear point like tops of trees from a distended forest the men found there rest. The place chosen by there commanding officer was a even piece of land. A island of green in the middle of a sea of upturned sandy brown earth one could say. A few fruit bearing trees completed the picturesque setting.
"I be damn, so those bloody flee bitten hole heads saved a small bit of land us." Came a commented from one of the men from the rear. The man that had spoken was a tale skinny man with ash gray hair and deep set sapphire blue eyes. The three downward pointing chevrons upon the blue sleeves of his tunic marked him as a sergeant.
"Bet they saved it cause some poor farmers daughter gave it up to some hole head German Officer." Came another comment. From the man beside the sergeant. This fellow when compared to the sergeant was quite young. His face was unscratched by the elements and his tunic oddly clean.
"Hold your tongue there boy! No self respecting Nipponese maiden will ever give herself up. She would die defending her honor and the honor of her family before she ever allowed herself to be dishonored in such a way." Came the sharp response of a another fellow.
"Alright, that's enough from you lot!" Cried the officer ridding up from the rear area. Despite his position as a offer he seemed not the fair a hair better than the mean he lead. His charcoal black hair was tied back in a greasy ponytail. His chin was dotted with small hairs and cat green eyes seemed to glazed over.
"Okay sergeants, pick your chosen men. And take your units and break in for the night. We'll hold here for the night. And till word comes from the upper command." He bellowed out once more before spinning his horse around and galloping away. And in the blink of a eye he had vanished in a yellow cloud of kicked up dust.
And soon the ringing of hammers filled the air as men drove deep the wooden stays that would support the white canvas tents that would server as there homes for the next several days. Quickly narrow roads where formed as tents sprung up. A city of white hosted upon a island of green in a sea of brown.
Once the tents where raised the smell of roasting pork filled the air. Along with the bitter smell of strong coffee and tea the beverage of choice among these men. Life was starting to fall into its normal pattern. A few of the men where brushing up on there unarmed and armed drill commands.
While others where resting under the limited shaded offered by the fruit bearing trees scatted around the camp. But for James there would be no rest. True enough his body wanted to rest, but often ones mind and body do not see eye to eye. And thus he retreated to a far corner of the camp and there he found rest among the cooling shadows cast by the knotted tree limbs.
Once at rest he reached into his brown leather bag and pulled out a small ink pen and a few sheets of fools scrap paper. Once the tip of the pen was upon the paper he fell into a trance like state and these following words did he pen.
No soft melody sooths me to sleep
Only the falling of shells upon the dew
With a loud bang and boom they shake
The earth under toe
Loud booms followed by hollow screams
These are the hellish melodies to sooth us
To peaceful sleep
Hear now the falling rain of metal
Rattling upon are shield heads
Hear now the screams of the fallen
These are the sounds of the poor
We where once young men
Born to flesh and blood creatures
Now we are phantom specters
Of civil war among nations
And we phantom specters
Sleep to the hellish sound
Of the scholars will call
A Trench Crawlers Lullaby
-CPL. James Bell
James blinked as his sapphire pink eyes scanned the written lines. The darken verses seemed to echo of a unseen cloud that shadowed the hearts of millions. Setting the pen down upon the grass and lifting his head toward the sky he took another deep breath. Poetry his old English teacher had once said. Was the hymn of man. A way for man to connect with his creature through the use of lyrical prose.
Slowly he reached down and picked up his pen again. His mind was now filled blooming sakura trees, and the teasing spring air filled with there pink flowers and sweet smell. And then they appeared row upon row of simple white cross's. Each one had a brass name plate nailed in its center.
Each one marked the final resting place for a young man long. A soul doomed by the thundering roar of cannons and the crackle of muskets. Slowly the ghost of these young souls started to appear to him and in there tired voice they asked him to pen a poem for then.
And so setting pen to paper these where the words he wrote. They flowed like a river from the tip of his pen.
We are all sakura trees
We bloomed in the height of power
And we wither defending the Empire
Like brave knights of old
Ol' brother cry not for us frail cherry blooms
For are deaths are noble indeed, we fall
Defending the motherland her sweet shores
Shall not be tainted by the foot of the Kaiser
Welcome us o' brother each year though
When we return at the coming of the Obon Festival
Welcome us we with sweet sake and rice cakes known to
Us during are boyhoods.
And know brother are spirits rest not in heaven, such
Is not a place for a solider! But rest with the spirits of
All noble men that's lifeblood watered the rose of are
-CPL James Bell
Slowly the tip of his pen was lifted from the surface of his paper and slowly a small smile formed upon his lips. These two sheets of verse would be the voice of countless men he hopped. He would send them home and maybe the local news paper, The Oshima North Star would print them in there Evening Report. Fame would be his one way or the other. Be it won by courageous deed or the poetic pen.
"These two stories, will be my Eulogy. A nod to my old English Teacher. God rest her soul." And with the passage from young man to harden solider was complete. And then as if upon command the heavens open up and a light rain started to fall. Quickly the papers where rolled and stole away.
And as rain slowly dropped down upon his head and slowly washed away the soil from his face. He felt all sins commented in that dreadful place slowly leave his body a clean feeling seemed to wash over him. The world as his mother once said did seem to turn around the Waterflower and Bell Family.