The rain kept on pouring, soaking his dark hair with cold relentless bullets dripping down his face; becoming one with his tears. Muddy, swollen feet, slushing through the mud; he could hear nothing more than the continuous rhythm of the impacting shells, on the distance, the pitter patter of rain upon his uniform and the shallow beating of his terrified heart. His hands were shaking violently at the sound of footsteps; a terrifying feeling of nausea and fear sinks beneath his skin. Rummaging through his pockets, the .30-06 Springfield rounds fell on the mud. Kneeling on blood stained dirt, he grabbed each bullet and wiped it with his shirt. The rifle sunk in his arms, trembling, unable to fit each bullet into the clip.
The Spanish, they called him. He was surrounded by Gringos, or that’s what he called them. People forgot where he came from, till he spoke. The thick Spanish accent that escaped his lips was conspicuous in any conversation. Now, in the middle of nowhere, he wished that someone would be there by his side. The scent of rain brought back memories of his beloved homeland; warmth and kindness, he misses all that. The sounds of his siblings, a tug of war for affection; life was so simple.
Something cold pressed against his neck, yes, he had nearly forgotten; a small necklace made with different types of tree barks he had collected over his journey. It all seemed so meaningless now. Placing the clip on the rifle, he pressed the, nearly frozen, bolt all the way to the back till it clicked. Holding his rifle across his chest, he steadied his movements. Breaking slowly, he aimed down the barrel squinting at the slow movements across the flooded, icy battlefield.
“Spanish… Spanish…” He heard a whisper calling to him beyond the fallen rubble of a nearby tower. Whispers that beckon his return to a time when things were simple; he remembered the sunlight and the bright red, white and green flag – he had nearly forgotten the golden eagle what represented an unyielding desire to fight on. “En la vida, no queda mas que trabajar y sufrir.”
Slowly, crouching, he lowered his head away from sight. His helmet lay somewhere amidst his fallen comrades. Miles away from salvation, his helmet was gathering rain water, gunpowder and dirt. A thunder clap made him fall flat on the murky ground, face peering through the grey substance that now replaced the gentle crystal-clear water he had grown fond of. The gun steadily aimed to the front, held together by his desire to live, his adrenaline filled vessels and the gravity of the battlefront. Fingernails covered in muck, he dragged his body along the ground till he entered an abandoned stone building.
His boots echoed within the wooden floor of the structure, unstable and covered in dust and cobwebs, he enjoyed its dry atmosphere. The ceiling shook at every shell touched the ground, becoming akin to tremors. Dust fell from its walls; the paint had deteriorated just as its foundation. Strapping his rifle, he swung it over his shoulders, believing that a pistol would do better within the house; he walked along its weakened stone walls. Portraits fallen on the ground, shattered glass, and stained paintings made by someone who’s passion was interrupted by the red menace.
Somehow, he managed to find enough fuel to start a fire, which he filtered over to a side of the building. Sitting next to it, he boiled some rain water and chowed down some perfectly preserved peaches inside glass containers. Whoever had made these was a life saver. He was reading a small diary, searching through its pages for something he could identify. French wasn’t his forte, but finding Russian deep within French territory was somewhat odd. Photographs of young women and three older men, it appears as though this was a nursing home or a small clinic. That made sense; after all, he had grown worried at the sight of so many medical supplies and tools.
A loud thunder clap shattered the windows of the building. “¿Que diablos?” Falling to the ground, the blast broke through the wall. “¿Artilleria pesada o morteros?” He looked around, still dazed and confused, the ground was shaking. Was he shell-shocked or was the ground really shaking? Climbing up the three floors, he saw them. Three Nazi soldiers and a tank; his worst nightmare had just begun. Another blast fell through the second floor, destabilizing the third. He rushed down the stairs, debris falling on top of him, scratching and scraping, he finally made it to the ground floor. Covered in dust and blood, he thought he wouldn’t make it.
His rifle peeked from a corner of the window, aiming down at the soldiers. Hesitant to make a move; a tank was more than enough to shatter his spirit as well as his morale. Wiping the sweat off his forehead, he grabbed his rifle and hid behind the rubble. The ground shook bellow him – they were close.
“Padre nuestro, que estas en los cielos, santificado sea tu nombre…” He prayed to the heavens that he would be able to live through this. Spaniard, they called him. “Pinches gringos, soy Mexicano!” He fired at the Nazis, his heart clenched within the fingers of destiny and sheer power of will. He would go to Hell and back, for the Aztec blood that ran through his veins would never admit defeat.
“Pinche Pedro, no sabe ni lo que hace.” Martin grabbed his shoulder and carried him down the street, tossing the beer bottle into a drain. “Te dije que no bebieras mas, güey.” He scolded Pedro, sensing the fear that still lingered in his eyes.
“Es el unico remedio.” Pedro replied, holding on to his brother’s shoulder. “Es lo unico que puedo hacer.”
“¿Hacer?” Martin dragged him down the street and into his home, shuddering at the sight of his brother’s ill kept presence.
“Solo asi puedo matar a los fantasmas de mi pasado.” Pedro’s eyes still gazed down a barrel; a barrel he had long abandoned in the European front – amidst the rubble covered in three corpses and a shattered automaton.
“No mames, pinche maricon.” Martin smiled, “Mama no te crecio asi, pinche carbon.”
Pedro cried for the last time.