The private stands just outside the still-smoking ruins of the catholic church. He wants to look for gold, in fact he’d consider any precious metal a nice find. Little melted droplets of riches he can send home and have mama save for him until when the war ends. Yet he stands in what once was a door, unsure. He heard it was a platoon in the Five-oh-Deuce that did the torching.
Let half a dozen German infantry burn alive inside and he finds himself wondering if that’s a fingernail stuck in a gouge on the scorched wood.
He shakes it off. Since Normandy, he knows he has seen worse. Gold and maybe some souvenirs he reminds himself, about to push off on his quest, when a hard hand grips his shoulder and turns him around.
“Whoa, soldier! You ever heard you should never go into a burned down church, ever?”
The Brooklyn man’s face was brown from the French Summer sun, all except the wicked white scar running the length of his bulbous nose, picked up in Africa he claimed once to someone who asked. He wore two forty-fives strapped to his chest and a cluster of grenades on his waist that would make grapes jealous.
“Why, sarge?” The private asks, hoping the question distracts from the many military-laws he was just about to break.
“Things that die in a church fire never truly die. You giving me a look like you don’t believe me. Well,” he tsks, tapping a wet tongue off nicotine-stained teeth. “Truck of replacements coming into today at noon, why don’t you go find out.”
“No, that’s okay sarge, I trust you.”
“I am not worried about who you trust. I am worried about what haunts my bivouac. Get going.”