The Ghosts in my House....part II
Short Story .....
Once again , in short, my home may have , at one time have been a retirement [rest] home for Civil War vets , no one knows for sure but that doesn't stop my imagination from running wild! So hear goes................ The setting........... eight old vets and a house mom sitting on the ground level porch at the back of the house after dinner , all of them in their own llittle worlds , some busy remembering , some busy forgetting .......... Captain smoking a pipe and tapping it against his chair leg cleaning the bowl out.
"Well, Captain Jewel, would you like to continue your story from last night?......asks Mrs Johnson. "The one about the losing your calvary horse in Shilo "..... As she giggles......
" Well, Mrs Johnson , I caint' say I actualy loss' my hoss ,.... as you know a calvary officer must be in control of his steed at all the times...... Nooo! I never said I lost my hoss Mam .....What I said was that she was under me one minute and the next ....well ...I was ass over tea kettle away in the pucker brush.! And that aint' xactly' lost...... no mam ! You might say it was more of a diffuculty' ........ there I am , a Calvary officer with no Calvary !".....said the captain .....
"Now Captain Jewell ........I filled out that report for you and I should know , You stated in your report that ......Yes ,you lost your hoss.........Why is it so hard for you to admit losing your hoss , I lost my hoss plenty of times.?"
"Well Private Ethan ........It's like this , It's because a calvary officer doesn't....as I aready' stated fer a fact .........ever lose his hoss.....I never lost my hoss!"......shaking his head and putting both hands on top of his cane............."And unlike my assistant junior under secratary private ........I don't make a career outta losing twenty dollar calvary hoss'., now do I ?"
.........Now whar was I ........Oh yes , ass over tea kettles.........It wount' a bin so bad had I a ' just landed in the brush pile .........No , I had ta land on my upside kiltered horse ........and the bottom end at that !, course .....I spose' it's bettern the backwards side of it'"
"Hahh !, Capt 'n,..... I do think that is why your hoss looks at ya funny ta this day !........And perhaps in the next damn civil war ........you wont have ta ' sneak up on him like you do jist to put a blanket on him"
All the other soldiers sat snickering quietly , as the captain begins to undo his wooden leg and then begins pounding it on the floorboards of the porch .
"Damn her all ta hell ! I do believe my wooden limb has got some damned termites in it causin me ta itch moren' I like , thassa problem with these forended lumber products , Canadian wood haint' good for nuttin, specially no human limbers"
" Private Ethan , If it wern't fer your turrable' record keepin' , I might just have got this new leg afore the damn termites got control of congress and exercised some sort a plague on wood products"............Now I spose I'm gonna spend the rest a my peaceful days itchin......"
"Cap'n .........Don't blame the messinger ' All I done was give yur report to the supply Sarge back in Virginia .........Thats all I gotta say about some ole wooden legs an pucker brush hanyways!' ......and then he sniffles loudly.........
"Ahh now Pivate Ethan , don't begin to tearin up on us agin , I can't stand it when you git all semitental on me, next thing we know you'll go fillinoutmore reports and we hain't even got enough toiletry papers around here as it is."
"Sorry Captain Jewel............Its just that ,.......well I know you didn't mean to lose your hoss and have to have us pick pricklers outer your ass fur a day -n-half.....and hold up a whole civil war battle too!"
As the sun begins to go down into the pine forest behind the house they all begin to fall silent one at a time........untill they are each startled awake by Capt......Jewels snoring ! ............
"Well damed me all ter hell" , Private Ethan says ........."His snoring haint changed one 'ittle bit , ........Why I remember rebel soldiers screaming in the night fer him to stop snoring so they could round up thier mules ......seems the damned mules thought he was a pole-cat or something! But I do love to see him rest, guesss thats what yas sposed ta do in a rest home anyways "
Retiring for the night , each in his own time in the evening hours and as the lamps turned down one at a time until only the demons of the darkness greeted each man in it's own agonizing way. The only thing that remained unchanged was that Captain Jewel had stayed in his place , sleeping in his favorite old stuffed chair on the porch softly snoring away .
Yet , an eternity later as the morning birds started the new day off and one by one the old soldiers returned to the outside where they spent thier days rehashing the battles , the plans and the memories of a civil war. All at once Private Jewel broke out in hysterical laughter and as the other men looked at him one by one to see what caused this younger man among them to act such an unusual way , they all followed the direction of his eyes to the weathervane on the barn roof where backlit by the new morning sun was the answer that they all were seeking ........... The captains calvary boot and fake wooden leg stuck upside down on the iron post on top of the weathervane. Where the toes as black and highly polished as the sky of night pointed north in the morning breeze , quite a unusual sight as it was pointing to Canada just as was the rusted iron horse' head below it!
And Captain Jewel sitting straight faced and smug in his much honored place in the center of the group! Dressed to perfection in his blue uniform and hat , The bright polished bars on his shoulders shining brightly in the sunlight and one leg of his wool pants rolled up professionaly to his missing knee and an old wooden crutch leaning on the wall beside him!
" Wall Boys , its like this , I thought it best to show the world just what I think of those damn wooden legs that were acquired from some damned fool saw mill in Canada ! I tell you its a wonder I got any bones left at all because of those God damned termite loaded trees from up yonder there above the border! In a matter of factual speaking , I think I can feel them termites chewing on my one good leg I got left !........ I do however find it more than a bit ironic that my calvary boot in factuals ............ is a point'n right ta' where it came from ta' start with.
And so the days of the old soldiers slowly dragged on , and in a way more than likely became a new kind of war altogether or just simply and old war relived ........the war of the survivors . Untill there were no more left , until the rooms emptied one by one . And the old dark blue coats that hung by the beds with brass buttons tarnishing into tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow , faded to the lost memory .of a few good men , But , Today on my barn roof .....is a two hundred year old solid iron weather vane , that still swings in the winds of change and squeels a small sound that sounds like an old Calvary horse out at the edge of the field of poppies above this house . And .......at the bottom of the post at the top of the old weathervane is a brass riding spur that still turns with the horse in the changing winds . My great grandfathers boot and wooden leg though ?..............long ago rotted away by the hot summer suns of old years gone by...........either that or the termites!