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Here Is Your Favorite Ghostwriter Speaking:

Updated on May 12, 2011

Whispers in the Dark

 

Let me tell you where and when

you became ma belle Sharpenelle,

the child I see with my mind's

eye.

Listen to me. Your father is not

your father, he only found you

at the Hotel Ocean in De Panne

that was used as a hospital

of the Red Cross.

It must have been May 1917.

You were one of the many

orphans the Great War made

in Leuven, Aarschot, Dinant.

The Poor Pickelhaubes had their

Happy Hour - Man Hat Geschossen!

Zivil Haben Geschossen! -

and here they dropped a bomb

in a womb and there

they blew gas

in an ass.

I do not know what exactly happened

with doctor Scherpeneel's happy family,

but suddenly his wife was dead

and he was seriously wounded -

and where was his little girl

Isabelle?

I do not know what has become

of her, my Shell Shocked

Isabel Shrapnel -

how would I?

I only know

that when I say how it was,

it will be like that.

So have patience and listen,

ma belle Sharpenelle.

Listen to my whispers in the dark.

Get a hammer!

No Imperial Army will tolerate the complaint

of a dead woman:

On the field of honour

repentance grows

as an ulcer.

So,

destroy the evidence

of our nightly entertainment.

Get a hammer,

shatter your fear

of retaliation

and chop

your shame from her face.

Your Favorite Ghostwriter Speaking:

Doctor Scherpeneel recovers from his injuries and goes looking for his daughter Isabelle. Now, in the Hotel Ocean in De Panne lives one of the orphans the Great War has made. Some Belgian soldiers who adopted the girl have given her the name ‘Jeannette Elisabeth Shrapnel'. But the girl calls herself ‘Isabelle Sharpenelle'.

Doctor Scherpeneel thinks his cute little girl has made a cute little mistake - Scherpeneel-Sharpenelle. He finds the foundling, she is not his daughter... but from now on she will be his daughter, and doctor Scherpeneel will be a father again.

What happened to the daughter of his own flesh and blood? He does not know. What happened to the real father of Jeannette Elisabeth Shrapnel, who calls herself Isabelle Sharpenelle?

You don't know.

Do you?

In 1937, you spoke to Jane de Launoy. She worked four years as a nurse under the direction of doctor-surgeon Antoine Depage in the Hotel Ocean in De Panne, which was transformed into a hospital of the Red Cross. Twenty years earlier, the front was not far away. Jane was confronted with shocking scenes and the cruellest of all...

A mother, one or two soldiers and all the children were eating in a small house on the old road. A shrapnel pierced the table and exploded on the ground and...

Medical Report

The mother gets a double

amputation and the soldiers also

lose limbs and three small girls

have five legs crushed.

Five.

We are going to fight

until midnight, saving the lives

of the men and the mother,

but two black bodies are still

side by side in the same bed.

Two.

The dead sisters have to be

photographed to make propaganda

against the Pickelhaubes in America:

one girl has lost one leg and the other

is barely three.

Three.

And who is the third sister,

ma belle Sharpenelle?

Is that you?

Tell me.

Voices

SHELL SHOCKED ISABEL SHRAPNEL:

The girl had a crushed foot and a crushed leg, but my foot and my leg never got crushed. I could not remember being there where the shrapnel was, I didn't remember a thing about the Great War. My first memory was dated november eleven, nineteen eighteen. Armistice. A birthday cake.

JANE DE LAUNOY:

I tried to keep the third sister warm. I hugged her tiny body, clothed in rags, covered with mud. She had abdominal surgery and a double amputation.

THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER:

I've made you, ma belle Scharpenelle. Your invisible friend has lost all of his words and the colours of the world, but I gave you this life. I just do not exactly know where or when...

Leuven? Aarschot? De Panne? Bomb in your womb, gas in your ass?

It's all one big black hole.

A Little Girl's Lament

Look at mom,

she is as quiet

as I have been

when the soldiers came.

Look at mom,

her skin is cold

as if she was Snow

White

and sleeping

while the butterfly

landed on her nose

and I was weeping.

Look at mom,

she is that still.

Do you think her wound

will heal?

Post Mortem

As the evening sometimes softly

can get lost in the night,

that's the way you were on my side,

minutes ago.

The next moment you did not move

when this butterfly landed on your nose.

And now, the day smiles as a ghost

with grim quivering fingers above smoking ruins,

realizing there is no life left

in the body of his wife.

And all is quiet on the Western front

and in the portal of death

all colors turn red.

When we marched to the HellFire Corner

Imagine... Five brave Belgian soldiers find a girl, barely three, between the rubble and the ruines of a house somewhere behind the Yser. The soldiers give the foundling an appropriate name: Jeannette Elisabeth Shrapnell.

And well, okay, your name is Scherpeneel, Isabel Scherpeneel, but you also have a secret name: Isabelle Sharpenelle. And under that secret name you are listening to the voices in your head - the voices only you can hear. Your invisible friend, the Unknown Soldier, Sansparole, has the most prominent voice. He is singing, now. Do you hear him singing? He sings: 'Shell Shocked Isabelle Sharpenelle... Shell Shocked Isabel Shrapnel.'

You wrote the poems I whispered in your ear: my cruel little fairy tales - I was your Favorite Ghostwriter. You wrote the poems under your secret name Shell Shocked Isabel Shrapnel, but your true name is Jeannette Elisabeth Shrapnell... Isn't it?

No trace of your father, your mother got a bomb in her womb and these five brave Belgian soldiers have taken you in their midst. You are their mascot, their Guardian Angel. But then they have to march to the front, and they are singing now, do you hear them? 'Ik zeg u geen vaarwel, mijn vriend... Dra zien w'elkander weer...' And all the Tommy's down there in the trenches are answering with their farewell tune, Gloria Victoria. Do you hear them?

Now it's time to say goodbye,

We're moving out to the battlefield.

We want to march fast

To wield the weapons bravely!

Gloria, Gloria, Gloria Victoria!

With heart and hand

For the fatherland, for the fatherland!

The birds in the forest,

Are singing so beautifully

In the homeland, in the homeland

There we'll see us again.

And the Pickelhaubes are answering now, with their German version:

Nun geht's ans Abschiednehmen,

Wir ziehn hinaus ins Feld.

Wir wollen flott marschieren

Die Waffen mutig führen.

Gloria, Gloria, Gloria Viktoria!

Mit Herz und Hand

Fürs Vaterland, fürs Vaterland!

Die Vöglein im Walde,

Die singen ja so wunderschön,

In der Heimat, in der Heimat,

Da gibt's ein Wiedersehn.

Five brave Belgian soldiers have left you in the military hospital in De Panne, ma belle Sharpenelle, before they moved out to the battlefield. They promised you at least one of them would come back to be your father... And we made this photo for that postcard... And I had your photo in my pocket when I marched to the Hellfire Corner...

Close your eyes and see (The Angel of Mons)

Someone was joking,

someone was laughing

and someone was shooting

a bullet in your face.

And your jaw was flying

round and round

and your teeth were lying

in the mud on the ground

and you were dying

and waiting to be found

by this Sinister Mister

Death.

And then there was this angel,

she tilted up your head,

you asked her why and how

she came with her white wings spread

and she said:

‘I always will be there for you

as you always were for me.

So don't cry, my Unknown Soldier.

Close your eyes and see.'

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