CANADIAN NATIONAL TELEGRAM
Mrs. Agnes Cameron=
9468 Minister of National Defense deeply regrets to inform you that B146578 Private Len Harvey Cameron has been officially reported missing in action since July eighth in Normandy, France. When any other information becomes available it will be forwarded as soon as received=
Director of Records
Late July, 1944
Poor Agnes, I thought. No doubt she'll be getting the news about Lenny by now. He`s been gone long enough. All of us are glad it's not us. That's terrible of me or anyone else to think but it`s true. When someone out here dies or disappears the way Lenny did, we all breathe a sigh of relief that it wasn't ourselves.
Lenny went missing during that time at Carpiquet. I wasn't there to see his final moments with the regiment but the boys who saw him last said that he must have somehow got separated in the confusion and taken by the SS. I can only assume that he`s dead; the SS are too fanatical to know a thing like mercy.
I barely wrote a single word in my notebook for much of early July. I didn't have the time nor the energy to do so. The fighting at Carpiquet airfield had only served to provide us with a monumental body count. We only succeeded a little at first but finally we bashed the hell out of the SS and took the village. I'm convinced we gave Jerry quite the scare. Perhaps the SS can be frightened after all?
I sit in a chair in one of the many ruined buildings of Caen in an attempt to escape the heat but I still find it too hot. It's our uniforms that are part of the problem; they're wool and unsuitable for the heat.
"Who's the dumb fuck that decided we should be wearing wool?" I hear the familiar voice of Grayson as he enters my decrepit domain with his rifle slung over his shoulder.
I shrug in response. "Dunno."
Grayson had his battle blouse unbuttoned and tugged at his collar in a futile attempt to gain some reprieve from the stifling uniform. "Fine I got a better question: why are you such a fruitcake?"
I glare at him. "Shut up, at least I'm not belly cousins with Warren."
His face broke out into a grin. "Touchy."
"Why are you even here?" I snap. Grayson was a bit of an idiot in my opinion. He was a Clark Gable look-a-like with a so-called "witty" personality that had won the hearts of many English girls. What they saw in him I could never understand. He could act pretty obnoxious at times and it wore on my nerves.
"I was wondering why you've been acting like a hermit lately, everybody misses you." There was a hint of sarcasm in Grayson's voice.
"Pfff yeah right." I scratch at the lice crawling across the back of my neck. "I bet Warren will dance on my grave when I die." I look outside at the rubble filled street, listening intently. "It's quiet."
Grayson nods in agreement. "Enjoy it while it lasts."
The thing is, when you've been shelled for a long time, silence becomes unsettling. You'd think silence would be a welcome relief but oftentimes when our chaotic world here goes silent; it means the worst is on its way, rearing its horrid head. I didn't know whether to be happy that things have died down or apprehensive that something bad might happen.
I survey my surroundings, trying to imagine what this building was used for. Probably a shop of some sort but everything here is so torn apart by shells that its difficult to tell sometimes.
This was Caen. This was what us Canucks and Brits have been fighting for these past few weeks. Now we're here and still had to push Jerry out. It hasn't been easy; nothing ever is it seems. To say I was exhausted would have been an understatement, I felt like a walking corpse.
"The Nazis will counter-attack us." Grayson said to no one in particular.
I said nothing, feeling annoyed that he brought such a thing up. I get out a pack of fags and place one between between my lips.
"You got a spare one?" Grayson asks me.
With a huff, I reluctantly hold out the fags to him. "Maybe if you cut down on the smoking, you wouldn't have to bum so many off of me."
Grayson took one and lit it. "It's your own stupid fault for giving them up so easily." I glare at him but his face breaks into a wide grin.
I stand up and light my cigarette. "I'm surprised you're not sleeping. I would have thought you'd take full advantage of this lull we're in."
Grayson cracked his knuckles. "Nah,I already did that. I woke up an hour ago."
I leave the building and walk out into the street with rifle in my hands. Grayson follows me and we both walk in silence. I came here to be alone but Grayson's arrival made me realize that I shouldn't be wandering too far from the others. There could be snipers. We both head back west where the rest of our regiment is at.
What I find hard to comprehend is the remaining civilian population within the city. Before the Canadians and Brits came into the city, the people of Caen were warned to evacuate because we would be bombing the hell out of the place. Only a few hundred left and now we have thousands of civilian dead on our hands because they chose not to heed any of our warnings.
"It's insane how these people didn't leave." Grayson remarked, as if he knew what I was thinking.
I nod in agreement. "They're very kind to us though."
Grayson grimaced. "I feel bad for them that's all."
You would end up pitying the people you encountered which is natural I suppose. They wanted Hitler and the Nazis gone and so did we. Once you saw the carnage and the way those German bastards treated people, you want to destroy any Nazi you saw.
In short time we had made it back with the others and I immediately picked out a wall to sit on so I could jot down a few words in my journal. With my tiny stub of a pencil (it was broken in half since Hunter stepped on the fucking thing) I managed to scribble a sentence or two:
Things have died down quite a bit but I know this won't persist for much longer. I suppose I should enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasts. Thankfully it has presented me with the opportunity to sleep so I don't feel too bad.
Maybe Grayson was right. Maybe I really am a fruitcake. I admit I have a love for literature and I don't see Clark Gable or Cary Grant whipping out the books or writing their thoughts on paper or reflecting on the beauty of Shakespeare's prose. I made the mistake of admitting I like Shakespeare to Grayson and his cronies so now I was the butt of every one of their jokes.
What was it that Mr. Shakespeare said? This above all else; to thine own self be true? Obviously he didn't consider how difficult that was in the face of men like Grayson.