August 17, 1954


He called to me as I passed by in the hallway, the door to his room partially hidden by rubble and shadow.

I was able to enter the room easy enough, and I did so with my pistols drawn, the hammers cocked. He was in bed, tucked back in a corner with the late afternoon sunlight filtered by a dirty window. It took me only a moment to catch the scent of death in the air and to realize the man in the bed was still alive, despite the rot in his gut.

He asked me what day it was, and I told him it was Tuesday. The man chuckled, coughed up blood, and told me he thought it was a Friday. When I asked him how long he had lain in bed, he asked me a question in reply.

“When did the war end?”

“Which one?” I asked.

“Huh,” he muttered. “We fought the Kaiser.”

“Thirty-six years ago,” I told him.

He turned his head, spat a wad of blood-flecked phlegm onto the floor and sighed, “Figures. I ain’t dead yet.”

“Neither am I,” I said.

He chuckled. “Feel like doin’ an old soldier a favor?”

“What’s that?” I asked him.

“Put one of those .44s up against my head and pull the trigger,” he replied.

I stood up, placed both barrels against his temple and blew his brains out over the pillow.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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