54th Battalion. 4th Division. Unit 984. Belgium. 1944. Crumbling buildings. Strewn bodies. A growing fear. Boiling, uneasy groans. Seeing beyond the pale light of the war to the dim glimmer of death. Something is inside of these men, twitching, squirming. Just the pebbles of a once great civilization crunching beneath their feet. walking steady, keeping your head up, looking around cautiously, sometimes drawn into the tomb of thought and unwariness. A dead body lies against a building. Nobody notices. More marching. A soldier's head falls, himself still marching. A girl. A face. A lover. A friend knocks him out of dreams with a gentle hit. More marching. More climbing through the troughs of earth. Conquering more territory in the nightmare of existence. Squinting. Confusion. Fog. Myst. But a clear day. Rest stop. A soldier sits on rubble and dumps the contents of his canteen on his face. Another wipes his neck with a white cloth. Lying on his stomach, occasionally making noises, another soldier stairs into the inevitable future, undeniable fate. He turns over on his back, his weapon by his side. He gets up and leaves, his gun left. Clinking and clanking of tools and weapons, as everyone senses the move out order. Then it comes. And more marching. They're on the road that leads no where and it goes for miles and miles. They will walk until their feet had worn down, and they had nothing but nubs left, and then they would walk 10 miles more.
His rifle in his hands, moving at the same pace of the other soldiers, Che walked with about as much uncertainty as he has inexperience. He was, like many of the soldiers in his platoon, a soldier, a boy, a man, a lover, a hater, a beast of passion, desire, love, and lust. He was in another nation and sacrificing days of his life that would torment him for years. The opinion of this varied from man to man in the platoon. To some, it was a patriotic call to duty, and to others it was just a requirement, while others still were Pacifists who had been tortured and threatened with imprisonment by the US government, as was not uncommon. It didn't take long for the patriots to realize that what they were doing was hardly patriotic, that it was not helping their people, nor was it helping any people. Either way, like Che, the members of this platoon were here on foreign soil, armed, with orders to destroy, themselves unready to kill. The platoon moves, until it finds its locations: no where. The platoon leader tells his soldiers that they're sleeping here, among the rubble with rats and roaches.
Nighttime. A cloak of darkness spread over the land, as soldiers retired to the ground for sleep. As the sun sets on the horizon, so it sets on this evening of their lives, never to come again. And with their lives full of hardship and existence, today is the last day they will have this much ahead of them. Whether there is only one day before death, or a great many decades, there is a limit on existence of all those men. Here they are, in a great World War, fighting to end the existence of other men. Their names may not be remembered, but what they do will forever change the course of the planet.
Daybreak. The soldiers struggle to consciousness as they warm breakfast over scattered campfires. The morning dusk has brought nothing but chills. The endless march began again. Every soldier has their own lucky charm, or memento, or tangible piece of sentimentality. One soldiers carries a pendant given to him by his grandmother. To him it is a purpose, but to a scavenging German soldier, it is a small piece of profit from melted down silver. Another soldier carries around a picture of his daughter, while another carries just the memories in his head of his childhood house, secluded in a small town in the woods. But among these men, these marching soldiers battling for control over their lives as much as the next man, there is one man -- Che -- who holds one thing prized above all: a love letter given to him by his lover. At least, she once was his lover, and she once swore all of her love just to him. Laura, a name so divine that only the angels could speak it. Her tender legs, moist inside, passionate touch, lustfully in love and always sincere in her affection. These were the thoughts racing through the mind of Che, as he marched in the war parade across the streets which yielded no playful and careless children.
Laura, once the avowed lover of Che, but no more. For after this love letter he is holding in his hands, which was like fleeting touches of her body, another letter came. The first letter spoke of devotion and the second of desertion. His four months (now 6) of existence in a foreign land was too much for her. Her first love letter was voluminous, with imagery of physical affection and love -- something any soldier would cherish from their lover. Physical love manifested within the words of our humble English language. The words of the letter were etched into his heart, the way two lovers claim a tree by marking the bark. He memorized every sentence, every syllable. But she left him. The initial shock was almost disbelief. Then, there was a void in his purely militaristic existence. And while the real Laura was away with another, she was dead to him. A once living beauty crumbled to pieces as he read the truth on white paper. His mind churned with the ingredients of misery, preparing the concoction of fate. Marching with a heavy head. He still kept the first love letter, to remind him of how happy he once was. And oh how he was indeed! In no other time of his life could he sincerely attest to so much comfort and love. Slowly through denial, anger, sympathy, he kept his love letter, and just as surely as he read her aged words of affection, she was reading another man's poetry. Two months had passed since the breakup. He march, still in tune to Laura's love song, not with a heavy heart, but the beautiful past lifting him in the air.
But it was this day that Che marched with the words of Laura in his hand, not looking, not thinking, but just visualizing her soft caress as her words looked at him. The debris of broken tools, destroyed buildings, or tattered clothing was subject to his worn, numb feet, his fixation not altering once. And whether it was by his own negligence or lack of concentration, he wound up where he was. He looked up, stopping in his tracks and the words of the letter, and he saw German faces, with German-military helms and wearing German-military outfits. Holding his letter in his hand, his rifle slung, he saw one of the German soldiers raise his gun to shoot. Che asked one thousand questions: Does she love me still? Does she still think about me? Does she know that I still love her? Does she know I kept her letters? What does she think about me? What does she think about me? What does she think about me? And then a blast lasting no more than a microsecond, and he fell, the wind taking possession of his letter. But as the azure skies turn a darker shade, and as his body loses feeling, Che wonders if he should have lived his last few weeks of existence as he did.