The Tale of an Ancestor:
These medals-do you see these medals?
Look how they gleam in the lantern light, monsieur bartender. Look how fine they are, perfect in form and shape.
Can you read? No? Don’t worry, neither can I. But I have been told by good people what they mean.
Served with honor.
Served with distinction.
They were earned in Africa; they were earned by my sweat and I paid for them in the coins of terror. Yet all I can remember is the sand, the heat, the screams and roars of rifles. I know the smell of both gasoline and death very well.
All I can remember.
Whatever they’re worth, I shall sell them to you, here and now. Just grant me more drink, of beer and wine. No, no fuck that, good monsieur.
Whatever you have that is oldest and strongest.
The clock is about to strike 11:00.
And when it does, I wonder, shall I break? Shall I sigh in relief? In any case, I hope that I at least have enough weariness to cry. I hope that in the 27 years of the life I have lived, I hope I have enough perception to detect the felling of the embers. The cooling of the barrels, and the growing of the grass.
When I was younger, they seemed old.
When I was their age, I knew not how I felt.
But now I am older, and I see just how young they were. They were children, naive and innocent to the infinite horror before them. And if they were here today, at my doorstep, I would make sure they come in and I would wrap them in blankets and serve them beer along with warm bread. I would do whatever it took to keep them from stepping back out of my door, regardless if they were friend or enemy. I would lay down all of the events that have happened in the hundred years since then-books, newspapers, movies, music, nothing would be spared. Their legacy literally laid out before them.
But I know they must step back out that door.
For that is what the tides command.
They must return to the mud, ash, lice and terror.
There is ultimately nothing I can do.
But if I could show them one last thing before they fully left, I would show them the clock. I would show them the hands, pointed at that now sacred hour. And I would tell them that no matter what comes next, no matter the vastness of the void and the gore, to never stop looking for those hands. Clutch your crosses, don’t stop praying. And never stop looking for those guiding hands. For if ‘7’ be the number of heaven, then 11:00 is the hour of heaven.
The clock is about to strike the eleventh hour.
I see now, the cry that must be rallied through the streets. We see so much violence every day, of all stripes and designations, why should the smote of a note of an unfeeling book be the tipping point for our weary senses?
And yet, that is the defeat the true enemies of humanity, indifference and selfishness, want of you. Yes, we must be strong in our day to day and let it be said that I don’t denounce that. But no matter how strong we must be, let there ring a lyric of weakness.
No matter how much of our own wars we face, let us not be immune to the imperceptible. When the hour of peace finally comes, let us all feel it resonate across our open eyes, our open hearts.
Rest in peace, young brothers. Rest in a peace that could not be granted to you here, but certainly upon golden shores. For empathy is the fairest maiden, and she is holding your hand as she walks you down a path that is wholly hers.
For hers is the noblest path.
I pray that is a path we may walk
Rest in peace, young brothers.
I’m looking now at the clock. I see where it’s at, how close the seconds are.
There!-The clock has just struck the eleventh hour.
The war is over. The war is over, at long last, the war is over.
The war is over. The war is over.
The war is over.