November 1942, NORTH AFRICA
The Sergeant spotted Griff sitting alone in the rubble near dusty road, not eating. The Sergeant joined Griff, sat, went on eating.
Arabs led goats and sheep past kids playing in the road.
Griff was clean-shaven but gaunt. He was watching worms in the rubble. He seemed very different, remote, after coming out of Section Eight.
"How do you feel, Griff?"
"Glad you got a clean bill of health. Be tough finding a replacement who can draw cartoons."
Griff looked up the death-pale sun, death-pale clouds, death-pale sky, and they were not friendly. His thoughts floundered.
Americans blessed to kill by priests and ministers and rabbis. Germans blessed to kill by priests and minissters. In the clouds he saw a crucifix and a Star of David and a swastika and the Big Red One shoulder patch.
Emblems, he told himself, mean that we are good, they are bad. We are right, they are wrong. We will live, they will die. We will go to heaven, they will go to hell.
Griff could not escape the smell of death. A dead enemy was supposed to smell good, but Griff couldn't tell the difference between the smell of a dead enemy and the smell of a dead GI.
The smell of blackened bloated bodies was always the same to him. No one had ever told him that the smell of cooked meat back home was not the same smell as cooked soldier meat.
Through the dust a very little Arab girl appeared, perhaps five years old.
She was standing in front of the Sergeant, her sick black bloodshot eyes devouring the lukewarm chow in his mess kit.
Griff stared at the child and at the Sergeant eating.
"I can't murder anybody." Griff said quietly.
The Sergeant stopped eating.
He envisioned Christ on the Cross and he saw again the startled look in the dying Hun's eyes.
"We don't murder. We kill."
"The hell it is!"
The Sergeant lost his appetite. He held out his mess kit.
The child shoveled chow into her mouth with her fingers.
"We don't murder animals. We kill them."
A boy of about eight seized Griff's hand. The dirty little face was covered with tiny pimples. The eyes were old. He wore only filthy ragged trousers. He smelled of death.
"Zigig ma soeur? Zigzag ma mere?"
Griff was shattered. The boy was pimping for his sister and mother. The little procurer gently rubbed Griff's hand across the pimples on his cheek. He kissed the hand.
The sun grew darker, matching the boy's skin. His hollow eyes filled with a lustful invitation.
Griff wrenched his hand free and walked down the dusty road, his eyes fixed on his shoes. Walking that way made him dizzy. He stopped looking at his shoes. The boy followed him, but Griff did not look back, and the boy went up to another soldier.
『 最前線物語 』
Samuel Fuller's "The Big Red One"
―― Excerpt from Samuel Fuller's "The Big Red One"
The Big Red One, Mark Hamill, Samuel Fuller, Lee Maevin, 最前線物語, マーク・ハミル, サミュエル・フラー, リー・マーヴィン