stumbled down the faint trail, his Tommy gun cradled loosely in his arms. His mind
was a haze of exhaustion, grief, and pain. His entire patrol had been killed, all
fairly new men who'd panicked and ignored orders, and he'd caught a bullet that had torn
out a chunk of his hide just below his ribs. It wasn't a serious wound, but it had
bled heavily and hurt like hell. He hadn't eaten in two days, hadn't slept for
three. He had escaped the German ambush by falling into a ravine after getting shot,
and it had taken him a couple hours to climb back out. He wasn't sure he was going
the right direction, but habit and instinct kept his feet moving.
aware that he wasn't alone, he stopped and squinted ahead. Standing in front of him
was the biggest Kraut he'd ever seen even bigger than Littlejohn. Reactions
slowed by exhaustion and loss of blood, he belatedly swung his gun up toward the Kraut,
watching as the Kraut's huge hand lifted in seeming slow motion to slap the Thompson out
of his hand. The blow knocked him off his feet and he scrambled for the gun, only to
feel the Kraut seize the back of his jacket, lift him off the ground, and fling him in the
other direction. Landing on his injured side, he cried out and curled up, clutching the
wound. The Kraut lumbered toward him and Saunders forced himself to lunge at his
legs. Easily stepping aside, the huge man again grabbed the back of his jacket and
lifted him into the air, tossing him into the long grass where he lay on his back, barely
conscious. He tried to roll onto his side, to get up, but his battered body refused
to obey and he could only lay there and watch as the Kraut stomped toward him again.
huge hands reached toward him and he closed his eyes, expecting those hands to close
around his neck and end his life. Instead, the hands that had just tossed him around
like a toy became gentle as his jacket was unfastened. He felt his web belt being
removed and his jacket being opened the rest of the way. The bloody bandage on his
side was pulled away and cold water was poured over the wound, making him gasp with
pain. A fresh dressing was applied and he was lifted gently as a bandage was wrapped
around his body to hold the dressing in place. He opened his eyes to find the man
kneeling beside him, his expression gentle as he tied off the bandage and closed the
jacket. The big hands closed on his shoulders and he was lifted to his feet where he
Fort." The Kraut ordered.
took two steps and went to his knees, head hanging. The Kraut wrapped a hand in the
back of his jacket and pulled him back up, continuing to hold onto his jacket as he forced
the weary man to walk. Dimly, Saunders realized he could hear a vehicle nearby, but
couldn't tell whose or what it was. The Kraut jerked him off the path into the thick
trees, the abrupt movement forcing an involuntary cry of pain from him. He was
jerked back against the Kraut's chest, and a huge hand closed over Saunders' mouth.
He watched in bewilderment as a German half-track passed by less than fifty feet
away. The Kraut eased back further into the trees, dragging Saunders with him.
He was having trouble breathing and weakly fought against the hand holding him. When
the Kraut tightened his hold, cutting off his air completely, the blackness that had been
threatening for hours finally won over and he went limp in his captor's hold.
watched the American soldier coming toward him. The man was obviously very tired,
walking with his head down, not paying attention to his surroundings. He carried his
gun in his arms, not ready to use. This will be the one, Eric thought, stepping out
into the path in front of the soldier. It took a moment for the American to realize
he was there, slowly bringing up his gun. Eric swatted it out of his hands,
unintentionally knocking the man off his feet at the same time. When he reached for
his gun, Eric picked him up by the back of the jacket and tossed him away from the
gun. The American let out a cry of pain and curled up, clutching his side.
Intending to see if, and how badly, he was injured, Eric moved toward him. To his
surprise, the soldier lunged toward his legs. The move was so slow and uncoordinated
that Eric sidestepped easily, again catching the soldier by the jacket and flipping him
over onto the long, soft grass.
American landed on his back, feebly trying to roll onto his side. Spotting the
spreading bloodstain on the American's side, Eric approached him, the American watching
him. There was no fear, just a kind of grim acceptance of his fate. When he
reached for the soldier's jacket, the American closed his eyes. Eric pulled the
jacket open to look at the wound, then took the soldier's web belt off and opened the
jacket the rest of the way. He gently pulled off the bloody bandage, revealing a nasty-looking deep gouge in the man's side. The man, although still conscious,
didn't move while Eric pulled out his canteen and poured water over the wound, making the
American gasp with pain. Eric applied a dressing and wrapped a bandage around the
man's body, gently lifting him to do so. When the man's blue eyes fluttered open,
Eric took hold of his shoulders and lifted him to his feet.
Eric ordered him.
American took two staggering steps and went to his knees, his head hanging and his eyes
closed. Sighing, Eric seized the collar of his jacket and pulled him back to his
feet, holding him up as he tried to walk. Eric lifted his head at the sound of an
approaching vehicle, a German vehicle. Not wishing to be seen, Eric stepped off the
path into the trees, pulling the American with him. The American cried out in pain,
and Eric pulled him back against his chest, clapping a hand over the man's mouth.
When the American tried to fight him, Eric held him tighter. A few seconds later,
the man went completely limp, his dead weight nearly making Eric drop him. He
released his mouth and grabbed him around the chest before he could fall and alert the
passing half-track. The man hung slackly in his grip, not reacting at all when Eric
pinched him to see if he was faking.
remained where he was until the vehicle was out of sight and he couldn't hear it anymore,
then lowered the American to the ground on his back. He squatted by the unconscious
man for a moment, thinking. He wanted this man alive, but it appeared that if he
didn't get his wound taken care of and the bleeding stopped, he wouldn't be alive
for long. He picked him up as he would a child and continued down the trail
until he'd put a mile behind them, then started looking for a place to hide.
Finally spotting what appeared to be a cave, he headed that way. It turned out to be one
of the caves for storing cheese that dotted this part of the country. Carrying the
man inside, he found that others had been there before him. There were a couple
blankets, none too clean, and the remains of a fire. Eric laid the American down
along the wall and shook the blankets out then spread one out close to the fire
circle. Returning to the American, he worked the man's jacket off, folded it up for
a pillow and stretched the soldier out on one blanket, covering him with the other.
Figuring that the man wouldn't go anywhere while he was gone, Eric went outside to gather
wood for a fire.
slowly realized he was awake, and even more slowly realized that he was being carried in
someone's arms. With a great deal of effort, he forced his eyes partway open.
The Kraut was carrying him. Even in his fuzzy state, Saunders knew that didn't make
sense. The Kraut should have killed him, not be carrying him. He felt the
Kraut lay him down on the hard ground, and heard him moving around nearby, but didn't
bother to open his eyes. A moment later, he was lifted and moved. This time he
could feel the scratchiness of a blanket beneath him and the welcome softness of a pillow
under his head, then felt another blanket being spread over him. Hearing the Kraut
move away, Saunders forced his eyes open enough to see the huge man walking out of what
appeared to be a cave that he lay in. Instinct more than thought had him rolling
over onto his good side, and he dragged himself away, not realizing he was going away from
the only entrance to the cave. He made it about ten feet before his strength gave
out and he collapsed on his face, breathing hard. He was so tired, and hurt so bad,
he wanted to just give up and stay there, but something deep inside him refused the easy
way out and he dragged himself on.
with a large armload of wood, Eric dropped it by the wall and turned to check on his
prisoner. He stared at the empty blankets for a moment in surprise.
is a strong one, this American." He said in admiration.
waiting another couple of minutes for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, Eric moved on
into the cave, the only direction the American could have taken. He found him almost
at the end of the cave, lying on his face, apparently out cold. Very gently, he
turned him onto his back, slid his arms underneath him and carried him back to the
blankets. He laid him on his back, his arms at his sides and tucked the top blanket
tightly around him. While the American lay still and quiet, Eric lit a small fire
and set water to heat in his mess kit. When it was warm, Eric cleaned the prisoner's
dirty, sweaty face, then pulled the blanket loose and cleaned and rebandaged the wound,
replacing the blanket when he was finished.
weak to speak or move, Saunders felt the Kraut pick him up again, then felt the blanket
under him. The other blanket was tightly tucked around him, effectively preventing him
from moving anything but his head. To his surprise, he felt the Kraut washing his face,
his touch gentle and almost soothing, then the blanket was pulled away and his side was
being bathed with warm water and re-bandaged. As the warmth of the blanket and the
fire reached his battered body, he drifted off to sleep. A long time later, he
realized he was awake again. The huge man sat beside the tiny fire, reading a book
he held close to the flames. Saunders was hot, and very thirsty, and his side felt
like it was on fire. He tried to ask for water, but all that came out was a
whisper. Apparently, the Kraut heard him because he laid the book down and came
around the fire to kneel beside him. He slipped a massive hand under Saunders' neck
and lifted his head to give him a drink of cool water, waiting patiently when he coughed,
then giving him more water.
sie Deutsch?" The Kraut asked.
managed to shake his head slightly, his eyes drifting closed again.
The Kraut sighed. "Ich spreche kein Englisch."
felt the German lower his head back to the pillow, then a gentle hand patted his shoulder
as he slipped back into sleep.
heard a slight sound and looked up from his book to find the American watching him.
The man's face was slick with sweat and his eyes dulled with pain. Laying aside his
book, Eric moved over to the man's side and lifted his head, holding a cup of cool water
to his lips. He drank, choking on it, then drank again.
you speak German?" Eric asked him.
American's eyes drifted shut as he shook his head.
Eric sighed in frustration. "I don't speak English."
lowered the American's head again, and patted his shoulder reassuringly. For the
next several hours, he fought the American's fever and delirium. His wound looked
inflamed and he began to fear the man would die. Desperate to save this man's life,
Eric paced the small cave, trying to find a solution. Finally coming to a decision,
he searched his belongings, then the American's until he found what he was looking
for. Reluctantly, but having no other choice, he knelt by the American's side and
pulled back the blanket. He tied his unresisting hands together, then using the
American's belt, he bound his ankles together. Cutting a narrow strip off of the end
of the blanket, he forced it into the American's mouth and tied it behind his head, then
covered him with the blanket again. With one last look, he left the cave.
medic looked up at the line of men in front of him, then down at his foot. He had a small,
very annoying stone in his boot and wanted it out, but didn't want to fall too far behind
the group. What the hell; they hadn't seen any Germans for two days and it wouldn't
take long to catch up. Dropping to the ground, he took off his boot and dumped the
stone out with a sigh of relief, then put his boot back on and stood up. The next
thing he knew, a hand had been clapped over his mouth, an arm like a steel band had closed
over his chest, pining his arms to his sides, and he was literally lifted off his
feet and carried away into the trees. He tried kicking his captor's legs, but all
that resulted in was being swatted upside the head hard enough to make him see
stars. After awhile, he was dropped to the ground and prodded in the back with a
was forced to walk for nearly two miles without ever seeing who was behind him, then was
shoved into a cave. A heavy hand closed on his shoulder and he was held in place for
a couple minutes. Gradually, his eyes adjusted and he saw a man lying on the ground
a few feet in front of him, covered to the chin with a blanket. He was shoved to the
ground beside the man and his captor stepped across to kneel beside the motionless
figure. The doc's jaw dropped as he stared at the biggest man he'd ever seen,
American or German. He continued staring at the man in stunned disbelief as the
Kraut pulled back the blanket, revealing the prisoner's bound hands, which he freed, then
he removed the gag.
sie Deutsch?" The Kraut looked over at Doc.
I don't." Doc shook his head.
a grunt of frustration, the German reached across the prisoner, grabbed the medic's wrist,
forcing his hand onto the prisoner's forehead, then pulled the prisoner's shirt open,
revealing the bandage on his side. Grabbing the medic's bag, he handed it to him,
then pointed at the prisoner. The medic stared at the Kraut as he built up the fire,
finally tearing his eyes away to look at the prisoner.
He asked in bewilderment.
sergeant's eyes fluttered briefly as he shifted position with a slight moan, one hand
moving aimlessly. The Kraut shook Doc's medical bag, then pointed to the sergeant
okay. Take it easy." Doc waved him back out of the way.
the big man watching closely, Doc gently twitched the bandage loose and examined the
wound. It was ragged and ugly, but didn't look infected. He cleaned it, and
dusted it librally with sulfa powder before re-bandaging it.
es angesteckt?" The German sounded worried.
understanding what he said, Doc shrugged, shaking his head. Muttering something that
sounded like it might have been a curse, the soldier dug in his pockets, finally pulling
out a piece of paper and a pencil.
don't read German, either." Doc told him.
watched the big hands fly over the paper, amazed at the detailed drawing forming. A
man who was clearly intended to be the sergeant was lying on his back, the wound in his
side carefully rendered. A thin line ran from the wound to the man's heart.
Looking up to be sure he had Doc's attention, the German pointed to the thin line, then
drew a skull and crossbones.
Doc frowned, then grinned when he caught on. "Poison! Blood poisoning.
Infection. I got it!" He shook his head. "No, it's not
German sat down with a sigh of relief, pantomiming wiping his brow. Very confused
now, Doc decided to figure out the German later, and work on Saunders now. He dug
some aspirins out of his bag and pulled his canteen from his belt. The German slid a
hand under Saunders' head and neck, raising him a few inches.
can you hear me?" Doc asked.
gonna give you some aspirin, ok? Swallow 'em."
'kay." He mumbled.
popped the pills into the sergeant's mouth, then gave him a drink. When the German
lowered him back to the ground, the injured man shivered, trying to pull the blanket
up. Doc slipped out of his jacket and laid it over Saunders, then sat back, unable
to do anything else for him at the moment.
gotta get him to the aid station." Doc told the German.
The German said, clapping a hand to his chest.
huh? Nice to meet you, Eric. Why don't you go learn some English?"
He muttered. "I'm Doc." He clapped a hand to his own chest.
as quietly as he could, Eric headed for the American lines. He needed a medic, but
how to get one alone? He didn't want a fight. Hearing American voices, he
dropped flat behind a thick bush. As big as he was, that was the only way he could
hide; a tree just wasn't big enough. Amazed at his luck, Eric watched the medic stop
to fix his boot, letting the other Americans move on ahead. Holding his breath, he
eased forward until he was just a few feet from the oblivious medic. As he
straightened up, Eric grabbed him, lifting him from his feet, one hand over his mouth to
stifle his cry of alarm. As Eric hurried back into the trees, the medic kept trying
to kick him, which made walking difficult. After one lucky kick caught his knee,
Eric released his hold on the man's mouth long enough to cuff him alongside his head.
American must have gotten the message because he quit fighting him. Judging they
were far enough from the others, Eric set him on his feet and prodded him in the
back. Reluctantly, the medic started walking. Eric breathed a soundless sigh
of relief when he spotted the cave just ahead. Just inside, he seized the medic's
shoulder, holding him still until both their eyes adjusted to the gloom, then he pushed
the American to the ground beside the sergeant. Stepping over the injured man, Eric
knelt beside him, happy to find he was still alive. Aware that the medic was staring
at him, Eric pulled back the blanket and removed the sergeant's bonds and the gag.
you speak German?" He glanced over at the medic.
I don't." The American said something, shaking his head. The only
thing Eric understood was the word 'no'. Frustrated at the language barrier, Eric
grabbed the medic's wrist, forcing his hand to the sergeant's hot forehead. He
pulled the shirt open so that the medic could see the bandaged wound, then thrust the
medic's bag at him, and pointed to the sergeant. The medic didn't move, just staring
at him as he built up the fire. When the injured man moaned and the medic still
didn't move, Eric shook the bag at him and thrust a large finger at the sergeant.
okay. Take it easy." The medic waved him back and finally bent over
the wound. Eric watched as he removed the bandage, cleaned the wound, dusted it with
powder and re-bandaged it.
it infected?" He asked anxiously. He didn't want this man to die.
medic shook his head and shrugged, obviously not understanding him.
language." Eric muttered, searching his pockets for his last piece of paper and
don't read German, either." The medic said, watching as Eric drew a picture
of the sergeant, then traced out a line of blood poisoning heading for his heart.
Making sure the medic was watching, Eric pointed to the line, then drew a skull and
crossbones, hoping it meant the same in English that it did in German.
The American frowned at the drawing, then his face lit with understanding and he
grinned and shook his head "Poison! Blood poisoning. Infection. I
got it! No, it's not infected."
At last they could
communicate! Eric thought. He sat down with a sigh of relief, pretending to
wipe his brow in relief, both for the lack of infection and the ability to communicate.
The medic frowned again, then started rummaging around in his bag, bringing out a
couple small white pills. Ah, medicine for pain. Eric lifted the sergeant's
head and neck, supporting him while the medic spoke to him and helped him with the pills.
gotta get him to an aid station." The medic said.
Eric thought, they weren't going to get far this way. Maybe they could at least
figure out each other's names.
He thumped himself on the chest.
huh? Nice to meet you, Eric. Why don't you go learn some English? I'm
Doc." The medic put his hand on his chest.
frowned, understanding only his own name and the word 'English'.
He questioned, pointing to the medic.
the medic nodded agreement, Eric indicated the sergeant, and raised an eyebrow in
The medic said.
Eric repeated, receiving another nod of agreement.
Eric thought, now they knew each other's names. That wasn't going to be much help in
getting across what he wanted. He'd just used his last little piece of paper. Wait a
minute! His sergeant carried around a small notebook; maybe this one his knees in
his excitement, apparently scaring the American, because he jumped a foot. Ignoring
him, Eric started searching the sergeant's pockets. When he discovered a pack of
cigarettes and a fancy silver lighter, he paused long enough to light a smoke and admire
the lighter, which he then returned to the sergeant's pocket.
ha!" Eric pulled the notebook from the sergeant's pocket and started flipping
through it, looking for blank paper.
was startled when the medic suddenly snatched it from his hand, apparently angry, judging
from his tone of voice. Eric frowned at him, wondering what he was so mad about,
then it dawned on him. He thought Eric wanted whatever secrets the sergeant had
written in his book.
can't read English, idiot." He chuckled at his own foolishness in talking to
someone who couldn't understand him.
reached for the book, but the medic jerked it out of reach. Unable to explain what
he wanted, Eric did the only thing he could think of. Reaching out with one hand, he
seized the front of the medic's shirt and jerked him across the sergeant's legs.
Still holding him with one hand, Eric closed the other huge hand over the medic's wrist,
squeezing until the medic cried out and dropped the book. Instantly, Eric released
him and snatched up the book. He rapidly flipped through the written-on pages until
he found the beginning of the blank pages. With a grin, he ripped out the used pages
and stuffed them back into the sergeant's pocket, aware that the medic was looking at him
like he'd lost his mind. Well, maybe he had, at that.
he had the paper. Where did that pencil disappear to? It was lying right here
a minute ago.
Surprised at the sound of his name, Eric looked up to see the medic hesitantly
extending the pencil toward him.
nearly jumped out of his skin when the German suddenly rose to his knees and started going
through Saunders' pockets. He found Saunders' cigarettes and took one, using the
sarge's favorite silver lighter to light it. To Doc's surprise, after admiring it,
Eric returned the lighter to the pocket and continued searching the rest of his
pockets. With an exclamation of success, Eric pulled Saunders' notebook from his
pocket, and started flipping through it.
Put that back!" Doc snatched it out of Eric's hand. Saunders had a lot of
information in there that he probably didn't want the German to read.
kann nicht Englisch, Idioten lesen." Eric said, chuckling, then reached for the
jerked it back out of reach. The next thing he knew, Eric had seized the front of
his shirt and dragged him forward over Saunders' legs. His huge hand closed around
Doc's wrist and he started to squeeze. Although it felt like his bones were being
crushed, Doc held on to the book as long as he could. When he cried out in pain,
Eric released him immediately and grabbed the book and thumbed through it till he got to
the blank pages. Doc watched in amazement as the huge man grinned, ripped out the
used pages and stuffed them back into Saunders' pocket. He started fumbling around,
obviously looking for something. Realizing that he must be looking for the pencil,
Doc reached over and picked it up.
He said quietly.
the German looked up. Not sure if it really was the pencil he was looking for, Doc
held it out hesitantly.
the pencil, he braced the small notebook on his knee and started drawing, his hand flying
over the page.
Sarge. I'm right here." Doc bent over him.
up his canteen, Doc realized it was nearly empty. He hesitated then tapped Eric on
the knee, shaking the canteen when he looked up. Nodding, Eric got to his feet,
indicating with gestures that Doc was to remain where he was. Receiving an
affirmative nod in return, Eric took Doc's canteen, as well as his own and Saunders', as
well as his weapon and left the cave.
don't know yet. You just lay still and rest. There's nothing you can do about
it, whatever it is. You've lost a lot of blood and need to rest."
I know, Saunders. He's gone for water."
mind. Just take it easy."
couple moments later, Eric returned, handed the canteens to Doc, and settled down with the
book again. Doc helped Saunders drink, then used some of the water to sponge his
face and neck.
to get some sleep, Sergeant." Doc urged, pulling the jacket back up to
sergeant watched the German, who was oblivious, for a few minutes then drifted into a
restless sleep. Doc tried to see what Eric was drawing, then his gaze fell on the
book Eric had been reading earlier. Curious, he picked it up. Realizing it was
written in German, he replaced it, catching Eric grinning at him. Eric handed him
the notebook, watching for his reaction. Doc stared at it in wonder. It was
amazing. On the little page, Eric had created a beautifully detailed drawing.
It showed Doc helping Saunders walk, with Eric in front of them, his hands in the air.
want to surrender?" Doc asked.
reached over and flipped the page. This page showed Eric on a boat that was
approaching the Statue of Liberty. Without waiting, Doc flipped to the next
page. Eric was seated at an easel, painting. When he glanced up at Eric, the
German held up one finger, then pointed at the book.
more picture?" Doc turned the page.
man's ability was stunning. This page was covered with the result of war, dead
bodies, burned houses and bomb craters, planes firing at each other above. In the
midst of it stood Eric, his hands fanned over his face. In between the fingers,
Eric's expression of horror was clearly drawn.
closed the book slowly and handed it back to him. Eric accepted it, watching Doc's
face. Apparently satisfied with what he saw, he smiled. Indicating the
sleeping sergeant, he pantomimed eating, then raised an eyebrow.
thought for a moment, then held up his watch, his forefinger acting as a minute hand, and
moved the finger around the watch to indicate 'later'. Eric nodded, then pointed to
Doc and again pantomimed eating. To Doc's embarrassment, his stomach chose that
moment to rumble. Breaking into quiet laughter, Eric pawed through the pile of stuff
at the foot of the blankets Saunders lay on and tossed Doc a box of rations.
started moving restlessly again, plucking at the blanket and muttering about different
battles. Setting aside the food, Doc resumed sponging the sergeant's face and
neck. Getting Eric's attention, Doc laid a hand on Saunders' forehead, then jerked
it away as if he'd been burned. He pointed to his watch then held up one finger,
then two, with a look of inquiry.
looked at his own watch, then at the sergeant, obviously thinking. After a moment,
he held up 4 fingers.
had a fever for four hours, has he?" Doc said, drawing a look of puzzlement
from the German. "We'll have to try to get it down."
pulled his jacket off of the sergeant and opened Saunders' shirt, wiping his chest as well
as his face and neck with the cool water from the canteen. Eric watched anxiously,
then asked with gestures if he could help. Doc shook his head, continuing to work
over the sergeant.
watched as the medic fought the man's rising fever for hours, always talking to the
sergeant, although it didn't appear that the sick man was listening. When the
medic's arms started to tremble with weariness, Eric pushed him aside and took over,
indicating that the medic should sleep. Reluctantly, Doc lay down a few feet away,
his eyes on Saunders' face. He wasn't aware that he'd fallen asleep until he opened
his eyes to find the sergeant sleeping peacefully and the big German sitting watch on
Saunders' other side. Seeing that Doc was awake, Eric grinned hugely as he pointed
to Saunders. He lightly touched the sergeant's forehead, then lowered his
hand. Pointing to his watch, he held up two fingers.
up, Doc scooted closer and checked Saunders for fever. His skin was warm and dry,
and he seemed to be breathing easily.
Eric's deep voice drew his attention and he looked up, automatically reaching for the cup
of coffee the German was handing him.
the pencil the medic was holding out to him, Eric began to draw. How to draw what he
wanted to say? He heard the injured man mumbling, but ignored him and the medic,
concentrating on his drawing. Feeling a tap on his leg, Eric looked up to find Doc
shaking an obviously empty canteen. Nodding his understanding, he got up, telling
Doc with gestures to remain where he was. When Doc indicated his agreement, Eric
gathered all three canteens, took his weapon and headed out for the stream he knew was
nearby. Hoping the two Americans were still where he'd left them, Eric quickly
filled the canteens and returned to the cave.
the canteens to the medic, he sat down and resumed his drawing. It was hard to
convey in pictures what was so easy to say in words. He heard the medic talking to
the injured sergeant while helping him drink. A few minutes later, the movement of
the medic picking up the book Eric had been reading caught Eric's attention. Eric
couldn't help grinning when the American realized the book was written in German and put
it back down. What did he think it would be written in? English? After
adding a few last details to his drawing, Eric handed the notebook to Doc. Had he
made it clear enough? Would the medic understand what he was trying to say?
stared at the first page, then looked up at him, his expression awed.
want to surrender?" The American asked.
understanding what he said, Eric leaned over and lifted the first page to reveal the
second drawing. This was a picture of Eric sailing to America, far away from Hitler
and the war. Doc turned to the next page, studying it. This picture was to
show the medic what Eric wanted to be doing painting beautiful pictures; not killing
people. Doc looked up at him, and Eric held up one finger. The most difficult
picture to draw, and the most difficult to express his feelings, was yet to come.
The American stared at the next and last picture for a long time, then closed the book and
gave it back. Taking it without glancing away from the medic's face, Eric waited for
the reaction. It seemed that the American understood what he was trying to say.
for the moment, Eric pointed to the injured man, then pretended to eat. The medic held up
his watch, telling Eric that the sergeant would eat later. Eric asked the medic in
gestures if he was hungry, laughing when the American's stomach rumbled. Leaning
over, Eric pawed through the packs piled at the end of the blankets, found a box of
rations and tossed it to the medic. Before he even opened the box, the injured man
started mumbling and moving around.
expression worried, the medic laid the rations aside and began sponging the man's face and
neck. Waving a hand to get his attention, Doc pretended to be burned by touching the
sergeant's forehead, then pointed to his watch, holding up one finger, then two.
What was he trying to say? Oh! The fever. How long. This was
getting easier all the time, Eric thought. He pointed to his watch, trying to
remember when the fever had started to rise, then held up four fingers. Four hours
ago. The medic said something as he removed his jacket from the sergeant and
unbuttoned the injured man's shirt. Eric watched anxiously as the medic began
sponging the man's chest as well as his face and neck in an obvious attempt to lower his
this man to live, Eric tried to ask if he could help, but the medic shook his head without
stopping what he was doing. Feeling useless, Eric watched the medic fight the rising
fever, always talking to the patient, although it appeared that he couldn't hear.
After hours of sponging and talking, the medic's arms began to tremble, and his voice grew
hoarse. Enough of this, Eric thought. He pushed Doc aside and took the cloth
from his hand. He pointed to the ground and pantomimed sleeping. Obviously
reluctant, the exhausted medic finally lay down, falling asleep almost instantly.
continued working over the injured man for what seemed hours until the fever finally broke
and the sergeant slipped into a normal, restful sleep. With nothing else to do but
wait, Eric made more coffee and retrieved his book. A couple hours later, Eric
realized that the medic was awake and looking at him. He grinned and pointed at
Saunders, indicating that the fever had gone down two hours ago. Apparently
not believing him, Doc sat up and checked him himself, watching him sleep with a relieved
expression on his own face. Eric poured a cup of coffee and held it out to the
medic. He had to call his name to draw his attention from the patient, handing him
the cup when he looked up.
sipped the hot coffee gratefully, immensely relieved that Saunders' fever had broken at
last. There wasn't much he could do for a fever out in the field. If he could
just get the sergeant back to an aid station, he would be alright. A stomach cramp
reminded him that he hadn't eaten so he set the coffee aside and picked up the box of
rations that Eric had given him earlier. Taking his book with him, the big German
moved over to sit with his back against the wall of the cave near the entrance, leaning
over slightly to take advantage of the late afternoon sunlight streaming into the cave.
watched him for a moment, smiling slightly when he realized that Eric had positioned
himself so that nobody could slip past him. Did the German think he was going to
throw the injured sergeant over his shoulder and run out? Come to think of it, just
what did the man have in mind? Was he planning to stay here until Saunders was
healed? Was he expecting Doc to carry him? If so, they wouldn't get very
far. The sarge was bigger than he was and Doc wouldn't be able to lug him any
distance. Maybe he was planning on waiting till Saunders could walk with help?
Doc opened the box and dug into the contents, so hungry that he didn't pay any attention
to what he was eating. When he finished, he laid a gentle hand on Saunders'
forehead, checking for fever. The sergeant stirred slightly and opened his eyes.
His voice was rough from disuse.
Sarge. It's me. How do you feel?"
Doc grinned. "Tell me the truth."
Saunders managed a faint grin. "Sore. Thirsty. Hungry."
what I thought. I'll get you something to eat and drink, give you something for the
pain, then you can sleep some more."
Doc rummaged around for another box of rations, Saunders looked around, his gaze stopping
on the German, who was paying no attention to them.
I see what I think I see?"
glanced up at him, then went back to what he was doing.
What's going on, Doc?"
Sarge, it's a little complicated. He apparently captured you, then me, but he's
going to surrender and be our prisoner." He held up a ration box triumphantly,
then scooted over to sit Indian-style beside Saunders. "Can you sit up,
Despite his best effort, he only managed to lift his head a couple inches.
big German set his book aside and lumbered to his feet. Joining them, he slid his
huge hands under Saunders' shoulders and eased him to a sitting position. Ignoring his
protests, Doc fed him while Eric supported him. Doc helped him drink, then gave him
a couple more aspirins. Eric gently lowered him back to the blankets and returned to
his book. Somewhat bewildered, the sergeant stared at the oblivious German.
worry about it now, Sarge. You need to rest. Go back to sleep." Doc
need to get outa here, Doc."
in no shape to move, Sarge. Get some sleep. I'll be right here."
you can't even sit up alone right now. How are you planning on getting out of
here? Crawling? Forget it and go to sleep." Doc snapped at him.
at the unusual show of temper from the easy-going medic, Saunders looked up at him.
Reluctantly admitting to himself the truth of the medic's words, the sergeant closed his
eyes and fell asleep almost immediately. Doc twitched the blanket up to Saunders'
shoulders, then stood up and stretched. Eric glanced up at him, then returned his
attention to the book.
sure wish you could speak English." Doc glared at him, then started pacing the
several minutes of this, Eric looked up, irritated. He watched the medic walking
from one end of the cave to the other, then from side to side, returning to his book with
Sie sich irgendwo hin!" Eric growled after five more minutes.
stopped pacing and stared at him blankly. Closing his book, Eric got to his feet and
went outside, returning with a double handful of dirt that he dumped on the floor several
feet away from the sleeping sergeant. He made two more trips, then spread the dirt
out in a thin layer, forming a square. Using the point of his knife, he drew rows of
smaller squares within the large square.
Sie irgendweiche Munzen?" Eric looked up at Doc who was watching him
a sigh of frustration, Eric dug into his pockets, coming up with a mixture of francs and
deutschemarks. He showed the coins to Doc, then pointed to Doc's pockets. It
took Doc a minute to figure out his meaning, then he searched his pockets, bringing out a
few American coins and a handful of francs. Eric counted the coins he held, then
counted Doc's coins. Shaking his head, he started casting around the cave floor,
picking up something here and there, then finally returning to sit down on one side of the
square he'd made. He motioned for Doc to sit on the opposite side, then started
laying out coins in the first three rows small squares. He then laid out small
pebbles in the three rows closest to Doc.
Sie?" He grinned at the medic.
Understand what? Oh! Checkers!" Doc laughed, nodding his head.
Eric made the first move. They played for quite awhile, both men laughing as they
tried to figure out how to 'king' a pebble with a coin. Several games later, Doc
straightened up, stretching, and realized that Saunders was awake, watching them.
winning?" Saunders asked curiously.
games to five. I'm ahead." Doc grinned.
Help me sit up, Doc."
not sure that's a good idea, Sarge."
can make it an order, if it will make you feel better." Saunders glared at him.
got to his feet, picked up one of the packs and dropped it beside Saunders. Moving
around behind him, Doc grabbed the shoulders of his shirt and raised him up, kicking the
pack over to offer support. Saunders' face paled but he remained in position, his
hand trembling when he reached for the canteen Doc was offering.
Eric watched with satisfaction as the
medic drank the coffee and reached for the rations. If the medic didn't take care of
his own needs, he'd soon have two sick men on his hands. Picking up his book, Eric
sat down by the cave entrance to take advantage of the little bit of light that filtered
in. He was peripherally aware that the sergeant had woken up and was talking to the
medic, probably about him. He watched as Doc opened another box of rations to feed
to the injured man. Saunders tried to sit up, but was still too weak, so Eric laid
his book down and joined them. Kneeling behind the sergeant, Eric lifted and
supported him while the medic fed him. The sergeant was obviously none too happy
about it, but Doc paid no attention to his protests. After he'd eaten, the medic
gave him more pain pills and a drink, then motioned for Eric to lay him down again.
After doing so, Eric returned to his book, fully aware that the American was staring at
him. Startled at the medic's tone of voice, Eric looked up. Whatever he'd said
apparently surprised the sergeant as well because he was staring at the medic. As
the sergeant closed his eyes, Doc covered him with the blanket then got up,
stretching. The medic said something, then started pacing the cave. The cave
wasn't very big, and the pacing soon began to irritate him.
down somewhere!" Eric growled.
American stopped and stared at him, obviously not understanding what he'd said.
Well, Eric thought to himself, I have a book to read, and the sergeant is sleeping
again. The medic must be bored. Maybe he would like to play a game of some
kind. What could we play that doesn't require talking to each other? I don't
have any cards. Ah, how about Checkers? Hmm, no board. Wait a minute,
there was a lot of loose dirt outside, I could make one. Closing the book, he got up
and went out, bringing back a double handful of dirt, dropping it on a flat spot a few
feet away from the sergeant. He looked at it critically, then made two more
trips. Sitting down, he carefully spread the dirt into a rough square, then used his
knife to make the smaller squares.
you have any coins?" He looked up at Doc, forgetting he couldn't understand
a frustrated sigh, Eric dug into his own pockets, bringing forth a handful of coins, both
French and German. Showing the coins to the American, he pointed to the medic's
pockets. After a minute, Doc understood and searched his pockets, showing Eric a few
coins, American and French. They would need at least 12 of the same type of coins,
if he remembered correctly. Counting his coins, then Doc's, he came up short by
six. Americans were supposed to be rich, Eric thought, shaking his head in
disgust. They would have to use something else. He looked around the floor of
the cave, picking up small pebbles. When he had enough, he returned to sit on one
side of the square, and motioned Doc down on the other side. While Doc watched curiously,
he laid out the coins on his side, then laid out the pebbles on Doc's side.
He grinned, pleased with his creativity.
Understand what? Oh! Checkers!" Doc laughed and nodded.
happily, Eric made the first move. Doc proved to be a formidable opponent and he
thoroughly enjoyed playing him. Doc was the first to be 'kinged' and they both ended
up laughing as they tried to 'king' a pebble with a coin. It kept falling off, and
they finally just let the two objects lay in the same square. The American won the
first game, Eric the next two, then Doc took the next two, and then Eric won again.
After stirring up the fire for more light, they resumed playing. Doc won that game,
then Eric won, then Doc again. The American stretched his back, glancing over at the
sergeant, who said something that made the medic grin when he answered. They had a
short exchange that ended with the sergeant glaring at the medic, who got up and pulled
one of the packs over and helped the sergeant sit up, leaning on the pack. Eric
watched in silence as the injured man's face paled slightly and his hand shook when he
took the canteen Doc gave him. The medic talked to him for several minutes, the
sergeant obviously disagreeing with him, till finally the medic threw up his hands and
returned to the game. Eric glanced over at the sergeant from time to time as the
medic had his back to him. The sergeant watched them for awhile, then fell asleep
again, his neck at an awkward angle. Eric tapped the medic's knee and pointed to the
sergeant. Doc crawled over to him, moved the pack and lowered him back to the
ground, then returned to the game.
won this game and raised an eyebrow, asking if Doc wanted to play again. Doc shook
his head, studying him curiously. Eric understood that the medic was as frustrated
as he himself was. He knew the medic wanted to ask him questions but couldn't make
himself understood. Eric pulled out the notebook he'd taken from the sergeant and
offered it to the medic, along with the pencil. Doc took it slowly, frowning in
thought. Laughing at his lack of artistic ability, Doc drew two stick figures
holding a tiny stick figure. He pointed at the tiny figure then to himself, then
wrote 1921, the year he was born, and handed the book back to Eric. Eric grinned at
the crude drawing, then wrote 1924, pointing to himself.
the medic was twenty-two years old to his own twenty years. Eric drew a stick
figure, then another next to it wearing a skirt. Underneath them he drew a hand with
a wedding ring, then a question mark, and handed the book back to Doc. Doc shook his
head and looked at Eric, raising an eyebrow. Eric also shook his head. Eric
retrieved the book, working over a drawing for several minutes. Doc moved around so
that he could look over his shoulder. Eric had drawn a picture of the sergeant,
stripes and all, sleeping next to the pack, then below that he was working on a drawing
that showed the sergeant walking beside the medic who wore a helmet with the red
Eric said, pointing to the first drawing. Turning his wrist, he pointed to his
watch, then to the second drawing. "Healthy. How long?" He
pointed at his watch again.
took the book and drew three sunrises with an arrow from the sunrises to the walking
too long. We can't wait three days." Shaking his head, Eric drew another
picture, this one showing the medic supporting the sergeant as he walked, then indicated
his watch again. Doc looked at the picture then studied the sleeping sergeant for a
long minute. Taking the book back, he drew a single sunrise.
the morning. That's much better. Good. In the morning we will go find
the American lines and I will become a prisoner of war and go to America."
would need to eat and sleep before they left, Eric realized. They had eaten all of
the rations, so he would have to go find them something to eat. He would have to tie
up the medic while he was gone and probably the sergeant as well. He didn't want to
take a chance on them trying to get away while he was looking for food. He
had to have these two to surrender to the Americans. He knew that tying them up
would probably destroy what little trust had been built between them, but he had no other
got to his feet, trying to move casually, and walked around behind the medic.
Quickly seizing the medic's arms, he pulled his wrists behind his back and tied them with
the rope he'd used for the sergeant's hands. Startled and angry, Doc tried to fight
him, but Eric easily subdued him and soon had him lying on the ground with his hands and
feet tied, and had a gag in his mouth. Ignoring the medic's angry glare, he bound
the sergeant and gagged him as well.
left the cave without looking back, and moved out into the fading evening light. He
made his way to a nearby farm without encountering anyone on the way. Carefully, he
worked around to the other side of the barn where he had seen a small flock of chickens
when he'd passed this way a few days ago. Luck was with him and they were still
there. He squatted down in the grass and waited patiently. Eventually, two of
the chickens wandered within reach on their way back to the barn for the night. With
lightning fast speed, he snatched them, one in each hand, breaking their necks
instantly. Tucking a bird under each arm, he hurried through the darkness back to
fire had almost burned down to embers, but the glow was enough for him to see the two men
were still there. Dropping the chickens beside the fire, he fed the embers till the
fire was bright again. Both men were glaring at him. Well, he couldn't blame
them. He wouldn't be happy in their position, either. Leaving them bound, he
proceeded to pluck the chickens and prepare them for cooking. He placed a pack on
either side of the fire, and used a green stick as a spit, setting both chickens on the
fire to cook, using the packs to support the ends of the stick. Kneeling beside the
sergeant, he removed the gag first, then freed his feet. Planting one massive hand
on the sergeant's chest, he cut the bonds holding the sergeant's hands, quickly moving
back out of reach, not that he expected the wounded man to be able to do much.
Turning to the medic, he cut his hands free , leaving him to free his feet himself.
Expecting them to be furious, he paid no attention to the words the medic was spitting at
to the fire, he turned the chickens so they would cook evenly. To his surprise, the
sergeant managed to sit up by himself, apparently looking around for the weapons, which
Eric had hidden before he'd left. Finally running out of things to say, the medic
sat down near the sergeant and contented himself with glaring at Eric.
gotta try to get outta here, Doc." Saunders said.
How? You can't even walk."
could help me."
suppose we're just going to waltz right past him? And he'll let us?"
seen it. You need to rest, Sarge. Lay back down and get some sleep."
had enough sleep." Saunders growled. "I'm sick of laying down."
then." Doc threw up his hands in disgust and returned to the Checkers game,
ignoring the sergeant.
short time later, Eric tapped Doc's knee and pointed toward the sergeant. Glancing
over his shoulder, Doc saw that he'd fallen asleep again. He was tempted to leave
the stubborn sergeant where he was, but if he did that, his neck would be stiff and sore
when he woke again. Not bothering to get to his feet for the short distance, Doc
crawled over and laid the sergeant down and crawled back to the game.
German won it easily and raised an eyebrow. Too agitated from his exchange with the
sergeant to concentrate on a game, Doc shook his head. What he'd really like to do
is talk to Eric, to find out what made him tick, and what he had in mind for them and
feeling the same way, Eric dug out the notebook again and handed it to Doc. He took
it, trying to think of a way to convey in pictures what he wanted to know. Chuckling
at his crude drawing, he drew stick figures holding a baby. He pointed to the baby
then to himself, writing the year he'd been born, then gave the book back to Eric.
Grinning, Eric wrote 1924. So that made him three years younger. The big
German drew two figures, using Doc's stick method, one of which wore a skirt, under which
he drew a hand with a wedding ring and a question mark then tossed the book back to Doc.
shook his head and raised an eyebrow, asking Eric if he was married. Eric reached
for the book and started one of his involved drawings. Curious, Doc moved around and
watched over his shoulder. He drew a detailed picture of Saunders sleeping, then
another of the two Americans walking together.
Eric pointed to the sergeant in the first picture, then pointed to his watch, then
indicated the second drawing. "Gesund." He said, followed by what
was obviously a question.
studied the pictures for a couple minutes, finally realizing that Eric was asking when
Saunders would be able to walk. Taking the book, he drew three sunrises. The
German shook his head, muttering something, then drew another picture, this one had Doc
supporting Saunders as they walked, then he pointed to his watch again. Doc looked
at the picture then studied the sergeant. He was improving quickly now that the
fever had passed. One more day should do it, he decided and drew a single sunrise.
nodded, mumbling to himself. He got up, slipping the notebook into his pocket.
As he moved behind him, Eric suddenly grabbed Doc's arms, jerking his wrists behind his
back and tying them tightly. What on earth? Doc thought, futilely trying to
pull free. The huge German ignored his struggles and Doc found himself on the
ground, tied hand and foot, a strip of blanket forming a gag. Eric then proceeded to
do the same to the sleeping sergeant, waking him in the process. As the German
stalked out of the cave, Doc caught Saunders' accusing glare and looked away.
awhile later, Eric returned. The fire had almost burned out, but they could see him
drop something beside the glowing embers. When he pushed more wood into the fire,
the objects were revealed as two dead chickens. Paying no attention to Saunders'
angry grunts, Eric sat down and plucked the birds, spitted them, and propped them over the
fire, using packs to hold the ends of the stick. He knelt beside Saunders and pulled
off the gag, and untied his feet. Using one hand to hold the sergeant down, he
untied his hands and stepped back out of reach. He cut the rope binding Doc's hands
then went back to the fire, letting Doc free his own feet and remove the gag.
the hell's the matter with you?" Doc demanded angrily. "That wasn't
managed to sit up, leaning on the nearby pack.
are the weapons, Doc?"
me, Sarge. I thought we were getting along! He didn't have to tie you up like
that! What did he think you were going to do?" Doc was so angry that he
was nearly spitting as he sat down by Saunders.
away, what'd you think? I sure wasn't gonna sit here and wait for him to come
them, Eric concentrated on turning the chickens so they would cook evenly. When they
were cooked, Eric broke the stick, handing one chicken to Doc and keeping the other
himself. As an afterthought, he tossed one of the canteens between the
Americans. Doc and Saunders split the chicken, eating eagerly. This was a lot
better than Army rations.
bad we don't have potatoes and gravy." Doc grinned.
And apple pie." Saunders agreed, licking his fingers.
they'd finished, Eric pointed to them and pantomimed sleeping. Saunders shook his
head. He'd had enough sleep. Doc also shook his head. He wasn't
tired. With a sigh, Eric pulled out the book, drew a quick picture and tossed the
book to Doc who showed it to Saunders. On one side of the page, Eric had drawn
himself, sleeping. On the other side, Doc and Saunders were sitting back to back,
ropes binding them.
take it he wants to sleep?" Saunders asked.
that way. He wants to tie us up again, too."
way." Saunders snapped.
his size, and your condition, just how are you planning on stopping him?"
of us could take him."
one of us he goes for first, the other has to jump him from behind."
heard me, Doc."
got to his feet and picked up the blanket that had been covering Saunders, easily ripping
it into strips. Holding them in one hand, he sighed and moved toward Doc. Doc
slowly backed away, carefully not looking toward Saunders. Teeth clenched, Saunders
staggered to his feet. Without even looking around, Eric swung his arm back,
knocking the sergeant back to the ground. Doc lunged forward, intent on stopping Eric from
hitting the injured man again. Seizing Doc by the arm, Eric flung him to the ground
on top of Saunders, who had just rolled onto his back, clutching his side. Eric
quickly tied Doc's hands behind his back, then his his feet.
entschuldige mich." Eric said repeatedly as he lifted Doc to one side and
bound Saunders' hands and feet.
hold of the front of Doc's shirt, Eric pulled him to a sitting position and more or less
forced him to drink from the canteen, then did the same with Saunders. Eric laid Doc
on his stomach and Saunders on his back next to him, securely tying their left arms
together, making it impossible for them to untie each other. He gagged them, then
lay down on the other side of the fire and closed his eyes, waking several times during
the long night to check on his prisoners.
the morning sun brought dim light to the cave, Eric sat up and stretched. Moving
over to Saunders, who appeared to be sleeping, Eric helped himself to another cigarette,
again admiring the lighter before returning it to the sergeant's pocket. He cut both
men free, his expression sympathetic as they slowly stretched stiff muscles. Doc
climbed to his feet, his movements stiff and awkward. Eric bent and lifted Saunders
to his feet, steadying him until Doc stumbled over and took his arm. Digging in his
pocket, Eric looked at and dropped several drawings until he found the one he
wanted. He held it out to Saunders, who squinted at it, then handed it to Doc.
he trying to say, Doc?"
surrendering to us, Sarge. He wants to be a prisoner of war and go to America."
walked over to the wall of the cave, returning with his rifle, which he handed to
Saunders, then he raised both hands over his head.
get going before he changes his mind." Saunders said.
are you up to walking yet?" Doc asked.
go." Saunders insisted.
pulled Saunders' arm over his shoulder, and slid the other around his back for
support. The sergeant lightly prodded Eric in the back with the rifle, and the three
of them moved out slowly, all blinking in the bright sunlight.
way?" Saunders asked, looking around.
Eric said, helpfully pointing to the west.
right." Doc shrugged.
walked for a little over an hour when they heard a shout. In German. Then they
heard another shout. This one was in English. Eric shouted something, stepping
between the two German soldiers at the edge of the trees and the two Americans behind
him. Just as the unseen American yelled for them to hit the dirt, the two Krauts
fired. Doc and Saunders heard the sickening thuds of the bullets slamming into the
huge German in front of them, then he'd fallen backwards, taking them to the ground with
him. Overhead, an M-1 spoke and the two Krauts went down.
got to his knees, his hands automatically trying to stop the bleeding from the multiple
wounds in Eric's chest. Gasping for breath, Eric put a hand in his pocket. He
pulled out a crumpled piece of paper and pushed it into Saunders' hand, then his eyes
closed and he was still. Saunders smoothed out the paper and stared at it.
hell." He said softly, handing it to Doc.
looked up at Saunders, startled, then slowly took the paper. It was a picture he
hadn't seen before. He and Saunders and Eric were shaking hands and smiling, with
the Statue of Liberty in the background.
Story Copyright Mary Wright. All Rights Reserved.
Read more Dogface Tales by Mary:
The CombatFan web site thanks Mary (aka "EagleLady") for letting
us share these fan fiction stories on this web site.
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Davidsmeyer. All rights reserved. Photographs from the TV series