THE LAST DAYS OF MANKIND ACT II SCENE 14
A hunting party.
DRECKWITZ: Will you never stop bragging about your hunting stories? My year in Russia accounts for three of your sleepy years of peace! In the enemy's lands the hunting was always excellent. Glorious days chasing a beaten foe, close on his heels until, exhausted, he surrendered to the winner. War is probably a man's most natural occupation. What sentimental memories. How entertaining war against the French was too! We rode against their cavalry and drove them into the mud, our horses cavorting in the sunny Champagne countryside. I still feel a tickle in my throat thinking of all the good champagne we downed. And Belgium! Lush green fields and wealthy cities. A Gurkha and two Belgian cyclists for my shooting log. Then smashing through those Polish border posts! Great Zeus, the rust didn’t settle on our rifles and lances there! For a while there was nothing to shoot at. The enemy wasn’t actually fighting. But one night the Cossacks blocked our way across a bridge. Heavy gunfire whistling eerily through the murky dark. At dawn the whole regiment attacked and drove the bastards out. One man hit in the head, bits of bone flying around. Bang, a gun shot, bang, a second, a third! Boom, goes our cannon, kerpow! People running across the street, but in the dark nobody knows who's who. It would be a shameless lie if I pretended this situation was pleasant, but we came through it. Just outside the town we dug ourselves in up to our collar buttons. It was jolly exciting waiting for the Russians to come, singing ‘The Watch on the Rhine’. Then we lay there, quiet as mice, fingers on triggers. Beside me a young volunteer's teeth were chattering loudly. I gave him a kick in the ribs. ‘Fire!’ I yelled, sending the beautiful sound of a Prussic command at those Russian rascals. The first salvo was answered by howls so terrible and bloodcurdling that my hair stood on end. As our rifles banged away gaily they fell backwards, stumbling over the dead and wounded, screaming. We were already after them. Hurrah! They bunched together like animals. We could have gunned down the lot. They were speechless with fear. It all seemed to be over. We were only missing a slug from the hipflask. But I had a feeling they were up to something. I thought I’d get behind them. A few well placed shots would solve the problem. I pulled the rifle against my cheek, aimed: boom, number 1 on the ground! Reload and aim; 2 and 3 fell over like sacks. That brought them all back to life but they had nowhere to go. For number 4, the bullet was short. The bugger screamed horribly. I grabbed a carbine and sent the next five bullets into a gang of them by a garden fence. Those shots really pissed me off because they had no intention of firing back. But what can you do? I didn’t start this war! Anyway, the flank had been cleared so I was satisfied. The Russian officers had a sheepish look on their faces when they saw just six of us standing there. But our good manners won them over. We shook hands very cordially, me sporting the patronising smile of the winner. It was a nice moment. We moved over to the market place where I thanked the artillery captain for his well placed flak and made my report. My six soldiers received Iron Crosses on the spot and I was recommended for a First Class. And I’m supposed to find your rotten hunting tales impressive! My adventures on the Russian game trail were something else? Game and Dog Magazine has given me the honour of writing about my hunting successes in Russia. And next: good hunting in Italy! Till then: Let's break the necks of a few more bottles!
ALL: Cheers, Dreckwitz! To good hunting!