War and History Fiction posted September 22, 2013


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Young Italian boy helps US soldiers in WW2.

We'll meet Again

by Aussie

We had to make the deadline. The villagers were packed and ready to leave their small village called Montefiorino; nestled at the foot of the Italian Alps. We had been waiting for a radio message from our relief troops high on the mountains. The German Wehrmacht were in retreat and were headed for our safe house.

Giorgio and Mario were village partisans that were waiting to sight the Germans. There were only six of us left from the 57 Armoured Division - we had escaped the attack near Parma,ten miles south of Montefiorino; because of a small boy that led us through the dense forest to safety. He was a strange child always talking about his friend called Pablo. We thought he had an imaginary friend.

The Italian people had little food, but what they had, they shared with us. Gave us milk from their single goat and vegetables from their garden. They were terrified when they saw us climb the hill to the village. Papa Giuseppe was the village elder and he stepped out as we approached the people.

Papa raised his arms and shouted at us "I am a fascist!"
We shouted back "Americans! Americano!"

The relief on his face was immediate and his people gathered around us without fear. Their village was isolated but they knew what the word 'Americans' meant.
Maria stepped forward and my heart skipped a beat - Italian women were natural beauties.

"Does anyone speak English? Captain John West is my name."
"I speak some," Maria smiled as she offered me homemade wine.
"How come you speak English?" I asked her.
"I work as translator in Roma for a time." Her smile was dazzling and I was smitten.

"Who is the boy? Did you pick him up on your way to our village?"
"Actually, he led us away from a little village about ten miles from here. Just as well we followed him - Germans were right on our tail. He doesn't speak, he just keeps saying one word and seems to be talking to an imaginary friend, called Pablo?" I winked at the boy and he scurried into Maria's open arms.

After the villagers had fed us and found old clothes for us to change into - the boy came into our small room where we were sleeping on the floor. Charlie Big Horse - as he was called, put his arms out to the child. No one could resist the gentle giant and the boy sat on his lap, kissing the Crucifix that hung from Charlie's dog-tags; Charlie talked quietly in Italian to him.
"Hey, Sarge, he says his name is Angelo and he lives in Parma." Angelo held onto that man-mountain and would not let go; buried his head under Charlie's arm.

Marie came to tell us that the two partisans in their village were going out scouting for Germans. Mario had gone by himself last time and Giorgio wanted to accompany him this time - Giorgio had an inkling that all wasn't well with Mario and if he could get him away from home he could talk to him.

The men made their way down the mountain to Parma. The shock of what they saw sent them reeling and Giorgio couldn't stop vomiting at the stench of dead bodies.
Parma was a small village nestled at the foot of the mountains; the dead villagers all lay in front of the church - men, women, and children, all shot to death. The Germans had definitely been there.

"Mario, did you know about this slaughter? You must have known?" Giorgio shook him hard.
"I, I was looking for the Germans and I..." Mario slumped to the ground and wept.
"We have been friends since boyhood - did you lead the Germans to Parma?"
Giorgio pulled Mario to his feet and grabbed him by the throat, increasing pressure until Mario gagged.

"You bastard, you led the Germans here and all the villagers were shot," Giorgio pressed his handgun against Mario's head.
"I didn't know they were going to execute them I thought they were just going to take prisoners," he sobbed and added "I need the money."
"Prisoners? You fool, the Germans take no prisoners and they are in retreat; anyone in their way is killed. I suppose you were going to lead them to Montefiorino? Oh, that's right, they are headed for our village right now."

The report from Giorgio's pistol echoed around the empty village.
"Traitor! Rot in hell." Tears of anger ran down his face.
Giorgio kicked Mario's body out of his way - walked amongst the dead and into the church where he lit a candle. He prayed for the souls of the dead. He slowly came to his senses and set out for the journey north.

"Radio's broke Sarge - can listen but not send," Charlie fiddled with the aerial.
"Give to me," Angelo spoke for the first time.
"We have radio in village until..." The boy's face was streaked with tears.
"Oh, let him fiddle with it, takes his mind off things," John winked at Charlie.

It was a moonlit night and Maria was sitting outside watching the road into the village - the men hadn't returned and she was worried.
"What's taking so long, John?"
"Maybe they found the Germans and are hiding from them?" He stroked her raven hair and moved his hands towards her breasts.

Maria turned her face toward him and smiled lovingly. She thought John was so handsome and warmed to his touch. They walked down the road and found an orange grove - she lay in his arms after they had made desperate love.
"Do you have a wife, John?"
"No, just me at home, are you married Maria?"
"Christo was killed on a patrol a year ago," she showed no emotion.
"I'm sorry for your loss - must have been hard for you," he said.

"Oh, not so bad, he was a pig - arranged marriages never so good," she spoke in broken English.
At the sound of boots on gravel they both stood together and watched the road. Giorgio had made it home.

"Where's Mario?" Maria exclaimed.
"I shot the traitor - he led the Germans to Parma; dead, all dead." Giorgio slid to the ground and wept uncontrollably. "We grew up together, how could he do this terrible thing?"

Charlie came bursting out the door shouting "he fixed it, he fixed it!"
"What?" John was wondering what Charlie was shouting about.
"Angelo fixed the radio and I sent a message to Falcon company. They know where we are and will be here in two days." Charlie carried the boy on his shoulders.
"Broken wire - I fix him," Angelo beamed.

The next day they all sat around the table discussing their escape from Montefiorino. The women had set the goat and cattle loose.

The sound of trucks in the distance alerted them to the approach of the Wehrmacht. The Germans were on the road to Montefiorino.
John organised men with ancient rifles on the roofs and his men bunkered down at the gates - they had enough ammunition for two days.

"Dio Mio!" Papa Giuseppe shouldered a rifle too heavy for his frail old body.
At the head of the column a lieutenant stood arrogantly in the battered car.
"Hold your fire and make every bullet count," John cried out.
Charlie held the only machine gun and Angelo hid inside the goat pen.
"Charlie, Angelo help you?" The boy was brave in the face of adversity.

"Attunga! The lieutenant shouted at the low wall surrounding the village. "Surrender now," he spoke in broken Italian.

John raised his rifle and shot him dead. John's men opened fire and the villagers on the roof gave the Germans a taste of lead.
Charlie sat in a doorway with his machine gun rattling away until a German bullet hit him in the chest.
The next man down was Papa and as his wife ran to his side a German shot her in the head.

Angelo took the machine gun from the dying Charlie and started firing wildly at the enemy. Charlie beckoned Angelo to take the Crucifix from his neck. With his mouth full of blood, Charlie said to Angelo "pray for me," then he was gone from this world.

Bullets bounced off the whitewashed walls and then - silence. Montefiorino belonged to the Wehrmacht.

Maria slipped down from the roof and slit the throat of a soldier. All John's men dead and after the melee - the remaining villagers surrendered. The battle weary soldiers broke open the wine stored in the cool cellars. By nightfall they were so drunk they couldn't stand up. For them, the war was over.

John, Maria and Angelo lay silently in the hayloft. The soldiers had had enough of battles and they couldn't be bothered looking for any villagers that had escaped - too busy raping the young girls that had survived.

Pale sunlight peeked over the mountains and John whispered in Maria's ear.
"Our relief column will be here soon," he held her close to his chest and tried to staunch the bleeding from the bullet wound in her arm.

The sound of trucks approaching and guns firing gave them the hope they desperately needed - Falcon company were heading for the village.

Surprised,drunk Germans came running outside pulling on their uniforms; the Americans cut them to pieces. It was all over in fifteen minutes.

"Captain Wes Brady at your service," said the commanding officer.
"Boy, are we glad to see you." John grinned as he handed Maria over to the medic.

Four Jeeps, three trucks and forty foot-soldiers had defeated the Germans. The remaining villagers were loaded into their trucks.
With tears in his eyes, Angelo kissed Maria and saluted John as he was lifted aboard the truck.
John travelled with Maria in the lead vehicle, hugging her and whispering words of consolation. When the convoy reached the field hospital Maria was taken to a surgeon and Angelo was given a hot meal. For two days John sat with Maria.

She slipped in and out of consciousness - her fever was a worry to the surgeon.
Angelo made himself busy helping around the camp and John was happy to see the boy helping clean up around wounded soldiers.

"Angelo, John beckoned the boy over, I need you to stay with her and give her this note with my address - can you keep it safe?"
"Si, I keep safe for Maria. You go now?" He looked at John with huge eyes that were filled with tears.

"I have to go with the men to fight the war - can you tell me about Pablo?"
"Si, Pablo help me...shot at Parma."
"He was killed?"
"Si, he went to German - they shot him - afterwards, I see him in forest, he help me find you - make you safe." He spoke in broken English.
"You saw him after he was killed?" John was amazed.
"Si, he OK, tell me lead you away then he go err...how you say?"
"He disappeared?"
"Went to Jesus I think - no see him no more. He my brother." Angelo cried.

Falcon company was ready to roll as Captain Brady came towards John.
"Ready to go John?"
"Yes sir, my men are all dead, guess I need to kill me some Germans!"

Thirty years later John was working in a steel factory in Detroit. He wondered why Maria had never contacted him, he waited and never married; he hoped she would accept his marriage proposal that he intended to make when they got together.

John was an architect working on site for the Dally Construction Company. He found the work absorbed his nightmares and his loss of his best friend Charlie Big Horse. He tried to push Maria's face out of his dreams - why hadn't she written to him?
"Hey, Boss! Some dude wants to see you - been waiting a while. Real fancy dude and the car, ain't she something special." Chubby was a boilermaker that loved to talk and he loved to watch John draw up his construction plans.

"Well, show him up to the office, what's his name?" John was curious.
"Err...Angele Scarlatti - sounds like spaghetti!" Chubby roared at his own joke.
A tall, well dressed man stood in the doorway - sunlight behind him hid his face.
"Hello John, do you remember me? Angelo from Parma in Italy?"
"Good grief! Angelo, is it really you?" John stood and hugged the Italian.
"What happened to your leg?" Angelo noticed John's limp.
"Land mine blew my leg off."
After the initial shock of seeing someone from the past John asked Angelo to come to his favourite restaurant - Little Italy.

"How did you find me?" John sipped his chianti.
Angelo folded his Armani jacket over the back of the chair and unfolded his napkin.
"I have been around the world since the war - a couple from New York adopted me. My adoptive parents are wealthy you may have heard of the New York Times?"
"Yes, of course who hasn't read it? You mean to say that they own it?"
"Yes, and I'm Editor in Chief of the paper. I really fell on my feet, poor boy from Parma to wealthy man from New York. Still, I have two reasons for finding you," he slipped a small package from his breast pocket and passed it to John. "This is from your dear friend Charlie Big Horse."

Tears welled in John's eyes as he slowly opened the little package - inside was Charlie's dog-tags and the Crucifix. Tears rolled down his cheeks.
"The next thing I have brought with me is this," - Angelo handed over a door key and a letter.
"Before you open the letter, let me explain why Maria didn't get in touch with you... please, listen John."

"After you left the field hospital she contracted septicaemia; her arm was amputated. I stayed with her and we were moved out to a safe area before we finally moved to Rome. An American couple adopted me and took me back to their home in New York. He was a major shareholder in the New York Times - from poor boy I was educated at the best schools and now I am a wealthy man married with two kids. I am now editor of the paper, John. Maria found a job as a translator and she was looked after by relatives."

John opened the scented letter from Maria:

Beloved, I wanted to write to you but I couldn't because I thought you would reject me. By now, Angelo will have told you our story. I want you to know that I never married and I think of you often - love, Maria.

"The key, what is the key for Angelo?" John fiddled with the key turning it over and over in his hand.
"The key opens the door to Maria's villa in Tuscany - I bought her a home that she could call her own," Angelo smiled at John.

"I don't know what to do it's been so long my friend," John stared at the key.

"Don't say no this time John, she's waiting for you. Remember the night you both spent in the orange grove? Your daughter is also waiting to meet her father."

"I don't deserve this Angelo and I'm afraid she won't want me after thirty years."
"John, she has waited this long and she told me she loves you still. Her daughter's name is Gina and it is her twenty-ninth birthday next week. I must go now, have a plane to catch. Oh, I nearly forgot - he handed John a first class air ticket. I will meet you all for Gina's birthday!"

Al Italia landed in Rome and John and Maria both had butterflies in their stomachs.

John tried not to limp towards Marie. She was as beautiful as she had been thirty years ago. Their daughter, Gina had John's red hair and hid behind her mother.

"Now,I have a Papa," Gina said to Maria.
"Now,I have found my first love," Maria whispered back.

"Happy Birthday Gina," John handed her a huge package that he had brought from home - especially for his newfound daughter.
Gina carefully unwrapped the package and to her delight found a patchwork quilt made by her grandmother for her new granddaughter.

The three of them stood together hugging each other. No war wounds - only hearts that would be mended with time and love.
"Hey, boss?" A young colored man ran across to the trio. He smiled at Gina and tipped his hat to Maria.

"I would like to introduce you to my right hand man - Girls, this is Chubby and he wanted to come with me to Italy; thought I needed a hand with my bags," John grinned at Chubby just like he did every morning in Detroit.

"Pleased to meet you both - I couldn't leave the boss by himself and I wanted to see Italy." Chubby grinned and Gina's eyes lit up as he winked at her.



"We'll meet again - don't know where - don't know when. But I know we'll meet again some sunny day." Introduction of the song sung by Dame Vera Lynne for the troops during WW2.
































This Sentence Starts The Story contest entry

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3,019 words: Parma is a small Italian village. villagers were slaughtered by the Germans. Mario led the Germans to Parma he thought they would be taken prisoners. Mario was a partisan and also a traitor paid by the Germans. I saw this as a movie months ago and I wondered if I could remember enough to make my own story - names and places have been changed. I have enjoyed writing this - hope you enjoy reading it.
Dio Mio: My God.
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