Ain’t No God in War
The truck rocked in its shocks as the man and his grandson moseyed down the road towards the dump. Hauling a load of carpet. Scraps now, but it had been carpet; pretty nice stuff, too, until they began to remodel. Wood flooring, all the way. The old man, Fred James Huerton, turned up the radio a bit. Some show was on about managing your money.
“Now, what type of place are you looking for?” asked the host’s disembodied voice.
“Oh, nothing big; just big enough for us, and maybe a kid on…”
Old Fred zones out from the drone and buzz of the radio. Ain’t nothin’ on th’ radio, not anymore. Course, don’t need th’ radio anymore, neither; got yer T.V. set sittin’ fer y’ at home now, waitin’ to show me that ballgame.
Couple of minutes down the road, bumping along, and the commercials take hold of the airwaves. Fred nods his head at the mention of the Eleventh, a good day, and a bad one if you thought on it long enough. Speech started coming on; proud, semi-British accent proclaiming the will of God, the slaughter of the unholy enemies of America, and God’s deep involvement in the war itself.
“Ain’t no God in war.” Mr. Huerton mutters to himself.
He looks down, seeing his grandson cock his head to the side like some kinda damn bird.
“Now Grampa, God’s in everything, so he has to be in war.” The kid giggled. “Just look at th’ Old Testament, there’s lots of wars in there.”
The boy grinned, seeing his triumph, and waiting for Grampa to acknowledge it.
“Yer mom’s been fillin’ yer head, ain’t she? Shit, she’d tell y’ God was in th’ damn curtains if y’ asked ‘er.” Fred rubbed his chin. Womans gonna ruin a good kid.
The boy looked offended. “Grampa! She knows th’ truth, that’s why she says it!” Kid always got pissed off when y’ got down on his mom, or his blind faith.
“Hell, boy, I prayed more’n enough times. All th’ times I prayed, figure I’d be a goddamn Pope or somethin’.” Fred took a deep breath. “Lissen kid, there ain’t no God in sneakin’ round at night lookin’ to kill people. Y’ ain’t killin’ ‘em for some noble cause, either; yer killin’ ‘em cause they need killin’, cause they you, cause they got iron cross pinned on their goddamn shirt.”
Old Fred looked back over the years, and stepped into the boots of Freddy Jim ‘Hurtin’, a boy no more than eighteen years old. They called him Hurtin because nobody wanted to spend the extra time to either pronounce, or learn how to pronounce, his given last name. The Battle of the Bulge, or something like that, with the 104th Division, the Timberwolf Division. All Jim knew was that he was lucky to get through it. Didn’t ever talk about it much, except to people who knew about it; cause if they didn’t know about it, all you’d get was “Aww, I’m so sorry you had to go through that” or “I don’t know how you did it” and “It must have been horrible!” but it wasn’t all that horrible. It was disgusting, and gory, and many other things besides, but it wasn’t so bad.
But there weren’t no God in it.
There weren’t no God when he got knocked down by a Jerry mortar blast, losing everything but somehow, what a damn lucky chance, somehow finding some poor Fritz bastard’s Luger lying on the ground.
There weren’t no God in near breaking the dead bastard’s fingers off to get it.
And there weren’t any God in using the butt of that pistol to break the face of some lucky blue-eyed sonofabitch who jumped in front of Jimmy Hurtin with a rifle. Raising it to fire. The gap between them closing as Jim brought the butt of the loaded Luger down on his face. The look in those blue eyes. The slight hesitation that let Jim bring the hammer down without a bullet in his guts. The 7.65 mm slug sliding out of the barrel of that same Luger, just a second later, to put the bastard out of his misery. Fired slow as molasses in winter, or felt like it, near enough.
Old Fred Huerton came back the world, the now world, and saw the little boy looking at him with eyes the size of plates. He knew he ought to feel horrible for telling the kid this shit. But he didn’t.
“Like I said boy, there ain’t no God in war.”
The kid looked out the window, lips writhing.
There ain’t no God in war.