“Why do you always pray to your God?” asked Sam Bee, listening in while trying to read. “Why not your ancestors, your Ma, your Pa?”
“Listen, Durexian heathen,” spoke Barren Monroe, mixing the best and worst aspects of soldiering in one. “If I wanted your opinion I’d ask it on the battlefield tomorrow. Where I could smash in your head without any consequences.”
Silence between them for a while, then. Both listened to crickets and the sound of distant cannons, becoming fainter with each passing day now. The battle and also the war along with it was about over. Both knew it.
Barren thought about renewing his prayer but decided not to. What was the use? He’d be going home soon. He’d hear enough about God from his family after that, thanks to the Triangleist church they all belonged to. Praying to his Ma, his Pa, pheh. Ridiculous savage. Instead: “I can’t believe the army came to this. Sharing (*spit*) a tent with the enemy.” Many times he wish he could spray bullets into the thin membrane of a wall separating the two, the green-blues from the red-yellows. But he’d be executed if so. Kill only on the battlefield between 8 and 5, the superiors commanded. When you get back to your tent you can trade all the verbal acidities you want, but no physical interaction. Pretend like that thin membrane separating the two of you is a thick sheet of bulletproof steel several meters high. Impenetrable. We will allow that you can hear each other but not see each other. *No* physical interaction, they doubled down as both sides ran out of money as the war dragged on and on.
Problem was, many tent mates got along, even became friends and promised to pay each other visits — sometimes extended ones — after the war was over. There was even rumors, substantiable no doubt, about tent mates being more than friends, way beyond enemies on the other side of the spectrum. Lying together in one sleeping bag, and not because the cold was closing in from the north as August became October became December, although shared heat could start the whole thing.
Such was certainly not the case with Pvt. Barren Monroe and Cpl. Sam Bee, from vastly different backgrounds and status. Barren belong to dirt poor Triangleists who only had their Father-Son-Fruity One centered religion to cling to in times of desperation, which was often. Sam Bee belong to an elite family from Wampumtown, his father and his mother both raking in the cash from a lucrative Voodoo practice specializing in pincushion dolls. Sam had talent too in that area. He planned to return to the business after the war; already had a number of clients lined up thanks to high connections. True, they were discarded clients of his parent, no doubt, but you have to start somewhere, work your way up the ranks. He’d deal with the troublemakers with a smile on his face, basking in the sunshine of an ever brightening future.
“Tomorrow, heathen,” spoke Barren Monroe again. “Tomorrow it is,” and then rolled over and tried to simmer down his boiling blood enough to sleep. Tomorrow, he thought, imagining a head like a piñata, ripe for bursting. If he waited too long he wouldn’t have the chance. Already he strains to hear the sound of war in the distance. He’ll miss it greatly.