Christian Short Stories

Web writes: "I'm a retired newspaper reporter who often tells stories pf his past to liven new Christians."

The Homecoming
By Web Ruble

Delirious and depressed, he decided to go down to the Gaesthaus Lukners on the town’s smaller square.  It was always cheerful and it was nearby.

After all, how long were you expected to stay in your room, even though your sister and brother and your parents were probably elsewhere in the three-story house?

Still in uniform, he grabbed his cane, ambled out of his room​, down the main stairs, and out the door.

He had gotten home three days earlier after being wounded in France and received a warm welcome home by the entire family. But since then they had left him relatively alone, believing that’s the way he wanted it. What they didn’t know, of course, was that he craved companionship, especially from those who could identify with his mental and physical condition.

He had been shot in the left leg by either a French or British machine gun, and his fellow soldiers had dragged him out of harm’s way and packed him off to a field hospital. (He thought he had been hit by by a bomb).

While he was agonizing in that field tent a physician came along and said he was due for a leave home for recuperation.

All the while in the hospital tent and his cross-Germany trip home to Cham, Kurt was giving the whole war matter some thought: “This is stupid. Grown men trying to kill one another...just so some ego-centric dictator (Adolph Hitler) could impress the world .”

“It just doesn’t program,’’ he mused. If he thus spoke out loud in public, people would think it was just because he was wounded, and that he was a wimp.

But he himself and God knew he was entertaining those same thoughts before he ever was wounded.

“What the heck… I don’t have anything against those Frenchmen,” he exclaimed aloud, realizing that his uncle and father did. His father had also been wounded in France in the First World War, but in recent years had gotten over it. His uncle William Decker, however, with a little luck he wouldn’t encounter his uncle on this trip. As a matter of fact, his father, at least, had become sort of antiwar, but he didn’t talk about it much anymore. So Kurt Decker didn’t really know how his father felt.

He remembered a tremendous blast near his position in a German trench. It sent him sprawling. When he regained consciousness, he found himself bleeding from the head and legs, and a dead French so idler lying awkwardly next to him. Still dazed like a drunken sailor he reached over to mine the Frenchman’s papers. From the 3-4 documents Kurt learned the Frenchman had been a photographer... no doubt enjoying life and pretty girls in Paris. If the Frenchman had been as skilled as Kurt thought he might have been, what the dickens was he doing in the infantry near Kurt’s position on this forlorn battlefield?

Things like that never made sense to Kurt. However, it was a somewhat encouraging to know that the enemy had the same inexplicable problems that the Germans did.

If there were many more cases like this one and some other incidences in his own ranks, it would make him more anti-war than he already was. He mused: The first war at least put some iron into one’s soul. This war – with all of its carnage – to feed the ego of an uncontrollable dictator and his generals, was insane. There was something wrong and evil about it.

What was he doing in the German army? He wasn’t a Nazi. At least he had never regarded himself so. Grrr!

He entered the tavern and found a number of young people sitting at a table. One recognized him but obviously didn’t know that he had been wounded. And saw his uniform. No doubt they were wondering how he got himself home on leave when all the rest of his friends in the army were still at the front. Several stared at Kurt’s legs. One of the group, Ushi, he recognized from his class at school three years ago, was looking him over, as well.

She was one of those girls who liked macho men, especially wounded ones. She was a German patriot, and realized that a lot of the others didn’t quite measure up. That’s why she was giving Kurt special attention. Ushi made eyes at him but the effort was almost wasted. From the round of welcome he received Kurt soon realized he was surrounded largely by young strangers, which was fine with him at the moment. He sat down with them and they talked small talk. But Ushi kept asking him questions about the front.

The latter bothered him. The less he heard or talked about the front, the better. He had had enough of war. Moreover, he suspected that France, Great Britain, Belgium, eventually the United States and Canada would exact a terrible toll on Germany. Only this time it would be much worse than the last. He loved Germany. But he didn’t think much of her leaders. Germany got off well after the first war...but this one? He doubted it would be as comfy. Besides, this time Germany had to deal with Russia (now the Soviet Union), a no-nonsense powerhouse in the east.

He sat there, putting up with the constant flow of guffaws. “You’re lucky to be home on leave, but you are missing all the glories,” one young whippersnapper said. Kurt tried to ignore him. His right leg began hurting again. It was too much, and Ushie began becoming a pest again.

Oh she was a looker. Big, smoky eyes, and long, silky, sexy legs. Built like the Wall of China. He imagined she played Football (soccer), and maybe tennis. But he found her wanting. She had not suffered or experienced what he had. and her spoken thoughts were out of order, as far as he was concerned. Not only was she naive, but a pain in the rear. He once had dated her while at school.

He found her flirty, and wanting some midnight entertainment. Some of the boys were nuts about her. But somehow he wasn’t – he found her a bit shallow. As a latter of fact, she turned him off. Besides, he didn’t think he could satisfy her. She was too much into herself. Although one Christmas she had given him a gift… right in front of his parents… it was an embarrassing moment to say the least.

The discussion around the table, of course was about the war and the German successes. Kurt had to acknowledge the Nazi victories, but he saw no glory in it. When the allies came they would really come. Everybody sitting there pooh-poohed his viewpoint After all, we Germans were much stronger this time. What could the allies do? How would they ever get to Germany?

“Oh, they’ll find a way… and when they do...” he started to say but got interrupted by another guy.

The conversation switched back to small talk, and Kurt began to withdraw. He awkwardly rose and with his caine staggered toward the door. He ignored the last 2-3 guffaws., and went out.

He thought of Roundsberger Hof. Surely folks there would be more gentile… more understanding.

Wrong. Or at least a little more thoughtful. He stumbled up the cobbles, going along the Regen River which traced one edge of inner Cham.

He passed the river where he and his childhood friends used to float their toy boats, and he ambled by the old stone bridge where he once hid from chums during a game of hide-and-seek. Roundsberger Hof promised to be better. When a few years ago, he trotted out is plans for his future--go to Erlangen University and study engineering.

As soon as he entered Roundsberger Hof he found the place empty except six old men sitting round a table, talking about (what else?) the war. Some of them Kurt knew: Herr Derrix, who was severely wounded in the First World War; Grundel Roundsberger, who has deferred tavern ownership to his sons. During the First World War he received a piece of shrapnel in the head and now moves awkwardly.

Decker was welcomed like a hero. And invited to sit down and join them. The subject again was the war, and how things were going. The amenities were exercised and dispensed with almost immediately. They asked Kurt how it felt to be in a victorious army.

He answered, “Good, except when Germany suffers some reversals at the front. The trouble is when the reversals come… they will continue, That will leave Germany in a terrible fix.” Kurt said. “We’re responsible for two world wars in 25 years. That isn’t good. This time the Allies will have no mercy on us.”

“What are you talking about? France, for instance, has already capitulated… Poland is conquered, and the Netherlands and Belgium are defeated, and Denmark was a joke,” said Herr Derrix. “That never happened in the first war. We are much stronger this time. And it is fitting and proper… Germany was meant to dominate the world.”

Kurt was taken back by Derrix’s comments. After all that he suffered in the last war, I am surprised that he is so pro-war, Kurt mused.

“Wait until the Americans get involved … they will be pissed and they will be determined,” Kurt said.

“Tell us what you saw at the front,” said another old gent changing the subject.

“Well… just unmitigated slaughter... stupid stuff like that,” answered Kurt.

“I doubt it, but do the Americans really think they can get over here and stop it,” persisted the old man.

“Not only do they think it, but they will,” said Kurt. “And when they do …”

“Ahh, you have just seen what was directly in front of you,” Derrix interrupted. “You didn’t see the big picture…nor do you now.”

“We’ll all see,” Kurt said. I hate to think about Cham being bornof existence and the Americans, Canadians and Brits sniffing around our women while we are laboring hard and almost starving. Baah!”

“Hmmm. You really think so? I for one do not. Err… where are you going?”

“I’d better get home,” Kurt said. “See all of you later.”

Several months later Sgt. Kurt Decker found himself hugging Soviet soil on the Russian front near Soviet city of Stalingrad – the longest battle so far of the Second World War. The carnage and cold weather had been horrific. And word had just been received that the garrison of the Sixth Army and German Gen. Frederic Paulus had surrendered the entire German force , 107,000 men – to the Soviets. Tragedy. Unbearable failure on Germany’s part.

“I hate to be such an old told-you-so,” he said to a neighboring soldier in the same fortified position. “The end is on its way.”

Seconds later there was a blast from a huge Soviet tank. Kurt lay on the ground, shattered. Sgt. Alfred Gerlinger heard Kurt say as he was dying, “I wondered when the rank and file were going to object to all of this!”

Word had also traveled down the German lines that the White Rose (one of three anti-Nazi movements in Germany herself) had just ended with the guillotine execution of anti-Hitler activist Sophie Scholl in Munich.

Gerlinger saw lying just next to Sgt, Kurt Decker was an open Bible – showing John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish butt have everlasting life.”

“Perhaps I’m not well enough to see the big picture,” quipped Kurt.

“If not, you soon will be,” said the old gent. (A round of chuckles).

(© 2017 Web Ruble – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)

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