thee beginnin' ay the end for Sgt. Chas. Floyd
Charley Floyd is shittin’ it and boyo, it ain’t good. We has been up since the forepart ay this sleep, a hearing him a moaning and a groaning likes... likes a downer cow drowing in a puddle ay mud and snot; a stuck hog ay foaming and a bucking an a finally setting down into his own slop and blud; a wee and sickly lamb what has lost his mama and jest sets down for tay feed they wolves and coyotes -- as pure awful and mournful and hollow as you could ever conjure. Charley, jest layin’ there half on his spread, half in the dirt, his eyes leaking and him all panting like a beat dog, frothin’, bubblin’, sweating, quivering, his hands squeezing up into spasmodic fists full of tremble and terror. Him just biting his lips and lolling his head, sweat pouring out, and double damn them fucking tears a leaking, and he issuing the most pathetic sounds what I ever had to stand still for. He got precious little motion in him now, ‘cept for to grab onto his guts and roll over on his side to puke, which gets him to howlin’ and even more moanin’. Low. Low and down.
York been up and by his side, lending any assist what he might offer since Sgt. Charley come down with with this verry, verry terrible cholic. The business commenced verry shortly after that council with them Oto cheifs name ay Big Horse and Little Theif. One of our Catholik boyos, Hugh McNeal --- a devout conversationalist with his Jesus Lord -- been saying that it was them savages laid the hammer down on Sgt. Charley. Sayin’ that they savage prayers, though they is headed to they own god --- they own great father -- they goes right down to the devil below and that old trickster jest rises direct up from his pit and be liable to strike down any man -- white, nig, savage, canuck, who might be in the neighborhood. It don’t matter to Bezelbub as he eats souls every day like we downs hoe cakes and venison jerk. No difference in one hoe cake from the next --- much the same it is for Satan when he’s a chewing them souls conjured up by they whisky nigs. An it ain’t no wonder as we see considerable Inds what seem to be batshit afflicted. But ay - that’s the bit I finds solace in, a wild and kin type ay regard, as it seems.
Aye, poor Charley Floyd look like he been used up, sucked dry and turned inside out by some devil, or them Injuns Great Spirit -- or whatever you choose to name it. Right as I gets shook out of my spread by Sgt. Charly’s yellin, I seed into his eyes and they was like a staggered colt. Full ay terror. Wantin’ to bolt. I hate to speak it, but there ain’t no peace there. Not in the eyes of a colt wantin’ tay bolt.
Captain Clark still there with him, still setting there from when I turned in the last. And Mo Reed, that deserting fuck, that shitheel, he was a moppin’ Charly’s brow, wipin’ the puke from off his viz, squeezin that rag o’er Sgt. Charly’s lips.
I wanted to smash that kettle and flannel from Reed’s mitts --- like he ain’t got the sand or the soul to even stand next to Sgt. Charley Floyd -- the way that Reed boy was sobbing, crying and shaking like wet kitten when Drewer dragged his hide back to camp just two nights ago.
The captains call they orders for ay court martial and the boys is all jumpin’ to do they business. Guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty. Every boy spitting the word. Eyes casting up tay Reed like to see some defect -- some wound what let the courage seep out of his soul and allowed the coward to creep in. Ain’t nobody got nothing left for Moe Reed. He done used it all up. That well of sympathy, of human consideration and kindness, has run dry as dust.
Them Inds was still there, eyes all agog at the likes of our Kaintuck whisky and the guns and the sheer cascadin’ river ay words from Captain Merry what had just fallen down upon they heads. They was stunned, sure likes, and likesay, we was all in our best blues, rifles shouldered and serious as the sun -- wheeling and marching up and over the empty prarie for they benefit. Peeling off two balls a man, growling and barking our calls and responses. Big John full ay thunder. Them Inds seen it all from us. But no boy really seemd to care that much regarding these savs. No body had a sight to impress these boyos. Nay, suh. Every dog soldier had just on thing on his mind and that was the settling of the score with Moe Reed.
Corps! Detail! In two lines, bays. Two lines, heya? Two lines! Big John was a stone in front of us, his paws still graspin’ that sounden horn in front of his face while we arranged ourselfs directly across from each other. Up double times Sgt. Pryor, an express from Captin Merry folded in his hands. Big John grabs it and stands there, stiff as cold new death
Coo-rah! Ten-shun! and again, we snaps to and Big John unfolds that express and commences to reading.
August 19, 18 and fo-ah, he begins. It takes a moment for it to set it. August 18, 1804. How long I been at this? How long I been out here? I starts to do the figures in my head... adding days, weeks, months, listing them, labeling them with the seasons, marking them with the sun and the rain, keeeping track by days cold, days blistering, nights shivering, nights at peace, snoring in the racks with belly full of venison, marrow and wild berries. A week full of whisky; a night spent shivering in the mud; a day blown through with twist, marrowbones and gunpowder; a month of larks flying over head and cats a laughing down there in the rocks. Ay... been with the Westward boys now since November? December? We been on the water going on ten months -- a year... . I again draw upon the verry fond memory of my ma. Of the dogs at home. Of the steady rise and fall of crops. The calendar of the fish in the stream, the bugs afloat on it’s surface. March browns, black stone flys, caddis on me ma’s birthday, green drakes, and the sulphers commencing on the 4th of July. Hoppers... It’d be hoppers on the stream now and the trouts would jump out they skins to git them one. Hot August days jest as the wind picks up in the forenoon. Aye... the ticket, and I snorts a thinkin’ bout how they fucking hoppers could be more trying to grab up then they trouts.