Friday, May 8, 2015

One Pleasure: a story, III


              The Austrians began shelling that night, and by morning’s first dim light, Lieutenant Levi could see through his telescope the Austrian infantry snipping their own line and their sappers detonating their own mines.  Then columns of Teutons marched forward and disappeared into the morning haze and the slow column of snow which was rising rather incongruously from the valley below, as if the laws of gravity had been rendered null. 
            “Is it an offensive, Lieutenant Levi?” a man asked.

            “How could it be?” Levi answered, twirling the ends of his mustache like a nervous twitch.  “The bombardment was not long enough, they must be scouts… Leondardi, run and give this message to Headquarters immediately…”  But Lieutenant Levi did not finish his words.  An Austrian mortar landed in the ditch, a few meters from his perch on the lip of the parapet.  Leonardi was standing their one moment and gone the next, rendered to smoke and cinder.  There was the sound not unlike that of a gong, or the percussive volley of ceremonial ordinance, or a hammer repeatedly pounding an anvil, and then Lieutenant Levi was unconscious.

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