Imperial troops have entered the base.

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The Lone Policeman

January 29th, 2014 · No Comments · Fiction

I’ve decided to publish a few more fiction pieces on here this year. Here’s the first one, inspired by this photo by Robert Capa:

Robert Capa: Collaborator woman who had a German soldier’s child, Chartres, 18 August 1944 © International Center of Photography

And then they had pulled the woman from her apartment. He had tried to bring some order to the crowd on Place St. Marguerite, but he was just one lone policeman, and neither the fighters of the Resistance with their steel helmets and half-empty wine bottles nor the American soldiers on their halftrack on the side of the square and their empty wine bottles had been willing to help.

The women then also pulled the crying daughter of the woman from the house and showed her into her mother’s arms. Two Resistance-fighters pushed the woman to the centre of the square. Somebody threw something from the window of the woman’s apartment, and it shattered on the pavement. It was the framed picture of the boyfriend of the woman. J.P. thought that he looked quite dashing in that picture, with the blonde hair and the cross around his neck. J.P. had sometimes saluted him on the street when he met the soldier, without knowing if he was supposed to or not. The man had smiled, returned the salute and hurried on to the house of his girlfriend, a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine under his left arm.

The mood of the crowd had been quite cheerful all morning. Everyone was smiling and cheering and singing ‘La Marseillaise’ when the American tanks rolled down the main street, men in khaki uniforms sitting on turrets or even the gun barrels, smiling and waving as if they were invincible. And they were, in a way. The few German soldiers left in the village had left the night before, so the only danger to these men was falling from their vehicles after sampling the local wine. And wine there was quite a lot. It seemed everyone had brought out secret stocks they had stored for years, for this day or the black market. Whatever the reason, the wine was flowing. The Americans were throwing cigarettes and chocolates into the crowd and received bottles in exchange, sometimes with an added bisou from one of the girls. They laughed.

From one smaller street four men had marched into the square, all clad in a variety of military items: old French steel helmets from the disaster of 1940, English uniform trousers and American uniform blouses. All were wearing armbands in the white, red and blue of the French national colours and a five-day stubble. They were not smiling.

J.P. had pushed himself up from the chair in front of the cafe from where he had been observing the festivities. He put on his policeman’s cap and walked over to where the men were standing. He saluted them.


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