LAST WORDS
BY MATT RODEN
*
May Day, May Day. Do you read me? This is Private Gerald Forshkaulner of the eighth Eagle Squadron. May Day, May Day, Base control Alpha Charlie 8 9er. Do you read me? I have a blue fox hole down at zebra foxtrot 4 2. I repeat: I have a blue fox hole down atOh blast this infernal code. It's me boys, it's me Jerry! Are you there, can you hear me? If you can hear me than this may be the last time. God help me, but I know it will be. They're catching up and I don't think I can run for much longer. I can see Lady Luck boys and she isn't smiling at this little black duck, I can tell you that much my friends, that and the story of my escape. 

I guess my time has come, and really, I'm one blessed chap to have made it this far. Who would have thought that a messed up old wind bag like myself could have lasted this long. Shot down in the summer, captured in the fall, escaped into this blasted blizzard that wracks my every move and hides from my own eyes any chances of escape from the white-sheeted fog that encloses upon my heart, with each treacherous tidal wave of July's jackknifed gentleman caller, knocking upon my pigeon chest and offering not the olive branch of the dove but the sharpened holly branch of the partridge, the fatal missile that strikes down my inner Balder with every wet wielding whirlwind of winter's ghastly gale. Yet against all odds I've made it this far, and if anyone knows about odds it's me. You remember how it used to be, don't you lads? Old Jerry Tread Lightly, Old Nimble Fingers Jezz, Cat's Eye Forsh they used to call me. Slave to the spin of the wheel and tumble of the dice, those spotted ivory cubes that were as much a prison to me then as these empty snow fields are to me now. She be a cruel mistress, and I was a plague bearer of the worst kind, struck by the bug himself. How long did I try to shirk the pull that the tides of the oceans of chance in the world of chips and dimes and dollars and dames had on my ever-crumbling spirit? Too long is the answer to that simple question, too long by far. Why, even when locked away in the abandoned bunker, which till not twelve hours past I called my home, even then was I throwing down the last of my chips on a pair of threes. In our desperation we had to fashion our own deck of financial and spiritual destruction, forged from the greaseproof papers that encased our pre-supper snack bars, whipped up by the POW camp's culinary expert, a Mongolian madman with a heart as black as September coal and a right hand as large as his left. These bars may have been what kept us alive through the winters, heady combinations of snow, rice wine, rice, wine, and snow. It may have been the wine that made them alcoholic but it was the rice wine that made them more so. When we ran out of the dead-headed match sticks that we used as palfrey score keepers we were forced to play for our own pubic hairs, the wiry, wilted bastards plucked from our groins by a red panda, a sort of mascot for the encampment till he was tried for treason and locked up with the rest of us in this dark, dank hole of infinite anguish.

Maybe I could have pulled through sooner had it not been for sweet, sweet nectar that I craved, if only to wash down the rank bile of failure that came with each missed Acey-Duecy. But sup I did, I drank deep from the draught of the devil himself, and the closest I came to a winning hand was the royal flush that was my life. She was a hard mistress, the crack of the amber whip and chains of bittersweet impotence of thought. They tried to keep us content in that two-foot square closet of concrete, Dirty Bessie, Rin Tin Jim, Sammy Bobammy, and Poppygone Paralysis Pete. Not to mention that God forsaken panda Horshack, as sleek and calm as any lady's mink one minute then a ball of gnashing teeth and claws the next if anyone tried to touch his snowy-winey bars or pile of pilfered pubes. We stood, oft talked of escape, but till this very day none had the tenacity to try the plan, stoked to the gills as we were on our little convict cocktails. It took all our strength and mind power combined to work our way past the guards, Dirty Bessie posing as a two-dollar whore, Rin Tim Jim as her pimp, and Poppygone Paralysis Pete as the unlucky sod they were both gutter stomping, these three playing a risky game of life or death charades for an audience of gun-toting guards who weren't afraid to let their theatrical criticism known with hard jibes, harder fists, and hardest bullets. Blasting our way through the camp courtyard, striking down the guard dogs with super sonic laser beams that sprung forth from Sammy Bobammy's eyes like the joyous tears of freedom that sprung forth from my own. (Sammy Bobammy was an android.) It was sad to see him taken down, sparks and oil shooting from the holes that polka dotted his body like some robotic colander straining the life force from his silicon-injected spaghetti-noodled heart. I bid the adieu, sweet tin man from another time, you did find a heart, and that heart had been with you all along in the human-samples bag that you were to take home with you to your mother planet. If only you had looked closer under that second liver. Horshack, taunting the camp's water sports instructor with a batted eyelash, managed to buy us enough time for a quick escape and I and the red rat of paradise soon found ourselves fugitives in the harshest of all environments: cold. 

Oh chaps, if you were to see me now you would not recognise the once dapper Dan that joked and jostled each night in the company Mess Hall. I find it hard to remember those days, having survived the horrors of the camp and the erosion of soul that occurred within these past weeks. If my life were to pass before mine own eyes twould surely be only that which I have related to you just here and now in the most presentest of all tenses. Yes I remember glimpses, Mummy in the spring in her floral dresses and plaid garden beds, Grandpapa frittering away the darkness with a mess o jack-lantern jumbles and juniper berry broth curdled with his own bare feet. Yet it all seems a blur now, a time long passed and a time long passed, never to be met with again.

The icy blanket covers me like some thick doona woven from snow. I know I have not much time left, my internal clock ticks away and each heart beat is one nearer to the cheery ring that harkens forth the morning miasma of my mortality. Poor Horshack never made it through the night. As I plucked bare his still pulsating, organ-strewn corpse I bid him farewell and placed a pubic hair upon both his eyelids to ease his journey into the netherworld. He was a plucky spirit, and his passing has left me to contemplate the strange transmographication from compatriot to cadaver, from friend to feast. Though my mind has obviously stood the test, coming through as sharp and enlightened as I was before enduring these trials and tribulations, I fear my body may be the death of me. I can run no further and like the crystal calls of the Grim Reaper's grim song of reaping, like the banshee's wail to all who dabble on the border of the Ultimate Downtown, like the barking of the dog's who track me down, so I hear now the barking of the dog's who have tracked me down.

Mummy? Mummy, is that you? I promise I'll be joining you soon. Jerry's coming home Mummy and he's brought panda carcass for all! With nary a wheeze good-bye you died in my arms, like so many of the enemy have fallen, if not at my own touch then through more remote usage of my fingers, like the pulling of trigger, the plunging of the blade, the placement of mustard gas in their condiments racks. Yes Mummy I'm coming, but bide for me the time for final farewells. I fear I must leave you now, my sweet princes of Apollo's army, the chariot comes forth to carry me to lands beyond, where I can finally find the peace that so escaped me during the sentence I bore, this sentence that some call life. Having lived, not the life of a sultan raised on a dais for those who surround him to worship and fawn over, but the life of a sad man, a bad man, one who knew when to walk away, when to run. Well my boys, the keepers of the vestiges of this villain's vigil, do with these last words what ever one should think best. Just remember that all that has been spoken in truth and if it were to be used in some kind of educational capacity in the future, teaching young nips and scallys that lay of the land in the land of the courageous in the face of bleak in the season of giving, then I, Gerald Forshkaulner of the eighth Eagle Squadron won't really mind that much at all. Over and out chaps, over and out.

[Forever after at http://eyeshot.net/rodenwords.html

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