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Unformatted text preview: kes a coward. On the other hand, if
someone was to be nominated . . .
Still no one stepped forward, but a voice stooped out and ambled toward the sergeant. It sat at his feet, waiting
for a good kicking. It said, “Hubermann, sir.” The voice belonged to Erik Vandenburg. He obviously thought
that today wasn’t the appropriate time for his friend to die.
The sergeant paced up and down the passage of soldiers.
“Who said that?”
He was a superb pacer, Stephan Schneider—a small man who spoke, moved, and acted in a hurry. As he strode
up and down the two lines, Hans looked on, waiting for the news. Perhaps one of the nurses was sick and they
needed someone to strip and replace bandages on the infected limbs of injured soldiers. Perhaps a thousand
envelopes were to be licked and sealed and sent home with death notices in them.
At that moment, the voice was put forward again, moving a few others to make themselves heard.
“Hubermann,” they echoed. Erik even said, “Immaculate handwriting, sir, immaculate.”
“It’s settled, then.” There was a circular, small-mouthed grin. “Hubermann. You’re it.”
The gangly young soldier made his way forward and asked what his duty might be.
The sergeant sighed. “The captain needs a few dozen letters written for him. He’s got terrible rheumatism in his
fingers. Or arthritis. You’ll be writing them for him.”
This was no time to argue, especially when Schlink was sent to clean the toilets and the other one, Pflegger,
nearly killed himself licking envelopes. His tongue was infection blue.
“Yes, sir.” Hans nodded, and that was the end of it. His writing ability was dubious to say the least, but he
considered himself lucky. He wrote the letters as best he could while the rest of the men went into battle.
None of them came back. That was the first time Hans Hubermann escaped me. The Great War.
A second escape was still to come, in 1943, in Essen.
Two wars for two escapes.
Once young, once middle-aged.
Not many men are lucky enough to cheat me twice.
He carried the accordio...
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This note was uploaded on 01/17/2014 for the course ENG 99 taught by Professor Michal during the Winter '13 term at CSU Sacramento.
- Winter '13