A TALE FROM BURMA
(This is an extract of 327 words out of the 2095 words in the full tale of "The Pipe")
......The tale I'm telling you about, is the quandary I found myself in with cigarettes.
I was in a trench paired up with a fella who was very nervous. He was a chain smoker, when he could get them. So half my cigarettes went to him. I couldn't sit one side of the trench, specially when there was shelling going on, he'd smoked all his cigarettes and I'd be puffing away at my cigarette, I might have put a cigarette out two or three times. I was satisfied to have a few puffs then put it out. Well he didn't do that, he'd smoke them right through to the soggy end. I used to say, "Here Richie," his name was Richardson, "Have a cigarette." So that was part of my desperation, I got that short in the end I wrote to my Mother, asking if she would start sending these concession cigarettes out, which she did.
I should say about 'Richie' as well. What got me was, I'd be in a trench with him, the ground as I have said in Burma was either shale or rocky. Richie would be sat one end of the trench, I'd be sat facing him in the other, with the shelling going on. He was a bag of bloody nerves, his head used to start shaking and his helmet used to rattle against the shale in the side of the trench. It got to be unbearable for me, it was setting me off as well. It started off with a couple of shakes and it got bloody worse. It was a continuous bloody rattle, this helmet against the shale of the trench. So I used to throw him a cigarette. I thought, " Christ all fuckin' mighty, I'll have to do something to calm his nerves," he'd have driven me mad.
The tale is, one night in the dark we arrived at a village in Burma. The villagers used to sleep.....
© COPYRIGHT RICHARD PATTERSON 2001