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A Soldier’s Voice


David Rothman

The skinny kid sat on the muddy floor of the foxhole and leaned against its dirt wall, listening to a song on his iPod. His buddy stood in the hole, facing the quiet battlefield, while four-thousand miles away the kid’s girlfriend squirmed in ecstasy beneath a pot-smoking anti-war pr!

“Hey, kiddo, still listening to that crap?” Mike said, out of the side of his mouth.

“What?” Aaron said, as he turned down the volume.

“You otta stop playing that friggen song.”

Aaron shook his head. Why doesn’t the song touch !
him, Aaron thought. “Mike, old buddy, you have a cold, cold heart. Her
e. Listen.”

Mike took the iPod and listened to the song:

[Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

From glen to glen, and down the mountain side

The summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying

'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer's in the meadow

Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow

'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow

Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.

And if you come, when all the flowers are dying

And I am dead, as dead I well may be

You'll come and find the place where I am lying

And kneel and say an "Ave" there for me.

And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me

And all my dreams will warm and sweeter be

If you'll not fail to tell me that you love me

I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.

I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.]

“Jesus, Arron, you really think she’s waiting for your ass?”

“If you knew Ava . . . you wouldn’t ask.”

“If I knew her, she’d be mine.”

“Not Ava. I’m out of the Army after this tour. Going back to school. Marry Ava. Get a good job and raise a family. Then when I have time I’m going to write.”

“First thing I’m gonna do is have me some real fun,” said Mike.

“Being with Ava and writing will be all the fun I need. Mike, you will feel what I write. You won’t need music . . . the words themselves will create music.”

Mike reached in his pocket for an imaginary handkerchief and dabbed at his eyes. “How’s that different from this Danny Boy that’s been driving you to tears.”

“Danny Boy was written by an English lawyer, Frederic Weatherly. In 1910 he wrote the words and music, but it was unsuccessful until his sister-in-law in America sent him a tune called the Londonderry Air, which he had never heard before. He immediately noticed that the melody was perfectly fitted to his Danny Boy lyrics, and he published a revised version of the song in 1913, which became a hit. Without the music the lyrics had no impact.”

“Christ, you’re a regular music professor. So, you won’t need someone with a voice to sing what you write?”

“Michael, when I write my stories, readers will shed tears. A soldier’s voice is all I need.”

“Do-ray-me. I hope your dame appreciates it.”

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