“In front of him, like phantoms, the enemy trucks were swishing past. Abruptly, he stopped trembling. His jaws locked. He grew nearly clear-headed. His thoughts surprised him, and he felt able to express them clearly. Feelings of compassion overtook him, towards his companions who, with Fremont, had probably by now all perished. Floundering in the ditch, water above his thighs, he felt curiously alive, and seemed to master the pain and the cruel absurdity of his life. Pain seemed a negligible participle of what he knew. He felt exalted.
“He moved forward and dragged himself from the ditch. The beams of the headlamps revived the burning in his eyes. He was visible in the diluvian night with his torso gleaming, his trousers liquid, his eyes of mud. Dazzled, he went on. Anger mounted in him. He folded his arms at his chest.
“‘Desert!’ he howled.
“He closed his eyes tightly. He was in the middle of the road. Tottering, he raised his arms to keep his balance.
“‘Bastards!’ he shouted, his voice quavering.
“He heard the rumbling of an engine. He could not see its headlights, bearing steadily down on him.”
—Gilbert Farlane, from “The Deserter”
Art Credit Adam Parker Smith, “Sunset Now” (2008)