You know what? I did go back to the American Legion and there was old Dave Durand. As advertised, he would be there most Sundays. Just as I had found him the first time, he was entertaining the troops and peals of laughter were echoing off the walls as I entered the room. He was a sight to see, I tell you.
Naturally, I moved toward him. Who wouldn’t be drawn to a dynamo?
This guy was so the opposite of the man I knew in Germany. He had done a 180, becoming a beacon of joy. In that foxhole, he had been the face of death. You would never imagine such a turn-around. It’s a curiosity to me, and I know I’ll be coming back for more of this.
“Dark Dave” gave me an obligatory nod and wink, but he didn’t break from the story. He was in the middle of telling tales of “Awesome” Jimmy Ahlstrom. Now, I knew that Jimmy had always kept close counsel with Dave when we were all together in that infernal war. But, I had no idea the impact this had had on Dave. And here we were, the brotherhood, listening to Dave recount the heroics of a man who had been something like your modern day MacGyver. Old Jimmy had been the opposite of Dave, he was cheerful to a fault. Nobody in war should ever be that happy. But, Jimmy, everything he did had joy in it. Even as he tossed a grenade, he enjoyed life.
Man, I wish I could see Jimmy again. You may not know the bond that is created when you are in a foxhole with men. Bullets are flying by and you are praying to God that you and your buddies are going to survive it. It’s a trial by fire and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But, if you are going to be in a situation like that, pray to God that you have someone like Jimmy with you. I swear, that guy saved my life more times than I can count.
So, I’m listening to Dave go on about Jimmy. He says Jimmy gave him the will to live, inspired him to fight when the chips were down. I never knew this. Seems there were many things that would catch me unawares, as I listened to Dave tell it.
Dave says, “One time, we were all pinned down by gunfire. It seemed like all if was coming from just one shooter. I remember Jimmy talking to me. He said, ‘If the two of us stand at opposite ends of this foxhole, we’ll be able to pinpoint the source of this shooter.’ So, we did. And, after a minute or so, I trudged over to the other end of that trench and talked it over with him.”
So, there it was. Had it not been for Dave and Jimmy working out that shooter’s position, I might not be here to tell you this story. Damn sure, I am now, that all the heroics I had pinned on Jimmy had been enhanced by the actions of Dark Dave!
As much as I’d like to go on with the details of this second encounter with Dave, my heart can only stand so much excitement. This revelation makes my head spin. I stayed at the legion long enough to collect more details to share with you, but you’ll have to come back for the next installment, as I’m tired now and too pooped to continue writing.