I sit by a window on this twenty-degree-below-zero morning and think what it was like for my dad and all the other kids in the Ardennes trying to dig foxholes in the frozen rocky ground, with other kids trying to kill them through the trees, these eventual men I only knew as stubbled old guys at the American Legion Hall, and how when my dad died in 1979 I had such a bellyful of Vietnam and war I told what was left of his friends that they couldn’t come fire their rifles at the grave site, and I think of the concentration camp prisoners forced to go out on work detail in the hard stillness of winter in their ragged coats and flimsy shoes, my dad there to liberate them, and I curse men from time immemorial who have perpetrated such cruelties to other humans, and I load my own rifle this Arctic-aired morning, step into the yard and say to the whitened woods before me, “Commence firing,” and begin shooting into the trees, steady not fast, the salute that I denied my father, my tears freezing to my cheeks.
William Trent Pancoast's novels include WILDCAT (2010) and CRASHING (1983 and 2016). His recent fiction has appeared in drafthorse, Revolver, Steel Toe Review, Monkeybicycle, Night Train, Fried chicken and Coffee, As It Ought To Be, and Working Class Heroes. Pancoast retired from the auto industry in 2007 after thirty years as a die maker and union newspaper editor. Born in 1949, the author lives in Ontario, Ohio. He has a BA in English from the Ohio State University.