Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Waking from a nightmare Vladislav rolled his head to the left; his left eye covered; buried by his only blanket. He strained and blinked his right eye to clear it so he could see down the long corridor looking for a nurse; if one could call them that. He gave up after a few minutes; it was very quiet on this floor; he was the only occupant. Looking straight up he could see that the I.V. bottle was empty again, finger prints stood out clearly on the dirty bottle. His arm ached where the I.V. tube disappeared into this arm; raised swollen and puffy he wondered how long he’d been out this time.

Vladislav Stefan Gushchin was born August 17th 1925 to peasant parents working a collective farm fifteen kilometers outside of Ukhta an industrial town in the Komi Republic. His father and mother lived meaningless lives with the exception of grooming their only son for a life in the military. His mother a seamstress dressed young Vladislav in the most up to date military uniform sized down to fit his youth. It was never questioned by anyone that Vladislav would someday be a high ranking Russia Officer.

Vladislav woke to the rumble of cart wheels against the broken tiles and cracked flooring of the 3rd floor ward. The male nurse pushed the cart up and against Vladislav’s bed jolting him to full awake. “You’ve run out of juice again old man” the nurse said with a smirk. “You’re hitting the bottle hard today; you’ll pay for it tomorrow my old man.” Vladislav’s eyes met the young man’s eyes and he looked away. “You have hard eyes old man; don’t hate me I’m the only one covering three floors and others need more than you.” The nurse’s eyes would not meet Vladislav’s and he hurried to change bottles and moved the I.V. line to the other arm. “Your almost out of veins my friend; time to get better or die I’m afraid.” The nurse spoke softly. “I will give you your pain medicine early so I can get dinner without your yelling and cursing this night; sleep and dream your dreams Captain of the Guards.”

Jamming the bayonet all the way to the barrel of his rifle Vladislav twisted the rifle left and then right making the wound cavity huge guarantying a quick bleed out; placing his boot on the German’s chest he kicked the dying German off his bayonet leaving him bleeding profusely.

Vladislav smiled in his drug induced sleep; he knew he was dreaming but loved reliving his conquests of his military life; he nearly awoke but fought hard against conscious wanting to relive the day again.

Looking from his second floor window Vladislav could see the tide and flow of the oncoming hundreds of German solders; he saw that the outcome of the battle would depend on stemming the tide of the enemy soldier’s before they reached the near hill and dug in defensive positions. He ran calling and tapping his unit’s men getting them up and running with him. Two streets left and one right he pointed to places he wanted his men to position themselves. He spread his men as thin as he thought would hold and waited for the Germans to advance. Taking a position on the corner window facing the coming Germans Vladislav could see down two streets making a V shape to the front ending in just smoke and dust in the distance. He knew the battle would be won or lost on this front; behind his unit was the top of the city center hill and if lost would give the enemy the high ground and positions to fire down on the remaining city behind his positions. He sent out messengers to fine tune the firing lines this will be a battle to the death no retreat was the order.

The German’s advanced in two and three’s; Vladislav waited patiently for the unit commander to show himself; unit insignia had long been removed but became clear in field glasses as unit commanders pointed and waved to advancing men. Vladislav had readied snipers for anyone who appeared to show that they might be in charges; men were cut down by the dozen as the German’s attempted to advance on the Russian lines. Thirty minutes into the battle the front lines over lapped pitting man against man in hand to hand combat. Leaving his second floor observation post Vladislav shouted to his men that the time had come to advance; leaving his cover he made twenty feet to a broke wall.

Fragments of concrete blew from thrown grenades, cutting skin and filling eyes with dust; rubbing fragments and dust from his eyes while deafening blows cascaded ears, Vladislav crawled through fallen broken concrete beams pushing forward towards the glowing light from the darkened expanse of the falling building. Dust choked out the light and air, his lungs gasped and heaved and fill with dust chocked breaths. Crawling forward coughing and choking on dust he pushed himself to the glowing light; a shallow southerly breeze cleared the dust from the face of the building as Vladislav reached the broken outer beams and fires.

A hard slap woke Vladislav to the morning rounds which consisted of watered down gruel and vodka if the male nurses hadn’t drank the lot the evening before. He was pushed up into sitting position with dirty pillows forced up under his stomach and chest; his shoulders pushed and caught by straps. He was forced upright his arms thrown to the side. Gasping for air from the rough treatment Vladislav swore under his breath and scowled at his tormenters.

“Breakfast my Commander Vladislav” sang the male nurse as he deftly evaded a coughed up slag of lung from Vladislav’s right lung. Gasping Vladislav cursed the bile offered breakfast and nurses who pushed it. “Eat or die my warriors.” sang the nurse.

A bullet whispered passed Vladislav left ear; he barely noticed; many had been much closer. He pulled back waiting for the second shot; passing he leaned further out and using his dusty binoculars he just caught the flash of the snipers next shot seeking his men. Pulling his rifle to his shoulder and leaning far out he viewed the German sniper as he racked his bolt ramming another round into his firing chamber. Vladislav slowly squeezed the trigger and was surprised by the recoil of his rifle; he again found his sight and saw the German slouch down from his fighting position dead.

Slapping gently left and then right cheek Vladislav came to wake looking into the the face of a Doctor he’d never seen before. The Doctor waited patiently as Vladislav’s eyes cleared and spoke slowly into his face. “My comrade commander Vladislav the people of the Soviet states of Russia are now here to help you, please allow my staff to make you comfortable.”

Firing left into two German infantry and then sweeping right cutting down three German solders Vladislav knew his magazine was exhausted of live rounds.

Pulling a grenade from his left breast he pulled the pin and counting to five slowly and tossed the grenade around the corner where the last five German’s had come from, he dropped to his knees as the explosion ripped the adjacent room to pieces. Dust and the reek of torn bowels rushed his nose.

“Comrade Vladislav we are here to help you please wake up” Vladislav fought the intrusion into his private war memories. Gently stroking the left and right side of his head Vladislav woke to the face of an angle looking into his eyes.

Russia has looked deeply at the treatment of its war hero’s and found lacking. I hope our County will do the same.

From the Ramblings.


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