Meyer sighed and got up. The balmy evening swaddled him, calming the young soldier's fears. It was the second year he was in the army and the third year of the Great Patriotic War, as the WWII was known to Russians.
He loved being out and about without carrying a huge spool of wire, as well as his rifle. Today Lt. Serov chose him to go to the Supply corps, located a few miles away from the army Communications Unit, to pick up some fresh linens. Meyer suspected, that happened only because he was the only one, who was still sober enough to stand on his feet!
It seemed like his life during peace time was eons ago! The only reality he knew now was the constant terror of being killed or maimed and the nagging discomforts of a soldier's life. He got used to the usual pain of "portyankis" - the cloths, which the Russian soldiers wound around their feet instead of socks, rubbing his feet raw. The weight of the telephone wire spool dragging him to the ground and wearing our his shoulders was a normal occurrence. It was harder to get used to the unending anti-Semitic abuse by the "superiors" and everyone else in this army. That's why Meyer welcomed every chance he could find to get away and be on his own.
Linens? When was the last time he slept on "linens"? Only the officers had that privilege! "I hope, they send us some fresh "portyankis" - Meyer thought, wincing, as he suddenly became aware of his painful feet.
But a few miles were nothing to him now. He got to the supply corps, filled out all the necessary papers and now was on the way back, carrying a large, paper wrapped package of the linens. Meyer walked back to his unit, absentmindedly drinking in the beauty of the stars in the black-purple sky. They had nothing to do with the ugliness, which the humans perpetrated against each other.
He heard the noise behind him and turned to look. Two, no, three shadowy figures were stalking him, and, what he heard, was a clink of a rifle, slipped from a shoulder and pulled up back by a strap!
Meyer's thoughts raced, It's better to die than be captured by the Germans.He had no illusions of what will happen to him, if he got caught and sent to one of the concentration camps.
They were already on top of him.
- "Stop, stop, I tell you!"- With some relief he heard, they were Russians. Deserters, then! A hand grabbed his shoulder, and his pursuer knocked him down to the ground.
- "What do you want? Who are you? Let me go!" - He was unarmed, and one of the deserters easily grabbed the package from his hands.
- "What's this then?" -
- "Linens! What the devil are we to do with the linens?! You have any food on you?"
They laughed and he saw, they, probably, didn't mean him any harm. Probably...
- "No food? Do you have any money? What a useless idiot you are! Come on, lads, I got thirsty from all that running, let's have a drink!" - Then, offering Meyer a bottle: "You, you want some?"
- "No, th-thanks, I don't..."
When he showed up at the camp, lugging the torn and mud spattered package of linens, Lt. Serov listened to his report and spat in disgust:
- "Och, you, stinking jew! Can't you do anything right? A Russian would've at least gotten drunk in your place!"