Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: JAM (02/09/17)
- TITLE: North and South
By Dennis Gallemore
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Joining the Union army in 1861, he’d been fighting for four long and bloody years. During the latest skirmish with Southerners, he had found himself separated from his regiment in the ensuing chaos, losing his rifle in the process. Attempting to catch up with his fellow soldiers, night had overtaken him. Though the April Virginian air was chilly, he dared not risk building a fire. Exhaustion overtaking him, he drifted off into a troubled sleep.
The tang of wood smoke waking him, he opened his eyes to find a soldier clad in a grey homespun uniform squatting in front of him, a battered rifle cradled in his lap. Sitting up, he squinted through the morning light. “Nathan?”
Grinning, the soldier nodded. “In the flesh, Jubal. Haven’t seen you in a spell. What are you doing out here all by your lonesome? Did you show the white feather or did your Yank friends finally get enough of you?”
Jubal snorted. “Hardly. I got lost during the last donnybrook with a bunch of you Rebs.” Eyeing Nathan’s rifle, he frowned. “So Nathan, what happens now?”
Shrugging, Nathan spat tobacco juice into the fire. “Looks to me like you’ve got yourself into a bit of a jam, Jubal.” Patting his rifle, he added, “Thanks to Bessie here, I hold all the cards. I reckon you’re my prisoner now. I could, if I’d a mind to, march you all the way back to Andersonville prison in Georgia.”
“I reckon you could at that. Smells like you’re frying up a mess of fish from that stream yonder. Mind if I eat breakfast first?”
Forking several fillets into a tin pan, Nathan handed it to Jubal. “Eat up. Jubal, I’m right tired of this here war, and I’m betting I’m not the only one.”
Swallowing a bite of fish, Jubal nodded. “What you got in mind, Nathan?”
“The way I see it, we’ve both done what we thought was right. I fought for the South, and you fought for the North. We’ve both done our fair share. I’m thinking it’s time for both of us to go home to Missouri.”
Jubal nodded. “That’s for sure and for certain, but I don’t like running out on the boys in the regiment. Colonel Dalton would have a conniption fit if he ever found out I went back home.”
Nathan shrugged. “I reckon we don’t have to make up our minds right now; we can start walking towards the west whilst we’re jawing about it. If we set our minds on Missouri, we keep on heading west. If you decide you’re dead set on rejoining your regiment, then, well, I reckon I’ll just let you go, unless you have a hankering to see Andersonville prison.”
Clambering to his feet, Jubal kicked dirt on the fire. “All right, Nathan, let’s go.”
Emerging from the woods hours later, they came upon a makeshift road. Shielding his eyes, Jubal looked toward the sun. “Might as well take this here trail; it’s heading almost due west.”
Nathan nodded. “Sure enough; we can…wait; do you hear that? Sounds like someone on horseback headed this way.”
Cresting the hill in front of them, a lone rider raced toward them. “Another one of you Johnny Rebs, Nathan, and he’s riding hell-bent for leather.”
Slowing to a halt, the rider threw a sloppy salute. “Sargent Bierce! We’ve been looking for you! Who’s that Yank you got there with you?”
Grinning, Nathan waved at Jubal. “He’s my prisoner, Corporal.”
Shaking his head, the rider gestured to the north. Might as well let him be, Sargent; the war’s over. General Lee surrendered to that Yank, General Grant, at Appomattox three days ago. I’m riding east to let the other regiments know.” Throwing another salute, he spurred his horse and raced off.
“Well, now,” Nathan said with a grin, “How ‘bout that, brother? We’re going home!”
“Hallelujah and praise the Lord, Nathan! We’ll be eating some of ma’s blackberry jam on fresh-baked bread in no time!”
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