Salute, fiction by William Trent Pancoast

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.

pancoastWilliam 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.

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3 Responses to Salute, fiction by William Trent Pancoast

  1. Alison says:

    Damn there’s a lot of punch packed into that sentence.

  2. Jennifer Hurst says:

    Yes. Thank you.

  3. Jennifer Hurst says:

    Oh my. Thanks.

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