from “The Black Flower” by Howard Bahr

Bushrod was interrupted by a shout from the parlor, and they both turned to look. A man appeared in the parlor door, unraveling a bandage from the stump of his arm. He shook the bandage off and it fluttered to the floor. Then, as they watched, the man struck his fist against the stump again and again until blood sprayed on the wallpaper. Then he saw Bushrod and Anna and lurched toward them. “Look what they done!” he cried, waving the stump. “After I tol’ ’em not to do it!”

Bushrod tried to get up but couldn’t. “Get away from here, you damn fool,” he said.

The man looked wildly about, eyes glittering with pain. He pointed toward the open front door with the thin, bony fingers of his remaining hand. “There! he told Bushrod and Anna. “It’s out there somewheres! I’ll find it! See if I don’t, by God!” Then he began to sob; he stood above them, swaying and sobbing, until an orderly came and led him away.

When she knew trhe man was gone, Ana opened her eyes. She had bitten her lower lip so hard it was bleeding. She pressed the wet handkerchief to her mouth.

from a very good civil war novel, another reminder about what war really is, for those still enamored of it.


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