WHAT A WAY TO MEET YOUR GREAT GRANDFATHER

Submitted into Contest #80 in response to: Write about a child witnessing a major historical event.... view prompt

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Historical Fiction Western

He opened his eyes...

suddenly...

Overawed by what surrounded him...

The darkness...

The low menacing clouds...

The warmness of the...

Early morning?...

Night?

The "heavy" sounds emanating from all around him...

But all seemed near...

He sat slowly up,

the opened sleeping bag damp and holding on to a few dead leaves,

knuckling his eyes to prove he was not seeing things...

He didn't know where he was.

His damp grey tee-shirt,

and khaki pants...

wet from...?

Dew?

Rainfall?

He wasn't sure...

Then he noticed he was missing his left sneaker...

And glanced all around for it...

Gradually accepting that his position here,

in a small clearing among a copse of trees...

Or a forest?...

Who could tell...

Was not as he last remembered...

He remembered...

vaguely,

like awakening from a dream you can not quite remember...

He was on a long weekend campout with his mother and father...

To take in the Historic event on it's actual anniversary,

Right where it happened.

His parent's were headed back to the car to bring up the last of the goodies and sleeping bags...

He had started to assemble the old canvas and nylon tent...

with the attachable poles on the outside...

giving a greater protection against harsh winds...

He had seen something brown and furry,

Scurry through the underbrush...

And with a young boy's interest in the unknown,

Had gotten up to investigate more closely.

At that moment...

Crashing through the trees,

came a one-armed horseman, dressed in a grey outfit,

with a yellow plume extending from his grey cowboy hat,

and riding a large, feisty appaloosa...

Seemingly without a problem...

The man pulled up less than ten feet away...

"Who are you and what are you doing here...

Don't you realize the danger you are in?"

"I am Jerry de Silveir-Pickett...

I am eleven years old...

And I am from Picadillo,

West Virginia..."

"YOU WILL ADDRESS ME AS SIR..

I am Captain James R. Tiffoli...

Chief Scout for Colonel Lang's Brigade...

and you will address me as Sir...

At that moment twelve other men made their way into the clearing...

from every point of the compass...

And halted their restive horses within a stone's throw from the captain.

They were a bedraggled bunch of dirty,

unshaven,

gaunt men..

with dark eyes,

and greasy hair emanating from under the various hats they all wore.

Hats which some of them now removed to shake off the water from at least this part of their strange combination of outfits...

"Men,

Dismount...

We will take fifteen minutes...

Smoke'em if you have them.

The huge barrel chested soldier,

with faded Sargeant's stripes on both shoulders,

asked...

As he was dismounting..

"OK to put a quick pot on ...Sir?"

"Not now...

Even with the mist...

The smell would travel for miles.

Besides,

We don't have time for that."

So the sargeant led the men over to tie their tired horses to a large spruce...

Two men immediately beginning to water the horses...

"Now,

Jerry was it?

Jerry,

What are you doing here?

Alone...

this early in the morning...

twenty miles from the nearest town?

Don't you know what is happening all around you?

It is 5:20...

in about ten minutes the greatest assembly of cannons in this war will all start firing...

Targeting an area not too far from here...

That ridge, in fact."

sayin this as he climbed tiredly off his horse,

But seemingly without a problem,

and approached the boy.

"Sir...

I am not sure exactly where "here" is...

I was camping out with my parents...

We were here to watch the re-enactment..

I thought here...

But I don't recognize the place."

"Well,

How did you get here?"

"my dad drove me and mom"

"what do you mean "drove"...

Did he force you into coming...

Did he beat either of you?

Where are your parents now?"

"I don't know sir...

I just woke up all wet in this spot...

last thing I remembered was I was attempting to set up our old tent..

and then here I was...

"Well boy,

Where is this tent...

And where are your parents now?"

"I don't know sir...

But we came to watch the famous battle."

"This battle,

as you call it...

Has been raging for two full days so far...

but we hope to end all that today...

Why would your father take you into such dangerous conditions?"

"What danger sir?,

We just wanted to separate from the main group and put up our tent..

We came a day early...

And found this wonderful spot with such a great view...

Main group of what?...

Have you all no idea of the death and bloodshed just a few hundreds yards away?"

"No sir,

We....

At that a loudly shouted order..

ATTEN-TION!!!!

rocked through the camp...

causing everyone to jump to attention...

and the Captain to put his hat back on as he turned to meet the new arrivals...

"Captain...

Tiffoli...was it?

what are you doing here...

and with this lad?"

"General Pickett...

Sir,

Yes...

I am Captain James R. Tiffoli...

Chief Scout for Colonel Lang's Brigade..."

"I have heard of you soldier...

Big things...

I believe you are on the scout I sent you on...

What is the news so far...

But first...

who is this lad,

and what is he doing here,

Or can he talk for himself?"

with a quick glance at the boy,

and a nod of his head...

Jerry began to repeat his whole story...

Everyone,

even the General,

Listened mesmerised as the strange tale unfolded...

"You mean your last name is something Pickett...

That is my last name...

Pickett...

where are you from?...

"I am from Picadillo,

West Virginia..."

"Is that why you are dressed all in grey?...

If you had any idea about enlisting...

You are much too young...

And your presence here places you in mortal danger.

With that,

The General,

Older than he first appeared...

Gnarled and bent of body...

removed his slouch hat...

while slowly dismounting,

inadvertently emitting a long deep sigh.

"Tell me more about your family...

wherever they are now,

We can't let them wander around now...

All Hell is about to break loose."

"Well sir,

They went off to get the rest of our things...

I am not sure how long ago...

and I woke up wet, here..."

"What did you say your name was again?...

The fatigue etching dark lines under the blazing eyes...

"Jerry...uh...Jeremy de Silveir-Pickett"

"Strange coincidence...

My name is Pickett...

That is why we came Sir...

to see your glorious charge"...

"What do you mean?"

With that the General squatted down by the boy and they became involved in a very lengthy conversation...

With many questions and exclamations of surprise...

"General, Sir...

I was actually on my way to find you...

General Lee has ordered that you be centered in front of the ridge with your Brigade of cavalry to charge at one this afternoon...

your target is the copse of trees,

just off to the right of center,

you can see from the bottom of the ridge..."

"Well Captain,

There is still a lot of time...

And it appears this boy and I are related in some fashion...

And I want to know more about this "charge".

Time went by as they conversed...

A frightened young boy in grey...

and a middle aged man...also in grey.

"General, Sir...

I must implore you...

Time is becoming of the essence!!"

The General,

pulling his old,

round,

silver engraved

timepiece from his worn vest pocket

"Indeed...where did the time go?

It has been a pleasure to meet you boy...

Though how you could know so much about the current circumstances...

and this ill-fated "charge" I am supposed to lead,

Has me completely stumped...

February 12, 2021 21:54

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