Miles Watson Quotes
“It is no easy thing to be in your mid-twenties and realize that, holy shit, this is it, this is as good as it gets, and from here it's all downhill, the fun's over, the hijinks have jinked their last, nothing lies ahead but drudgery and toil and a sagging belly and death. It's harder yet when a stupid bitch, a numbfuck cunt, one of those horrible sweet-smelling OMG types who wouldn't talk to you in high school and sure as fuck won't talk to you now, takes position on your elbow with a cell phone jammed into her cheek, yammering away. Because who wants to listen to the stream of shit coming out of her mouth? Gossip about friends. Gossip about enemies. Gossip about celebrities. Gossip about gossip. Not a thought in her head. Not a fact. Nothing of interest. Nothing of worth. Just an avalanche of verbal rubbish. The Patriots took on the Redcoats, the Blue fought the Gray, the National Guard stormed the beaches of Normandy, so this submoronic cretin could stand here in her designer boots and talk about what happened at the club last night.”
“The course she was on was as fixed and unalterable as the trajectory of a bullet, but you could see she did not believe that. No one in the life ever believed it. They saw a dozen, a hundred, a thousand people precede them into the trap, saw how unvarying and pitiless the end was, and with all that fresh in their minds they did the same, of their own free will.”
“This cramped little space that stank of earth and smoke and sweat, that dripped water during every hard rain, and whose floor was often a half-frozen soup of mud and sunflower seeds and straw, now seemed to him more comfortable than Ketterling’s HQ could ever be, and he knew why. Here, surrounded by the weapons hanging from nails by their straps, the boxes of hand grenades, the cut-down artillery shells filled with cigarette butts, the crumpled moisture-bloated magazines and greasy playing cards, one lived an honest life. You couldn’t get that back home anymore. The radio and the newspapers were full of lies that would have been insulting even if the streets hadn’t been full of rubble and the air with the shriek of air-raid sirens, and it wasn’t enough for the government that the people merely endure it all, bombs and lies, without objecting. They had to believe the lies, had to parrot them back with sickly smiles plastered on their faces, lest they be branded defeatists and be taken away.
It wasn’t like that here. Nickolaus wanted it to be, but it wasn’t. Here, a man might be hungry, he might itch with lice, he might sting with pain from cuts that never healed, he might be empty-headed with fatigue and half-deafened from noise, but he always knew precisely where he stood—with his comrades and with the enemy. There were no intrigues, no politics, no flag-waving. A man never looked you in the eyes and told you black was white, or worse yet, demanded that you agree that black was white. There was no need because he had already asked you to die for him, and once you had agreed, what need was there for words?”
“We’ve been catching hell ever since we got to this forest. Christ, I’ve heard guys praying they’ll lose a leg just to get out of here. That’s not normal. I mean, you hear guys praying to get a Million Dollar Wound all the time—you know, lose a finger or a toe or get shot through the ass. Something that’ll fuck ‘em up bad enough to get ‘em sent home but not bad enough to cripple ‘em. That’s normal. I been hearing that since Anzio. But I never heard anybody pray to lose a fucking leg. Not before I came here.”
“This is your platoon sergeant, Halleck. This is your platoon medic, Holzinger. This is your radioman, Loomis, and this is your call-sign, Decoy Red One Six. These are your squad leaders—Ryerson, Spicer, and Keesey. Tonight’s password is 'Ontario.' Your position extends from the edge of that gully to the blowdown over there. We don’t expect a push here, so your job is to keep the Germans from infiltrating. That means a one hundred percent alert all night, every night. Listen for the enemy. Don’t make any noise at all or you’ll take fire from both sides. Don’t smoke, the Germans will see the light and blow you to hell. Don’t fall asleep, you’ll wake up with your throat cut. Don’t give any orders, you don’t know what you’re doing. Let Halleck run things until you know the score. A guide will relieve you at 0630 hours exactly. If you hear anyone come up behind you before that, shoot him.”
“In the years that I could not see him, I came to know my father through the medium of photography. My perceptions of him were forged on black-and-white squares that stole an instant out of history and immortalized it between the pages of a family album. When I summoned up the image of the man, it came to me frozen, black-bordered, flat. He stood pale above the creases of his uniform, framed in the foamy wake of some ship, drops of sunlight caught in the buttons on his jacket. He winked at me from the liberty ports of countless exotic places. In an atrocious hand he scrawled stilted, affectionate words to the stranger that bore his name and his features, telling of adventures far away, misbehavings under suns hotter than that which shone over the Greater German Reich.”
“No one knew much about the Twenty-Eighth Infantry. It was not a glamour outfit.
They knew about the Big Red One and the Screaming Eagles, about the Eighty-Second Airborne and Hell On Wheels, but not about Twenty-Eighth Infantry. The name was met with a certain silence, as if he was in a room full of Harvard graduates and told them his degree was by correspondence.”