A Matter of Luck
Luck can come in many forms, be careful not to abuse it.
They took the body of captain Beardsley down the communication trench and buried him that night. Killed by his hobby. A keen birdwatcher, he’d said something about a rare warbler and risked a glance over the top through his binoculars. Five seconds later the sniper got him.
Daffid Jones stroked the lucky rabbit’s foot that hung around his neck, then lit a cigarette as he leaned against the trench wall where the warm September sun sloped in. ‘If he’d had one of these he would still be with us Benny.’
Benny Thomas looked at the long lugubrious face of Daffid, his companion of the last four years ‘I’ve told you before, Daffid, I don’t believe in that nonsense, I’ve survived the same four years as you without one.’
‘Ah yes, but you’ve been wounded though, I haven’t. Anyway, are you going to get that bloody sniper? He’s had three of us this week already.’
‘Well, I’ve had one of theirs, a bloody Major, too.’ Benny said defensively.
It was September 1918, the war couldn’t last much longer, everyone knew the Hun was on the run. And today even the artillery had slowed to sporadic firing. It was as if the gunners on both sides were enjoying the Indian summer and couldn’t be bothered humping all those heavy shells. The only problem they had now was the deadly sniper.
‘I’ve got him down to two areas he uses’ Benny said ‘it’s just a matter of pinpointing the bugger. With a bit of luck, I’ll have him today.’ Benny could have bit his tongue, why the hell had he mentioned luck?
I’ve told you Benny, you should get one of these.’ He held up the furry little paw with its shiny silver mounting which he polished daily with a near religious fervour. ‘There’s nothing better for luck, I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t’ wear one.’
Benny laughed, ‘did it ever occur to you, Daffid, that the rabbit had four of ‘em? Didn’t do him much good, did they?
Daffid looked sour ‘You have to believe, see? No good if you don’t believe boyo.’ Then he smiled at Benny, his craggy face and broken teeth making him look like a benevolent gargoyle ‘look, you just rub this rabbits foot now and watch your luck change. You’ll get that sniper for sure.’
Benny shook his head and grinned ‘OK then you crazy Welshman, if it’ll shut you up.’
Benny got up and went to clean his rifle. ‘See you later Daffid.’
The shallow shell scrape where Benny lay under a camouflaged tarpaulin was behind the trench. Too many snipers had died in no man’s land where the enemy gave most scrutiny. He looked at the hillock two hundred yards away and slightly to his right. I know you’re up there Fritz he thought, just make one wrong move, that’s all.
The sun rose high above the tortured landscape and Daffid sat on an ammunition ledge reading his newly arrived letter. It was bad news. His beloved grand mother, she who had given him his lucky rabbit’s foot, had passed away.
With a tear in his eye, Daffid withdrew the charm from his shirt. The silver top glinted bright in he noonday sun. On his hillock Hans Gintz saw the gleam. It only took him a few seconds to put a bullet through it, killing Daffid instantly. Hans smiled his satisfaction. Another dumb Tommy had made his last mistake.
Hans drew his lucky rabbit’s foot from under his tunic, held it up and kissed it. Two hundred yards away Benny saw the flash of sun on silver and fired. ‘Gotcha’ he muttered, ‘now I suppose I’ll have to listen to Daffid banging on about bloody lucky rabbits feet for an hour.’