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The Dark Horse Stories
About the Author:
A Collection of Short Stories by Leonard Holman including, Paddy the reluctant Limerick Vampire, The Waiting Game and The Rose Murders and many more.
Leonard is a Limerick man, who hails originally from Garryowen and has had poems and short stories published in the British Poetry Revieu, Limerick Leader and the Poem Book Stoney Thursday.
They danced the dance of death
Too many mouths to feed with no money coming in so you took the kings shilling and signed up in Tralee.
And with hopes high you and the rest of the new recruits set sail to fight the just war or so they said.
St Louis Missouri and a fine musician you are, played in the brass band back in your homeland.
Like the others you sailed for Uncle Sam and showed them how you played and marched to a brass band.
The end for you would be France and he the Dardanelles. Did you ever meet or pass one other on the street?
Both sent back photos as they stood proudly in their new uniforms. As the bulbs flashed and held them for all time.
Soon other flashes would put both in an early grave and the uniform would became their shroud.
The general sat back and said “Gentlemen its time for another attack.”
“But sir can’t. You understand we have lost to many. There must be another way.”
“How dare you speak to me like that? Because it's going to be my way, do you understand?” “Yes, sir. “Good then behave like a man.”
“There is a knighthood waiting for you, sir.” “Yes, I know. But it’s those amateur soldiers, afraid to show there head.
“And as for you, Captain, I am waiting for your answer.” “I have none, your pride has blocked your way.”
“Leave. Get out or I will have you Court Marshalled this very day.”
When he was gone he turned to the others and said, “Make sure he is in the first attack.” “Done, sir,” they answered with delight.
The first assault, many fell; the second, you fell. As for the musician, the last sound he heard was the sound of hell.
In a music hall back home the manager came out on to the stage and said, “Gentlemen, please lift your glasses and join me in a toast to our gallant soldiers over there.”
Then a lone voice came from the crowd and shouted back, “Better still lets drink to the slaughter that's happening right now over there.”
“Who are you, sir?” “I am the voice of reason.” “No, sir. You are the voice of a coward.”
“I have been there and worn the shirt, have you?” as the crowd started to shout him down.
“A white feather to you,” as the manager pointed him out. “And damnation to you.”
Then the first bottle smashed off his head as they kicked him to the ground.
“Throw the coward out in to the gutter. That's where he belongs.”
When it was done one put his hand in to his pocket and pulled out a cross for bravery.
“He must have bought it and I’ll sell it,” as he spit down on him and proudly walked back in to the cheers.
The guns roared, the ground exploded, as the general and his yes men ate their feast.
And up in the smoked fog bloody sky the four horsemen of the apocalypse looked down smiling with glee.
As the soldiers waited in the mud, and darkness became their last light, the orders came.
“Ready,” the sergeant screamed out now. And as they climbed slowly out of the trenches and marched to the wire they began to pray, “Oh god please let me live,” as they danced the dance of death.