— Spring, 1947. Jack goes AWOL and gets up to his old tricks. Their Sherman tank, Carla , takes a break. —
“Don’t move!” Tom whispered in German, while holding his knife blade to the girl’s throat.
“But my brother will hear us!” she hissed back, struggling to escape his grip.
Tom squeezed her neck so tightly that she couldn’t breathe properly and her voice rasped.
“You know what I want?” he murmured.
“Yes. I won’t struggle or scream, if you let me go.”
He felt her tremble, but also the sound of effort in her voice, as if she were trying to hold back an urge that he knew all women couldn’t resist. It excited him.
The day had started quietly:
“All crews to stay in bunks, and that is an order! O-ffi-cial blanket drill!” Above the moans of the four tank crews in the tent, the corporal continued under his breath, “Scuttlebutt is; the next is the last action. After that, it’s home to your sweet-hearts fellas!”
“Brindley, you ninety-day wonder,” somebody shouted. “Why the fuck didn’t you let us get an extra hour instead of waking us then? Asshole!”
“You know what that means? No battle breakfast!” shouted somebody else.
“Sheet!” Deak added. “K–rations! That means biscuits and black coffee! Hardly ambrosia for the gods of death, is it?”
When they finally staggered out of the tent in their camp near ten miles from the Czech border, Lieutenant Tom “Jack,” Mayflower-Merriweather finished shaving and waited for his crew.