Just as he had promised. With a deer on his shoulder. How typical. I believe that he had imagined this moment many times, he might have dreamt about it, too. Children running to their parents, shouting his name - it could be heard from all direction. Even from this little window I can see that everyone is coming out of the lodges with honest anticipation on their faces. He is coming home finally. Just as you would expect, he got even bigger, but definitely not fatter. The beard is new though, the moustache is also a bit longer. The hair is the same as always, I don’t believe that It would change anytime soon. Bald as bold he himself is. Welcome home, warrior.
All the doors are open know. He walks up to the fire in the middle and the spoon is given to him without question. He stirs the stew and tastes it – the deer is still on his right shoulder. The blood’s been clotted for a good time. He nods with appreciation and handles the spoon back. He moves cautiously around the fire and the sitting logs because his sword and bow are hanging on his belt. After putting the animal down, he greets some of the men gathering in the circle but apologizes soon and approaches me. Yes, this is it. His guilty smile. Since our little accident he’s being even more caring. I guess we are to remain brothers in arms for a good time, even though I can’t even walk.
He comes to me first, not to her and I appreciate that. We greet each other without words after he opens the door. He grabs me, lifts me up and hugs me and I promise him not to talk about his tears to anybody. By the time we leave the house she’s there in the middle, sitting on one of the logs next to the fire. He puts me on the adjacent one and leaves me to kiss her with all his heart. And without words. I am happy for them, truly. And now he turns to me. The crowd is silent.
“You know me well, for what a fool I am, right? Right, my friend?”
“Yeah, sure. Sure you a fool!”
“But you know what I say about this, about what kinda’ fool I am? You know, right?”
“I know, I know. You’re a fool who’s fool enough to keep all his promises. You’ve said it many times.”
“Now that’s what I’m talking about, did you hear that?” said he to the girl in his arms and then to everybody else. “I told ye girl. I’m not going down without one last great feast!” The crowd cheers as he points at the deer. Everybody remembers how he shouted this while leaving last time. Shouting that he would have another feast. And now he’s really back.
“We ARE havin’ a feast tonight, my friends! And now I promise you this – I promise you this with all my heart, that I am not leaving anymore! I had my four years and the war is over! I’m staying home with you all, forever!”
There was a lot of wine and beer included. I am talking about the feast, of course. I should have been more cautious, I admit that, but I got tipsy fast and there were no stories I haven’t heard before so I didn’t really pay attention. The deer was great - I haven’t tasted these special spices in months, since I left the city for good. As I recall, he didn’t even stop drinking and eating, well, only to exchange those long kisses with her. I didn’t even care when he and some veterans left, although I did hear some disturbing things like ‘lance’ and ‘catch’ and ‘lemme show you’, but these war-stories and the usual bragging about one’s achievements are pointless and absurd in general, so I did not care much. I won’t forget though how the laughter gained more and more power and how swiftly it all shifted into screams in a moment. I will never forget when they brought his body in. Slit neck. Blood. Tears. Another ‘accident’. It was a time of peace, though. I believe everybody kept repeating this, this ‘accident’ only to cover how pointless and absurd this death was. I saw her crying painfully and I remember that I knew exactly that there was nothing and never would be anything to ease that pain. The best chance is to let it pass with years of remorse. And I laughed a bit. I would never confess this to anybody, but I laughed for he was right after all. He remained true to himself. He did not go down without one last great feast, and he surely is not leaving this place anymore. Promises kept. That’s the kind of fool he was.