Flash Fiction: “Thy Yardbird”


The following is a writing submission to Homewood High School’s literary and creative magazine The Menagerie.
Winner of a Gold Key Certificate for the 2023 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

“Thy Yardbird” by Tad Cumptan

His name was Albert Hendricks but the men in his company just called him yardbird or Big Al. He was drafted into the war and soon the happy go lucky kid that everyone so loved had become almost a ghost. He didn’t write to them. They had no clue if he was alive or dead.

Laying in the mud, covered in blood, and full of lead. He laid in the pasture lifeless. It hurt to breathe and he wondered why he was still alive but all he could think of was back home. The place he calls home is Mammoth Springs, Arkansas. A town that has less people than on one busy New York City sidewalk. Even though he always felt like he wanted to escape it. He missed it dearly. He missed his parents, six sisters, his job, his friends, and the smell. Most of all though, he missed his girlfriend. Her name was Barbara Ann Ellis. She had long blonde hair, pale blue eyes like those in a Van Gogh painting and skin that was like a shade of gold. They had been together since the start of highschool. When he left they were not on good terms. She was going to school at Henderson State University which at the time was a relatively new school. He of course was being sent to Europe. Normandy, France to be exact. Even though they were a vast distance away and were going on a break, he was only worried about coming back home to her. Laying there in the cold mud, a light drizzle falling upon him, he just stared straight into the sky without blinking. He looked as if he was dead. He felt nothing, he couldn’t hear, and he could only see a blur. When he sat up he didn’t even notice the bullets in his stomach or the mortar shells erupting a few hundred feet away from him. He then stood up emotionless and started walking. He walked aimlessly for about fifteen yards before falling. As he tried getting back up the second time his hearing in his left ear started to come back. The first things he heard were sloshing footsteps and foreign yelling. He knew the yelling was that of the enemy but he didn’t care at this point as he was still very disoriented. As this unknown voice got closer he noticed their dark uniform. This dark uniform was that of a German. He put his hands up and surrendered, as soon as he did he knew it was a mistake. He knew they’d imprison him. He knew he’d become a prisoner of war. They German laughed and a second walked up next to the one laughing. The second one had a sinister grin on his face. They punched, kicked, and pistol whipped Albert until he wasn’t moving. They then loaded him into the back of an Opel. In the back with him were lots of sick soldiers that were pale and sweaty in the face and covered with blankets.

When he woke back up he was dazed and confused. Around him were other soldiers but from different armies. The friendly kid raised from the ashes again and started making conversation with a French soldier. He only spoke a little English and even then he had a very strong accent. He didn’t talk much because of that.

Al was pretty sure they were talking about two different things. That didn’t matter to him because he had been told they had been in the truck driving for two days now. Now joining the conversation was a Russian. He spoke better English but had a stronger accent. Al was pretty sure he said his name was Evgeny Stepanov. After he told his name the Frenchman jumped in and introduced himself as Louis Toussaint. “Well” Evgeny said, “What is your name”? Al then responded in the most Arkansas way by answering with Albert Hendricks but call me Al. “Where you from”? Evgeny said. “Mammoth Springs, Arkansas”. “Do you like it there?” asked Louis. “Yes but it gets boring and I want to see the world. This is the first time I’ve been out of that Arkansas bubble and I’m having to fight for my life.” “I feel your pain,” said Louis. “I grew up just outside of here. I was disgusted when I saw the mutilation of my home. Luckily, my family got out of the country just in time.” The truck slammed to a stop and the German officers were yelling again. “Macht euch bereit, Jungs, es ist Showtime”. Said one of the officers. They then brought them all out, even the sick and lined them up against a crumbled building. The German soldiers held up their machine guns. They knew what was coming and just accepted it.

The German captain yelled “Feuer”. 

I was Albert Hendricks but now I was nothing more than a forgotten soldier.