We Are Sentries








Ezra Azra

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© Copyright 2024 by Ezra Azra
Photo by Галина Ласаева: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-wearing-an-armor-9608425/
Image by Ed from Pixabay

Two sentry soldiers were on patrol at the international border. At this place at the border there were miles of open grassland up to the snow-capped mountain range. The sentry building was a small three-compartment building. Because of the terrain, the actual border line-on-the-ground was about a hundred steps away from the building, in the direction of the mountain range.

The war was in its fourth year. That international land border crossing had not had an unpleasant incident. It was as if at this spot, there was no war between the Nations. Perhaps because that was a remote location of no strategic importance.

The sentries saw someone approaching. This was an unusual event. That was the first time that someone approached them. They had taken up duty here a year ago.

What do you think?

Looks harmless. Even looks a little like someone I could know.

Looks as if he is familiar with the surroundings. Heís waving.

A well-dressed elderly man approached, casually.

My countrymen, hello!

Stop!

Yes. Of course.

Who are you, sir?

At your service, sirs. Zradan Peru. Clothing merchant.

How can we be of help, sir?

My entire life, sirs, I have lived not far from here. As a boy I ran across this border many times. As a merchant, my usual walk is in the other direction. Not much to see this way.

Your usual walk?

Yes, sir.

So, today is just an aberration?

Aberration? Good word, young man.

What? We sentries are not educated well enough to use a word as big as aberration?

Oh, sir, sir, I apologize. Misunderstanding. My family has soldiers. Every one among the highest educated in the family. Three, unfortunately, have already given their lives for their country.

Soldiers in the family, huh?

Oh, yes. Yes, sir.

Where are you going? Sir?

I'm visiting my niece.

This road leads into enemy territory, Mister Peru.

I know. Sad. Never used to, for generations. I usually stop back there at my friend's home. I'll return, and take my usual road.

Your usual walk is in the other way?

Yes, sir.

That usual walk in the other way also took you into enemy territory?

Yes, sir. There are guards there, too, sir. Our noble countrymen. Yours and mine. They know me well.

Why this far today? What's special about today?

My friend suggested it. He said it's just as safe, and might be shorter. He said there's never been war goings-on here since the war began.

So, you will still be visiting the enemy by that other usual walk?

My niece, sir, isn't enemy. She is one of us, you and I, sir.

But she lives among the enemy.

With relatives. Sir, only family have lived there since before the enemy invaded.

She lives among the invaders?

Yes. All of them have to since the invaders took over, sir. The invaders have been kind to allow them.

Kind. Yes. Very. Would you not agree, Sentry?

Absolutely. Most kind.

Uh, yes. My niece visits here across the border, sometimes. No problems.

Good for her.

Yes, sir.

Your gloves, Mister Peru. Unusual design.

Imported, sir. My hat, too. Supposed to last forever, in gentlemanly use. Material is metal engineered to behave like silk. Some secret in the food especially bio-engineered for the silkworms.

May I try them on?

My apologies, sentry, please. I respectfully decline. They are a special order. Designed for my hands only.

Sir, do you know this is a dead-end road?

Oh, yes, I know, sir. It's dead-end to only vehicles. A dead-end for generations. Since I was a child. Pedestrians cross over all the time.

All the time? Sentry, you see people crossing all the time?

Definitely not.

Gentlemen, you're right. I should return to use my usual road.

Hold it! We are at war. You're on the way to our enemy. You do not have official permission. Sentry, Does this begin to stink to you?

Most certainly. Stinky, stinky. Tell us about your niece, sir.

Of course. Delighted to. Most beautiful. An orphan now for thirteen years.

Ready for marriage?

To one of us?

Why not, gentlemen? I will mention the two of you. Loyal countrymen.

We will toss a coin.

Or, sir, you can choose. Which one of us do you think would better match your niece?

Gentlemen, I favour the coin. Each of you is a most noble addition to any family.

And you will support the winnerís claim?

Of course. He will be a godís choice. Who am I to oppose the gods? Indeed, I will not tell my niece there was a loser. Perhaps the three of us ought to pledge to never divulge these circumstances to my niece?

A most practical suggestion, Zradan Peru.

I agree. I pledge to the two of you, on my honour, I will never tell the niece of Zradan Peru of our spinning a coin for her hand in marriage.

I swear.

Me, too. I do happily swear. I do not have a coin. I always make sure I have no money on me wherever I cross this border.

That is not a problem. You go on across the border, penniless, to visit your niece. By the time you return we will have spun a coin.

I thank the both of you. I will see you again right here in a few hours.

The merchant walked away, penniless, to visit his niece across the border. The one sentry kept his eyes on the merchant. The other sentry searched for a coin.

One coin coming up to get one of us a wife.

No.

Huh?

I said he looked like someone I could know.

You know him?

That niece he is visiting could be the one I wanted to marry. She wanted to marry me. He disapproved. He slapped me away with those gloves.

What? And you let him walk away?
We should have arrested him.

I have a better plan. Obviously, he does not recognize me. When he returns, we will tell him I won the spin.

What if this is a different niece?

Youíre right. We should have asked him for his nieceís name.

When he returns, letís ask him her name before we tell him who won the spin. If sheís not yours, I won.

Good enough. But, then, what about my revenge?

We are sentries. He is bound to pass this way again, after I am married to his niece.

Great! I will keep the gloves!

And I, the hat. 



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