I really liked this story. My late father was a cop, and he was asked that question a million times. I never thought about how it made him feel or what it might have made him remember. Until now.
The concept of shielding soldiers from this kind of knowledge is really intriguing and raises interesting questions about complicity and responsibility. I also admire the story's structure, the way one part leads smoothly into the next.
I appreciate the use of time in a piece as brief as this one. The setting is well-established at the beginning, which infuses the memories with a really strong potency. This story is also very imagistic and descriptive in a deft and concise way, which is highly effective. I am very pleased, too, with how it manages to touch on specific emotions without feeling super sentimental.
I agree with Slytherin about this story's structure. Each graph paves the way for the next and drops just enough intrigue to make the reader step eagerly to the next block. In addition to thinking about how life-changing this moment is for the old soldier, I wonder about the kid who was shot. He is described as a soldier, too. Who was he? An enemy, a deserter? What crime had he committed? Perhaps he hadn't and that is why his death is described as a murder.
This was a very visceral tale. It comes off like it was written very effortlessly, as if the story just had to be told and it wasn't a forced labor. I especially liked this sentence: fired countless rounds into the night, loaded mortars, even lobbed grenades when circumstances called. There's something about the verbs here that really grabs me. 'Belching Rifles' is also an outstanding detail, I keep rereading that part over and over.
Great story. Really enjoyed the subtlety of the "tell." Nice job.
Oooooooh. I was wondering how we'd get to his knowing that he'd been the one with the live round--and it was the tell. That's good craftsmanship right there!
LOVE the way the poker tell ends up becoming the twist in the plot. Beautifully evoked setting (the dust in the room, the light on the table), the time shift is as smooth as a mind casting back to an earlier time and the sentences are simple and precise. Excellent piece, thank you.
The ending is truly elegant. I had a feeling about half-way through that the crux of the issue would be learning he had actually been responsible for death, and yet I felt fully paid-off by the manner of the disclosure. The visual descriptions pulled me through the story wonderfully. I appreciate that nothing is over-written, so as to make a point of the language itself. Instead, the language simply and effectively supports a lovely story, the depth of which exists without being forced in any way.
This is easily one of my favorite stories up on F(r)iction. The ease in which I entered the narrator's past, coupled with the casual lyricism and the heaviness of the content, reminded me a ton of Frank O' Connor's work, specifically his short story, "Guests of a Nation." I am really glad this story is out in the world.
I wasn't sure how else the "tell" would play into the story, but I was definitely impressed with ending the story with the "tell." That's very smart writing. Really enjoyed this story.