The Holy Soldier

Essay by, January 2007

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The hospital smell was unmistakable. That hygienic, detergent, impersonal smell. The smell of stagnant hospital air, untouched by the huffing of buzzing life infested with hordes of bacteria. The sickly white of walls and floor, bed linens and overalls that blinded his shell-shocked eyes, Sephardic eyes merely eighteen years old yet blood-red from battle. The hospital's atmosphere was so tangible that he could smell that unstained whiteness, taste the fastidious hyper-hygiene. Yes, Hadassah Hospital is a fine establishment and he was lucky to be tacking advantage of it. Yet despite his being far from the Front, the war never stopped whispering. Its soft manic hissing ebbed in and out, waiting for night time.

For when all is dark his tortured mind replays again the images of war: A floor strewn and littered with parcels of dead flesh and bones mingled with congealing blood turning the dismembered and undistinguishable ligaments of countless corpses into a quagmire made worse by the dirt of the battlefield.

The demented faces still glare blindly upward in his minds eye. Many faces, always faces: faces innocent with youth, faces turned to the floor, hands clutching a neck or a torn belly; a livid grinning face staring silently with death. Another young soldier in full battle order, crawling painfully on the ground, thrashing in pain until he settles gasping and fumbling with his hands up and down a sullied neck. He attempts to rise again in desperation but his head lolls sideways and he collapses on the floor. The hole in his jaw glistens and gushes with lifeblood which spills liberally over his white face, spreading like ink on blotting paper, Screaming and clawing at the dust he returns to.

But this young man is an unsung hero of Zion. And in the shadowed folds of night...