Barry Sadler: The War lord

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Barry Sadler The War lord
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    The War lord
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Barry Sadler

The War Lord


The dank Boston fog wrapped itself around the stocky figure standing in the shadows, just barely visible from the firefly-glow of the street light on the corner. Even in the dark, the street had that aura of old money and wealth.

The man stood there, his broad shoulders stooped as if he were older than he looked; like some contemporary Atlas, he seemed to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. He raised his eyes and looked down the street to the two-story brick house that had held his attention for the last two hours. Straightening suddenly, he shook his head and shoulders as if throwing off a fleeting chill, or perhaps making up his mind.

Stepping from the shadows, he made his way across the street to the steps leading to his objective. In the dull glow of the street lamp, he read the large brass plaque beside the door: JULIUS GOLDMAN, M.D. The light reflecting from the brass plaque shone on the hairline scar which ran from the man’s left eye to the corner of his mouth, creating a slightly sardonic grin which never left him, except in a rage. A fleeting gold shadow was thrown across his eyes as he raised his hand to the brass knocker in the shape of a lion’s head. The Lion of Judah?

The sudden sharp rapping of the door knocker broke through the damp silence of the night. He waited and then knocked again. The door opened, revealing a severely dressed, middle-aged woman, her hair in a tight bun. She had the air of authority of a trusted and efficient housekeeper.

“Yes?” Her voice had the same severity as her looks with just a touch of snobbishness. “What is it?” She looked him up and down with that slight moue’ of distaste maitre d’s often display when someone does not appear worthy of their attention. “Speak up, man.” Then, not giving the man at the door a chance to answer: “The doctor sees no patients at home unless it’s an emergency.”

The man raised his eyes to the woman and locked them; the light grey-blue color of his eyes seemed even paler in the half-light of the open doorway. When he spoke, his voice was deep and masculine.

“Woman, shut up.”

The housekeeper began to retort indignantly that no one ever spoke to her in that manner. Then she saw the look of steel behind the man’s eyes and ice water raced through her bowels. Her voice changed, taking on tones of submission and fear.

“I–I’m sorry, but the doctor has company tonight. Is he expecting you?” she carefully avoided looking into the intruder’s eyes.

The stranger extended his hand to her, fist closed. As she looked at the back of the scarred knuckles and wrist, he said quietly, wearily, his voice almost a sigh, “Take this to your master. I believe he will wish to see me.

He stepped inside against her silent protest, the deep strength of the figure transmitted through his bearing told her here was a man not to take liberties with. She took the small tobacco sack he extended and started to look inside.

“Don’t,” came the instant sharp response from the visitor. Again she had the icy feel of fear. Involuntarily she bowed her head.

“Yes, sir,” she whispered and scurried away.

From the dining room the sound of laughter drifted back to the man along with the smell of rich food and good cigars. The housekeeper did her duty, handing the sack to her master and then rapidly excusing herself for the rest of the evening on the pretext she was feeling ill and would be in her room until morning.

Julius Goldman opened the sack. A small shining object fell into his palm, gleaming almost like gold. His heart skipped a beat as he looked at the bronze arrowhead. Sweat appeared instantly on his brow and upper lip. Standing so rapidly he almost knocked over his chair, he addressed his guests.

“Gentlemen, I am sorry, but I have an emergency to attend to. Enjoy the food and wine; leave when you please as I don’t know when I will be returning, this might take some time. Now if you will excuse me…”

He turned, not waiting for any questions and made his way to the foyer where his strange guest waited. The sight of the square back and muscled neck brought the smell of blood back to him- blood from the hospital in Vietnam where he had taken the arrowhead from the leg of the man.

“Casey? Casey, is it you?”

The man turned. Slowly and wearily he reached out and took the arrowhead from the doctor’s hand put it into his own coat pocket. He smiled a crooked, almost shy grin.

“Good evening, Doctor, it has been a while. When we last met, I meant to leave the arrowhead with you, but thought it would be a good calling card if ever I needed to see you again. It seems there is a compulsion for me to finish what was started that night in the Eighth Field Hospital in Nam and again at the Museum. Do you wish to continue?”

Gulping, Goldman nodded in the affirmative, indicating the way to his study with a sweep of his hand. The man called Casey took his wet coat off and hung it carefully on the hall tree by the door.

He walked into the study scanning the well-stocked bookshelves, noting titles and authors. Touching a leather-bound copy of Machiavelli’s, The Prince, he commented: “Surprising reading for a surgeon, Doctor Goldman. It’s odd how this little book has survived and influenced so many people since he wrote it. I told him not to publish it, but he always did want things his way, though out of friendship he kept it in his desk for five years. After he died, however, he did have his way and it was printed. I believe you would have liked him as I did. He was quite bright, if somewhat of an opportunist and agitator.

Goldman stuttered, then, clearing his throat, “You knew him? You knew Machiavelli?”

Casey chuckled deeply, “Yes, good Doctor. It appears we need to refresh your memory. Here, sit down and be comfortable.”

The irresistible quality of Casey’s voice froze Goldman to his seat, unaware that he had obeyed Casey’s command. Casey faced him, his grey-blue eyes seeming to fill the room.

“Yes, Doctor, I knew Machiavelli and many others. Remember me, who I am, what I am and where I am from? That’s right, Doctor, come with me, back again to where our story left off. Remember Jesus and the Crucifixion?”

Goldman was aware of nothing other than the compelling voice and eyes of Casey as they drew him out of his present reality and threw him back into another plane of being, one in which the man called Casey had stood at the foot of the cross of Jesus and driven his spear into the side of Christ.

The crucifixion scenario flashed again before him, the storm and wind, the darkness; the terrible face of Jesus as he looked down upon the Roman soldier who had just driven a spear into his side, a Roman soldier named Casca Aufio Longinus, born in the reign of the Great Julius.

The Jew’s words struck at his mind again as he heard Casca repeat the statement that led to his fate. When the spear was withdrawn, blood poured from the side of Jesus and the Messiah looked down upon the Roman, his voice great with an unknown power, his eyes blazing: “Soldier, you are content with what you are, then that you shall remain until we meet again. As I go now to my Father, you must one day come to me… Soldier, you are content with what you are… then that you shall remain until we meet again.

He again saw Casca wipe a bloody hand across his mouth where the blood of Jesus touched his tongue, then fell into a spasm of burning anguish while his body was purified; the legionary lay whimpering like a hurt animal with the voice of Jesus echoing in his mind. “Until we meet again.”

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