Iím not deceiving, really, Itís true, upon my word! One morning I was nearly Shot by a firing squad. Why did this silly, saddening Misfortune come my way? I know it but thatís something Iím not supposed to say. Commander almost saved my life But somebody insisted: "Execute!". The squad had worked it out well enough, But there was one who didnít want to shoot. Misfortune for some reason Had been attending me: I captured once a prisoner But somehow let him flee. The sneak, who was a sort of A fidget, a strange lot, Had made a mental note of that case, for his report. Then he disclosed it, and he brought along The filed material he had, the brute! No one could help it, the effect was strong... But there was one who didnít want to shoot. The hand fell in the abyss, And "Fire!" was the word, Thus I was given access To the unknown world. But then I heard a shout: "He is alive. How nice! Now call the doc. We cannot Execute him twice.". The doctor clicked his tongue and, with a sigh, Extracted all my bullets, pitching mood, Meanwhile I was delirious, and I Kept talking to the one who didnít shoot. I licked the wounds, and never Took treatment, it would seem; In hospitals, however, I was in high esteem, Beloved and well reputed By all the sisterhood: "Come, you, half-executed, A shot will do you good.". Our battalion fought on the Crimean shore, And I would send glucose there, when I could, To sweeten up the bitter pill of war For that same man, the one who didnít shoot. I had my tea and drowned In spirit now and then; So I did not break down And went to fight again. I joined my own unit. "Fight on, - the major said, - Iím glad they failed to do it, and you were not shot dead". I should have felt quite happy, but instead I howled like a wolf, in a terrific mood, Because a German sniper shot me dead By killing that same man who didnít shoot.
© Alec Vagapov. Translation, 1998