A Glibertarians Exclusive – Legionnaire, Part VII

by | Aug 8, 2022 | Fiction, History | 121 comments

A Glibertarians Exclusive – Legionnaire, Part VII

Marseilles, France – 1911

“Holy shit,” Philip McGraw breathed.

“You have no idea.  Charlie had been my best friend for fifteen years.  He was the guy I always knew I could count on.  Oh, he razzed me about Marissa, back in Sidi Bel Abbès, and I chaffed him right back.  That’s what old buddies do.  But he was a hell of a good man.  Better man never lived.”

Caleb Pettigrew stopped.  He coughed.  He pulled a tattered handkerchief out of one pocket and wiped his eyes, then poured out another glass of wine and gulped it down.  “Sorry, son,” he said.  “Charlie’s pretty near thirty years dead, and I still miss that damn dago, you know?”

“But what happened  next?  I mean, after that guy shot Charlie.  How the hell did you get out of that one?”

“She came for me,” Caleb said cryptically.

“She?  Who?”


Indochina, November 1883

The bandits left Caleb Pettigrew alone after that.  They gave him no food or water, but left him lying in the dust, bound hand and foot, next to the cooling corpse of his old friend.  He lay there through the night, and well into the next morning, before Huy Phan finally approached him again.

“You have had some time to consider your position, I think,” the bandit chief said.  He squatted next to Caleb and held up his knife.  “You can be done with all this.  Just tell me…”

Phan was interrupted by one of his men, who came running up and spat out an incomprehensible stream of whatever the Tonkin people spoke.  Phan listened, then barked some orders.  The bandits roused, started grabbing weapons.  The Tonkin leader turned back to Caleb.

“There is a man,” the bandit said, “on a ridgeline, some ways to the south.  He is on a horse and appears to be looking at the village through a glass.  I will send some men that way.  Perhaps we can capture him.  Then, you will have company, yes?”

Caleb shrugged noncommittally.  I got a pretty good idea what’s going on, he said to himself, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.  He gave silent thanks that the bandits had left him and Charlie bound at the edge of the village and not near the morning fire, now burning in the center.  The wood-fueled fire sent up a plume of white smoke.  That’s going to be the aiming point, Caleb thought.

Three kilometers to the south, French regulars were wrestling three breech-loading 85mm field guns into position.  It took a few moments to place the guns; an officer on horseback, a few meters away on the ridgeline, shouted range and azimuth commands.  The artillerymen made their adjustments, loaded the guns, and yanked lanyards.

Caleb heard the whistling sound before the distant booms of the guns.  He rolled to face away from the village center, closed his eyes tight and opened his mouth just as the pattern of three exploding shells landed across the center of the village.

Screams rose above the thunder of the explosions.  Caleb felt himself picked up as though by a giant’s hand and slammed back down to the ground.  He looked around.  Beside him, the bandit leader was on his knees, shaking his head.

Caleb rolled.  Ignoring the protests from his muscles after the better part of a day in binding, he pushed off with his arms, kicked, and struck the bandit chieftain in the jaw with both feet.  Huy Phan fell to the ground, stunned further.  Caleb threw himself across the bandit leader, tossed his legs over the man’s head, and tightened his knees around the thug’s throat.  He squeezed.

Another pattern of three rounds crashed into the village.  This time Caleb managed to ignore the impact.  He gathered himself, tightened his grip on the bandit, pushed up on his elbows, and threw himself to the side, breaking Huy Phan’s neck.

He rolled again and looked around.  The ‘Golden Hand’, at least the ones who were not scattered in pieces or laying broken on the ground, were running into the forest.  Caleb scanned the ground nearby; sure enough, there was Huy Phan’s wicked little knife.  Caleb managed to roll, to get hold of the knife, and cut himself free.

The artillery seemed to have stopped.  Gotta get outta here, Caleb told himself.  Gotta head south.  That’s where that artillery came from.  A few paces away, a Gras rifle lay on the ground, and next to it, a cartridge box.  Caleb got to his feet, ignoring the cramping in his legs, and grabbed the rifle and ammunition.  He paused for a moment next to the body of the Spaniard.

“Goodbye, Charlie,” he breathed.  “You were a hell of a good man.”

He set off to the south at a shambling run.  After about a kilometer, he started shouting:  “Foreign Legion!  Foreign Legion!”

He was greeted in a small clearing by French infantry, moving north.  With them:

“Paul Paige,” Caleb said in English.  “I’ll be a son of a bitch.  How the hell did you get away?”

The Canadian shook Caleb’s hand.  “Not on purpose, Sargent-Major.  I was fighting this big guy in what looked like black pajamas.  He knocked me for a loop, but when I came to, in the bushes a way off the trail, I was lying next to him, and my bayonet was in his chest.  No idea how that happened.  I could hear the Black Flag talking, so I laid low.  Presently I saw them carry you and the Sargent away to the north, so I snuck out to the south and caught up with the regulars, told them what happened, and led them back up this way.”

“Lucky all around, I guess.”

Paige looked around.  “Where’s the Sargent?”

Caleb frowned.  “He didn’t make it.”

A Captaine of the French regulars walked up.  “Sergant-Major,” he said, “If you please, your report.”

“Yes sir,” Caleb replied.

He spent some time detailing all that had happened to the Regular officer:  The position of the ambush, the location of the village – the officer had been the one directing the artillery, and so already had that information – and the composition of the bandit group.

“They aren’t Black Flag,” he concluded.  “Not anymore, anyway.  Just a very ambitious bunch of thieves.”

Bon.”  The Captaine regarded Caleb critically.  “You look frightful, Sergant-Major.  Take your man Paige, he is to escort you to the south.  A kilometer, maybe two, you will find the baggage train.  There is a surgeon there.  Have him look you over, clean your wounds, and by my order, you are to rest there for no less than twenty-four hours.  Then, I will see you are retuned to your unit.  You are Foreign Legion, yes?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Today, Sergant-Major, I am certain the Legion is proud of you.  All of France is proud of you.  You found yourself in an impossible situation, and yet you escaped.  You now live to fight another day.  I extend my hand,” the officer said, and did so.

Caleb took the proffered hand and shook it.  “Thank you, sir.”  There didn’t seem to be anything else to say.

He looked around.  There was Private Paige.  “Come on, Paige,” Caleb said.  “Let’s go.”

On the walk south, he said nothing.  Things seemed somehow different.  He couldn’t shake the image of Charlie, laying there in the dirt, a red round hole between his eyes.

Damn it, Charlie, he thought.  You had to go and die on me, you damn shifty dago.  You were the one man I could always depend on.  You always had my back.  Even more than Paul Allen back in the Army of Northern Virginia, more than that damned Englishman Smythe-Carstairs, more than anyone I ever knew.   I guess I got too used to having you around. 

He remembered his arrival at Sidi Bel Abbès, on a hot, dusty morning.  He remembered being shown to a barracks and taking an empty cot next to an inert figure, snoring, and breathing out cognac fumes.  When the man finally roused, he looked up blearily at Caleb.  Caleb remembered it as though it were yesterday:

“Good morning,he said.  He stood up, assumed the position of attention, and saluted.  “My name,” he said formally, “is Charles Sebastian Diego y Sanchez, and I am very, very drunk.

“You damn dago,” Caleb breathed as he walked south. “I’d say damn you for leaving me alone, but I know what you’d say about that.  You’d say, ‘but you are not alone, amigo.  You have the Legion.’”

Note:  There are several versions of the song that inspired this story.

The lyrics here are from this version.

Now there’s a wall between us, somethin’ there’s been lost
I took too much for granted, got my signals crossed
Just to think that it all began on a long-forgotten morn
“Come in”, She said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

About The Author



Semi-notorious local political gadfly and general pain in the ass. I’m firmly convinced that the Earth and all its inhabitants were placed here for my personal amusement and entertainment, and I comport myself accordingly. Vote Animal/STEVE SMITH 2024!


  1. DEG

    “My name,” he said formally, “is Charles Sebastian Diego y Sanchez, and I am very, very drunk.”

    Excellent introduction.

    • Not Adahn

      Better than “You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

      • UnCivilServant

        There’s only so many people for whom that might be accurate.

      • juris imprudent

        Well, that greeting was only intended for one man.

  2. Tundra

    Another fantastic chapter.

    RIP Charlie the Dago.

  3. Fourscore

    Thanks, Animal. Good story, I don’t know if this is the end but either way, I’m waiting, just in case. The black jammies guys sound familiar and the story could continue…

  4. juris imprudent

    She? Who?

    Yeah, she? Who? Where and how?

    • Animal

      Stay tuned for next week’s exciting episode!

      • UnCivilServant

        Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel?

      • Rat on a train

        It better be in color.

      • UnCivilServant

        It is in Technicolor, but these are color images of a black and white world.

      • Gender Traitor

        Is it really the Bat Channel, or is it just Bat Week on the Discovery Channel?

      • UnCivilServant

        Have you never seen a rerun of the 1960s Batman?

      • Gender Traitor

        Many of them! I may have seen some of them l when they weren’t reruns. 🙄

      • Gender Traitor

        Speaking of which, pop quiz: Eartha Kitt or Julie Newmar?

      • Animal

        Speaking of which, pop quiz: Eartha Kitt or Julie Newmar?


      • UnCivilServant

        Lee Meriwether.

        If ruling out the movie, Newmar.

      • slumbrew

        All hail, Animal The Wise!

      • Gender Traitor

        You may have Lee Meriwether if that’s the Catwoman you want.

      • Sean

        I will be expecting chills & thrills.

      • juris imprudent

        Well Chekov, you put the gun on the table, and now defer on it’s use until next week? 😉

      • Rat on a train

        Final Fantasy Chekhov?

      • Gender Traitor

        There’s a mandatory waiting period.

      • juris imprudent

        *boos loudly, then applauds*

      • Gender Traitor

        *bats eyes innocently*

  5. UnCivilServant


    Someone finally accepted the open consultant position. Now I’m into the part of the process I’ve never done – actually onboarding someone.

    The process is, of course, convoluted and exacting. It is a state process after all.

      • UnCivilServant

        More paperwork, acquired from and sent to groups I don’t normally interact with. Forms require information I don’t have and don’t know where to acquire, can’t be processed without it.

      • Name's BEAM. James BEAM.

        {wipes a single manly tear from my eye}

        I miss those days.

      • slumbrew


        That last bit was unexpected.

  6. Brochettaward

    Play with Firsts, get burned. It’s as natural as spaghetti and meatballs.

  7. Grosspatzer

    Nice one, Animal. Slow day at work for a change, I actually had time to catch up on the saga. And to echo others, who/what is she???

    • Animal

      You’ll find out.

      • Grosspatzer

        I’ll be the judge o’that!

  8. Grosspatzer

    93°, dew point in low 70’s, and my neighbor is out walking a Siberian Husky. That poor dog must be miserable.

    • Animal

      50 and light rain here. Doggo would be right at home.

    • slumbrew

      94°, “feels like” 104° – dog wants to go lay in the sun in the driveway.

      She’s a Southern dog at heart.

      • juris imprudent

        Or a hound escaped from hell.

    • Tundra

      81, feels like 81, humidity 45%. Not too shabby.

    • Ownbestenemy

      Husky will be fine. Their coats both under and top work well to adjust to it. As long as it isn’t some vigorous 5 mile walk of course

      • Plisade

        I asked my vet if I should trim my Aussie during the summer. She advised that doing so would result in more of his coarse fur growing back, making him dependent on being trimmed every year. She said his own fur actually keeps him cooler in the summer than if he was trimmed.

      • Tundra

        I used to just comb out my Shepherd a little more often. She was fine in the summer.

      • Ownbestenemy

        Yep there are just some dogs that you do not cut/shave.

      • Toxteth O'Grady

        I got similar advice the other day from the groomer. And I just read a tip about acclimating one’s dog to a vacuum cleaner, first with the power off. Probably too late for that here. (How does the hair migrate to chairs she doesn’t sit in?)

      • R C Dean

        How does hair migrate to chairs you don’t see her sit in?

        It’s a mystery.

      • UnCivilServant

        Typically, it hitches a ride on the other occupants of the house.

      • Toxteth O'Grady

        Suppose so.

      • Toxteth O'Grady


      • R.J.

        Brownian motion applies to molecules and pet hair.

      • slumbrew

        My dog’s ability to generate fresh hair, regardless of how much she is brushed, borders on the supernatural.

        Short, white hairs, everywhere.

  9. Ownbestenemy

    Great read again Animal

  10. UnCivilServant

    Thinking about buying a saute pan. Looking at the all-clad 3 quart, but the all-clad site has been giving me trouble actually checking out. There’s also a factory second available from the ‘homeandcooksales.com’ site. Anyone bought from that second site? Any red flags?

    • Toxteth O'Grady

      Sounds dodgy and seems so too. What are you looking to pay?

      • UnCivilServant

        I was okay from the factory direct sale which was about $150 before tax.

        If only that site didn’t keep flaking out for me.

      • Toxteth O'Grady

        I am not a great competitive shopper (except accidentally) but if you tell us your exact model and budget sought. (I can’t promise — I might have to skedaddle soon.)

      • Toxteth O'Grady

        Urgh, reading comprehension. I did mention a hurry. D3? D5?

      • Toxteth O'Grady

        Chowhound is defunct, but Hungry Onion and Foodtalkcentral remain: look under Cookware.

      • Toxteth O'Grady

        I keep finding the saucepan, not your shallow pan.

      • UnCivilServant

        Thank you for looking.

        I’m not in a hurry, I can keep looking myself.

    • slumbrew

      Sean has recommended homeandcooksales.com before.

      • Sean


        I don’t think that was me.

      • slumbrew

        Huh. I could have sworn…

    • Toxteth O'Grady

      ne dana

  11. Ozymandias

    Poor ol’ Charlie the Dago – at least it was quick.
    *pours one out*

    Thanks again, Animal. Really enjoying these.
    One more to go.

    • Scruffy Nerfherder

      Are they going to sue the US government for funding Al Qaeda?

    • Dr. Fronkensteen

      Don’t worry. That’s not real money.

    • Scruffy Nerfherder

      I noted that Zelensky and gang had designated military historian Martin Van Creveld as a Russian disinformationist along with Rand Paul et al…

      So I had to go see what Martin had said that was so dastardly about the situation. He expressed DOUBT that the Ukrainians/NATO would win. That appears to be the extent of his crimes.

      And apparently van Creveld is a very recent Russian disinformation convert. Just a few months ago he thought the Russians were doomed.

    • Fatty Bolger

      Just a little pocket change he found digging through the sofa cushions in the oval office.

      • Scruffy Nerfherder

        Merely a rounding error in the daily printing press tally.

    • Swiss Servator

      I have “budget needs”, where is MY $4.5 billion?!

      • UnCivilServant

        Do you have a convenient war to launder the kickbacks through to pay the people controlling the money printer?

      • slumbrew

        My needs are modest – just a tenth of that amount should do it.

  12. Tundra
    • MikeS

      He sounded like a good guy. RIP

    • CPRM

      We were just talking about him on the zoom this weekend.

  13. robc

    Next to last chess update. US beat Turkey today.

    Standings are Uzbekistan and Armenia tied for first (Uz wins tiebreaker) 1/2 game ahead of India 1, India 2, and the US. US is 5th by tiebreaker.

    US, I think, plays India 1 tomorrow, so control their own destiny for 4th. To win it all, they would have to win, and Uzbekistan and Armenia would have to lose, and India 2 would have to draw or lose.

    US has a decent shot at a medal, but gold requires too much. On the other hand, they could finish about 10th too.

    • UnCivilServant

      That’s a pretty big swing for one round left to play.

      • robc

        186 nations showed up (actually 184, plus India 2 and India 3).

        11 rounds doesn’t give a lot of separation.

        If everyone won or lost, that would only be 12 possible records (0 to 11 wins). With draws possible, and common, it makes for 23 possible categories (0 pts to 22 pts – 2 pts for win, 1 for draw). That is still an average of about 8.5 teams per category. Also, as 2 is the minimum possible lowest and 19 the max possible highest, that is only 18 categories. So 10.3 per category, although it isnt that evenly spread out, obviously the middle has way more teams.

        Right now there are 2 teams at 17 pts, 3 teams at 16, 6 teams at 15, and 10 teams at 14.

        There are 25 teams at 10 pts.

      • UnCivilServant

        Clearly, the contest needs more rounds.

      • robc

        I think the general rule for swiss pairings is log base 2 of the number of teams, plus an additional round per place beyond first being awarded.

        So, with 3 medals, that would be log of 186 plus 2. Which means a minimum of 10. So 11 works pretty good.

        Upsets throw a wrench into the mix.

    • Plisade

      Man, all around me are modern gadgets: iphone, laptop, rechargeable speaker… All needed to do my job. And then at home I have all those same things. I’d heard of the environmental disaster that is the rare earth mining in China, but not this child labor/slavery. What to do? Seriously. This is quite the nutpunch.

      • Tundra

        What to do? Seriously.

        Invest in the poor countries. Help them achieve cheap energy and modern sanitation.

        I’m sure our leaders are working on those plans as we speak.

      • The Other Kevin

        This is my hobbyhorse lately. The poor in other countries are getting fucked over so Western elites can realize their “green” dreams. (By green I mean money as much as environmentalism). We still have imperialism, it’s just under a different banner.

      • MikeS

        Absolutely true, but I think in many (most?) cases their own corrupt governments are just as much to blame.

      • The Other Kevin

        I did learn that too. I grew up in the age of “let’s sing a song and send millions of dollars to starving people”. And years later the people were still starving but their governments were doing just fine.

      • Toxteth O'Grady

        all around me are 🎶


    • Ted S.

      I miss the old days of total score for the four boards.

  14. Sean

    I’m kicking ass today. One new hire. One re-hire.


    • Gender Traitor

      *squints suspiciously* Why did the re-hire leave before?

      • Sean

        Moved. He moved back.

      • Gender Traitor

        That sounds reasonable, depending on why he moved.

      • MikeS

        “All my legal problems are cleared up now, I swear.”

    • Plisade

      I could get on board with that.

    • Fatty Bolger

      Makes a lot more sense than a cauliflower “crust.”

      • Toxteth O'Grady

        Pepperoni and bacon can make bottom crusts, at least in muffin cups.

      • Ownbestenemy

        My military background and general childish mind has me readinf that as bottom biscuits and muffin tops

    • Nephilium

      Marco’s has had that for a while, IIRC.

      • slumbrew

        I suspect those fellas weren’t so interested in Olivia.

      • slumbrew

        Wait, that second set of fellas may have been.

      • slumbrew

        Aaand they lampshade it at the end. Well done.

    • Toxteth O'Grady

      Whut! Oh gee.

    • Scruffy Nerfherder


      You cruel bastards of fate will take Sheena Easton from us next!

    • Ownbestenemy

      Not as sexy…

      David McCullough dead also

    • Ted S.

      Q: What’s the only thing worse than Grease on Olivia Newton-John?
      A: Come on Eileen.