Jacques Tremblay ran.
He and his gang pulled up along the outskirts of Tulle slowly after dark that evening and were mystified by the deathly silence. Gone were the patriotic banners, the French tricolor, the anti-Nazi signs and placards. Gone were the reveling crowds and blaring music. All that remained was shadows and the whistling wind. Jacques told them to park along the treeline so that he could sneak into the village to investigate. He crept along the bushes and eventually slipped into the shadows in making his way into an alleyway leading towards the thoroughfare.
He splashed softly through the mud and kicked something that had a weird feel to it. He looked down and was startled by the sight of the outstretched arm of a dead man in a dark suit. He stared hard into the shadows and realized that it was one of a stack of bodies piled against the brick wall like cordwood.
The vein in his temple began throbbing as he realized that the Nazis had hit Tulle and went on a killing spree. He crept towards the alley entrance and peered out slowly, ensuring that the street was deserted. As he stepped out into the darkness, he was astonished and enraged by the sight.
He saw the figures dangling from the lampposts and realized they were people who had been lynched by the SS. He rushed into the street and nearly stumbled on objects strewn across the cobblestones. He realized that the streets were covered by dead crows that had been killed by grieving relatives of the victims, hurling stones to prevent the scavengers from defacing the corpses.
He soon became overwhelmed by an uncontrollable fury that caused the blood in his head to pound his temples like triphammers. He clenched his fists against his temples and ran wildly down the street, his intermittent explosive disorder threatening to drive him berserk. He ran until he could run no more, and eventually realized that the rows of hanged men on lampposts stretched as far as the eye could see.
“You!” a voice called from the darkness. “Stop right there!”
A flashlight beamed on him as a GMR soldier came forth from the darkness, pointing a pistol at him.
“You can be killed for breaking curfew! What are you doing out here! Let me see your papers!”
“I’m looking for my…father,” Jacques replied, reaching into his jacket. “Don’t shoot.”
The GMR trooper came closer, and Jacques whipped out his Beretta and shot the man five times in the head and chest. He stripped the man of his Luger pistol and an ammo clip before bolting and running in the direction of the sound of squealing tires along the opposite side of the street.
“What happened?” Lucien yelled from behind the wheel.
“They hung everybody,” Jacques breathed heavily as he jumped into the passenger seat. “There are bodies hanging from every lamppost on the street. I just shot one of those GMR rats. They’re back in control. We got to get out of here.”
“Where to?” Lucien gunned the engine.
“Limoges,” Jacques accepted a flask of whiskey from Jean-Paul. “I need to make contact with the Resistance. The Nazis are through playing games. We need to make this deal, sell this shit and get the hell out of France.”
“Get out of France?” Lucien was dubious. “We need to talk.”
“You stay here and talk to the Nazis, or Bony and Lafont, or whoever’s left to talk to,” Jacques took a large swig of whiskey. “I don’t care where I go, but I’ve had my fill of this.”
“What about the gang, Jacques?” Marcel was panicky. “We’ve
been together since we were kids! We always said we’d always be
together! We’ve made it through thick and thin, why all of a sudden
are we talking like this!”
“Take it easy,” Lucien assured him. “We said we’d talk.”