Chaloux

Born in Toulouse to a wealthy pair of wine producers, Achille Chaloux had a splendid future. However, as fate would have it, his mother died when he was still an infant and his father, struck by grief, decided to leave the estate in his brother's hands and move to Paris where he once came from originally. Still quite wealthy, he bought a house and had plenty of servants and join the social life of Paris. His son was mostly left in the hands of a nanny who was very firm and not very loving at all.

The young boy grew up to be a quiet and unassuming boy. He was sent off to a boarding school, where he was soon becoming rather well liked for his generosity, giving out gifts and candy and things like that. In short, Achille tried to buy himself friends and it worked well enough.

After school his father wanted him to attend some business studies but at that point, Achille had made some disreputable friends from school and he finally rebelled. He decided to strike out on his own, which actually meant him spending his father's money on wine and women, not necessarily in that order. He lived the life in the cafes and bars of Paris and was a useless waste of space in most eyes. He was miserable though, and wanted to do something with his life. He went back to his father to see if the two could start over, but instead the two started arguing and in the end, his father kicked him out and said that he was disowned and would no longer get any money from him. At first, Achille thought this a good thing. Finally, he was totally independent. But after awhile, when money became scarce, he wasn't so sure about it any longer. Still, he had his low-life friends and he eked out a living as a bar-room brawler and a courier for shifty dealings.
Unfortunately, his friends got him in trouble in the end. Enraged to find one of his prostitute friends badly beaten up by a customer, he looked this customer up and beat him up in turn. On a whim, he also robbed the man. However, this man was a rich person with ties amongst the upper crust and he saw to it that Chaloux was taken to trial and sent to prison.

At the age of 25, Chaloux ended up in jail and spent six years there. It was both a blessing and a curse. It made him reconsider his way of living, but it also broke him down and made him loathe himself more than anything else. He had no idea what to do when he was finally out of prison, but as the war had just started he decided to enlist. Perhaps in the war he could redeem himself, and finally do something worthwhile in his life.

Though he took to the life of a soldier as if he was born to it, one couldn't say it made Chaloux a better man. Already a life-weary cynic, the war just brought these things out even more. But one thing was better hereā€¦ the comradery. He finally found friends, people sharing something with him. Everytime one of them died, something inside of him died too. But he always survived and soldiers kept coming and going and dying, until they were a blur of faces and names. He started to fear making friends and became quiet and a bit of a recluse. Always reliable in danger, but keeping to himself outside of it.

In 1918 he and a group of other French veterans are sent to Arras as a special unit, where otherwise only Brits, ANZAC or COmmonwealth soldiers are stationed. And here he is now, fighting a war he sees no point to any longer, trying to take back those yards of useless land.

Chaloux died in March 1918.

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