Felix Byrd

Felix Byrd isn't a fellow who made much of an account for himself in the world. He was born in Christchurch in early February in 1897 and never in his life until the war, excepting his ventures on the ocean. He wasn't born into the best of circumstances. His mother, Alicia Byrd, was working as a maid in the home of wealthy, dashing young Geoffrey Atterberry. The two were young and took up in a predictably stupid way, and little Felix was conceived. Geoffrey had no intention of marrying the fisherman's daughter who scrubbed his floor. She was fired and told by his parents to take herself and her bastard spawn far, far away from the Atterberry estate. Alicia, a strong-willed girl, was determined to have the child anyhow. When her parents threw her out of their home she moved in with her brother Colin and his wife and family. They were good people and always kept a room for Alicia and Felix, when he was born, but the boy always knew he and him mum were the odd ones out in this otherwise normal working-class family. As for his father, Byrd never knew anything of the man beyond his name and wanted even less to do with him.

As he grew his cousin, Ewart, got to be his best friend. The two really were like brothers, inseparable, constantly getting into scrapes together. Most of the trouble was of Felix's making. He had quick fingers for things that didn't belong to him a smart mouth and a knack for pissing off lads that were bigger than him. But Ewart always managed to drag him home more or less unharmed. The boys grew apart as they grew older. Ewart had an actual aptitude for school. Felix was more skilled at skipping it. But they close, even aslife took them in different directions.

Felix's life took him to a job on his uncle's fishing boat, which he did in a competent but half-assed manner. It earned him enough money to entertain himself and whatever skirt he was currently chasing. Ewart's took him into the army. As soon as war broke out he rushed to sign up, to serve Queen and country as his father had before him. Byrd tried to talk him out of it. There was no draft in New Zealand. They didn't have to risk their necks for a government thousands of miles away. But Ewart had a heart to serve the cause. He was shipped off, made into a rifleman, and sent to fight the Turks. He did make it back three years later, but not in one piece. A good shot by a Turk had blown most of his right leg clean off. What was left the doctors had been forced to amputate.

Ewart was never quite the same after that. He fell listless, took to drinking maybe a little too much. Not that he was ever violent. He just seemed lost and low all the time. Something changed in Felix, too, when he saw his blood and best friend like that. He'd lived a life that hadn't mattered a fig to the world and he knew it. But now, for the first time, he actually wanted to be part of something bigger than himself. And that was it. He had to work his courage up, of course, so he got himself as pissed as he could without passing out before going to sign up. He shipped out to France not long after.

Byrd didn't make much of a mark as a soldier. He started out more dedicated to ducking and shirking than actually doing his bit. But, in time, something changed in him. He started to care. Not about the cause, but about the men in the trenches with him, and about seeing that at least some of his buddies made it out of the war alive.

And that was how he met his end. Byrd was no hero but, when a fellow soldier became trapped in No Man's Land, he went out to help pull him back. The other soldier lived. Byrd did not. It wasn't the death anyone would have predicted for the bastard from Christchurch but, in the Great War, it was about as good an end as one could hope for.

Byrd's Tombstone

Upon Byrd's cross, it reads:
Felix Colin Byrd
Born: February 10, 1897
Died: July, 1918
Killed when he ventured into No Man's Land to try and bring back a fellow soldier.


Burials and Drinks - Byrd helps bury some recently fallen soldiers, then drinks.
Dogs of War - Byrd makes friends with a soldier even more flea-ridden than himself.
The Girls We Left Behind - Byrd and Morgenstern reflect on women from their pasts.
Burials - Things come full circle and Byrd himself is laid to rest.

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