Thursday, 10 November 2011
Once more unto the breach......
Somewhere in the darkest recesses of old Wolverhampton, the lights of a neon Budweiser sign flickered briefly, illuminating the outline of a man slouching on a stool at the bar in a dingy backstreet pub. He held a glass in one hand and a bottle of Whiskey in the other.
The air in the bar was stale and thick smoke hung in the room like freezing fog on a cold, February morning. A barmaid stood watching a mid-afternoon chat show on a wall mounted TV while she cleaned glasses with a damp rag. Several old drunks, sat crowded around a table in the corner of the room drinking their day away.
The man sitting at the bar coughed gruffly.
"Can I get you anything?" inquired the barmaid cautiously, taking his cough as a call for service.
"No!" retorted the man aggressively. "Just you can just mind your own business and leave me be."
"Sure, sure honey. I'm just doing my job, that's all" she replied apologetically.
The barmaid edged away and resumed cleaning glasses again while the man refilled his glass from the bottle of Whiskey and returned to his thoughts...
It had been months since it had all happened, but the memories were still firmly lodged in his mind. The sheer horror of everything that had taken place had almost been too much to bear at times.
They had told him that the mission was a complete success. They had honoured him and told him that he was a hero. They had told him that he'd made his country proud.
In fact, they had told him a lot of things, but they had never said that he wouldn't be able to sleep properly again and that night after night, he'd wake up screaming from the terrible visions that tormented him in his dreams.
Still, the Whiskey helped at least.
He gazed at the wall and stroked his unshaven chin. He had sworn that his soldiering days were over and that the quiet life was going to be the life for him. He didn't realise that this dream was about to be shattered.
With a loud crash, the door of the bar flung open, flooding the dingy room with natural light. The barmaid jumped and the old geezers in the corner rose from their apparent slumber. In the doorway, the silhouette of a man appeared.
"I'm looking for the one they call the Blade." he barked.
"That's me!" replied the man at bar, without looking up. "Who's asking?" he snarled.
The man in the doorway stepped forward. He was a young solider, smartly dressed in his formal military uniform.
"Sir, you have to come with me immediately" he commanded.
Major Richard Bladon tightened his grip around the Whiskey bottle.
"I ain't going anywhere son", he quipped. "My days of being ordered around are over".
"Major. You're going to come with me now"
The soldier placed his hand firmly on Major Bladon's right shoulder.
"Whether you like it or not!"
With a swift flurry of motion, Major Bladon suddenly smashed the Whiskey bottle over the bar with his left hand, removed the soldier's arm from his shoulder with his right, and with lightning speed, pinned the young soldier against the nearby wall and pressed the broken end of the bottle into his neck.
The barmaid screamed and one of the old drunks in the corner fell off his seat in shock.
"Like I said. I ain't going anywhere" he growled.
"Take your hands off him Blade! He's just a grunt" quipped a new voice from the door of the bar.
Major Bladon loosened his grip on the petrified young soldier and turned to address the bold figure now standing in the doorway. The young soldier slumped down onto the floor and breathed a sigh of relief.
"You look out of shape Metal! What's the matter? MOD got you pushing too many pencils?" mocked Major Bladon - instantly recognising his old associate.
"What can I say? It's been a quiet few months Blade, I'll give you that. But I can still mix it with the best of them. Anyway, you look like you've seen better days too!" retorted Major Paul 'the Metal' Dutton.
"I don't know what you mean. I'm feeling tip-top. Me and my friend Jack Daniels here are doing just fine!" spluttered Major Bladon, nodding towards the broken bottle by his side.
"Well you can say your farewells to Jack, because you've got to come with me! There's some old friends of yours waiting outside, and knowing them, they'll be getting pretty impatient by now!" warned Major Dutton.
"They're all here?" quizzed Major Bladon.
"Yep. All of them!"
Major Bladon sighed reluctantly. "Well I'd better not keep them waiting I suppose"
Major Dutton ushered his old friend towards the door.
As Major Bladon left, he placed a few crumpled bank notes on the bar and looked the frightened barmaid straight in the eye. "This is for the Whiskey....and the damage"
As he left, he nodded down towards the fallen soldier. "Oh, and somebody pick him up!"
Stepping outside onto the pavement, the sunlight was blinding and Major Bladon squinted as his eyesight adjusted to the new conditions.
A white Humvee screeched up in front of him and a tinted window rolled down to reveal a portly figure in the passenger seat. He nodded mockingly towards Major Bladon.
"Are you ready for it then Blade?" asked the man.
"Ready for what exactly, Boatman?" Major Bladon shouted back at his old comrade.
"I'll let him tell you" Major James 'Boatman' Mcfarland said as he pointed a thumb to an unseen figure behind him.
The back door of the Humvee opened and a short, bearded man in combat fatigues and aviator sunglasses stepped out onto the street.
Reaching into his pocket and putting his old cigar to his mouth, the one they all called 'The Beard' replied;
"For Operation Dry Roasted, Major Bladon! We're going back to war!"
TO BE CONTINUED
Operation Dry Roasted is scheduled for Late November/Early December 2011. Local weather conditions may result in an Alpine warfare situation, so thermal fatigues and arctic survival kits may be required.
The route is to still be determined and the infiltration date is yet to be confirmed.
Further information is highly classified and will be disseminated on a need to know basis.
Hang on to your hats people, it's going to be a bumpy ride.....
If you think that are made of the right stuff, click here to contact Operation HQ and you may be drafted in to join the veterans who form the core of the O.A.P (Occasional Afternoon Piss-heads) company on what is sure to be another heroic campaign. A full account of the previous tour - Operation Pork Scratching - has now been declassified and is available to the general public.
This post was written one day prior to Armistice Day in 2011 and is my tribute (albeit a rather odd one!) to all the men and women who have laid down their lives in the name of this country. I truly appreciate everything they have done for us and I will raise my glass to them all.