Rough Men For Rough Work

Rough Men For Rough Work Rough Men For Rough Work

Status: Finished

Genre: Literary Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Literary Fiction

Summary

Since early history soldiers were expected to do their duty in far flung parts of the world, But when the fighting is over and they are no longer needed society effectively turns their back on them. Many are unable to re-intergrate this is my story.

Summary

Since early history soldiers were expected to do their duty in far flung parts of the world, But when the fighting is over and they are no longer needed society effectively turns their back on them. Many are unable to re-intergrate this is my story.

Content

Submitted: February 15, 2017

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Content

Submitted: February 15, 2017

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ROUGH MEN FOR ROUGH WORK

 

 My god it was cold! The icy wind cut effortlessly through my thick coat and sweater as I headed down the poorly lit path. At last, I came upon the street and quickly pulled the slip of paper out of my coat pocket checking the house number and mentally kicking myself for not bringing gloves.
Upon reaching number 93 I passed through the worn wrought iron gate walked up the gravel path and knocked. The front door opened to reveal the familiar face of Sergeant Major Harris. "Pleased you could make it Lane come in, hang your coat there and go on through."
"Thank you sir" I replied relieved to get in the warm. Leaving my coat on one of the wooden pegs on the wall I entered a room as directed and found myself facing a figure seated behind a large imposing mahogany table. I estimated him to be in his fifties dressed in a very expensive looking dark suit with a grey receding hair hairline that made him look strangely like Captain Picard from Star Trek. From his bearing and manner I could tell he was also ex-forces.

"State you name, former rank, unit, date of discharge," he ordered without introducing himself.
I automatically snapped to attention, 'Lane, Andrew, Corporal, 45 Commando, discharged November 2005.
I watched as he scribbled some notes. "At ease, take a seat."
"Thank you," I say, grateful to take a load off.
"I'm going to ask some questions Lane," Picard stated, " And I require you to be completely candid. Do you understand?" he added sternly.
"Yes sir," I replied, wondering what the hell I had let myself in for.
 "So, how have you found life in Civy Street?"
I wanted to say 'fine sir - fitting in well,' but that was total bollocks, besides, if things were fine I wouldn't be here.
'Not so good sir.'
He nodded unsurprised at my response. 'Tell me about it.'
"What can I say? I came out after twelve years, did my resettlement course, then got a job with an insurance company."
"Rather an unusual choice wouldn't you say?"
"It was a bit sir, but with everyone I was coming out with were opting for either body guard courses, or a Heavy Goods Vehicle License; I just didn't want to follow the crowd."
"I can understand that, how was the job?"
"It was fine at first, lots to learn. I had to hit the ground pretty much from day one."
"Challenging work?" asked Picard.
"Very, I had to go on courses and take exams to get my financial qualifications, which was fine. But..."
"But what?"
"I soon discovered the true nature of the beast so to speak, they wanted people who were eternally money hungry, people who wanted to pursue their uncapped earnings potential."
"And that wasn't for you was it Lane?"
"I thought it was in the beginning, the chance to earn good money was really attractive. But I soon came to realise that it wasn't and that's when the problems began."
"What sort of problems?"
 "Meeting targets, sales targets, numbers of clients seen targets, products sold targets, promotion product targets. There was no end to it!"

Picard made some more notes then asked. "How long did you hold the job?"
As I was about to respond there was a knock at the door, it then opened and Sergeant Major Harris entered carrying two large cups handed me one.
"Get it down you Lane hot coffee, black NATO standard." He winked then placed the other cup in front of Picard.
"Thank you Sergeant Major —  that will be all," Picard said without looking up, "You were about to say Lane?" He added.
"I held it for eighteen months sir."
"I'm surprised you stuck it for so long."
"Not as surprised as I was," I replied.

"What did you do after that?"
"A spot of driving, labouring on building sites, some factory work packing boxes; even did some door work: 'If your name's not on the list you ain't coming in stuff'. But none of it lasted."
Picard made some more notes put his pen down looked up and asked, "What was your last job?"
"Stacking shelves in a supermarket," I replied the disgust in my voice was clear.
"It must have felt like quite a come down for you," Picard said, in what I took to be a note of sympathy.
 "It was what my dad would have called, good honest work sir, but..." I paused for a moment seeking the right words. "When you've been used to being able to act with high levels of discretion and responsibility it just didn't compare. It was so bloody un-fulfilling and did absolutely nothing for me, other than to slowly drag me down."
"Why did you leave? And remember," Picard stated firmly, "I want the truth."
"I - er, had a slight disagreement with management. Creative differences you might say."
"What kind of creative differences Lane?"

I paused for a moment recalling the circumstances.
"There was a trainee manager, you know the sort sir, straight out of university, barely out of puberty. He treated me like I was something on the bottom of his shoe with his patronising tone when he spoke" 'Remember Andy,' He'd say, "only my close friends call me Andy!" 'Remember Andy it's only three facings of plum tomatoes and do ensure the labels are all facing squarely to the front!' "He just went on and on and on! Always in that same non stop, condescending tone I swear he breathed through his skin!"

"Why were you, shall we say —  let go?"
"I was accused of assaulting the trainee manager," I stated, cringing as I did so.
"And did you?"
"I, ah — yes! But I didn't hurt him though," I added quickly.
"What happened?"
"He patronised me once too often, I was out back getting a tray of bread then, lo and behold! In waltzes Captain Bollocks —  I mean the trainee manager sir, jabbering on about nothing important and called me Andy once too often."
 "Did you hit him Lane?"
"No sir, he was just a kid, I just pinned up against the wall Darth Vadar style."
"Darth — Vadar style?"
"I had him up against wall by the throat, and told him he was a patronising prick, and that in future he would address me as either Andrew, or Mr Lane."

"I see," replied Picard, I caught a flicker of a smile. "And after you took this poor terrified trainee to the dark side I take it you were fired?"
"Yes sir, though they did say they were sorry to see me go."
"Indeed," Picard exclaimed.
"They said I had, had potential!"
"Potential!" Picard cooed sarcastically.
"Yes, because of my back ground they had, had high hopes that I would have made a super — duper supermarket assistant."
"Super — duper you say," repeated Picard, makings notes and shaking his head.
"Super — duper," I replied.
"Do you have any convictions Lane?"
"None, except..."
"Except?"
"I received a caution for assaulting that trainee manager."
"I see, that's most unfortunate, do you drink at all and if so — how much?"
"No sir, for one I couldn't afford it even if I wanted to."
"That's good to know, are you married?"
"Separated, in the process of getting a divorce."
 "I'm sorry to hear that Lane, any children or other family?"
"No children, my parents passed away some years back, I have a sister, she lives somewhere in Oxford."

"Why are you here Lane?" Picard snapped.
"I'm sorry, I don't understand?" I replied momentarily thrown by the question.
"I said, 'why - are - you - here?'
"Why? I thought that was obvious!"
"Obvious? Perhaps, but tell me anyway."
"I need a job it's that simple, I'm up shit creek with out a paddle, have been for over nine months." Pausing for a moment, 'OK I thought this it the truth just like you asked.' "I've got no money say for the pittance they call job seekers allowance. If I don't find something soon I'm going to be homeless."
"You're in quite a mess."
"You have no idea!"
"You'd be surprised, but why private contract work Lane? You're aware of the dangers surely?"
"Why private contract work?" I repeated starting to get pissed off by Picard's interrogation.
"Yes - why?"
 "I've tried all sorts of jobs and none have suited me - lord knows I've tried. Why this you ask? It's really very simple! It's all I know sir - it's what I'm trained for, what I'm damn good at and —  well, it's the only place where I truly fit in."

I watched as Picard made some more notes he nodded a few times then, looking up remained silent while waiting for me to continue.
 "Look sir - I need work and I don't care where it is, what it is —  or how dangerous, I can do it. I just need to be given the opportunity to prove it —  you won't be sorry." I was begging, I knew it, he knew it, but I was beyond caring, principles and pride be damned they don’t pay the bills, I needed a fucking job!
"How would you feel about working in Afghanistan?" Picard enquired.
My ears pricked up at the mention, "Afghan? I never thought I'd see that shit hole again."
"See it again? You've served there before?"
"Twice, as well as tours in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq,"
"I see you've been to some interesting places —  see much action?"
"Plenty, first, dodging being shot at by the paddies; then Bosnia and those bastard Serbs. Then the rag heads in Iraq and Al Qaeda in Afghan."

"You know Lane, I see a lot of faces come through that door and all of them, without exception have similar stories to tell, they just vary in degree."
"I'm just one of many," I replied.
"As you say Lane, one of many, the problem is our society created us —  it needs us we're a necessary evil. It trains us, equips us then send us off to God knows where to clear up shit until we're no longer needed. Then, then they give us a minuscule pay off, a grossly inadequate resettlement course and wonder why so many of us have problems readjusting to life outside. You're one of the lucky ones Lane."
"I don't feel very lucky sir."

"Trust me," Picard stated firmly, "you're one of the better stories I've come across; It's a shame society doesn't learn a lesson from the Zulu's."
 "Zulu's sir?" I exclaimed, baffled as to what the connection was.
"The Zulu's had an all encompassing culture they understood the necessary evil of warriors, they'd send them off to fight their battles 'the proverbial shit clearing.' Then, upon their return they were welcomed back by being ritually purged of the impurities created in battle by the witch doctor after which they could take their places back in society."
"There's never a good witch doctor around when you need one."
"Quite," replied Picard, who smiled and shook his head at my comment. "The whole resettlement system needs a major overhaul, a complete change of focus on dealing with 'the impurities we accrue through service.' Particularly now we are conducting more active operations around the world than ever. But, until that day people like you and I will always be outsiders to the very society that brought us into being."

"Rough men for rough work" I mumbled.
"What was that?"
"Something my grandfather once said about our profession, rough men for rough work."
"Exactly what I'm looking for Lane, I need 'rough men' for 'rough work' in Afghanistan, providing security for aid workers. It's dirty and very dangerous work, interested?"
"Yes sir - very much," I replied
"Good, report back here in forty eight hours and we'll sort out the paper work, oh, and bring your passport, I assume it's current?"
"Yes it's current," I replied feeling that once familiar rush of adrenalin. I was back where I belonged.

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Gerard Peters. All rights reserved.

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