Call to Duty

Steven Lewis UK

Cloned for Reward series

Volume one:

CALL TO DUTY

Steven Lewis

 


 

ESCAPE AND EVASION

The cut was  straight across my left bicep the sharp edge penetrated my skin, hooked it and dragged it back. The blood dripping at will, caught on a broken branch as I ran at speed through the dense wood. It wasn’t a deep cut. Even the scratch marks on my face and head from over hanging branches were insignificant, as from behind, all we could hear were large dogs barking and shots being fired.

Reaching the perimeter of the wood, I kept running and slapped my palm on the top of a round fence post. My legs automatically followed as I leap-frogged the barbed wire.

Dropping to the ground on the other side, I landed and froze, kneeling there like a Michael Angelo statue. Darren jumped over the fence, both of us  panting for breath and high on adrenalin. We looked at each other knowing we were in deep shit. Glancing back into the woods, the guns were firing at will now; I swear the group had gotten closer. The noise from the pack of dogs was terrifying, they were howling, barking and being whipped up into a frenzy.

Darren and I were still crouched down and camouflaged in the long grass, my bare arms stung by nettles and brambles.

‘’ Fuck your arm Steve!’’ Darren said, still panting, as he pointed to the gash.

‘’Least of our worries Daz, we have to get to that road or we’re fucked.’’ I replied, pointing to the road in the distance.

In between the road and us two were a couple of freshly ploughed fields, each one the length of a football pitch at the end of these was a deep dyke to get across.

The sweat was running down my forehead and I wiped off the excess salty liquid before it entered my eyes. The powerful July sun, high in the sky was now beating down and baking everything that was not shaded. The moment we left the protection of this hedgerow there would be no cover from the scorching heat or prying eyes, we would be on our own until we reached that road. In my head popped the doubt ignoring he negative words I asked.

‘’You ready Daz?’’ he looked frightened and to be honest, I really didn’t blame him. I was scared too but just didn’t show it as much or at least I didn’t think I did.

We were off and running, the tops of the freshly ploughed soil was breaking away underfoot as we ran. The first field was crossed in no time but the second had much deeper burrows and slowed us right down. I was now in front of Darren by a good fifteen feet when the dry baked soil gave way underfoot, I went ass over tit and dropped my rifle and rolled forward. I was straight back up on my feet but there was no sign of my weapon no time to look for it. I ran again. The end of the field was now upon me I threw my arms up into the air as if they had become wings pushing them backwards forcing them against nothing, my legs open and astride I launched myself off the edge of the ditch and I appeared to fly, bringing my legs together I  landed perfectly, my feet had doug into the mud halfway up the other side of the bank. Grabbing the long grass instantly for security, I pulled myself up to the top of the ditch and stood up feeling some relief. Turning around, I saw  my mate approaching , but he must of bottled it and suddenly stopped.

‘’You need a run up or you won’t make it, Daz,’’ I shouted with my hands on each side of my mouth.

Daz nodding his head turned and ran ten foot back then gave his all and sprinted for the jump.

‘’SNAP!,’’ is all I heard.

‘’ARRRRR FUCK,’’ Darren squealed.

He had landed at the bottom of the ditch and his shinbone had broken in two.  I stood there, in one direction I could see a Hawthorn hedge and a gate to freedom, but below me my friend lay in pure agony. I glanced up and coming from the direction of the wood at speed, creating a dust cloud on the chalky dry track was a  canvased  top Land Rover.

Two choices run to safety or save my friend.

I dropped on to the cheeks of my arse, legs straight and slid down the steep bank through the grass and nettles into the ditch. I grabbed hold of Darren, who had now begun to submerge in the four feet of stagnant debris filled water, and pulled him up. He looked at me, his face was pale and twisted with the pain, he was in tears and about to pass out.

‘’Don’t leave me, please don’t leave me,’’ He begged

Then he passed out.

I carried and dragged him through the water, eighty feet to under a brick built bridge for cover. The rats and other indigenous wildlife ran for their lives as we splashed through the fowl smelling liquid.

After remaining hidden for twenty minutes under the bridge, the Land Rover had now been gone a while, so I climbed up the steep bank to see if the coast was clear.  It was. I secured Daz and ran to the road for help.

 

This was a true event, I was fourteen years old and Daz was thirteen. We had been shooting rabbits to sell to a local butcher. The rifle was a Webley 2.2 air rifle, the dogs and guns were a shooting party out for pheasants. The Land Rover was driven by the overweight obsessive gamekeeper who hated us.

Darren still walks with a limp and is now an accountant.   I got hooked on action and joined the Army at 16. (Boy Soldier)

Enjoy ‘Call to Duty’, the first part of ‘Cloned for Reward.’   Written by Steven Lewis UK  (Soldier -X).


 

“Based on real life events that you will not believe until you read and feel the emotions portrayed.

I have had the pleasure of reading lots of Steven Lewis’s work, as he has helped with my books. When Steven told me that he was going to publish, I just had to introduce his first novel. 

It starts by explaining how Steve fell on hard times after leaving the Forces, and how he was struggling to cope with civilian life. He ends up back in a world most of us would only read about.

His friends and adversaries are introduced as characters; this is cleverly accomplished and so well written with a second story line running alongside the main event. You will feel as if you are part of their crew and most likely you will have a favourite as I do, (Dave), but don’t tell the others. 

This extra story is based on true events from Northern Ireland in the 80’s; this not only introduces the crew but also demonstrates how and where these loveable saints acquired their skills and experience to carry out the missions and assignments which will unfold as you read.”

–       Leslie Wilder NY Times and Amazon Best Selling Author.

GOOD Luck Steven.   L.W.


 

 STEVEN LEWIS UK NOTE & ABBREVIATIONS

UK               = United Kingdom

OC                =  Officer commanding

CO                =  Commanding Officer

RSM              =  Regimental Sergeant Major

CSM              =  Company Sergeant Major

On stag         =  Look-out/Duty

Lynx              =  Type of helicopter

Wessex         =  Type of helicopter

Gazelle          =  Type of helicopter

SLR               =  Self-loading rifle / Calibre 7.62 / Semi-automatic / Weight. Approx. 5.5kg with full magazine / Rate of fire in the hands of a professional 60 bullets a minute.

Kip                 =  Sleep

Gat                =  Weapon / Rifle / Pistol

S-A-M            =  Surface to Air Missile

COY              =  Company section of a Battalion

RP                 =  Regimental Police (UK Army)

Round           =  Bullet

Browning       =  Type of pistol

Mark              =  Person to be protected

GPMG           =  General Purpose Machine Gun / Calibre  7.62 bullets. / Belt fed / Weight approx. 14 kg / rate of fire 750 bullets per minute.

M79               =    Grenade launcher

SA80             =    Rifle / weight  Approx.  5kg loaded / Calibre 5.62.

B-F-T             =    Battle fitness Test (UK Army)

Sanger           =    OP / Observation post / box

IRA                 =    Irish Republican Army

Brews             =   Tea , Coffee

SAS                =   Special Air Service (UK Elite)

Thru                =    Undercover section  N. Ireland (UK)

I-E-D               =  Improvised Explosive Device

AWOL             =   Absent without leave uk

Glasshouse     =   Camp Cell / Jail uk

 

Please note that the Author has tried to cover every abbreviation or slang term that may crop up in this book or subsequent volumes in this series. However, due to Geographical meanings of words there may be a difference to your understanding.

Please feel free to contact us via our web site (stevenlewisuk.com) as both the Author and our design and formatting  team strive to provide the reader with not only excellent exciting  stories but to ensure they are presented professionally for an enjoyable read.

Please note that whilst Steven Lewis is a professional, well- respected and competent Author, he always appreciates any advice or suggestions from readers of his novels.

Thanking you as always for your continued support of one of our Authors.

 

 


CHAPTER ONE

MY LIFE

Monday to Friday, I work on building sites as a scaffolder. Not the greatest job in the world, especially in the winter months when the steel tubes glue themselves to the skin on your hands AND the pay is shit.

Six months ago, I split from my partner and she took my two kids, which seems to be a very common occurrence these days.  After ten years, living with someone and having the privilege of tucking your kids into bed every night knowing that they were safe, for your life to be suddenly tossed on to a rollercoaster. I went from being a loving, full time dad with a purpose in life, moulded into a new role of part-time father without any say.

With limited access to my two children, not to mention limited funds due to Child Support Agency payments, I find you need to spend more money on your children to compensate for not being there. Even when you’re spending time with them you’re wanting more time. For some reason people just presume men don’t care about their kids, that they are capable of just never seeing them again.

Anyone who has been through a relationship breakdown knows about the emotional turmoil it causes.  Basically, my head was in bits, and my body was starting to follow and this was unlike me.  I’ve always tried to keep myself in good shape as a rule. That was before the drinking began.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always enjoyed a drink, being a soldier and then a builder, its part of life really. This was as if I couldn’t stop myself even when I tried but to be truthful, I don’t think I really tried that hard. It was easier to numb the nagging questions with alcohol than it was to answer them. Not that there were any answers to be found. Sometimes in life things happen both good and bad and we can’t do anything about it, but that doesn’t make it easier. Does it?

I seemed to need the beer to switch off. It had started to affect my work, but I kept on turning to drink.  I was getting in debt. My wages were not enough to cover my outgoings, especially after the ex-wife had pilfered more than half of them. Ninety pounds a week she got out of two hundred. Then there were the tearful phone calls. She couldn’t pay her telephone bill, no money for petrol.  I didn’t even have a car, she got that and all the furniture; but like the soft touch I was, I gave her more which she spent on wine and dope, not the kids. Even so, with what I had left, I still continued to spend the money on drink. Although I religiously banked ten pounds a week for the kids and more if I had extra pay due to overtime.

Every night, whilst shopping at the local supermarket, it was as if I had blinkers on. As soon as I walked through the automatic sliding doors, I took the same route to the beer shelf…the same time…every night.  The only thing that changed was whether or not I added cider to my list, depending on how low I felt.  What did they think of me at the checkouts?  Pisshead probably. Who could blame them? They couldn’t see the pain inside; they only saw the outside shell — that was starting to crack.

This one particular night, I had been working late doing some overtime on site and because of this, my habitual instinct for my comfort blanket had gone all to pot. I tried my best to look inconspicuous, which is hard to accomplish when you’re over six feet tall, eighteen stone and unshaven with a tatty blue baseball cap on backwards.

I suddenly heard a male voice asking, “Is that you Steve?”

I turned slowly to the sound of the familiar, yet un-nerving voice, to be faced with a blast from the past…Chris Johnson, a good friend from my Army days.  It had been at least six years since I’d last seen him.

“You haven’t changed a bit, Chris,” I complemented.

“You have mate. You look like a fucking unwell zombie!”

“Nice to see you, too.” Despite my sarcastic response, I was immediately self-conscious because I knew he was right — I did look like shit. I grabbed my fix off the shelf, whilst still talking to him and then heard another familiar voice.

“Who’s paying for all this food Chris? It should be on expenses,” a loud, monotone voice I recognised.

At that point Basher popped his ugly head from around the back of the cider bottles.  It really was a breath of fresh air to see him and his ginger hair.  He looked exactly the same as he had done six years ago.  Bash was stumped for words when he spotted me. Getting over the initial shock of meeting each other again, we talked about old times, as we made our way to the checkouts.

The tills were all really busy, customers chatting, kids running around or nagging their parents for sweets, tills scanning bar codes and bleeping. I had forgotten all the paranoid feelings I came in with, no longer needing to blend in or hide being with these two characters.  I walked up to pay in the ‘Baskets only’ line, and as I got closer to being served, I could see the checkout girl’s eyes staring like saucers, not at me but behind me.  I turned to see Chris and Bash carrying their trolley as if it was a basket. It had been a long time since I had laughed, I mean really laughed.

Once outside, I started to say my goodbyes to the lads when Chris asked if I needed a lift home.

“No worries, I only live around the corner.” I replied.

“Get in the car any way Steve, we’re not letting you go that easy.” Chris gently tapped my arm as if to say come on.

With him saying that, it made me feel good, and that had been a sparse feeling in my life lately.

Looking at them both, no words said, I found myself walking to the car with them. Nice car as well, one of the new Audi’s. Chris probably fancied himself as Steve McQueen; he always was a bit of a cool hand — in the nicest possible way of course. The doors opened impressively with one of those remote control gadgets and the engine was now ticking over as we got in. A few hundred yards drive and we were sitting at the junction waiting to get out of the busy car park, when Chris pressed a button on the dash. I thought at first it was the front of the ashtray, but mesmerizingly it turned around and a little screen lit up.  A voice, sounding like something out of Star Trek, prompted, ‘no messages please log on’.  I was that stunned by the little voice and screen, I realised too late we were passing my drive.

“Stop!” I shouted.

Chris slammed his foot on the brakes, pulled over and reversed back to my drive.  Basher, just as forward as I remembered, invited himself and Chris in. Well. When we went through my glass back door and entered my kitchen, for the first time in months it hit me…and hit me fucking hard. The place had, unnoticed by me, transformed into a pig sty. The sink looked like it was breeding dirty pots, and the stainless steel peddle bin had begun regurgitating the waste.  We’d lived together in Barracks and even holes in the ground which had been more hygienic than my kitchen was right now.

We made our way through to the lounge and sat down on the furniture, which would have probably looked more at home in a homeless squat, not a 3 bed-semi in a posh bit of Yorkshire.  Chris just looked at me in a way which said he was thinking a hundred questions at once.  He gave a glance that made me see again for the first time, the dozens of empty beer cans that were scattered around the room.

“What the fuck has happened to you Steve? What’s going on mate?” Chris questioned me.

How could I even begin to answer his questions?  This man was someone who had known a totally different me.

Bash, bless his heart, had gone back into the kitchen and was shouting.

“Have you any bin bags, Steve?”

He had begun making himself busy clearing up. I didn’t know whether to stop him and say I would do it later. I just did not know what to say to either of them. I felt so empty inside, tired and disgusted with myself. At the same time though, I was really pleased to see them both.

I sat down. My head in my hands. I was exhausted.

“I’m sorry, Chris. I’m a failure,” I mumbled through my fingers.

Bash shouted through again, this time asking if I had any tea or coffee. Chris told him to get the brew kit out of the car. He come out of the kitchen, walked across the bare hardwood floors and passed through the living room, but I didn’t have the pride left to pick my head out of my hands to look at him.  Chris stood up next, tapped me on the shoulder a few times and then left after Bash. I now felt even more ashamed of myself. I had managed to disgust two of my old, true and good friends.

I heard the door and creaking floors as they came back in. Bash went straight through, back into the kitchen.

As he passed, he asked, “Do you take sugar Steve?”

Chris stood in front of me saying, “Where do you want to put this lot?”

I looked up through red and tear soaked eyes, Chris was stood there with four carrier bags with all the groceries they had just bought. Once the food was put away, Bash brought our brews through to the lounge and they both sat down opposite me. Bash on a red and white striped folding deck chair and Chris on an old Kentucky type wooden rocking chair that had been rescued from a skip at work.

“Are you working Steve?”  Bash asked but before I could answer Chris hit me with more questions, “Where is your family? What has happened to your house?”

This was my cue. For what seemed like hours, it all came out, I talked and they just listened. When I grabbed for one of my cans, Bash took it from me and poured it, along with the rest of them, down the sink, which was now empty of dirty dishes thanks to him washing up.

The time had got to around one in the morning when Chris said it was time for them to be getting back to their digs.

“You might as well stay the night.”  I said.

Bash, already half asleep, turned to Chris “We might as well. We’ve got an early morning meeting at BP and it’s just up the road from here.”

From what I remembered, Bash was from  York and Chris was from Bradford which is why they must have been stopping in digs.

It was Friday night or I suppose early hours of Saturday and I didn’t have to go to work that morning. Yet, for the first time in months — a lot of months, I had gone to bed without having a drink.

I arose around 10:00 a.m. Chris and Bash had already left.  I would have believed I’d dreamed the whole episode if it was not for the kitchen.  I just smiled to myself, it was so clean. ‘Thanks Bash.’

 

 

 


 

CHAPTER TWO

NORTHERN IRELAND

 

June 1984 (9 years previously)

Bessbroke Mill was an old stone cloth manufacturing mill which had been originally constructed in the 18th century. It had three foot solid stone walls which were perfect for its new life as a military base, and I mean Military Base. Just about every unit part of or attached to the armed forces had a presence in the mill. The most important attachment to Bessbroke as far as most of us squaddies were concerned, were a group of Indian men. There were around six or seven of them who ran small burger bars, laundries, and tailoring services. If you had been out thirty-six to forty hours on patrol, with no sleep and not much to eat, the best sight to see on your return would be a Mucker G hanging around the sleeping rooms, waiting for the bricks burger and laundry order.  You would get your food back in around forty minutes and your uniform in about five hours. It would come back repaired, washed, and pressed at a cost of between three and ten pounds, depending on the repairs required.

They also made and sold this fabric spray for your bullet proof vest, which after a long patrol would stink like a tomcat’s piss — that’s the vest not the spray. The vest was better known as a ‘flak jacket’ or ‘Kevlar’. It weighed around fifteen pounds and you wore them under your jacket with just a t-shirt under the vest.

The vest itself covered the whole torso and was constructed of thousands of nylon fibres woven together with the zip situated on the side plus flaps with Velcro for extra security. This would protect you from a shotgun or possibly certain types of hand guns fired from a distance.

The real protection of the vest came from two Kevlar plates placed in pockets at the front and the rear of the jacket. These plates covered your vital organs and were able to withstand much more velocity from a shot than the vest itself. After running around the streets of this troubled place with one of those things on plus webbing, especially in the summer, you can imagine the amount of sweat you would perspire.

 

0610 hours. Tuesday.

We had arrived from Newry in a covert van. A white tatty transit with some made-up carpet fitter’s name advertised on the side. The van may have looked like it would have struggled to travel the fifty mile journey we had just undertaken, with one of its wings virtually hanging off and the front bumper missing. Believe me though, that van was mechanically sound, and its engine more geared up than a national rally car. The driver would also be on par with a lot of professional drivers. There were eight of us sat on sandbags crammed into this van plus the driver and co-driver in the front.  Two bricks were changing places with another two bricks after a two week stint in Newry, which was long enough in that hell hole.

Our regiment had been the first British Soldiers back on the street there for ten years, and we really were not made to feel welcome. The decision to place the army back on duty in Newry, was made a few weeks earlier after a terrorist had dressed up as a Butcher and walked up to an RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) car with four police officers inside and shot them all. Being August, it was hot; the car doors were open because police cars have bulletproof windows that are fixed and the body of the Ford Cortina had been heaviely plated so they would have been cooking inside. The man cleverly  disguised himself  as a butcher in white overalls and a blue and white striped apron topped off with a clean white hat, he got within a couple of feet of the car without the police expecting any danger leaning in towards the officers as if to ask something. Infront of a packed market place  he calmly pulled out a pistol from beneath his apron and shot all four three men and a female, point blank in the head.  Three died instantly at the scene and one survived but only to be pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. The charlatan of a butcher then tossed a military grenade into the police car with the sole aim of causing mass distruction and mayhem in the crowd, allowing him to escape as people stampeded to get away.

Dave Sissons had taken over command of our brick due to old Mick moving on to a cushy posting back in Blighty, England. Dave was a totally different character to him. Mick was so laid back. After all, he’d been here a few times, including back in 1972 on 30th January, Bloody Sunday, when the shit really hit the fan.

He only had a couple of years left before retiring and  getting out of the army after twenty five years of loyal service, so I guess his latest posting training new recruits would be an introduction back to civvy street. Dave Sissons, on the other hand, was just twenty-nine and had been in the army for around three years. Our first impression of him was he wanted to and was going to make a name for himself plus accomplish a high rank.

CHAPTER THREE

DAVE

Dave didn’t talk much about himself but someone who was also in our regiment and had grown up in the same area as him, knew him pretty well.  He told us that at eighteen, Dave had been a bare knuckle fighter for around four years, in and around Bradford. He was surviving with his fists and quick wits,  and living in the community of some travelling people.

After leaving home at the age of fifteen, due to family issues; he had put his dad in hospital. He had finally snapped from watching him beat up his mum for years, plus him and his brothers taking beatings at will. Dave had enough, one evening when his Dad came home from the pub pissed as normal and started knocking Dave’s mum around the kitchen for no reason. Dave arrived home he entered the run down council house via the back door and his dad looked at him telling him to fuck off or he would be next. Dave had enough of watching his mum cowering in the corner time and time again, eyes blackened and holding her rib cage. He just snapped and instead of leaving as he was ordered, he laid in to the excuse of a father and beat him within inches of his life. The Police and Ambulance were called by neighbours, who also hid Dave as the Police were looking for him although not that hard. They also knew his dad had it coming.  The family and friends knew Dave was in the right to do what he did. Unfortunately, however his mother sided with the arsehole of a man who had used her as a punch bag for years, and asked Dave to leave the family home. So at the age of just sixteen, he did just that and washed his hands of them.

His fighting had been going well with him being coached and looked after by an old gypsy and his wife. The wife doted on him and thought of Dave as a surrogate son. He soon got a name for himself and his reputation spread far through most of the travelling sites that had fighting in their communities. He was getting paid a purse of three to four thousand pounds per fight, usually paid in gold.

Just after Dave’s twenty-fourth birthday, a fight was arranged between him and an old pro-fighter from Ireland. This match was billed as the fight of the century for bare knuckle fighters and the interest was fornaminal hundreds watched live in Ireland but millions viewed it worldwide. Patrick McShane was the old pro. He was forty-six and had over four hundred fights to his name. He had won the last two hundred easily. Dave had around sixty under his belt; having won fifty of these.

On all accounts the fight took place on a warm sunny day in the beautiful countryside of Ireland some twenty miles away from Dublin. The crowd had gathered and the two warriors shuck hands then pulled of their tops spat on thier knuckles, creaked the necks and twenty seconds after the old pro removed £30,000 worth of gold soverigns from his fingers, he threw the first jab at Dave. The fight had begun and lasted nearly two long hours, compared to an average fight time of twenty-five to thirty minutes, it was some fucking scrap likened to true gladiators in a Roman arena.

No breaks, no gloves, no biting but everything else was allowed. We heard it was pure torture on both sides. Dave in the end came out on top, not sure if you could say he was the winner. I wasn’t actually told the full fight details, but I know the Irish man was buried a week after the fight and Dave was laid up in bed for ten days with a broken arm and lord knows how many stitches. The only other information that I ever found out about Dave before the army, was he had given most of his hundred thousand pound purse money to his old coach and then travelled around the country on his own for a couple years before joining up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Dave’s reputation as an outstanding fighter and ‘hard bastard’ within the regiment became known about a year before he took over our brick as commander. Four weeks before we left Brook Barracks, when our regiment were getting ready to leave Berlin, Germany and start our two year posting in Northern Ireland, we had the battalion boxing championships. I personally was not allowed to box due to getting six stitches above my left eye boxing for IJLB (Infantry Junior Leaders Battalion) in Folkestone, Kent. Bash who had been in the battalion a year longer than Chris and I had received a three year ban from boxing for hitting the Ref and head butting his opponent.

Chris on the other hand was totally against the sport and couldn’t see the point in it. Anyway, the night in question, which proved Dave’s fearful reputation, was a wet, warmish mid-July evening and just about all the regiment were seated around the boxing ring. ‘C’ Company, that was our company, were level on points with ‘A’ Company. The next weight to fight was the heavyweights, which would also be the last bout of the evening. ‘A’ company’s contender and champion was already warming up outside of the ring; rolling his shoulders and punching the air. He was looking very relaxed, probably due to the fact he had been champion for 4 years, winning all his fights by the way of KO.

C’ company’s contender was just a brave chap making the weight — ‘lamb to the slaughter’. As the boxers were being introduced, our Sergeant Major walks over to where Dave was sitting a few rows in front of us, and starts talking to him.

Dave then stands up and starts walking toward the changing rooms. The commentator having now entered the ring holding a microphone in his hand places it to his lips and announces there was to be a substitution of boxers for ‘C’ Coy. The whole regiment started murmuring about the swap, and it had got back to us that apparently our Sergeant Major had found out about Dave’s fighting past and wanted him to fight. Dave refused repeatedly until our Sergeant Major threatened to put the whole company on jankers (punishment duties) for the first two months of our Ireland tour.

He was also going to personally make sure the only thing Dave was in charge of would be the kitchen sink. Our other boxer left the ring and you could see all the blokes who were running betting books cancelling the last fight, and only accepting the odds at evens.

Chris also had his book out which was a bit odd as all you got off him normally was. ‘I don’t like the sport.’

Chris started relaying the odds to evens until Bash said, “Let them leave their bets on ‘A’ Coy we will clean up.’’  Bash had a film villains smirk on his face.

Chris answered Bash nervously. “We’ll be wiped out if ‘A’ Coy wins.”

Bash instantly replied. “Dave will walk it, I promise. No problem.” Then he stood and started punching the air and shouting Sissons.

Their book was closed and left in the full favour of ‘A’ Coy. The tension and atmosphere in the auditorium was now electric… I’m talking national grid.

All the RP’s (Regimental police) were placed in the aisle between us and ‘A’ Coy. Every chair in the arena was being banged on the floor the noise was assume as brass stud hit tile. Dave was still outside of the ring, just standing there, oblivious as to what was going on around him — even though most of the shouting was his name. The commentator was trying to silence the crowd but to no avail, so the RSM got into the ring and brought us to silence, without the aid of a mic, I may add.

“Please, please, I do appreciate the excitement, but we must ask ‘A’ Coy if they accept the substitution of boxers.”

Following the RSM’s announcement, the current ‘A’ Coy champ threw his arms up into the air in acceptance. The roar from ‘A’ Coy was frightening, and I’m sure even the great Mohamed Ali would have turned. Not Dave. We now noticed that he had been gloved up and both the OC and CSM were talking to him.  We presumed this was to wish him good luck but later found out from one of the seconds in the corner, the OC wanted to know if Dave believed he could win.

Dave had answered. “No problem, sir.” The OC had been taken aback slightly by Dave’s very calm and confident answer, then continued to ask him.

“Will it be by points or KO, Private Sissons?”

We were told that Dave looked the OC in the eyes and calmly told him. “KO, first round Sir.”

“If you achieve that prediction Private, you will be a Corporal before we arrive in Ireland.” The OC then praised him and wished him good luck.

From what the second told us, Dave had interrupted the OC and said, “Major Horseford, I’ll win for the company this time on the condition I’m never asked to fight again.”  Both the OC and CSM reluctantly agreed.

“You must have some really good reasons to turn all this glory down son.”

“If you’d been through, in this sport as what I have, Sir, it couldn’t possibly hold any glory.” Dave replied.

At that point he turned and walked up the steps to enter the ring. Major Horseford moved closer to the CSM to speak and had to lean right over to his ear to be heard. The sound barrier was  being broken by ‘C’ Coy shouting ‘Sissons!

“He is one cool soldier. Do you think his prediction will come true?” said the OC.

“Funnily enough, Sir… I do.” The CSM replied knowing full well the OC would be having a wager with the other officers on all fights.

The RSM once again entered the ring. This time with the use of the mic, he brought all Company’s to silence again and asked the referee to take over. The ref dressed in black trousers, white shirt and dicky bow tie, brought both boxers to the centre of the ring, he asked both the fighters in a German accent  to touch gloves and to keep the fight clean. He looked both in the eyes and told them to return to their respective corners.

Even though there was silence from the crowd, as we all waited with anticipation for the bell to sound, you could feel the energy put out. Never in the years that followed during  any future fights, did I feel the level of energy expressed as it was that night.

The fighters returned to their corners, ‘A’ Coy’s champ sat down whilst Dave continued to stand in his, or should I say our corner. On hearing the bell they came out fighting. ‘A’ Coy flew at Dave, hitting him with everything he had and it looked impressive. You knew at that moment why he had been Champ for four years running. Dave was crouching slightly and covering his head with his gloves, elbows in tight to his body, left leg in front of the right and knees bent. He was getting hit from every angle you could think of and by every punch known in boxing — jabs, right hands, upper cuts, crosses, combinations and even the famous overhead pounding blows that Rocky Marciano was notorious for. This continuous beating seemed to go on indefinitely. ‘C’ Coy had quietened during the onslaught, virtually silent except for Bash. I think he wanted to get in and help.

The Major was making gestures with his hands which suggested Dave was going to end up in the nick, if not hospital. Chris and I kept saying to each other ‘A’ Coy wasn’t hurting Dave, and you could tell the champ was starting to tire.  All of a sudden ‘A’ Coy pulled away, Dave dropped his gloves and stood up straight, not a mark on him, looking totally unconcerned then shook his head slightly. ‘C’ Coy’s burner was relit and the name ‘Sissons!’ once again lifted the roof.

With just seconds of the round left, the Champ came in for a second go, his right hand flew out towards Dave, looking like he wanted to decapitate him. Dave continued to just stand there, didn’t move or flinch.

You wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking at that moment Dave was feeling suicidal. The Champ’s hand came within inches of connection, when Dave’s left, shot up on the inside of the champ’s deadly oncoming blow. Then cruelly, yet skilfully within a split second, the left hand was at the back of the Champ’s neck. Dave’s right hand then came from nowhere at speed and sickeningly; the two hands simultaneously crushed the Champ’s head. Dave let go of him and stood back to watch the champ fall to his knees. ‘A’ Coy’s fighter bounced heavily on the canvas and then lifelessly fell to his left, his mouth projecting out his gum shield with spit infused blood.

The referee was in and counting, standing above the floored boxer. He was bent over and gestured each number with a full arm movement.

“One… and two… and three…”

The Champ was bravely back up at the count of eight and the ref wiped his gloves down on his own shirt and said “Box!”

Dave drove in with aimed, deadly and powerful punches to his opponent’s head and body the champs defence was pointless as Dave’s body shots crippled him. The ref seeing the devastation dived on Dave’s arms to stop the inevitable onslaught. At the same time ‘A’ Coy’s corner threw in the towel. The now ex-champ was out cold on the canvas with a doctor kneeling beside him. Dave strolled to our corner with no emotions showing — least of all joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

CHAPTER FOUR

BASH

 

Dave had now been in charge of our brick for around five weeks, having got his second stripe under unusual circumstances. Saying that, he knew all his stuff and was a, ‘very clued up cookie’ as the saying goes. When he got his stripe he also got Bash’s undying admiration. Bash loved violence.

Bash’s background was a lot different to Dave’s poles apart. He was brought up on a farm near York, a Gamekeepers’ son. If you met his parents, Anthony and Sarah, they would paint a picture of Bash as being loving, warm and tender as well as quiet, well-educated and considerate — the list could go on for ever.

According to Bash’s Mother, Tony (Bash’s real name) fell off a tractor at the age of nineteen and was in a coma for four days.  On regaining consciousness, his parents noticed a disturbing change in his personality. One minute he was a caring and sensitive son… the next, he was volatile with a noticeable lack of emotions. They really didn’t know what to expect from him and his behaviour was starting to affect them all.

Bash had achieved six ‘A’ Levels and was taking a year out before going to University. There was talk of a career in Politics for him. He was also at this time courting a young lady, whose father was a wealthy land owner and local MP.

About six weeks after Basher’s accident, on a warm but damp Thursday evening, he had gone for a walk with his fiancée Victoria, then suddenly returned home earlier than expected at around 9:30 p.m. Bash gave no reason to his mother for his early return and Victoria was not with him, which was very unusual they were inseparable. He then went out again, telling his mother he was going down to the village for a drink in the local pub. This in itself was a very unfamiliar event for Bash. He never visited the pub, except for special occasions.

At 12.30 a.m. Basher’s parents were woken by the noise of shouting and banging. Another unusual occurrence, as their nearest neighbours where about half a mile away. Bash’s dad leapt out of the four poster bed and ran to the bedroom window to see what all the commotion was.

Pulling the curtains aside he noticed the pleasant warm night had turned cold and wet and all that he could see at first was blue flashing lights, distorted by the amount of rain falling and his tired eyes. Anthony let go of the curtains and gulping for air, he shouted to his wife, Sarah, that there was an ambulance outside.

Together, grabbing their dressing gowns, they ran downstairs. They were half way across the stone floor of the hall of this large seventeenth century cottage, when someone started banging hard and fast on the solid oak door.

Then the shouting became clearer.

Anthony flung the door open and was met with the sight of his son Bash in handcuffs being held by two Police Officers and a Police Sergeant standing by. The Sergeant and Anthony were good friends having been at school together, and they constantly came into contact during their working hours in their pursuant of poachers and machinery thieves.

The deadly silence caused by the initial shock was broken by Bash who drunkenly said in a deep loud voice.

“Hi, Mum… Dad. I’m alright, these nice men have just given me a lift home.”

One of the officers pushed Bash lightly.

‘’Shut up. You’re in enough trouble.’’ Said the officer.

Bash didn’t like this and swung his head around and butted the Officer dead centre on the bridge of his nose. Anthony a calm and quiet man normally, lunged forward and hit Bash on the chin, knocking him out cold.

“Bring him in please and put him on the couch.” He said to the officers as he waved his hands in disbelief of what he had just done.

The Sergeant turning to the other much younger officers, (one of them covering his wound with a loose hand full of Kleenex tissue, given to him by Sarah), told them he would deal with this for now and they could take the car back and return to the station.

“I’m sure Anthony will give me a lift back when we have gotten to the bottom of a few things.”

“Right, Serge.” One of the officers said as they turned to leave.

Sarah then hurriedly returned from the kitchen with a clean tea towel and gave this to the blood covered policeman, again apologising for her son’s violent behaviour.

“No need, Ma’am.” The officer mumbled from beneath the tissues.

On seeing the blood run again as he spoke, she  took back the tea towel and tenderly folded it and gently removed the tissues. After looking at the wound and  placing the towel in place of the Kleenex, she turned to Stewart, the sergeant, and suggested that the wound be looked at by a nurse or doctor at the local hospital.

“You’re right, of course, Sarah. Go to the hospital first and get that dressed, men.” The sergeant ordered .

The officers, on his command, said nothing else just confirmed by nodding and proceeded to the police car.

The large three hundred year old door now closed behind them, preventing any more uninvited cold Yorkshire weather over its threshold.

“Coffee, Stewart?” Anthony said, with a sudden shiver.

“Have you anything stronger?” Was his reply as he removed his hat and uniformed rain Mac, which had virtually drip-dried forming a puddle on the stone flags.

Bash’s mother was covering Tony up with a couple of blankets as he lay on the wicker couch in the hallway. He had a couple of bruises and scratch marks to his face with lots of blood bleaching his clothes. She motherly kissed his forehead, even though she was annoyed with his behaviour it still upset her to see him in the state he was in.

“Don’t worry too much, Sarah. It’s not his blood, well not all of it.”  Stuart said while watching her.

 

Trying hard not to cry and fighting back the tears, Sarah walked towards the kitchen, choked up with emotion, only managing to get her words out. “I’ll put the kettle on.” Then exited the hall through a swinging door into the kitchen.

As Stewart was hanging up his wet gear on the wooden doled pegs protruding from the stone wall.

“I’ve got half a bottle of Bush mill’s  in the study, Stuart.” said Anthony.

Stewart smiled and nodded.  “Perfect a good whiskey.” He blindly placed his cap on top of his Mac.

Entering the study, Anthony flicked the brass switch on the wall which made the bulb flicker on and off a couple of times, clearly displaying the red hot curled element within the sealed glass case. The old bulb tried once more as if tired, but then managed to illuminate the room from semi darkness. Throwing a handful of chopped wood onto the remaining glowing embers which and been left to die down about three hours earlier, Anthony pulled out his chair. Both men sat down, with a familiarity of regular discussions having taken place in the past.

Anthony had set up a group consisting of the local land owners and police representatives with the aim being to stamp out poaching and farm machinery theft. Not ‘Joe Blogs’ pinching the odd rabbit and bits from the sheds for his tea or beer money, but the type of theft that had become a million pound a year black market business.

Stuart was enjoying sipping his whisky and looking across the old large oak antique desk.

“Your desk is better than most of the landowners.” Anthony said.

“Well, when you save the wealthy thousands of pounds, they have a tendency to be grateful. This was a gift from a few of them for when we got them tractors back from the docks last year, just before they were shipped abroad.”

Sarah entered the study holding a tray with a coffee pot and cups placed on it, noticeable were her eyes, red from the drying of tears. Having joined them, the discussion turned to Bash.

“What’s got into him?’’ Asked Stewart

“It was only two months ago he set up the National Database of known poachers and had given a speech on its merits in front of Chief Constables and Politian’s. Remember Anthony we were there, you were welling up, you was that proud of him.” Stuart finished talking and slowly poured milk and spooned sugar into his strong coffee, stirred the drink as he glanced at both Stewart and Sarah. Anthony acknowledged Stewarts’ comment with a smile and a stare at Sarah.

“That’s just it Stewart.” Sarah milked her coffee while asking Anthony to bank up the fire. “Two months ago was before Tony had his accident. Since then, as the Doctor warned us, there has been a change in his behaviour and personality.  At the time we didn’t think a lot of it really. We were just glad he was alive.” Sarah and Stewart semi smiled at each other.   “Tonight’s incident will be overlooked. The fight Tony got himself into was about 50/50 blame, although the other three men did come off worse.”

The evening finished with Stewart getting a taxi back to the station and Bash’s parents vouching to keep a closer eye on him, over the next few weeks.

 

The next morning was a warm, really pleasant day and the sun was just entering the house, Anthony and Sarah were sat at the large farmhouse table finishing breakfast when Bash walked in. He showed no signs of remorse or any recollection of the previous night’s antics, so nothing was mentioned by his parents as they hoped and prayed last night was a one off.

Over the coming weeks and months after trying all the treatments prescribed by several doctors  but to the despair of his parents, Bash’s behaviour became worse. More unpredictable and violent. So after a meeting  between his father and a local retired Colonel, Tony was put forward to join the army. Bash, at this time had started on some new medication, which helped stabilise the moods, but  did not bring the old Tony back.


 

CHAPTER  SIX

CHRIS

 

Moving on to Chris, well I could write a novel if not a series of novels on Chris’s escapades alone. I’m sure however, if that happened a few warrants would be issued in his name and the army would come looking for him for questioning.

He is the only person I have heard of who managed to join the army under a false name and without actually joining? His brother’s to be exact. Chris had told me that  he had an identical twin. The story of the change of identity took place at the age of nineteen between Chris and his brother Wayne, or was it the other way around?

Anyway, Chris and a couple of so called mates got into stealing goods from the large lorry parks in and around the Leeds and Bradford area. Chris used to enter the lorry parks on his own in the very early hours. He would break into the parks; rekey the vehicle after he made sure the back was full of items that could be sold easily on markets and in local pubs. He would then hotwire the vehicle leaving it ready to drive away. He would exit the park, and phone some others with a description of the chosen vehicle,  They  would go in and pick up the vehicle about 6:30 a.m. as if they were the regular driver, and no-one would be any wiser until the real driver reported the lorry missing to the Police.

Chris never got involved in the actual stealing or the fencing of the gear, which were mainly current gadgets or other small electrical items. A few weeks after the job, he would get a few grand in payment. He had found a way to smuggle the money out to Jamaica, where he had a lot of family and connections made from numerous trips there. His parents were born in the beautiful Islands, Chris wanted more out of life and realised that if you had money in Jamaica, it was a lovely place to be.

One particular November night, it all went drastically wrong. It was pissing down with rain. He had carried out his part of a job earlier on this occasion as it was the weekend and then made the usual phone call.  This time, however, the voice on the other end of the line didn’t ask for details of the lorry, as was the usual protocol. Instead Chris was told.

“Forget that job. We know of another mate. A large van filled with circuit boards and chips, and not the frying ones. A contact of mine has offered us a hundred grand to get it. That’s fucking twenty-five grand cash each tonight after we get the van. What do you think? You in mate?” The voice sounded excited and was rambling on at speed.

Chris was soaked through to the skin and shivering stood in the telephone box.  The door held open with the bottom of his foot, because of the stench of piss and beer which had totally stained the concrete floor. He thought for a few seconds and imagined about how that twenty five grand would give him a total of fifty grand in Jamaica — ‘the land of his dreams’. This time next week he could be out there looking for a warehouse and starting a new life as a Jamaican entrepreneur.

“Come on. We can’t do this without you,” the guy at the end of the line said eagerly, interrupting his thoughts.

Chris had major doubts, it all sounded too fucking good to be true and he would be the first to admit he wasn’t the smartest guy around but he was very street wise, with a great sense for things going wrong.

The rain was getting much heavier and he was freezing, but as his eyes mindlessly gazed over the prostitute calling cards stuck up all over the BT phone box, the images of his new life in Jamaica won through and he answered the voice with.

“Where do we meet?”

“I’ll pick you up at 1045 hours outside the Hound & Duck Pub. See you then.”

Chris replaced the receiver, and took a deep breath of fresh air as he exited the call box. He pulled on his helmet and straddled his motorbike; kick started it and shot off.  He only had half an hour and he needed to get home to change before the meeting took place. Still very doubtful about this other job, but the rain beating down against his helmet and visor as he rode off at speed, he thought about Jamaica and the twenty five grand again, and his doubts soon disappeared.

It was nearly eleven o’clock and outside the Hound & Duck, Chris waited in the rain, half under the doorway and half getting wet, continuously glancing at his watch. His accomplices then pulled up in a white Toyota car. Chris flicked his jacket collar up, ran to the passenger door and jumped in.

“Nice night to be ten minutes late.” He mumbled as he was putting on his seat belt. He knew two of the men in the car. The third he’d never seen before. This guy was sat on the back seat and wearing a turban. Later he remembered him only as a short stocky person and very nasty looking — evil with shark like eyes.

They had been driving for nearly an hour, when they pulled up outside a twenty-four hour Cash & Carry near Manchester.

John (Shifty), the driver, who was the voice behind the phone calls, had known Chris most of his life and thought ‘morals’ were some form of weakness. A slimy shit who would con his own mother for a quid, and these were Chris’s own words, not mine. What you have to remember here is, before you judge, is where Chris grew up in Leeds, you had two choices basically. Chris, believe me, was not always proud of the one he chose. He was a good guy though; I found that out in Belize when we toured there.

John switched off the engine and turned to Chris saying. “You go with Abdul, and he’ll show you the van. We’ll hang around here. Size will keep an eye open outside, and I’ll make sure the car is ready for a getaway if we need it.” Shifty then turned the heater up, just to rub it in.

Forcing himself to get out again into the cold and pouring rain, trying to keep focused on the prize of the twenty-five grand he would be getting. Chris followed Abdul to the fence. Size also followed, helping Abdul over first and then practically throwing Chris over after. He laughed to himself and thought Size was the right name for his friend. A gentle man not blessed with the highest IQ, Chris had planned to get Size to go with him to Jamaica because he had no family and John used to really manipulate him. If you have seen the film ‘Green Mile’ then you have seen Size.

Chris ran over to Abdul, who was kneeling down near to a large Coca-Cola lorry for some cover from any prying eyes. Crouching down next to him, Chris saw that Abdul was shielding a piece of paper in the palm of his hand. It had a registration number written on it and also what looked like some foreign writing.

It was hard to see with the rain belting down and the only light was from a small red pen torch that Abdul was holding in his mouth. The lorry park and secure compound was vast. There must have been in excess of a thousand different vehicles at least, and at one hundred meter intervals were these towering flood lights illuminating the sky line. They resembled aliens from H G Wells, ‘War of the Worlds,’ however the most disturbing thing in the compound Chris still thought, was Abdul. He had a nasty feeling about this man and Chris’s feelings were seldom wrong. He was frightening, in a way which Chris had never sensed before and he had mixed with all types of pond life.

Chris still half crouching was now shown a picture of a van by Abdul, who then pointed to a vehicle. Chris was thinking ‘let’s just get this over with’ made his way over to what looked like a brand new Mercedes van, the large sprinter type.  He was fiddling about with the lock with a couple of magic tools, as he would fondly call them, when all hell broke loose.

One minute his only problem was tackling a new lock on the brand new van and the next, dozens more spotlights came on all over illuminating the full area, and all he could hear was the words

“STOP ARMED POLICE! STOP  WHAT YOU ARE DOING! ARMED POLICE!”

This was continually repeated, bellowing out of air horns, as dozens of officers in black overalls and helmets carrying machine guns ran from everywhere. Chris heard two shots fired in the air.

As it registered in his head as to what was happening, two of the biggest cops he had ever seen, ran at him shouting.

“Put your arms in the air and stand still!”

When they reached him, they didn’t stop. One of them spun him round and the other smacked him between the shoulder blades. His head turned to the side as it was crushed against the window of the van, blood everywhere from both his nose and lips.

Bright star lights appeared in his eyes, one of the officers after he had finished frisking him, said to the other.

“He’s clean?” The searching officer then nodded his head.

Carrying on, the other officer smashed the butt of his rifle into the back of Chris’s head. He fell to his knees, and then, he was kicked and pressed down flat. He remembered sucking in the shitty water of a puddle where he lay as he tried to get his breath before he lost consciousness.

The next thing he knew, he woke up in a clinical type cell at some Police Station or other. He was dressed in a pair of white paper overalls with floppy mittens secured to his hands which were bound with plastic cable ties. Chris just laid there on the floor for minutes without moving, trying to digest the surroundings and belief as to what had happened —he knew he was in big shit this time. He heard the door’s massive steel locks turn and open, Chris shuffled and turned to look in the sound’s direction unable to move as his legs and feet were also bound.

“We have one awake in here, Serge.” Shouted a very large copper.

Chris just stared in his direction but not at him. (Chris told me he was genuinely frightened). The sergeant then appeared at the door, both officers crossed the fresh hold, shiny black boots squeezing the hard floor and squeaking as they entered the cell. The large constable grabbed Chris’s legs. The sergeant picked up his shoulders and the pair then tossed him onto the solid polished wood seat within the cell against the wall.

“Someone from special branch wants a word. You fucking traitor,” mouthed the sergeant.

Chris’s eyes filled with terror, when he realised the sergeant said special branch. He sat there with the overwhelming urge to mess himself, thinking this must have something to do with that fucking Abdul.

Chris was held for forty-eight hours and questioned non-stop before being released on Police bail, having been held on a terrorist charge. Apparently, the van had been full of guns and explosives. He was now out on bail and ordered to appear in court in about three weeks.

A copper said to him as he was leaving.

“Make the most of it, cunt. Say you’re good byes. You’ll be going away for a long time.”

That night Chris walked through his front door to be greeted or I should say, attacked by his mother. His parents were extremely proud people who couldn’t abide trouble with the law. Unlike his brother, Chris had always been getting into bother since the age of ten.

“Where have you been for the last two days?” she demanded to know.

“Staying with friends.” Chris lied.

His father trying to calm his mother told Chris it was time for him to find his own place to live. He