Sven Goes to War. Part 10. Masters of War
Masters of War.
Because Sven had Excelled Beyond Anyone’s Reasonable Expectations (EBARE) a medal in the shape of a Matilda tank firing upon a defenceless line of enemy insurgents (babies with heads blown off, mothers’ arms raised in horror, mouths open, short man with dick shot to pieces, speech bubble coming from mouth, ‘There goes dick. You have to admire sharpness of their shooting’) was pinned to his chest and he was deemed to be BATTLE FIT.
Or bum-fucked as it was known amongst the other RAT*s and RAAT**s.
(* RAT - Recruit Attending Training
** RAAT - Recruit Also Attending Training)
The plane that would take Sven to the WarZoneTM had webbing on its insides and was large enough to hold many elephants but that day there were only two.
“A stopover at Satara for the Rajah of Maharashtra,” said the pilot, slapping one of the beasts on its grey rump. The pilot was a handsome man who, thanks to the many glittery baubles attached to his arms and a fairy affixed to the top of his head, somewhat resembled a Christmas tree, seven weeks Special Ops in a Scandinavian forest over the winter period. It was a case of blending in and the look kinda stuck. The kids love it. Every Christmas Eve they put presents under me and sing Kum ba yah, not strictly a carol but it’s their favourite song and who am I to piss on their chips? Season of goodwill and all that.
Before going up the the cockpit the pilot turned back to Sven and smiled.
“You’re lucky actually it’s elephants. Last week it was two dolphins and a manatee for the Sultan of Brunei.”
He cast his arms about causing the baubles to clash dramatically together and one to start up, via some internal musical device Sven supposed, with a rendition of Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.
“We filled this whole space with water and all the passengers had to wear aqua lungs. [Yet in thy dark streets shineth.] That was a trip I can tell you! But something to tell your grandkids. [The everlasting Light.] That’s why we do it, isn’t it? Make the world a safe place for our progeny. [The hopes and fears of all the years] And blast a few folk. Perk of the job. [Are met in thee tonight.]”
Apart from the elephants Sven was the only passenger on the flight and so, taking the opportunity of being alone, he stripped off his clothes and, pulling out the yellow dress Stanley had given him from its hiding place in his pack, he put it on.
On the last night of the SWHIP (Six Week High Intensity Programme) Argon Govinsky Gaffar had drunkenly confessed how he had played Blanche DuBois in a school production of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.
They were all drunk, these young men going off to war, because Sven had gone out on a SR (Secret Reconnaissance) to the local off licence, his face blacked up with squid ink, catch the squid, squeeze the squid, put the squid back in the water, crawling on hands and knees along the aisles to avoid both the CCTV cameras and the gaze of the teenage boy behind the counter, and stolen a dozen bottles of Blue Nun.
“For seven nights in a row I was a woman,” said Argon Govinsky Gaffer and puffing out his chest, pouting out his lips, he had acted out the pearls before swine scene, my greatest moment, everybody cried, not a dry eye in the house, from A Streetcar Named Desire, he returned with a box of chocolates and begged my forgiveness….. he implored….. he implored my forgiveness…. Then he had broken down and told them how his father had been a female impersonator. In the late 1970s he had been a stalwart of How Much of a Woman Am I? a game show in which grown men had to compete in ever more womanly tasks while dressed as their favourite Hollywood film star. His dad had been Myrna Loy, he was gutted when the show was pulled, it was because of the New Wave of comedy, political correctness that deemed his show sexist, out of fashion. He never really got over it, turned to drink and booze and then drove his Mini Metro off the edge of Salthill Quarry. He’d left a note taped to the dashboard. ‘Never forget who you are. I haven’t forgot. I’m just not allowed to be.’ We buried him in his favourite dress and the worst thing was I never even told him I loved him. That’s why I gave Blance DuBois my all. I played her like a bastard, even taping up my willy. The standing ovation I got was for him. Proudest night of my life.
Sven was met at the Air Base Six by an extremely suntanned man in fatigues of which the knees and elbows were worn out. Another man was slumped naked on the back of an old truck.
“I’m Mike One,” said the man. “Over there, on the truck, that’s Mike Two. Last night he had a hard time down at BillyBarnacles Surf and Turf. We all did. Yesterday Mike Three had a letter home. His son Cory’s got cerebral palsy or MS or something like that. And his wife’s leaving him. Her and the doctor, well you know?, have a sick kid and you and the doctor spend a lot of time together. But what can you do? Fill in a self-assessment form and send it off. Do you have suicidal thoughts? Yes I do. Do you feel like hurting yourself and others? Yes I do. What I want to know is, who’s reading them?” Then he said, squinting his eyes at Sven, “Like the dress. Yellow. Nice colour. You’ll blend in with all this fucking sand. But if you think it’s a good idea to show your Non-Combat Suitability (NCS) it’s been done before. Mike Six, two weeks on the trot he wore the same miniskirt and boob-tube combo, filled in the self-assessment, Are you fit for active service? No I’m not. In a combat situation do you feel you have the potential to be the last man standing? No I do not. Last we’d heard he was down on the front in Ab-Garib or Singwhala or somewhere like that. Still in his outfit apparently. Does bar dancing at night. Since the syphilis outbreak last year we’ve all been warned off the local girls and one thing we all know about Mike Six is that he’s very clean. Very clean. If you want a poop shoot then Mike Six’s would be it. I put that in my self-assessment. Do you have sexual feelings towards other men? Yes I do. Do you feel this might hinder your objectivity in a total-war situation? Yes I do. Did I hear anything? No, I did not. Now, where’s your stuff?”
Air Base 6 had one donkey on it, a small shop set up on a lopsided trestle table and a baggage reclaim belt powered by a single skinny boy on a bike, the bike’s rear wheel connected to the belt by a series of pulleys and levers.
Sven watched as the boy slowly fetched his rucksack from the plane, placed it on the far end of the baggage reclaim belt, hopped on his bike, and then peddled furiously until the bag was right next to Sven.
“Before you leave,” called out the boy, “don’t forget to stop by the shop.”
Then he got off the bike, put on a ‘Today you have been severed by Mohammed’ badge, and went over and stood behind the trestle table.
On the table were a range of small plastic aeroplanes, their wings melted and drooping, bottles of cloudy water, and a book written by someone called Mike Eight entitled, What to Do in a Case of Emergency! Life in a War Zone, Memoirs of a Survivor!
On the back of the book was a photograph of a man with no legs and with only one arm sat upright in a wheelchair being tended to be a group of elderly nuns. The nuns appeared to be in a kind of barn. The back half of the barn appeared to be on fire. The nuns had that look on their face which said, Shall I save myself or crippled man in wheelchair who is unable to help himself due to having many parts blown from body? If only goddam photographer wasn’t here choice would be easy one. Myself. Because man shits through tube! I did not become nun, Praise the Lord, to help man shitting through tube. Became nun to help cute orphans, live in attractive nunnery, get away from bastard father who came to room at night and told me I was good girl etc etc etc.
The photograph was of Mike Eight, Sven supposed, and he was going to buy the book if only to find out if Mike Eight was saved or if the book had been written posthumously by one of the nuns to raise money to rebuild the barn, do God’s work, help other men like Mike Eight, when in the distance there was a huge explosion, followed by a dull rumbling under his feet.
Mike One sucked in his cheeks and looked pointedly at his watch.
“It must be a Tuesday,” he said. “I fucking hate Tuesdays.”
Bob Dylan - Masters of War https://youtu.be/fUHnzBfMSV0
A Streetcar Named Desire - Pearls before Swine https://youtu.be/vLxUYa47OXE
Image from Pixabay - https://pixabay.com/photos/toy-tank-battle-1121694/