Unlikely Soldiers Book 1: (Civvy to Squaddie)

By Deb McEwan

Historical fiction, Action & adventure, Young adult

Paperback, eBook

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392
4 mins

 

CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE!

Dressed in his brown work trousers and long sleeved shirt Mr Jarvis walked calmly to number twenty-seven. He rolled up his sleeves as he did so and wondered if Guy’s father knew what he was capable of. He’d never enjoyed brawling and had made good use of his spare time in the Army by learning how to fight properly. He didn’t enjoy it but it was often a means to an end and had saved him a lot of pain from the bigger fellas who thought they were hard men. He heard the shouts and screams before reaching the open door. Walking in he noticed that the three younger kids were halfway up the stairs in their tatty dressing gowns and slippers. They looked terrified and the youngest girl was whimpering. He guessed they’d wanted to escape the fear but had bottled it when they heard the commotion from downstairs.

‘Go and see Mrs Jarvis,’ he smiled reassuringly but they didn’t move. ‘Go on, she’s got cake.’ That did it. They rushed passed him as he entered the living room, quickly taking in the scene. Guy was on the floor and every time he tried to get up, he received a swift kick from his sadistic father. The man appeared to be enjoying himself by hurting the slapper as well, and she was screaming in pain and fear. Mr Jarvis simply coughed and Guy’s father turned to face him.

‘Well, well, well. The bloody cavalry’s arrived. Ooh, I’d better run away before you do me some damage.’ He shook his hands and head sarcastically, as if he trembling with fear, then turned nasty again. ‘Get out of my fucking house before I make you.’ Mr Jarvis had dealt with bigger fish in his time. ‘Leave the woman and your son and give yourself up, or you will regret it.’

Guy’s father couldn’t understand why his older neighbour was still standing there and wasn’t crapping it. ‘I’ll tell you one more time. Get out of my fucking house.’ He wasn’t clever enough to consider that he might be the one in trouble. Mr Jarvis stood his ground. As Guy’s father covered the short distance between them Guy moved his arm and groaned with the effort. He managed to grab hold of an ankle of his father’s. ‘Go, Mr Jarvis. We’ll be all right, honest.’

His father shook his leg to loosen Guy’s hand. Guy managed to move it before he stamped on the place where his hand had been a second earlier. Mr Jarvis said nothing and prepared for the inevitable. ‘I gave you fair warning.’ Guy’s father put all the weight behind his punch but was stunned when his fist didn’t make a connection and he almost fell to the floor. His neighbour was on the other side of the room and he didn’t see how he could have got there.

‘What the...’ he rushed at him and jumped into the air, intending to jump kick Mr Jarvis. His legs connected with the wall and the pain jarred through his feet up to his hips. Incandescent with rage he got to his feet as quickly as he could and turned. The man was helping Guy up off the floor, gently encouraging him to sit on the settee. His back was to him so Guy’s father knew this was his best chance. He almost reached him when Mr Jarvis lifted his right elbow up and back without even looking. Guy was amazed to see that it had connected with his father’s jaw and he felt a perverse pleasure when he heard a crunch. It reminded him of the Bruce Lee films he’d loved when he was younger. His old man was hurt and Mr Jarvis had hardly touched him. Not one to give up, his father went at Mr Jarvis from every direction and Guy was able to forget about his pain for a few minutes as he watched. It was like a comedy routine and he laughed as his old man got his comeuppance. Even his mother joined in and their laughter fuelled his father’s fury. Mr Jarvis seemed to be enjoying himself too though he had to concentrate to avoid the blows. The most force he used was a push. When he’d finally tired of Guy’s father, Mr Jarvis gave him a quick poke in the eyes and threw him to the floor. He turned him onto his stomach, placed his hands together in the small of his back while putting his right foot there to hold him still. Mr Jarvis removed two strips of leather from his pockets. Knowing that Guy’s father wouldn’t keep quiet he saved his breath as he tied his hands with the shorter strip and pulled him roughly to his feet. Guy watched fascinated as Mr Jarvis dragged his father by his tied hands. He nodded to Guy’s mother.

‘Get me that chair and put it next to the radiator.’ She obeyed without question, as curious as Guy to see what would happen next. He pushed him roughly onto the chair. Guy’s father made a pathetic attempt to stand but changed his mind when he saw the look on his opponent’s face. Their neighbour tied the long leather strap onto the water pipe that was securely fixed to the radiator. He secured the other end around his father’s neck. ‘It’s up to you now. The more you struggle the tighter that will get. Keep still and you’ll be reasonably comfortable.’ As he started to struggle, Guy saw the fear in his father’s eyes. ‘Help me, Gwen.’ Mr Jarvis gave her a look, but even if he hadn’t, she wouldn’t have lifted a finger.

‘You’ve ruined my life, you rotten bastard and we’re through. I mean it this time.’ ‘You’re telling me we’re through,’ he tried to move the chair and his face reddened with the effort and his fury. ‘You’re carrying someone else’s bastard and you’re telling me we’re through!?’ Here we go again thought Guy as his parents started a slanging match. He could see his father was struggling with the effort but his brain seemed incapable of telling his mouth to shut up and his body to keep still. Mr Jarvis seemed unconcerned and he focused his attention on Guy, examining him to ascertain the extent of his wounds. Satisfied that he would recover without hospitalization, they all looked up when they heard the sirens. Four uniformed policemen came crashing into the living room; one was the copper who had searched the house earlier. They were followed by a man in a suit who Guy could tell was the boss. He nodded to the uniforms who started to untie the strap from his father’s neck. Sensibly, they kept his hands tied.

‘Eh up, Bill,’ the boss addressed Mr Jarvis. ‘I see you’ve got everything under control.’ He nodded and led the policeman by the arm into the kitchen, closing the door behind them.

‘Don’t mind me,’ said Guy’s mother. ‘I only fucking live here.’

‘Give it a rest, love, unless you want to come to the station too?’ she reluctantly shut up.

Guy got up carefully from the settee and walked slowly to his father. He was now being held between two policemen but still looked defiant. ‘I’m going to learn the martial arts so that next time you raise your fists to me I can give you a good kicking. Then when I’m older I’m going to join the police and keep scum like you locked up. Forever.’

His father spat in his face and received a rough push from one of the uniformed police. The policeman who had searched his house put a hand in his pocket and passed Guy a cotton handkerchief. ‘Here, son. I don’t want it back.’

Guy was grateful that his attitude toward him had changed. He must have realised that he was very different from his old man. As they left, Mr Jarvis said that someone would be along shortly to fit a new front door. The door had been broken before and was usually boarded up for a while before the council sent somebody to fix or replace it. Guy was beginning to realise that his neighbour was a man of influence and he was curious to know more about his former life. He thanked him for his help. Mr Jarvis gave him a gentle pat on the back and told him to make doctor’s appointments for him and his mother. He seemed to know that Guy would follow his instructions to the letter. 



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