The Sailor's Stories

1029 Chapter twenty nine – The Sailor’s Awakening.

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Even though my boy was certainly happier, I was still not that convinced I was doing the right thing…, children are tricky things at times. Some are resilient and can bounce back from almost anything, then there are those that only need that one thing to trigger all manner of problems. Like I’ve always said, I’m no headshrinker, I had no idea which one my boy was, even after so long it was hard to tell, though I did know what I hoped. It had only been two days since the first session and the second was scheduled for this afternoon, in that time, Corey had become a little more engaging, talking more, joining in…, even with his friends, I really hoped that this was a sign that he would be able to put it all behind him. I was always under the impression that there needed to be more lead time between these things…, probably to let it all sink in. When I had asked Karen about it, she had said that the first one was only exploratory, kinda like an introduction…., looking back on it now, I can’t remember the actual words she used, but that was the jist of it.

That night, after the first session, she had sent me a text message asking if we could have dinner the following night…, I didn’t see the harm in it, so I agreed…, after arranging for Reggie to sit with the boys. She’d chosen a nice restaurant, but in true Fredrickson fashion…, had forgotten to make reservations…, as it turned out there was a table available, but we would have to wait a little while for it. It took almost an hour for us to be seated, and while sitting at the bar, we just chatted over this and that, every now and then though…, I got the feeling I was being grilled. We both knew, I think, why we were there…., I suppose the curiosity of the whole event the day before had gotten the best of both of us. However, I don’t think that either of us really knew how to broach the subject in any realistic way. It wasn’t until we were finally seated that it all came out. She didn’t say much over dinner though, I guess she just wanted to hear my side of the story. After all she had gotten Mark’s in his letters. Occasionally she would ask questions…, sometimes leading ones, even to the point of filling in a few gaps.

After a while, it was getting a little too painful. I guess she must have sensed my shift in mood, as at once she almost seamlessly steered me onto the boys. She was certainly curious about our living arrangements, and all through my telling she maintained a calm almost disinterested demeanor…, it was a front though, a blind man could have seen that. Obviously, she had only met Corey, but her interest, was piqued in the other two. Dale was obvious, being the other twin of the set, Carl however, took a little explaining. At the time, I can remember that I felt the need to hide certain things from her, for their benefit, but like all good trained professionals, she managed to slowly get it out of me piece by very small piece. Once again I couldn’t help but think that she would have made a very good interrogator, though in the end…, betrayal was at the forefront of my mind. I felt that in some way I had let my boys down by telling her all this. I wasn’t even sure if I could trust this women for myself, let alone them…, regardless of how caring and sincere she may have seemed. Sometimes…, I guess…, you just have to take things on faith.

I don’t know when the night had turned into an impromptu therapy session…, it may have been over dessert, or the long walk we took through the park on the way to our cars. It was still very warm during the evenings so when we came across the playground, she gave me a devilish look before she bounded over to the swings. Smiling I followed her, sitting down on the swing next to hers. When she started grilling me again, I had to admit that the half bottle of wine, and the somewhat gentle conversation had done wonders to loosen my tongue, as I found myself spilling some of my darkest secrets. When she began to pull her legs back and forth, starting to swing…, all the while keeping the conversation going, I could no longer keep anything from her. My boys have been the driving force behind everything I had done in the last few years…, but in the end, even if they weren’t mine, I probably would have done what I did anyway.

You see I have always had an affinity for children. As I grew up, even without Mark, I was always sticking up for the smaller kids…, sometimes to the point of taking on odds that at the time would seem insurmountable to the wise. It just always seemed like the right thing to do, and even though I got pummeled a few times, I always felt justified, that I had protected someone that couldn’t do it for themselves. I remember someone once told me that I was being an “Enabler”…, if that’s so, then I really didn’t care. I felt a duty to myself, to stand up for what was right. A soldier for the good fight right from the beginning…, that’s me. Even with that affinity though,  the only real kids I have dealt with over the years since school, were my nephews, Carl, the locals like Teddy…, and one other…, a young English boy. As I sat there on that swing…, I poured out to the women I hardly knew, one of the hardest situations I have ever been in.

The English boy…, I hadn’t thought about him in years…, that’s why I had that dream, the “Snatch and Grab”…, it wasn’t the mission that was important…, it was what happened after. Karen had stopped swinging when she heard my gasp of recognition…, she was slowly coming to a stop as I told her about my dream, just before all this with Corey had happened. I sat there as I slowly let it all unravel…, I left nothing out. I had to start at the beginning though, or little of it would have made sense. As I begun, I looked over to her…

“This could get graphic…, are you sure you want to hear this?

She just looked back at me, smiled encouragingly, and slowly nodded her head….

It was during that same fairly routine operation in the Balkans…, the one that I had started to dream about. Things were still pretty hot back then, but even though there were warnings, a lot of tourists still went there. Intelligence had gotten wind of a rebel cell that had found some very sensitive information from a downed Navy aircraft. Everyone was claiming credit for it, but it wasn’t until a few years later that Intelligence had picked up the murmurs of something ‘Good’ on the black market, that told the real story. As we were the only special forces unit in the area, we were tasked with getting it back if possible, or destroying it if we couldn’t.

It wasn’t even until we had cleared the camp, that we really knew what we were after. Gotta love the intelligence community for always keeping you on your toes. As it turned out, the package was two missile warheads and some avionics. Of course I recognized it instantly, benefits of being a pilot, I also knew that given the size and the instability of the warheads, we couldn’t hump them out. So we set charges and legged it to the pick up. Our exit strategy had us going very close to several settlements, but it was the only way given the type of terrain, if we were going to get out by helo. We were about halfway there when Jansen stopped us, he had spotted something up ahead that could cause us trouble. When I got to him, he was lying in cover, propped up against a small rock outcropping. I could see that he had thought this through, the cover he was using was a natural bowl, and would well shield us as we approached. Leaning up beside him, he quietly laid out the situation….

“Patrols boss…, been watchin’em for a while…,  right across our exit path…., I’ve gone left an’ right, but they’re everywhere…, no way through.”

“Anyone we know?”

“Looks like rebels again boss…, poorly dressed, old weapons bout the same as those others back at the camp, so maybe…, weapons look pretty serviceable though and they outnumber us…, might be able to ambush some ta open it up, but I don’t like our chances if the fireworks start, could bring more trouble.”

“What are they doing…, is it random, or are they looking for us?”

“Unknown…, but they are all spread out like, so yeah I think they’re looking for sumthin.”

“Allright…, we’ll rest it here for awhile and see what we can see.” I said, before I pressed the stud mike on my neck. “Andy, find somewhere high and get good eyes on…, every one else, set perimeter and break out some chow, we’ve got some rovers though, so stay sharp.”

An hour later and things still weren’t looking good for us. We had made good time and the rendezvous with the birds was still a ways off, but the longer we lingered here the harder it was going to be to make pick up. At first, I had stayed in the same spot as Tom, breaking out some chow for the both of us, leaving his better eyes to watch for trouble. But as time dragged on, I went to check on the rest of the boys, and to make a phone call. After a brief explanation with Operations, I didn’t really find them that forthcoming with a new exit strategy. Even with re-tasking a satellite, they still couldn’t discern what the rebels were after, be it my team, or something else. All the while though, the net was closing around us, and for the time being their advise was to stay put. It was all I could do, not to throw the handset at the radio unit in disgust.

Two hours now, and things were getting perilous. Tom had spotted two distinct, ten man patrols, cross near to our perimeter over a half hour period. He had said that they were being lax, suggesting that they weren’t overly concerned of any danger from what they were looking for. Judging by the way he had described their attitude, I deduced that they were indeed not looking for us…, at least not yet. Still couldn’t be certain though, as rebels being rebels, were not the best trained and tended to be cocky and arrogant. That arrogance was to be their downfall one day though, as given the way they dressed…, mostly in civilian clothes, it was easy to gauge their numbers…, they were roughly company strength, around one hundred or so. I was still mulling this over, trying to find any way out, when Tom called me over. As I leaned back against that outcrop, he handed me a pair of binoculars…

“I think I know what they’re lookin for boss…” He said, pointing slightly to the west, towards a small clearing.

Following his gesture and raising the glasses to my eyes, I saw a small boy come into focus. He was running hard and even through the glasses I could tell he was terrified. On instinct, I lifted the glasses a bit further to look behind him. Bursting through the trees, hot on his tail was at least ten armed men…, they seemed to be chasing him. To make matters worse, the direction the kid was running…, would lead them right to us! I took another quick look…, we had mere minutes to either get out of dodge, or do something about it. It was obvious they were hunting that kid…, why I don’t know, but I wanted to find out…, plus…, it was a kid…, I decided to do something about it.

“Listen up boys…, there’s ten armed rebels inbound…, they’re chasing a terrified kid, coming straight for us…, hunker down and get small…, let them pass by, then take them from behind…, silencers only! … Andy? Take care of any stragglers…, they’re about a minute out, hustle!”

“Boss what about the rules of engagement?” Said Jaime.

“Fuck that…, that kid needs help…, besides, we’re already engaged!”

Nothing more needed to be said, as loyalty and training took over…, Jaime wasn’t questioning my order…, I knew this, he just needed a little clarification. The rock that both Tom and I were hunkered down behind, was, like I said, an outcropping, but only on our side, on the other side it was more of a subtle rise. This had the effect of creating a natural fire-step that was working in our favour, providing us with good cover. It wasn’t long before we heard the small feet of the boy, followed close by the heavier footfall of the rebels. Seconds too late the kid realized his mistake, becoming closely acquainted with gravity, and I wasted no time in reaching over to pull him back towards us, and what I thought he would see as safety. When he disappeared, the heavy feet of the rebels became audibly slower, and we could hear some muffled shouting. I knew that if they were being more careful in their search, they would easily see the dip, and more than certainly spot us hiding the boy, in the process.

“Boss! Danger close, danger close…, they’ve spread out and are approaching your poz…, you’ve got maybe seconds…, what do you want me to do?”

“Take’em!” I said as Tom and I rose as one, weapons ready.

It didn’t take long…, but then they were after an unarmed child, they certainly weren’t expecting well armed, well trained angry men. Surprise worked in our favour, as surprise usually does, they didn’t even have the chance to get a single shot off, as the three of us aimed fired and aimed again. The only sound in that small patch of forest was the quiet click of three well oiled slides, and the soft thump of bodies hitting the damp leaf covered ground. As the smoke cleared I looked down at the boy, he had crawled deeper into the rocky wall than I would’ve thought possible at the time, but then fear can do weird and wonderful things for a person. While I watched the boy for a moment, I had Jansen and McGhill take care of the bodies…, I knew we would have to move soon, but I didn’t want to leave a trail, besides, we now had an opening and I didn’t want to waste it. Even so, I had a pressing matter to attend to.

The boy was indeed a kid, I noticed as I took a good look at him for the first time…, probably twelve or thirteen, seemed to be decently dressed, his clothes though ripped and torn looked almost new under the grime and blood…, obviously he had been well taken care of at some point. Though I was getting a little concerned at the several injuries he had to his hands, face, and upper body, so I called our medic over to take a quick look. He was still hunkered down, softly whimpering to himself, and as I reached out to get his attention, he drew back…, he was still so very terrified.

“It’s all right little man, I’m not going to hurt you…, why were those men chasing you?”

I guess it was the English that got his attention, or maybe my accent…, whatever it was, he looked up at me. He blinked a few times, as if to make sure what he was seeing was true, but still didn’t say anything. It wasn’t until Dan kneeled next to him, that he seemed to believe what he was seeing.

“I’m a medic little dude, my name’s Dan…, it’s all right, you’re safe now.”

“Doc…, we have to go…, but we can’t leave him here…, can he walk?”

“Looks okay boss…, few bruises and cuts, but otherwise fine…, he should really see a doctor though.”

“Ok Doc…, pick him up…, we’ll carry him if we have to…, maybe we can find a farmhouse to leave him or something.”

“Simon.” The boy said…, rather distantly. “My…., my name’s Simon…, I got lost.”

“Yeah I think you did.” I said. “What’re you doing out here all alone?”

“We were camping…, me and my parents…, I got up last night to take a pee…, I went too far into the woods and couldn’t find my way back…, that’s when they found me…., they tied me up…, did things to me…, they were all pretty drunk…, when they passed out, I managed to escape…, but they came after me…, that’s when I found you guys.”

I didn’t need to hear any more…, I didn’t want to hear anymore, as I suddenly felt a sense of vindication spring up inside me. I had no clue what to do with him though, but I knew what Operations would say about it…, there was no way they would let him on the bird. I had to think of something, and think damn fast, it wouldn’t be long until our window closed.

“Can you read a map Simon…, could you show my scout where you were camping?”

“I… I think so.”

Tom and McGhill had gotten back a minute or tow ago…, Tom had taken the jacket off of one of the rebels, and had draped it over our young charge. He hadn’t said a single thing, just walked up put the jacket on the boy, then stepped back and took up a watch again, it was one of the most amazing acts of selflessness I had ever witnessed…, to be honest it humbled me greatly.

With Jansen’s help, Simon was able to pinpoint a spot that he thought was pretty close to where his parents should be. Simon’s dad was in the British army…, a sqauddie as they called them, and Simon himself was a scout back in England. His dad had taken them all on a holiday, they thought the area was safe, as there hadn’t been any activity here in over four years…, they had no idea that the rebels had moved in. Simon was a good scout obviously, as he had a decent memory of landmarks with which to draw a track from. With this in mind, we made our way, ever conscious of danger. Simon was not too bad at his bushcraft, and even though he was still fighting the effects of the trauma he had suffered, he was keeping up well, and quietly. I kept him close to me for most of the way. The really scary thing about the whole situation was, that his parents were only about four klicks from us the whole time. As we got close, I had radioed in our situation, Operations was pissed, but couldn’t deny the danger to a family of British nationals…, being allies, they had no choice but to authorize their extraction. We picked them up on the way to the bird. There was some pretty hefty explaining to do, the mom was scared shitless, but being a soldier, the dad soon fell into line. After we had gotten back to the carrier, arrangements were made to transfer the Brits to the nearest friendly base, Turkey I think it was…

“I can’t imagine what doing something like that could do to a person…, but I can see the need…, Mark was the same…, I think he would have done just what you did, had he been there.”

Karen had finally stopped swinging and was just sitting there, as she listened to me. She hadn’t interrupted, as if she knew that I needed to get it all out. Her eyes…, that’s what told the whole story…, it wasn’t admiration, but it wasn’t far off.

“Karen, what I did was stupid…, I put my whole team at risk…, for the sake of a child…, I mean if I had it to do all over again, I can’t say that I would do it differently…, but to be honest I shouldn’t have done it at all. I don’t even know why I’m telling you all this…”

“I don’t think so…, I think you were in the right place at the right time…, and you made the right decision…, there is no doubt you saved that boy’s life…, I can’t agree with how you did it, but I’m pleased that you did…, for your sake if nothing else…, how do you think you would feel all these years later, if you had left him to those men?”

“I don’t want to think about it…, children die all the time…, I can’t protect them all…, but at least now you get the general idea why I did what I did on that boat. There is nothing I will not do to make sure that my boys are safe.”

“You’re a dangerous guy Cam, but not a bad one…, I’m not afraid you…, and neither is Corey. What he saw will probably stay with him forever…, his feelings for you were shaken, but not broken, he loves you…, and I’m pretty sure he always will.”

“Thanks for that…, come on it’s late…, we should get you home…”

Driving home that late summers evening, I just couldn’t get the image of Simon out of my head…, it had been years since I had thought of him, but now every time I closed my eyes I could see him running across that field. Karen was right, I had been in the right place, and I had made the right decision. But why all this was coming up now, I just didn’t know…, maybe it was her…, maybe I wanted to show her how I felt…, explain myself a little. I really couldn’t say, but I knew there was a reason for that dream, and that I had met her when I did. What that reason was…, I just yet, did not know…

Written by bigct/Octavius

January 31, 2010 at 13:24

3 Responses

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  1. Nice one man ….. thanks C.T. ……


    January 31, 2010 at 16:27

  2. Ah ha! We are beginning to draw closer to the middle of Cam, and what will pop out of his pandora’s box will be very interesting. This memory was finely drawn, and vividly written. A pleasure as usual.


    January 31, 2010 at 22:31

  3. Another good one..CT


    January 31, 2010 at 23:38

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