“I had all and then most of you,
Some and now none of you.
Take me back to the night we met.

– Lord Huron

When Jerry Met Ali has been deliberately written using both first and third person. The prologue and epilogue were written in the third person to help the reader meet the characters for the first time and to build tension into the finale.

The remainder of the novel is written in the first person so that you can experience the story from each of the character’s points of view. Several chapters are written entirely from the point of view of one of the characters. However, most of the chapters change perspective as the story moves forward chronologically. To assist the reader, when the narrative changes its point of view you will see ‘xox’ between the paragraphs. Within one or two sentences it should be clear who is now talking.

The drive to the bus that night was quiet. Uncomfortably quiet. Normally Jeremy would have driven himself to Sydney, but a bus had been laid on and he had been ordered to use it. The bus was going to take him to Penrith in outer western Sydney, not far from the mountains that hemmed the city in and made it so spectacularly difficult for the early explorers to make it into the interior of Australia. Sydney ends at Penrith.

But that was the 19th century, and this was 1997.  Jeremy would be leaving Sydney this time in a much more modern way; in the back of a C-130 Hercules Royal Australian Air Force transport plane. A first time for him and probably most of his soldiers too. That was the reason that he was now heading to Penrith on a Friday night. Richmond air base was a very short drive from Penrith and that is where they would leave from the next day enroute to Queensland and also where they would return two weeks later.

That night Jeremy would meet up with the rest of the Company at Penrith engineer barracks. The Company Commander and his second in command were engineers, as were a great many of the soldiers in the Company, including the Sergeant-Major. There would be hustle and bustle aplenty in the hours ahead in preparation of the camp in Queensland.

But that was later, and right now the car was quiet. Liz was driving him in for the bus tonight, but she was not happy to be doing it. There was a time when she would have gladly driven Jeremy the 20 minutes along Canberra’s wide open and rarely busy roads. But that was a long time ago. They had been together for five years and things were no longer good.

Jeremy was glad to be getting away. Not only because he was about to visit the holy shrine of Army Reserve training, the Land Warfare Centre at Canungra in Queensland, but also just to get away from Liz. They barely spoke anymore even though they lived and worked together. It was like they were just sharing the house for convenience. They even drove to their office in separate cars. It was getting ridiculous but neither of them had had the strength to pull the trigger, yet.

When Liz’s car arrived at the army depot in the city Jeremy got out and took his bags from the boot. Liz sat in the driver’s seat not even bothering to unbuckle her seat belt.

“I’ll see you in two weeks,” Jeremy said, trying to be pleasant.

“Bye,” Liz said without much enthusiasm and barely looking at him. Even the tiniest gestures were now an effort. Every small favour a chore. There was no farewell kiss.

Jeremy shut the door and then she was gone. He picked up his bags and carried them to the waiting bus. He placed them in the cargo bay and ambled over to the driver who was checking names off his list.

“Lieutenant Holland reporting.”

Camilla was just getting back from the supermarket with her shopping, including ingredients for her dinner that night, when she bumped into Alison in their apartment. It was an unwritten rule of the flat that Friday nights were fend for yourselves affairs as far as dinner was concerned. The rest of the week the six undergraduate occupants of 1 Cowper St Randwick would at least try to coordinate dinner arrangements and regularly share food, but Fridays had always proved too difficult with everyone usually busy at the last minute as invitations to parties and dates appeared out of nowhere.

Camilla would have asked Alison if she wanted to share her meal, but this night Alison clearly had other plans. Dressed in her camouflage uniform and black ankle length boots it would have been difficult to imagine that underneath Alison was cute 20-year-old if it hadn’t been for her shortish blonde hair and undoubted feminine facial features.

Alison smiled broadly at Camilla and proceeded to chat away like nothing especially interesting was happening to her that night. She could have been in a skirt and blouse just putting on her heels ready for a night out the way she moved comfortably about in her GP boots and uniform Camilla thought idly.

“What is on this weekend?” Camilla inquired. “It looks like you are moving out with all that stuff.”

Camilla was observant. Alison had her webbing (a tangled looking arrangement of straps and pouches designed to carry ammunition and water), her pack and her green (olive drab) echelon bag all set down next to the front door. It was literally every piece of army equipment Alison owned, all packed and seemly in neat order.

“Queensland!” Alison said excitedly. “I’m going to the jungle training centre in Canungra. It’s going to be amazing!

“Will you get to go to the beach?” Camilla asked, genuinely not understanding where Alison was going or what she would be doing.

“I doubt it. I think we are going to be in the bush the whole time. I don’t even know if it’s near a beach.”

“Oh well. Hope you have fun. Are you going tonight?”

“No, just to the depot now and then there is a bus taking us from Randwick to Penrith. The plane leaves from Richmond tomorrow.”

“Penrith and Richmond. Could the army pick more boring places to build its bases?”

“Probably not. What are you doing tonight?”

“Not much. You know me; always the bridesmaid.”

“That’s not true.” Alison looked at her watch. “I have to go. I’m getting a lift into Randwick and they are meeting me out front in five.”

“’In five’? Gee Alison, you are so army!”

“Thank you!”

“See you later, ‘Private Benaud.’”

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