“I will not pretend,– Martha Wainwright
I will not put on a smile,
I will not say, ‘I’m alright,’ for you,
When all I wanted was to be good.”
Alison dropped me at Battalion HQ just before 7pm on Friday night and arranged to pick me up again after I called her on Sunday afternoon. We said our goodbyes and I walked into the Officer’s Mess still thinking about all that had happened in the last 24 hours. There were yet more surprises in store for me that weekend because the first person I bumped into was my old friend Bruce from our officer training days. I’d spent two years training with Bruce, and he was part of my crew of friends who got up to some wild stuff over that journey. Bruce had been an Armour Corps officer but had now transferred to Infantry when he moved with his wife to the town of Young, an hour to the south. It was good to see him again and we were still catching up about old times when the other officers started to appear having travelled in from all over the state. I shouldn’t really have been surprised but I had to do a double take when, of all the people in the world that could have been there that night, in walked Scott Highman!
The old Battalion had some unique characteristics, the most obvious of which was that the soldiers were only expected to do two-week camps and not parade every Tuesday like the rest of the reserve. This was because it allowed remotely located soldiers to still train even if they could not make it to a depot every week. When the battalion moved to Bathurst it became a bit of a hybrid, having regular and special conditions sub-units. Scott was in one of the regular Companies, as was Bruce, while I was posted to the special conditions one. While I probably knew that Scott was in the Battalion I had completely forgotten since I’d only met him once several months ago. I got up to say hello to him but by the reception I got he was not pleased to see me.
“What’s his problem?” Bruce asked.
“I reckon I’ve got a pretty good idea.”
When I got the chance, I filled Bruce in on all the details of what happened on the Queensland camp and also updated him on the fact that I had been dumped by my ex, Liz, who he knew, just days before meeting Alison. Not that I had done anything wrong when I had met Alison. I had been single and she had been the one pursuing me after all – but being a good friend Bruce took my side regardless. The rest of that weekend Scott tried to be as unpleasant as possible which was annoying, but Bruce and I had too much catching up to do so we ignored him for the most part. However, on Saturday night we all had to socialise in the Officer’s Mess and Scott saw that as an opportunity to try to score some points off me. He started by puffing out his chest and pushing past me whenever he could which didn’t earn him any friends. Then, to as many people who could hear, he insinuated that I had back stabbed him while on the camp at the Land Warfare Centre. I told him that I didn’t know what he was talking about, and then Bruce, sensing a bit of fun, said that Scott should spell out what he meant rather than making vague assertions.
Scott then told the increasing number of interested listeners that I had “cock-blocked” him while we were at LWC. I of course vehemently denied it as it was factually untrue. “And” he said hoping to trash my reputation entirely, “I had then struck out (with Alison)” thus doubling my disgrace. I denied this on the grounds that in order to cock block him and strike out I would have had to first have had to hit on (Alison), which I hadn’t.
“Let me get this straight Scott, you are alleging that a Private soldier that you commanded, had sole access to and that you spent two weeks wooing was distracted enough by the guy who spent five minutes talking to her in the cargo hold of an in-flight C-130 on the last day of the camp and that I subsequently put the hard word on her and that she then rejected me?”
“I deny both charges. Firstly, I deny ‘cock blocking’ you. I did not speak the Private in question until I stepped on that plane which was only four hours before she left to return with her unit to Randwick. Whereas, you had two whole weeks in her direct chain of command as her Platoon Commander and saw her every day. You also had ample time during mess functions, which I was absent from, where she, by your own admission, gave you a distinct feeling of her interest in you by her ‘positive body language (toward you)’. If that was indeed the reality, then you had further time to plead your case to her when we got back to Penrith in the mess function where you got to socialise with all and sundry while I served the soldiers from behind the bar.
“I also deny hitting on her and subsequently being shot down. My only conversations with her were first on that C-130 in front of the entire company where I answered her questions on a career in the Department of Defence and second, minutes before she left when I wished her luck on her career. If you have evidence of her alleged rebuttal, then you should present it or withdraw the charge.
“And if you wish to challenge any of what I just told you then you can call (Alison) up and ask her. I know that you have her number. Maybe you should have tried calling it.”
With that the whole assembly seemed to turn as one in Scott’s direction waiting to see what he said in reply. He of course had nothing, so he kept mum. Thankfully he had forgotten to bring up what happened in the touch football match as that would have been hard to deny.
On Sunday morning, we learnt that stand down was 12pm and the Sydney bus that would take Scott and the others home would also be leaving at about that time. I called Alison and let her know what time I was free but also to tell her what had happened, and that Scott was there and in a foul mood. She became angry learning of his continued presupposed claim on her, but I said that she could avoid him if she came and collected me after they had left.
When Jeremy called me on Sunday morning to tell me what time to come and pick him up, I couldn’t believe how excited I was to hear him and how much I’d missed him after only a couple of days. But then he told me what Scott had being saying I was furious. The first time I learnt about Scott’s boast (about me) I let it slide because I thought it was a stupid private remark and I felt that in my absence that he would forget that he’d ever said it. But to learn that, months later, he was claiming victimhood meant that in his warped little mind he had some claim on me. And even though Jeremy had warned me off seeing him, my blood was boiling and I was eager for a show down. This Second Lieutenant was about to find out that of all the people in the world that I might choose he was a distant last. Not only that, but he was also about to see what he would never have.
So, when 11:50pm rolled around and the bus was preparing to leave I found myself in the car park talking to Bruce. Someone inquired after my transport arrangements, and I told them I was fine as I was staying in town with a friend. Everyone was piling onto the Sydney bus when a badly muffled BWM (mine) roared up the street, into the depot and pulled up next to Bruce and I. Alison popped out wearing what must have been the shortest dress she owned. It only took me a second to work out her game. I introduced her to Bruce who, unusually for him, was quite polite.
Alison’s dramatic appearance had her desired effect because the entire assembly turned toward her and collectively dropped their jaws to the ground. Scott was stunned into silence at her seeming magical, out of nowhere, appearance in Bathurst but then managed to recover enough to stride over and call me a liar loud enough for everyone to hear.
“2Lt Highman,” Alison said so everyone could hear, “no one cock blocked you because you were never in the race. And second, I hit on Jeremy, not the other way around. Unlike you, he is a complete gentleman.”
Bruce was in raptures at this point and the group were trying not to look but could not bring themselves to turn away for fear of missing on how this all played out.
Scott, trying to salvage some vestige of pride out of the situation, played the only card he had left. “Alison please tell me that you are not actually with him?”
I wasn’t thinking straight because he was making me so angry. Why couldn’t he have just shut up? If he’d just left it alone no one would have known about his boast, but he was so full of himself he couldn’t understand that he had been rejected. And now I had to crush him.
It was a desperate plea that sounded weak and pathetic. Alison’s blood was clearly up, and she went straight for his jugular. Loud enough so that everyone hear she retorted, “Well in about 10 minutes I’m going to let him fuck me in the arse, so you figure it out!”
At that, Bruce totally lost his bottle while the others either tried not to laugh or were still processing what they had heard. I decided to make my exit while they were all still in shock and said, “Gentlemen, Bruce…Scott.”
I began to turn toward my car when Scott said feebly, “But, but you said that he was a gentleman…”
“Oh Scott,” she said, “He ain’t that gentle!”
3 thoughts on “Ch.25 Fury”
I loved your story.
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Thank you, kind sir.
[…] But what had riled her up was later learning that Scott still thought that he had some claim on her affections. He’d bailed up Jeremy while they’d all been in Bathurst and called him out as a “cock-blocker“. […]