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View Full Version : Brawl (short; language/content warning)



CyberWar
March 27th, 2015, 01:29 AM
From what I know, military towns abroad are usually bustling and thriving, businesses flocking to cater to the soldiers and their families. That is unfortunately not the case here, the only part of this town that seems to thrive being the military base itself.

Built in the Soviet times, the base and the surrounding town has seen much better days. Maybe it was an alright place to live in back in the day, when no civilians were allowed within 5 clicks of the place, a checkpoint guarding the bridge of the only road leading to the town and turning back any unwanted elements. That is certainly no longer the case. While the base itself looks reasonably neat and well-maintained, mostly thanks to NATO funding, the town beyond it's walls is equally dilapidated and decreipt. Apartment blocks that once housed Soviet officers and their families now house mostly unemployed drunks and elderly citizens who lack the means to move to more pleasant places.

In short, this garrison town is about as run-down and hopeless as many other towns and suburban districts in the country, not quite a miniature native version of Detroit, if you will, but certainly not far from it.

Being largely self-sufficient, the military base where we are stationed does little to attract new businesses - if only because most people of employable age capable of or interested in working have left for greener pastures. The only businesses that thrive here are those offering pleasures and entertainment otherwise forbidden on military premises - namely, bars and gambling dens that offer bored soldiers a chance to blow their salaries on drinks and slot machines, and strive to swindle the locals of their remaining wealth while keeping their disgruntlement pacified with cheap alcohol.

The locals don't like us soldiers much, having to compete for mates with us. What reasonably attractive womenfolk remain here often hope to conquer the sympathies of a soldier - it means having a reasonably healthy mate with a stable income, and in the case of marriage, also a chance to move elsewhere, be it his hometown or one of those neat, freshly-repaired apartments reserved for military personnel, either being better than her current dwelling. For this, the local men hate us, and it is not uncommon for fights to erupt in places of entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. The brass has strongly advised us from going about town alone in evenings, the aboriginals, as we have come to call them, occasionally ganging up and roughing up such lone goers. Personally I feel their concerns are a bit out of proportion - while things like that do happen from time to time, I've come to realize in my time here that even in this town people usually don't get roughed up for no good reason. I grew up in a tougher neighborhood than this, so the local thugs don't scare me much. Besides, they too are wary of picking a fight for no reason, at least while sober - they know that whenever a lone soldier gets roughed up, next Friday the streets will be crawling with his friends, all angry and with and very itchy fists.

That said, I still don't take any chances and only leave the base in the company of my brothers in arms. Not because I couldn't handle a bunch of boors, but because going anywhere here alone is boring. Some lads take their free time to visit their "sweethearts", which is really an euphemism for local whores and desperate housewives, the two of which are often synonymous. Others like to try their luck in gambling.

Personally I am interested neither in women of questionable repute nor in games of hazzard. The drinks, however, are a whole another thing. Although the local bars tend to serve overpriced swill that tastes hardly better than industrial-grade ethanol, I must contend myself with the existing offer for a lack of better one. On occasion we do manage to make a shopping run to the next nearest town across the river five clicks away, bringing back decent booze to hide in our secret stashes in the barracks, although it is forbidden, but it never lasts long - the instructors appointed as barrack commandants know these hiding spots by heart, and do not hesitate to claim their share in exchange for their silence.

Drinking is somewhat of a problem in this garrison, though it is rarely brought up - it would not look good on the reports. The stockade is never short of patrons, most of whom are in for drunken and disorderly conduct, but those are only the most obvious cases. Most lads who come back to the barracks with a little too much drink in their systems are punished according to unwritten rules (a 10-click run in full gear in the next morning being a favourite), or simply ushered away from the eyes of the brass to sleep it out, if the instructor who has caught the offender is in a good mood (for which the offender obviously owes him a bottle of good something afterwards).

---

This evening, I and Katz are hitting the streets. Our first stop is the nearby town's booze store, after which we intend to spend the night out in the woods, roasting meat on a fire and drinking with the other lads who in the meantime have gone off to a local farm, which sells excellent homegrown pork, already pickled and cut to size.

"...so it took us a whole week to figure out every use of that wrench. It's actually a really nice tool once you realize all it's uses - and for the time being, I'm the only one in our squad who knows all of them!" Katz recounts an episode from his last week in squad leader course. He is aspiring to be a squaddie, like his girlfriend Sparks. I have no such aspirations. While I wouldn't mind an extra stripe on my shoulder, I'd probably be the most useless squad leader that the army has ever had the misfortune of training. At least I feel that way. I screw up a lot of things all the time, and squad leader is no position for screw-ups. Admittedly, I do envy Katz a little because of the extra experience that he is getting - if nothing more, surely it would at least help me improve.

The wrench Katz is talking about is part of the Ak4 battle rifle maintenance kit. While in times of war we would be issued with G36KV assault rifles, the trusty old Ak4 is good enough for training purposes. Hard to clean, heavy as shit, but powerful and accurate if adjusted properly. And packs enough punch to go through an engine block if using an AP round, as Sarge demonstrated in our last shooting exercise.

"Be sure to show me all those uses the next time we clean our guns," I say.

We are interrupted by a phone call on Katz's cell.

"Wassup?" Katz picks up. I catch a glimpse of the phone's screen for just long enoug to notice that it's Ira calling.

Ira is a bar-girl in the Olympic Casino, arguably the best of the town's "winneries", the local term for a bar with a gambling hall. Although it's an incredibly pompous name for a hellhole like that, "losery" being a more fitting one both for it's purpose and the public that frequents it, others are arguably even worse, so we've taken to frequenting this place on our free evenings. At least the drinks here are relatively good. Being frequent and relatively well-behaved patrons, we are already known by all the barmaids by names.

"Katz, you better get over here and pick up your crazy girlfriend before the MPs do!" I hear her shouting on the phone, "She's gonna trash the whole place otherwise!"

"On it!" Katz speaks with a concern and drops the call, "Change of plans, Fascist, looks like Sparks is in trouble again!"

I sigh. This isn't the first time.

---

As we enter the Olympic Casino, things are little different from the usual. In the gambling hall, the usual contingent of blank-eyed gambling addicts keep pulling the slot machine levers in vain hopes that this eve will be luckier than others with a persistence comparable to zombies. A few hopeless drunks sit in their usual posts at the counter, drinking themselves into stupor and feeling sorry for themselves while annoying the bartenders with their usual drunken confessions and sob stories. On the couches, there are a few companies of locals and soldiers like us enjoying drinks and intellectual conversations about sports, drinking and women.

The only real difference this time is that everyone's eyes are fixed on a brawl transpiring just next to the counter.

---

Meet Sparks, Katz's new girlfriend. She's called that way for her shining temper, which she demonstrates with a roundhouse kick to some drunk's face just as we enter the establishment. There are three more guys trying to tackle her, and two others including a security guard already laying knocked out on the floor.

The man tumbles across the room, spinning like a ballet dancer, crashing head-first in a slot machine. As shards of glass and sparks fly, the machine malfunctions, the bell beginning to ring and lights flash as it mistakes the impact for someone hitting jackpot, coins starting to cascade out from the machine like a waterfall of silver. The gamblers from nearby instantly flock like vultures, taking advantage of the incident. I see Ira catching her head in horror - she's probably going to have a hell of paperwork to write to explain this incident.

"Come on! Anyone else wants some, you fuckers!?" Sparks shouts at the men, nimbly dodging a half-hearted attempt to throw a punch at her.

"Alright, Sparky, that's enough fighting for today! Away you go!" Katz seizes her while I get in the way of the three other men to keep them from taking advantage of the situation.

"What's the problem here, gents?" I ask them.

Turns out the situation is rather silly. One of the threesome's friends had thought it was a good idea to try and grope Sparks when she was already inebriated. After he quickly learned why it was a poor decision, his friends rushed to his defense. The security guard tried to break up the fight and simply happened to be in the way of a stray punch.

"Get out of the way, soldier boy!" one of the men snarls, "That little twat started this, and we're going to teach her a lesson!"

"Right... From the looks of it, she's the one that's doing the teaching right now," I think to myself.

"No, you are not," I speak loudly, "We are going to take her with us and leave, and nobody will get hurt."

"Like hell you are! Get aside!" the man tries to shove me aside, when I push away his arms sternly.

"You be very careful where you put those arms next time," I warn him, my own patience with these boors growing thin. Katz too looks at them, ready to jump in at the first sign of trouble while still holding back Sparks.

The three chaps hesitate - if a diminutive girl like Sparks could knock out two and hold off the rest of them, two more of us who aren't exactly feeble-bodied either make their odds rather poor.

"Come on, let's go!" I tell my comrades. We seize Sparks by her arms and drag her to the exit.

"LET ME GO!!! LET ME AT THEM!!!" she shrieks, struggling and trying to lash out at the boors as we drag her off. Just as we are about to reach the door, I feel a mug of beer impact against my back, splashing me with cold drink. A furious rage rushes into me, taking my breath away for an instant.

"Yeah, that's right, soldier boys! Get lost and take your crazy bitch with you!" the boors jeer.

"Did you call my girlfriend a bitch?!" Katz snarls, releasing Sparks who seems more than delighted about this turn of events.

"I'll stick that beer up your ass, punk!" I growl, rolling up my sleeves as we turn to face our foes.


Moments later, the bar's front window breaks as one of our adversaries makes a spectacular exit, followed by a hard landing on the pavement.

---

The aftermath of our escapade is over 2000 Euros in damages to the bar's inventory, five unconscious men with various injuries, a few bruises to ourselves, and 30 days in the joint for Sparks. Since me and Katz were sober and defending a comrade, we get away with 15, and the damages deduced evenly from our combined pay. If the brass really wanted, they could just have kicked us from the army entirely, but with a shortage of able-bodied folks willing to serve, they preferred to keep us around. As I later learned, our captain had to pull a few strings to keep us out of trouble, so we owe her big time.

But right now, we better focus on enduring the next 15 days of boredom and tedious work that a stay in the stockade entails. I don't know about Katz, but I certainly don't have any regrets.

Transcender
April 10th, 2015, 08:36 PM
That was a great story; it carried me on from start to finish. I also like your protagonist's fitting voice--well done.