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CyberWar
August 20th, 2018, 09:55 PM
My old buddy Katz used to brag about his pre-war sexual exploits, him and Reindeer hooking up with two chicks who were into uniformed guys. Even though the two were as green behind ears as cucumbers, they managed to convince the lasses of them being badass combat medics in Afghanistan. Never been able to understand what is it with chicks and combat experience, but apparently that proved to be a real panty-dropper. At least according to Katz, who claimed to have boned one of the two.

Hooking up with the ladies has never been a problem for me, however. For most of the time, they just don't notice I even exist, and on the rare occasions they do, the impression is usually far from desirable. In other words, I'm one of those guys that any self-respecting girl will only sleep with when shit-drunk and unable to remember afterwards, and frankly, I'm content with that role. Because not everybody can be James Bond, or Ethan Hunt, or some other Mr. Goody Two-Shoes with a Hollywood smile so dazzling you have to wear shades just to look at. Someone's gotta be the bad guy, the wingman to make friends look good, if you will, so why not me... Besides, my own distrust for people has about reached the point where any actual interest in me would most probably be a cause for more suspicion.

Which means I'm content with enjoying my drink alone in this rather modest dive of Tel Aviv during our week-long leave. There's a lot of pretty girls around, and a lot of them seem to be single too, but frankly I couldn't care less, and it ain't because of old ideological prejudices neither.

As far as my buddy Katz goes, my services as the ultimate wingman are unnecessary - Sparks sees to that. Since those two hooked up, I wouldn't let Katz cheat on Sparky even if he wanted to.

Reindeer, on the other hand, seems to be hell-bent on impressing the local lasses with his war stories, only for his efforts to be frustrated. In a country where every other chick has served in the army for longer than most of us have, even good and true stories don't mean much.

As for my other brethren, Hog and Fender don't seem to care about companionship much either, being busy emptying one cup after another and instructing the awe-struck bartender in new recipes of drink yet unseen in these parts of the world.

---

That we are here of all places is largely due to an unlucky combination of circumstances. The brass fucked up Sevastopol badly, and the Ivans saw to it become worse. Consequently, those of us left over afterwards got deployed to Syria, presumably to drive the Ivan out of the Mediterranean for good - which in turn meant plenty of collaboration and cooperation with the Israelis.

Now, my opinion on their sort has always been divided. On one hand, I admire them sincerely. If anything, these guys know how to run their country, how to survive amongst neighbors that would cut their throats at the first chance. The kind of people my own compatriots ought to have taken example of. On the other, they are a bunch of good-for-nothing swindling Jews, part of the reason why this stupid war even began. Which part I agree more with, I haven't been able to decide quite yet.

Whatever my personal opinions about them be, the natives seem to have a reasonable taste in music, the DJ skillfuly mixing Western pop music with native tunes. Katz and Sparks certainly seem to like them.

"Hey there," I hear a voice in a heavily-accented English next to me, "Wanna dance?"

A pair of dark-brown, almost black eyes gazes at me with a bit of curiosity. Her face is swarthy, olive-brown, more like what you'd expect from Spaniards than Jews feature-wise. Her long black hair is curly, but only so slightly.

"Nope, just trying to have my drink..." I try to bug her off.

"You one of those guys from Eastern Europe who got sent over after Sevastopol? Fun, I've never met anyone from those parts!" she persists.

"Good for you, haven't missed much either..." I grumble.

"What's with the sourpuss act?" she seems offended.

"Look, lady," I bark, "You don't want to know me! Before this stupid war began, I used to bash your sort in the street, and were it not for this stupid war, I'd bash them still! So do me a favour and find someone else to bug!"

And I show her my swastika tattoo to emphasize my point.

Yet she doesn't seem shocked, offended or outraged.

"I'm not buying it," she says firmly, "You might have been a lot of things before, yet here you are now, sitting in an Israeli night club after fighting on Israel's side, taking to an Israeli girl and trying hard to pretend it sucks. If anything, I'd call that progress rather than bugging!"

To be honest, I don't have anything to counter that with. Why am I here, after all?

"What is it that you want with me?" I ask.

"A simple dance and a conversation would be a good start," she shrugs, "Maybe that will lighten up your mood as well."

"Look, girl, if you are one of those Mossad types, I ain't got anything interesting to tell you," I grumble, "So don't waste your time and find someone else to pester."

"If I wanted to, I could," she shrugs, "But I don't, and hence pester you. And before you say it, no, I'm not leaving without that dance."

"Why?" I am completely confused now, "By now, most girls would have slapped me, called me a complete asshole and left."

"Because I'm not most girls, and because I can," she shrugs as if it was self-evident. All the more reason to admire her sort, if they are anything like her.

"Fine," I grumble, standing up. For me, dancing has always been at best an unpleasant social obligation.

---

"So, what got you into hating "my sort"?" she asks as we dance slowly. I'm surprised about the casual matter-of-factly manner she treats my self-professed prejudices with - I've always thought Jews were a bunch of whiny cry-babies with a victim complex, ever looking for opportunities to get offended by anything remotely referencing the darkest parts of their history with anything less than profound sympathy and apology. Apparently another stereotype that this lass seems to defeat effortlessly.

"It's complicated. Truth be told, I don't hate your sort - if anything, I have more of a grudging admiration for you, and that's way more than I can say about certain camel-riding goat-fuckers you people got for neighbors," I explain.

Again, my effort to shock and offend her by using racial slurs fails miserably. I've heard word that Israelis are about the most hardcore racists there are in the civilized world, so our opinions on the swarthier parts of humanity probably don't differ that much.

"Well, that's one way to put it..." she chuckles.

Word by word, we start discussing my political beliefs, and find surprisingly plenty of common ground. Way more than I'd ever feel comfortable to admit, seeing how she's one of the "swindling Jews" and I am... well, me.

"So why blame us all then?" she asks, "Sure, some of us are pricks - just like some of your folk. That don't make us all swindling scum, does it?"

The cheap lying Jewess is just trying to make me feel guilty - so says my conscience. The cheap lying Jewess will not succeed - so says my pride. The cheap lying Jewess is just genuinely interested - so says my inner male.

"Same reason everyone including you Israelis blame immigrants. Some do bad things, and it reflects badly on the rest," I finally say.

"If you realize that is the case, why do you keep at it then?" she asks.

"Good question," I grin. Frankly I don't have an answer for it besides perhaps old habit.

---

After another dance, we sit down at the bar, and I feel compelled to buy her a drink.

"So, what's your story?" she asks, "Other than having once been a Jew-hating skinhead before the war, that is."

"Nothing especially interesting or impressive that you'd really want to hear," I try to deflect her.

"If I wasn't interested, I wouldn't be asking, would I?" she insists, "So...?"

For a moment, I wonder if all Jewish girls are this forceful, or is it just me who with his usual "luck" with women has ended up stuck in a conversation with one. To indulge her insistent curiosity, I briefly recount my rather unremarkable and inglorious pre-war life, and mostly focus on my wartime service - the only meaningful thing I've done in my life.

"That's actually quite something," she finally states much to my surprise, "If anything, I've always felt my life was boring, which is why I chose to stay in the army after my compulsory service."

"Where do you serve?" I ask. Conversations about military service are much more comfortable for me, because they do not involve personal matters.

"Sayeret," she says as if it was something self-evident.

The revelation that I'm being hit on by an Israeli commando doesn't exactly facilitate my trust in her. Then again, I realize that I am too unimportant for Mossad or any other intelligence agency to take interest in me, so her motivations are in all probability earnest.

"Do they just let you tell where you serve like that?" I ask.

"Aren't you allowed that?" she seems surprised.

"Well, where I come from, special forces operators aren't exactly open about what they do," I explain.

"We're just a reconnaissence unit," she shrugs, "Nothing secret about that."

By now, the lads seem to have taken note of my unusual interaction with a member of the female sex, exchanging hushed comments, grinning and subtly gesturing me thumbs-up along with a few more indecent gestures meant to suggest the desirable course of action for later in the evening.

"Your friends sure seem enthusiastic about our conversation," my new drinking buddy immediately picks up on it.

"In case you didn't notice already, I'm not much for conversation, especially with the opposite sex," I grumble, "Obviously they take note of me making an unusual exception."

"And yet here you are, talking to me and even buying me a drink. What a pain that must have been, huh?" she remarks sarcastically.

"I was about to buy you another one. Evidently I must be a masochist..." I retort with the same sarcasm.

"Oh, look... You even have a sense of humor!"

"Ain't that a surprise..."

---

After the bartender fetches us the next round, we start trading war stories. Only now it occurs for me to ask her name.

Ayana Baruch, as she turns out to be called, is 25 years old, which makes us roughly the same age. She serves in a Sayeret unit attached to the Golani Brigade, currently deployed in Syria and actually the same force we've been fighting alongside with lately. Formerly a marksman, now a squad leader. None of her comrades are here, since all of them have taken to visiting their families during their leave. I can't help but ask why is she not with them.

"I don't have any," she states plainly.

"Your parents?"

"Dead. Papa was killed by a terrorist bomb when I was 18, and mom died of stroke just before the war," Ayana states in a matter-of-factly manner.

"My condolences," I state, mostly as a matter of courtesy.

"No need," she shrugs, "I have a family and a purpose in my unit now. Much like you do."

I guess that's another thing we two have in common. The lads in my unit are indeed the closest thing to a family I have right now, so I can certainly relate.

Our conversation is interrupted by the wail of air raid syrens from outside. My comrades seem visibly distraught, but the native partygoers don't seem bothered at all. The only reaction that the alarm prompts is a brief announcement from the DJ.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it seems that the enemy has decided to try giving us a hard time again. Please, stay indoors for your own safety until further notice, and enjoy the evening!"

"Shouldn't we get to the basement or something?" I ask Ayana, unsure what to make of it.

"No need, happens all the time," she shrugs, "The Iron Dome will take care of it, we just have to stay indoors in case some debris fall from the sky."

I trust a native resident's opinion and return to my drink. One thing I've learned over my service outside my own country is to always watch the natives. They are like that proverbial T-shirt inscribed "I'm a bomb technician - if you see me running, better folow!" If they are calm, then you can most probably feel reasonably safe as well, and if they start to scatter, better get ready for trouble.

"And here goes my hope going out for a smoke," I grumble.

"You smoke? You should quit, it's bad for your health," Ayana says.

"Lass, this is World War Three going on - I think it's fairly safe for me to say that dying of lung cancer is the least of my worries right now," I chuckle, "Especially after Sevastopol that's probably gonna have me dying of cancer anyway."

"How bad was it?" she asks, "I've heard it was pretty bad."

"Worse than you could possibly imagine," I grumble, "And given your job, I'd say you can imagine quite a lot."

She asks no more, evidently being familiar with having some war stories that are best left untold. In our earlier conversation, I did mention off-handedly about having been in Strasbourg as well, so I gather she understands a man's reluctance of discussing Sevastopol after that.

"I used to smoke a lot too," she says to change the subject, "Especially after mom died. Quit when the war started. It's bad for your breathing and heart rate, makes it harder to aim well for a long time."

"If I live through this, I've promised myself to quit at the age of 30, or when I start to think about starting a family, whichever comes first," I say.

"Well, better late than never, I guess," Ayana smiles, "Care for another dance? Remember, I don't take "no" for an answer..."

"I guess you have me beat there," I nod, finishing my glass as I stand to make my way to the dance floor with her.

"You know," I ask her, "I've been thinking all this evening - why is it that you talk to me despite knowing who I am and what my attitudes towards your people generally are?"

"I already answered," Ayana shrugs, "Because I'm not every girl, and simply because I can."

---

I have nothing to argue against that. Old ideological prejudices aside, I probably should heed the lads and really ask for her number.

Ralph Rotten
August 21st, 2018, 02:04 AM
I like the story well, the dialog is good, and the first person perspective is good.
But you need some brush strokes in your dialog, just the little details that help to paint the scene and the characters.

You describe her during her intro:
A pair of dark-brown, almost black eyes gazes at me with a bit of curiosity. Her face is swarthy, olive-brown, more like what you'd expect from Spaniards than Jews feature-wise. Her long black hair is curly, but only so slightly.
But you should continue to throw little details in here 'n there to finish painting her and the narrator.
Little stuff like this:


Original version:

"I don't have any," she states plainly.

"Your parents?"

"Dead. Papa was killed by a terrorist bomb when I was 18, and mom died of stroke just before the war," Ayana states in a matter-of-factly manner.

"My condolences," I state, mostly as a matter of courtesy.

"No need," she shrugs, "I have a family and a purpose in my unit now. Much like you do."


With brush strokes:

"I don't have any," she states plainly as she brushes back her shoulder-length hair.

"Your parents?" I asked the next logical question, trying not to stare at her chest too much.

"Dead. Papa was killed by a terrorist bomb when I was 18, and mom died of stroke just before the war," Ayana pretended as if it were unimportant, but the way she stared into the distance as she swirled the beer in her bottle tells me otherwise.

"My condolences," I state, mostly as a matter of courtesy.

"No need," she shrugs, her dark eyes seemed to light up again, "I have a family and a purpose in my unit now. Much like you do."


Brush strokes keep painting the scene, and also make it so you don't have to include some long, verbose introduction/description of every character.
You paint them one brush stroke at a time.