The virgin (part three)
he had thought she was a bit stuffy when he had first met her, another peace-nik hippie, all full of theories about war but without knowing the first thing about its reality, about how war could bring out the best as well as the worst in a man.
he had fallen for her slowly but profoundly, and even though she was quite a few years older than him, he found her as pretty as a picture. never having been in love before, his feelings confused him. he was a man of action, able to respond to the most horrendous situations in a flash, fast and decisive, but now he felt lost in this strange new romantic territory, had no idea what he was meant to do, he felt like a little boy.
he hated this shitty little town, hated being unemployed, she was the only reason he was still here and he was convinced that she did not feel the same way about him as he did about her. it was the scar on his face, he thought, she found it repulsive, and why not? it was repulsive, he thought. if only she knew how he had got it, about that night when they had pulled those kids from that fire in kandahar, about the girl of two he had carried to safety as the place went up. the following day they had hunted down the talib responsible and he had killed with such fury and lust for revenge that even his own men had seemed scared of him. it was all he was good for he decided.
he had applied for a thousand jobs but his ability to strip down a machine gun in seconds or disarm a land mine were of little use to him in this unfamiliar world. did he know know microsoft office? they would ask. no, but he could learn he had said. she had tried to teach him it all, even got him on facebook – he had one friend there, her.
at least the internet had helped him find this, the job offer, mercenary work in sudan. it was dangerous, ugly looking work and he would be lucky to come out alive, but if he did, he could earn five years money in six months. the voice on the other end of the phone was thick and gruff, told him he was perfect for the job. all he was good for, he thought again.
after booking the flights and packing, he takes the now finished rocking horse round to her place, leaves it on the veranda, with a note attached. he is not a man of words, and realises with a cold shudder that this is the first time he has ever written down the word ‘love’.