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Jacks and Kings - cover




This one - well, it may look a little like another piece in this series - OKAY. But I think - I hope - the flavour's different, and the heart too. Because it was Pride Week where I was typing when I wrote it, and I wanteded this to be, at least a little, about pride.

I probably messed it up (blush).

As usual, I have no idea if this is erotic. That's for the reader. The title sort of comes from a quote from Horace - but I prefer to think of it as from a Wilfred Owen poem. So, for what it's worth, here it is. DULCE ET DECORM EST. Over to y'all...


Dulce et Decorum Est

It’s getting louder. Can you hear it Billy?

It was all Tommy Parker’s fault. Little shit joined the force and thought he was god. So when he knocked at the door, I knew it was bad. He told mam he had to talk to me on my own. Mam gave me that look she had that said ‘what have you done now? You’ll get the back of my hand whatever it is.’ But she left me with Tommy Wooden Top anyway. He said there was a war on, and King George had sent him a personal note telling him England needed Johnny Spencer at the front. So I told him fuck off. Because I was only seventeen and King George should learn to count. He told me he had a friend at the recruiting office, and nobody was going to care about my age. And he said how it was likely to be a lot safer at the front for someone like me than it was going to be at home if the word got out what I was. And how he’d fucking make sure word got out if I didn’t go get shot like a good little sod should. And he said it wasn’t like I’d ever had a girlfriend, was it? And I knew mam was listening at the door, so I didn’t say I’d never had a boyfriend either. I just told him to go to hell. He said I’d get there before he did.

Fuck him. I heard he stood under a Zeppelin bomb in Greenwich. Served the bastard right.

So that was it. I told mam to stop crying, she asked me what Tommy had meant – and gave me the back of her hand. I went to the recruiting office, and Tommy was right. Nobody cared about my age. And I signed on the line, but they didn’t give me a shilling. Just a shitty uniform that didn’t fit. A uniform that didn’t fit, a gun I didn’t know how to fire, some training on how to find my ass with both hands on a sunny day – and a ticket to the front.

It was the luckiest day of my fucking life. Because I met you, Billy.

See, back in Blighty, all they taught you was how to find your own ass, and how to salute. You got to train for real when you got to where the real bullets were flying. And Sergeant Stevens, he took one look at my score on the range and he said how I should be at the front when we went over the top, so I could take a bullet for someone who could actually shoot. I was so shit scared. I went behind the mess hut, and I fucking cried. And you came and found me. You, who could make a shit uniform look like it came from Savile fucking Row. And you told me it was OK, and how you could teach me to shoot. And I asked why would you bother? So you told me how someone had done it for you – and you looked sad. I asked who it was, and you said it didn’t matter.

I knew what that meant.

So you took me to the range when nobody was round, and you showed me how to lie down and you showed me how to hold my gun – and as soon as your arm went round my shoulder, I knew. I could feel it. And I looked at you, lying next to me, and I could see the tears in your eyes. And I had no fucking idea what to do. So I kept looking at you, my eyes on yours – and I touched your hand. Just that.

It was the first time I told you I loved you – and I never said a word.

We spent a lot of time on the range after that. And one day Sergeant Stevens looked at my target and he said maybe I’d better have someone in front of me when we went over the top. So they could take a bullet for me.

And that was it. A look, a touch on your hand. That was all we could have – all I thought we’d ever have. Because we knew. We knew it was bad enough we felt what we did, because we’d be dead soon. And dead-er soon-er if anyone found out. Like Freddy Williams, who was on the list to get his DCM for taking out a machine gun nest. Until he was found with his pants down on top of a 2nd Lieutenant. The Pipsqueak got sent home. Freddy got sent on patrol with the Major’s batman – and nobody was surprised when he didn’t come back. The batman got his pip, and a ticket to the rear. Everybody knew it wasn't a German bullet Freddy had in his back somewhere in the mud.

And then she happened.

It’s funny how we needed her. How we both needed a woman to let us be happy – but that’s how it was. Lady Suzanna Clark. Not that I knew that was her name. She was just Suzie, the ambulance driver. When I found out who she really was I tried to call her Lady Suzanna, but she wasn’t having any of it. She said ‘Johnny, out here we all shit the fucking same way, we all bleed the fucking same – and we all die the fucking same. So call me Suzie, or I’ll talk to the fucking General.’ It was strange to hear it all in an accent right from Roedean, but that was Suzie.

So one day you came to me, and you told me we were going to a Concert Party in the rear lines. And I said how could we go? And you said we were taking our girls. And all I knew was the only person I wanted to go anywhere with was you, and now I never would, because you’d found a girl. So I reached out, and I touched your face, and I said I hoped you’d be happy. And you laughed. You laughed, and you winked, and you told me how it was going to be OK. And I said, anyway, we’d never get a pass to leave barracks, and you said it had all been arranged. So I pressed my ratty uniform, and I waited.

And then she came. Our angel from heaven.

She drove into camp like all the hounds of hell were after her, and behind her was a girl on a motorcycle. And that was how I met Suzie. Or Suzie and Betty. Because Betty was on the bike. She'd been a circus stunt rider before the war, so she’d been a natural for Despatch. She could ride through a tornado. Suzie opened the door of the ambulance, and told me to get in and Betty told you to get your ass in her sidecar. And Suzie must have talked to the General that time because Sergeant Stevens told us to get the fuck out of his sight. So I got in the ambulance. And I told her it was really nice to meet her, but I really didn’t understand what was happening. And she told me to shut the fuck up – but she patted my hand, like she didn’t mean it. And we went to the Concert Party and it was fun. And I held Suzie’s hand, even though it felt strange, and you held Betty’s. And I tried not to look, because it hurt to see you holding her. And after it was done, we left, and I got in the ambulance, and you got in Betty’s sidecar. And we drove, but then we stopped. And I knew we couldn’t be back at camp, because we hadn’t travelled far enough. But Suzie got out, and I got out, and we were in some woods. And Suzie, she patted me on my cheek – and she went and put her arms round Betty. And you looked at me, and you smiling so fucking wide, your face should have split. And I realised. And I knew I was grinning too. And Suzie and Betty, they went off into the woods. And you came to me, and you put your arms round me, and you kissed me for the first time. And I’d never kissed a man, but I knew I was going to kiss you. And your tongue licked my lips, and you pressed at them, and I opened my mouth, and your tongue slid into me. And I was so fucking hard. And I think that first kiss lasted a hundred years.

I still remember your taste, Billy. Oh, god, I can taste you now.

And you kissed me, and I kissed you, and we held each other so fucking tight. And we were both so very hard. And we could have done more – but we didn’t. We knew we both wanted to wait. To have something to hold on to, to give us a reason to stay alive when we went over the top and the bullets did their RAT-TAT-TAT, RAT-TAT-TANG. So we kissed, for about a hundred million years, and we whispered, and we shared all the lives we’d had before we met. Until, too soon, the sun woke above the horizon. And Suzie and Betty came back, and you got into Betty’s sidecar, and I got into Suzie’s ambulance. And it was our first night together. And we got back to camp, and Suzie gave me her underwear, and she told me to put it in my pocket, but to make sure one end was peeping out, the silk with her monogram on it. And when she pulled into the camp, she pulled me close, and held me to her, and she whispered into my ear it was OK – it was so I smelled of her perfume. And when I got out, you had Betty wrapped in your arms, and you were kissing her. But I knew it was just for show. And I saw guys looking at the silk poking out of my pocket, and I could see them looking at the hardness in my pants – and I knew we were safe. And the fucking private on sentry wanted to put us on a charge for being late back to camp, but Sergeant Stevens told him he hadn’t seen a thing unless he wanted the fucking ambulance to be fucking late the day the private caught one. And Sergeant Stevens winked at us, and asked us if we’d enjoyed our ride.

And that was our war. And I loved it, and I hated it. Because there were other Concert Parties, and an ambulance would drive into camp, and a motorcycle behind. But more often we’d go over the top, and the bullets would do their RAT-TAT-TAT, RAT-TAT-TANG. And so many – so very, very many – never came back. And every time, I was terrified I’d never see you again Billy. Because either I’d be blood and broken meat on top of mud, or you would. But the bullets missed us, and the mud didn’t take us, though it took so many we knew – and it ended. It really, really ended. And the bullets stopped, and the mud dried – and we came home. And sure, you had a bullet through your leg that meant you limped and couldn’t run. And sure, my arm was much the same – but we were home.

Oh god, Billy. It’s louder now. Can you hear it?

And we came home, and I cried. I cried for the end of my lovely war, and for the friends I’d lost in the evil one. And I cried until, one day, there was a knock at the door. And it wasn’t Tommy Parker, because he’d been too dumb to get out from under a Zeppelin bomb. It was you Billy. It was you, and Betty was on your arm, and Suzie was out in the street in a new car. And you said I should pack, because you and your girlfriend, and me and mine, we were going on holiday. And we had great rooms, in a great hotel, and they were rooms next to each other. And these rooms, you said, they had a door between them that opened. And you grinned, and you winked – and I stuffed a case faster than I’d ever stuffed a duffel, and I got into the car with Suzie. And at the hotel, Suzie and I signed in as Mr and Mrs Smith, and you and Betty were Mr and Mrs Jones. And we knew the hotel staff didn’t believe us, but we knew from their smiles they didn’t care. And we went to our rooms. But the door between them didn’t stay closed.

And our war was over, and we were us, even if we couldn’t be us where people could see – and that was the first night we made love, Billy. We didn’t fuck, and we didn’t sod each other – we made love. And I can still feel you in me, Billy – so very hard in me. And I can still feel your mouth on my cock, Billy, and feel me pumping and surging, filling you.

And that was our life, Billy. Mr and Mrs Smith, and Mr and Mrs Jones. And the war we were supposed to have fought to make impossible came again, but we weren’t fit enough to go. And I was glad it was someone elses turn to be scared – and maybe someone else’s turn to find someone like you. And if we still couldn’t be us, we could be Mr and Mrs Smith, and Mr and Mrs Jones, who sometimes went on holiday together. And I thought maybe we could get married for real, Suzie and me and Betty and you, and have houses next door to each other and… Well. And. But nobody stays lucky forever, and not every bullet goes RAT-TAT-TAT. And one day, you came to me, and you told me how Suzie had tried to take a bend a little too fast, and Betty was with her. And we cried. We cried so hard, tight in each other’s arms. And nobody was surprised when those two old boys, you know? The ones who were in the war together? They got a house to share. And people said it was so sad how our girls had died, but it was good we still had each other. And nobody said anything else, even if they thought it. And we lived, and we loved, and I woke up next to you every day.

But the bullets – they weren’t done yet, were they Billy? But this one wasn’t any lead. It had a name, and the name began with C. And I watched you Billy. I watched it take you, so very slowly. Until you had to go away from me. To go away, and waste away in a bed I couldn’t share. But I visited you, every day. And one day, the Charge Nurse, she told me you wouldn’t wake the next one. And she told me she knew what we were, because she’d seen it in our eyes. And she told me she didn’t give a damn, and to be outside a particular door at a particular time. And I was, and she let me in, and she brought me to you – and she told the nurse who was sitting the death watch to leave. And the nurse smiled, and she shook my hand, and she told me she’d lost her grand-dad in the war. And the Charge Nurse kissed me on the cheek – and she left too. And I took my clothes off, and I got into bed with you – and you were too far gone to know I was there. But you knew. I know you knew, Billy. And I kissed you, and you breathed in and out – and then only out. And I knew you were gone.

Oh fuck, Billy. It’s so fucking loud.

And that was five years ago, Billy. And I lie here in our bed tonight, and I can hear my heart. And it’s hammering, Billy. It’s hammering like the big guns hammered before we went over the top. And it’s so loud! And I know I’m not going to wake tomorrow, Billy. But it’s OK. Because I can feel you close. I can feel you, and I’m back with you, in the trench. And I can hear the big guns, Billy, and they’re so fucking loud! But you take my hand, and we go over the top. And we go over, and your hand is in mine, and the bullets go RAT-TAT-TAT, RAT-TAT-TANG. And I know this time they’re going to find us, Billy. They’re going to find us, and we’re going to be the ones who don’t come back. But we’ll go together, Billy, your hand in mine, and we’ll go as us, and we’ll be proud to be us, Billy. So fucking proud, like we couldn't be back here in the land we fought for. And I can feel my cock getting hard, Billy, and I can see yours – and we’re not going to do it, but we’re so hard, and it’s like we’re saying I love you. And I do, Billy. I love you so fucking much. I lo………