AND THE LION AND THE LAMB LIE DOWN TOGETHER
Chaos greeted Peleton 44 when they entered their bungalow. Beds were overturned. Not a kas was spared. Every kas gaped open, with its contents strewn over the floor. The kaste were locked with the padlocks that the recruits have brought from home. It was evident that the fragile hinges on the doors had been forced off. The forced-off doors were also completely bent out of shape. At least the contents of the trommels were still safe, as the hinges on the trommels were much sturdier as those on the kaste.
“Pizza Face, the little cunt” Wouter’s voice climbed several octaves. “I’m going to cut his balls off and feed them to him.”
“Not if I get to him first!” Jannie spluttered. “I’m going to kill that splotchy-faced little bastard!”
“WAIT!” shouted Arrie Nel. Arrie was a beanpole – very tall and thin, with dark brown hair. He was normally soft-spoken and courteous. He did not really mix well with the other kids at school, or with the recruits in the bungalow. He was related to Mrs. Elize Botha, the wife of the President of the Republic. Mrs. Botha was, in fact, his godmother. The Nel family was one of the most prominent families in Oudtshoorn, if not in the Cape Province. Arrie was not a snob, just painfully shy. He never pushed himself to the forefront. It was somewhat of a surprise to the other recruits when Arrie spoke up.
“I will not tolerate this any further. I am treated worse than an animal. I have blisters on my heels, because a sadist thought it is fun to torture the new troops. I have to go barefoot because the army cannot provide me with proper shoes. I have to eat slops that are not even fed to the pigs on our farm. I have to endure every sadistic whim of a retard with the brain capacity of a four year old. My privacy has been invaded. My belongings are destroyed. This stops NOW.”
Arrie’s outburst shocked the other recruits into silence. He was normally so quiet, that people tended to overlook him.
“There is nothing we can do about it” replied Wouter.
“Oh yes, there is. I have had it up to here with the army.” Arrie indicated his throat with his right hand. “It is high time some people are shown what is right and what is wrong. Don’t touch anything here. I have a couple of phone calls to make. I’ll be back now-now (the South African expression for “in a flash”).” Arrie rushed from the bungalow.
“Ooh Boy. This is going to be fun.” Vaatjie rubbed his hands gleefully.
“What is the guy about?” asked Wouter. “We’d better get started on cleaning up this mess. Pizza Face and Darth Vader will KILL us when they return.”
“Nope” said Vaatjie. He turned his bed the right side up and put his mattress back on it. He primly sat down on the bed with a contented smile on his face.
“What do you mean – nope? I’m not going to clean up your stuff. I do mine – you do yours.” Wouter had seen Vaatjie manipulate the others and he was definitely not going to fall victim to Vaatjie’s honeyed words.
“Wait and learn” Vaatjie informed him cryptically. Wouter was flabbergasted. Not one of the Oudtshoorn recruits made an effort to start straightening out anything in the devastated bungalow.
Jannie took pity on Wouter. “Have you ever been to Knysna (a coastal town, about 100 km from Oudtshoorn)?” he asked Wouter.
“Which very important man has his beach house there?”
“P.W. Botha. We all know that.”
“Guess who is the favourite godson of Tannie Elize (Aunty Elize)?”
“No! That tall ouk (guy)? You’re shitting me!”
“Yep. Let’s see how our dear corporal and lieutenant wriggle themselves out of this one. I have never seen Arrie this upset. Like Vaatjie said, this is going to be a laugh a minute.” Jannie plonked down onto his trommel.
“Is this really true?” Riaan asked Johan. “Do you think the tall guy will be able to do something?”
“He’s related to the Bothas. If there is anyone that can do something, it will be him” replied Johan.
Most of the recruits followed Jannie’s example and sat down on their trommels. Rumour was rife. It was the general consensus that Old Pizza Face and Darth Vader (Jannie came up with this very apt description of Lieutenant Basson) would be permanently removed from the camp – if not from the Defence Force.
Arrie returned about ten minutes later. “Can you believe that an idiot tried to prevent me from phoning from the payphones at the SAWI shop” he announced to the bungalow.
“What happened” asked Jannie.
“I kneed him in the balls. Fucking arrogant creep.” Arrie was very upset. He shook with anger.
The recruits sat back and awaited further developments. Riaan had a vague feeling of dread at the pit of his stomach. Somehow, things did not feel right. Bullies always got back at their victims.
Just before supper, Corporal du Plooy stormed into the bungalow. “Who is Private Nel?” he shouted.
Arrie insolently unwound from his trommel. “I am” he smiled at the fuming corporal.
Corporal du Plooy was incoherent with rage. “You went to complain about ME, arsehole! I will tear open your chest and shit on your lungs! I will see to it that you leave this place in a box! I’ll kill you, you little shit!”
“Kaserne Aan-DAG!” RSM Struwig stood in the doorway with a thunderous expression on his face. The recruits leaped to their feet. Corporal du Plooy shut up in mid-tirade.
“Since WHEN do you NOT stand to attention when an NCO enters your barracks?” shouted RSM Struwig. “I don’t care if you’re the queen of England. You WILL show the proper respect. Is that CLEAR?”
“We will continue this discussion when the present problem has been resolved. This I promise you. Private Nel, come HERE!”
Arrie realised that the RSM meant business. He hurried over to the doorway and halted in front of RSM Struwig.
“I hear that you are not satisfied with the amenities.”
Arrie shook his head.
“Speak UP man!”
“Then what seems to be the problem, Private? Is the mattress not to your liking? Is there something wrong with the cuisine? Do you think you are better than us, just because we elected your uncle to lead the country?”
“We are treated like animals. Our bungalow was trashed. Look at the mess, RSM.”
“I see nothing wrong. All I see, is a snivelling mommy’s boy that cannot take the punch” said RSM Struwig with heavy contempt. “The lot of you WILL assemble outside this barracks RIGHT NOW! If you do not respect your corporal, I WILL teach you respect. I do not care if you have blisters on your feet or if you have terminal cancer. When we have returned, you WILL clean this pigsty. I will inspect this place tomorrow morning and the good Lord help you if I find a speck of dust or one single item of furniture in less than pristine condition! MOVE!”
The next thirty minutes were absolute hell. RSM Struwig drilled Peleton 44 from one end of the camp to the other. Whenever a movement was not executed in perfect unison, the recruits were chased to the boundary fence. Vaatjie finally collapsed, just as Peleton 44 was marched past the Main Gate.
“UP you lazy cunt, UP!” shouted RSM Struwig and kicked Vaatjie in the ribs.
Jannie had reached the end of his tether. He threw all caution to the wind. “You are killing him!” he shouted at the RSM and tried to pull him off Vaatjie.
The enraged RSM turned around. He balled his fist and hit Jannie in the stomach. The air whooshed from Jannie’s lungs. He collapsed next to Vaatjie.
All hell broke loose. The recruits could not stand the abuse anymore. They swarmed all over the RSM and dragged him to the ground. Guards erupted from the guard house, a few metres away. The recruits were beaten away from the RSM with the stocks of their R1 rifles.
Johan saw a guard holding his rifle by the barrel, like a baseball bat. He aimed carefully and then hit Riaan squarely on his unprotected back. Riaan dropped like a pole-axed ox.
“NOOO!” screamed Johan. He rushed at the guard. The guard did not expect the sudden movement and Johan managed to grab the man by the throat. The guard gurgled. His eyes started from their sockets. Johan squeezed with all his might. The man’s legs gave way and they tumbled to the ground.
Johan felt a crack! to the back of his head and everything went black.
I am still getting used to your feedback on the story. Thank you, each and everyone that sent me an email. I really appreciate your kind comments. This is my first time, so criticism is gratefully accepted.
I have increased the font slightly, I hope this makes the story easier to read.
Take care everyone!
COPYRIGHT © 2010 CHRISTIAAN BOOYSE.
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