Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Rising From the Abyss By Jan Norton

Rising From The Abyss

Why the shaved head? Dunno, mate, just like the feel of it. Sort of clean y'know, smooth. I like running my hands over it, feels good. Calm. And it helps.Gives you an edge, know what I mean? Couple of minutes thinking time. You see them wondering whether to or not. The shoes? You tell a man by his shoes, Serg said, dubbin and a bit of spit to polish. They’re what people look at first, so I bull up the toecaps. You taking them? Yeh, I get it. I’m not going nowhere, am I?

Same as I told him over there, I’m not going to run nor nothing. Be a man, Serg always said, shoulders back, chest out, chin tucked in. Stand up for yourself. And when I spotted that bloke, standing on the corner by the Lions, I knew. So you can do one of two things in a tight corner, when your adrenalin’s up, like out there. It’s fight or flight. And I don't run, see? I could have but I knew how it’d be. Even if I did, when I’d settled down, got myself right, taken my shoes off, he’d find me and it’d begin. Looking at me when he thought I couldn’t see, him with his t shirt in November, showing off the biceps and the tattoos, know what I mean? That’s what really did it, if I’m honest.

He’d got a choice, right? Could’ve worn a coat, didn’t have to be cold, didn’t have to be there. And then he gives me that smile, like he’s saying’ You poor sod’ and I’m not having that , am I, so I’m up in his face, and I’m asking , what’s your problem, mate, got a problem, and I see his eyes flickering and I think I’ve got him and his hand is searching around in his pocket .So there’s no more questions. Yeah, all right, I know what he says. Was I supposed to wait and find out? That’s how it kicked off the last time out there. Waited for them to put down the rucksack, gave them a warning - Serg was taken out. I don’t wait any more.Some of them here will piss on you, if you let ‘em, like you're a bit of garbage. Think it’s a game on their way home, tanked up. I’d get a dog if I could. That gives you an edge too. Others it’s a kicking or laughing at you- that gets to me more.

The worst thing? People see you but they don’t. When I walked down the street in Aldershot, you were someone, know what I mean? Or out in Helmand- they loved you or they hated you but they noticed you, didn’t they? Now I feel like every day there’s less of me, like I'm a ghost, like I'm see-through. So it was time all that changed. I made him notice, didn’t I? Oh yes. No quarter given.

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