Balls of Steel

A small hand grenade being demonstrated by Blue-dot security.
Boom! a deep thudding explosion vibrates through the air."Contact right!” goes up the cry. The group of trainee Journalists in transit with me all move for the right hand doors of the Land Rover. I’m sitting in the passenger as navigator. Out of the corner of my eye I see a man in a balaclava with a pistol lunging for the door. I push at the driver and shout: ”Out your side,” but  he doesn’t budge...
The gunman swings the door open and pushes the pistol at me shouting: “Get out of the fuckin’ vehicle.” I grab the gun and twist it away from me towards him. He forces it back and I twist it  again. He drags me out of he vehicle and puts the gun to my head.
My compatriots are fleeing downhill. “If you don’t come back I’m going to kill him,” shouts the abductor.
They keep running…
"Did you hear what I said?."
They keep running...
(The realization dawns: Fuck they’re are not going to come back)
“Get down on the ground and eat the fuckin’ dirt.”
“Who are you and what are you doing here?”
I keep schtum. ‘Fuck you’ I’m thinking inside. Despite having been apparently abandoned I’m not going to say anything that will compromise my colleagues. On some level I’m aware my resistance is giving them time.
I’m not going to tell him anything.
He pins me against the Land rover and has a go with the old verbal, calling me all the jack- ass names under the sun.
I go mute… and calm inside, there there is no way I’m going to speak. The abuse just seems to bounce off. He picks me up at screams at me eyeball to eyeball.
“If you don’t fuckin’ talk there is a group of men down there that are going to bend you over and fuck you up the arse till you can't take any more do you hear me?
Do you understand…”
What’s your name?
“Billy Wigham” (the man who ran a chip shop in my village when I was a kid).
What are you doing here. “I’m on holiday!”
“Your not on fuckin’ holiday you liar.”
“What are the others doing here?”
“I have no idea I’m not party to that information.”
"Not party? what kind of poncey language is that bullshit?"
I remain silent.
Silence it seems, is my natural reaction, this is me…

Later, the military man turned actor hands me back a button from my blue shirt.
“You must have balls of steel, no one has ever attempted to wrestle the gun out my hands before!” he says at debrief.

He shows me the cuts on his hand from the pistol wrestling.
“You know I was under control. I’m trained to do this and that was the hardest treatment I have ever given a student. You did so well Geordie mate, alright."
He gives me a handshake and a pat on the back.
“You might have bad dreams about this tonight...”
I wake in the morning dreaming about a cat that has bowl problems…there doesn’t seem to be a connection but who knows? Maybe the subconscious has a way of excreting stuff it no longer needs.
On the train home the next day I understand a little of why soldiers and foreign correspondents go back into the action time and time again. After three days of running through the woods, navigating in the dark, spotting mines, treating wounds and learning short hand radio civvy street seems dull.
Deathly dull…
Now, there in lies a contradiction.

Perryeyes acting dead


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