Chapter Listing

Chapter 1

A few months after he had landed in 4 Coy of the Fifth Battalion Parachute Regiment, serving in Germany, Lieutenant Richard Finch received a visit in his office from his Platoon Sergeant, Patrick Kincaid. There was a discreet knock on the already-open door. He looked up to see Kincaid standing in the doorway; he was looking, as usual, like a recruiting poster and clutching an army-issue Filofax.   

“Permission to speak, Sir?” he asked crisply. He made it sound like an order. 

Richard had not yet worked Kincaid out. Among other things, he was Irish and Catholic, from the Republic of Ireland and moreover from a traditionally  Nationalist and Republican area. Yet here he was, serving in the Paras, of all British regiments. He had a ready, searchlight smile and seemed friendly enough in the superficial way that many charming Irishmen have. The reality underneath can be quite different, as Richard knew: friendliness did not necessarily imply friendship, especially not in Ireland. What Kincaid's true feelings about anything were –  including his real thoughts  about Richard himself - was anyone's guess. So Richard was wary: apart from that, a request by one's Platoon Sergeant for a one-to-one meeting was apt to be the prelude to his revealing an imminent man-management crisis in their platoon or some other challenging problem that would prove inconvenient, time-consuming and might impact on Richard's extra-mural pleasures, which included rugby, boxing, racing at Newmarket and very importantly, sex.   

“Okay, come in. Please shut the door. Stand at ease, stand easy. Let's sit over here.” Richard stood up and indicated two armchairs facing each other across a low coffee-table, which he used for informal discussions; this layout created a relaxed atmosphere. “Sit down, Sergeant. Will you have a coffee?”  

Kincaid thanked him and took off his beret; he smoothed his short, curly hair. 

The coffee smelt appetising; Richard, who hated brackish NAAFI coffee, had installed a personal coffee-bean grinder and percolator in his office. They rattled and gurgled away in the background. Richard now poured  Kincaid a mugful of coffee; he accepted with apparent pleasure. Neither took milk; Kincaid took one sugar. They slurped at their mugs in companionable silence for a few moments. Richard waited for Kincaid to speak. Finally he did so: 

“Thanks. This is grand coffee and no mistake! It's like this: it's yer birthday soon. Me and the lads would like to celebrate it with yer!”  

This came as a slight surprise; Richard had not advertised his imminent birthday, although its date could be found by consulting The Army List. He was not sentimental about anniversaries; unless it happened to fall during one of his visits to his adoptive parents, Dr and Mrs Finch, in Hertfordshire, he usually did not bother to mention or celebrate his birthday.  

“That's very thoughtful of you, Sergeant. But I can guess what that means: You want to get me over to the Sergeants' Mess and, once there, drink me under the table. Then you'll expect me to join you in a foray into the nearest red-light district, so that I'm unfit for duty the next day and will probably have caught clap! Isn't that correct?” 

Kincaid threw back his head and laughed: “No Sir. You're just-about wrong on every score. Not the Sergeants' Mess. Not your usual red-light quarter either. We was thinkin' of a cultural trip to Cologne, maybe; drinks in a bar, certainly; to be followed by a civilised dinner in a place that I know, and... maybe a bit of fun after that, if there's time and you're agreeable. I can borrow a mini-bus and a driver. That way none of us needs to stay totally sober and, as for the clap, I'll bring along a supply of condoms, just in case!”   

Richard smiled. He was as curious about Kincaid as he suspected that Kincaid was about him. That might be the real reason behind the  invitation; to get the measure of the still-new Platoon Commander. He knew that 4 Coy of 5 Para had a Tabasco reputation as an unofficial sanctuary for macho military homosexuals and he had been trying to work out which of his men actually were... It was not that easy: Richard's platoon all looked very masculine. They were super-fit and smartly turned-out, like the rest of the Company. They were short-haired – shorter than the Army now demanded - and virtually all clean-shaven. Some were evidently bodybuilders; Richard hoped that they were not abusing steroids. A few of the latter showed narcissistic tendencies, like wearing carefully-tapered sideburns and expensive, erotically scented after-shave. In the showers their buff, shaven physiques shone and glittered. Richard assumed that those men were the most likely suspects; he occasionally got a “gay vibe” from one or other them.  

But where did Kincaid stand in all of this? Kincaid was tall, strong and handsome in a macho, typically Irish way: sparkling dark-blue eyes; strong white teeth, which were often bared in a grin or boisterous laughter; regular features, healthy complexion, dark curly hair. It was said that he enjoyed success with women, although he was not married and never had been. Richard had decided that he was  probably straight, but “a man's man”. After all, Kincaid played rugby, which was hardly a game for pansies. On the other hand, as Richard reminded himself, he too played rugby and he was one-hundred percent gay... 

Kincaid is bloody beautiful, Richard mused. I wonder why I've never fancied him? Probably because as a rule I go for fair-haired men; his hair is dark and moreover he's a lot bigger than I am. It's just as well; lusting after your Platoon Sergeant is not a good idea. 

Kincaid continued to smile, to sip coffee and to watch Richard over the rim of his mug, while he waited for his response. He was wearing tight-fitting green khaki Para combat trousers. He sat there, relaxed and unselfconscious, his booted feet planted firmly on the floor and his legs apart. Richard was trying hard not to look at the prominent bulge at Kincaid's crotch. 

The lunch-box has landed! he thought, and added as an afterthought, I'd better get some trousers like that. They seem to be de rigeur around here. 

Richard was still wearing ordinary, slightly baggy, DP combat trousers. Kincaid's trouser-fly was secured by big external khaki fly-buttons, as well as the usual heavy-duty zip.  Although, as Richard knew, there were good practical reasons for that – it provided extra insurance against embarrassing or painful accidents with one's parachute harness – the effect was also extremely erotic. (He might just as well be wearing a fucking codpiece!) The close-fitting trousers also showed that, apart from being well-hung, Kincaid had long, very muscular rugby-player's legs. His khaki shirt-sleeves were neatly rolled up, exactly three turns, to just above the elbow, baring his powerful forearms. His immaculately-ironed shirt was open at the neck. In the narrow “v” his skin was exposed to show dark, curly chest-hair, ending just below the throat. There was a slight whiff of Old Spice after-shave; surely a straight man's fragrance?  

There was a pause, then:       

“Okay, thanks” said Richard. “I appreciate the invitation and I accept!”

Kincaid nodded and smiled. “There's something else I need to know.” 

Now we come to it: the real reason for his visit.

 “The boys are all wondering why you, a Guards Officer, should have transferred over to the Paras. One Guardee is unusual enough, but two - I've just been told about your friend Mr Stainer, who's coming here from the School of Infantry – is unheard-of. And when we're alone together could you see your way to callin' me Patrick or maybe Paddy?”

Richard looked at him thoughtfully: “If you ask the Colonel or the RSM, you'll get an answer: that we both got bored with ceremonial duties, which are a waste of time - guarding royal palaces, etc. - wanted to do less of that and more proper soldiering. It was a choice between the Paras and the Royal Marines. We chose the Paras!” 

Kincaid whinnied with laughter. “So I should bloody-well think! The Marines are... well they are what they are. But what's the real reason?” 

“All right, Sergeant – I mean Patrick - yes, there was another reason. You'd better know the true facts, since you're my Platoon Sergeant. But I do NOT want them gossiped about. So, for your information, I nearly killed a brother officer - he was quite a popular guy - and I am no longer welcome in the Household Division. Satisfied now?” 

“Wheeew!” The whistled was prolonged for several seconds. “How'd you manage that? A bad accident? A cock-up on exercise?” 

“Nope; I don't do cock-ups. It was deliberate. I wanted to kill him.”

Kincaid's jaw dropped. Now Richard had his undivided attention; the Sergeant had clearly not picked up any whisper of this from the Army grape-vine. Richard continued: 

 “It's a long story; my only excuse is that my natural father comes from Gascony; Gascons have notoriously hot tempers. One drunken evening this other officer insulted me; I knocked him out. When he came round, I challenged him to a duel. He accepted. Since I was the one who had been insulted, I had the choice of weapons: I said 'Sabres at dawn'. We did it properly; met at dawn in Hyde Park. We stripped to the waist, which is what you do in an affair of honour. I wounded him quite badly. An ambulance had to be called. There was a lot of blood and I was in all sorts of trouble.” 

Kincaid's eyebrows shot up. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph! What happened next?” 

“Quite a few things! Firstly, duelling turned out to be illegal in the UK. However the man who had insulted me was equally guilty at Law, as he had accepted the challenge and kept the rendezvous. So he didn't press charges. Anyway, his wounds were not fatal; he's still with us, worse luck. Mark Stainer had agreed to be my Second, so he got into trouble too. The regiment didn't want a scandal; they hushed it up. But the Bombardier CO – a snarling, farting little martinet - wasn't happy at all. He didn't like me anyway; a sideways move was now unavoidable. I landed here and so, soon, will Mark. So your new Platoon Commander has just escaped  a charge of manslaughter; maybe even of attempted murder. I'm a really nice bloke, don't you think? Satisfied now?”  

Kincaid's happy peal of boyish laughter came as a surprise. 

“Ha ha ha ! Well done, you! I expect he deserved it. You're a dangerous man, all right! I mean, in the right sort of way! You're a darlin' boy and no mistake; I wish you'd let me tell the lads. They're already impressed with your rugby playin' and your arm-wrestlin'! If they knew about your nearly killin' your man, you'd be really-fockin'-popular! But that's the reason we wanted to celebrate; your birthday was just an excuse. You've been accepted! Now we need to welcome you properly into the tribe!” He added more thoughtfully: “So duelling's illegal now, is it? I never knew that.” 

“Take it from me, it is; very illegal indeed! Prince Albert got the Government of the day to put a stop to it a long time ago”, said Richard. 

“Oh, never mind that!” said Kincaid, airily brushing aside the illegality and the potential criminal charge. “We don't care about manslaughter!” 

"That's nice to know!"

Richard smiled. He was secretly rather chuffed. He was, in Para-speak, “a crap-hat blow-in”; an outsider posted into the regiment and not “a proper Para”. He had assumed that they would hold that against him and never really accept him. Apparently he was wrong!  

Kincaid was silent for a moment. Then he asked: “What did that other officer call you?” 

“Never mind about that, Patrick. All that you need to know is that it was very offensive indeed; totally unacceptable!” 

Kincaid looked Richard straight in the eye. He was no longer smiling. 

“He called you a queer, didn't he?” 

“What the hell makes you say that? He called me a lot of things.” 

“Oh, I wasn't born yesterday! Firstly, because you ended up here, in this Company. Secondly, because it's blazingly obvious that you are a –  a man's man, in all senses - Well, aren't you? You enjoy male company and have no interest in women. That's clear to me. It's all right; I'm like that, too.”

“Fuck! Is it that obvious? Who else knows?”

 “Relax, Sir. No-one in the Platoon knows anything, apart from us, nor need they. Oh, some suspect. And a few may even hope... Look in that mirror. You're fockin' good-looking, in case you hadn't noticed! You've one or two admirers here already!”   

“Oh Bloody Hell! I don't need that!” 

“I said, relax. What's said and done in 4 Coy stays in 4 Coy. It's not like the rest of the Army. We have... our own rules, which are not in Queen's Regulations.  I reckon that the two of us'll be able to work together. That's the important thing I had to be sure of. I'll let you have joining instructions for the birthday party IDC.” 

Kincaid grinned again, stood up and rose to his full six-feet-six. He replaced his red beret, assumed a serious and slightly blank expression, saluted smartly, reversed and and marched out. His muscular ass was a neat figure-eight in his tight combat trousers. The door closed behind him. Richard took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. 

Well, fuck me five times!! thought Richard. What else does Sergeant-Bloody-Kincaid know, or has worked out for himself?  

Kincaid later briefed Richard: 

“I'm not going to tell you too much; it's meant to be a surprise evening. But don't drink too much alcohol at the start. You may need to have your wits about you later; not to mention your reflexes working! I for one am going to start with orange juice. And remember, if you forget to bring your own condoms, that Kincaid always has plenty in his pocket!” 

This was a bit mysterious and not entirely reassuring. Richard nodded. He had his own supply of extra-thick condoms. Suddenly he thought of something: 

“Is Lance-Corporal McSpunk going to be with us?” 

“Yep!” Kincaid laughed mischievously: “Can't have a party without Roddy McSpunk!” 

“No; I suppose not”, said Richard. 

Richard had been warned about, and already encountered, McSpunk. Meanwhile Kincaid was advising him about dress:  

“Dress is smart-casual. I'll be wearing jeans or chinos and a polo-shirt with desert-boots or plimsolls. You wear something similar. Given as it's going to be a warm night, there's no need for jackets.”  

The party evening arrived: it was a Friday. Almost all of Richard's platoon were free to join him and Kincaid, who had made the arrangements with military efficiency. Richard followed Kincaid's advice. He wore fawn jeans and a scarlet polo-shirt. When he got to the rendezvous point in the car park, he found that  everyone else was wearing some variation of the same costume. Several were wearing maroon Para polo-shirts; Kincaid's was green and had a shamrock embroidered on the breast pocket. He was carrying a CB walkie-talkie strapped to his belt. This was to call the driver when necessary. The men looked freshly showered and shaved; cheerful and squeaky-clean. They larked around and took the mickey out of each other. Most of them wore jeans; usually tight-fitting ones that emphasised their physiques, fitting snugly around the crotch and ass. To the less-observant onlooker they might just possibly have passed for a stag party or a rugby club outing. However certain small details: haircuts, the tattoos on their biceps and military-style wristwatches, would tell any  knowledgeable person that this was a bunch of soldiers on the razzle. 

Is this wise? Richard asked himself. It's almost like a uniform! The IRA have struck in Germany before. Let's hope that they, or any other ill-disposed people, are not out on the town tonight! I won't spoil the party by boring on about security now, but tomorrow Kincaid and I need to talk about it. 

The exception to this sartorial uniformity proved to be Lance Corporal McSpunk (real name: McSporran), when he finally appeared. The mini-bus was revving-up, when: 

“Why are we waiting?” asked someone. “Let's go!”

“Can't go without McSpunk!” said someone else. 

“Where is the little fucker?” a third man asked. “Late as usual, I suppose!” 

“Making himself beautiful, I expect!” said a fourth; there was general laughter. “Oh, here he comes now!” 

A diminutive figure was pelting across the parade square at breakneck speed. 

“C'mon sex-god!” someone shouted. There was more laughter.  

McSpunk jumped aboard. “Eh! We can go now! Drive on, Jimmy!” he shouted to the driver as he hauled himself onto the minibus, ignoring the presence of an Officer, a Sergeant and a couple of Corporals. The minibus headed off.  

McSpunk did not look remotely effeminate; just outrageous. He was clearly a very tough little man. Equally, he was not exactly hiding his orientation; in fact, he looked as gay as bunting. He was not dressed like everyone else; his trousers, which were supported by a macho studded-leather belt with an ornate buckle, were cream-coloured, lightweight, low-waisted and skin-tight above the knees, though slightly flared below them. Through the thin material Richard could make out minute black bikini-briefs, which covered McSpunk's genitals and not much else. He wore a loose-fitting short-sleeved shirt outside his trousers. The shirt was see-through and offered a view of McSpunk's shaven, muscular torso with its six-pack. His skin was pale and un-tanned with a few freckles; his rosy nipples stood out vividly. A clunky gold chain was draped round his neck. It supported a pendant; a lovingly-detailed miniature gold cock and balls. The testicles were cairngorm stones. 

How tasteless! No doubt that display is for my benefit, thought Richard. 

Telepathically, McSpunk turned to him, gave him a wide, decidedly cocky grin: “Guten abend, Mr Finch! A bit different from the Guards, eh, Pal!” 

Kincaid laughed, but wagged his finger disapprovingly. “Yer don't call an officer 'Pal'! He's 'Sir' to you! And Mr Finch's a dangerous man!”

McSpunk grinned some more and patted Richard's knee: “Eh! Weel, that makes two of us. Hey! You're nice and you're cute! I'm looking forward to serving under you!”  

McSpunk might just as well have said: 'I want to fuck with you!' Some of the other men were now chuckling and smirking. Richard's cock was starting to get stiff. Despite his best intentions, he was starting to feel strongly drawn to McSpunk, whose sex-appeal was undeniable. In his mind Richard was already doing a number of painful and erotic things to McSpunk. 

Richard told himself: I must not have sex with men under my command. I must not have sex with men under my command.  I must not have sex with men under my command! It is bad for discipline and it is in contravention of Queen's Regulations. 

“I'm not as nice as all that; as you may shortly find out!” retorted Richard, giving McSpunk his famously intimidating, dark Look. 

It didn't work: McSpunk just grinned amiably back at Richard. He knew exactly what effect that he was having on his new Platoon Commander and was enjoying his discomfort. McSpunk scratched his own balls and winked conspiratorially.  

I'm going to have trouble with you... in more ways than one, thought Richard.  

Having done his background research, Richard already knew quite a lot about Roddy McSpunk. On the positive side, McSpunk was arguably one of the Army's success stories. The child of a broken home in Drumgoulie, a dreich housing estate on the edge of Glasgow; dragged up, rather than brought up, McSpunk had joined a Scottish Infantry regiment as a skinny, spotty, ginger-haired teenage recruit. He quickly took to military life; however hard it might be, it still compared favourably with life in Drumgoulie. Regularly exercised and fed with Army food, McSpunk had developed into a muscular little man, as hard as nails and a crack shot. He boxed, played rugby and other contact sports. ('Eshows an 'ealthy brisket when 'e strips for bars an'rings). He was over the moon when, at the second attempt, the Paras accepted him. He was now a Para Lance Corporal. 4 Coy, 5 Para, had become his family. Richard occasionally wondered what on earth would become of McSpunk when he eventually left the Army. It was difficult to imagine him settling into any civilian trade, other than into some branch of crime; that was not hard to imagine. Meanwhile, he was generally agreed to be a good friend and a bad enemy.  

On the negative side, McSpunk was Trouble. He was now in his early twenties but acted and looked a lot younger. Partly because he behaved like an adolescent, was cocky and had a big grin and partly because he was small, looked boyish; had freckles, a snub nose and a ginger quiff, the other soldiers still treated him as a boy; a Scots version of little Corporal Rusty, the regimental mascot in Rin-Tin-Tin. His comrades indulged him, of which he took full advantage. No-one ever spoke up to denounce McSpunk. Whenever he got into serious trouble, usually of his own making, a rescue-party would appear to extricate him. On two separate occasions, using his award-winning unarmed combat skills, McSpunk had put civilian thugs who had mocked or threatened him into Accident and Emergency. McSpunk got away with it; the police had received no assistance whatsoever from 4 Coy, 5 Para in tracing the delinquent.  

On another occasion McSpunk had organised a return visit to Drumgoulie with some of his thinly-disguised army mates, to beat up a few people who had given him a hard time in the past; in most cases because of his complete lack of interest in women, which was badly viewed in Drumgoulie. By all accounts it had been a highly-successful foray. Once again, the finger of suspicion pointed  at McSpunk; two of the injured victims had been his hated step-brothers. Nevertheless 4 Coy, 5 Para, in the person of Sergeant Kincaid, had provided McSpunk with an alibi: he could not possibly have been involved, as he had been on fatigues at the time; confined to barracks for unheard-of insolence to his superior officer (who was Kincaid). 

For obvious reasons McSpunk no longer passed his leave in Drumgoulie. Sometimes he stayed with his Aunt Flora in Inverness. At other times, McSpunk's leave contact details seemed startlingly posh. One day, when checking McSpunk's leave application, Richard recognised the address of a notoriously bisexual Peer, who lived in a castle on the south coast of England. It seemed that McSpunk had charmed, talked or fucked his way into some very distinguished beds. 

In uniform McSpunk was snappily smart and presentable but, as on this occasion, his taste in plain clothes – if that was the right expression - was often stridently gay, provocative and overtly sexual. This did not bother 4 Coy, 5 Para much, except in one respect: their status as a gay-friendly unit was wholly unofficial. If there were ever a major public scandal, 4 Coy would be investigated and disbanded amid massive negative publicity, which no-one wanted. Much as most of them liked him, they often wished that McSpunk would adopt a lower profile and not get into trouble quite so often.       

That evening McSpunk was, as usual, being the life and soul of the party, leading his comrades in singing songs: some were military and stirring, like Jock McGraw,The Stoutest Man in the Forty-Twa, whileothers were explicitly obscene. Given the way in which it was already evolving, Richard's birthday party seemed more likely to be exciting than relaxing.  

“We're startin' in a bar; an Irish bar”, said Kincaid. 

“Well, I hope it's not an IRA bar!” Richard replied.

“Nope; the owner is an ex-Irish Guardsman who married a German Fräulein. You'll meet Irish there, but mostly from Irish regiments of our army. The only potential problem might come from the Germans. They've recently discovered the bar; they've developed a taste for Guinness – I wish they hadn't - and there've been one or two minor incidents between us and them.” 

“What kind of incident and how minor?” 

“I said, minor ones; very minor. Nothing that we couldn't handle. Until about a couple of years ago”, explained Kincaid, “the Krauts treated us with respect; we had defeated them in two world wars; they were grateful that it was us who were the occupying power round here and that we were protecting them from the Russkies. But now the wartime generation are retiring and starting to die off. The younger Germans resent our presence. With luck, however, they may not be present tonight. They usually prefer Saturday evenings.” 

Luck, however, was not being a lady to 4 Coy, 5 Para that particular Friday night; she was in fact being as unhelpful as possible. When the Platoon disembarked at Redmond O'Hanlon's Bar, it was full of large Germans, all drinking Guinness. Some were merely gross and fat, with shaggy hair, like unkempt versions of Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering. But a few others were very large, extremely fit and looked like advertisements for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Two in particular, gigantic and blond, looked like potential trouble: Richard privately christened them Fafner and Fasolt after the giants in Das Rheingold. They glared arrogantly and growled when they saw the British soldiers bounce cheerfully in. 

Even so, the evening might have passed off without incident, had not McSpunk, the last to appear, chosen to make a dramatic entry, executing a skilful double-somersault into the bar, through the front door. Springing to his feet, arms wide and grinning, he looked round for applause. He got some from the Paras, but snarls and scowls from the Germans. McSpunk surveyed the scene with mingled amusement and contempt: 

“Eh! It's the fucking Krauts! What're they doing here? Wie geht's, mien lieber Sauerkraut!”

It suddenly occurred to Richard that he was the senior British soldier present; in the event of a serious punch-up and complaints to the Battalion, he would be held responsible for whatever happened next. 

Damn and blast! I need to do something fast

But events were moving too rapidly now, even for a brain as keen as Richard's. McSpunk had jumped onto a table. He then goose-stepped up and down it, gave a Nazi salute, and sang this taunt to the tune of “The Kemptown  Races”:  


After a few moments' stunned silence the bar erupted with a roar. One-litre beer steins, chairs and fists were aimed in their direction. Sergeant Kincaid, who seemed both unflappable and even to be enjoying himself, was yapping into his walkie-talkie. Without interrupting his  conversation, he swatted a passing German, who fell senseless to the ground. 

“Richard”, he hissed (no longer 'Sir'). “Get the men out – fire exit over in that corner. The vehicle will be round the back in a moment.”   

Fafner had gone straight for McSpunk, who was displaying a remarkable command of German insults (Dummkopf! Schweinhund! Arschgeige!), which did not exactly help his cause. Fafner picked up the furious, kicking and biting terror of Drumgoulie and threw him across the room, over everyone else's heads, to Fasolt. Fasolt caught McSpunk, roughed him up and tore off his transparent shirt. Then he threw him back to Fafner, while other Germans prevented McSpunk's comrades, some of whom had already left by the fire exit, from rescuing him. This happened about three times. Soon McSpunk was naked, apart from his boots. His hands were tied with his own belt. He was lying on his back on a table, while Fafner lowered his own breeches, spat on McSpunk's ass-hole, spread his legs and prepared for the next act of punishment. 

Mein Gott! He's going to rape McSpunk in front of all our eyes! This can't be permitted, thought Richard, who suddenly darted past the cordon of Germans and went for Fafner. 

Fafner, with his trousers round his ankles, was at a disadvantage; Richard kicked his bare backside. Roaring with rage, Fafner threw McSpunk back to Fasolt and turned to deal with Richard.  But Fasolt never received McSpunk. Kincaid, who had reappeared, executed a save, leaping into the air and intercepting McSpunk in mid-air. He then slung him, still swearing and issuing blood-curdling threats in German and Glaswegian, over his shoulder and disappeared through the fire exit. Not for long, however; he soon reappeared. Kincaid, Richard and McSpunk's particular friend, Fatboy (who was in reality not fat but a bulky bodybuilder), held the doorway for three minutes, while the remaining Paras slipped out. (Just like Horatius and his mates on the bridge, thought Richard) They suffered a few blows, but managed to damage several Germans. Before he slipped out, Richard blacked Fafner's eye and kicked him in the crotch. He had conceived an intense dislike for Fafner. Kincaid then held the fire door shut while Richard scrambled aboard the mini-bus. Richard realised that Kincaid was a Herculean man; several Germans were pushing from the other side. Suddenly Kincaid let go; the Germans shot out and fell in a heap at his feet. He put the boot into one or two of them and then ran for the mini-bus in his turn.  

“Where're we going now?” asked Richard. 

“Babylon!” shouted Kincaid, both answering Richard and directing the driver. “And you'll need your evasive driving skills!” 

The mini-bus shot off, charging the wrong way down a one-way street; disappeared into a maze of back-streets; and was presently heading down the Autobahn towards Bad Godesberg and Bonn.  There did not seem to be any visible pursuit. 

“That was exciting!” said Richard. 

“'Twas nothing”, said Kincaid. “I've been in worse. Babylon, here we come!” 

The sun was starting to set; Richard wondered where and how the evening was going to end.

Max Markham

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