The Spoils of War

Lance Corporal Jack Shaw is discharged from the Army after extended tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. He returns to his birthplace of Bradford where he meets Parminder Sherwani in a local bar. Parminder's an attractive, confident University student who's not adverse to a bit of fun.

To date, Jack has 100% record with Asian women. They can never say no to him, but then again Jack's always been a soldier, and soldiers carry guns.

The relationship gets off to a flying start and it seems romance in the air but when Jack's physical advances are met with resistance, the result is serious conflict.

Parminder claims she was raped. Her comments go viral on Twitter. Parminder's brother and his friends hunt down Jack and beat him half to death, leaving him wheel-chair bound. Bradford quickly finds itself reliving the riots of 2001; Asian gangs and students are fighting the English Defence League on the streets.

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5. 5

CHAPTER FIVE

 

The taxi pulled up outside Parminder's shared house. Both occupants alighted.

"Six-sixty, mate."

"Keep the change." Jack passed the driver a folded ten pound note through the open window.

"God loves a trier." Parminder shook her head as she watched the taxi drive away. "I don't know why you did that. I'm not inviting you up."

"I should, at least, see you to your door."

"Well, you have. This is my door. Thank you, kind sir, and now I bid you goodnight."

Jack cast his eye over the property. "That looks like a very big house for two little girls."

"Don't be deceived. It's just a maisonette. We only have the ground floor."

Jack laughed. "I wonder what Freud would have to say about that?"

"Say about what?"

"You live on the ground floor but you said I'm not inviting you up.  Up where, one might ask?"

Parminder felt herself blushing. "As I recall Sigmund Freud died in 1939, so I'll guess we'll never know what he would have said. . . Right, I'm going inside. It's cold. Are you gonna call me?"

"What, no coffee?" replied Jack, taking her by the shoulders.

"No, not tonight. I've got to get up early. I've got assignments and shit to do." She kissed him on the cheek.

Whilst embracing her, Jack looked over at the darkened windows. "Is your housemate out or asleep?"

"Rosie's out, why?"

"What harm can one little cup of coffee do?"

"You'd be surprised." She grinned. "I'm sure many late night coffees end up in the family planning clinic."

"But I've sent the taxi away."

"You can call another."

"Where will I wait?"

She eased away from him, and took a moment to study his face. "You're like Bruce bloody Willis. You don't give up, do you?" she said, reaching into her pocket for her house keys. "One cup of coffee." She wagged a finger at his face. "Then I'm kicking you out. I'm not shagging you – not tonight."

"So you're not inviting me up then?"

"No." She inserted the key into the door.

"Don't get too comfortable." Parminder gestured in the direction of the armchair. "How do you take it?"

Jack removed his jacket. "Warm, wet, and sweet," he replied, lowering himself into the chair.

"I'm not going to dignify that with a response." Parminder slipped off her pumps in favour of the fluffy pink slippers, and walked quickly to the kitchen. "Put the TV on, if you like. The remote's on the coffee table," she called as she filled the kettle. Waiting for the water to boil, she leaned back against the worktop whilst watching Jack watching the TV. He was nice enough; pleasant, well-mannered, generous, solvent, and unlike many of the boys at university he understood the concepts of mouthwash, deodorant, and personal hygiene. She smiled as she spooned coffee and sugar into the cups. This could work, so long as she took it slow and didn't rush in like a bull at a gate. She turned the kitchen light off and brought the coffees through to the lounge. "It's only instant." She held the cup out to him.

He smiled as he took the handle. "Nothing wrong with instant."

Parminder installed herself onto the sofa, pulling her feet up and tucking them underneath her. "Ideally, I think it's better if you let it percolate a while. That way you get the full flavour." She winked. "I'm not bragging but the full flavour is well worth the wait. . . . What are you watching?"

His eyes flicked to the television. "I don't know. It's some weird French film." He muted the sound.

"No, carry on if you're watching it."

"I'm not really watching. And if I was, it's got sub-titles, so turning the volume down makes no difference. But I didn't come here to see your television. I came here to see you."

"You can see me another day. Drink up," she said, tying her hair up.

"You're very pretty."

"Nice try, but flattery will get you nowhere." She brought her feet down to the floor, and leaned all the way forward so as her head was between her legs, and began to rummage under the cushions.

"What on earth are you doing?"

She giggled. "I'm searching for my Rizla! Ha-ha!" She began to hum whilst rocking her shoulders as if dancing.

Jack listened a while before speaking, "I know that song. It's Tom's Diner."

Parminder sat up straight. "I don't know. Maybe Tom had the munchies." She broke into song. "I am looking in the sofa 'coz I'm searching for my Rizla. See, I've got some marijuana and I really must get high. Soon I'll go into the kitchen with my Rizla and my ganja, I'll smoke a massive spliff and get totally out of my tree."

"Somehow I don't think they're the words."

"Yeah, they are. We just grew up in totally different worlds."

"Are you drunk?" Jack returned his attention to the TV.

"No I'm not drunk." The smile dropped from Parminder's face. "Have you called that taxi yet?" She rolled her eyes, reached down by the side of the sofa, and retrieved a folder.

"What are you doing now?"

"Uni work." She took an emery board from the coffee table and proceeded to manicure whilst reading. "I told you I had work to do. I have to summarise Julius Caesar."

"All work and no play."

She cut him off. "Makes Jack a dull boy. But you're Jack and I'm Parminder, and it's me who's doing the work."

He cradled his coffee cup. "I'll wait."

"What for?" She twisted around and reached over to retrieve a highlighter pen from the side table. "I'm going to finish this, smoke a spliff, and go to bed."

He leaned forward to get a better view. "Is that a tattoo?"

"What?" Parminder grabbed the back of her jeans by the waistband and pulled them up.

Jack laughed. "Who's got a little tattoo above their crack? It looked like an inscription. What does it say?"

"It says, Kiss my ass, in Punjabi."

"Aren't you the little rebel." He rose from his seat. "I don't believe you."

"Have you finished that coffee yet?"

He stepped forward and placed his cup on the coffee table. "Show me that tattoo."

"No . . .  Great. You've finished your coffee. Are you off now, then?"

"Not yet. I want to see that tattoo first."

"It's not going to happen, soldier. Give it up."

"Come on. Show me." He joined her on the sofa.

"No." She shied away. "You need to call yourself a cab."

"I'm a cab." He began to tickle her.

"Get off me." She shrieked as she jumped up from the sofa and backed away from him. "Jack, I'm not joking. Behave yourself."

Jack stood slowly. "Parminder, calm down. I was only trying to get a look at that tattoo." He began to roll up his sleeves. "See, I don't have any tattoos. I think I was the only person in the armed forces without a tattoo. I was amazed that you had one."

"We can discuss my tattoo another time. I think it's best you go now."

"I'm sorry if I offended you."

"It's okay. I'm probably just a little on edge, and I'm tired. Let's start again – tomorrow night. Besides, Rosie's gonna be home any minute. She'll be back with her boyfriend."

"You still want to go out tomorrow?

"Why wouldn't I? Tonight has been great. Let's quit while we're ahead." She stepped forward and took his hands in hers. "Tomorrow we can go see a movie or something – whatever you want to do." She kissed her finger and placed it to his lips. "You've been a good boy. Tomorrow, you're on a provisional promise. I'll be all percolated and ready for you. In the mean time, you know the drill." She placed a hand on his shoulder. "You're gonna have to go home and bash one out." She winked.

He returned her wink. "I'll be thinking of you."

"Euch! That's so gross . . .  On that disgusting revelation, let me call you a cab."

"I'll call you tomorrow, then." Jack retrieved his jacket and folded it over his arm. "It's okay. I'll walk. I'm not staying that far from here."

They held hands as they walked out into the hall. Parminder opened the front door and offered her cheek. Jack took her jaw, turned her head slightly, and kissed her on the lips.

"Jack, one thing, tomorrow night we'll have to go to your place. We can't come back here. Rosie likes to get all up inside my business."

He nodded once. "I understand." 

She embraced him, closing her eyes during an extended hug. In contrast Jack's eyes remained open, focussing on the girls' notice-board.

Suddenly Jack kicked the front door closed. "Why did you have to lie?"

Parminder shuddered as the door slammed. "About what?" She followed his gaze to the wall-planner.

"Your friend Rosie's not coming back tonight. She's away 'til Sunday."

Parminder sighed, folded her arms, and leaned back against the wall. "It seemed the easiest thing to do. The last thing I need right now is a hot and horny man distracting me from what I'm supposed to be doing."

"I thought you were special but you lot are all take, take, take. I've spent good money on you tonight. I bought you drinks, food, paid for the taxi. I treated you like a lady. And this how you repay me . . . by lying?"

"Treated me like a lady as opposed to what? Because you spent a few quid I should automatically let you jump my bones? I told you it wasn't going to happen!" She stormed off into her bedroom and began rummaging through a drawer. "How much did you spend? I'll give you your money back and we can forget we ever met." She pulled some notes from an old tobacco tin.

Jack appeared in the doorway. "There's no need to be like that."

"There's a hundred." She held the money out to him.

"I thought you were skint."

"It's my rent money . . . but it doesn't matter. Take it and go."

Jack stepped into her bedroom, took the money, and counted it. "I don't need this." He tossed the folded notes onto the dresser. "You can keep it . . . on one condition."

Parminder eyed the cash. "What?"

He smiled cheekily as he reached out and tugged at the top of her jeans.

She slapped his hand away. "I'm not fucking you, no way."

Jack laughed. "That wasn't the condition. I just want to catch sight of that tattoo again." He lunged forward, grabbing her by her wrists.

"Get off me!" She fought back but he was too strong. She ended up on her back on the floor with him on top of her.

He held her still, her chest heaving from the exertion. His eyes briefly scanned over her breasts but quickly returned to her face. "Right now you look like the sexiest thing on the planet. I bet you taste sweet." He kissed her neck.

"Please, Jack, don't."

He altered his grip, holding both her wrists with one hand, the other reached down to her crotch. "I can feel you. Your cunt is hot. It's throbbing. You're gagging for it."

She swallowed, realising she'd just licked her lips on feeling his touch. "Get off me you bastard." She began to struggle, trying to break free.

Jack smiled, released her hands, but kept her pinned to the floor by kneeling on her arms. "I thought you were special. I wanted to keep you for myself. I wanted to protect you from the others."

It wasn't until now that Parminder realised how comparatively calm Jack was. His eyes possessed a distant glazed look. "The others, what others?" she said.

"You know what I'm talking about."

"Sorry, Jack, I don't."

"I didn't want the other soldiers to come and use you."

Parminder spoke slowly and clearly. "Jack, this is Bradford. There are no other soldiers."

"All men are soldiers."

"You're wrong."

"I wanted you to be mine."

"I can be yours, Jack. I will be yours. Just not now, not like this."

"Show me you're mine," he said, unzipping his fly.

Parminder turned her head away. "Forget it. I'm not sucking your cock, no way."

"Don't play me like you're all innocent? You know the drill. It's not like you're a fucking virgin."

Her struggles were rewarded. She managed to free one of her arms. "Have you lost your mind?" As he moved to re-secure her she noticed the knife strapped to his ankle. Shit.

"You're feisty." He chuckled. "I like a wench with a bit of fight."

Parminder stopped struggling, exhaled, and closed her eyes. "You win," she croaked. "I'm yours." Tears began to roll from the corners of her eyes. "Let me up."

"No."

She stared directly into his face. "You're determined to fuck me – whatever. These jeans cost me eighty quid. I'd rather take them off than you rip them off."

"What kind of animal do you think I am?" he said, letting her free her arms.

Her eyes flicked briefly to the knife. "The worst kind." She sat up, wiped the tears from her eyes with back of her hands, and realising he was between her and the door, made a decision. She watched him watching her every move as she sat on the edge of the bed, and pulled her jeans and knickers off. "Come on, then."

He hesitantly rose to his feet, and stepped toward her.

"Wait." She slithered up the bed and reached into the drawer of the bedside cabinet. "I don't want this to get any worse than it already is." Her hands shook as she tried to unwrap the condom, tearing frantically at the packet.

 Jack took her arm and pulled her to him.

"Keep still," she mumbled. "I have to put this on you. It's difficult enough as it is." Her hands trembled as she ripped through the wrapper. "I don't know here you've been or what diseases you carry."

Once she'd completed the task in hand Jack pulled her close, and tried to kiss her.

She spat in his face.

He tried again, more forcefully.

She pushed him back. "Just fuck off! It's not like that. It's never going to be like that." she screamed, slapping his face. Her nails cut into his cheek and his blood quickly began to flow from the scratch.

Unflinching, the soldier seemed not to notice or care. He took her gently by the shoulders and tried to manoeuvre her fully onto her bed.

Parminder twisted away, moved to the floor, closed her eyes, and parted her legs. She inhaled deeply through her nose, and braced herself. "Just get on with it – do your business – and go."

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