Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Zack joined the army as soon as he turned seventeen, against his parents’ wishes. It was the only thing he had ever wanted to do. It wasn’t a good move. Zack was a slightly built, thoughtful chap who struggled even to carry his pack. He was mercilessly and creatively bullied. It bordered on torture. His only relief came in the form of his new friend Coop. Coop was handsome and charismatic and a star League player. He protected Zack, stood up for him. At times when the thoughts of suicide stopped roiling around in Zack’s brain and stuck to the sides, Zack thought that Coop was literally, day by day, saving his life. The army breaks you down and builds you up loyal. Really, thought Zack, his main loyalty was to Coop. Eventually Zack was given a medical discharge. Army life had buggered his back. He moved back with his parents, mulled things over, tried to think of what to do next. One weekend when Zack’s parents were away, who should turn up on the doorstep but Coop. Coop was hungover and dishevelled. He had a story to tell. The night before he had seen his ex missus, and discovered she was now with another guy. There had been an altercation. Coop had whacked the guy with a hammer, and killed him. Now he needed Zack. Zack didn’t hesitate. He washed the hammer, wrapped it in plastic bags and put it in the family rubbish bin. Coop showered and took some clothes of Zack’s, and had a feed, and left to go into hiding. Of course the next people to turn up on the doorstep were the police. It only took a day or two, but by then Zack’s parents were home. Zack’s family had always done a good line in guilt and respectability. One of the lasting horrors for Zack’s mum is that Coop had showered in her shower, washed a man’s blood off, in her shower. As the police took Zack away, they implored him to tell the truth, just tell the truth son, and it would all be all right. It wasn’t all right. Zack’s whole instinct was to protect Coop. That only made things worse. Now, Zack, this slightly built, thoughtful, geeky chap, is looking at prison time. He awaits his sentencing while on bail. He has found support from a Christian church, which does a further good line in guilt and respectability, but which also cares for him. He is still living with his parents. The army breaks you down and builds you up loyal. If he sees Coop in prison, maybe Coop will protect him.

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