This town reeks of cordite and aftershave.
The men prepare themselves to go out on the town, camouflage paint daubed on faces, their best smart-casuals laced with grenades and ammunition bandoliers. The aftershave, a pungent scent, is lathered on.
Before they depart into the town, on the hunt for prey and future memories, they each fire their guns into the air in a mad volley of excitement and thrill and desperate, savage joy. At the close of the working week, the men are noble animals, nobler in their glad-rags with their grenade-bags than they have been in their suits, boots and parachutes.
I saw one of their number detach himself from the pack as they rounded the next corner, rip off his shirt and grab a passer by around the neck with it. He pulled them towards him, the shirt around their neck, until their face was but an inch from his own, and then he let out the fullest roar I have ever heard. The passer-by was dropped to the ground, and a couple of rounds ensured that the passer-by stayed down.
I followed, slow, but roaring all the same, with my hair tousled and my eyes aflame. It’s alright. It’s okay. It’s alright, now, calm, calm, calm, easy, and then the roar, from the bottom of my stomach, turning my upper body into that of a lion, until, expelled from my gaping mouth, it sets the very air to heated dancing.
I, too, fired my gun, and hit a native here or there or every bloody where. Aftershave dripped from the pores on my face and my fashionable stubble found itself either side of the lip of a pint glass. I slung my rifle onto my back to carry trays of shots, and looked at girls across dance floors, when the flares were up, the strobe-light gunfire made me berserk, and instead of taking cover, as I knew to be wise, I could not stop moving, I could not stop.
We hunted on our own or in packs, and either way we whooped and yelled and fired into the mass. The natives intertwined with us, or sometimes shied away in ghastly terror, that offended us, we men with guns, who reek of aftershave and cordite, just like this, our town.
I feel older than my years. So much older.