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BILLY'S BAG

DARKNESS

Life is stranger than fiction, especially in the darkness, which is a great equalizer and levels the playing field, so to speak. Itís said that we are all the same upside down, which can also apply in the dark. Back in 1947 in Yorkshire, Billy the British soldier was being transported to a new camp in the back of a lorry with his full kit and a number of other unfortunate men in uniform. It was a three-hour journey from Halifax to the Drax area and not only night-time, but also one of those very dark nights when the visibility was almost zero with out a light. The ride was very uncomfortable, because the hard floor was numbing his posterior and every time the lorry hit a bump in the road, everyone and everything in the back became airborne with the backpacks and kit-bags jumping all over the place. The back of the lorry was covered with a tarpaulin, with the exception of the area over the tailgate, where the men could gaze out and see absolutely nothing.

A few miles into the journey the lorry stopped, the tailgate was lowered and a bunch of ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) girls piled in. It was too dark to authenticate that they were actually ATS, but there was no question that they were female. These ladies climbed their way through the soldiers and kit-bags and made themselves comfortable in the back of the lorry, as the tailgate came up and the vehicle continued. There was a girl seated next to our hero by the tailgate and not wishing to be anti-social, he engaged her in chitchat, or chatted her up, whichever expression you prefer. The scene was like a black and white movie without the white and an intriguing situation to say the least.

Further down the road it started to rain and on this particular evening it came lashing down and entered the area above the tailgate, prompting the chivalrous one to open his groundsheet and cover the girl and him. The girl did not object and was thankful for the gentlemanís protection, evidenced by the closeness in the confined quarters - The rain continued and they got closer.

The closer they got the warmer they became and less clothing was required. It wasnít easy for them in the darkness, but they displayed exceptional fortitude. They were like erotic magnets with hearts pounding as they remained beneath the surface and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was in order to compensate for the lack of oxygen. After lip locking for a period of time the amorous one was curious to learn more about his silent companion and using the only method available to him in the darkness, ascertained that the lady was considerably larger than he had hoped.

Realising that this entanglement - and the word entanglement is used advisedly, would most likely be of short duration and probably less than 20 minutes, he justified the continuation of the activity with the rotund one based on the theory that it would adversely affect his health if he denied her the comfort she deserved. In the tactile world of darkness where imagination, perception, creativity and innovation are so important, the natural senses become more acute and excited with emotion. In the heat of the moment they were completely oblivious to the kit-bags rolling around, the continuous rain outside and the bumping of the vehicle actually added to their pleasure. Closer and closer they became in the darkness without a thought to what their respective companion looked like or even exchanging names. It was an exceptional display of uncontrolled abandonment.

The true meaning of the word dexterity can only be understood after trying to retrieve something from the back pocket of a pair of trousers, while wearing an overcoat in confined quarters, tangled up with a healthy ATS girl in the back of an army lorry in the darkness. Had they got any closer they would have to be pealed apart and it was comforting to know that a plea of mistaken identity would be plausible under the circumstances. It was like a nocturnal fantasy, which appears unbelievably real.

But as the vehicle came to a screeching halt at the destination, propelling the baggage all over the occupants in the back of the lorry, the romantic one was awoken from his slumber and wicked delight. Although the entanglement with the ATS girl was real, part of the story was a dream after the girls departed earlier on. Billy can no longer differentiate between the fantasy and the reality and quite honestly, he prefers it that way!

The tailgate came down and an NCO shouted, "Everybody out!" prompting the weary soldiers who were half asleep to collect their thoughts and search for their baggage. With backpacks, kit-bags and rifles in tow, the travellers shuffled along through the darkness to the usual austere billets and settled in for another fun night in the British Army. Needless to say that no one thought of feeding the poor buggers!

"It is better to light one small candle, than curse the darkness."---Confucius.

THE SOLDIER AND THE SERGEANT

Copyright © Bill Hawksford.

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