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    Mancunian
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Lost Soul - The Ox - 2. Part 2

A platonic relationship between Ox and Andy develops as Ox takes on a father's role and Andy settles down, both are enjoying a seemingly normal life until tragedy strikes.

That box of tissues may be needed when reading this chapter.

Be aware that this chapter does include content of a death, if this may affect you please read with caution.

As the Corporal excused himself to go to the gents to freshen up Ox took out his handkerchief to dry his eyes.

When the corporal returned Ox asked, “Are you okay son or do you need a little more time before we set off?”

“I’m alright Ox, honestly I’m fine. I needed to get that off my chest and I feel better for saying it.” The Corporal tried to smile. “And if you really mean what you said, please call me Andy my friends do and if I’m to call you Ox it would be fair.”

“Very well Andy it is, now let’s get the bill paid and be on our way.” Using his walking stick for balance Ox stood and followed by Andy made his way to the bar to pay the landlord.

As they approached the bar the landlord noticed them and standing to attention he saluted them, both men returned the gesture. “Major I recognised you and the insignia on both yours and The Corporal’s uniforms when you came in, please allow me to introduce myself I am Captain Martin Griffiths formerly of the SAS. My men and I served alongside you in Iraq until I was invalided out last year, thanks to the information you and your unit supplied and by working together we saved many lives.”

It was then that Ox noticed the prosthetic hand, looking closer at the scared face of the landlord his face lit up with recognition. “Marty please forgive me, I didn’t recognise you that is unforgivable of me.” Ox took the man’s hand and shook it vigorously.

“There is nothing to forgive Ox, sometimes I don’t recognise myself when I look in the mirror. I trust that you both enjoyed your meal?” Marty was grinning from ear to what remained of his right ear.

“Yes thank you we did and the homemade Rag Pudding was delicious so I’m guessing that your wife cooked it? I know it couldn’t be you, if I remember right you used to burn water.” Ox was enjoying having a friendly dig and grinning.

“Actually it was my son who cooked and served your meal and yes you remember my culinary skills well, I couldn’t even brew a decent mug of tea.” Marty enjoyed the banter and invited them to stay a while longer.

As time was getting on and Andy needed to return to the barracks they had to refuse, but promised to return in the near future.

“Now Marty how much is the bill we need to settle up.” Ox was reaching for his wallet.

“Don’t you dare, you’re my guests and I don’t take payments from my guests.” Marty glared but was still smiling, Ox placed a ten pound note in the charity box on the counter and returned the smile. “Now do the right thing and look after this young man, do for him the same as you did for the boys in your unit.” Giving his attention to Andy Marty said, “I knew Bunny, he was a good man, he told me a lot about you and how much he loved you, I’m very happy to have met you and want you to know that you too are welcome here and always will be. I have to admit though that a certain young man, namely Martin my son, has developed a bit of a crush on you but please don’t let that put you off. Now I want you to do me a favour please look after Ox, I know he will look after you.”

The look on Andy’s face was a mixture of shock and embarrassment. “Thank you Marty I’d be happy come back, although I’m not sure if I could be anything more than a friend to Martin. I’m just not ready for more than that at the moment.” Marty nodded in understanding. “And I promise I’ll look after Ox, even though only just met today I already feel as though I know him and Bunny told me lot’s about him in his letters, I won’t let you down.”

After saying their farewells Ox and Andy resumed the journey to Ox’s home.

To Ox it was nothing special just ordinary it was where he grew up, he inherited it when his parents passed away. To Andy it was beautiful and idyllic, a three bedroomed slate roofed cottage set in the countryside just outside Buxton in The Peak District, Derbyshire. Its garden was the typical country garden with an abundance of wild country flowers and roses with a perfect lawn and a small vegetable patch at the rear. In front was much the same minus the vegetable patch, a two car garage stood to the side it looked like it had once been a smaller cottage.

Over the next couple of years a close friendship developed between Ox and Andy, it became one that was more like that of father and son. Neither of them had any family to speak of, it was a relationship that suited them both and had its natural up’s and down’s. Ox had never married and the only ‘family’ that he had known was the army, his men were his ‘substitute sons’.

Ox stood like the proud father the day that Andy was presented with his sergeant’s stripes, it would prove to be one of his better memories. It seemed natural that the cottage became Andy’s home, he had his own room and either his car or his motorbike could be found in the garage at any time.

They did return to Marty’s pub on many occasions, enjoying good company and good food. Andy did have a brief relationship with Martin, Marty’s son, it fizzled out after a few months they fitted together better as friends and they became best friends. But Ox and Andy were hiding something from each other, they were both having problems dealing with their own individual demons and those demons were slowly consuming them.

Ox was trying to drown his demons with copious amounts of single malt, Andy was trying to chase his away with what became an even worse demon, cocaine. Neither knew about the other as they had both perfected the art of hiding it from those around them, each thought the other was living a normal life.

The last time that they saw each other was a sunny Sunday afternoon in July, Andy was due back at the barracks before being deployed. His new post would be as part of Ox’s old unit on their final tour of duty in Iraq. They had enjoyed a typical English Sunday lunch, a roast beef dinner followed by apple pie and custard with Marty and Martin at the Grenadiers Arm’s, as usual Martin had been the chef.

There had been a lot of good natured banter between the men and plenty of laughter, the only alcohol consumed was one bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon between all four as two would be driving that afternoon. Just after five o’clock that afternoon Andy, dressed in his leathers put on his helmet and mounted his motorbike, a powerful Norton Commando and after saying his goodbyes rode off in the direction of his barracks. With an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach Ox watched as ‘his boy’ rode off. Each hug that Andy had given his ‘father’ and his friends before he left seemed to last a bit longer than usual, this did not go unnoticed by Marty.

Marty had tried to insist that Ox stayed the night in the room that he had used many times before, but Ox being typical of any man given the nickname ‘The Ox’ was stubborn and shortly after drove home. He had an uneasy sleep that night, drinking nearly half a bottle of Glenfiddich hadn’t helped.

It was after ten the following morning when the phone rang, Ox was on his fourth cup of coffee trying to gain some semblance of being fully awake. The call was from his former CO, he was calling as Andy had listed Ox as his next of kin and the news wasn’t good. They had been informed by Cheshire Police that Andy had been involved in a fatal crash, his bike had left the road at speed and Andy’s mangled body had been recovered from a small copse. The Army had immediately taken charge of the body and were leading the investigation.

Ox took the news hard and hit the bottle, for the next few days he couldn’t distinguish between night and day, he didn’t eat he just drank.

The seemingly normal lives of many hides many demons that can be a struggle to hide, but hidden they are and the hiding has consequences which are sometimes fatal.

If you are having problems with your own demons please seek help from a professional, seeking that help is not a sign of any weakness it is the first sign of strength and really does help.

Thank you to those who are still reading and a special thank you to those who have left positive reactions and comments, all of your comments are read and valued if you haven't commented yet why not join those that have and please leave your feedback.

This has been written without the aid of a beta reader or editor as that is how I have chosen to do this so any errors are all mine, if you spot any let me know and I'll try to correct them as soon as I can.

Copyright © 2019 Mancunian; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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I believe that the Ox  and Andy both traveled down a path very common for Vets and active duty military personnel. Chemical abuse is typical for those dealing with traumatic issues. And people who are attracted to military service tend to be the very same ones who avoid getting help with psychological problems. It’s a disastrous combination that isn’t being dealt with sufficiently by the US government (I don’t know what it’s like in other countries).

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1 hour ago, droughtquake said:

I believe that the Ox  and Andy both traveled down a path very common for Vets and active duty military personnel. Chemical abuse is typical for those dealing with traumatic issues. And people who are attracted to military service tend to be the very same ones who avoid getting help with psychological problems. It’s a disastrous combination that isn’t being dealt with sufficiently by the US government (I don’t know what it’s like in other countries).

Unfortunately the same is true here in the UK and it's not something that us ordinary folk are proud of. I saw a post on facebook today that told of an 82 year old vet who had been evicted from the squat that he was reduced to living in, within hours he was found dead on the streets. This is something that is happening all too often, our politicians should be ashamed of themselves and held to account for it.

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I’m convinced that a large percentage of the former military personnel who are homeless have Dishonorable or Less-Than-Honorable Discharges. This means they aren’t eligible for most Vet services from the government. They literally fall between the cracks…

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6 hours ago, droughtquake said:

I’m convinced that a large percentage of the former military personnel who are homeless have Dishonorable or Less-Than-Honorable Discharges. This means they aren’t eligible for most Vet services from the government. They literally fall between the cracks…

You may be right but I don't know, until there is some reliable research into it we will never know. 

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Another well written chapter looking into the life of the Ox. Thank you, @Mancunian :thumbup:

The only thing that confuses me is the reference to active duty in Iran. I may be wrong, but I understand that since the withdrawal of UK and Soviet forces from Iran in 1946 (following their joint invasion in 1941), the UK have not officially had any military involvement inside Iran. So were the Ox and his men part of some covert activities by the British military?

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8 hours ago, Marty said:

Another well written chapter looking into the life of the Ox. Thank you, @Mancunian :thumbup:

The only thing that confuses me is the reference to active duty in Iran. I may be wrong, but I understand that since the withdrawal of UK and Soviet forces from Iran in 1946 (following their joint invasion in 1941), the UK have not officially had any military involvement inside Iran. So were the Ox and his men part of some covert activities by the British military?

Thank you @Marty for your comments they are appreciated.

Marty thank you for pointing out that error, those references were meant to state Iraq as that part of The Ox's life is set during The Gulf War, I will correct that error very soon. There was a coalition force mainly involving and led by the USA military, the British were the main contributor of forces from Europe, with men from the SAS and other army divisions involved which may have included Military Intelligence. The Ox's involvement as a Military Intelligence officer and his unit would have been classed as covert operations and are fictional.

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I think I got those errors pointed out by @Marty, thanks again for pointing that out. Although it is a fictional story that reference should have been more accurate and I apologise to you and all of my readers.

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1 hour ago, Mancunian said:

I think I got those errors pointed out by @Marty, thanks again for pointing that out. Although it is a fictional story that reference should have been more accurate and I apologise to you and all of my readers.

No apologies needed at all, @Mancunian. :thumbup:

As a writer myself, I know how difficult it can be to get every reference correct. :yes:

 

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On ‎11‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 5:01 PM, Mancunian said:

believe that the Ox  and Andy both traveled down a path very common for Vets and active duty military personnel. Chemical abuse is typical for those dealing with traumatic issues. And people who are attracted to military service tend to be the very same ones who avoid getting help with psychological problems. It’s a disastrous combination that isn’t being dealt with sufficiently by the US government

I absolutely agree with droughtquake.  Having  served time in the US Army and later on working with the homeless population I saw far too many cases where ex-service personnel loose their hope and direction and seek substance to ease the pain. And you are right,  a "General" or lesser discharge nullifies any assistance program. It truly breaks my heart.

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2 minutes ago, KayDeeMac said:

 

I absolutely agree with droughtquake.  Having  served time in the US Army and later on working with the homeless population I saw far too many cases where ex-service personnel loose their hope and direction and seek substance to ease the pain. And you are right,  a "General" or lesser discharge nullifies any assistance program. It truly breaks my heart.

Unfortunately both here in the UK and in the US we let many of our vets down when we should be doing more, it is wrong that the only help many of them get is from charities that have been formed by vets themselves. What the charities are doing should be being done by our respective governments.

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