A high maintenance high used jeep is so uncomfortable as it bounces across even the smoothest of roads, but this wasn’t a well maintained road. It was full of broken down refilled pot holes and bog shifting mounds. Jim’s head hit off the roof a few times as he tried to grip the side of the shaking carriage. And he was watching the passenger, wondering how this was going to end.
Only two hours ago Jim was sitting in the small open fire heated pub that was the place he always hated until he had seen her. His mind just went wow, as the door opened and Mary Cullen, who he knew, walked in laughing and followed by an image he could not believe with a laugh that hit him right between the eyes, shoulders and places he wouldn’t have thought of. She had short fair hair, wasn’t terribly tall, seemed to have a waist that just said hold me and a smile crowned with brown eyes that stunned him.
“Well Jimmy, how are you?” asked Mary.
“Well I thought,” answered Jim
“Do I know you?” asked her friend.
“I don’t think so,” Jim mumbled.
“Jean, this is Jim! Wow, there you go, Jean and Jim!! What a ring!”
Jim looked at her and couldn’t move.
She slowly reached out a hand and smiled. After a moment he reached forward and touched her hand.
“Nice to meet you for the first time Jim,” she said sweetly.
“Hi Jean,” he replied and as he did so he felt like kicking himself. What a lousy response.
“I’ll get the drinks in Mary, this is a good place!” said Jean as she spun around and headed to the bar.
Mary looked at Jim, “Eh, hello? what’s with the puppy eyes?”
“What? Get lost.” Jim responded.
Jim felt his right leg bounce up and down nervously as he watched Jean raise herself on her tippy toes to reach across the bar. He actually couldn’t even tell what she was wearing but he knew he could remember how she smelled, there was a subtle sweet but not too strong way she arrived. He felt an uneasy beating in his new popper shirt and wanted desperately to go and get fresh air, but he couldn’t.
“There you go Mary,” Said Jean on her return, she looked at Jim and smiled.
“Wow,” he said.
“What?” asked Mary.
“I mean wow, it’s a chilly night, ye?” responded Jim.
“I’m sure we’ve met before, no?” asked Jean.
“No, I’m sure we haven’t, but I’m hoping we’ll meet again,” said Jim awkwardly.
“I think so,” said Jean as she looked towards the band in the corner, and then back at Jim with a smile.
That’s when he noticed Phil at the bar, staring at him. Phil nodded.
Jim looked at Jean and Mary and then tapped the table, “I have to go, sorry, I hope I meet you again Jean,” he said and slowly stood up.
He watched her intently and was sure he saw disappointment.
“Ah feck you Jim, off out again, I thought you’d stay around,” said Mary.
“I wish I could, just seems, something to do, needs sorting. Maybe you’ll both be out tomorrow?”
“I will,” said Mary, “But Jean will be back in Dublin.”
Jim stood for a moment looking at Jean as she seemed to glance to the ground as if the night had ended.
“I’m sorry about that, maybe another visit?”
Jean looked up at him, “I’m sure I’ll be back” and smiled.
He stood watching that smile until Phil tapped him on the shoulder, “the jeep’s outside, we need to go?”
Jim nodded and smiled at Jean, then looked at Mary, “See you soon.”
“You know what you’re doing?” asked Mary in a sudden serious tone.
Jim looked at her as Phil tugged at him to go. He shrugged his shoulders.
That seemed a lifetime ago. Now the jeep had stopped.
“Right, come on, out, come on, get them out now,” shouted Phil.
Jim jumped out and reached back to guide the two ‘passengers’ out.
There were two others from the jeep that now helped drag the passengers across the hard crusted field beneath the clear star filled sky. But they wouldn’t have seen that as they were blind folded.
Jim followed slowly, Jean totally on his mind. He wasn’t even aware of what was happening.
After instructing that the two men got on their knees, he heard Phil start to make some major statement of what this was all about, he started to remember what Jean was wearing. It was a light pink top, figure and leg hugging jeans, and buff boots. She wasn’t tall, she was beautiful.
“You know why we have brought you here?” he heard Phil say.
There was whimpering now from the two men on their knees.
“You are part of an occupation force that has no recognition by the national body representing the people of this country and you have received many warnings to leave voluntarily but have declined to do so.”
Jim closed his eyes, he had heard this speech before and knew what it meant. He stood there waiting. Nothing happened but the sound of the men trying to pray or plead.
He felt the tap on his shoulder.
“Well Jim, it’s time, your time, for the first time,” said Phil as he pushed the hand gun into Jim’s feeble grip.
“Remember what we’ve spoken of? asked Phil.
Jim slowly nodded as he gripped the gun and walked towards the first man.
“You can take your time if you want, but best do it quick,” came the voice from one of the others.
Jim raised the gun slowly, sensing another gun being raised towards him behind him. He pointed it at the first man who seemed to be desperately looking around as if the blindfold could be beaten.
He pointed it above his nose and pulled the trigger. The bang shattered his ears and he already had his eyes closed. He heard the other shot ring by beside him and both men had tumbled to the ground.
“Well done,” said Phil as he pulled Jim away and the rest was sorted.
“You’ll always remember your first time,” he said.
Jim nodded, and his thoughts went to a place he felt he’d never return to.