Photo Prompt Story: Sergeant Evans

This is a short story, in 600 words.
It was prompted by this photo, sent to me by my good friend, Antony.

Even with the old air mattress, the ground felt hard and cold. Matt was used to that though. The ground in the Falklands had been hard and cold, and the weather had been horrible too.

There was a time when he had been a fit young man. Maybe not that academic, but sporty and strong. The Army had been a natural choice. No concern about qualifications, just a desire to serve in uniform, and to do his best. They gave him a place to live, good meals and medical treatment, and more importantly, a sense of belonging.

By the time of the Falkands war Matt was twenty-two years old, and a proud soldier in The Welsh Guards. Off they went to recapture the islands from the Argies. The first real war since Korea, they told him. He was a corporal by then, and proud to wear the stripes. He was also married to Glynis, and father to young Rory.

At the start, it was a bloody catastrophe. The Argies had been underestimated, especially their air force. The landing ships were both hit, and on fire. This was the first real action for Matt, and his only thought was to get ashore, and get some payback. As it was, they went in with the Marines against Sapper Hill, and that’s where his best mate Spence got it. Matt carried him back under fire. Almost a mile to the aid station, only to be told Spence was dead when he got there.

They gave him the military medal for that, the MM. And when they got back to the barracks in Windsor, his commanding officer presented him with the medal. He got promoted to Sergeant too. Looked better in the press release, he reckoned.

But Glynis was pregnant, and he knew it wasn’t his. A bingo caller, she said. Just the once, she said. He didn’t hit her. He was too angry.

Though he found the bingo caller, and he did hit him. A lot. Six months in prison, and a dishonorable discharge from the Army. That was worse than the jail time.

Glynis was gone when he got out. She took Rory, and moved in with the bingo caller. Matt got a halfway house, and rehabilitation in the community. He had lost the only job he ever wanted, and was marked as a violent criminal, living in a halfway house. When the horrors of the past loomed large in his dreams, the doctor put him on tablets that dulled his mind. Matt tried the Army. He asked for help. But he was now a ‘violent person’, with a criminal record. Nobody cared about such people.

Maybe move to London? They had work there. Security Guards, bouncers at nightclubs. He was still fit and strong then.

But he was too heavy-handed. He pushed when he should have talked. Hit hard when he should have pushed. Put someone in hospital when he went too far.

He was too angry, so they let him go.

The Military Medal had to be sold, the only thing that had ever meant something. But the money from that lasted less than a month. At least it bought him the tent, the inflatable mattress, and the sleeping bag. Matt rubbed his stubbly chin, thinking. How long ago was that now? Twenty years, at the very least.

If he got across the road to Macdonalds before it was busy, he could have a wash in the toilets.

And that friendly African guy might give him a free coffee, and some stale hash browns.

42 thoughts on “Photo Prompt Story: Sergeant Evans

    1. Many soldiers come home to broken marriages. Then some of them live alone, turn to drink or drugs, and find it hard to keep jobs. It’s a vicious circle, Shaily.
      Best wishes, Pete.


      1. So sad. Dealing with trauma of war scenes, to be forsaken by love…it is too much for anyone. No wonder why they can’t keep jobs. How can they be a happy worker in face of so much pain? Being in fight or flight situation day in day out, amidst mind-numbing violence for years…their responses change. Without family support and counselling, they are lost…

        Liked by 1 person

  1. (1) Overheard at dinner:
    Mr. Zebra: “I’m proud to wear the stripes!”
    Ms. Zebra: “That’s fine. Now please pass the Grévy.”
    (2) Upon learning his mate was dead, Matt had to dispense with Spence.
    (3) Marines who were hungry for battle were finally called to Sapper.
    (4) Glynis became impatient in bed. “My favorite activity is jumping the gun. But it used to B4play.”
    (5) Matt was too heavy-handed. Putting a velvet glove on his iron fist didn’t help a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A sad but not uncommon story, Pete. Even if Sergeant Evans hadn’t become a ‘violent criminal’ the army wouldn’t help him. So many ex-soldiers end up on the scrap heap, often self-medicating with alcohol or other drugs. Well told.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There should be an acknowledge but don’t like option. I’m afraid I have a very cynical view about the military….not the guys who serve…I totally support and empathize with them. But one has the feeling that The Powers That Be would really much rather guys got killed because then they wouldn’t bring all those ghastly memories back that no one knows how to deal with. It’s no different here. Veterans who have engaged in action are damaged and need help even if their wounds don’t show. I’ve known many. It’s an outrage. And it’s a class problem too. Ah. I said I was cynical, did I?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s fine to have a cynical view. After meeting so many ex-soldiers living in distressed circumstances when I was an EMT, I have one too. That’s why I wrote this story, based on the photo.
      Best wishes, Pete.


    1. Thanks, Don. So many people I met on the streets in London were ex-soldiers. They say things are better now, with wider acknowledgement of PTSD. I can’t be sure about that.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully sad and applicable to many soldiers around the world. I think the care for these men and women is improving. Young warriors went to fight based on visions of heroism. Reality was quite different. I was married to a Vietnam Vet and saw the results of this mental conflict.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Karen. Acknowledgement of PTSD has improved greatly since the time of Vietnam, and The Falklands. Though it is still easy for so many ex-soldiers to slip through the system.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Before PTSD had the recognition it gets now, so many ex-service people were allowed to just disappear into the dark side of society. Out of sight, out of mind.
          Best wishes, Pete.


  5. Good story Pete. I don’t follow the serials because I don’t have time but I enjoy these short ones. Far too many ex-servicemen end up homeless and with problems of violence

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Sarada. It was my experience in the ambulance service that many of those ‘street people’ were ex-services, and some were unable to adjust to life after being in the forces.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

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