Terry goes to Libya, and Jane thinks he has forgotten her.
Due to my standby commitment, I was not allowed on leave and I spent Christmas Day on the half-deserted camp. The unit was almost back to full strength the day after Boxing Day and I was glad to see the return of my friends. New Year's Eve, I was dressed and ready to leave the block for the party in the NAAFI, but I sat patiently waiting for Mark and Bob.
"Well, at least we can all have a good ole session tonight," Mark said. "Jane's on leave, so you won't be able to slope off and sit holding hands with her outside the WRAF block all night. How are you getting on with her anyway? Are you giving her one yet?"
I laughed. "No, of course not, you know what I think about WRAFs, she's just a friend."
"Shall we call at The Eight Bells first," Bob interrupted, "or are we going straight over to the NAAFI?"
"I don't know," Mark replied. "You know the barmaid over at The Bells has got the hots for Terry, don't you? We might never get him out of there."
"I'm not going over there," I said. "Last time I was in there she tried to get hold of me. I had to physically restrain her. The place was full of Rock Apes and I felt a prat. And then she punched me in the face and told me to leave her prat alone." The men's laughter echoed down the corridor as they left for the NAAFI, via The Eight Bells.
I was called to station headquarters on New Year's morning, given a rail warrant, and told to report to RAF Fairford the following day. I left on my adventure before Jane returned from her leave, wishing I could have seen her before I left, but I knew I was only going for a few months and would soon be back.
I arrived at Fairford and joined a large group of airmen in a transit accommodation block. The following day, straight after breakfast, we entered through the rear-loading ramp of a Hercules transport plane for the start of our journey.
It was early evening when, after a ten-hour flight, we disembarked at El Adem airfield. I soon made myself at home in the aluminium transit huts. I sat and wrote three letters, one to my parents, one to my friend Mark, and one to Jane. I lay on my bed for a while thinking of Jane and thinking how she seemed to be continuously in my mind. My thoughts wouldn't settle for long on any other subject, but my feelings for her. Now she was not around me, now I couldn't talk to her I realised what a terrible mistake I had made not spending more time with her. I knew I was in love with her and remembered our intimate moments together, but I felt my stupid attitude towards WRAFs had sometimes clouded my mind and caused me to avoid her.
My thoughts were depressing me. I decided to go and find my new friends and I set off to search out the nearest NAAFI bar.
A few days later I decided it was time to be honest with Jane. I needed to tell her how I really felt about her and I wrote her another letter. I re-read the last bit a few times before sending it off in the Forces Post.
...when we were talking about marriage that time, I said that I wouldn't consider getting wed until I was thirty. Well, Jane, maybe I was a bit hasty. Since you went away at Christmas, I've missed you terribly and I can't imagine living my life without being around you. Perhaps twenty-two would be a better age to get married. Am I proposing? No, I'm bloody not. I'll wait until I get back to you so I can look into your eyes and ask you personally. There is not a day that goes by that I don't spend some time thinking of you. I lie awake at night wishing that you were close to me. I don't know if you feel it as well, but I feel a sort of charge running through me when we are together. I really feel as if we were put on this world to be with each other, and if I were to spoil it, it would be a sin against nature.
She would be over the moon when she read this. At least I hoped she would.
I returned to camp and was disappointed to learn that Terry had already left for Libya. It added to the mood of depression I was in following the disagreement with Gwen. I was sitting in the airmen's mess further troubled because I hadn't heard from my brother and I was wondering if he had abandoned me as well.
"Cor! Cheer up, you'll turn me off my dinner."
I was startled by Bob's sudden appearance but pleased to have his company.
Bob sat opposite me with a seemingly permanent grin across his face. "What's up, are you missing him already?"
"Terry, your boyfriend."
"My boyfriend, what makes you think he's my boyfriend?"
"You said he was, before Christmas, when I asked if I could take you out."
"Oh yeah. Well, we're just good friends really."
"That's funny, he said that as well."
"Did he?" I looked at him as if I didn't believe him, or didn't care.
"Yeah, he said he don't like going about with WRAFs anyway." He paused as if surprised that his comments seemed to have little effect on me. But then he continued with a different approach. "He said you were looking for a husband, you brought it up, and he said you had no chance of marrying him."
"It wasn't like that. Why did he say that?"
"He says lots of things in our room. Said he takes you out now and then because you look sad and lonely."
"I'm not sad, and I'm not bloody lonely."
"Hold on, Jane, I never said it, did I? You don't have to have a go at me, you asked."
"And what else has he been saying?"
"No, I'm not telling you. I don't want you blaming me. It's best if I just keep my mouth shut."
"Look I'm sorry, I didn't mean to have a go at you, but you have to tell me now you've started. I'd tell you if someone was saying things about you."
Bob gave a big sigh as if he were reluctant to continue. "All right, but don't take it out on me. I like you, Jane, I like you a lot and I don't like people making snide remarks about you behind your back." He paused again for a few seconds while I sat staring at him. "He said you've got fat legs."
I started laughing. "No, he didn't. I haven't got fat legs."
"I know that. You've got great legs, but he obviously prefers skinny girls." He paused again as if he were trying to think of something to say."Did he give you one of his massages?"
I was visibly shocked by the question. I didn't answer, but I showed a blush as I looked at him.
"I wasn't sure if it were true, but I am now. He said things got quite steamy, told us everything."
"Us! Who the hell else knows about it?"
"Everyone, he's told everyone. I mean it's private really and he should keep things like that to himself."
I suddenly stood up. "He's lying or You're lying."
"Please yourself, you're the one who knows the truth, not me. I just know what I've been told. Look, why not forget about him for a while. I was thinking about going down the West End tomorrow night. Get some tickets from The Union Jack Club and go to see a show or something. What do you think? Do you fancy a night on the town?"
"No!" I said. "And don't ask me again." I walked off feeling hurt and angry while Bob sat grinning.
A few days later there was a knock on the door of the WRAF rest room and Bob looked in. "I've just brought the mail over and put in the rack in the rest room lobby. There's a letter for you Mandy."
I walked out from the ladies room. "Is there a letter for me?" I asked.
"Sorry, Jane I didn't know you were in here. Yes, there's a letter for you as well."
"I bet mine's a letter from Freddie," Mandy said.
"A letter from Freddie," I said. "He's only billeted across the parade square."
"I know. He's trying to make it up with me, but he can piss off." I'm due out now, I'll take the letter with me in the ration truck. But I'll bet your one is a love letter from Terry in Libya."
I gave a laugh. "Perhaps," I said feeling hopeful that it was.
We went to get our letters. Mandy rushed off to her truck with her letter. I stood looking at my letter with a London postmark. I was disappointed it was not from Terry but glad it was probably from my brother. I looked into thre main rest room. Bob was on his own, making himself a coffee and I called out to him. "Bob, do you know if anyone has heard from Terry?"
"I don't think so. I'll ask the barmaid over The Eight Bells, she might have heard from him."
"Why on earth should she hear from him?"
"Look, I didn't want to say anything in case you got upset, but they've been seeing each other."
"Seeing each other. I don't think so, Bob, he doesn't even like her."
"I think you'll find he does. He had her back at the block New Years morning. When I went into our room they were both sleeping in his bed."
I laughed. "I don't believe you."
"Please yourself." He turned away and stirred the sugar into his coffee.
I stood looking for a few seconds, before closing the door and walking off to the privacy of the WRAF rest room. I thought the letter was from my brother Tommy and it surprised me when I realised it was from Ronnie. It was written in an unfriendly manner telling me that Tommy had been killed in a road accident. It said the funeral had already taken place and there was no need for me to go over to East London, except perhaps to visit my accomplice Marion. It went on to say if I continued to pursue a claim against Carol's estate, the family would take action against me for fraud.
I was sitting in a silent state of shock. I stood up and made my way to the main rest room. Badly needing support from someone, anyone.
Bob looked up from his easy chair as I opened the door. The tears were filling the wide eyes in my ashen face as I stared blankly towards him. "Good God, Jane, what is it, whatever's wrong?"
His words seemed to give me a kind of release from my shock and I burst out in tears. "It's my brother, my brother. He's been killed."
Bob stood up and rushed over to me, pleased to be the one to comfort me, to hold me in his arms and try to help to relieve the pain of bereavement.
I became more annoyed as the days passed, every day checking the letter rack, frustrated, wondering why he hadn't written to me as he promised. I was almost sure Bob was lying, but I kept wondering about Terry and the barmaid. I even made a trip over to The Eight Bells one night, but although the girl was behind the bar, I couldn't bring herself to ask her. I thought of Terry's friend Mark. Terry was sure to have written to him. Mark was alone in the fire section when I walked in and he looked up from recharging a used fire extinguisher.
"Have you come to make me a brew, Jane?"
I noticed the kettle just starting to boil and smiled as I walked over to the table to make his tea. "I was wondering how Terry was getting on in Libya, I thought he must be writing to you."
"Yeah, he reckons he's having such a great time, he doesn't want to come back."
"You're getting the mail all right then?"
"Oh yeah, it only takes about three days. I thought he'd have dropped you a line. You two got on all right for a while, didn't you?"
"Well, perhaps he's got too much going on."
"Yeah, all them Arab girls belly dancing round him, the dirty lucky sod." We both laughed as I took his tea over.
"I'd like to write to him, could you give me his address?"
"Of course, I've got it in my locker back at the block. I'll fetch it in for you."
I was having trouble asking the question I wanted to ask and began to walk to the door, but I turned to look at him again. "Mark, do you know if he's been going out with the barmaid from The Eight Bells?" There, I thought, I've said it. I've got it out.
"I think he would have told me if he was, but I can't really be sure, it's possible I suppose. He doesn't like going out with WRAFs you know, he prefers the civvies. The only WRAFs I've seen him with are you and Susan from the band. Are you getting a serious crush on him then?"
"Well you know us WRAFs, Mark, anything in trousers."
"I'm wearing trousers, Jane." We both laughed as I left the room.
I walked out from the fire section as Bob was passing. He smiled and stopped walking as if waiting for me to walk along with him. I thought on how he had been pestering me for a date. He was a good-looking man, always well dressed and well spoken. I had already been considering spending some time with him. Terry had obviously lost interest in me and I knew I dare not let myself get too depressed about it. I didn't want that feeling creeping up on me again, that feeling that nobody wanted me, that I didn't matter. Nevertheless, I didn't commit myself. I was still not sure about him. Especially as I was almost sure he had made a guess about Terry giving me a massage, it was common knowledge that Terry had trained as a masseur. But every time he tried to talk me into a date with him I found it more difficult to refuse him. After all, Terry had obviously forgotten me.