Webley’s, a large, old style two storey pub, sporting balconies and veranda’s, and located at the rear of a building on the southern side of St. Georges Terrace, Perth, was packed to the rafters. Ex-serviceman doing the filling due it being that day of days, the 25th of April, ANZAC Day. It was a day that serving and ex-serving members marched where possible. Afterward, they gathered at various locations to remember those that allowed Australia to be the country it is today. Plus, it is a good chance to catch up with mates and let nostalgia take the floor.
A small party of Vietnam veterans gathered at a table close to the bar upstairs on the balcony, it conveniently had easy access to the toilets. Beer glasses covered the wet table, and the last wife had finally got the hint and was heading home, doing her best to suppress a smile as she did. Each man at the table had served in Vietnam. Two of the chap’s had been 7RAR, one 6RAR, and three SASR. Some had been National Servicemen, conscripted to become infantrymen with the task of serving abroad; others had been regular soldiers. All, in their own way, were changed men upon their return and eventual discharge. All had been exposed to a multitude of chemicals, including the defoliant Agent Orange. All had come under, and traded fire. One had been a machine gunner, another an antitank gunner, the other’s holding equally important positions utilised as they stalked the jungle in that foreign land. They were all Western Australian’s; they had all retired, and all now lived in Perth. All had the obligatory children and grandchildren, and all had survived life from the hell’s of the Viet jungle to now. Outside of ANZAC Day, they had absolutely nothing to do with each other. Two of them had farmed at opposite ends of the Shire of Victoria Plains; one other had farmed around the once town of Koojan.
All of them had at least one daughter.
Conversation went around in circles from laughter to seriousness. Seriousness taking place in the memories of those chaps not with them today, either through loss of life in Vietnam, or resultant passing on at home, Vietnam still very much the cause. They talked of men they knew and served with that had taken their own lives, or those with “Jack the dancer”, meaning cancer, and other mystery illnesses that all point to a place they had all been to 40 odd years before. They didn’t talk of the nightmares and the sweats; the flash backs because of the smell of sweat and mud and rain. No one talked about the silent hatred of helicopters and palm trees. Some things just weren’t spoken of.
Bad luck is a dice with ‘three’ on every side; how the dice is rolled may vary, but no matter what, with no good reason why, ‘three’ is what you are left with everytime. In line with this ghastly roll of mortality, three of them had lost a daughter in the last six months. Two of them had shared visits from the Police on the same day, only an hour apart from each other. None of their girls had died well, their cases yet to be solved. The topic of their death’s eventually made it onto the table; then came the topic of certain skill sets gained abroad, and the laws of reciprocity.
A plan was hatched, and hell followed with it.
This is purely a work of fiction, if there is any likeness to any incident or character, it is purely coincidental.
Click the picture above, it isn’t often that I will even entertain the notion of listening to the original of the song I have embedded. Being an ex-serviceman myself, it makes me feel physically ill to watch the film clip, let alone hear it. This is ‘The Herd’ and their version of the same. I still can’t listen to it the whole way through, but I cope with it better than Red Gum’s original. I do believe it to be an appropriate inclusion, relating to the yarn above.
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