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“Oi, Brylcreem job. Where was ya?”
“Where were you when they killed my mate?”
A globule of spittle hit the back of the man’s head and fell behind his ear. Turner moved round to get a view. He saw first the gray-blue of a jacket, and then the mute apprehension in the man’s face. He was a wiry little fellow with thick, unclean lenses in his glasses which magnified his frightened stare. He looked like a filing clerk, or a telephone operator, perhaps from a headquarters long ago dispersed. But he was in the RAF and the Tommies held him accountable. He turned slowly, gazing at the circle of his interrogators. He had no answers to their questions, and he made no attempt to deny his responsibility for the cheap nike air max absence of Spitfires and Hurricanes over the beach. His right hand clutched his cap so hard his knuckles trembled. An artilleryman standing by the door gave him a hard push in the back so that he stumbled across the ring into the chest of a soldier who sent him back with a casual punch to the head. There was a hum of approval. Everyone had suffered, and now someone was going to pay.
“So where’s the RAF?”
A hand whipped out and slapped the man’s face, knocking his glasses to the floor. T Nike Air Max 1 he sound of the blow was precise as a whip crack. It was a signal for a new stage, a new level of engagement. His naked eyes shrank to fluttering little dots as he went down to grope around his feet. That was a mistake. A kick from a steel-capped army boot caught him on the backside, lifting him an inch or two. There were chuckles all round. A sense of something tasty about to happen was spreading across the bar and drawing more soldiers in. As the crowd swelled around the circle, any remaining sense of individual responsibility fell away. A swaggering recklessness was taking hold. A cheer went up as someone stubbed his cigarette on the fellow’s head. They laughed at his comic yelp. They hated him and he deserved everything that was coming his way. He was answerable for the Luftwaffe’s freedom of the skies, for every Stuka attack, every dead friend. His slight frame contained every cause of an army’s defeat. Turner assumed there was nothing he could do to help the man without risking a lynching himself. But it was impossible to do nothing. Joining in would be better than n othing. Unpleasantly excited, he strained forward. Now, a tripping Welsh accent proposed the question.
“Where’s the RAF?”
It was eerie that the man had not shouted for help, or pleaded, or protested his innocence. His silence seemed like collusion in his fate. Was he so dim that it had not occurred to him that he might be about to die? Sensibly, he had folded his glasses into his pocket. Without them his face was empty. Like a mole in bright light, he peered around at his tormentors, his lips parted, mor nike air max classic e in disbelief than in an attempt to form a word. Because he could not see it coming, he took a blow to the face full-on. It was a fist this time. As his head flipped back, another boot cracked into his shin and a little sporting cheer went up, with some uneven applause, as though for a decent catch in the slips on the village green. It was madness to go to the man’s defense, it was loathsome not to. At the same time, Turner understood the exhilaration among the tormentors and the insidious way it could claim him. He himself could do something outrageous with his bowie knife and earn the love of a hundred men. To distance the thought he made himself count the two or three soldiers in the circle he reckoned bigger or stronger than himself. But the real danger came from the mob itself, its righteous state of mind. It would not be denied its pleasures.
A situation had now been reached in which whoever threw the next hit had to earn general approval by being ingenious or funny. There was an eagerness in the nike air max sale air to please by being creative. No one wanted to strike a false note. For a few seconds these conditions imposed restraint. And at some point soon, Turner knew from his Wandsworth days, the single blow would become a cascade. Then there would be no turning back, and for the RAF man, only one end. A pink blotch had formed on the cheekbone under his right eye. H Air Max 1 e had drawn his fists up under his chin—he was still gripping his cap—and his shoulders were hunched. It may have been a protective stance, but it was also a gesture of weakness and submission which was bound to provoke greater violence. If he had said something, anything at all, the troops surrounding him might have remembered that he was a man, not a rabbit to be skinned. The Welshman who had spoken was a short, thickset fellow from the sappers. He now produced a belt of canvas webbing and held it up.
“What do you think, lads?”
His precise, insinuating delivery suggested horrors that Turner could not immediately grasp. Now was his last chance to act. As he looked around for the corporals, there was a roar from close by, nike air max 90 like the bellowing of a speared bull. The crowd swayed and stumbled as Mace barged through them into the circle. With a wild hollering yodeling sound, like Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan, he picked up the clerk from behind in a bear hug, lifting him eighteen inches clear of the ground, and shook the terrified creature from side to side. There were cheers and whistles, foot-stamping and Wild West whoops.
“I know what I want to do with him,” Mace boomed. “I want to drown him in the bloody sea!”
In response, there rose another storm of hooting and stamping. Nettle was suddenly at Turner’s side and they exchanged a look. The Cheap Nike Air Max 1 y guessed what Mace was about and they began to move toward the door, knowing they would have to be quick. Not everyone was in favor of the drowning idea. Even in the frenzy of the moment, some could still recall that the tide line was a mile away across the sands. The Welshman in particular felt cheated. He was holding up his webbing and shouting. There were catcalls and boos as well as cheers. Still holding his nike air max 95 victim in his arms, Mace rushed for the door. Turner and Nettle were ahead of him, making a path through the crowd. When they reached the entrance—usefully, a single, not a double, door—they let Mace through, then they blocked the way, shoulder to shoulder, though they appeared not to, for they were shouting and shaking their fists like the rest. They felt against their backs a colossal and excited human weight which they could only resist for a matter of seconds. This was long enough for Mace to run, not toward the sea, but sharp left, and left again, up a narrow street that curved behind the shops and bars, away from the front.
The exultant crowd exploded from the bar like champagne, hurling Turner and Nettle aside. Someone thought he saw Mace down on the sands, and for half a minute the crowd went that way. By the time t nike air max 1 he mistake was realized and the crowd began to turn back, there was no sign of Mace and his man. Turner and Nettle had melted away too.
The vast beach, the thousands waiting on it, and the sea empty of boats returned the Tommies to their predicament. They emerged from a dream. Away to the east where the night was rising, the perimeter line was under heavy artillery fire. The enemy was closing in and England was a long way off. In the failing light not much time remained to find somewhere to bed down. A cold wind was coming in off the Channel, and the greatcoats lay on the roadsides far inland. The crowd began to break up. The RAF man was forgotten.
It seemed to Turner that he and Nettle had set out to look for Mace, and then forgot about him. They must have wandered the streets for a while, wanting to congratulate him on th cheap nike air max trainers e rescue and share the joke of it. Turner did not know how he and Nettle came to be here, in this particular narrow street. He remembered no intervening time, no sore feet—but here he was, addressing in the politest terms an old lady who stood in the doorway of a flat-fronted terraced house. When he mentioned water, she looked at him suspiciously, as though she knew he wanted more than water. She was rather handsome, with dark skin, a proud look and a long straight nose, and a floral scarf was tied across her silver hair. He understood immediately she was a gypsy who was not fooled by his speaking French. She looked right into him and saw his faults, and knew he’d been in prison. Then she glanced with distaste at Nettle, and at last pointed along the street to where a pig was nosing around in the gutter.
“Bring her back,” s nike air max 90 sale he said, “and I’ll see what I have for you.”
“Fuck that,” Nettle said once Turner had translated. “We’re only asking for a cup of bloody water. We’ll go in and take it.”
But Turner, feeling a familiar unreality taking hold, could not discount the possibility that the woman was possessed of certain powers. In the poor light the space above her head was pulsing to the rhythm of his own heart. He steadied himself against Nettle’s shoulder. She was setting him a test he was too experienced, too wary, to refuse. He was an old hand. So close to home, he was not falling for any traps. Best to be cautious.
“We’ll get the pig,” he said to Nettle. “It’ll only take a minute.”
Nettle was long used to following Turner’s suggestions, for they were generally sound, but as they went up the street the corporal was muttering, “There’s someth nike air max ing not right with you, guv’nor.”
Their blisters made them slow. The sow was young and quick and fond of her freedom. And Nettle was frightened of her. When they had it cornered in a shop doorway, she ran at him and he leaped aside with a scream that was not all self-mockery. Turner went back to the lady for a length of rope, but no one came to the door and he wasn’t certain that he had the right house. However, he was certain now that if they did not capture the pig, they would never get home. He was running a temperature again, he knew, but that did not make him wrong. The pig equaled success. As a child, Turner had once tried to persuade himself that preventing his mother’s sudden death by avoiding the pavement cracks outside his school playground was a nonsense. But he had never trodden on them and she had not died.
As cheap nike air max they advanced up the street, the pig remained just beyond their reach.
“Fuck it,” Nettle said. “We can’t be doing with this.”③

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