I can go to bed and know Whats coming, unable to avoid it, that makes it worse. In waking hours its quite manageable and usually due to a set of innocuous and peaceful circumstances that trigger a darker dejavue.
At night It can be due to something stressful happening during my day, It can be due to being worried about something that's happening in my life at the time, and sometimes It just happens for no apparent reason.
I wake up, sometimes shouting, nearly always soaked in sweat.
There are Three and they always play the same way, like a DVD that skips back to the start of the scene each time it happens, Groundhog nights.
Tonight was my least favorite.
I'm at the bottom of whats known as the Anvil in central Bosnia. My patrol is approached by one of the locals who is quite distressed, she jabbers to our female interpreter at a hundred mile an hour and I don't have a clue whats being said as I had not learnt any serbocroat at that time, something I soon remedied.
The interpreter briefly told me there is a problem with a Serb officer in a house who is armed and drunk. We made haste to the house only to find a crowd of nine or ten shouting people out side stood around a guy in a Serb officers uniform who was fairly well cut and swaying from side to side.
I had already sized up the location on approach and took note of the Russian made Tokarev pistol in its holster on a wast belt slung low on his hip like some kind of John Wayne wannabe.
I also noted The flap of the holster was unfastened and his hands wer waving all over as he gesticulated with the crowd.
OK I thought to myself, so we got a pissed off pissed up armed flipflop surrounded by a bunch of men women and kids and this guy looks like hes loosing the plot, the areas secure, I got four of my lads stood behind me and orders to disarm any non NATO troops in the demilitarized zone who don't have a weapons card.
I ask the interpreter to tell him I want to see his weapons card and as its relayed to him I step forward through the crowd with a disarming smile on my face.
The guy says something to the interpreter who turns to me and politely repeats in English "he say to fuck off".
The crowd went quiet.
I ask her to tell him again that I need to see his weapons card or he will have to hand over his side arm, she tells him again but this time I'm not smiling at him.
He looks me in the eye then without loosing eye contact with me he gives the interpreter a mouthful, she turns to me and looks worried now, "go on then what did he say" I ask her. "He say you can fuck your mother, this is his country, his village and he can do what he like".
The crowd start to shout at him again, not really helping things, I'm not impressed by this reply and decide Mr nice guy has left the building.
Taking the interpreter out of the loop I take another step forward closing to a distance of four or five feet and say in plain English to the twat "give me your weapon now" and point to his side arm knowing full well he probably understood English if not spoke it. He looked at me with utter contempt and said in slurd English "fuck you", one of the women stood next to him in the crowd started poking and pushing him as she jabberd on, and it was at this point that things got ugly.
He drew his Tokarev and waved it about as he shouted back at the crowd.
In a split second I ran through the options here, drunk, armed, lost the plot, safety of civilians, my own lads safety, Good safe backstop if,,,,,,,
I bellow at the top of my voice "Stan eele putsam, ya sam voinik britanski" and draw the 9mm Browning HiPower service automatic from my vest holster,dropping my armed hand to my side but pushing the weapon down against my hip to cock it as I lower it.
The 9mm a better choice as to unsling my 5.56mm sa80 assault rifle would take longer and the backstop was breezbloc house wall, the 5.56 rounds although smaller calibre wer of far higher power and would go through the wall like a red hot poker through butter hitting anyone inside the house.
The guy was in a rage and ignoring me. One of the civvy blokes in the crowd tried to grab his Tok off him and failed, he pointed it in the air and let off a round then pointed it back at the crowd, amazingly they all started grabbing for it. I shouted my warning again, raising the nine mill slipping the safety off and placing the pad of my finger on the trigger.
The Tokarev fired again and I squeezed.
A neat hole appeared in the Serb officers forehead, just between the eyebrows and about an inch up. The wall behind him turned red and lumpy and he fell face down at my feet.
Dead silence from every one now. I looked down and wondered where the back of this guys head had gone, there was a lot missing and I was sure more than was now on the wall, it must have vaporised as there was red mist spread all over the wall and the ground, people too.
We distanced ourselves a little and called in the contact on the radio, and as we waited for instructions the woman who had started to poke and shove the Serb officer causing things to spiral wouldn't stop screaming at me hysterically. I asked the interpreter what the woman was saying, She replied "that was her husband you shoot and she want to know how she will look after children now".
I don't care what the drama started over and never wanted to try and find out. The twat with the Tok! I don't give a shit, he left me no choice. But that woman's face screaming at me, full of pain anger and hate, that will never go away.