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Two Queen of Spades

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Paddock loathed jeeps.

Every part of those stubborn vehicles with their cranky shifters, getting wedged without warning at the worst times possible, and engines wailing and shaking like banshees, whenever he goes full throttle!

The rust buckets had annoyed the heck out of him during the war but by now he downright despised them. Whenever Paddock set eyes on one of them - and heaven forbid, that happened rarely enough! – he's reminded of that one starlit evening in the Netherlands, a lifetime ago but still clear in his mind.

At the end of an exhausting drive, he was so annoyed by the bitchy old wreck that called itself a jeep, that he wanted nothing more than to shoot a bullet right through its whiny engine heart.

That would have been very satisfying and great fun!

Only that evening Friar had thrown himself heroically between Paddock and the jeep to protect the vehicle with the whole bulk of his body. Which wasn’t much considering it was Friar, but still stopped a furious Kansas boy dead in his tracks.

Paddock liked to shoot things, back then as much as today, but Friar? He never could’ve pulled the trigger on Friar.

Never ever.

Good old Friar!

Though quiet and slightly-built, Friar was solid as a rock when it really mattered and a bastion of calm in the chaos of war, always ready to help his comrades in need.

He was also a man Paddock couldn’t fool.

Right from the start, Friar had systematically undermined Paddock’s pompous ego like no one else in the squad dared to. This small fry, who ranked below him to boot, had at no point in time taken his boisterous way seriously. Initially, Paddock had regarded this as an attack against his person but quickly realized that Friar was a likable fellow who cared deeply for others. He just wasn’t very good at showing it.

Of course, they still argued and nagged at each other like an old couple but their fights lacked malice. A deep friendship bloomed between them, Paddock didn’t know could exist, since he was always rude and arrogant towards others. Even this friendship was rough and unpolished like his personality but Friar managed to chop off a few of its rough edges with blows that weren’t always gentle. Friar had been his friend, counterpart and brother in arms in one. Yet, out of pride and pure arrogance, Paddock had never told the other man how much his friendship meant to him. And then, from one moment to the next, Friar was gone, and with that, any chance to express his appreciation was lost.

The truth was, Paddock loathed jeeps because they reminded him of Friar, of that one moment, that one starlit evening, when Friar had thrown himself between Paddock and the jeep, commanding him to leave the vehicle alone. His eyes filled with mischief and warmth and Paddock, grinning, had lowered the gun.

He just couldn’t get this image and the feeling of happiness he felt back then out of his head. It stuck with him even years later and whenever he set eyes upon a jeep, the memory came rushing back with a vengeance ...

... breaking his heart.