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Saving Helen Of Sparta

Defending a beautiful woman from the hyenas in camp.

By Alvin AngPublished 7 months ago 10 min read
Photo by José Luis on Pexels

But barring the seductive whisperings of Lee’s offer, the rest of my weekend was good.

It was good to train again, yes, good to hone my skills again, but it was better still to see the faces of my training partners and friends, friendly faces untwisted by camp discipline and too much power. We joked and we laughed and we punched and we kicked, and in between it all we had a lot of fun—but as the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun and good times are not meant to last, because 48 hours and too soon later I was back outside camp again, back on the cross again, surrounded once again by the glum faces of resigned recruits and the waiting cars of waving parents.

One car in particular stood out. It was a large black Mercedes, very sleek, with a chrome-plated veneer polished so bright it reflected the emptiness of the night. Its back door opened and out stepped the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Her skin was carved ivory, her eyes brown-flecked obsidian set in the depths of an incomparable face. Her silken hair spilled over her shoulders like a river of overturned ink, and as she glided across the road on wings of sandalled feet every recruit eye in a 500-meter radius turned to watch her go.

I couldn’t help it. I fell in love with her immediately.

I pictured her soft fingers wrapped around mine, and us strolling around Orchard hand-in-hand wearing very fine clothes. Immediately what did I do but get recognized by three very beautiful ones, three beautiful fan-girls who can’t hold a candle to my ivory-faced sun. Their rouged lips are open and their wet eyes are wide and begging me for selfies, and I am a good boyfriend: I glance at my girl for permission and she gives me a tiny kiss on the cheek yes. So like the gentleman I am, I oblige. I give them all the selfies they want, making sure to smile dashingly here and wink rakishly there, and all the while my lady wasn’t jealous at all but proud as hell of me. She was a catch, a dream come true, and at the height of my dream she had to go crush it by walking up to Wei Xian and giving him a hug.

Oh, how I hated him then, hated Wei Xian and his square-jawed 188cm of height. My hate made me glare daggers at him all the way from the main gate to the parade square. It was easy to hate him because he was a rich kid from China—he was one of those who enlisted dripping in Prada—and it was easy to stare at him unnoticed because his back was to me, and that night I had to march behind him in formation as in life, my eyes still seeing that lingering hug and my nose still smelling that sweet sad perfume left on his skin by my lady that was his, and all the while my heart ached and asked why he had the good things in life and not me.

But I wasn’t the only one who noticed the girl with the face of Aphrodite and the body of a rockstar, because the catcalls soon began. They began when we were seated on the floor of the parade square, and they began with a recruit named Aziz.

“Bro…is that your girlfriend back there? She’s hot man…”

Wei Xian didn’t reply. He was the quiet type.

Aziz took this as permission to continue, and soon, like sharks smelling blood, more of his goonies jumped in, leering, “She’s so hot…”

“Ten out of ten!”

“Those legs man…those legs…”

“And that body!”

“You lucky son-of-a-bitch!”

“Tell me, man, what’s it like to feel those legs wrapped around you?”

“She can wrap her legs around me any day!”

Mocking laughter rang out like the screams of hyenas.

“Yeah man, yeah, what’s it like to fuck a ten?”

“Yeah, bro, hell yeah—I don’t normally do these things, but for her, I’ll do it! I’ll eat her out! I’ll lick her all over so hard!”

More laughter all around—some prick at the back was making high-pitched moans, simulating sex. As if he’d ever had any.

It was too much for Wei Xian. He might be quiet and shy, but he was still a Man. He stood up and jabbed one long finger at Azis’s chest. “Don’t go too far,” he said in a soft, cold voice.

Azis looked around, saw that he had the numbers on his side, and immediately became brave. He rolled his eyes, shrugged dramatically, and said, “What did I do? I’m just saying what everyone here is thinking. Right, fellas?” Little sounds of assent all around. There was an ugly tension in the air. I looked around. There were no sergeants to be seen. Where were the sergeants when such things happened? Azis and his friends were still heck-ling Wei Xian, still laughing like the low lives they were. I saw with disgust that Zool and Haikal were among them.

Maybe that’s what made me help him. I don’t know what came over me, but the next thing I knew I was standing up and saying, “Enough guys, leave the China boy alone.”

Yellow eyes all around, eyeing me warily. They knew who I was and what I did. It was one of those rare situations where a macho reputation helped. But Azis wouldn’t back down. He came to me and said in a low voice, “This isn’t your problem, bro.”

I shrug, every bit the nonchalant guy. “I know it’s not my problem…bro. It’s just that I know his girlfriend. Her name is Helen, and she’s a very nice girl. She’s my friend…and I don’t like people making fun of my friends.”

I met Aziz’s eye, and I saw that he thought about it. He thought about coming up to me and having a good old-fashioned go, but now that there were two of us against his ten his courage left him. “Whatever,” he mumbled, backing off to join his pack of vultures, off to do whatever vultures do. I sat back down on the floor. A moment later I felt a tap on my shoulder, and heard a soft voice saying, “Her name’s not Helen.”

“I know.”

“…Thanks, anyway.”

I didn’t know what to say, so I shrugged, and when the sergeants arrived to order us up I trudged up slowly and thought of Helen. See, I agree with Aziz on one point: everybody was thinking the same thing. They were thinking about Helen, of her in bed with them instead of him, but the difference between men and animals is that men had tact and sometimes even a little bit of kindness.

Still, I’m no saint or hero, I’m just a man, and as I lay in bed Helen’s face came floating back to me and my lonely mind, and I cannot help but feel lovesick for a girl I have never known. Ah, Helen! Helen of Homer:

The face that launched a thousand ships,

And burned the topless towers of Ilium—

Not to mention damn near caused

A goddamn riot

Among the horny, horny boys

In Bedok Guards Camp

The next day the sun arose to find me in the canteen. I usually ate breakfast with the guys from my bunk—sans Zool and Haikal, of course. Today’s breakfast was extra special. Our mealtimes have been upgraded: we now have fifteen minutes to eat instead of five. When you’ve been locked up for as long as I have such small improvements begin to excite you. And today, I was excited. Today, I fully intended to enjoy my breakfast, to make the extra time count.

Alas, it was not to be. As my first bite of kaya-spread bread burst coconut sweetness into my mouth, there was a clanking of trays, and Wei Xian appeared on the bench beside me. Joining him were his friends Ziggy and Jonnie. Such good friends they were. I wonder where they were last night when Azis and his vultures attacked. Probably hiding wherever the sergeants were.

I took a good look around the table. Sitting across me were Chase and Leroy, with half their bodies filled with ink and nothing at all in their heads. With them was Mathew, chewing his bread slowly like an old and toothless man, a furrow of frown lines on his face prematurely but permanently carved deep from worrying too much about his kid. Beside me was Harvind, The Boy Who Lived. And now, gracing us with their presence, was Jonnie, Jonnie with his pale eyes blinking and his wet lips smacking as he devoured his toast. Beside him was Sir Ziggie of the Subnormal Cervical, and last of all was Wei Xian the Rich Kid, the kid so tall and handsome and rich he couldn't even defend his girlfriend.

It’s official—the nutjobs are attracted to me. I don’t know why. Maybe they regard me as some sort of Saviour figure, or maybe they sense deep within me a kindred spirit calling out. Either way, it wasn’t good.

Wei Xian whipped out his phone. His screen was filled with red-green lines like roller coasters going up and back down again. It was a trading platform—I recognized it because some of my training partners were traders. I made the mistake of telling him as much.

It was too much for Wei Xian. He immediately mistook me for a learned man. His eyes lit up and his voice became excited. “Oooooh, so you trade too? Good, good…good to make some money while you’re here.” For such a big, tall man he had a really soft, silky voice. I wondered if they still made eunuchs in China.

On and on he went. Such and such stocks were up, and so and so commodities were down. It was obvious that trading was his one true love and passion. I, on the other hand, was getting bored. Then he brought up a word I had never heard before. The word he said was cryptocurrencies, and the name he mentioned was Bitcoin.

“Trust me bro, Bitcoin is the FUTURE. You gotta buy some when you still have the CHANCE.” He pressed his phone up to my face. I saw that he had fifty or so Bitcoins in his virtual wallet, whatever that meant. He was talking fast now, ranting and rattling off terms like blockchain and fiat and virtual gold and how the government was robbing us blind by printing money. He spoke with a real fervor, his eyes alive and dancing with a madman’s religious zeal. It was like he wasn’t talking about Money but God. I understood. To some people, they were one and the same.

When our fifteen minutes were up and Wei Xian finally left, I stood up to clear my tray, and as I did I said to Harvind, “Bitcoin, what shit.”

“I know right, ha-ha, ha-ha-ha.”

“Bitcoin? More like shitcoin!”

“Ha-ha-ha, yeah, yeah!”


“A coin for bitches! What are they gonna make next—a coin for dogs?”

“Ha-ha-ha! Ha-ha-ha!”

We laughed and we laughed and we laughed, and as we did we walked out of the cookhouse to form up close with the other closed-minded idiots around us. When we were all formed up, we started marching away, empty hands and indebted feet rising and swinging towards the light of the morning sun…

God damn it. That was, to this day, the single most expensive laugh I have ever had. I’m still trying to find Wei Xian so I can suck up to him but I’m afraid he’s got away first, flown away to a private island on a private jet he bought with his Bitcoin money. He’s probably there right now, making love to Helen as we speak.

Some people get all the luck.

God damn it.

God damn it to hell.


The above story is an excerpt taken from my memoir, National Service: Confessions of a Skiving Soldier.


About the Creator

Alvin Ang

👑 Writer of scandalous stories. Author of "National Service: Confessions of a Skiving Soldier" and "Confessions of a Singaporean Weed Smoker." Buy my books here!

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