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Our Lady Of The Blues

by

R.E. Prindle

V-3

From Gaia To Maia

 

     Finally Trueman was joined by Mike Deasy and Conrad Parsons.  As Kanary was still following along a few paces behind Trueman Deasy turned to Dewey to ask:  ‘What’s wrong with him?’

     ‘I don’t know.  He tried to drown me with his hose yesterday and now I think he wants to put his hose somewhere else.’

     That got a good round of laughs from Deasy and Parsons much to Kanary’s dissatisfaction.  The split between the former Pollywogs and faux Shellbacks had firmed overnight.  The personnel was now split down the middle.  Kanary did not realize the nature of his crime but he would no longer be allowed to hang around with the former Pollywogs.  He dropped back, then disappeared into the gathering dusk.

     The three sailors were walking toward a Recreation Hall to while away a couple hours when Trueman was taken by the hand by a Samoan girl who wished to lead him into the bushes.  Now, here was a guy who said he never got any chances with women but who now turned down the fairest offer a man will ever receive.  Partially he was afraid of contracting Elephantiasis, partially he was repelled by the girl’s ugliness and partially he was inhibited by his former relationship with his childhood sweetheart Ange.

     He pulled his hand away much to the dismay of the girl.  She then took Parson’s hand who showed no reluctance to follow her.  Looking back at Trueman mystified he indicated his willingness to let him have her but Dewey wasn’t interested.

     The next morning the Teufelsdreck and the squadron put out to sea in a flat out run to Brisbane.

To The Great Barrier Reef

       The squadron set out at a dead run in contrast to the previous dawdling pace.  Not aware of the seriousness of the two men’s injuries, indeed, not even fully aware of the men as they were out of sight Dewey marveled at the speed.

     The squadron quickly dropped South below the Tropic of Capricorn where the waters lost the placidity of the tropics turning choppy once again.

     The plight of his two sailors weighed heavy on Ratches’ mind.  It weighed heavier still when the supply of narcotics ran out leaving the men in desperate pain.  The only solution for this was to transfer the Desade’s supply to the Teufelsdreck.  This could have been done very easily but Ratches was ashamed to openly receive the narcotics.  To solve the problem the Teufelsdreck and Desade engaged in cover maneuvers involving the transfer of men from ship to ship using the Jacob’s Chair.

     Gunnery and Deck were involved.  The maneuver involved the two ships running side by side at a maximum distance of thirty feet.  Lines were strung and passed from the bottom of the Hedgehog deck above the forward three inch mount.  The chair was connected to this line with lines on the chair to pull it back and forth.  A sailor was placed in the chair for this spectacular ride.  Thus if the ships were to  pull too far apart the line would snap dropping the passenger into the drink where he might easily be lost at sea or die of hypothermia before he could be rescued.

 page 902.

      If, the ships came closer together the passenger was dunked in the ocean.  Nor was this a laughing matter because the ships performed this difficult maneuver at top speed so that the sailor slammed into the waves at sixteen knots.  Believe me a wave has mass.

     First Division gathered on the fo’c’sle to begin.  It was an overcast day of fairly high seas.  The Commodore glared from his bridge with folded arms at Ratches on the Teufelsdreck.  The Commodore occasionally burst out in rancorous language at Ratches.  Trueman was amazed a this as his notion of authority was that it had absolute control of its emotions.  Actually its members are less cool than any of the Blacks huddled in Supply.

     Dieter selected his favorites to handle the lines for this was exciting and valuable experience.  Monkey’s Fists shot back and forth as the seamen struggled to connect the lines and get the chair rigged as the helmsmen struggled fighting the wash between the vessels to keep the ships on course thirty feet apart.  This is a situation where one really lives and curses every moment of it.

     Having finally rigged the chair it became necessary to select the sailors to transfer to the Desade to pick up the narcotics.  The task was so formidable that all the sailors were afraid to go with the exception of Trueman, who saw it as an incomparable experience.  Dieter looked at him and Trueman leaned forward in eagerness which was his mistake.  Dieter seeing his eagerness passed him by.  The selection actually represented a sort of vengeance on the so-called Shellbacks.  The first selected was Van Wye who had been over zealous with his hose in the early part of the initiation before he too was pulled from the gauntlet.

     Van Wye was quite terrified but to his credit he quelled his fears stepping up for the ride of his life.  What a trip it was.  He sat facing the stern with his back to the cresting waves.  The thing could have been done with better efficiency but men being what they are they prefer to make it look harder than it is.  Van Wye could have been hauled across without mishap but that wouldn’t have been any fun.

     As First watched each man vicariously experiencing the passage breathlessly the ships closed dropping Van Why to just above the crests where his dangling feet were buffeted by the waves, sitting as it were on the water racing along at seventeen knots in a three hundred six foot steel corridor.  Then he was bobbed back up to deck level and then dropped into the trough while several crests slapped his back painfully enough that he let out a yowl, back out of the water over to the Desage where he was lifted shaking out of the chair.  He collapsed against the bulkhead lying there panting.

     Dewey was green with envy.  How many men in the world could ever say they had that experience.

page 904.

     Then Dieter looked around for another sailor.  Dewey looked up bright eyed hoping against hope to be selected but he was disappointed again.  Dieter’s eyes lit on ‘Judge’ Proud Costello, the handsomest man in the Navy.  Why Costello was in his undress blues while everyone else was in dungarees could perhaps only be explained by the fact tha he could sport his third class chevron on his blues but not his dungarees.  Costello was nothing if not self-important.

     He had made such an ass of himself at initiation that he was something of a laughing stock until he regained his shaken dignity.

     ‘You’re up Costello.’

     The Man amongst Men completely lost his composure.  He was not only terrified but cowardly.

     ‘Me?  No, not me Chief.  I-I’m a Third Class.  Make a Seaman go.  Take Trueman.’

     ‘OK.’ Trueman shouted seeking to haul himself up to the gun tub.

     ‘No. Not you Trueman.  Costello’s going.’

     ‘No. Not me.’  Costello bawled on.  Dieter took him by the arm shoving him toward the basket which had been returned.

     ‘This isn’t fair.’  Cried the ‘Judge’ of the kangaroo court.

     Fair or not he was strapped into the chair and screaming and yowling was dangling over the brine.  Not for long.  He was dropped in over his head.  This was no laughing matter as the speed of the ships swept him back and up tossing skipping over the waves.  Dewey watched breathlessly as the ships speed swung the basket horizontal while Costello’s yowlings were stopped as the water rushed over his head.

page 905.

     Dewey suppressed a giggle to see the ‘Judge’ of the Damned perform in such an undignified manner.  After Dieter had had fun Costello was pulled over and dumped in a heap in the corner of the Desade’s gun tub.

     Van Wye was given the box of narcotics which was the reason for this charade.  Clutching it tightly he was swung out and dipped but he held onto the box.

     ‘Well, you gotta give the creep credit.’  Dewey said to Frenchey.  ‘He pulled it off pretty well.  What’s in the box?’ He added with a raised voice but no one answered.

      The basket went back, Costello was scooped off the deck and dumped in the basket.  Once safe back on the Teufelsdreck he began to regain his composure.  Quickly suppressing the memory of his unmanly behavior he began to boast.  He ignored the smiles and derisive comments building up his heroism in his mind.

     Back in First he remembered that Trueman had jumped at his suggestion that Dewey be taken rather than himself.  This meant that the suppression of his cowardice couldn’t be complete until Trueman was put down.

     ‘Did you see me, Trueman?  You couldn’t do that.’

     ‘You’re right there Costello.  I couldn’t possibly scream as loud as that.  You hit C over C a couple times, I’m sure.’

     ‘You’re that kinda guy, aren’t you Trueman?  Belittle a strong man’s heroism.  Damn you.’

     ‘Aw, eat a weenie, Costello.  The only strong thing about you is your stench.’

     ‘Up yours, Trueman.’

     Dewey let it drop, Costello wanted the last word, let him have it.

page 907

Payday.

      Life goes on whether two men are crippled for life or not; as a matter of fact life goes on whether six or fifty million die.  Life goes on.  As Chairman Mao once said:  If thirty million die so what?  Will the flowers not still bloom in spring?’  Then in typical Communist fashion he conducted a campaign to exterminate flowers.

     The sailors were headed for Australia where it was rumored the women threw themselves at you.  In this case the rumors would prove to be at least half true.

     Certain close connections had been offered the advance pay deal before Hawaii.  The extra pay for Shaffer, Ponzi and Kanary had been so welcome that they extended the program to the whole crew excluding the Blacks.  Prejudice will out.

     Most of the crew responded enthusiastically, most drawing a full paycheck and now lining up again on payday for their regular allotment.

     Trueman had been approached by Kanary who wanted to get half of Trueman’s draw.  He was stunned by Dewey’s reluctance.

     ‘Why not?  You draw extra, have a good time, and never have to pay it back.’

page 907.

     Well, yah, Kanary but if I draw fifty I have to give you twenty-five.’

     ‘Well, yes.  There’s a service charge.’

     ‘Uh huh.  But if they ask for it back then I have to give them fifty but you still get to keep the twenty-five.  Right?’

     ‘They aren’t going to ask for it back.  Ensign Shaffer guarantees it.’

     ‘What’ll happen when they find out?’

     ‘Why would they find out?’

     ‘Audit, Kanary.  Have you ever learned the word, audit?  All companies audit the boods for accuracy and skullduggery.  So does the Navy.’

     ‘How do you know that?’

     ‘Easy.  At the administration building at the Navy Station they have a door with Department of Audits written on it.  I asked what they did.  They do audits.’

     ‘Ensign Shaffer and Ponzi say it’s OK.  Shaffer’s an officer he can’t do anything wrong and Ponzi’s got twelve years experience.  He never said anything about audits to me.’

     ‘Well, but Kanary, you remember when you guys brought the black box aboard and you told us there was a million dollars in it?’

     ‘Yeah.’

     ‘Well, that money is supposed to last the whole tour with nothing left over.  If you take double the money out the till comes up short before the trip’s over.  Then what?’

     This was too much for Kanary who had dollar signs before his eyes; he didn’t want to think about any of this.  If Ensign Shaffer was behind it that was good enough for him.

page 908.

     ‘Never mind all that bushwa.  Do you want an advance or not?’

     ‘Are you hard of hearing, Kanary.  I already said no.  Wash your ears out with a suicide nozzle.’

     And so Trueman was one of only twenty some sailors who refused the advances for one reason or another.

     The happy sailors drew their second allotment leaving them flush with cash as they entered the channel leading through the Great Barrier Reef.

The Price Of Excess

     Entering the channel put Dewey on top of the world.  To be able to see these things for oneself almost made it worthwhile to have joined the Navy.

     ‘What the hell you looking at Trueman?  This is just water the same as the rest of the ocean.’  Laddybuck Ifrit sneered at Trueman who was hanging over the lines staring down at the reef.

    ‘That’s what you say Ifrit.  This is the Great Barrier Reef.  It runs a thousand miles down the whole coast of Australia.  This is the largest coral reef in the world.  I’ve been hoping all my life to see it.’

     ‘I don’t know where you get this crap, Trueman.  Laddybuck said who had never even heard of the Great Barrier Reef.  ‘It’s just water.’

page 909.

     ‘Even so, do you notice how calm it is above the reef compared to the open sea.  If you look close you can see all kinds of fish.  Look at those sand bars out there, probably shift all over the place with wind, waves and tides.  This is wonderful.’

     ‘Just water, you drip.’  Ifrit snarled walking off not even realizing he had made a pun.

     That’s how one acquires a reputation for being weird, taking an interest in things.

     The ship moved through the channel to the other side of the reef into the coastal waters and began the ascent up to the river to Brisbane.

     Brisbane is midcoast on Australia’s East Side.  The location makes it a beneficiary of Northern rains but the seasonality of the rains and its heat keeps it from being a jungle.  The squadron arrived in the midst of a dry spell.

     The City of Brisbane had planned a magnificent reception for the sqaudron with brass bands, fireworks, welcoming dignitaries making speeches, the whole works.  Their river was not that big or deep so they were not often visited by units of the Pacific Fleet.  The payroll of the seven hundred or so warriors of the most powerful nation on the face of the earth was very welcome.

     The early arrival caused by the initiation on the Teufelsdreck had scotched the plans.  The bands and fireworks were dispensed with.  A lone dignitary merely welcomed them.  This was a severe setback for the Commodore who took such vanities as the projected festivities quite seriously.  In his imagination his chest was too broad for the medals he had won, puffed up at the thought of addressing the assembled multitude on behalf of his Superpower.   You see, some of that power would have sloughed off to magnify him.

page 910.

     Enraged at missing this fine opportunity he vented his fury on Ratches and the Teuf.  Perhaps he was even right.  Even though such honors are empty, devoid of real substance, they are nevertheless the high points, the distinctions of life.  They are experience that teaches you how to do it better the next time.  Even the humble sailors on the fo’c’sle would have found it a stirring spectacle to make their lives shine a little.

     Because of Ratches lack of control over his crew the Commodore missed it by arriving a week early.  He made his decision.  The other three ships of the squadron were allowed to proceed to the main docks at the foot of the main street downtown while the Black Sheep was relegated to an industrial pier downstream by itself, thanks to the beastly appetites of the homosexuals.

     Ratches was angry but resigned.  A secret rage burst into flame in his heart against Peter Erect and Paul Duber.  He projected his shame on them which is where, after all, it belonged.

     The subkiller tied up in obscurity.  As usual Trueman was given the odious duty of tieing on the rat guards.  This time on the fantail.  Rat guards are those round metal things on the mooring lines.

     Rats are an ever present danger on the waterfront.  You don’t want any on board.  To tie the guards on a Deckape has to slide down the doubled up lines, which is to say three strands and tie the guards on and then slide down the lines to shore.  Needless to say this is painfully hard on the rectum.  It takes nearly a surgical operation to cut your shorts out of your asshole.  Very unpleasant.

 page 911.

     Grumbling mightily Trueman slipped down the line ankles crossed to keep his balance and to keep from falling in if he lost his balance.  He had just secured the rat guard when Paul Duber and Peter Erect showed up to taunt him.  They wanted to start the magnificent liberty time on a sour note for Trueman.

      ‘Hey, how’s it going Trueman?’  They laughed grabbing the lines and shaking them into a wave motion.

     ‘Hey, knock it off you jerks.’  Trueman yelled.

     ‘Har har.  Ride ’em Cowboy.  Show us your bronco bustin’ style Trueman.’

     Trueman had good balance so he could ride the hempen roan but he couldn’t move, he could only hang on.  The added activity did nothing for his rectum.  Fortunately Pardon showed up and chased the two Supplymen away.  They were in bad odor with the senior non-coms.

     Trueman shimmied to the dock, taking his time strolling up to the Quarterdeck pleased at the feel of terra firma beneath his feet.  By the time he reached the gangway his anger had dissipated.  There really wasn’t much you could do about such hi-jinks but retaliate in kind when the opportunity offered itself.  Trueman had better things to do.

     He was flipping his scarf over his head when Kanary came up to him to say:  ‘You’re on the Cricket Squad, Trueman.’

page 912.

     ‘Get lost Kanary.  I’m on my way downtown.  I don’t even know what a Cricket Squad is, get someone else.’

     ‘I’m tellin’ ya Trueman, you’re on the Cricket team.’

     ‘I don’t know how many times I have to tell you this Kanary but you are both a Seaman and a Yeoman.  You don’t have the authority to tell me anything, so piss off.  However I do have the authority to tell you that.  Back off, puke.

      Kanary glared hatefully at Trueman then stomped off.  A couple minutes later Chief Dieter stepped through the hatch:  ‘You’re on the Cricket Squad, Trueman.’

     ‘Aw, come on, Chief.  That sounds like fun, give it to one of your favorites.’

     ‘Muster is on the Quarterdeck no later than fifteen minutes.  Be there or I’ll square your wheels.’

     Trueman was there.  As he was standing and waiting Baxter and Basehart were brought up on stretchers on their way to the hospital.  Both men had the sheen of men in desperate pain.  Basehart was only semi-concious but Baxter seemed to have an affection for Trueman held out his hand and fondly bid him adieu.  ‘Oh yeah, so long Baxter, good luck.’  Trueman said having almost forgotten his existence.  Then the two men were loaded into ambulances and never seen again.  Life went on.

     The mustered men were put in a van and driven to a Cricket field.  That’s one thing about the English they always take their insitutions with them.

     Dewey knew what Cricket was which put him one up with most of the sailors but no one had ever played the game.  It was quite a novelty for all.

page 913.

     Kanary quickly spread his blow job story about Trueman to the Australians.  The chill hit Trueman in the sub-tropical sun immediately.

     Most of the sailors couldn’t grasp the concept of swinging the cricket bat to protect the wicket so Trueman got to his innings pretty quickly.

     He understood the principle if lacking in execution but he protected his wicket pretty well.  The slanted blades of the bat gave him some trouble but as there is no such thing as a foul ball in Cricket many of the little tips he gave the ball rolled between the fielders while his fairer hits kept him running in the hot sun in the heavy woolen dress blues.

page 914.

     In Cricket you have to keep running back and forth between the wicket and the pitch until the ball is retrieved.  If you can only make it to the pitch you stand there while another batsman takes his turn.

     Cricket is a straight forward game without provisions for legal cheating as in American baseball and other games.  You may be able to ‘steal’ a base in Baseball but you can’t steal wickets in Cricket.  American sports may be unique in that they sanction such criminal behavior.  This fact may have something to do with why crime is rampant in America, you’re trained to it in sports.

     Trueman was never put out.  He was up to fifty-seven runs when they called the game lest he get his hundred.  By fifty-seven he was forty-five ahead of any of the sailors.  Rather than chance his getting a hundred and making them all look bad they called the game.  Trueman had not taken this as a hardship.  He was exhausted from running back and forth, sweating through his blues.

     Kanary approached Trueman:  ‘We’re all going over to a party at Mr. Highnote’s house.  You’re not invited.’

     ‘Who says so, Kanary?’

     ‘I do.’  Said Hugh Highnote, a son, stepping up.  ‘We don’t want your kind there.’  He said with all the detestation reserved for the homosexual Kanary had advised them he was.

     ‘Alright.  I didn’t volunteer for this anyway.  Bite a weeny, asshole.’

     Highnote turned away in disgust while Kanary gloated viciously:  ‘How does that make you feel, Trueman?  Nobody wants to have anything to do with you.’

     Trueman didn’t know the reason but he knew it probably involved Kanary and not himself.  Still it is almost impossible in such circumstances not to have doubt about yourself, not to internalize the rejection expecially as this would only be one of many engineered by Kanary.

     There was nothing for it as the Knights of old would say but that the injury is on me, the shame is on you.  Shame?  What shame?  Homos like Kanary are beyond shame, they are chutzpah chiseled in stone, shameless despicable creatures.

     Left in the middle of he knew not where Trueman nevertheless started walking through beautiful neighborhoods quickly finding his way downtown.

page 915.

     There as the evening cooled he began his sightseeing.  Just the thought of standing Down Under was a thrill.  As a boy from the Valley he had had only dreams of visiting such places.  As was usual with him be began an orientation tour.

     The English always build stately public buildings.  When you’ve won the lottery ticket by being born an Englishman I guess you have to show it.  Trueman was admiring Brisbane Statehouse when he was approached by…Kanary.  The marvel of it is that this man had no life of his own.  Both as a Homo and a Communist he gained his identity from the men he pursued.  The whole of his life was dedicated to pursuing men.

     ‘What the hell do you want Kanary?  I thought you were at some party.’

     ‘Oh that.  I left early.  What a bore.  Besides Roberts started a fight after only a couple beers and all the other guys were thrown out.’

     Trueman snorted a laugh.  ‘How’d you start that, Kanary?’

     ‘I didn’t do anything.  All I said to Roberts was that… Oh nevermind.  They’re such unruly people anyway.’

     ‘Yeah?  Well, so am I Kanary.  Take a hike.’

     ‘Don’t be so rude Trueman.  You have no reason to dislike me.  I’d like to do something nice for you.’

     ‘Whatever you’ve got I’ve already seen in the showers.’  Trueman sneered thinking Kanary was going to hit on him.  ‘I wasn’t impressed.’

     ‘I beg your pardon.’

page 916.

     ‘Go ahead.  See how far you get.’

     ‘Don’t be so difficult Trueman.  If you’re so suspicious you won’t ever make friends.’

     ‘I think our ideas of friendship are diametrically opposed Kanary.  Move along.’

     Shaking a queer isn’t the easiet thing in the world unless you use violence.  If you don’t use violence they think you’re just playing hard to get.  That’s why queers get beat up.  If women had physcial strength there would be a lot more guys beaten up.

     ‘Just come with me a minute.  It won’t hurt you.’

     With a groan Trueman reluctantly followed Kanary hoping to lose the fairy on the way.

     ‘There.’  Kanary said pointing to a public toilet.

     Some men find bars, some men find women, some men find dope; Kanary with an unerring nose found all the toilets.

     ‘There what?’  Trueman asked.

     Kanary made a gesture indicating that the toilet was it. 

     ‘That’s just a public toilet.  You brought me over here just to see a toilet?  What?  Are you an expert on the architecture of public toilets?  You going to write a book called ‘Toilets I Have Pissed In?  or ‘Toilets Around The World’ or something like that?’

page 917.

     ‘Go inside.’  Kanary sniffed.

     Trueman looked at the queer like he was a madman; of which there is little question he was.  But as he had nothing else to do while also feeling the call of nature he stpped down the stairs pushing open the door.  He was immediately surrounded by a dozen chattering queers who apparently used this toilet as their clubhouse.

     ‘Get back.’  Trueman snarled as he pushed his way through them to the pissoirs.

     ‘Do you need a hand with that?’  One tittered.

     ‘My but you’ve got a lot to be proud of.’  Said another taking the positive approach.

     ‘Aw, mind your own business.’  Trueman said zipping up as he pushed through them to the door.

     He found Kanary waiting for him breathlessly at the top of the steps.  In point of fact Kanary had no reason to doubt Yisraeli’s story about the skating rink so he had told these toilet queers that Trueman would give them all a blow job.

     So, as eager queers clustered around Trueman in expectation Kanary was mystified that Trueman didn’t appear aroused.

     ‘You should do something nice for them Trueman.’

     ‘Like what?’  Trueman barked.

     ‘Like what you’ve done before.’  Kanary said genuinely puzzled.

     ‘What have I done before?’  Trueman asked angrily disliking the implication.

     ‘You should take compassion on these poor men and give them some sexual satisfaction.’

     ‘Me?  You’re the one that’s queer Kanary.  If you like toilets so much you do something nice for them.’

     ‘No.  I can’t do that.  I’m not queer.’  Kanary said precisely.

     ‘We want something nice.’  The queers clamored.

     ‘Well, there’s your man.’  Trueman sneered pushing them back as he walked away.  ‘And don’t follow me Kanary, goddamn you.  Dewey threatened as he walked away.

Nobody’s Business But My Own

             ‘Hey, any of you guys seen Trueman?’  Kanary announced stepping into First.

     ‘Na. He’s gone on liberty.’

     ‘He’s gone already?  You know where?’

     ‘No.  We don’t care Kanary, the further the better.  Maybe he won’t come back.  Whatsamatta, you got a hard on for him or something?’

     ‘What are you talking about?  I just had something to tell him that’s all.’

     ‘Wouldn’t be anything that comes out the end of a ‘hose’ would it?  Ha, ha.’

     ‘That’s disgusting.’  Kanary lamented leaving to get dressed for liberty.

     While he was dressing he kept wondering how he could find Trueman.  He was still smarting from the exchange with Trueman the preceding day at the public toilet.  Because he thought himself ‘pure’ and Trueman ‘foul’ he believed that Trueman had no right to retaliate.  He thought Trueman should merely submit uncomplainingly to his abuse, accede to his opinion.  Since Trueman was of the opposite point of view Kanary blamed Trueman for defending himself.  Self-defense is a crime to all bigots.

page 919.

     Kanary may have failed in cutting Trueman in two with the suicide nozzle which had been his intention but he was determined to not let him enjoy himself on this tour which Kanary had tried to keep him from.

     The Teufelsdreck was moored at the lower end of town as punishment for the doings of the fags so Kanary emerged from this more disreputable neighborhood into the glory of downtown Brisbane.  Although a very large city, Brisbane ranked among the top three in the world in square miles, it retained the look and feel of a small to medium sized city of the US in the twenties.  There was a complete absence of neon which in its absence was remembered as surprisingly ugly.  The city therefore had a claim that no US city could have.  The people were not so prosperous so the streets were not filled with automobiles, no bad thing in itself.  People were no where as hard and as aggressive as in America.  The only race problem was the few Chinese who had somehow gained admission to what was then an unashamedly White country.

     When an Australian Prime Minister was told that if they brought in Chinese Coolies they could devlop the country faster he replied in effect:  ‘The country is being developed fast enough.  Antything that can’t be done now will have to wait its time.’

page 920

     The Australians were chid for this attitude but for the time being anyway the country was civil and relaxed unlike the rude hypertense US.

     Kanary who saw only in political and sexual terms was quite unobservant of his physical environment.

     He had spent two hours racing up one street and down another in his pathological search for sexual gratification when he spotted three Operations men from the Teufelsdreck staring into a restaurant window.

     ‘Have any of you guys seen Trueman?’  He asked anxiously.

     Gar Potter pointed into the restaurant.  Kanary looked in to see Trueman sitting at a table quietly enjoying those little sandwiches that only an Englishman could create.

     ‘What’s he doing in a nice place like that?’

     ‘That’s what we’d like to know.  Who’s he think he is?’

     Trueman had seen them standing staring at him but had made no motion to invite them in.  Indeed, they wouldn’t have entered if he’d invited them.  The restaurant was too polite for their tastes.  Most the sailors had very low self-esteem.

     Trueman had been walking down the street when he had been charmed by the facade.  The place was more of an English tea room than a restaurant but it reminded Trueman of the retaurant of the Corbenic hotel in the Valley, not in decor but in tone.

     Many was the time he had walked past its windows on Main to see classmates and their families sitting in what was to his experience palatial comfort.  The Corbenic had been off limits to his family then, they wouldn’t have been served, they were relegated to the low life of the Royal Palms; the name tells everything.  He had longed to eat at the Corbenic but had never been allowed; now this charming place lay before him; he walked right in.  He wanted to be part of it.

page 921

     He was ushered in and seated at a table in the middle where the genteel old ladies who patronized the place at this hour could discreetly stare at an American sailor which they hadn’t seen since the end of the war if they had then.

      He made somewhat of a faux pas by leaving his hat on but then he was so giddy at being in a ‘quality’ place that he forgot.  He did know better but then a sailor is never dressed without his hat.  Not wearing your hat would be like not polishing your shoes.

     The menu was something he had never seen.   Tea was no problem although seldom on a US menu but the little tea sandwiches baffled him.  He had never heard of a tomato sandwich or, this set him to giggling, a cucumber sandwich.  One thin slice of cucumber.

     He cleared his throat:  ‘What do you get with this cucumber sandwich?’

     ‘I don’t know what you mean.  I should think the name is self explanatory.’

     ‘Oh sure, cucumber, I get that, but I mean what comes with it?’

     ‘Tea.’

     ‘Uh, no.  I mean, like, you can’t make a whole sandwich out of cucumbers!  There must be ham or beef that goes with it.’

     ‘No.  It’s just what it says.  A cucumber sandwich.’

page 922.

     ‘Oh, oh.’  Dewey reflected among the titters of the old ladies who discreetly pretended to look the other way.  ‘Well, I’ll have one of those.’

     ‘What sort of tea?’

     Here was an unexpected problem.  ‘Regular tea.’

     ‘We don’t have ‘regular’ tea.  Would you like Darjeeling, Assam, English Breakfast?’

     ‘OK.  Well, just give me your number one best seller.’

     ‘Our number one best seller?’

     ‘Yeh.  You know, whatever you sell most of.’

     ‘English Breakfast tea then.’

     ‘Sure.  What do I care?  I don’t know anybody who drinks tea anyway.

     Many fingers went to lips to suppress giggles over that.

     The waiter brought the tea and cucumber sandwich.

     ‘I’m afraid there’s been some mistake.’  Dewey said, holding up a corner of the sandwich with a look of disbelief.

     ‘What could that be?’

     ‘Well, look at this sandwich.  Someone took all the crust off the bread and there’s nothing on it but butter and three skinny slices of cucumber.  Nice big round cucumbers though.’

     ‘That is a cucumber sandwich.  We don’t serve American overstuffed sandwiches here.’

    ‘Really?  Overstuffed huh?  Well, OK.  Thank-you.’

     It was at this point when Dewey was staring wryly at the quarter section of his crustless cucumber sandwich in his hand when he was spotted by his shipmates.

     ‘What’s he doing in there?  That’s not the kind of place we go into.  That’s for officers and people from society.’

page 923.

     They had been standing gawking at Trueman motioning him to come out for five minutes when Kanary walked up to them.

     Kanary scoped out the situation for a few seconds then made his decision.  He open the door announcing in his most vulgar tone:  ‘I’m with Dewey Trueman over there.’

    The maitre d’ escorted him to the table.  ‘Your friend is here.’

     Trueman’s heart sank as he spotted Kanary.  He knew that to send him away would cause an unbearable scene that would probably end in his own expulsion so he said nothing to the maitre d’.

     ‘This place is too good for your kind, Trueman.’  Kanary nearly bellowed.  ‘What’re you doing here imposing yourself on decent people.’

      ‘Minding my own business Kanary and that doesn’t include you.  Go away.’

     Kanary was in the saddle and well versed in the arts of defamation.

     ‘What’s that you’re eating?’  He said loudly and as vulgarly as he could directing attention away from himself to Trueman.

     ‘Go away.’

     ‘Waiter, waiter come over here now.’  Kanary commanded loudly and offensively.  ‘How dare you give my friend a sandwich with nothing on it.  Take this back to the kitchen and fill it up.’

     ‘Go away, Kanary.  I don’t know him.’  He said quietly to the waiter.

     ‘Do it now!’  Kanary fairly screamed.

page 924.

     Looking directly at Dewey the waiter said:  ‘If you are not happy with us, you may leave.’

    ‘How dare you treat Dewey Trueman with such insolence.’  Kanary shouted.

     Dewey realized the situation was past remedy.  Everyone was giving him a hateful eye rather than Kanary as the waiter was staring directly at himself.  The Yeoman had successfully shifted attention to Trueman defaming him.  Trueman got up resignedly heading for the door.

     ‘You should be ashamed of yourselves treating Dewey Trueman this way.’  Kanary added making sure the name stuck for good measure as he slammed the door violently behind him.

     ‘You’re not my friend, Kanary, now get away from me.  Everytime you show up it means trouble.  Now beat it.’

     ‘Of course I’m not your friend, you simp.’  Kanary said with a knowing simile at the other sailors seeking their approval.

     ‘What were you doing in there Trueman?  Parsons said.  ‘Places like that aren’t for the likes of us.  We’re enlisted men.’

     ‘Places like that are for people like me.  Speak for yourselves.  I didn’t ask you to go in and I didn’t appreciate your standing there gawking at me.’

     ‘Aw, forget it.  Come on, let’s do something.’

     ‘I was already doing something and I don’t want Kanary anywhere near me.’

     ‘These are my friends from Operations, Deckhand.  I’m entitled.’

     ‘By all means.  Then why don’t you guys go off together.  Leave me alone.’

page 925.

     ‘You ain’t better than us, Trueman.’

     ‘Fine.  You guys are OK but Kanary isn’t.  The guy’s just a pain.’

     Kanary opted for another tack.  ‘Well, if he feels that way.  See you later.  I know when I’m not wanted.’

     ‘Not very well you don’t.’  Trueman jeered.

     ‘What’re we going to do?’  Parsons asked slapping his hands together.

     While Dewey had been in the restaurant he had noticed a few people leaving a department store with what looked like record bags.  ‘I’m going to go into that store and see if they have any Lonnie Donegan’s.

      ‘What do you want to do that for and who’s this Lonnie Donegan guy?  Why waste time.  Let’s find some girls.  They’re all real easy down here.  They think we’re going to marry them and take them back to the States.’

     ‘Why would they want to go to the US when this is better.’  Dewey reflected.

     ‘They just do.  The US is the best.’

     ‘Well, you guys do what you want to do.  I’m going to go look at records.’

     ‘Aw man.’  The others groaned but as they had no idea of what to do Trueman’s something was better than nothing so they followed him across the street.

     Standing on the corner were some Desade sailors who hailed them:  ‘Hey, you guys from the Teufelsdreck?  How come you got your hair.  We all had ours cut off at Shellback initiation when we crossed the line.’

page 926.

     ‘Oh yeah?  No, they didn’t cut ours they were too busy beating on our bodies with rubber hoses.  What else did they do to you guys?’

     ‘This is it.  We all just had our hair cut off.  There were only a dozen guys who’d been over the line before.’

     ‘Huh!.  Did they make you take your clothes off?’

     ‘Why would they do that?’

     ‘Well, so when they dunked you in the garbage you’d only get your shorts wet.’

     ‘Dunked us in the garbage?  Weird, man.  What’re you guys taking about?’

     ‘Aw, well.  We’ll see you guys around.’  Trueman said heading into the department store.

     ‘Man, all they did to them was cut their hair?  I’m beginning to feel had.’  Parsons said wonderingly.

     Kanary was watching from across the street.  Following them in he saw the group heading for the record department.

     With the three men hanging on his back Trueman quickly found the Lonnie Donegan section.  He was prepared for a better selection than in the States but he was amazed to find it so huge.  The store had it all- LPs, EPs, and singles.  There were over a dozen EPs which always fascinated Trueman although they were virtually useless except for the covers.  In those days a Long Player of twelve songs would be broken up into three extended play 45s of four songs each, thus they were not as rewarding as an LP and twice as annoying as singles.  Still, as they came with covers you could get three pictures of the artist for the price of an LP with only one picture.

page 927.

     Trueman was lost in wonder at this embarrassment of riches when Kanary stole up to the register leaning over confidentially to the salesgirls to say:  ‘See that guy with all the pimples on his face?  Watch him closely.  He’s the most notorious thief and shoplifter on our ship.’

      Not suprisingly we are always ready to believe the worst of anyone else without question.  After all, self-protection requires us to be on the alert for malefactors; as we consider strangers bad and our friends good we are only too willing to condemn people we don’t know.

     The three women immediately riveted their attention on Dewey.  He was debating another dilemma.  He wanted all the records but if he spent all his money on records he wouldn’t have money for anything else.  The only solution he could come up with was to buy nothing.

     While he was debating Parsons very alertly noticed four girls looking in their direction.  He moved right in on them chatting them up.  The girls in Brisbane were indeed on the alert for American sailors.  They all hoped to meet one who would marry them and take them to the States.  They were certainly willing to sleep with a guy to attain that end.

     In today’s sexual climate that might seem like nothing but in those days women did not dispense sex with the wild abandon they do today.  Sleeping with a guy was a great reward for him unless the couple were engaged or the woman loose, a term that has no meaning today.

page 928.

     Parsons called the other three over.  After a lively conversation of a few minutes the girls agreed to meet them later in the evening.  They first wished to make themselves presentable.  They even had a car.

     Overjoyed at their success the four sailors issued into the street to waste the three hours until the girls came back.

     ‘Whadya think of looking at records now, guys.’  Trueman grinned.

     ‘Hey, nice goin’ Trueman.  Good thing we went into that record shop.  Boy, that was easy.  I got that cute blonde one.’  Parsons enthused.

     Actually they had gone to the exact right place to pick up girls.  Record stores are filled with dreamy girls struggling with libidinal fantasies.  There they were amongst the photos of Fabian, Elvis, Ricky and all those other dream boats with whom they have formed the most intimate relations in their daydreams.  Already very nearly sexually aroused, chatting them up is the easiest thing in the world.

     Unfortunately for the girls most of the men in record stores are the inhibited types capable only of living out their fantasies in the dream world of records.  Life can be ridiculous. 

     Back out on the street the sailors encountered a couple irate Australian boys.

     ‘Why don’t you Yanks go home before we come over and kick your ass.’

     ‘Oh, oh.  Ass kicking time again.’  Thought Trueman.

     ‘What’s the problem?’  Parsons asked with mock curiosity.

page 929.

     ‘You Yanks think you can come down here and shag our birds then get on your ships and sail away leaving us with soiled merchandise.’

     ‘At home we only shag flies.’  Dewey said making a baseball allusion, puzzled by ‘shagging birds.’

     Parsons didn’t understand the term ‘shag our birds’ but he got the idea.  ‘If it’s offered mates we ain’t going to turn it down.’  He replied amiably.

     ‘You are warned ‘mates’.  If we catch you with any of our birds you are going to get your asses kicked.  We’re watching you.’

     ‘Boy, testy fellows.’  Trueman remarked as the Australians walked away shaking their fingers at them.

     ‘What say fellows, do we give up our ‘birds’ or do we risk getting our asses kicked by those angry Aussies.’

     A quick poll showed that all would rather risk an ass kicking than give up what appeared to be some easy ass.

     ‘Time for something to eat.’  Parsons yearned.  ‘And we’re not going to any hoity toity restaurant either, Trueman.  I don’t know who you think you are going into a place like that.  That’s not for people like us.  That’s for officers.’

     ‘Yeah?  Well, it’s for people like me, Parsons.  No officer’s got anything over me but a flat hat.  Those yo-yos like Morford ain’t any different than the guys we went to high school with.  They weren’t any better than us then and they ain’t any better now.  They’re just bozos in gold piping.  All the difference is they were rich enough to go to college out of high school.  I’m getting a college degree when I get out so that will make me even in four years.’

page 930.

      ‘You can’t go to college, Trueman.’  Parson said scornfully.

     ‘That’s what you think.  The only reason I didn’t go to college instead of joining the Navy is because my stepfather wouldn’t pay for it.’

     ‘Who you think you’re kidding, Trueman?  You’re in the Deck Force, you’re not even in Operations.  None of you guys got the smarts for college.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  I got a 62 on my General Intelligence test, Parsons.  That’s a lot more than you got.’

     ‘You don’t a 62.’  Parsons said with the greatest indignation.  He had himself had a 53.  Seventy-two was tops.

     ‘Check with your buddy Kanary when you get the chance Parsons.  I not only have a higher score than you but it shows.’

     Having finished eating at a five and dime counter the men headed back to the Department Store to meet the girls.

     The girls pulled up;  the sailors clambered in taking the seats designated by the girls.  They had alreday made the decision as to who got who.  They were sharp enough to keep the boys at a distance until they learned something about them.  After all, they were about to begin new lives in the States.

     As they pulled up to the first stop sign the two Aussies with three other friends pulled up alongside them.  ‘We warned you ‘mates.’  The Aussies shouted.

     ‘What did they warn you boys about?’  The girl driving asked.

      ‘Aw, they told us not to be seen with you girls or they were going to beat us up.’

page 931.

     ‘Oh, they did did they?  Well, we’ll see about that.  Anyway fellows what we thought was we would drive around and get to know each other a little for tonight then make dates for tomorrow.  How does that sound?’

     ‘Yeah.  Sounds great.’

     So they drove around chatting.

     In the division of the spoils the girls had given Dewey to the girl who was lowest in status among them named Stella.  They were all English girls while Stella was Italian.  Dewey had been selected for her mainly because his abundant pimples alienated the others. 

     Stella was nevertheless a nice looking girl.  She was dark while they were blonde, but compared to the two mountains on Stella’s chest the others were flat busted.  Dewey much preferred a big bust to blonde hair so he was delighted.

     His mind sort of shifted to the ozone as he sat with his arm around the joy of man’s desiring.  The implication was that the boys were going to get laid but it was unspoken.  Carried away by the implication and egged on by all the chat about how the Australian girls were eager for sailors Dewey’s spinning mind lost control.  He just glommed onto one of those spectacular protuberances on Stella’s chest.  It was like trying to hold on to the nose cone of an ICBM.  Dewey’s mind slid down the Milky Way and skied away to a distant galaxy.

     Stella didn’t get angry although she was just a little embarrassed as six wide eyes watched Dewey’s groping.

page 932.

     Stella gently removed his hand then said loudly enough for all to hear:  ‘No. No. Not tonight darling but tomorrow I’ll give you what you want.’

     Three men gasped as Dewey whirled head over heels through light years of unimpeded space.

     ‘Well, OK.  But I’ve got duty tomorrow and can’t leave the ship.’

     ‘Yeah, me too. ‘  Parsons added.

     ‘Well, the day after tomorrow then.  We’ll wait faithfully, won’t we girls?’

     They all agreed they would.  Shortly after they dropped the ecstatic men at the ship.

     ‘Boy, nice going, Trueman.’

     ‘Man, I’ll say so.’

Yes. Yes.  She Said.  No. No. They Said.

     ‘That guy’s one lucky guy.’  Parsons was saying:  I heard her, we all heard her say that she’s going to screw him tomorrow night.’

     ‘She said that?’  Kanary said belligerently.

     ‘Yeah.  I mean, right in front of us this guy’s got her left can in his hand.’

     ‘Oh god, and what knockers too.  He couldn’t even get his hand half around it, just huge.’

     ‘And she told Trueman he could have it?’  Craddock asked.

     ‘Yeah.  He’s got duty today, so tomorrow night.  He doesn’t even have to work for it.’

page 933.

     ‘That prick doesn’t deserve it.’  Kanary said with finality.

     ‘No. You’re right.  That’s too good for his kind.’  Craddock added.

     ‘What’re we going to do about it?’  From Kanary.

     ‘What’s to do about it?’  Mike Deasy asked.  ‘How is it any of our business?’

     ‘I’ve got an idea Craddock mused.  Me and Deasy and Vincent met these girls who are okay and they’ve got this fourth who’s really ugly, no teeth, four months pregnant but they won’t go out with us unless we find someone for her.’

     ‘Trueman!’

     ‘That’s what I was thinking.’

     ‘Great! How’s this?  You fob Trueman off on this pregnant broad and we send Roberts with Parsons to screw Trueman’s girl.  That way he’ll get fucked in more ways than one.  Ha he, he ha.’  Kanary exulted.

     ‘Oh sure, he’s going to give up a pair of monster jugs like that for a toothless pregnant chick.  I can see that.’  Deasy opined.

     ‘Just leave it to me.’  Craddock mused.  ‘What watch does he have Kanary?’

     ‘The twelve to fours.’

     ‘OK.  Set it up with Roberts.  by four he’ll have a date with that toothless pregnant broad.  Trust me.’

     The confab broke up, most to get ready for liberty, a couple who had duty laid back on their bunks while Craddock began preparing his spiel and Kanary went up to the Yeoman’s shack to think things over.

page 934.

     Apparently ignoring the consequences which would have resulted from killing Trueman with the suicide nozzle Kanary still chrerished the notion of killing Trueman.  He was outraged at the notion that Trueman should enjoy this woman who appeared to be a knockout.  In his self-delusion he was enraged at Trueman for not doing ‘something nice’ for the toilet homos.

     ‘He could have helped those poor tormented fellows out.’  He thought, characteristically denying his own homosexuality.  ‘It wouldn’t have cost him anything to give them blow jobs.  Heck, he did it for those guys at the skating rink back home.  What would it have  cost him?  Nothing.’

     And then it hit him.  If Craddock did get him to go with him to Koalaville then Trueman would be very angry at missing his date.  So if Kanary got some of the queers to wait for Trueman somewhere Kanary could get a note purportedly coming from this Stella Maris chick asking him to meet her there.  Then the queers waiting for him could have their pleasure of him and kill him.  If they failed to kill him that wasn’t so bad either.  Trueman’s reputation would be shot on ship and he would have to live with all those memories for the rest of his life.  In any event he, Kanary, would get off scot free because no one would ever know he set it up.  Seemed like a perfect crime.  Might have been.

     Kanary went down to have lunch and think it over a little more.  Then he went back up to the Yeoman’s Shack.  On the way he noticed Trueman with the watch belt on standing around the Quarterdeck talking to the other two members of the watch.  His blood boiled.  Leaving the door open he sat brooding watching Trueman, slowly rubbing his penis through his pants.  Any other man would have been eager to get out on liberty but for Kanary his hatreds took precedence over his pleasure.  Or rather, he derived more pleasure from hating than indulging his other senses.

page 935

     Then he had another, interim, idea.  He waited until the watch got tired of talking to each other.  Trueman walked away toward the fantail to do an inspection tour of the ship.  Kanary headed for the fo’c’sle.  He was waiting in the vacant 20MM tub as Trueman came up the port side.

     Trueman froze at the sight of Kanary in almost the exact postion from which he had attacked him with the fire hose.

     ‘Hey, Trueman.’

     ‘Oh, you’re on watch up here, Kanary?  I’ll go back to the fantail.’  He said sarcastically.

     ‘Wait a minute.  I’ve got something to say.’

     ‘That doesn’t mean I want to listen.’

     ‘No, you probably won’t but I think you should know anyway.  People volunteered to take a sailor home for dinner.  We found families for all the sailors aboard.  Of course, the officers found families first, Lt. Morford was most in demand, then Operations.  We were the most in demand of enlisted men.  I found families for all the sailors except for the Black guys, of course, and…you.  There wasn’t one single family that wanted you.’  Kanary smiled maliciously.

     ‘What do you mean, me?  They objected to me personally?

page 936.

     ‘That’s right, Trueman.  How does it feel?’

     ‘You’re sick, Kanary.  How could anyone object to me personally when they don’t even know me?  What you mean is, you don’t like me.’

     Kanary realized his error in saying Trueman was objected to personally.

     ‘No.  I think you’re OK Trueman.  I don’t dislike you.  I mean they didn’t want anyone with all those pimples.  I know you can’t help it but…’

     ‘Oh right.  They were all down here looking us over and everyone said we don’t want the one with the pimples, right?  Yeah. I know.  I saw them all standing around and pointing.  You’re full of beans, Kanary.  Get out of here.  Better yet, I’ll leave before the smell suffocates me.’

     Trueman walked back down the port side where he found Dart Craddock waiting for him on the fantail.

     ‘Hey, Dewey.’

     ‘Hey, Dart.  What’s up?  Enjoying the easy virtue of Brisbane?’ Dewey joked.

     ‘Exactly what I wanted to talk to you about.  Me and Deasy and Vincent met these girls but they’ve got a friend so we need a fourth.  You game?’

     ‘Ordinarily I’d love to help, Dart, but I’ve found a honey of my own.  You got plenty of pals in Operations anyway, get one of them.’

     ‘I was counting on you.  I want somebody resourceful.  Come on, what do you say?’

page 937

     ‘Hey Dart, my girl’s got boobs out to here.  I like boobs a lot.  I probably won’t even get close enough to kiss her, know what I mean?  I mean, I’m set up buddy.’

     ‘Oh man, what difference does it make so long as you get laid.  I can guarantee this girl will lay you.’

     ‘You can guarantee?  Is that what I’m suppossed to tell her.  Hey, Dart said you were in the bag?  ‘Sides she’s probably a dog anyway.’

     ‘She’s no dog.’  Craddock replied speaking the literal truth.   ‘C’mon, buddy.  I’m counting on you.  What do you say?’

     Trueman said yes.  Why is not clear.  Perhaps it was his natural aversion to Italians; perhaps it was more important to keep a friend happy.  Dewey knew he wasn’t popular or well liked and Dart had always befriended him although the relationship was a little strained.  Perhaps he figured one sure thing was as good as another.  Perhaps there was something in Stella’s manner that lisped trouble.  The fact is, he said yes.

     ‘It’s in the bag.’  Craddock told Kanary.  ‘Tell Parsons to take Roberts along instead of Trueman.’

     Kanary smiled to himself.  The time had now come for him to go on liberty.  He headed downtown for the public toilet.

Koalaville

     ‘So where are these girls?’  Trueman asked Craddock, Vincent and Deasy the next morning.

     ‘We’re in luck.’  Craddock smiled.  ‘My girl’s got a house so we’ll have real comfort.’

     ‘Terrific.  Where’s the house?’

     ‘Koalaville.’

     ‘Koalaville?  You mean the zoo?’

     ‘No.  Koalaville is a suberb of Brisbane.  It’s a ways out?’

     ‘A ways out?  They have a car?’

     ‘No.  We have to get there ourselves.’

     ‘Mine had a car, Craddock.  How far is it?’

     ‘I got a map right here.  See.  We have to take a trolley out to the end of the line, then we catch a bus that goes out to the end of the bus line here.  Then we catch another bus that goes out to the end of that line.  Then we take a taxi into Koalaville.  We get out downtown and then walk the rest of the way because she doesn’t want us to call attention to her by having a cab stop in front of her house.’

     ‘No.  She’d rather have us call attention to her by traipsing through town in our uniforms.  You worked this out Craddock?  How far is that?  About fifty miles?’

     ‘No, I don’t think it’s that far.  Maybe closer to twenty.’

     ‘Twenty my foot.  There’s a mileage guage at the bottom of the map.  Measure it out.’

     ‘Hm.’  Craddock said making a base measurement.  ‘Looks like it might be, oh, maybe, fifty-sixty miles.’

     ‘How did you meet these girls, Craddock?  I can’t believe you were out there.’

     ‘No.  We met them downtown.’

939.

     ‘Well, couldn’t they come back downtown?  I mean, they live here.’

     ‘This is the way it is, Dewey.’

     ‘Well, hell, let’s get started then.’

     As was said Brisbane was one of the most extensive cities in the world.  Koalaville was out on the South edge.  The North edge was another sixty miles or so on the other side of downtown.  Unlike LA which is a cluster of cities Brisbane’s neighborhoods or towns radiated from the center in classic style.

     ‘How much is this going to cost anyway, Craddock?’  Trueman asked thinking of those Lonnie Donegan records he had passed up.

     ‘I don’t really know.  I hope we’ve got enough.’

     Trueman’s confidence in Craddock’s Wobbly sagacity began to dissipate.

     ‘Man, look at those houses.’  Deasy said as the trolley clanked through neighborhood after neighborhood.

     ‘Yeah, I wonder why they’re all built up on stilts like that?  Can’t flood this far from the river.’

     ‘Termites.  I heard this place is terrible for termites.  If they built the houses on the ground termites would eat ’em up right away.  But up on stilts like that the termites have to build columns like big sticks to get to the wood.  The owners can see them rise so they just go under and knock them down.’

     ‘Wow.  Really?  Leinengen vs. The Ants all over again huh?’

     They got off the trolley at the end of the line to wait for their first bus connection.

     ‘Good thing I’m the adventurous sort.’  Trueman told Craddock as they waited for the first bus line.  Getting off that they boarded a second bus line.  Off that line they had to call a taxi to take them into Koalaville.

page 940

     Seven hours after starting the taxi dropped them off in downtown Koalaville.  They trooped inconspicuously down the street to the woman’s house. 

     ‘Oh, my god.’  She exclaimed as she opened the door.  ‘You’re here in broad daylight.’  Gasping for air and holding her right hand to her breast she exclaimed:  ‘Oh my god, the neighbors will see.  I’ll die of shame.  I thought you would come under cover of darkness.’

     ‘We can come back after dark.’  Craddock stammered lamely.

     ‘No. No. People will know.  You must leave town.  Come back tomorrow night after dark.’

     ‘Oh well.  I’m sorry.’

     ‘Don’t be sorry Dart.  I want you, but please…’

     ‘Must have headaches tonight.’  Deasy said sarcastically as they walked back downtown.

     ‘I don’t see how it could be any more embarrassing for her than us to be seen traipsing all over town.’  Vincent said sourly.

     ‘I gave up a sure piece of ass just to be put on.  You know they’re putting us on Craddock.  This is just a joke.’

     ‘Nooo.   She wouldn’t do that to me.  It’s just like she says.’

     ‘Well, if she’s so damned ashamed of us, I don’t know why she asked us back.  Everyone knows now and they’ll know tomorrow too.’  Deasy added glumly.

page 941.

     ‘Yeah, imagine that, embarrassed to be seen with American sailors from the most powerful nation on wheels.’  Trueman wisecracked.  ‘Well, I’ll say one thing I really like the way they set up their towns.  We didn’t pass through one sleazy neighborhood and this place is beautiful.  Ordinary neighborhoods too.’

    ‘Yeah, you’re right Trueman.  I noticed that too.’  Came from Deasy.

     ‘Yeah.  Different than back home.  They don’t rape the land to build this stuff.  Follow the contours of the land.  Ya notice back when we started the stilts were cut at different lengths to follow the contours?  Back home they would have bulldozed it flat so all the supports were the same length.

     Look at that one over there.  See how they built the foundation in three steps so as not to disturb the land.  That’s what I call respect for Mother Earth.  Back home they would have stripped it, piled the earth on the sidewalk and put a sign on it that says:  Free Dirt.  Guess that’s where the term dirt cheap comes from.’

     The four reached the central area where surprisingly a cab was waiting.  They began the seven hour trip back to the ship where they arrived shortly after midnight.

     ‘We should probably leave right at liberty.  If we get there at six or seven we can catch a movie at that theater and then walk back to the house in the dark.’  Craddock said.

     ‘You’re kidding?’  Deasy queried.

page 942.

     ‘We aren’t going to get suckered twice in a row are we?’  Dewey added.

     ‘She was sincere.  She wouldn’t do that to me.’  Craddock replied puzzled that a working class hero had been stiffed once.

     ‘Why?  Because you’re a tribune of the people?’  Deasy asked sarcastically referring to Craddock’s Wobbly beliefs.

     ‘I am united with all the workmen of the world.’  Craddock said testily actually believing that all the workmen in the world recognized this.

     ‘Oh yeah?  Do they know or are you some kind of Clark Kent who only reveals his true identity in moments of danger.’

     ‘I’m going.’  Craddock said indignantly.  ‘Are you guys coming or not?’

     ‘Sure.’

     ‘Ya.’

     ‘Why not?  I already passed up a sure piece.  What do I have to lose now.’  Trueman jeered.

Good Thing The Boys Didn’t Get A Third Chance.

     Spirts were not so high on this second trip.  Deasy made flip comments; Vincent wondered out loud while Trueman began to gripe about the expense which was now beginning to mount.

     They arrived in Koalaville in time to catch the seven o’clock move at the local theatre.  Either it was a rerun or movies took a long time to reach the land of Under.  They sat through ‘From Here To Eternity.’

     ‘Seems like I’ve been here before.’  Deasy grumbled sitting down.

     ‘Took eternity to do it too.’  Trueman added.

     If these boys had been a little quicker they might have figured theings out.  As it was none of them ever caught on.

     ‘You Yanks think you can come here and screw us Aussie girls and just sail away do you?  Well, we’ll see.’

     ‘What’d she say?’

     ‘Didn’t catch it all.  Something about wanting to screw.’

     ‘I told you things would work out.’  Craddock sighed.

     Well, Frank died in the arms of Monty with whatever implications that had and the movie ended.

     As they moved toward the exits there was a chorus of hisses.

     ‘No kidding.  I thought it was a good movie.’

     ‘It’s not for the movie, it’s for us.’  Vincent intoned.

     ‘Oh hey, look at the big Yanks.’  Greeted them as they emerged from the theatre.

     ‘Sailors of the mightiest nation on wheels.’  Dewey smiled back hoping to win them over with sheer charm.  Charm works well in movies but doesn’t always do so well on the street.

     ‘Well, you four mighty Yanks are going to get your mighty asses kicked mighty well tonight.’

     ‘Aw hell, what did we ever do to you?’  Deazy oozed out a little charm.

     ‘You Yanks have got a lot of nerve thinking Aussie girls are just going to fall on their backs for you.  You’ve got a surprise coming.  the Budgie boys are gunning for you.’

page 944.

     ‘What’s a Budgie boy?’

     ‘You Yanks will learn soon enough.’

     ‘Do you think they mean it?’  Craddock asked nervously.

     ‘I told you we were being set up.’  Dewey came close to sobbing trying to figure out how they were going to fight their way sixty miles back to the ship.

     ‘Aw, they probably don’t mean it.’  Vincent said hopefully.

     ‘Watch yourselves.’  A girl’s voice called after them as they turned to walk down the green to Elyse’s house.

     About halfway down the beautiful little parklike green four young Aussie men strode puposefully across the green toward the four pillars of the fighting American Navy.

     ‘Hey you, Yanks, you just hold on a minute.  We want to speak to you.’

     ‘My god.  Look at all those zippers.  I’ve never seen the likes.  These must be the Budgie boys.’  Dewey said looking around for a big stick or a rock.

     ‘Why so many zippers?’  Deasy wondered.

     The four Aussies were indeed Budgie boys which was a kind of foppish Australian hoodlum.  They had zippers on their clothes where zippers had never been required before.  Their shoes had zippers.  The cuffs of their pants had zippers on both sides of the leg.  They had zippers on their knees, perhaps to facilitate scratching them.  They had zippers on the front pockets and zippers on their back ones.  They even had  a zipper where the zipper was supposed to be.

page 945.

     There were four zippers on each shirt cuff.  Zippers on all the pockets and zippers on their upper sleeves.  Their shirts were closed by zippers so that their open collars were zipper lined.

     Unlike in America where the odds would likely have been three to one the Aussies apparently followed Marquis of Queensberry rules pairing off one on one.

     Dewey didn’t like to fight but when it came time he saw no reason to talk.  He found a rotten old stick and was prepared to charge.  The other three bunched up waiting to see what would happen.

     Craddock was the tallest so ostensibly the leader, expecially as Vincent and Deasy stood behind him.  Trueman was off to the left side.

     The Chief Budgie of ferocious mien charged straight up to Craddock standing nose to nose.  There was what is known as a pregnant pause then the Budgie boy snapped:

     ‘Got a cigarette, Mate?’

     ‘Sure. Sure.  Craddock said pulling his pack from his pocket with a quick nervous gesture that sent the cancer sticks flying helter skelter.

     Everyone laughed as the tension dispersed.

     ‘Thanks, Mate.  You Yanks are a bit of alright.  Got a match?’

     Dewey threw his rotten stick down disgusted at himself for being uncool.

     ‘We’ll give you a kick in the chest to get you started, too.’  Dewey completed the triptych to nervous laughs.  Then the nervousness turning to aggressive insolence he demanded:  ‘Boy, you guys are all really zipped up.  Where’d you get all those zippers anyway?’

page 946.

     ‘Eh, zippers, Mate?  What do you mean zippers?  Oh, these.  Pretty stylish, hey?’  Then he added proudly.  ‘We’re Budgy boys.’

     ‘Oh, so you’re the Budgie boys.’  The sailors quipped in relieved unison.

     ‘Well, nice meeting you.’  Craddock said waving goodbye as the four walked warily away.

     ‘Good luck on your quest, Mates.’  The Budgies said with an irony that excaped the sailors.

     ‘Chee, some outfits.  Those guys should take sartorial lessons from the Hell’s Angels if they want to look fearsome.’

     ‘Looks like they scared you enough, Dewey.  I thought you’d lost it when you grabbed that rotten stick.’

     ‘Don’t deride me, Craddock.  I thought the way you sprayed cigarettes all over the landscape betrayed a certain lack of placidity.  I thought I saw a tremble to your hand.’

     ‘Ha ha.  Maybe you did.  Maybe we all were a little scared after all.’

     ‘I’m just darn glad we got out of it without a fight.’  Deasy said diplomatically as they approached Elyse’s house.

     ‘Five’ll get you ten she makes us go around to the back door.’  Dewey said who was none too pleased at last night’s reception.

     ‘No, she won’t.’  Craddock said knocking on the door.

     ‘Oh, hello Dart.  Say, you boys wouldn’t mind going around to the kitchen door would you.  Neighbors you know.’

page 947.

     ‘OK.  Be quiet you guys so we don’t alert the neighbors.’

     ‘Aw, for Christ’s sake, Craddock.  I don’t know why the neighbors wouldn’t know we’re here, the rest of the town does.’  Dewey groaned who now became resentful of Craddock’s assumed sense of Wobbly superiority which was not being realized in fact.

     The boys entered the kitchen where three women were gathered around the table.  The three couples who had already met reintroduced themselves to each other.  This left Dewey standing shifting from one foot to the other.  He looked from Dart to Elyse.

     Dart said:  ‘Elyse, this is Dewey Trueman.’

     ‘Hello, Dewey.  Maggie May is in the other room at just this moment.  She’ll be out soon.  Now, Dewey, Maggie is just the sweetest girl alive.’  Dewey’s heart ran cold.  ‘She’s just the kindest person.  So full of good works.  One mustn’t let appearance deceive you.  I’m sure she won’t.’

     Dewey turned and looked at the door as though seeking escape as Maggie May entered the room.

     Dewey had more cool from time to time than he realized.  He didn’t flinch as Maggie gaped a smile over toothless gums.  The front four were missing North and South.

     ‘That big brute Chinaman that got her pregnant knocked them out while beating her earlier this year.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  What happened to the baby?’

     ‘She still has it.  You’re what?  Four months gone now dear?’

page 948.

     ‘Four and a half.’

     ‘She wouldn’t have had anything to do with the Chinaman except that he flashed a big roll at her to get her attention…’

     ‘Which big roll was that?’

     ‘…money, and then he raped her.  Isn’t that right, Maggie?’

      ‘Yeth.  I don’t know what I’m going to do when I have the baby and everyone knowth I thlepth with a chink.’

     ‘Maybe it’ll be real pale.’  Dewey quipped crossing behind Craddock and thrusting a right chop to his kidney.

     Maggie came over and took his hand.

     First scared witless and now smoldering with resentment at Craddock Dewey slipped into a condition of semi-awareness.  Withut thinking about it he allowed himself to be half led and half dragged into an adjoining bedroom.

     The other tree couples chatted awkwardly, the boys wondering how they were going to get laid; the girls deftly putting them off with an anxious eye on the clock.

     Dewey was just fastening his belt when there was a horrendous crash as the kitchen door burst open.  The men scattered into rooms thinking the Budgie boys were back.  Dewey once again scared witless hid behind the door.

     It wasn’t the Budgie boys it was four grown men in civilian clothes claiming to be cops.

     ‘Come on out here you Yanks we know you’re here.  You’ll be lucky if you’re not taken to headquarters tonight.’

     The three returned to the kitchen with terrified expressions while Dewey remained pressed against the wall.

page 949.

     ‘There’s another one here, where is he?’

     Dewey didn’t answer.  He thought, ‘Let ’em come and get me.’

     ‘I know there’s another one here.’

     ‘And how do you know that?’  Dewey thought.

     ‘Come on out Dewey.’  Craddock said.  ‘You can’t hide.’

     Trueman was enraged at Craddock’s betrayal.  In the Orphanage you always waited for them to come and get you.  Five times out of ten they wouldn’t.  In his characteristic way of waiting to see what would happen he had begun to realize that these men weren’t cops and they wouldn’t come in any further.  He stepped out.  It took only one glance for him to realize that these were only neighbor men not cops.

     ‘We demand to know what’s going on here.’  The leader said.

     The sailors looked from each to the other:  ‘Nothing’s going on here.  We’re waiting.’  Craddock related shakily.

     ‘Something’s going on here.  We demand to know what.’

     ‘Aw, we were just screwing your Australian women.’  Dewey said sullenly angry and resentful.

     ‘Fornication  is against the law.  We can take you fellows in, unless…’

     ‘You guys ain’t cops.’  Dewey choked out ashamed of his cowardice.

     ‘No, You didn’t show us your badges.’  Craddock said  a light going on.

     ‘We don’t need no stinking badges.’  The leader said looking at his confederates in turn.

page 950.

End of V-3.  Proceed to V-4.

  

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

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