Our Lady Of The Blues:
From Gaia To Maia
‘Hey, Kerry. I don’t like this. These guys could roll us. Let’s go back.’ Trueman said in disgust.
‘You worry too much, Dewey. Kayo vouched for them.’ Maclen said unable to conceal his admiration for Kreskin.
‘Kreskin’s got something to do with this?’ Deasy who had Kreskin’s number asked.
‘ Oh, Kreskin vouched for them.’ Dewey added sarcastically. ‘No one knows he’s a crook.’
‘Well, we’ve already paid.’ Kerry replied. ‘We might as well lay back and enjoy it.’
But Dewey wouldn’t lie back and enjoy it. The Japs switched the lights off and the camera on. We often observe various facts but never put them together. As the men sat Dewey did notice that Kerry sat behind the rest of them. This disturbed him but he transferred his attention to the Japs.
It was their intent with Maclen’s assitance to bop the sailors on the head and take their valuables. When they all came to Maclen too would be rolling around holding his head but his pockets would be full while theirs would be empty.
The Japs eyed them contemptuously as ‘Love Through A Keyhole’ began to run.
‘Hmm. Through a keyhole. That ought to stretch it pretty thin.’ Dewey joked.
‘This is too corny for words.’ Parsons added.
Dewey thought he heard a chair leg scrape. Turning it seemed the Japs were easing back into their chairs. Dewey shifted to a podsition with his back to a side wall so he could see in both directions.
‘It’s alright, Dewey.’ Maclen affirmed.
‘No, it is not.’ Dewey contradicted seeing the handle of a sap projecting from the pocket of one of the Japs.
‘What do you see?’ Deasy whispered nervously.
‘At least one of ’em’s got a pipe or knife in his pocket.’
‘Probably for self-protection.’ Maclen offered.
‘So’s the Atom Bomb.’ Dewey laughed failing to assimilate the persistent criminal interpretation of facts characteristic of Maclen.
The insipid film ended with the Japanese objectives unfulfilled.
‘We show one more. No extra charge.’ Shuji said.
‘Why not give us our money back. That wasn’t an out of the ordinary porn flick. I’ve had enough, let’s get out of here.’ Dewey said keeping a wary eye on the Japs. ‘I could be enjoying myself in Tokyo.’
‘No. Let’s get our money’s worth.’ Maclen replied.
During the showing of the second movie, more insipid than the first, Shuji called to Kerry. Maclen got up to listen affirming the Jap’s injured sense of superiority.
‘Hey, boy. Are we lucky.’ Maclen began. ‘These guys know where there’s some great pussy cheap.’
‘Yeah? Y’kuska’s full of it.’ Deasy replied, himself disgusted with the trite porn. ‘If it’s anything like these movies they can have it themselves.’
‘Yeah. Besides I don’t have another cent.’ Dewey said loudly for the pimps’ benefit.
‘I’m game if you’re buying, Maclen.’ Parsons added.
‘Hey, wait a minute. These guys know their way around Y’kuska.’ Kerry remonstrated.
‘Great. then they’ll know how to get us back.’
The pimps gave Kerry an angry glance as they felt he had bilked them of the extra money. Feeling cheated they refused to drive the sailors back.
‘No. You walk.’ Shuji glowered.
‘We no walk. You drive.’ Deasy said sternly.
The sailors formed a hostile phalanx with Maclen standing uncertainly to one side. The balance of power had shifted back to the sailors; unwilling for a showdown in the street in which they worked against prepared opposition the pimps motioned for them to get in.
The men divided up as before.
‘Boy, that wasn’t worth three hundred yen.’ Trueman griped to Deasy. We could have seen Tokyo.’
‘Sure as hell wasn’t. That cost almost a dollar; should have been no more than fifty cen…a quarter. You don’t think Maclen lied do you? Like, maybe the cost was only a hundred yen and he collected three hundred?’
‘I don’t know. I don’t think Kerry would do that.’
‘I bet he would.’ Deasy concluded. ‘That guy’s always got his eye out for the main chance.’
The Japanese drivers had been driving side by side shouting back and forth at each other in angry tones. Things quite obviously had not gone as they planned. After only five minutes of driving they pulled into an alley behind the garbage cans of a club. The pimps now prepared, while the sailor weren’t, the balance of power had shifted again; the pimps motioned the sailirs out pointing down the alley with a grunt.
‘This isn’t where we started.’ Deasy objected.
‘Take us back to that square.’ Parsons demanded.
‘No. Out here.’
‘Hey, what is this?’ Trueman asked although he knew the answer; he’d seen this movie before.
Suffering from the trauma of defeat the Japs had cheated the Americans on the porn. Balked at getting the rest of the sailors’ money through Maclen’s inability to control them they were now bent on humiliating the Americans by dumping them next to the garbage- a universal symbol. Now prepared, with allies close at hand they were willing to provoke a fight.
‘We can take them.’ Deasy said softly, ignorant of their true situation.
‘Wouldn’t do us any good.’ Trueman replied. ‘We don’t know where we are and we don’t know who they have waiting on the other side of those garbage cans. Besides if we do beat them up the SP will get us and we’ll get Captain’s Masts for sure. They can claim we were trying to steal our money back. Ratches already said the Navy is going to take their word for it. I think best to tell them to kiss our ass and hike it.’
The two groups stood eyeing each other. Maclen had quietly drifted out of the alley. It was well for the sailors that Trueman’s opinion prevailed because they would have been no match for the Japanese assassins trained in karate and armed and dangerous. Their allies would have streamed from the door behind the garbage cans.
Emerging from the alley the men found themselves in the square in front of the House Of Golden Joy. Stepping into the light they spotted Maclen near the door nervously drawing a cigarette with his hat on the back of his head exposing his blond curls.
‘Everything OK, guys?’ He asked.
‘No thanks to you.’ Deasy said with an understanding gleam.
‘Hey, Kerry. What’re you doing leaving us like that?’ Trueman demanded.
‘I knew you guys could handle it.’ Maclen laughed.
About that time Kayo Kreskin emerged from the club for a breather. Not seeing the others but noticing Maclen he said: How’d it go, Maclen?’
Maclen made a motion with his cigarette that indicated the others without actually pointing at them. Reaching up to scratch the back of his neck with his right hand holding the cigarette in a chracteristic nervous gesture he replied: ‘Just fine. Just fine.’
Kreskin studied them for a moment then went back into the club.
The truth dawned on Deasy who merely said: ‘Thanks for nothin’, Maclen.’
‘I’m sorry guys. How was I to know? Kayo said they was OK.’
‘Ya. That’s another thing.’ Deasy growled.
Maclen’s reputation sunk a little lower with his shipmates although Trueman chose to ignore what was not only mounting evidence but an open and shut case.
The Finest Haircut In The World.
There was no time to reflect on the the excitement of the previous evening. Still, Dewey resented having been coerced into wasting an evening watching pornographic movies which could be seen the world over at any time. As he couldn’t influence the group to do as he wanted he chose to dispense with the group. He was going over by himself.
He wanted to see Yokosuka. He would see it as he knew how; by walking the streets. He would walk the streets as he had done in the Valley, Philly, San Francisco or San Diego or any other place he had been. Just put one foot in front of the other and walk. Just walk. Keep moving. Walk.
He found his way out of the waterfront into the main street. To his consternation he found it not much different than the United States. Even Australia had looked more exotic. These streets were not much different than the streets of San Francisco.
As he was walking the streets of Yokosuka he spied a fellow with a very satisfied air step from a storefront, brush his hair back, and contentedly move off down the street. Coming abreast Dewey slowed to look inside. It was a barbershop. But instead of a man behind the chair there stood two very beautiful young women in traditional Japanese dress.
The concept of female barbers was a startling revelation to Dewey. He had never in his life imagined such a notion. The beautiful young girls smiled invitingly indicating the chair as he slowly and wonderingly drifted past.
He was a couple weeks past due for a haircut. He had been putting it off because he didn’t like Frutman, the ship’s barber. It wasn’t that Frutman wasn’t friendly enough, probably he was too friendly. In the first place Dewey didn’t like being ministered to by other men. Secondly he didn’t like the way Frutman put his finger in his ears and thirdly he didn’t like the way Frutman felt it necessary to put his finger up his nostril. Fourthly…but well, Dewey’s list of little grievances could go on and on. He thought of all these grievances as his steps led past the shop’s windows.
Might be interesting, he was thinking, but why waste valuable time getting your hair cut. Then, he thought, what exactly did he have to do. Nothing. He stopped then retraced his steps. The two very lovely looking girls were pressed against the corner of the window hoping he would.
Dewey gave them a big smile as his steps quickened. They rewarded him by becoming all atwitter. As Dewey entered they flattered him with the most wonderful attention. They observed none of the barbering ritual of the States save the apron. They didn’t inconvience him by making him take his middie off or making a show of turning down the collar. Knowing no English they merely went to work, the two of them, one on each side.
They twittered in such musical tones accompanied by gay laughter that Dewey knew they were talking both to and about him. Not knowing Japanese Dewey put on his most cheerful countenance smiling away at their smiles and he began cooing and clucking in an amatory way.
The girls used only combs and scissors. They had the strangest way of just hitting the hair up and snipping it on the fly. No measuring it out with the comb and clipping it off, no electric razors which were common in the States, just combs, scissors and deft movements. Dewey had never experienced anything like it.
He was just thoroughly charmed, entranced, he had fallen down the rabbit hole into a species of paradise. Or so it seemed. The girls were making the most flattering comments to each other about him. While Dewey couldn’t understand the words their father, the old Major Domo of the Bataan Death March in the back room could. He could understand what the girls were saying as well as understanding Dewey’s nonsensical billing and cooing.
Hiroshigi like, he stepped into the parlor with downcast mouth glowering eyes and folded arms. Nothing daunted the little darlings ignored him as if he wasn’t there. Lost in the beauty of the moment Dewey ignored him too.
He would be reminded of these beautiful barbers years later when he saw the the chirping singing of the fairy girls in the Godzilla movies. Those lovely little sprites were the very image of those beautiful hairdressers. They sounded the same. Dewey would watch every Godzilla movie he could to see and hear those little fairy girls. How he wished he could go back for another of those magical haircuts.
The old buck, the Hero Of Bataan, wouldn’t budge but stood there glowering through the remainder of the haircut. Then, their ministrtions finished, the fairy maidens placed Dewey’s hat on his head while the other charmingly held out her hand. Dewey had never asked the price, didn’t know what it was, but he placed a five hundred yen note in her hand which seemed to please the girls mightily even getting a grunt from the Death Marcher.
The lovely things didn’t do any bowing or scraping but touched his cap to straighten it, gave a couple endearing flicks to his shoulder and still giggling and cooing waved goodby pressing to the corner of the window to get a last glimpse of him. Turning Dewey rewarded them with biggest and most loving his smile his face would ever wear.
Elated beyond all measure, feeling the best he had ever felt in his life, the smile didn’t leave Dewey’s face for blocks.
‘That was it!’ He thought. ‘If women cut hair in the States that would make it. Maybe some do. I’ll have to check when I get back.’
At that time he heard a boogie woogie piano coming out of a bar. ‘Hey.’ He said to himself. ‘That sounds just like Jerry Lee Lewis; I’ve never heard that record before.’
Stepping into the bar he asked the bartender which Jerry Lee record that was. The bartender gave him a blank look.
‘That Jerry Lee Lewis record you’re playing, which is it?’
‘Jelly Lee Lewis?’
‘Yeah. the guy playing the pumping piano. Which record?’
‘Not Jelly Lee Lewis.’ The bartender said with an unhelpfull shake of the head.
‘Well, OK, who is it?’
The bartender begrudging a straight helpful answer looked bewildered. Maybe this guy had been at Bataan too. Then as though it hurt him to say it he grunted: ‘Fats Domino.’
‘Wow! No kidding? Fats Domino? I didn’t know he played like that.’ Dewey said looking down the long bar at the row of sailors sitting in the dark.
‘Jeez.’ Dewey thought. ‘They come six thousand miles to sit in the same bars they have in California.’ He gave them a little salute and left.
A block further down the street he came across a record store. Twelve years after the Divine Wind failed Japanese music had been replaced by Western music. The culture was in the hands of the White Devils. The superiority of Western ways is no more evident than in music. Western harmonies have made a clean sweep of the world with the possible exception of India. All other styles have fallen before the West having little to contribute to a universal synthesis. Even in India one wonders how much the Aryan influence may have affected the musical consciousness from the days of the invasions.
The Orient had nothing with which to counter sixteenth to nineteenth century European orchestral music, Mao the Dong notwithstanding. All their musical explorations were dead ends compared to that.
Similiarly national cultural expressions were rolled over by American Rock music around the world. The brain trust of the ‘greatest generation’ never realized the unifying aspects of the ‘Devil’s Music.’ The whole world was being transformed into the image of teenage America and the old Fuds never realized it.
The Japanese, who were inadequately prepared to understand the English of the lyrics let alone the slang evaluated the records differently than the Americans. They paid more attention to the underlying music and the emotions of the singer than the lyrics. Thus, while Jerry Lee Lewis was represented in the racks, the selections were those songs given little attention in the States like ‘You Win Again.’ The effect was like introducing Dewey into a whole new world, an anti-world if you like, of the same artists and music.
Amid exclamations of ‘Wow, they like that?’ and ‘Geez, who’d believe that.’ Dewey found his way into Rock n’ Roll down a different rabbit hole. Between the barber girls and the spectacular little record store the axis of his understanding shifted at least ninety degrees. It was an Epiphany in time and space and Dewey’s mind.
Carefully selecting his records so as to get those he considered most essential without completely exhausting his meager financial resources Dewey with a satisfied feeling stepped back into the street with his precious bundle. It was perhaps Rudyard Kipling who made the sage observation that a woman is only a woman but a good cigar is a smoke. The same may be said in regards to records. Forced to make a decision between a prostitute in a whore house and a bundle of records that he wouldn’t even be able to listen to for nearly two years Dewey chose the records.
Standing outside the record store with the finest haircut in the world and his records Dewey was trying to gather his elated senses when he heard a voice exclaim: ‘There he is.’
Turning in the direction of the voice Dewey saw Parkman, Parsons and Vincent approaching.
‘What’re you doing way over here?’ Parkman queried.
‘What indeed.’ Trueman replied in a W.C. Fields manner, although he had seen no Fields. ‘One might as well ask how you boys found me way out here. Or, in other words, what are you doing way out here?’
‘We’re just looking over the town.’
‘Well, my boys, you have captured the very essence of my own maneuvers.’
‘What?’ Parsons asked. ‘Speak English.’
‘Let us essay a short jaunt down this collateral avenue.’ Trueman continued, high enough from his little epiphany that he no longer cared what others thought.
‘What’s down there?’ Parkman enquired, thinking Dewey knew something he didn’t.
‘Y’kuska, my lads, the real Y’kuska you won’t find on any tourist maps.’
Trueman was just talking to hear himself talk but his words seemed to imply some secret knowledge they weren’t privy to so they followed along expecting the unusual.
There was not nothing unusual, unusual for Y’kuska that is. The street was an ordinary residential street. Dewey’s practiced eye picked out the architectural details, the peculiarities of construction which he had learned to find interesting. His fellows saw nothing but buildings. They followed behind him expecting him to say at any time: ‘This is the place.’
The street was a stone paved lane bordered by houses. No sidewalks no room for cars such as the ’55 Chevy that moved slowly toward them taking up fully four fifths of the lane. Dewey backed into a doorway to let the car pass. No sooner had it driven by then the door behind him flew open and a little boy burst through his legs at a dead run bowling him over. Dewey was picking himself up when the boy’s mother came rushing out after him screaming some imprecations which the boy ignored as he ran safely out of range.
By this time the sailors, who were unheard of in this part of town, had drawn attention to themselves. People leaned out of windows over the street or came out to get a closer look.
About this time another little boy burst from a house followed by his mother. The words of the previous mother still rang in Dewey’s ears although he had no idea of their meaning. Impusively he shouted them out after the boy. A gasp of astonishment went up from the crowd. The mother put her hand over her mouth and giggled comvulsively. The boy stopped with an air of amazed hostility to gape open mouthed. Dewey broke into a gay merry laugh still thinking of the barber girls.
‘What did you say, Trueman?’
‘Heck, I don’t know. Probably something like ‘Hey, you little bastard get your skinny ass back in here. How should I know.’
‘You shouldn’t have done that?’
‘I don’t know why not.’
‘We shouldn’t even be here. This is their part of town. Let’s go back to our own area.’
‘Aw, for Christ’s sake, why did you ever leave it?’ Dewey asked sourly, but as the sun was going down behind Mt. Fuji Dewey followed the others back into Sailortown.
There, stationed on a corner, the usual endless discussion of ‘What do you want to do? I don’t know, what do you want to do?’ began. This was exactly what Dewey had wanted to avoid by going over by himself.
‘I’m going back to the ship.’ He said waving goodbye. He needed the rest and besides he wanted to look at his new records.
The Crown Of Thorns.
‘Ya wanna go over with me, Trueman? I know where there’s a good little whore house.’ Maclen asked Dewey who was leisurely polishing his shoes preparatory to making up his mind about what to do.
Maclen was a little down in the mouth. The previous evening had been a catastrophe for him. His attitude at the porno flicks had aroused Deasy’s suspicions. Deasy didn’t take being conned lightly. He wanted to know. In collusion with some other Operations men he had set up a situation to to trap Maclen. Kerry had stepped right into the trap viewing it as a windfall. He was now a convicted cheat as it were. His status had fallen to nil. Thus he turned to Trueman who really was his friend and hadn’t heard of Maclen’s disgrace nor in the crush of succeeding excitement would he. As a criminal Maclen was incorrigible; having no one left to cheat he would cheat the best friend he would ever have.
Dewey sprinkled a little water on his shoe as he sought the indefinable pitch of the perfect spit shine. Most sailors just spat on their shoes for the spit shine but Dewey was no spitter so he kept a little water in the cap of his Shinola tin as did some few fastidious others.
‘Aw, jeez, Kerry. I don’t know if I have enough money, I’m down to my last couple dollars.’
‘Why don’t you draw some advance pay like everyone else. Ponzi’s still on board. I just saw him.’
‘That’d leave me short on payday with Hong Kong coming up.’
‘No it wouldn’t. Do what everyone else is doing. Draw the advance, give half of it back to Ponzi and get your full pay on payday. It’s what everybody else does. Nobody’s short of cash but you.’
‘Can’t work out that way, Kerry. Gotta be something wrong there. You’ll just have to pay it back later.’
‘Bullhshit! Ensign Shaffer is an officer and he’s behind it.’
‘That’s just it, Kerry, he’s an officer. When it all comes down it’ll only come down on the enlisted men. Officers can do no wrong in this man’s Navy. Shaffer will walk, believe me.’
‘Bullshit! If an officer says it’s OK, it’s OK.’
‘Officers are just guys like you and me, Kerry. They’re all the guys who lived on your block in high school you never liked. They aren’t any different now than they were then. They’ve just been to college. Don’t trust them.’
‘Well, anyway, how about it?’
‘I’ll go over with you but like I say I’ve only got a couple bucks. Anyone else going?’
‘No. Just you and me.’
Maclen and Trueman approached the brothel.
‘This is a terrific place. Kreskin gave it a real good recommendation.’
Trueman who knew streets realized that this street was a few steps down from the street of the Roses Of Old Nippon which itself was not a top street. Approaching closer he stopped in his tracks. ‘The Crown Of Thorns.’ He exclaimed dumbfounded. ‘Is that the name of the place?’
‘Yeah? Well, look at it Kerry. What does it mean? I mean look at that design, two crosses with the crown of thorns uniting them. Where’s the middle one?’
‘Those are the two who count and they wear the crown.’ Kerry said humbly waiting for a sign of recognition from Dewey that didn’t come.
Once inside Dewey knew immediately that the Two Roses had been a top flight house. The Crown was bare and barren. Exposed unfinished timber was everywhere. It looked like it predated Perry’s visit of 1853. There was no decoration to the aged boards which had gaps between them. One looked down between the cracks into flowing water. The madam was cold and crusty used to dealing with the hardest elements of society.
‘Let me handle this now.’ Kerry demanded. ‘How much you got? Nine hundred fifty yen? Give it all to me. Don’t let the old sow see it, just slip it to me.’
Dewey did as he was bid but the place alarmed him.
‘I don’t like this Kerry. Give me my money back and let’s get out of here.’
‘Don’t worry. It’s alright. I’ll get the best price.’
Maclen appeared to be negotiating for the best woman for himself and the cheapest for Dewey. Thus when the women were brought out Kerry got the youngest and best looking who was still far below Pearl and Dewey got a veteran who looked like she may have been a blossom just before the war started. She was pretty wilted now.
Dewey didn’t want to be insulting so he drew Kerry aside to remonstrate. ‘Why don’t we just take our money and leave?’
‘Are you kidding, Trueman? What do you expect for nine hundred yen?’
‘You didn’t have much more. You said you only had a thousand. Why do you get a much better girl?’
‘Because I’m doing all the hard work. If it wasn’t for me you couldn’t afford anything.’
‘If it weren’t for you I wouldn’t even be here.’
Kerry was at his criminal best acting wih an authority that he only wished he could legitamately assume. Trueman didn’t like his manner. He too began to think Maclen was cheating but his feeling overrode his sense and he went along.
He was introduced to Violet who led him into the back. The Two Roses was sumptuous compared to the Crown Of Thorns although the room into which Violet led him was very large compared to that of Pearl.
Violet, who was well over forty and well used was nevertheless a good hearted sweet woman who seemed to have retained her innocence. She was indeed a sweet violet who enjoyed her work.
She was apparently used to athletic or at least strenuous sex becuse she stripped her bed down to the bottom sheet and pounced on it like a wrestler ready to grapple.
Not quite so eager Dewey looked her over as he slowly removed his uniform. Although old by his standards she was thin and bony. Not unattractive, she had a full sensuous mouth. Dewey searched out her good points so as not to be unkind in his appraisal.
‘I paid for all night.’ He said gently.
‘Now, you don’t have a sick mother was across Tokyo that you’re going to have to visit, do you?’ Dewey asked. While he didn’t exactly begrudge Pearl her ‘sick mother’ yet he did feel like he had been taken advantage of.
‘What you mean?’
‘Well, the last girl I paid all night for had a ‘sick mother’ she had to visit and disappeared all night. You’re not going to do that, are you?’
Violet suppressed a giggle. ‘Oh, no. I good girl. In not leave you all night.’
‘OK.’ Dewey said, who believed her if for no other reason than from the looks of the place there would be no other customers.
‘Oh, and one other thing I don’t want to go to that toilet to sit in a hot tub either, so forget it.’
‘No problem, we don’t have room.’
Dewey hopped up on the mattress where Violet promptly jumped on him. Giggling and laughing she directed the athletics as they both rolled and tumbled until with a deft move she slipped it in.
Suddenly Dewey knew what had been wrong in Australia. Violet like Maggie May was as loose as a Piper Cub being brought out of a 747 hangar. All of a sudden the tightness of Pearl came into perspective.
Dewey gave out a gasp which Violet took as a compliment. Giggling she thrust and pulled with an activity Dewey would never experience again. Violet was an experienced hand, she searched Dewey’s face for the reaction to every move.
There is a little sphincter in a woman’s box which Violet knew how to use. Over time she had developed the muscle to the point where she could cinch it so a man couldn’t move. It was tighter than a rubber band and felt like a vise.
To the delight of Violet Dewey did a push up as he let out a yowl. Hung there as if in suspended animation, Violet worked him with wild enthusiasm. With a gasp Dewey enjaculated.
‘OK, OK.’ He groaned.
‘Just pull it out.’
‘I can’t. Relax. It’s too tight.’
‘Yes it is.’ Violet said delighted at her engineered deception. ‘You pull.’
It was like taking your finger out of a tightened vise. Dewey pulled as the sphincter slowly slid down his penis to catch at the head. With another great yowl Dewey pulled the head past although he felt like he pulled it off. Looking down to make sure he still had it he cupped his crotch in hand and rolled around in agony.
Violet was sitting up with a joyous look on her face singing: ‘La, la, la.’ and primping her hair.
‘Was that tight, you Boy?’
‘Oh hey. I’ll say.’
‘La, la, la.’ She continued bouncing on the bed.
‘No. Let’s put the covers on and just lay here and relax.’
‘OK, you Boy.’ Violet said, ready for anything.
She snuggled up to Dewey as though a young girl and looked at him adoringly. Dewey laughed and began talking to her not caring whether she understood him or not. But that curious sound of running water aroused his curiosity.
‘What’s the sound of that running water, Violet. It sounds like a river.’
‘It is a river, Boy. This house built over a creek long ago. Creek run down to sea.’
Dewey thought he knew why criminals had bought this particular place. He imagined that when they wanted to dispose of a body they opened a trap door and threw it in the creek where when it washed up in the bay nobody could figure out where it came from. He mentioned his notion to Violet but she reassured him that it wasn’t so- anymore.
An hour or so later he drifted off to sleep. She remained awake giving him little pushes throughout the night to remind him she was still there.
When morning came she woke him for the walk back to the ship.
They met Maclen and his girl in the foyer. Even though Dewey had been disappointed in both the age and appearance of Violet her obliging simplicity had won him over in a way Pearl hadn’t. Having felt betrayed by Pearl he had merely walked away without even saying goodbye but he felt a real affection for Violet. She had been a very good woman in her way. Although it was not customary to kiss a prostitute, Dewey reached down and gave her a kiss on the lips.
Caught completely by surprise Violet actually blushed then holding her face in her hands she rushed from the foyer. Dewey had done the kindest thing he could do for her; he had made her day. Well, it only cost him nine hundred yen, why not?
‘Speaking of my nine hundred yen, Kerry, are you sure she cost that much? Weren’t you, maybe, you know, taking some off for yourself?’
‘She must have been OK, Trueman, you kissed her. That make you a cocksucker by proxy.’ Kerry accused trying to divert the conversation in the best criminal style.
‘Uh, did you ever see her do that, Maclen?’
‘Then you don’t know whether she has or not. So I’m no proxy.’
‘It’s likely she did. She’s just a whore.’
‘No matter. You don’t know. Did you get a blow job?’
‘No. She wouldn’t do it.’
‘Well, neither would mine. What about the skim. I saw you putting money back in your pocket.’
‘It was my money.’
‘To be sure but you said there was only nineteen hundred total and you paid that. What was there to put back in your pocket?’
‘You don’t trust me, Dewey? I get you laid and you’re not even grateful.’
Dewey began to speak then stopped himself. What was the use? Between the porn flicks and the previous evening he too came to the conclusion that Maclen was a cheat; then over the next few weeks the idea eroded from his mind as other needs supplanted it.
As they crossed the Quarterdeck Maclen popped a Penicillin tab in his mouth holding the dish out to Trueman.
‘No thanks, I’ll wait to see if I get something. Besides if you take that stuff casually you’ll just become immune to it.’
‘Who told you that?’
‘Nobody. It just makes sense. It’s just like everything else. The first time you use it it works great then it works less well after.’
‘Navy should know what it’s doing. If they’ve got them here for my benefit I’m going to take them.’
‘Well, you brought it up. I don’t know where you guys get off this selective faith in officers or the Navy though. Gotta change. See you around Maclen.’
True Love Is A Many Splendored Thing
Now completely broke there was no reason for Trueman to go over. He found it necessary to spend the last day in Tokyo aboard. After liberty call at noon he found himself standing on port looking over at the shipworks in Yokohama. As he stood musing he was joined by Blaise Pardon.
‘Pretty impressive, eh, Trueman?’
‘I’ll say. What’re you doing on board, Pardon? Thought you’d be out there having fun with your double pay.’
‘You taking those advances, Trueman?’
‘No. You know Pardon, I’ve got the kind of personality that when it all comes down they’d make sure it landed on me. They’re gonna have to pay it back sooner or later anyway. Then what?’
‘I think so too. I’ve been in the Navy a long time and it all comes out in the wash.’
‘Probably so. You got over eighteen in Pardon, you get out pretty soon. ‘How come you’re not a Chief? You’re at least as good as Dieter, if not better?’
‘Why, thanks, Trueman. Hard to say. I guess they closed the rating before I took my first exam. Some of those things are hard to explain. Yeah, I get out in early ’59.’
Closed ratings were only part of it. Dewey had noticed that all the Old Salts slighted Pardon. He was always pushed to the outside. When Dieter talked to Pardon he never looked at him; always talked off in the other direction like he wished Pardon was somewhere else.
The truth was that Pardon, Ratches and Trueman all shared the same characteristic; they all had a ship to run. Getting the job done and done right was more important to them than the personal politics that characterized Dieter and the vast majority of mankind. Personal loyalties are more important to them than loyalty to an ideal.
Just as the Commodore would have had no remorse if the Teufelsdreck had gone to the bottom in the storm so Dieter had been more concerned with injuring Trueman than if the ship had sunk and he went down with it when he ordered Trueman to set the Depth Charge at 30 feet. Most people will and do cut off their noses to spite their face.
Thus since Dieter was managing the men for his own exaltation while Pardon was managing the men to run the ship their efforts were at cross purposes. Dieter saw Pardon as disloyal to himself; just as he thought Ratches had betrayed his worthiness by ‘having a ship to run’ as he sneeringly put it. So Pardon valued Trueman because he did get the job done while Dieter despised him because he didn’t kiss the Big Chief’s big ass.
At any rate Pardon was punished for his ‘disinterestedness’ by being held back in rating as much as they could.
‘Think you’ll make Chief before you get out, Pardon?’
‘Never can tell. I doubt it though. Rating’s shut tight. It will be until the vets go then it’ll open up.’
‘Oh yeah? So you get out what? About a year from now? What then?’
‘Year and some odd. What then? I get a pretty good pension for the rest of my life. That’s security you should consider. My wife and I are going to sail tramp steamers around the world. You’d be surprised how cheap fare is and you don’t have to put up with a snooty first class passenger; everyone’s equal. Just going to go from port to port.’
‘Oh yeah? Pardon, the Wandering Sailor hum? I didn’t know you were married.’
Pardon had just opened his mouth to speak when a howling Lane Vincent backed through the wing hatch.
‘I’m in love, Captain, I’m in love. I want to marry her and you’ve got to give me your permission to do it.’
‘Listen, Sailor, this happens all the time. A young inexperienced sailor arrives in Japan, is treated well by one of these whores and thinks he’s in love and wants to get married.’
‘I am in love. I am in love. She’s the most wonderful woman in the world and she’s not a whore.’
‘She works in a brothel, Sailor…well perhaps not, perhaps she isn’t a whore to you but this happens all the time that’s why the Navy has rules. I announced before we came into port that this might happen to someone and we wouldn’t allow marriages. They all turn out bad. I’m not trying to interfere in your personal happiness; the Navy has rules.’
Well, the Navy can change them for me.’ Vincent was shrieking hysterically at the top of his lungs. Ratches respectfully, much too respectfully, continued trying to reason with Vincent.
Listen, Captain, I’m free, white and twenty-one, Navy rules or no Navy rules you can’t stop me from doing what I want to do. I’m a free man. This woman is the most wonderful woman I’ve ever met, more wonderful even than my mother. If I leave here without marrying her there is going to be hell to pay. You better say yes, you can’t stop me.’
Ratches should have had Vincent clapped in irons but the bane of every fair and decent man is his fairness and decency. So Ratches reluctantly agreed to give his consent. Lane Vincent was married to his Japanese prostitute that very afternoon. Not that Ratches was to get any gratitude for his decency.
Manifest Destiny Meets The Closed Door
The world is wide, our views are large,
We’re sailing on in freedom’s barge,
Our God is good and we are brave,
From tyranny the world we’ll save.
American Ballad c. 1850
Before heading out into the wine dark seas of China the Teufelsdreck dropped down the coast of Honshu to the beautiful port of Osaka. The bay is a long narrow cul-de-sac. Osaka sits at the head of the bay. Far into the sub-tropical zone the abundant rainfall creates cascades of greenery that descends sharply down the steep hills that form the bay. Like Hawaii this was a one day stand. Still broke, Dewey elected to stay on board. Nonetheless the spectacular scenery lining this narrow inlet was enough to feast one’s eyes on from sunup to senset.
The next morning the Teufelsdreck sailed out of Osaka bound for the Straits of Formosa on a mission to intimidate the Red Chinese. At this time there was much sabre rattling between Chiang and Mao the Dong. Mao was threatening to invade Formosa so the US in support of its ally sent the mighty three hundred six foot sub killer that could on a mission down the straits to keep Red China in line. Did it too.
Some people worried themselves sick about the Bomb but Dewey was more concerned with places like Formosa and Berlin. Some people, most, considered the Berlin Airlift some great demonstration of Western resolve. Dewey did not. He thought that had the supply trucks just driven down the corridor nothing would have come of it.
In his mind it was just like the bully who stations himself on the corner and says he’ll punch you out if you try to cross the street. Using another corner is not a means of defiance it is an act of cowardice. So was the Berlin Airlift.
Stalin was not known for his sense of humor, yet the forces of the Arsenal of Democracy being turned back by one lone single Mongolian soldier with nothing but an ordinary single shot Soviet army rifle is so outrageously funny that Stalin should have received the Charlie Chaplin Joke Of The Year Award.
One must remember that one of Hitler’s great fears was that of the Mongol hordes engulfing Europe again as they had in the fifth century with Atila and in the thirteenth with Genghis Khan, Timugen for the purists in the crowd. The Russians themselves were regarded as more an Asiatic people than European. Thus the placement of a single Mongol to repel the massed divisions of the West from the Gates Of Berlin is precious humor.
The thought of the tiny Teufelsdreck with its one hundred eighty sailors terrorizing the Mongol hordes of hundreds of millions brought a little smile to Dewey’s lips. He still took things much too seriously to laugh out loud.
As they plowed their way through the East China Sea which Dewey mistakenly thought was the North China Sea he had occasion to speak to Chief Dieter. The Big Chief was becoming increasingly frustrated by Trueman. The words between Roberts and Trueman in which following Dieter’s instruction he had tried to humiliate Trueman because his girl had visited her ‘mother’ had been duly reported to the Chief. Roberts had lost the exchange. Thus Dieter felt defeated and humiliated by Trueman. Perhaps the Big Chief was the underdog as it might not appear.
‘Hey Chief, an Old Salt like you must have been in these waters before.’ Trueman began in the cheerily abrasive manner he knew how to assume unaware that Dieter had been at Inchon, or how seriously it had affected his life or how seriously he was offended because Trueman was unaware of his heroism there. ‘The Yellow River is supposed to discolor the North China Sea for miles from the mouth. Did you ever see that? Think we will?’
Dieter exploded: ‘North China Sea? This isn’t the North China Sea. The North China Sea is over there by Korea, Inchon, you ignorant puppy. What could you possibly know about the North China Sea?’
‘Jeez, take it easy, Chief. I don’t know much about the North China Sea. That’s why I was asking you. I just…’
‘You just. Well, this isn’t the North China Sea. This is just the Pacific Ocean.’
‘Not very pacific if you ask me.’
‘What?’ Demanded Dieter who was not very quick on his feet.
‘Nothing. Nothing, Chief. Forget it. I was just…you know…I thought I’d ask. Hell, water’s water to me.’
Dieter glared at Trueman with that liverish complexion then stomped away swinging his arms wildly with a stiff step as though the proverbial corncob were projecting an inch or two.
‘This is so the North China Sea.’ Dewey mumbled after Dieter baffled and offended by his outburst.
The tragedy was that Dieter was too small to fit either his uniform or his heroism. The One was the gift of the Navy while the other was the greatness that had been thrust upon him; between the two they were the meaning of Dieter’s life. Trueman negated both whether intentionally or subconsciously leaving Dieter walking the Wasteland with a sense of desolation. Dieter shouldn’t have messed with Trueman.
The Malaise in Dewey’s own soul over the defeat of his hopes in McCarthy must have an outlet. Seemingly innocuous he was actually a very dangerous opponent who knew where your jugular was.
Cleaving the waves with the inexorability of steel and oil the Teufelsdreck left the East China Sea behind as it entered the Straits of Formosa. The Portuguese gave the island its Western name which means ‘Most Beautiful.’ The Chinese renamed it Taiwan. the island isn’t actually mainland Chinese in culture and intellect. The mainland always ignored it. When the Japanese claimed it in the later nineteenth century the inhabitants were still living in the stone age. The island remained in Japanese hands until 1945 when it reverted to China subsequently occupied by Chiang and his Nationalist forces when Mao drove them from the mainland. Thereby hangs a tale.
Chiang had Formosa and the two little islands adjacent to the mainland called Quemoy and Matsu. The Reds had been demanding these islands since 1948. They had been a serious bone of contention since then. Reading the newspapers in the USA the impression was that these were substantial islands securely in Chiang’s orbit and not to be given up. At the time many people thought the US should go to to war to retain them. The feeling was that the US could and would sweep through China in a week with a regiment of Marines. As a high school student Dewey had been of that opinion.
The Teufelsdreck was crawling through the Straits at six knots to show the Reds how fearless she was. There was some risk involved because it was thought quite possible that the Reds might fire on US warships. You know, it was not a time of peace and amiability.
The Teuf wasn’t so fearless that it was within the twelve mile limit not wishing to give undue provocations, so the ship was in the middle of the Straits, the imposing bulk of Formosa to the port and the seemingly brooding mass of Mainland China to the starboard and there hoving into view were the two tiny specks of sandbank known as Quemoy and Matsu.
The islands were practically connected to the mainland while their elevation appeared to be barely above water. Dewey gasped, all his preconceptions dropping from him like rusty chains. ‘How in the hell are we supposed to defend those?’ He thought. ‘Heck, the Chinese could practically rake them with machine gun fire. Kwajalein offered more cover.’
‘Hardly worth going to war over, hey?’ Craddock said as he stepped up to Dewey. Trueman had let his opinion on the subject be known aboard ship.
Craddock had read Trueman’s thoughts to the letter but Dewey resented this because his beliefs were based on different premise’s than Craddock’s. For Trueman us and them meant the US and Communist China; for Craddock us and them meant Capitalists and Reds. Craddock’s loyalty was with the Reds which included the faith’s adherents anywhere in the world. Thus he was allied with both Chinese and American Reds against the US. Craddock would have denied being an unpatriotic American. It was all in the interpretation of patriotic. It was just that he thought his country would be better off Red. One world, one people, one faith, you see. It’s not what you say it’s what you mean by what you say.
Thus it may be said that Craddock’s nationality was Red. He was kin to Reds of any nationality. They combined, dare I say conspired, against the forces of the Whites, or counterrevolutionaries. Trueman’s nationality, although he didn’t know it, was White. the world was engaged in a great civil war with local outbreaks in places like Korea and Viet Nam.
Stalin was dead; Khruschev had smeared his memory in 1956. Nikita was not a charismatic leader of global import so the leadership of Reddom had fallen to the Chinese Communist, Mao Tse Tung as his name was spelled in those days before the Curltural Revolution. Mao the Dong like Uncle Joe could do no wrong. Just as the Soviet show trials of 1936 or the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1940 could be reconciled by American Reds cum Liberals so could Mao’s murder of tens of millions of his subjects. As the Caliph, Pope or Grand Lama of the Revolution he was not only above the law but every word that proceeded from his mouth was the law. Obviously democracy meant something different to Reds than the democracy Dewey and the Whites understood.
Having just conducted the Anti-Rightist campaign of 1957 Mao was about to launch his Great Leap Forward of 1958. The damage to the economy caused by the Great Leap Forward prevented Mao from acting on Quemoy and Matsu. Chinese conservatives derailed the Great Leap Forward in 1960 pushing Mao into the background. Mao triumphed over his adversaries in 1966 when he launched the Cultural Revolution. Following standard Revolutionary beliefs Mao attempted to eliminate all class distinctions, indeed, all distinctions, nearly destroying by White standards the entire Chinese State. Actually Mao was achieving the Red ideal. He really was a great Revolutionary as greatness goes in those circles.
The Cultural Revolution rapidly spread to Europe and America in ’67, ’68 and ’69 causing most of the unrest associated with the Vietnamese flareup.
Few, if any, understood the religious implications of being Red but the seeds of discord or religious schism had already been sown. The European/Chinese brand of Redism was different than that of the American Reds. The Reds of the United States, currently going by the name of the Politically Correct, were in the thrall of Manifest Destiny, although they would have denied it and were unaware of the sources of their own beliefs.
Manifest Destiny was never racist, as has been claimed, but it was racial. It is an expression of the Anglo-Saxon faith in itself. Anglo-Saxons of the nineteenth century America believed that they had found to key to self-government and freedom; not only freedom in the political sense but personal freedom, freedom from all restrictions. As the Jewish singer of the nineteen-sixties, Bob Dylan, put it: Except for the sky there are no fences facing.
As the banner of Judaism is borne by the Jews as the self-proclaimed Chosen People of God so the banner of Manifest Destiny is borne by its Chosen People- the Anglo-Saxons of America.
The faith that developed in the first half of the the nineteenth century has changed its symbolism but the goal remains the same; the dissemination of the Anglo-Saxon ideal of personal freedom and liberty. Originally a message only for the worthy peoples of the world it has now been extended to include everyone except ‘White Supremacists.’
As Chosen People the Anglo-Saxons proceeded to possess North America as its Manifest Destiny, its Israel. The Pacific Ocean was a barrier but not an insuperable one. Perry opened Japan in 1853 which the Americans possessed mentally and thought of as a colony.
American missionaries and merchants invaded China treating it as an extension of the West which was eager to be brought into Manifest Destiny. The Anglo-Saxon ideal was imagined to be rolling around the world until it would meet again in Picadilly Circus. No effective oppostion was thought possible.
But there was a conflict in China. American involvement with China began in the wake of the Opium Wars and the Chinese Diaspora. Although beginning to get the attention it deserves now the Chinese Diaspora is little known. Americans imagine that the Chinese emigrated to California as a special tribute to the Land Of The Free. Actually Chinese emigrants invaded South, West and East and still are. Millions of Chinese moved into Siam, or Thailand as it is now known, Indo-China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines and well as Turkestan and the US.
Their reception in California which bigots like to term racist was no different than their reception in the so-called ‘brown’ nations. Invaders are invaders no matter what the circumstances. Behind the Chinese already in occupation in their various sites there were millions upon millions more to form wave after wave of a foreign culture or intellect that would inevitably swamp the invaded cultures causing them to lose their identities. In such a contest one or the other intellect must prevail.
Compared to other States the Chinese were treated well in California. The Filipinos rose up and massacred the Chinese on more than one occasion finally creating their own ‘Chinese Exclusion Act.’
Even today the Indonesians are carrying on a campaign to eliminate Chinese cultural influence. Their point is simply become Indonesian, leave or die.
Nothing of that sort ever happened in the ‘White Man’s Country’ of California.
Thus in China the strength of the indigenous Chinese culture was and has been too strong for Manifest Destiny.
Over the years the overt racial content of the program was converted into philosophical symbols but the intent remained the same. But when Manifest Destiny reached Chinese shores it found a closed door. Chinese civilization was one of the oldest continuous civilizations on Earth. They didn’t call it the Middle Kingdom because it was tolerant of other cultures or intellects. The Chinese did and do consider themselves to be the center of creation under the four pillars of the sky and the Master Race.
Chinese civilization was in a very weakened transitional state during the nineteenth century so it had to endure the interference of the White peoples. But when Mao expelled Chiang he expelled the Western world with him, the exception being Hong Kong. In 1997 the British lease on Hong Kong expired thus eliminating the White man from China.
The PC fantasy overrode all obstacles with China until the Tiananmen Square incident. It then became apparent that the Chinese Reds were not nice guys. They weren’t buying into the program. The American Reds began to beat their heads against the closed door to break it down. Now they will learn what Disraeli meant when he said that race is everything. The Yellow Peril of Kaiser Wilhelm, Hitler and W.R. Hearst can afford to wait patiently. Time is on their side.
Back in 1957 Dart Carddock and his fellow Reds saw Mao as the leader of the Revolution.
In answer to Craddock’s question Dewey fell back on the age old expedient: It’s not how difficult they would be to defend it’s ‘the principle of the thing.’
‘Which principle is that?’ Craddock taunted.
‘What’s once ours is ours forever.’ Dewey replied bluntly paraphrasing the adage: Where the flag has once flown it shall not be lowered.
‘Hah! My country right or wrong, hey?’
‘Yeah.’ Dewey replied. ‘That’s right.’
‘That’s really archaic.’ Craddock retorted. ‘Mankind is more important than any component of it. The world should be shared out proportionately, without favoritism.’
‘Oh yeah? What’s that supposed to mean? From each according to his ability and to each according to his need?’
Dewey’s mind flashed back to Craddock eating the steaks in the kitchen and the good looking girl in Brisbane while Dewey was assigned the pregnant dog.
Dewey’s suppressed resentment flared forth: ‘How does that work now?’
‘Instead of all the good things accruing to one people like in America they should be shared out fairly to all the peoples of the world.’
‘Uh huh. Well you know the story of the Ants who worked hard all summer long to store up supplies against the winter while the crickets sang and danced. That’s sort of what’s happened isn’t it? We’ve applied our intelligence and energies wisely while others haven’t. Why should we give the result of our efforts away?’
‘Because we’re rich and they’re poor. It’s unfair for one class of people to have all the good things.’
‘Oh yeah? Now, is this a general principle or does it apply to specific individuals too?’
‘Yes.’ Craddock replied grandiloquently, stepping into the trap. ‘The same principle holds true in the microcosm as in the macrocosm.’
Dewey had missed those two words while reading the dictionary but as he caught their general meaning of small and large it didn’t show.
‘Yeah? Well, how do you explain that Commies like you and Kanary swipe the steaks meant for everybody and hog them down secretly at midnight?’ Then Dewey got to the core of his resentment. ‘And how do you explain that in Brisbane your share of the girls was young and good looking while mine was old, toothless and pregnant and so big you could launch an ICBM up there without touching the sides. Do you call that an equitable distribution of the riches, Craddock? I don’t; my needs were greater than that. I had a real good looking chick I let you talk me out of. How about that?’
Craddock inadvetently laughed scornfully as he was trying to think up a smooth answer, which might have proved impossible, he decided to let his habitual Red dissimulation fall away to show his true colors of thwarted aristocracy. Here we get to the true crux of the Revolutionary. He, like Kanary, just thought he was better than the rich nabobs but could see no way to achieve eminence by his own exertions so he opted for some hope of future revolution which would reverse the roles putting the last first.
‘Aw…f…sh…Trueman, you got what you deserved. You didn’t deserve that number you got lucky enough to be with. We had to get her away for someone more deserving and put you where you belong.’ A little more self control is necessary in a true revolutionary.
But Craddock was letting it all hang out. As a natural nobleman whose life had been circumvented by ‘artifical aristocrats’ Craddock and Kanary as Reds believed that they knew who the truly deserving people were and weren’t. It was their self appointed task to forward the deserving and hold back the undeserving.
‘Oh yeah, buddy? Is that what you and your Wobblies call Solidarity Forever? You and your Joe Hill and his stupid songs: Halleluyah, I’m A Bum? You’re a bum Craddock but I’m not. You can take your stupid CIO and run it up your ass. Is that what being a Communist means? That you guys skim off the cream that you don’t produce and leave the rest for others? Is that what it means? You and your unions and solidarity. You let other people make the money so you can spend it. That’s what your idea of sharing is? You and Kanary and your buddies up at midnight eating your stolen pleasures so no one knows where it went? Is that you, Craddock? You damn right it is. Well, you’ll get yours buddy and it won’t be long in coming.’
‘Blow it out your ass, Trueman. If you don’t know you have to appropriate the cream for the common good you’re too simple to understand. There have to be rewards along the way for those making sacrifices for the common good. You’re in the way and got what you deserved.’
‘I don’t fancy you as my judge and jury Craddock and I don’t see you as working for the good of anyone but yourself. Like any self-chosen people the beneficiaries are yourselves.’
‘I’m on the winning side Trueman, no matter what you say. Right now across the Straits the Revolution is being won by a better man than the West can produce. The Red Wave is going to roll right over America.’
‘Winning side your ass, Craddock, and in the future I’ll determine what I need and not you. See you around.’
Under The Guns Of Kaosiung.
The ship continued trolling down the Straits. At dawn on New Year’s Day 1958 it had reached the Southern Formosan port of Kaosiung. The harbor was a very narrow entrance accessible only to smaller ships like the DE. Fabulous green clad mountainsides rose from the water to climb two thousand feet. Standing on port watch Dewey was gazing entranced when an even more incredible sight met his eyes. Suddenly waves of things began moving up and down and from right to left in rows rising up to the top of the mountains. They extended from side to side as far as the eye could see.
Dewey put his glasses to his eyes to unravel the puzzle. Each moving object turned out to be a gigantic cann0n capable of shelling mainland China one hundred twenty-five miles away. The Nationalist Chinese were exercising their guns as they did every morning.
Dewey’s jaw dropped wide in amazement. He began to calculate the cost of each gun as well as the stores of ammunition for each one. What sort of supply trains and tunnels there must have been staggered his mind. He tried to imagine the din of these monster guys simultaneously firing salvo after salvo.
As usual he could interest no one in the spectacle. They all seemed to take it in stride as an everyday sight. But surely Dewey thought to himself, this must qualify as one of the lebendy-leben wonders of the world. He’d already seen so many wonders that seven had been passed long ago.
The Teufelsdreck inched into the harbor. The placement of the entrance was such that the ship had to steer right into the face of that hillside alive with the motion of cannon. Then as suddenly as it began the exercising of the guns ceased and all the mountainside returned to its primordial tranquillity.
The bay was very shallow; almost too shallow for even the Teufelsdreck. The ship couldn’t even proceed to the dock it just kind of treaded water in mid-bay.
The populace had been alerted to the sub-killer’s arrival. There was money to be made for the enterprising. A low lying sampan style cum dugout canoe craft left the shore. The water was so shallow that the craft could be poled as well as rowed.
Captain Ratches got on the bullhorn: ‘To the craft approaching. Stand back. Do not come closer. Do not approach this ship.’
The craft paid no attention. As it came closer its exotic nature became more apparent. The crew appeared in loin cloths emulating stone age islanders. Toward the aft of the craft on a divan of what appeared to be green silk and gold trappings reclined a woman. She was apparently posing as the Whore Of The World or her fantasy of the Dragon Lady. She aimed for voluptuousness but hit the target as corrupt, degenerate and rotten. She exuded all that was or ever had been wrong with the world.
Her craft, ignoring the repeated warnings of Captain Ratches, approached on the starboard side just aft of the wing hatches.
The Deck was assembled on the fo’c’sle. Ratches bullhorn warning brought everyone to the starboard side. Trueman was standing just forward of the superstructure with others around him. Above them the gun deck began to fill with curious sailors. Above them on the bridge Ractches stood in the starboard lookout post issuing his useless orders disregarded both by the Whore Of The World and the crew of the Teufelsdreck.
Dewey was irritated because the Taiwanese refused to obey the Captain’s orders; after all they might have been Red agents with the intent of sinking the ship to block the harbor. But as they drew closer the corruptness of this sham Dragon Lady revolted Dewey. He had a visceral reaction.
Who was this woman posing as the Whore Of The World?
‘Hello you lovely Sailors.’ She called out from her couch feigning a familiarity that offended rather than enticed. But who as Dewey to criticize this Bitch Goddess? She successfully entranced the witless crew of the Teufelsdreck. ‘I come to offer you treasures from my storehouse.’
‘Do not buy those goods.’ Ratches boomed down futilely from the bridge.
Led by Proud Costello, the Pride of Santa Rosa, the Sailors eagerly demanded the prices of worthless junk. The Dragon Lady knew her psychology. Led by Costello hands eagerly thrust money, careless of value, into the hands of the minions of the Bitch Goddess.
Dewey was totally revolted. He projected his revulsion and enmity at the Whore Of The World. Ever perceptive to nuances of feeling she suddenly looked into his eyes and saw her arch enemy, Apollo.
Letting out a horrific shriek she put her hand to her flaccid exhausted dugs: ‘Him. Him. Remove that man.’
Her minions looked up quickly locating ‘him’ in the throng of sailors.
‘What are you guys doing buying that vile woman’s wares. Do what your Captain says.’
‘Shut up, Trueman. This isn’t your business.’ Costello barked.
‘The hell it ain’t. You’re being cheated by this vile woman.’
‘Get him out of here.’ The Bitch Goddess shrieked clutching her heart. ‘Get him out of here.’
Kanary leaned over from the three inch deck: ‘Trueman, you’re disturbing her. Step around the superstructure out of sight where she can’t see you.’
‘Like hell I will, this is my ship, not hers.’ Then beside himself with a rage beyond his comprehension he shouted a string of appellations and charges that came from within deep cavities of his psyche.
He did not know what he said but the Whore Of The World leaped to her feet trembling and shaking tearing at her cheeks as she hurled wave after wave of shrieks in his direction, seeming to cast each wave with a thrust of her hand.
Dewey as though facing the Medusa herself stood his ground amidst the hostility of his fellows seduced by the corroded charms of this spent Delillah, this degraded Ishtar cast up naked from the underworld. Trueman hurled waves of sanitized justice back at her in this colossal battle of Titans.
Ratches stared at him in disbelief as Dewey slowly drove the devil Bitch Goddess back. Quivering and shaking she sank to her divan covering her face with her hands.
Glowering with hatred her minions, the Sons of Belial, slowly backed the craft away. They retreated back across the mud flats from whence they came.
‘Hey, you ruined it, Trueman.’
‘I ruined nothing. I saved your asses. Listen to your Captain. He told you not to deal with those people.’
‘Sometimes you’re a real pain in the ass, Trueman.’
‘You should throw that trash you just bought over the side.’
Later that evening as the ship cleared the harbor Proud Costello examining his purchases exclaimed. ‘Hey, this stuff is nothing but junk. I wasted my good money.’
‘Hello, Costello.’ Trueman sang out.
Boy On Buoy.
The Tuefelsdreck sailed out of Kaosiung harbor on its way to the fabled splendors of the Crown Colony of Hong Kong and the New Territories with the fabulous scenery of ‘Love Is A Many Splendored Thing’ fresh in mind. Everyone was so eager the ship seemed to be flying to its destination.
Hong Kong and the surrouding provinces was the source of almost all the Chinese immigrants to the United States. If you want to understand the intellect of these people these are the areas to study. They are the reason why Cantonese cuisine was synonymous with Chinese cooking in the United States for decades.
The only man on board who had ever been to Hong Kong was Chief Dieter. As he reminisced, a notion, I can’t dignify it with the name of idea, formed in his mind about dispensing with Trueman. The Chief still had bitter feelings toward Teal Kanary. He wouldn’t need the Yeoman anyway; but he would need an officer so he approached Lt. Bifrons Morford. The Lieutenant apparently was no smarter than any enlisted man.
‘I’ve got the Maggio problem solved.’ The Chief confided to the Lieutenant.’
‘How’s that?’ Morford replied with bitterness thinking back no further than the nighttime confrontation with the Seaman.
‘I’m the only man on board who’s been to Hong Kong. The Commodore isn’t going to let us dock with the squadron at the piers; they’re going to make us moor at the buoys out in the middle of the bay. It’s a big bay open to the sea. You don’t even tie up aft, you have to rig a sea anchor to keep from swinging around the buoy.
My plan is this; someone has to stand on the buoy to handle the lines through the bow sprit. I’ll sent Trueman. Here’s the catch; you have to get Ratches off the bridge ’cause he won’t go for this a second time. He’s still pissed at Duber and wants his ass like he got Erect’s. You don’t need that much experience to manage the ship at the buoy anyway so he’ll probably want to go below to get ready for liberty. Hong Kong is one hell of a place let me tell you. Then with Trueman on the buoy you just guide the ship in dead center and run over the buoy. That may not do it to Trueman but once we get him in the water we take ages to get the boat lowered. He won’t be able to climb back on the buoy because of the way they’re shaped so if he hasn’t drowned by that time we’ll just hold his head under in the guise of helping him until he does. Fool proof; can’t go wrong. Can you do it?’
‘That just might work, Dieter. That just might work. Yeah. I can get the bridge; don’t worry about that.’
‘All right then.’ Dieter said smugly. ‘It’s done.’
The Chief was less than brilliant when it came to details.
Dieter had to arrange things with Cornell Roberts and some others so that as they sailed into fabled Hong Kong everyone on ship except Trueman knew the gig. Still Maclen, Da Costa and even Frenchey held their tongues. The homos aboard were openly ecstatic that Peter Erect’s death would be avenged. All their crimes would be a wash.
‘We need someone to get on the buoy to handle the lines.’ Dieter boomed.
‘You get the shit job, Trueman.’ Roberts sneered.
‘I don’t think that’s a bad job; I dig it. Any of you other cats don’t want it? Sure, it’s mine.
‘None of the other ‘cats’ ‘dig it’, Trueman.’ Dieter said in disgust over Trueman’s hep lingo. ‘Get in the boat and we’ll ferry you out.’
‘Sure thing, Dad…Dieter.’ Trueman taunted.
‘Humph.’ Dieter snorted to himself with a wry sneer as his complexion turned liverish.
Robert’s brought the ship’s boat right alongside the buoy.
What a fabulous experience. Trueman thought as he stood alone in Hong Kong harbor surveying the terrifically exotic scenery around him. ‘This is living.’
It was a spectacular winter day in Hong Kong which lies just South of the Tropic of Cancer. The temperature was a bracing sixty-five degrees. Huge white galleons drifted across the deep blue sky. The buoy was over a mile from Hong Kong to port and the same distance to Kowloon on the starboard. He could swim both if he had to. To the stern looked like open sea.
Mentally Trueman pictured boot camp where they taught you to take off your pants tieing the legs and inflating them to act as pontoons. As he stood waiting and gazing he nodded his head affirmatively. It could be done.
The buoy itself was as large as a small house. He’d never seen such a large one. You could probably tie a carrier to it. It was rounded in such a way that footing was difficult. Trueman who was not asleep was vaguely aware of the plot to knock him off the buoy but had not guessed how, noted that if he fell off there were no handholds to climb back up. He worked inflating his pants and the swim to shore over in his mind again.
‘Hell.’ He thought. ‘If I make Kowloon I might be able to get away for three or four days. What an adventure; come back a hero. That’d be great.’
He was staring off toward Kowloon, or the New Territories in their alternate form, when he spotted the Teufelsdreck coming forward again after having backed up.
The great mariner, Morford, was off center by abut 3 degrees so the bow glided past the buoy to about midships before backing astern for another try. Trueman stood expectantly alert to dodge the monkey fist which he assumed would be thrown at him as the ship backed past and grab the line behind it.
The he spotted Kanary on the fo’c’sle.
‘What the hell is he doing there?’ Dewey asked himself as his mind snapped more alert.
‘What’s wrong with you guys? Come on, throw the line.’ He called. They just stared at him, Da Costa, Frenchey and all.
The ship backed astern about a mile so Verlaine could get a good visual fix on the buoy. The ship came forward at 1-2 knots.
Dewey was becoming quite spaced out at the wonder of his situation. ‘God, this is unbelievable.’ He thought as he sucked in the fabulous air nearly quivering with delight. The prow drew nearer. At Dewey’s angle the thin blade where the plates met flared back and up in beautiful gorgeous flowing lines. The anchors projected on either side like cauliflower ears. Dewey could see the numbers he’d painted both sides at once.
He was so elated that all time and space dissolved within and without as he became one with eternity and the universe. The ship came steadily on as Dewey was lost in admiration.
It was dreamy; it wasn’t fearsome. The blade of the prow backed by the mass of the ship loomed closer, towering above him a mere few inches from running over the buoy. As Dewey was one with existence, like a magician he merely put his right hand out gripping the blade of the prow pushing the Teufelsdreck aside to port. He shoved the wonderful, beautiful ship off the port side of the buoy in admiring wonder palpating the magnificent steel beast as it glided by. 6…6…6 glided through his consciousness as each number slid by. Numbers that had been put there by his own hand. And then he looked up to see Kanary hanging over the lines staring at him in open mouthed wonder his hair standing on end as though watching a demon shaping the present.
Trueman smiled up at his distorted face as the from the depths of eternity.
Dieter signaled to Morford who was waiting for the feel of the collision, that the trick had miscarried. There was no use to try again so as the ship backed a line was dropped to Trueman.
‘Let me throw it.’ Kanary exclaimed seizing the lead line from Roberts. In his anxiety he was far wide and the Monkey’s Fist splashed harmlessly far to Trueman’s right.
‘Jesus Christ! Don’t get cute. Get that stupid Yeoman off the fo’c’sle and don’t throw the darn thing; just lower it down and I’ll grab it. You’re all bozos on that ship.’
The Monkey Fist was passed to Frenchey as none of the others could have restrained themselves from throwing it directly at Trueman’s head, who lowered it to Trueman who hauled the mooring lines down wrapping them around the cleat and heaving the Monkey Fist back up to haul the lines through and double up. the job was quickly done.
‘Hey! You guys going to send the boat around or are you just going to leave me here?’
‘We’re just going to leave you there.’
‘Oh, BS. Get that boat down here.’
‘Climb up the lines, Trueman.’
‘I didn’t climb down the lines to get here and I’m not going to climb up the lines. Send the goddamned boat.’
‘Take the boat to him Roberts.’ The Chief said with a wink and some arcane handsigns Roberts probably didn’t get.
‘Gotcha.’ Roberts acknowledged forming his own opinion on what to do.
Roberts brought the boat near the buoy. they hoped to get Trueman in the water where they could deal with him. The boat was several feet from the buoy. ‘Jump.’ Roberts commanded.
‘You’re crazy Roberts. I’m not going to take a chance in jumping that far. Bring the darn boat alongside just like when you put me on.’
‘This is it. Jump.’
‘Come on, Roberts, don’t be a prick. Closer.’
Roberts brought the boat to within three feet of the buoy. Trueman should have made him bring it alongside but he was always too impatient. He jumped, landing just inside the gun’le. ‘Taxi me in, Roberts.’ He commanded without the pretense of a joke.
‘I warned you about those waves, Trueman.’
‘I think I mentioned something to you about bozos too, Roberts.’
Back aboard Trueman eagerly went to search for someone to listen to his big adventure.
Morford was questioning Kanary: ‘What happened?’
‘Aw, it was impossible. He just put out his hand and pushed the ship aside.’
‘Can you do that?’ Morford said in awe.
‘Yes.’ Dieter replied in disgust. ‘You’re just displacing water. How in the hell did he know that?’
‘Don’t worry Chief. I’ve got him standing the twelve to four tonight. I’ll give him duty two days from now. He’ll have to stand it or else. When he complains we can just say we made a mistake after the fact. I’ll ruin that jerk’s stay in Hong Kong.’
‘Don’t give him any watches while we’re here.’ The Hero of Saipan commanded giving Trueman the grudging admiration of the warrior.
‘I’ve already got him down, Chief.’
‘Well, then change it. What did I say, Kanary?’
‘You said no watches Chief. But…’
‘Well then, I mean no watches. If I see him on watch in Hong Kong Kanary you’ll hear about it. Oh and by the way, the fo’c’sle is for the Deck Force only. Stay the hell off it while we’re tieing up and don’t ever touch one of our lines again. It’s off limits to Yeomen. Stay in the Yeoman’s shack.’
A Few Words To The Wise
As usual going into a port the Captain came on the intercom to give the crew the pitfalls of Hong Kong. There were quite a few of them. Hong Kong at the time was not the glittering capitol of consumerism that it has later become. Its transformation was still in the future. The place was in many ways a somnolent outpost of the Anglo-Saxon diaspora.
Its inhabitants were impoverished; there was both inadequate employment and housing. Huge numbers of people carried their belongings on their backs flopping down at night where they could. Crimes such as picking pockets were therefore prevalent. The sailors were warned to secure their billfolds better than usual. As sailors were forbidden to use thier pockets billfolds were usually hung over the front waistband. The Captain now advised them to use their socks or next to their bodies beneath their underwear wasitband. Better yet, dispense with the billfold and put your ID and bills in your pocket.
There are tens of thousand of kids in the seven to ten year old bracket roaming the streets panhandling for what they can get. Disregard all humanitarian impulses, Ratches advised. Even though you might feel charmed by the ragamuffins, if you give one of them anything you will be beseiged by mobs of them who will jump and climb on you. When you finally do get rid of them you will have nothing left but your name.
And most importantly, Ratches advised, if you are eating a sandwich or something and don’t want to finish it do not give it to the street Arabs, as mean as it sounds, throw it in the trash or once again you will be besieged.
The last statement drew a gasp from the crew who thought it extreme.
Buy only from US Navy approved stores, Ratches went on. They will display a little card in the window. Hong Kong is a wonderful place to buy high quality merchandise cheap but unless you buy from approved stores you will certainly be cheated. The goods when delivered will not be as advertised. If you buy shoes they will look good but the leather will be reconstituted and the soles will be made of Wheaties box tops stained to look like leather.
Lastly, this is not Japan. This is a tough cold city. The prostitutes here are not checked and controlled as in Japan. VD is much more prevalent. You have a much better chance of being drugged and rolled. If that happens the Navy will do nothing in your individual case.
Oh, and also, if you go to Kowloon the only thing separating Red China from the Colony is a white line painted across the road. if you cross into Red China and are captured the Navy will disown you.
That said, take care and have a wonderful time; you all deserve it.
Yes. A word to the wise should be sufficient.
East Meets West
The deck was lined with bright shining faces eager to taste the splendors of the Orient. Japan is East of course but Hong Kong was the real thing, not exactly Kipling country, but close. The crew had been treated to one transcending experience after another. There was no one aboard who hadn’t been dazzled but now they were to be dazzled by the greatest of all, Hong Kong, Kowloon, the New Territories, an Anglo-Saxon outpost in the heart of the Orient.
Unlike San Diego there was no landing craft for transport but a boat provided by the port. It had seats so instead of packing in fifty men at a time it only carried twenty-five, luxurious but time consuming.
Trueman although anxious was in no big hurry. He had his sightseeing brochures as well as a memory packed with the exciting scenes of ‘Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.’ He wasn’t aware of it but William Holden had become sort of a role model for him from his starring role.
Trueman had his day’s itinerary fresh in mind when Deasy, Parsons and Vincent came up to him.
‘Who you going over with, Trueman?’ Deasy asked.
‘Uh, nobody yet. I was going by myself.’
‘Why don’t you come along with us?’
‘Well, you guys, I have some things I want to see. What do you want to do?’
‘Just goof off.’
‘Uh huh. Well, the first thing I’m going to do is go see the Tiger Balm Gardens. You guys want to come along it’s OK with me but, you know, I’ve got to see some of this stuff. I missed Tokyo.’
‘Hmmm. Where’d you hear about this stuff!’
‘Oh now, didn’t you guys ever see ‘Love Is A Many Splendored Thing?’ Man, what a terrific movie. Gotta follow in the footsteps of William Holden and all that.’
‘I suppose we could do that, couldn’t we guys?’
Trueman was uneasy because experience had shown him that the guys weren’t really interested in the things he was. His wishes always ended up thwarted while they stood around on a street corner asking each other what they wanted to do. But this wasn’t San Diego and Dewey wasn’t to be deterred. He had to sign them on or be a bad guy so he agreed.
The ship’s ladder had been placed over the side at the Quarterdeck. They dropped over the side into the boat with a feeling of suppressed excitement gazing eagerly at the embankment a mile or so away.
The reality of Hong Kong was different than the expectations. The city was old and decrepit. At the time there were two cities; one the decayed dirty jumbled Chinatown the other the planned streets and stately buildings and hotels of the Anglo-Saxons.
Long strings of sampans ran the length of the embankment.
Short vertical piers held dozens and dozens of boats. Large families lived on each one.
Orienting himself for the hillside which lay just before them, the streets of Hong Kong could be navigated visually, that contained the Tiger Balm Gardens Dewey directed the men to the left past a series of sampans.
‘Hey, Sailorboy, you looking for good fuck?’ wafted up from one of the boats.
Looking down they saw a forty year old man and wife and a couple of giggling young girls.
‘I have these two daughters. They very much like fucking. Yu know how it is with Chinese girls; once they get it they never want to stop. You come down, fuck them.’
‘He’s talking to you, Trueman.’
‘Me?’ Trueman asked incredulously horrified not only at the thought of a man and wife offering their daughters but appalled at the filthy condition of both the water and sampan.
‘You come down, go inside, very cheap.’
Dewey shook his head. ‘That’s alright. I’ve got someplace to be.’
‘You’re not going to do it, Trueman? Why not, I will.’ Lane Vincent of recent wedded bliss exclaimed. ‘You guys wait here, OK?’
Vincent climbed down on the sampan to go into the little rounded hovel that protected the family from the rain. A few minutes later he emerged with a big smile and dose of clap.
‘How was it Lane?’
‘Yah? You gonna marry her too?’
Deasy’s question was very cutting. Vincent said nothing but for the first time he began to think seriously about his marriage.
The Tiger Balm Gardens was a donation to the people of Hong Kong by the man who created Tiger Balm salve. This was a patent medicine; an analgesic salve guaranteed to cure everything. The stuff had been so successful thrughout the East that the man had made a huge fortune. You can still buy the stuff. His gratitude was genuine; the Gardens were a sort of amusement park created at great expense.
The Gardens are or were on one side of a gorge. Coming up the steps to the Gardens Dewey was disappointed to find the site devoid of visitors except for one Chinese man.
‘This it it? There’s no one here. Let’s go.’
‘Oh, God, here we go again.’ Dewey thought. He said out loud; ‘No, no. This is it. Let’s look around.’
A magnificent carving of the exploits of a Chinese hero was done in intricate lattice work for a hundred feet along the curved face of the hillside. Dewey gazed in wonder.
‘You don’t even know what it means.’ Parsons said.
‘I’ll just look at it and try to figure it out.’
‘I tell you what it means.’ Said the Chinese guy who had been loitering around.
‘Aw, that’s alright.’ Dewey said, who on occasion, could spot a con.
‘C’mon let him tell us.’ Deasy said.
The Chinese gave a cursory explanation of the scene then changed the subject leading into his pitch.
‘That hillside over there is where ‘Love Is A Many Splendored Thing’ was filmed.
That caught Dewey’s attention. ‘Oh, wow. Yeah man. That was something. That was beautiful.’
The hillside was indeed gorgeous. From that distance the shacks and hovels that had featured so prominently in Holden’s climb up the steep rain soaked slope were invisible.
‘Very poor.’ The Chinese said with bitter distaste.
‘Yeah, but it was very beautiful.’ Dewey retorted.
‘Chinese not think so. You boys want boots, shoes? I know a very fine place.’
‘Really?’ Vincent asked. ‘I’d like a pair of ankle boots.’
Also known as fruit boots these were a low boot that could be worn in place of regulation shoes although not for inspection. On liberty they could pass for civilian shoes. As they were unlaced many sailors preferred them.
‘Is it a shop authorized by the Navy?’
‘No. Mo’ betta. Navy shops charge very high prices. Take advantage of sailors. My friend’s prices very good. Much cheaper.’
‘Sounds good to me.’ Vincent gushed.
‘You follow me.’
‘You coming Trueman?’
‘No. That guy’s just a shill. ‘Sides I told you I wanted to see this stuff. You agreed.’
‘OK.’ Deasy said.
‘Yeah? Well, I’m going to get me some boots.’ Vincent said, following the Chinese.
‘OK, Lane, see you back at the ship.’
‘We’ve seen enough of this, Trueman.’ Deasy complained. ‘Let ‘s get out of here.’
Trueman hadn’t had a chance to get it all in but he also understood the futility of arguing with the others. He had known that this is how it would be.
‘I’m not going to any bar.’ Trueman replied casting another searching glance at the other hillside. ‘But why don’t we go ride the funicular railroad that takes you up the steep hill?’
‘What the hell’s that?’ Parsons asked irritably.
‘It’s this terrifically steep hill, steeper than Lombard Street in San Francisco, where you can only get up in the funicular railway that goes almost straight up like an outdoor elevator. William Holden and Shirley Jones rode it in the movie.’
‘Movie? What movie?’
‘Love is a many splendored Thing’ Parsons. There it is right over there. see.’ Dewey said pointing across to another hill. Hong Kong was a wonderfully compact town; everything was within a stone’s throw of everything else.
Dewey had a pretty fair sense of direction. He quickly brought them to the foot of the hill. The movie made the tram a little more glamorous than it was. Movies have a way of glamming everything up. You don’t notice the old cushions and the smell.
The hill was very steep. The cars faced downhill and were drawn up backwards. So far as is known this tram is the only one of its kind left in the world. Dewey’s sense of wonder was in full flight but Parsons and Deasy were singularly unimpressed. ‘What’s so wonderful about this?’ Parsons asked.
‘It would be a lot better if you were Shirley Jones.’ Dewey replied. ‘But now, here we are in Hong Kong just like in the movie.
‘Why can’t we go to a bar?’ Deasy asked feeling he had cooperated enough to fulfill his obligation.
‘Oh now, bars are the same all over the world.’ Dewey said as they got out at the top of the hill to a stunning view of Hong Kong Harbor that was wasted on everyone but Dewey.
‘Boy, this is sharp.’ Deasy said sarcastically.
Dewey was somewhat taken back because there was very little at the top. An abandoned building lay to their left amid a scene of general desolation.
‘Hmm. The tram must have taken them to the top of another hill in the movie.’ Dewey mused. ‘Oh, but wait. Deasy, there’s a bar for you.’ Trueman said pointing to the left. ‘Let’s go in there and have something to drink.’
They watched as a couple officers came up the hill entering the club, casting a disdainful glance at the enlisted men.
‘No.’ Deasy said in a surly tone.
‘C’mon. Looks like a decent place. We’ll go have a coke with the brass.’