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Monthly Archives: September 2007

A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues:

From Gaia To Maia

Part V

by

R.E. Prindle

V-10 and Last

     ‘I wasn’t the only one.  Others did it too.  Cygnette took advances, so did Kanary too.  Why aren’t they here too.  Ensign Shaffer said it was alright.  Why do I have to go alone?’  Proud Costello shrieked as they hauled him away.

     ‘The sins we commit two by two we must pay for one by one.’  Trueman laughed quoting Kipling’s Tomlinson again.

     ‘Be quiet or go below Sailor.’  Ratches said sternly as Trueman was violating manly protocol by not standing quietly and reverently.

     Snapping off a loose salute Trueman moved back to between the K-guns to watch the pageant.  Red Hanrahan was perched on his Depth Charge.  ‘I told ’em so.’  He said rather matter-of-factly.

     Trueman looked at Hanrahan in surprise.  ‘If anyone would have been dumb enough to take advances I would have thought Hanrahan was.’  He said to himself.

     Just goes to show, you can’t never tell.  Hanrahan thought Trueman would have been dumb enough too.

     Giving Hanrahan a wondering sidelong glance Trueman slipped down the hatch into First.

Not Til The Fat Lady Sings

     Teal Kanary was in virtual shock.  The purity of this self-called Brahman was in serious jeopardy.  Not only had he gotten his second Captain’s Mast within three months but he had gotten his first Court Martial.  Most significantly Trueman had come away unstained while a few others the Yeoman despised had fared better than he.  The tour of duty he had tried so hard to prevent Trueman from taking was turning out to be a nightmare of very disturbing proportions.  Further as he projected his hatred of Trueman back on himself from Trueman he believed that his humiliation was being thoroughly enjoyed by his imagined enemy.  Actually Trueman was uninterested in Kanary.  He paid scant attention to him.  Any triumph such as the Subic debacle passed almost immediately from his mind before the fast onrush express train like sequence of events.  Kanary simply projected his own inner state on innocent people; he was drowned in the sea of his subconscious.

page 1251.

     Nevertheless as his sense of purity was based on the notion that other people recognized it too his self-conceit was seriously undermined by these impure situations which he mistakenly thought everyone dwelt on as much as he did.  But, for a man proficient in papering over cracks in his persona the elimination of external evidence would be relatively simple.  The evidence of his legal actions would simply be misplaced thus leaving no record in his file.  If there’s no record it never happened.  It was the smallest of the benefits garnered from the criminal misuse of his position.

     The real problem was that in effacing his purity he placed himself in a position of inferiority to other men.  He had covered the shame of his own homosexuality by this highly developed sense of purity.  As his sense of purity weakened the reality of his homosexuality surfaced.  To have had to admit his homosexuality to himself would have destroyed his really rather fragile identity.  He would have been a blue Kanary.

page 1253.

     Kanary had witnessed Proud Costello’s outburst over Trueman on the gangway.  He understood fully what it meant.  It meant that Costello’s manhood had been fully demeaned beneath Trueman’s.  Costello had become permanently inferior to a man he despised.  It would be something that would possess him for life.  Kanary’s shaken powers of self-delusion would soon reassert themselves on the conscious level but he felt the threat of being submerged beneath Trueman.  The thought threw him into a state of panic.  It was absolutely necessary that Trueman be convicted of something/anything and removed from his sight.

     The Teufelsdreck was still in a state of shock the next morning.  All normal operations had been in suspension since the debacle began.  Even muster had been neglected.  The crew had been milling around without any sense of direction.  The removal of the forty-three men created a lot of extra space which Trueman was enjoying.

     When the going gets tough in the Navy the tough shine their shoes.  He was sitting on his locker so employed wondering when normal discipline would return but not caring if it didn’t.  The Teuf, if it ever had been, would never be normal again.  Its destiny was in the hands of Maia.

     Teal Kanary rushed through the hatch to Trueman where he sat:  ‘There’s three checks been stolen worth twenty thousand dollars Trueman.  Where are they?’  The lack of logic on Kanary’s part was astounding.  One would have had to think his outburst crazy, which it was, had one not known the desperate strain his psyche was under.  Both as a homosexual and a Communist his reasoning faculties were always engulfed by the waters of his subconscious; his intellect was always outrageously distorted but now he was completely overwhelmed by Maia; he was no longer responsible for his actions.

page 1253

     Strangely enough Trueman who was barely able to keep his head above the psychic waters himself, although he had not anticipated such an attack, was not caught unawares.  The thing just fit in the course of events.

     ‘I don’t know anything about any checks.  You’re the Yeoman, if the checks were in your control you know where they are.  Accusing me of stealing them is absurd.’

      ‘You were seen hanging around the Yeoman’s shack just before they disappeared.’  Kanary shrieked hysterically.  Then he jumped up on the lockers.  Reaching over to the I beam beside the upper rack of Trueman he snatched the missing checks from the lower lip where he had concealed them.

     ‘Here!  See!  I’ve found them! Here they are hidden by your bunk.  That proves you stole them.  You’re on the way to the brig now, buddy boy.’

     ‘Kanary, if you found them in my locker that would only prove that you picked my lock.  Everyone knows how you guys operate; you’ve got the combinations to a lot of guy’s locks in your files.  Now get out of here or I’ll polish you up and try to make you look good which would only be wasted labor.’

page 1244.

     ‘Oh, I’m leaving now, Trueman.  But I’ll be right back and when I am you’ll be very, very sorry.’

     Kanary ran screaming to Ratches:  ‘Captain, Captain I’ve found the missing checks.  Trueman stole them and hid them on the I beam by his rack.  Give him a Captain’s Mast and Court Martial and send him to the brig; he goes with the rest of them.’

     Kanary was unaware of the ridiculous figure he cut.  His intent was patently obvious.  Ratches was disgusted with the behavior of the ratty little Yeoman who was apparently unaware of his own poor record.  Ratches was unaware of the depth of Kanary’s guilt in the advances.  He didn’t know that the shifty Yeoman had taken a cut of each advance.  Had he known Kanary would have been gone.  The Yeoman had only been spared so far because there were no Yeoman replacements on Guam.

     ‘Tell your story to Mr. Morford.  I’ll deal with this through him Yeoman.’

     ‘Yes, Sir.’

     Kanary’s ploy was so transparent that even Morford didn’t bother to burden the Captain with the details.

     Bifrons sent the new Supply Officer, Meigrane Vogt, to question Trueman.  Dewey sneered both Vogt and Kanary down.  ‘Wasn’t it amazing,’ he said, ‘That Kanary didn’t even have to search for the checks; he just knew exactly where they were.  Leapt right up there and grabbed them.  Now, who do you think put the checks there in the first place?  Kanary.  Kanary’s your thief, lock him up.’

page 1255.

     Meigrane Vogt was innocent in more ways than one.  Caught in a situation he had no way of understanding he received Trueman’s insulting contempt personally shook it off transferring it to Kanary where it belonged.

     An hour later Deasy came back to tell him that it was alright, he wasn’t under suspicion.

     ‘No kidding.’  Dewey replied giving a last lick to his shoe.

     The consequences of the payroll scheme were only beginning to unfold.  As the ship prepared for the six thousand mile run straight back to San Diego weeks ahead of the other three ships in the squadron Joe McLean sat on his locker.  The young criminal had ceased being Kerry Maclen one day too soon.  The first day of the rest of his life as Joe McLean had been as big a disaster as his old life.

     His ‘bud’ Hubie Blake had written him up.  He believed that Trueman had betrayed him by not sharing his fate.  He’d had two Captain’s Masts and a Court Martial on the same day.  He had to pay back over a thousand dollars in less than fifteen months before his discharge.  He suddenly realized the injustice of having to repay the half that had gone to the perpetrators.

     As certain people never accept responsibility for their action he blamed everything on Trueman.  Dewey wanted him to room with him?  If it ever came to that Trueman would have to pay.

page 1256.

The Urban Spaceman

     If there ever had been a ship that died of shame it should have been the Teufelsdreck.  But the sailors of the Teufelsdreck were real Americans; high ideals and no principles.  The old passions raged out of control.

     Teal Kanary found it absolutely necessary for his mental stability that Trueman should be arraigned for a Captain’s Mast and Court Martial.  His whole concept of his purity was at stake.  If those he considered impure were morally superior then Kanary’s mind must give way.

      The question was how to bring Trueman down?  He had so far been impervious to all ploys and ruses.  It seemed to Kanary that some guardian deity protected him.  But homosexuals are proficient in breaking down resistance to their advances.

     It was possible, thought Kanary, by a series of injustices to make Trueman give an overt reaction which could be used against him.  He could be made to commit a punishable offence.  As with all clever provocateurs the incitement would be cleverly concealed so that only the reaction would be visible, not the provocation, and that as a completely irrational act.

     Kanary had considerable power as the ship’s Yeoman.  He scheduled all the watches  Abingdon law prevailed in the Navy.  With a third of the crew absent Deck was required to stand watches four on and four off.  This is exhausting over a fourteen day period.

page 1257.

     Using his connection with Chief Dieter he made sure that Trueman would be given no rest during daylight hours.  Thus Trueman could get only a maximum of four hours rest a night.  By manipulating the dinner watches Trueman’s inner clock could be completely unsettled while in many nights his rest could be cut to three hours.

      Thus as Trueman tried to settle into a regular four on four off rhythm Kanary would switch dinner watches on him so that after having stood the morning twelve to four one night his sequence of watches was reversed for the next.  The twelve to four was critical because getting off watch at midnight you had to shower if you wished to stay clean getting to bed at twelve thirty and then wakened again at three thirty.

     If Trueman complained he would still be required to stand the watches first.  As Kanary was authorized to schedule the watches and as no one would take the time to listen to his complaint until San Diego Trueman would be compelled to suffer no matter what.  Thus he was effectively under a Seaman Apprentice’s authority.  The homosexual sadistically pressed his advantage.

     As it was, Trueman didn’t catch the ruse but suffered patiently becoming quickly exhausted and disoriented.

     The ship raced across the waves passing Hawaii without a nod.

     The Teufelsdreck was one day from San Diego with Trueman hanging on for dear life.

page 1258.

     He had gotten off the evening eight to twelve, taken his shower, settled into his bunk mentally preparing himself for the four to eight when Brant shook him, not out of his sleep, but out of his lethargy:  ‘Trueman, wake up, you’re wanted on the bridge.’

     ‘What are you talking about Brant?  I just got off watch.’

     ‘I know, but there’s been a collision at sea and some sailors are overboard, they want you to double up the watch to look for them.’

     ‘Gaa, why me?’  Trueman grumbled as he dressed again for watch.

     He was greeted by Morford as he mounted the bridge:  ‘There’s been a collision at sea Trueman.  A seaman is unaccounted for.  Double up on starboard and keep a sharp eye out.  If you go to sleep you’ll get a Captain’s Mast.’

     So this was it.  His benumbed brain grasped the set-up.  Having had almost no rest since Guam he would be kept up a full twenty-four hours to see if they could get him for sleeping on watch.  Now I know why they call them faggots, he thought.

     There had been no collision.  The ships were doing routine maneuvers off San Diego.

     ‘What makes you think someone’s in the water just because he’s not accounted for.  What was anyone doing on the fo’c’sle at night anyway.  Nobody’s up but the watch.’

     Morford was caught by surprise by the sharp logician’s mind of Trueman.  He stammered out:  ‘The crash broke into the forward bunking area.  He was tossed from his bunk, probably.’  Morford was projecting the configuration of the Teufelsdreck on the supply ship.

page 1259.

      ‘Which ship is it?  That supply ship of some kind over there?  Hell, the bow doesn’t even look damaged.’  Trueman said staring into the darkness through his glasses.  ‘Even if it was the damage  doesn’t go back to any compartments.  Besides on those big supply ships all the crew sleeps aft above deck in the superstructure.   Nobody’s washed over, Morford, let me go back to bed.  I’ve got to stand the the four to eight.’

      ‘What did you say, Trueman?’

     ‘I said nobody’s washed over, let me go back to bed.’

     ‘You addressed me as plain Morford, not as Lieutenant or Mr.’

     ‘Not possible, Sir.  I would never do that.’  Trueman didn’t know whether he had or hadn’t but Morford let it drop figuring he’d be asleep before long and he’d get him then.

     Trueman was dog tired.  He had trouble focusing his eyes and was almost too weary to stand.  He leaned back against the compass and concentrated on keeping his eyes open.

     At four Brant his double left him alone on lookout.  No one replaced him.

     ‘Hey, Lieutenant, who’s going to double with me?’

     ‘No one.’

     ‘Well if it was so important to have two men before why isn’t it now?’

     ‘Your job is to follow orders, Trueman, not ask questions.  Shut up and keep your eyes peeled.’

page 1260

     If the situation hadn’t been clear before Trueman grasped it firmly now.  He was securely in the hands of his enemies; he had no recourse.  Resistance was out of the question he could only endure.

     His concentration was good enough to keep his eyes open but his vision was gone.  The horizon diracted into some discordant version of a Vorticist painting.  The intermediate plane broke into three dimensions of its own which confused and dazzled Dewey’s mind.  Finally he just went blind.

     ‘Your eyes better be open, Trueman.’  Morford whose hatred was so intense he was standing two successive watches to get his man, intoned.

     ‘Oh yeah, my eyes are open, Sir.’

     ‘What ship is that at 35 degrees?’

     ‘No idea, Sir.  Can’t see it.’

     ‘You said your eyes were open.’

     ‘Yes Sir, but I’ve been up so ong I can’t see anything anyway.’

     Morford came over to starboard, leaning in he looked into Trueman’s open, unblinking, unseeing eyes.  Doing a double take at thee punishment the man was enduring without complaint he returned to the upper bridge.

     Trueman’s relief for the eight to twelve was purposely kept late by Dieter so Trueman would miss breakfast.  It mad no difference to Trueman who was incapable of eating.  His mind was made up.

     As he cam down from the endless watch Dieter was waiting for him by Bocuse’s kitchen to deliver the coup de grace.

page 1262.

     ‘Good news, Trueman.  They found the missing seaman.  He wasn’t thrown overboard after all.  They found him sleeping in a spare bunk.  There wasn’t any need for you to stand that extra watch after all.’

     ‘Oh yea, Deiter.’  Trueman said truculently.  ‘Well, my bunk is where you’re going to find me.  I’ve been up for twenty-four hours straight and I’m going to get some rest and you’d better not say no.’

     Dieter was quite surprised at Trueman’s aggression and his guilt was such that he quickly acceded.  ‘Yeah, sure, Trueman, go ahead.  You’ve got my permission.’

     Treuman went back and climbed into his bunk.  Before he drifted off he saw the slimy little homosexual, Kanary, glide past his bunk.  The Yeoman wasn’t about to have his work undone now.

     Dieter was honest enough to tell him that he had given Trueman permission when the homo finked to him that Trueman was in his bunk.

     Returning to the Yeoman’s shack he fund Birons Morford staring out into space.  ‘The Shit is in his bunk sleeping.  Dieter gave him permission.’

     Morford lowered his gaze reflecting some disappointment when Norm Castrato, the Second Class Bos’n’s Mate climbed the ladder on his way to the bridge.

     The thought came naturally to Morford.  ‘Hey, Castrato, Trueman’s back in his bunk.  Why don’t you go get him on his feet.’

page 1262.

     ‘Yeah.  OK.’

     ‘Oh, by the way, wake him up by hitting his bunk hard llke this.’  Morford demonstrating the jolt that Trueman had been commanded by an officer to give his.

     Castrato, if you remember, back a scant nine months ors, had been humiliated by Trueman whe the latter had engineered the former’s stepping into a paint can in mess cooking.  Castrato also a master grudge nurser had never forgotten although Trueman had.  He would take great pleasure in disturbing Trueman’s sleep.  He knew that Dieter had authorized it but the order from an officer overrode that.  Castrato who was something of a legalist was within his rights.

     Going down the aft hatch he passed the head of Trueman’s bunk giving it a slam.  ‘Get up.  These are work hours.’

     ‘Shove it, Castrasto, Dieter said I could sleep.’

     ‘Oh, sorry.’  Castrato said with a malicious smile.

     But Trueman’s rest was disturbed, he couldn’t get back to sleep again.  At twelve they came to get him up as the ship passed North Island Naval Air.

     After six eventful months the Teufelsdreck was back in the USSA.  Trueman had survived what in many ways was a perilous voyage.  He was ragged but he was alright.

  End of Part V:   Our Lady Of The Blues.

I have some other things I want to post before I begin Parts I-IV.

A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues:

From Gaia To Maia

Part V

by

R.E. Prindle

V-9

     The White mess cooks who knew that Tyrone had spit on it intervened in Trueman’s favor enraging Tyrone further.  He didn’t consider them protecting a fellow sailor from the perfidy of another but as White people sticking together against Blacks.

     The White mess cooks were not prepared to carry on warfare with the Blacks.  So, as they lived in the same compartment, they were soon sabotaged into acquiescence.  It will be remembered that Black athletes terrorized Whites off sports teams to make way for Black brothers.  The same rules applied in Supply.  While there was intense Black solidarity there was no White solidarity so that the whole corps of Blacks were always acting as a unit against a White individual.  The White’s hands were tied because any objections or retaliations he might make would be classed as bigotry by the other Whites and aggression by the Blacks.  So the Whites were easily intimidated.  For obvious reasons Trueman was abandoned to Tyrone Jackson.

     Tyrone now protected from interference from the White mess cooks ratcheted up his rage against Trueman.  Dewey, under assault from other quarters at the same time chose to ignore Tyrone the best he could.  He endured it all.

page 1201

     But this particular morning, a day out from Manila, Bocuse served fried eggs for breakfast.  This was a rare event.  Fried eggs were much relished by the crew as almost the only truly edible food Bocuse served.  As Trueman came down the line Tyrone threw the eggs intended for him on the floor at his feet.

     ‘You seemed to have missed the tray.  Toss another couple eggs on there.’

     ‘Those are your eggs on the floor.  Lick ’em up.’

     This action was so egregious that the White mess cooks chose to interfere.  Every one looked at Tyrone in reproach.

     Trueman had had enough of Tyrone’s insolence.  In his own rage he demanded:  ‘Hey, you give me another couple eggs.’

     ‘Fuck you you Honky motherfucker.  Eat ’em off the floor; it’s what you deserve.’

     ‘Why you dirty bastard.  I said give me eggs.’

     Tyrone held up a two pronged fork stabbing at Trueman  saying:  ‘Come and get ’em, motherfucker,  c’mon.  C’mon.’

     Trueman turned his steel tray flat shoving it against the fork.  Tyrone backed up a couple paces behind the steam tray saying: ‘Come and get it you motherfuckin’ Peckerwood.’

     Trueman would have had to leap the steam tray or run around the end, in either case he was vulnerable.  He threw the tray at Tyrone edgewise catching him full in the throat.

     Just as the situation was set to explode Bocuse came racing down the ladder shouting: ‘Eggs for everyone, everyone can have as many eggs as they want.’

     ‘Grabbing another tray Trueman shouted at Tyrone:  ‘Put another couple eggs on there.’

page 1202.

     Tyrone had had a breather enough to realize the jeopardy in which he had placed himself.  Still, rather than wait on Trueman directly he served extra eggs to the White sailors who took advantage of Trueman’s imbroglio to get extra eggs first.  Then still clutching his throat the threw a couple eggs in Trueman’s direction which luckily landed on his tray.

     So, poor Captain Ratches narrowly escaped the disgrace of having a race riot on his ship as well as possibly another dead man to account for.  For the Captain the cruise was turning into a descent into the maelstrom.

     As Tyrone could no longer be trusted the Black Caucus was required to furnish a different mess cook.  Ironically Tyrone was censured by the Blacks for needlessly provoking a confrontation while Trueman was censured by the Whites for the same reason.  The censure angered Trueman who considered himself the innocent victim of Black prejudice to the very core of his soul.  His sympathy for the Black cause was all but destroyed.

     Costello took this occasion to try to recover some of his lost cachet:  ‘I can’t help believing there’s more to this than you’re letting on Trueman.’

     ‘I haven’t let on anything Costello, and I haven’t done anything to that son-of-a-bitch.’

     ‘I heard you call him a fucking nigger in the mess hall, Trueman.’

page 1203.

     ‘You heard no such thing, you liar, I never even mentioned race.’

     I distinctly heard you call him a fucking nigger, Trueman.’

     ‘You did not, Costello.’  Blaise Pardon interjected.  ‘Trueman made no mention of race.  He called him a bastard.’

     ‘Then he called him a Black bastard and even  if he didn’t he should have been more respectful of his race and let the incident slide.’

     ‘Oh, shove it up your ass, Costello.  You’re not only a liar but a hypocrite.  I guess you’ve forgotten how you clotheslined Stuvall when he wanted to play basketball with you.  You wouldn’t even let a Black guy on the court, so eat it.’

     ‘Ha.  Your memory is just a little short.  It didn’t happen that way at all.’

     ‘Up yours.’

     ‘We’ll see about that.’  Costello retorted.

     ‘Sure we will.’

     But the ill will borne Trueman by the Subic Wild Bunch was turned to account in the dispute.  It was generally asserted aboard ship that Trueman had called Tyrone a nigger and that precipitated Tyrone’s response.

Clear Silver Waters

       The Blacks within the Caucus tried their best to calm Tyrone down.  They succeeded only by main force.  Tyrone was kept out of the mess hall while Trueman was there.

page 1204.

     The crush of events was such that the incident was all but forgotten by Trueman by the next day which, by the way, was a glorious tropical day on some of the calmest waters imaginable as the Teufelsdreck approached that great sand bank in the middle of the Pacific.  A great desert of sand lay submerged four feet beneath the water.

     As it was treacherous navigation the Commodore sent the other three ships around the end while directing Ratches to find his way through.  Currents flowing through the bank had created deep crevices fifteen to twenty feet deep and perhaps fifty to a hundred feet wide.  As the currents flowed perpetually the channels were permanent although constantly shifting right or left, but they could be and were charted.  The going was still treacherous because the channels were sinuous making sharp changes in direction left or right.  You had to navigate by sight.

     Just as when the Commodore had sent the Teufelsdreck through the heart of the typhoon hoping it would sink he now hoped that Ratches would ground the ship.  The resultant uproar would so discredit Ratches as a Captain that he would be forced to leave the Navy.

     But the Commodore had the wrong man.  Captain Ratches was a superb and fearless navigator.  It was probably as much luck as anything that had brought the sub killer through the typhoon but in lesser hands than Ratches perhaps luck would not have been with the Bucket T.

  The Captain radiated calm assurance to the other officers who were quite terrified.  The crew itself had little confidence the Captain could bring them through.  Trueman could have cared less.  If the ship grounded in four feet of water it would just be one more big adventure.

page 1205.

     The ship inched its way through the charted channel.  Verlaine was every bit as good on the helm as the Captain was at navigating.  Even though generally where the channel should have been the chart could not be relied upon implicitly as a shift of only fifty or a hundred feet could mean disaster.

     The water was perfectly clear and calm so that one could see exactly where one was going.  The great Captain was a picture of concentration as he studied the channel from the bridge giving minute changes of direction and speed.  Not infrequently the ship had to be jockeyed back and forth to get around tight bends.  The course of the ship was never steady for more than two or three hundred yards.

     Dewey spent the time midships leaning over the lines amazed at water only four feet deep in the middle of the ocean.  He didn’t notice Roberts, Costello, Duber and Kanary gathering behind him.

     ‘What do you find so interesting?’  Duber asked with breathless sexual repression.

     ‘Well…take a look at that.  Nothing but beige sand as far as the eye can see.  No sea weed, no fish, no nothin’, just sand forever and ever.’

      ‘Hmm. Yes.  Trueman, you remember Erect?  Why don’t we just throw you over where you can examine this sand more closely?’

page 1206.

     There was a hint of tentative motion on the part of the four to move toward Trueman.  A sign of fear would have been a motion of consent.  Consent is nearly always required before crimes of this nature are committed.

     As he often did, or always did actually, in difficult or dangerous situations Trueman sublimated the threat pretending it didn’t exist.  Quite often if you don’t treat a threat as existing it actually doesn’t exist.  Consciously he treated it as a joke laughing gaily.

     ‘Yeah, that would be great wouldn’t it?  Four feet of water.  I could stand there head and shoulders out of water.’  Then as he also frequently did he dissimulated, although subconsciously, calling attention to himself much as he did when he spoke into the earphones when threatened with a beating while crossing the equator.  ‘Then I’d be like a little mountain jack on a Swiss mountaintop yodeling:  Oh yoo hoo. Oh yoo hoo.  Captain I’m overboard.’

     He laughingly went through this routine loud enough for it to be heard on the bridge.  He was lucky once again in that Frenchey was on starboard watch.  Frenchey correctly read the intent of the four sailors opposite as indicated by their body language.

     He called Ratches over.

     ‘What’s going on there, Sailor?’

     ‘Oh nothing Captain.  I’m sorry, we were just joking around.  Sorry, Sir.’

     Ratches grunted and returned to the wheel.

page 1207.

     Duber and Roberts forced a chuckle as the four sailors broke up each going his separate way.

     A few hours later they emerged from the sandbanks.  Ratches was aglow with his big adventure.  The Commodore had inadvertently glorified him.  Ratches had fodder for innumerable dinner conversations.

     How the crew of the Teufelsdreck combined supreme competence with its nether incompetence is one of the strangest stories ever told.

     Having seen the shallowest spot in the ocean Trueman was now eager to stand over the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench.  At eleven thousand thirty-three feet it was the deepest spot on the face of the earth.

     Trueman had to appeal to Captain Ratches to make him aware when the ship was over the Deep.  Ratches was always pleased when a sailor showed interest in the mysteries of the sea so as the ship neared Guam he instructed Morford to inform Trueman they were over the Deep.

     Even though a Reserve Officer Morford had enough discipline not to go against his Captain’s wishes.  Finding Trueman standing amidships to starboard he said in passing with a voice oozing in contempt:  ‘You’re over the Challenger Deep, Trueman.’

     Fortunately for Trueman he wasn’t being lied to so that as he bounced on the balls of his feet so as to feel the eleven thousand feet beneath him he actually was over the Challenger Deep.

     Roberts in total disgust said:  ‘Geezus, Trueman how can you get excited over something you can’t even see?’

page 1208

     ‘I just know it, Roberts.  It’s true.  I can say I have stood over the deepest place in any ocean.’

     ‘Aw, who’d want to?  You’re so dumb, Trueman.  Everybody on ship thinks you’re weird.’

     ”Aw, comin’ from you that’s a compliment, Roberts.  I didn’t think you liked me.’

     ‘Like you!  Fuck you, Trueman.’

     ‘Oh, that’s a sign of affection you’ll never know, Roberts.’

An Island In The Sun

     The Marianas are the outer arch of islands off the Asian mainland.  Guam is the bottom island with a string of islands including Tinian, Saipan and Iwo Jima leading up toward Japan.  It is also the largest of the islands.  That makes it larger than minuscule.

     At the time it was one of the most remote places in the world.  With latter day prosperity in Japan huge hotels were built as the island became one of the playgrounds of the Japanese, as has, incidentally, Saipan.

     The island well deserves to be a playground as the climate is wonderful.  The spot is well within the tropics on a parallel with Manila and Saigon.

      The Naval Base was at the South end of the island while the beaches were at the North end.

     Guam was acquired by the Americans in the Spanish-American War of 1898 so as the ship docked the ambiance was one of a remote American outpost.

page 1209.

     The ship’s radio was tuned to Guam’s only radio station where an expatriate American from Memphis, Tennessee held forth as an exile from the wayward ways of mainland radio.  It was not clear to anyone where he got his ideas since no one had ever heard of his concept of radio before but he seemed to think it had once been the norm.

     He seemed to be convinced that at some time in radio’s rather short past DJs had programmed the songs of a show rather than just playing the top 40 tunes of the day.  Thus he arranged his songs around themes or to tell a story.  In may ways he was a precursor of the FM radio of the late sixties and the seventies.  He had a good ear combined with good musical sensibilities so he was by no means unpopular on the Teufelsdreck.

     The ship was scheduled to be in Guam until the end of March when it was to return to San Diego with a glorious seven day layover in Honolulu.

      Light maintenance was still the order of the day as this was still considered vacation time which indeed it was.  There was not a great deal to do on Guam but sun and swim…and drink.

     The pressure from the Wild Bunch on Dewey was so intense that he considered it dangerous to leave the base.  In fact it would have been dangerous.  After they had failed to toss him over in the sandbanks Duber and his fellows had sat in after steering wondering what to do.  It was generally thought that he would have to die before the ship returned or their opportunity would be lost.

page 1210

    They thought they had two options in Guam: either to get him in a bar and take his head off in a brawl or get him in swimming where he could be drowned.

     As it became clear to them that it wouldn’t be possible in Guam they fixed their attentions on Hawaii where if nothing else they thought they could entice him to Diamond Head and dispatch him there in whatever way they could.  But, he was not to return to the States alive.

     Dewey knew that there were some aboard who wished him ill.  Even though he suppressed knowledge of their ill will he still tried to stay out of harm’s way which meant he refused to leave the base.

     Had he gone to the North Shore he feared drowning; short of that he knew he could be drawn into fights if he went into bars.  He didn’t relish the thought of missing teeth.

     Ashore  his nemesis was the gay Kanary.  The Yeoman directed his working hours to keeping track of Trueman’s movements.

     Guam had been stoutly defended by the Japanese.  As in Samoa they had honeycombed the cliff sides with caves.  As he felt he had been cheated out of seeing the caves in Samoa Dewey was determined to see those on Guam.

     They were officially off limits.  A line of barbed wire along the road barricaded the caves.  Barbed wire isn’t going to hold any red blooded American boy back so along with Parsons and Deasy Trueman made plans to climb up just before dark.

page 1211.

     The ever present Kanary asked Deasy and Parsons where they were going.  Having been told, Kanary then contacted the Shore Patrol to tell them that some sailors would be visiting the caves that evening.  He meant to thwart any pleasures Trueman could devise for himself.

     Trueman and his two companions crossed the barbed wire at nightfall with matches and lighters in hand.  There was a nearly vertical ascent up the cliff face which they hadn’t counted on.

     ‘How the hell could they get up to these caves in a hurry after the shelling started?’  Trueman grumbled as he pulled himself up.

    They were shortly in the caves.  They were more a place of refuge than offense.  The caves were like giant worm holes designed for men five feet in height.  They were dug several feet back into the hillside then looped down the length of the hill with an opening every fifty feet or so.  Clever as moles the Japanese were.  Thirteen years after the close of the war the caves were empty.  Any souvenirs left by the Japanese had disappeared long before.

     Disappointed but impressed the men were sitting in a tube discussing the war while pretending to wait out a bombardment when a voice came up to them through a bullhorn.

     ‘This is the Shore Patrol.  You are in a restricted area.  Come down now.’

     ‘Aw, geez, Trueman, we better go down now.’

     ‘Baloney.  Those guys couldn’t possibly know we’re here.  You don’t really believe they were driving around deserted roads and spotted a cigarette lighter up here do you?  Why and how could they?’

     ‘Come on down.  We know you’re up there.  There’s no problem.  You’re in an area where there might be land mines.  We are trying to save you from yourselves.’

     ‘Land mines!’

     ‘Baloney.  Why would any Japs be stupid enough to put land mines in their own refuge?’

     ‘Well, we better go down.’

     ‘Baloney.  They can’t possible see us so how could they know we’re here?

    ‘We’re coming up to get you.’

     ‘They’re coming up.’

     ‘They’re bluffing.  Let ’em try.  We’ll scoot down four openings and they won’t even catch our smell.  Those Japs weren’t stupid when they designed these caves.’

     ‘Alright, you fellas, alright.  But if anything happens to you we’re not responsible.’

     ‘No, but you’re still insane.’  Trueman muttered under his breath.

     ‘Maybe we should have gone down.’  Parsons said.

     ‘No.’  Deasy said simply.

     ‘They’d have arrested us and at the least driven us back to the ship where we’d have to explain why the Shore Patrol brought us back.’

     ‘Right.  Our reputations would have been smeared.’  Deasy mused.

page 1213.

     ‘The only way they could have known we were here is if someone told them.  Who could that be?’  Trueman asked.

     ‘Oh, I bet I know.’  Parson blurted.

     ‘Yeah?  Who?’

     ‘Kanary.  He asked us what we were going to do.’

     ‘Sure.  That meddling little prick is behind half the trouble aboard ship.  He was the one who sicced that Tyrone guy on you.’  Deasy said aware of the proximate cause but unaware of the real cause.

     ‘How’s that?’

     ‘You apparently had some disagreement with Tyrone.  Kanary’s been telling him it’s because you hate niggers- his word, not mine.’

     ‘Hah! Where’s he get that?’

     ‘He doesn’t need to get it he can make it up.  He’s on your case Trueman.  Look out for him.’

     ‘Can’t imagine what he’s got against me.’  And Trueman was telling the truth.  Because of the manner in which he had been emasculated in the second grade he had a tendency to identify with the aggressor.   Thus no matter what the aggressor did to him it was as though he had done it to someone else.

Thus now and for some years, even decades to come, Trueman would be a sitting duck for his enemies.

     ‘Might as well get out of here.  We’ve seen what there is to be seen.’

page 1214.

 Lookin’ For Someone To Love

      After the attempt to discredit Trueman at the caves Kanary was at a loss for some way to interfere with him.  When at a loss create a situation.  In this instance Bifrons Morford came to the Yeoman’s aid.

     They were sitting around jawing when Bifrons made a suggestion as a joke but the idea took on plausibility as they talked.  Off the East of the base was the married officers housing.  The enlisted men were sexually diminished in their role as subordinates to the officers, in other words, they were emasculated to that degree.  They compensated by believing that they were much more sexually potent than the effete officers who suffered from too much education which the sailors believed diminished sexual drive.  It therefore followed that the officer’s wives being themselve very nearly sexually deprived while at the same time having extraordinary sexual needs were eager for the virility of the enlisted men who could outscrew any ten officers and that included Admirals.

     It was generally believed that all an enlisted man had to do was show up in married officer’s quarters and the depraved wives would snatch him off the street to grace their beds.

     It was a stretch, quite a stretch to think some woman was going to snatch Dewey off the streets but Bifrons and Teal decided it would discredit Trueman if he were seen prowling the married officer’s quarters.

page 1215.

     Kanary therefore told Trueman of the quarters of which Trueman was ignorant and how the women would drag him indoors.

     Trueman had never really met any sex crazed woman in his life although he was sure they did exist but his curiosity was such that he decided to go look at the quarters.  In the back of his mind he thought that there might be some slight justification to the rumors.  In the back of his mind he remembered a Kipling story along the same lines.

     Now, Trueman had been struggling on the subliminal level with the contrast between the rights of officers and enlisted men quite seriously since his encounter with P.J. O’Rourke in Hong Kong.  The depth of the injury caused him by O’Rourke was severe enough for him to begin to mortally hate officers.

     So, while no officer’s wife plucked him from the street he was deeply offended at the difference between the way officers lived and the way enlisted men were treated.

     Traveling East across the Base he entered a really lovely area of shaded single family dwellings on picturesque curving streets.  The driveways were graced with cars of which he had seen very few since leaving the US.  He did see some women who scurried indoors at his sight but they were of the Donna Reed cultivated matron sort.

     He contrasted them and their situation with what he had seen of enlisted men’s quarters in Guam.  Since the incident with Tyrone in mess hall he’d had trouble with his laundry.  While Distell Washington had lived up to his end of the bargain up to this time, after the mess hall incident Distell began to mess with Dewey’s laundry, so Dewey chose to use the coin fed washing machines at the end of the enlisted men’s housing.

page 1216.

     The contrast couldn’t have been sharper.  The enlisted men lived in project style housing on ill kept dusty streets.  No shady trees lined those streets.  Their women were slovenly foul mouthed slatterns.  It may be argued that they came from such conditions and the Navy merely perpetuated them, but there was no way a woman or family lacking all privacy could rise above the general leveling quality of the lowest common denominator, and we’re talking low.

     Thus Dewey saw decent quarters provided the officers and slum tenements provided the enlisted men.  As an enlisted man he could see his future stretching out before him if he chose to reenlist.  He had nothing but contempt for an organization that condemned its Pride to such miserable conditions.

     He was considering this with a dark mien when he was approached by Lt. (j.g.) Bifrons Morford: ‘You know you could be court martialed for that, Trueman.’

     ‘Court martialed for what?’  Trueman asked, refusing to sir the detested Morford when there was no one around to be a witness.

     ‘For assaulting officer’s wives.’

     ‘Look, if you don’t have anything better to accuse me of Morford, fuck off.’

     ‘You mean Mr. Morford, Sailor, and I can have you court martialed for your vulgarity.’

page 1217.

     ‘All you need’s a witness Morford and you don’t have one.  So, shove it up your ass.  We’re not in your bunk area now.’

      ‘What I’m telling you sailor is you could be court martialed for being in the married officer’s quarters.’

     ‘You’re full of it.  There are no signs saying enlisted men and dogs keep out and the area isn’t restricted.  So as usual Morford you’re blowing enough gas to inflate a balloon.  If you want to charge me with anything, go ahead.’

     ‘I’m letting you off this time, Sailor, but don’t think it’ll always be this way.  I’m watching you.’

     ‘I’m shaking in my boots.’

Machine Gun Costello

     There was really nothing for the ship to do in Guam so as the dock space was needed for other ships from time to time the Teufelsdreck was sent to sea for two or three, maybe five days at a time.

      These were wonderful idle days.  The ship often trolled at one or two knots allowing the fishermen to catch many varieties.  The ship idled for swimming parties.  In an effort to keep the men employed the Captain broke out the ship’s submachine gun.  Costello had somehow become the lead Gunner after Ratman, Ratfield must have been transferred, I notice he hasn’t been in the story lately.  Costello somehow managed to shove Cygnette, the other Third Class, aside.

page 1218.

     As he had lowered himself beneath Trueman in his own eyes he was desperate to prove he was the better man.  Rather than taking a chance of having Trueman outperform him he put out the word that Trueman was not to shoot.

     Trueman got the word so rather than crowd around hoping for a chance he would be denied he feigned indifference.  He went up to the fo’c’sle to study the horizon.

     As he strolled up he heard the sound of a strumming guitar and someone who sounded like Burl Ives singing.  On the fo’c’sle he found the First Louie, Poopy Princing, sitting in the 20 MM mount singing ‘Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care.’  in Ives style.  This was an appropriate song for Poopy who was having a hard time of it on board.

     Poopy, like many had signed on with NROTC to help pay his way through college.  It’s just that Poopy wasn’t officer material, nor is that meant as a reproach, it was just true.  Poopy was not born to command nor did he want to.  He was part of the egalitarian folk movement so prevalent on campus that preached that all men were equal; nor born equal but of a parity.  Unlike the lip service given the concept by others Poopy actually practiced it.  Not only that but Poopy was a Botany major which all the enlisted men considered a joke.

     Princing was new aboard ship.  In the way of the constantly changing crew no one could have told you with authority where or when he had come aboard but he had been put aboard just as the ship sailed out of San Diego.  As fate would have it he replaced the previous First Lieutenant which is to say he was in charge of First Division not that he had primacy amongst the Louies.

page 1219.

     First Division, generally speaking, was the wildest group of men on board.  They were all undisciplined and not amenable to it.  This ranged from the truculent bullyism of Bent Cygnette to the sullen resistance of Frenchey.

     Poopy, as his name indicates was not considered the kind of ramrod who could run First.  He was a nice affable little mama’s boy.  He was only five-five with downy pink cheeks and dreamy eyes.  Quite in opposition to Ratches’ dictum to have nothing to do with the enlisted men Poopy wanted to be buddies with everyone.  He didn’t understand the necessary distance between the officers and the enlisted.

      As Trueman strolled up Poopy very genially interrupted his song to say:  ‘Well, hello Dewey.’   then resumed singing:  Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care.

     Trueman was baffled by Princing.  The man in a few short weeks had become the laughing stock of the ship.  Enlisted men didn’t even go around addressing each other by first names.  Yet, here was Poopy strolling around with a ‘Hey, Dewey; ho, Bob; Say, Mike.’  the man was either out of place or out of time or both.

     Then too, Dewey, ever since his humiliation by PJ O’Rourke was seething with hatred for officers.  He had all he could do to talk to them in a civil tone.  Yet here was Poopy with a cheerful ‘Hi, Dewey’ singing his Jimmy crack corn song to him as an audience of one.  As somthing of a Folkie himself Trueman, like other serious Folkies despised Burl Ives.

page 1220.

     Princing strummed away as the machine gun began to pop away on the fantail.  Ratches on the bridge was beside himself with rage at an officer singing to an enlisted man on the fo’c’sle and torn with envy at the men playing manhood games on the fantail in which he couldn’t participate.  There’s just something about a Tommy gun.

     Dewey very rudely did not return Princing’s salutation.  Poopy, who was truly lost aboard ship, swallowed his pride and tried to explain:  ‘I don’t see why we can’t be friends Dewey just because I’m an officer and you’re enlisted.  We’re both in this together for gosh sakes.  Why can’t we be pals; don’t let this Ensign bar put you off.’

      Remembering his treatment by Lt. (JG) O’ Rourke in Hong Kong, for which it was impossible for him to make anyone understand his feelings, Trueman could not believe his ears.  On the one hand he understood the need for distance between officers and men and on the other he knew that there could never be equality between this college trained officer and himself.  The relationship would be too unequal, Trueman would always have to defer to Princing’s status while Poopy would always have to condescend to Dewey.

     Ratches leaning out to catch the converstation heard and made a decision.  The popping of the machine gun had stopped so Dewey still looking at Poopy as though he were a curiosity drifted back down aft without a word.  Poopy was a worried man but he wouldn’t be worried long.

page 1221

     Trueman was met by Roberts midships port side who was looking for him seeking to triumph over him because he had fired the machine gun and Trueman hadn’t.  Roberts was aglow with excitement.  Assault weapons were unobtainable at the time except to cops and robbers.

     ‘Too bad you didn’t get to shoot the Tommy gun, Trueman.’  Roberts said as though from deep shock.

     ‘Quite an experience, hey?’  Trueman replied suppressing a yawn as though he considered firing the gun a bore.

     ‘Yeah.’  Here Roberts disappeared into the depths of his mind as he tried to recreate the exhilaration of for a brief moment having realized his ultimate manhood, a machine gun is manhood itself.  ‘Yeah.  I wasn’t ready.  I had no idea it would have that kind of kick.  The  gun just kept jumping up after each shot til I was just about shooting at the sky.  You probably couldn’t have even held onto the gun.’

     ‘Really?  I…we’ll never know, will we?  You know what I always say Roberts:  Small toys for small boys.  I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.  Ta ta.’  Dewey walked nonchalantly away.

     ‘You’re just jealous.  It’s just because we wouldn’t give you a chance.’

     Dewey ignored him almost bursting out laughing at Costello who was coming forward carrying the machine gun with his legs rubbery from the experience, his face aglow with glassy eyes fixed on a distant vision.

     ‘A lot more fun than climbing a cargo net, hey Costello?’

page 1222

     Costello heard but couldn’t be disturbed from his reverie.

      Room at a pier being available the Teufelsdreck returned to Guam.

Why Can’t We Be Friends

     In his own way Poopy Princing had had a subversive effect on the ship.  Many of the crew were sycophantic toward the officers in any circumstances but with Poopy’s example and the relaxed conditions of these halcyon days on Guam they pressed to fraternize with the officers.  In some cases officers and enlisted men drank together.

     The most popular officer aboard was the Exec., Sieggren.  He was the very model of the attainable manly ideal.  Although short and on the slight side he carried himself with great dignity.  He had an amber colored full mustache just stopping short of curled ends which he wore with thorough going masculinity.  He had this gruff thrusting manner speaking in a voice just low enough with officerial authority that rounded out a persona that begged, if not commanded, respect.

      Certain of the sailors hung on him like belles at the ball on the college quarterback.  Ratches although a distinguished seaman and masterly navigator had no concept of discipline.  The men he abhorred while he couldn’t control the officers.  Sieggren more or less did it for him.

     There are no civilian clothes allowed aboard ship.  This rule applies to officers as well as men.  Indeed, an officer out of uniform loses all semblance of authority, something like the Chiefs in their undershorts.  This concept should be clear to anyone in uniform.  Nevertheless, in the balmy tropical vacation climate of Guam nearly everyone forgot who they were.  These were the best times the Navy could offer.

page 1223.

     Lt. Sieggren put the finishing touches on his toilet.  Not long out of college and therefore favoring the collegiate style of 1954 when he graduated, he presented a natty figure both to himself and his admirers clustering around the Quarterdeck awaiting his appearance.

     Carrying his tennis racket and a can of balls Sieggren stepped sprightly from the wing hatch.  He had on white tennies, a very nicely pressed pair of white slacks, a blue Izod with its little alligator patch and a cotton sweater, which was something Dewey had never seen before, tied jauntily around his neck.  The guy could have made an Arrow shirt ad but he no longer had the authority of an officer.

     Now, Dewey though unaware of it was still smarting from his encounter in Hong Kong.  He was in no mood to give any officer an inch.  As Sieggren’s ‘girls’ pressed around him congratulating him on his appearance and begging to be allowed to go on liberty with him Trueman spotted the civilian outfit.

     An imposing figure in the Navy’s uniform Sieggren lost all his majesty in his jaunty outfit, in fact, he looked like a stuffed shirt.

     ‘Those are civilian clothes, aren’t they, Lt. Sieggren?’  Trueman asked.

     ‘Your point?’  Came the haughty reply.

page 1224.

     ‘Well, the point is, Lieutenant, that Navy regulations forbid civilian clothes aboard ship.  You’re breaking the rules leaving this ship in civvies.’

     Sieggren blinked.  The climate was just too perfect for even the Executive Officer to have thought about the rules.  ‘I’m an officer, Sailor, I fail to see how I dress is any concern of yours.’

     ‘It’s just that I don’t see an officer Siggy.  I just see a guy.’

     Trueman was very nearly throwing caution to the winds by calling Sieggren, Siggy, but the subliminal image of his humiliation in Hong Kong hung before his eyes.  He wasn’t going to let an officer get away with anything.

     Sieggren was offended to the depths of his soul but he was not an unjust man.  He wanted to reprimand Trueman but recognized the impropriety of an officer in civvies taking a man in uniform to task.  He swallowed his pride tossing off an ‘I’ll attend to you later.’ as he stepped briskly but thoughtfully down the gangway.  He never wore civvies off the ship again.

     ‘Man, you’re a real prick, Trueman.’  Gonzo Lewis said.   ‘Lt. Sieggren’s a real guy.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  A real guy, huh?  Well, I’m not queer for officers like you are Friend.’  One hundred eighty-six men on board a large raft and Trueman didn’t know who Gonzo Lewis was so he had to call him Friend.

     Walking past him he turned quickly to read the name stenciled on the sailor’s back.  ‘Hmm, G. Lewis.  Must be George.’

page 1225.

     Back in First Dewey asked Roque Da Costa:  ‘Who’s this George Lewis guy?

      ‘You must mean Gonzo Lewis.  Don’t you remember him from mess cooking?’

      ‘No.’

     ‘Bunked over below Bocuse?’

     ‘Nope.  Not at all.’

      ‘Going over?’

     ‘Nope.  Staying aboard.’

     ‘Well, see ya later.’

     The sight that greeted Da Costa’s eyes when he came back aboard that night was the norm for Guam.  Fueled by their double pay the men drank themselves to death.  Some could stagger over the gangway but some nearly had to crawl.  It was amazing that they made it back to the ship at all.

     Once aboard, the movement of the ship combined with the stifling heat below decks caused many a one to toss their cookies.  Most often they were not in condition to clean up that night.  Then thoroughly disoriented they couldn’t find their fingers in the dark so the lights went on.  The more sober types were thus required to try to sleep in the retching and the stench with the lights on.

     In that heat a foul aroma pervaded the quarters day and night.  Only about half the men showered regularly.  Most of the other half were on the Saturday night plan while there were some who had to be driven to the showers.  Between the vomit and BO First was unlivable.  If any of the men had been thinking of shipping over the stay at Guam dispelled that notion.

page 1226.

     The situation with Poopy Princing had driven Captain Ratches to the point of distraction.  The scene he had witnessed on the fo’c’sle between Dewey and Poopy and been the final straw.  He had taken a hike over to administration where he had forcefuly presented a case for the dismissal of Poopy from the service.  Not wishing to waste any time he had walked the papers through.

     In Ratches eyes poor Poopy was a complete failure as an officer and a man.  The Captain was kind in dismissing Princing.  At high noon in the most dismal day of his life the uncomprehending Poopy crossed the gangway back into civilian life.

     ‘Poor bastard.’  Roberts said watching the Ensign cross over with bowed head and puppy eyes looking guiltily around him unsure of what he had done to deserve his fate.

     ‘Lucky bastard, you mean.’  Frenchey almost sobbed.

     ‘Tell me about it.’  Trueman groaned.  ‘I’m at least as unfit for the service as he is; you don’t see them sending me home.’

     ‘Yeah, being an officer has its privileges.’  Da Costa said wistfully.

     And so Poopy Princing left the Teufelsdreck unfit for service.

page 1227.

     Commando Costello

      The ship put to sea for further exercises although there were no exercises to perform.  At a loss for what to do with itself the subkiller cruised up past Tinian to cruise past Saipan and a circuit of Iwo Jima for those who remembered.  For Chief Dieter this was his first and last return to the scene of his glory.  He could be seen leaning on the lines of the fo’c’sle staring silently out over the now peaceful waters.

     The ocean out there is dotted with cinder cones that pass for islands.  Some of them make gazetteers; some of them are so inconsequential that they don’t.  If they have names at all they are unrecorded native names which probably translate: Cinder Cone In The Middle Of The Ocean.

     Desperate to keep the boys’ minds focused Ratches decided to let the lads storm one of these cinder cones.

     The cone before which stopped must have been a replica of the Aegean island of Thera which some people think was the ancient Atlantis.  Not very likely.  This volcano, like Thera, was about a ten thousand foot mountain with six to seven thousand feet submerged.  The cone was picture perfect with a shelf of land where the ash fell the thickest.  A spiral of smoke rose conspicuously from the crater at the very top.

     The inhabitants and their goats could be seen moving  around at the fifteen hundred foot level on the precipitous verdant slopes.

page 1228.

     Proud Costello was allowed to organize the landing party.  This one was big fun and games that Trueman really wanted to be part of but when Costello pointed at him and said:  You’re not going; this is for real men only.’  Trueman only laughed and made motions as though climbing a cargo net.

     As this was supposed to simulate a real commando raid the ship’s rubber raft was broken out; the men were all issued M1s or Tommy guns (BAR men as in From Here To Eternity, you see.) and having been loaded into the raft with miens as serious as will ever be seen this side of real action, they set forth to storm the innocent inhabitants of this smoking volcano.

     ‘Amazing people can live on that.’  Mike Deasy said coming up to Trueman.

     ‘Yeah.  Straight up and down like that they must all have one leg shorter than the other.’

     ‘How’s that?’

     ‘You know, Darwinian theory:  Creatures adapt to their environment.  The bills of birds get longer or shorter depending on whether they’re pollen feeders or not.  Bills get harder so they can adapt to a diet of nuts.  It follows that legs could get shorter on one side to make walking easier, doesn’t it?  Of course, once you got going counter clockwise you couldn’t ever go clockwise.  Maybe some them go clockwise and some go counter clockwise and if so can the clockwise people intermarry with the counter clockwise people and if they did would some of their offspring have two short legs?  Huh?’

     Trueman thought this was a very humorous monologue.  As he finished he stood looking at Deasy waiting for the applause.  But the literal minded Deasy missed the joke.

     ‘People’s legs aren’t going to get shorter on one side, Trueman.’  He said as though addressing an idiot.

    ‘I suppose not.’  Trueman said.  Seeing that line of musing at a dead end he decided to take another track.

     ‘Boy, I wouldn’t want to be on that volcano if it went off like Krakatoa.’

     ‘What does ‘went off like Krakatoa’ mean?’

      ‘I mean Krakatoa, you know, the volcano down by Java that exploded in about 1890 or so.  Blew itself to smitereens, you know what a smitereen is, don’t you?’

     Deasy nodded yes.

     ‘Good, because I don’t.  It sent a dust cloud that went around the world three times before it started to thin out.  Darn near started a new ice age.’

     ‘Who would blow it up?’

     ‘I don’t know.  Not who.  Natural causes:  too much steam for its boiler.  Things like that happen.  How’d you like to be there when that happened?’

     ‘The Navy would get us off before it did.’  Deasy replied with a literal matter of fact solution.

     ‘I suppose you’re right.  Well, try this.  You remember Eniwetok and Bikini?  Well, suppose the Army decided to use an H-Bomb on this island which looks  like a pretty active volcano just to see what would happen if it blew the top off, you know, like exploding A-Bombs in space, maybe like, it would release a tremendous head of pent up magma which would come gushing forth in tremendous volume so that all these islands were connected up into one big island.  Wouldn’t that be amusing?’

page 1230

     Trueman was ready to attempt another hypothesis of some magnitude when Deasy cut him short.

     ‘You know, Trueman, you say some of the damnedest things.  It’s hard to follow you.  It’s like that brainwashing thing you were talking about in Kowloon.  There weren’t going to brainwash us.  Sometimes you have to wonder about you.’

     ‘Uhhh, yeah.  Well, you know, I was just speculating you know, talking to have a good time.  It don’t mean nothing, just think of it as wind whistling through the rigging.  I’ll see you later.’

     Geez, Dewey thought, Just because you’ve got the water doesn’t mean you can find someone with a bucket.  Might as well talk to yourself.  Less boring.

     He went back between the K-guns to watch alone.  Presently he saw the rubber raft coming across the ripples.  As the raft came alongside Trueman laughingly called down:  ‘Wait a minute Costello, I’ll get the cargo net.’

    ‘Very funny, Trueman, very, very funny.’

     ‘I thought so.’  Dewey said to himself as he strolled away at least having defused the situation so he wouldn’t have to listen to Roberts tell him he wasn’t worthy to be included in a party of dolts.

page 1231.

Captain Ratches Gets His Jollies

     Later that afternoon Trueman was on lookout on port watch.  The ship was trolling slowly through glassy seas over a long low swell.  Gazing down Trueman could see all the way to the bottom as the light rays slanted down through the water.  Then to his surprise he saw a gigantic shark with its fin high above water come down from the bow.  It seemed curious about the steel ship coming close and nosing the hull.

     Having failed with Deasy earlier Trueman thought he might try a joke on Ratches.

    ‘Oh my god, Captain, object sighted in water at 280.  Is it a shark or is it a submarine?’

     It was a slow day so Trueman’s urgent tone jolted Ratches to life.  He rushed to the side to look where Trueman was pointing.

     ‘That’s a shark.’  Ratches said quickly differentiating the monster from a submarine.  ‘Stop the ship.  Get me an M1.’

     An M1 was hastily broken out for him.

     ‘Out of the way, Sailor.’  The Captain commanded Trueman.

     Then taking careful aim he began blazing away at the shark.

     The small arms of the Teufelsdreck were not well cared for by the Gunner’s Mates as they were so seldom used.  As Ratches fired away the clip rattled in the gun.  At the third shot the clip flew from the gun doing more damage to the shark on the way down than the shots had.

     Ratches who perhaps was under some strain by this strange tour of duty became rattled:  ‘Oh, my god.’  He said shaking.  ‘This gun is defective.  Give it to the Gunner’s Mates and have them fix it.’

     Returning to the bridge he gave orders for the ship to proceed.  The shark drifted off.

     The next day as Trueman was standing watch he overheard the Captain talking to the Commodore:  ‘You should have been here yesterday.  We had a shark so big alongside my lookout mistook it for a submarine.’

     Either Dewey didn’t get the joke or else it was a good fish story.

Waking Morford Again

       Trueman was at port lookout as 11:30 came up.  Ensign Shaffer who was on watch ordered him to go to the wardroom to wake his relief, Morford.

     ‘I won’t do that, Sir.’

     ‘I ordered you to go wake my relief, Mr. Morford, Sailor.’

     ‘Yes, Sir.  I can’t do that Sir.’

     ‘Are you refusing to obey an order, Sailor.’  Shaffer asked in horror and disbelief.

     ‘Not exactly, Sir.  But I cannot be commanded to do anything that can only result in harming myself.  For instance you cannot order me to cut off my hand and punish me for not doing it.  Likewise you cannot order me to go get my head shoved up my ass which is what Lt. Morford said he would do to me if I ever tried to wake him again.’

     No one ever knew where Trueman got these rules as no one had ever seen him reading the manual.  Actually he just made them up because they seemed logical.  Shaffer had never read the manual either so he couldn’t be sure.  As he was deliberating about the matter Verlaine called him over where he explained some of the politics aboard ship.

     Not molified at all Shaffer sent Brant, the starboard lookout down to wake Morford intending to abide by the results but he ordered Trueman to stand by fully intending to write him up for disobeying an order.  Brant returned shortly.

     Shaffer looked at him inquiringly:  ‘Well?’

     ‘He said if I didn’t get out of there right away he’d tear my head off and stuff it up my ass.’

     ‘What!’  Shaffer said incredulously as he and Morford were two of the officerial Three Musketeers.  He himself rushed down to wake Morford where he received the same reception.

     ‘You will not tear my head off and stuff it up my ass, Biff.  Now get out of there and relieve me.’

Idle Days and Balmy Nights

      Conway Wardell had been transferred aboard in Manila.  He was placed aboard the Teufelsdreck for transport back to the US as he was under arrest on a manslaughter charge.  He’d killed a man in a barroom brawl.  This was not a particularly serious charge in the Navy nor should it have been.  As it had happened Con Wardell had been provoked beyond his endurance in the traditional barroom manner, that is to say he acted in self-defense, by some loud mouthed latent homo attracted by his good looks.  If you can’t screw a man then punching him out or getting your ass kicked by him is a good surrogate.

     Wardell had one of those faces that predisposed you to like him.  He was a gentle pleasant man both under or out of the influence of alcohol although the prosecution would succeed in asserting that he became a changed man under the influence.

     Dewey was quite charmed by his appearance befriending him immediately in a manner that could have been seen unkindly as admiration of a homosexual nature.  Under the shadow of legal charges and a feeling of guilt Wardell was reluctant to make friends that would be only of two months duration.

     But Dewey very much nearly courted Con.  Watching from a distance Bent Cygnette who had a crush on Dewey from day one became jealous.  Although Bent had a reputation as a tough guy the reputation was of dubious validity.  He was never personally involved himself.

     Thus, while he would have liked to have beaten up Wardell to impress Trueman he was too canny a hand to attempt it.  But as he was a canny type he knew how to get the job done by others.

     Con was not restricted to ship but he was restricted to the base.  There were a number of bars on Base:  The Enlisted Men’s Club, the Officer’s Club, a couple of bars of no description and the Marine’s Canteen.  Guam had a large contingent of Marines.  These guys had been on the island from days up to two years.  Two years on Guam is enough to send anybody up the wall.

     Elbowing Trueman out of the way Bent made an effort to befriend Con in which he succeeded.  He then proposed to Con that for a lark they go up to the Marine Canteen, insult them, and take on the whole lot.  It is remarkable that a guy under the shadow of a manslaughter charge for nearly the same thing would agree to such a ridiculous proposal but Con did.  Men in arms are strange fellows.  What the hell, this was the Navy and South of the Line, if a man can’t be a man in the Navy South of the Line where can he be?  I could tell stranger stories still but I’ve got Trueman’s story to tell.

     Accordingly after having had a few drinks at the Enlisted Men’s Club Wardell and Cygnette set out for the Marine’s Canteen where they duly arrived.  Now, even if you’re not looking for trouble Swabbies in a Jarhead canteen are just asking for it.  The Marines, who are the result of the Navy’s psychotic search for a few ‘good’ men do not take to slovenly Navy types.

     Wardell and Cygnette had no sooner seated themselves than a voice announced in stentorian tones:  ‘Do I smell something funny?’

     Cygnette quickly whispered to Wardell:  ‘We’ll make our stand back to back on the grassy knoll outside.’  Then standing up he sneered:  ‘Must be the finger you Jarheads just took out of your ass.’

     Fifty Marine voices roared:  ‘What?’

     ‘Marines suck cock.’  Cygnette shouted for good measure as he and Wardell retreated out the door as fifty Marines came pouring out after them.

     Wardell in good faith took a stance on the grassy knoll but Cygnette without so much as a pause raced down the knoll and into the night.

     The fifty Marines converged on the lone gallant figure of Conway Wardell.

     The next day Con was sitting at breakfast when Trueman came down the ladder.  Dewey stopped in amazement.  Every square inch of Wardell’s face was shiny and distended with some areas beginning to turn black and blue.  He hadn’t broken any bones but his whole body was bruised.

     Con wasn’t speaking but Trueman got the story from elsewhere.  The fifty Marines, or as many as could get to him had whaled on Wardell.  As game as he had been Wardell had gone down in the first rush.  He was fortunatue to not have been stomped to death.

     A smug Bent Cygnette gave Dewey a look as though to say:  ‘What do you think of him now?’

Drinks With Kerry Maclen

     Kerry’s tatto of the woman with three asses had sealed his fate aboard the Teufelsdreck.  It  only remained for him to erect his own tombstone.  Massive ill will had built up against him because of his contemptible criminal activities.  His crime in Yokosuka was seconded by crimes in Hong Kong of which Dewey had no knowledge and completed in that criminal haunt in Manila.  One can’t really assimilate events as they race by but given time for reflection things fall into place.  Maclen’s detractors had had time in Guam to properly reflect on his actions.  His name was mud.  There only remained an excuse for the ill will to pass out.  Maclen was now going to lay his gonads on the block.

page 1237

     By the end of February the only person aboard who would associated with him was Trueman.  Dewey was so involved in his own plans and projections that he ignored everything that was said and done aboard ship.  Besides he had to look out for his own behind.

     Maclen suggested that they go up to one of the Base bars for an evening.  Trueman wanted to broach a subject with Maclen so he agreed.  As it was the day before payday the place was all but deserted.  Except for Maclen and Trueman, an old bull of a First Class Oiler and a couple swabbies the fat bartender had no one to serve.

     Trueman’s order of a coke immediately raised the ire of the old bull.  He was close to a twenty year man, busted down twice and just risen again to First Class.  He was sullen old drunk about to be turned out into a hostile world that would have no use for another sullen old drunk.

     Maclen was drinking beer and he quickly consumed a six pack as Trueman laid out his plan while the juke box blared out, if not the current hits, at least more recent ones than Dewey was familiar with.

      ‘Here’s how it is, Kerry.’

     ‘Joe.’

     ‘Joe what?’

     ‘I’m calling myself Joe now.’

     ‘You’re calling yourself Joe?  Who?  What do you mean?’

     ‘My middle name’s Joseph so I’m entitled to be called Joe.  I don’t want to be called Kerry anymore.  Too childish.  Joe is more manly.’

     The pressures aboard ship had made Kerry flee his identity.  Without making any changes in his manners or morals he thought he could flee his past by changing his name.

     ‘Oh yeah, and I pronounce my last name McLean now.  Joe McLean not Kerry Maclen.’

     ‘Yeah, sure, uh, Joe, although I think Kerry is a heck of a lot better name than Joe.  But, uh, Joe…here’s my plan.  You see the only difference between us and the officers is that they’ve been to college.  Other than that we’re just as good as they are.  So, what I’m proposing is since we both get out at about the same time is that we get an apartment together and go to college.  What d’ya think?’

      ‘That sounds great to me.’  McLean said who after six beers never heard anything that didn’t sound great.

     Dewey’s attention was caught by a record on the juke box.  ‘My god, listen to that, that’s incredible.’

     ‘Sure is.’  Joe McLean said complacently.

     ‘So what do you think.  Apartments are too expensive alone so if we shared rent we could probably live pretty good, get part time jobs.  What?’

page 1239.

     ‘Sounds fine.  I’m for it.’

     ‘God, what is that record?’  Dewey said beside himself with the rhythm.  He got up to see.

     Locating the number he quickly ran through the index to find that the song was called ‘Raunchy’ by Bill Justis.

     ‘Wow, man! They must be really working up some great stuff back home.  This is really incredible.  I’ve never heard anything like it.  I can’t wait to get back and see what else they’ve come up with.’

     He was standing in front of the juke box doing a little dance when the old bull bellowed out:  ‘If that fairy is going to shake that thing like that I’m going to put something up it.’

     ‘Hey, watch yourself, Jack.’  Dewey retorted indignantly.

     ‘You heard me.’  The old bull snorted who, as a veteran of innumerable bars made no aggressive moves but waited for his man to come to him.

      ‘What do you think of that guy, Ker…uh, Joe?’

     ‘You been on this rock as long as he has and even you begin to look good.’  McLean said with an ironic smile.

     ‘Yeh?  I’ve had enough let’s go.’

     ‘OK.  Just a minute, I want to get a couple beers to take with me.’

     ‘Walk down the road drinking beer?  Naw, forget it.’

     ‘No. No.  I got somethin’ I want to do.’

page 1240.

     Toting two beers which could only be allowed out of the bar opened and drinking another one Joe walked back with Dewey down that picturesque dirt road in the warm tropical night.  The Navy’s probably laid concrete now but then it was reminiscent of B’rer Rabbit, B’rer Fox and the Old South.

     As they were walking McLean said:  ‘I’m going to smuggle these cans aboard ship.  Wanta help me?’

     ‘Alcohol’s not allowed aboard ship, Joe.  All you’re going to do is get in trouble.  You don’t have anything to hide them in besides they’re both open.’ 

     ‘I’ll just stuff the cans behind my belt like this, see.  Nobody’ll be the wiser.’

    Oh no.  You just look like a pregnant woman who’s pissing her pants, that’s all.  Give it up.’

     ‘No.  It’ll be alright.  My bud Hubie’s Petty Officer of the Watch, he won’t say anything. We work together; what can he say?’

     ‘I think you’ve got the wrong idea about Blake.  He’s a real regulations guy.  He’ll write you up for sure.’

     ‘No he won’t.  You going to help me with one these or not?’

     ‘Hell no.  I don’t drink and I’m not going to be written up for smuggling booze on board.’

     ‘Alright.  Don’t then but remember you woudn’t help a bud.’  Joe said portentously finishing one beer and tossing the can away while he pushed the other full one down his pants where it bulged conspicuously.

     Not too steady on his pins and drinking and lurching through the ruts McLean quickly saturated his uniform from his chest down to his socks.

page 1241.

     ‘Oh god Joe.  You’ll never get away with it; throw it away.’

     ‘No. No.  My good bud Hubie Petty Officer Of The Watch.  I’m OK.’  Joe said as he tossed the empty can away in full view of the watch as he lurched toward the gangway.

     ‘Think about it, Kerry.’  Dewey hissed behind him.

     ‘Hi, Hubie, my bud, how’s watch goin’?’ McLean said attempting to lurch past.

     ‘Hey!  Hold it a minute, Maclen.  What’s that you got behind your belt?  A beer?’

     ‘Shhh.’  McLean joked putting his finger to his lips or as close to them as he could get.

     ‘No beers allowed aboard ship, Maclen.’

     ‘Throw it over the side Joe.’  Dewey urged.

     ‘Hey, we’re buds, ain’t we Hubie?’

     ‘Not on my watch, Maclen.  Nobody brings alcohol on board while I’m on watch.’

    ‘Throw it overboard Joe.  For Christ’s sake, he’s giving you a chance.’

     ‘It’s OK Hubie.  It’s me, your bud.’

     ‘I’m writing you up Maclen.’

     ‘Hey! Buds don’t write buds up.’  McLean complained drunkenly.

     ‘Get Lt. Sieggren, we’re writing Maclen up.’  Blake told Parsons who was on watch.

     ‘See you later Joe.’  Trueman said anxious to get away.

     ‘Where you going Trueman?  I’m writing you up too.’

     ‘Writing me up, what for?  I’m not carrying any beer.’

page 1242.

    ‘Turn around.’

     Dewey complied.  ‘No beer, Blake.  I’m clean.  I’m leaving.’

     ‘You stay here.’

     By this time Sieggren was hustling toward the Quarterdeck.  McLean, obviously guilty, was vigorously protesting his innocence.

     ‘He’s with Maclen.’  Blake stoutly persisted pointing at Trueman.

     ‘Hey, Blake, that’s guilt by association.  I thought you hated McCarthy and everything he stood for.’

     ‘This is different.’  Blake stated.

     ‘Always is when the shoes on the other foot.’  Dewey grinned.

     ‘You don’t have anything on you, Trueman?’  Sieggren asked.

     ‘Heck no.  I don’t even drink.’

     ‘Well, go along then.’

     ‘Sure thing.’  Trueman said leaving McLean under his new name to his old fate.

And Then It Happened

     The dawn came up like thunder inside McLean’s bursting head.  The dam of ill will that had been building around him burst like a raging flood.  The word of McLean’s stupidity had spread like wildfire aboard the restless ship.  For a relatively minor if stupid crime McLean became the center of the tornado surrounded by raging winds.  A man should never have a tattoo of woman with three asses put on his arm.

page 1243.

     Even while the pitiful Joe McLean/Kerry Maclen was trying to organize his brain to withstand the storm of contempt bursting around him an even greater storm was bursting in the officer’s wardroom.

  

   Although the whole of the Asian tour had been leading up to this point I am almost afraid to strain the reader’s credulity by reporting it.  Mark Twain once said something to the effect that:  Of course truth is stranger than fiction; the truth doesn’t have to adhere to the rules of credibility.  Such is now the case.  If the following weren’t true I would be ashamed of having concocted such an unbelievable mess.

 

     ‘Captain, Captain, there’s something dreadfully wrong.’  Ensign Grant Shaffer alarmingly informed the bedeviled Captain, Gabriel Ratches.

     ‘What’s the trouble, Grant?’  Ratches asked with raised eyebrows but fearing nothing more than some minor problem.

     ‘Well, Sir, today is payday and when I opened the box there wasn’t enough money to cover it.’  The incomprehensibility of it seemed to perplex Ensign Shaffer.

     ‘What?’  Asked Ratches incredulously fearful that he now had a robbery to account for to the Commodore.  He should have been so lucky.

     ‘Well, Sir, there’s always been enough money in the box for whatever we wanted but today when I looked there’s only enough to pay about a third of the crew.’

page 1244.

     ‘How could that be?’

     ‘I don’t know Captain, but look for yourself.  There’s always been enough before.’

     As incredible as it may seem the naive young financial officer thought that he had a bottomless box.  How he could have thought that paying double wages to two thirds of the crew could have gone on forever without exhausting funds must be classified with unexplained phenomena like UFOs, ESP and the whereabouts of Amelia Earhart.  But it was true:  There was no money and Ensign Shaffer was genuinely astonished to find it so.

     Captain Ratches blinked blankly at Ensign Shaffer a couple of times.  Then the rumors he had been hearing and discredited as impossible became a nightmare reality.  He stared out into eternity, put his right hand to his chin, tapped all the fingers of his left hand on the table and muttered:  ‘Ponzi.  Ponzi.  Where have I heard that name before?’  He sighed a sigh that came from the opposite side of the precession of the equinoxes as he realized the magnitude of this new blot on his first command.  He dismissed Shaffer not knowing what he had to do.

     He sat down, took a few deep breaths, then called the base commander to explain his situation.  Then he did what possibly no other Captain had ever done before, he was compelled to betray that most sacred compact between the Navy and its men.  He got on the intercom and announced that today there would be no payday.

page 1245.

     The news was met with the most incredible astonishment by the crew most of whom had already projected spending their pay plus the advance.  Trueman gave a short laugh as an amused expression stole over his face:  ‘So this is where it hits the fan.’  He smiled.  Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord but his children shall collect the rewards.

     Not everyone was so quick.  Proud Costello, apparently unaware of the implications of accepting double pay, began to complain loudly and bitterly.

     ‘I’m not in this man’s Navy just for the glory.  I get paid too.  If I don’t get my money today there’s going to be hell to pay.’

     ‘My day has come.’  Trueman said to himself as he jauntily stepped over to Costello:  ‘Man, Costello, you better tone it down.’  He reprimanded with a big grin.  ‘You owe them money they don’t owe you money.  You’re on the way to the brig.  They’re gonna take away your name and give you a brand new number.  I wouldn’t irritate them too much if I were you.  Picture yourself in stripes.’

     ‘Stripes?  Going to the brig?  What for?’  Costello asked slack jawed.

     ‘What for?  Man, you’ve stolen a lot of money from the Navy with all those unrecorded advances you’ve taken.  They’re going to lock your ass up, buddy.’  Trueman laughed and bubbled overjoyed at the thought of seeing his detractor marched off.

     ‘I didn’t do anything nobody else didn’t do.  They’ll have to arrest us all.’  Really!  Hadn’t Proud Costello merely been going with the flow?

page 1246.

     ‘Damn right.  And they will too.’  Trueman giggled on.  ‘Get ready for those stripes, Roberts.’

     ‘Hey!  Ensign Shaffer’s an officer.  He wouldn’t have let us do it if it wasn’t OK.’

    ‘Ah, the faith ye share with Berkeley Square be with you Proud Costello.’  Trueman laughingly quoted Kipling.

     The reference was lost on Costello but events took their course anyway.  True to tradition the Navy couldn’t admit that an officer could do wrong.  Ensign Shaffer was quickly transferred the next day while his replacement passed him on the gangway.

     During his routine audit Lt. (JG) Meigrane Vogt quickly discovered the cause of the shortage.  The responsibility was placed squarely on the shoulders of the enlisted man, Second Class Disbursing Clerk Ponzi.  The outrage at Ponzi of the accounting officer was seconded by that of Captain Ratches.  Ponzi and the enlisted men would have to be punished.  Ensign Shaffer was merely cashiered; sent home to mom.

     The huge Captain’s Mast of Subic was now dwarfed as a hundred thirty-three men of the crew stood Captain’s Masts.  They went up to the fo’c’sle in relays of twenty-five.  The whole process took three days.  All should have received brig time but as the removal of one hundred thirty-three sailors would have left the Teufelsdreck virtually unmanned forty-three were selected for the brig while the rest were ordered to make restitution while receiving restrictions back in the States.

page 1247.

     The selection of the forty-three could not be equitable if indeed any selection could have been.  The men were chosen on the basis of their expendability as well as the extent of their theft.  Thus while both Third Class Gunner’s Mates were equally guilty Bent Cygnette was one of only two helmsmen aboard and could not be spared.  Proud Costello, the best looking man in the Navy, had nothing going for him but his looks.  But the real determining factor was the offence Ratches took at Costello’s use of the Captain’s Ladder of the Sheridan Le Fanu back in Subic.  It’s the small sins that get you everytime.

     Half of Gunnery and Deck were shipped off.  Only enough of Operations and Supply were kept to man the watches four on and four off and keep the ship nominally functioning.  The week long layover in Honolulu was indignantly withdrawn by the Commodore.  If he had ever softened in his attitude toward Ratches and the ship his rage was now redoubled.  The ship was ordered to make a run directly to San Diego at top speed.

     The consequences would be many and severe continuing for some time.  Kreskin with his forty pound stash of heroin in his locker was near panic.  As with most criminal intellects he had learned the combinations of the locks of many others.

   He was sitting on his locker biting his nails wondering whether he should attempt dumping the stuff in the harbor or to trust it to fellow criminals like McLean, Easy and Screw or just put it in someone else’s locker when Kanary told him significantly:  ‘You’re staying.’  Heaving a sigh of relief Kreskin bobbed his head in acknowledgment that he would take care of Kanary.

page 1248.

     As the only Yeoman aboard Kanary was spared brig time although his sense of purity was injured again as he received his second Captain’s Mast and first Court Martial.  He was mentally able to slough the responsibility off on Ponzi although he would never blame Shaffer because of his homosexual love of authority.  Once again Kanary’s subconscious was burdened.

     Joe McLean and Hubie Blake were spared because as the only two Sonarmen aboard they were already standing four on and four off at sea.

     And so it went.  Luck not guilt determined your punishment.

      Three days after Lt. (JG) Meigrane Vogt had discovered the cause of the shortage Captains Masts and Court Martials being completed the future convicts were assembled to be marched off to their new quarters.  Trueman stood just aft of the gangway to watch.

The Sins Ye Commit Two By Two

Ye Must Pay For One By One

      Ponzi as a career criminal with deep roots into the Italian underworld knew the ropes; he wasn’t worried.  Dart Craddock walked the gangway with the fatality of a Wobbly who knows luck will never be with him, casting a sheepish glance at Trueman as he passed.

     Dewey forgave Craddock the toothless, pregnant beauty he had foisted on him in Brisbane.  This was the perfect revenge.  Trueman had done nothing to cause it; he had even advised Craddock against taking the advances.  Dewey considered the account squared.  He shrugged his shoulders to indicate he didn’t think badly of Dart.  The rich can always afford to be generous.

page 1249.

      Trueman snorted to himself in derision as Roberts walked past head held high confident that he had only done what an officer had done.  In his own eyes he saw himself as completely innocent all he had to fear now was the vindictiveness of Stella Maris who was still waiting.

      Proud Costello was a different matter.  Ever since he had demeaned himself before Trueman by using the Le Fanu’s Captain’s Ladder he had been trying to resurrect his own image compared to Dewey.  He hadn’t let him fire the machine gun, he had kept him off the landing party and now as he saw Trueman watching his ultimate disgrace with a big grin on his face Costello went into a bigger panic.

     Midway across the gangway as he watched Trueman grinning he came completely apart grabbing the line with both hands squealing:  ‘No. No.  If I have to go he has to go too.  He can’t get off.  I’m better than he is.’  Whining thus the best looking man in the navy tried to back off the gangway to stay aboard ship.

     Trueman began laughing at him as the SPs pulled him along rapping his knuckles with their billys to get him to let go of the line.

      ‘No. No.  He’s got to go too.’  Costello screamed completely unmanned as a rapidly expanding dark spot in the crotch of his blues appeared revealing the depth of his humiliation.

     ‘No.  He doesn’t have to go, Costello.  He didn’t take cash advances he didn’t intend to pay back.  You did.’  Captain Ratches admonished.

page 1250.

     Go to the tenth and last clip.

 

 

Our Lady Of The Blues:

Part V

From Gaia To Maia

by

R.E. Prindle

V8

 

     ‘No.’ Deasy said.  ‘I won’t go in there.’

     ‘Why not, Mike?  You’re one of those guys who want to have it all.  Carpe diem and all that.  C’mon,  they probably have windows in back with a terrific view.’

     ‘Can’t be much of a bar.’  Parsons Volunteered.  ‘There isn’t any neon.’

      Deasy had started back down the hill.  Parsons followed after, leaving Trueman no choice but to accede.

     Turning a corner at the bottom of the hill they ran into Vincent again coming out of the boot shop.

     ‘Ha.  I got me a perfect pair of boots.  They’re going to make them just for me.  I pick them up Friday before we leave.  You guys had anything to eat?’

     They entered a restaurant close by.  The Chinese were not as pleasant a people as the Japanese.  They were surly and suspicious acting.  Dewey felt like he was imposing on them so he had only a cup of coffee.  He had to conserve his money anyway.

     As they left Vincent took half a sandwich with him.  No sooner were they on the street than they were surrounded by half a dozen street Arabs clamoring for the sandwich.  Vincent, who had a pathological desire to counter the Captain’s instructions divided the sandwich up between the six.  Immediately two dozen appeared out of the woodwork.  The other sailors pulled free leaving Vincent to his fate.

     ‘I know where there’s a bar.’  Deasy said.

     The time was now six o’clock.  The street they were moving down was a solid stream of people from wall to wall.  Thousands of Chinese in tradional garb shuffled slowly along.  They were all uniformly short.  Deasy the tallest of the sailors stood head and shoulders above the entire throng.  Dewey was a mere head and neck, Parsons a head.  Captured by this immense tide of humanity Dewey could do nothing but shuffle along at the same pace.  Looking back he saw the same sea of humanity as he did looking ahead.  Here and there the blue uniform and white face of a sailor bobbed above the crowd like an iceberg in a surging sea.

page 1151.

     Deasy and Parsons looked at him helplessly.  They were entombed in a moving flow of flesh.  The press moved very slowly.  Mandarin types studied them with ill concealed disgust as they trudged along.  Dewey recognized the racism.  Still the time passed.  As if at a signal the press began to thin.  Then Chinese who had been shuffling along with their possessions on their backs unstrapped the packs unrolling pads along the walls on either side where they squatted or lay down to spend the night.

     And then as if by magic the walls were lined with vagrants and the great press of humanity had dispersed.

     ‘This is it.’  Deasy said pointing to a door as if by coincidence all had been leading to this.  ‘Upstairs.’

     ‘You ever been here before.’  Dewey asked amazed that Deasy should know the place.

     ”No.  The Chief told me about it.’  By Chief he meant Chief Sparks the Electronics Technician Chief.  But as Dieter was the only one who had ever been to Hong Kong how did Sparks know about it?  An unanswered question.

page 1152.

     ‘Hey. Hold on you guys.  Wait.’  Came the cry of Vincent from down the street.  He had been struggling to catch up.  ‘Gosh, I thought I’d never get away.  Tenacious little devils.’

     The sailors entered, climbing the stairs to a regular sailor dive.  This was Deasy’s idea of a bar;  there was plenty of neon for Parsons.  The place was a combination bar and whore house.

     The bar on the top of the hill had been more Dewey’s style while this was more popular with the hoi paloi.  They found a table where they were quickly surrounded by bar girls.

     One attached herself to each sailor.  One sat on Dewey’s lap trying to arouse him.  But there was something coarse and calculating about the Chinese.  Pearl had been a sweet thing as well as Violet if either were compared to these bar girls.  Dewey didn’t want his woman besides the fact that he didn’t want to waste his limited resources on some whore.

     ‘You come up stairs, hey, big boy.’  She half asked, half commanded.

     ‘No.  That’s all right.’

     ‘What matter?  You funny boy?’

     ‘No. No.  I’m straight as they come but I just don’t have any money.’

     ‘Go ahead, Trueman.’  Vincent urged.

     ‘No. You guys go ahead.  I’ll wait for you here.’

     ‘We’ll follow you.’  Deasy added.

     ‘Then we might as well go back.  I don’t drink and I don’t have any money.’

     ‘I’ll loan you some, Trueman.’  Parsons ventured.

page 1153.

     ‘Then you’ll have to give it to me because I won’t pay it back.’

     ‘Nuts to that.’

     ‘We might as well go back then.  I don’t like it here.’

     ‘What a spoil sport.’

     Back they went.

Alone Again Naturally

It’s Tommy this

                                And Tommy that,

                                                 And Tommy wait outside.

                                                                             R. Kipling

     The next day Trueman managed to get away alone.  When they had been at the top of the hill he had spotted the Government district to the North.  Fascinated by the apparent contrast between Chinatown and the Anglo-Saxon sector he wanted to investigate himself.

     There is no greater sin than for a tourist to look like a tourist.  Gawking brings all kinds of derision down on your head from the locals.

     The jumbled stacked architecture and narrow dirty streets of the Chinese sector was now replaced by the austere, stately architecture of England.  The streets were broad and clean.  In 1958 there were few if any cars so the noise levels were low.  It was a pedestrian paradise.

page 1154.

     Unlike Chinatown however with its streets jammed with humanity Englishtown was almost deserted.  Dewey could wander the streets almost alone.  He came upon wonderful bookshops stuffed to the rafters with titles he had never seen in the United States.  He might have bought some if he had known what he was buying.

     Sometime after five the government offices let out.  Crowds of gigantic Englishwomen issued forth, six footers of girth.  Dewey gawked with extreme impoliteness amazed at their uniform dimensions.  There in Englishtown in the heart of China it was as if Salvador Dali had surrealistically painted him in.  Except that instead of melted watches it was as though Dewey’s brain was melted and draped over the branch of a tree.

     Then as the evening shades deepened and the lights came on Dewey’s attention was drawn to the hotels and restaurants which he now noticed were fairly numerous.  The wind came up and paper began blowing about the streets coming as though from nowhere.

     Here in the heart of China all the guests and patrons were white Europeans and American Naval officers with a smattering of Army uniforms thrown in.

     Individuals and groups of officers bustled self-importantly through the doors of hotels and restaurants.  Dewey was the only enlisted man to be seen.  He looked hungrily on this scene excluded, if not by color, by caste.  He longed to be included, he yearned to be one of the happy few.  He checked his pockets to see if he had enough money to buy dinner.  It seemed as though he should have.

page 1156.

     Moving closer in the deepening gloom he received a few disparaging glances from civilians who were used only to dealing with officers and from officers who were used to dealing with enlisted men only as cretins.

     ‘What the hell.’  Dewey thought to himself.  ‘This is a democracy.’  Whatever a democracy might be.

     ‘What the hell is that swabbie doing hanging around here?’  He heard an officer say.

     There was an arcade, greatly resembling the Burlington Arcade in London, adjoining a very impressive looking hotel which Dewey entered.  Wandering wonderingly down the rows of shops he came to an inside entrance to the hotel.  And just inside that entrance was the informal restaurant of the hotel.

     ‘Good enough.’  Thought Dewey.  ‘The main restaurant is probably too expensive anyway.

     Feeling small and insignificant but very satisfied Dewey was sitting at his table when he heard a faint Irish brogue chirp, ‘What’s that smell anyway?’

     Used by now to being considered just another nigger of Uncle Sam’s fleet Dewey understood the jibe was directed at him and chose to ignore it.

     Then this little, 5’6″ Irish Catholic Lieutenant (JG) came over and contemptuously putting a foot on Dewey’s chair seat smilingly looked into his face saying:  ‘Aren’t you in the wrong place, Laddy?’

page 1157.

     It was 19 to 23 with brass.  If Dewey showed any resistance he would be thrown out on his ear.  He humbly said:  I’ve got a right to be here.’

     ‘We’re not talking about rights, Laddy, we’re talking about facts.  Chinatown is over there, that’s where the enlisted belong.’

     Dewey shrugged as the JG went to speak to the Maitre d’.

     The JG had offended Dewey.  Trueman had no knowledge of the Irish implications to the JG’s attitude or how it applied to him.  Just as Trueman had writ his name large on his dungarees he had written it large on the inside of his hat.  Thus the JG read TRUEMAN and realized he had his English adversary in a disadvantageious position.  He could pull rank.  Thus the Anglo-Irish conflict begun hundreds of years before America even existed came to rest on Dewey’s innocent head in China.

     The JG’s name was Patrick Joseph O’ Rourke but he went by, what else, PJ.  O’ Rourke had come from the same social level as Trueman if not slightly worse in Boston.  The Irish had for some time borne a grudge against the Puritan establishment of Boston because of the ‘No Irish Need Apply’ notices in want ads for employment.  This hatred had been passed down to PJ.  He had never actually seen such signs or been discriminated against but the mere mention of them made his blood boil.  America is the land of boiling blood; it seems as though everyone’s blood is boiling at the same time.  His hatred was also fueled by his old man’s IRA sympathies against the Queen’s Own.

page 1158.

     Thus in Trueman he not only recognized the hated Anglo but someone of his own economic level above which he had risen ‘by his own unaided efforts.’  Unable to indulge his antipathies among his fellow officers, here in Englishtown in the heart of China he could turn his hatred on this enlisted man who was so out of place in the lair of the ‘upper’ class.

     PJ sat at the bar among his officer friends smiling mockingly at Trueman as the waiter sidled up.  There were only four items on the menu suited to Dewey’s taste and pocketbook.

     ‘I’ll have…’  Dewey began pointing to an item.

     ‘We’re out of that.’  The waiter replied disparagingly.

     ‘Well, then, I’ll have…’

     ‘We’re out of that too.’

     And so through items three and four.  Looking over at another table Dewey saw someone eating his second choice.  Grasping at that straw he said:  ‘Well, they got a serving.’

     ‘Last one.’  The waiter said coldly.

     Dewey rubbed his nose.  The obvious isn’t so obvious if you’re not looking for it and hoping it’s not there.

     ‘Well, what do you have?’

     ‘I’ll have to go into the kitchen and check.’

     Now, full of satisfaction, P.J. O’ Rourke sauntered over to the table.  ‘Take a hint, swabbie, you’re out of place, take a look around.

     Not for the first or last time Dewey tried the line:  ‘The Navy told me that this uniform was as good as a tuxedo.’

page 1158.

     O’ Rourke laughed fingering his own lapel:  ‘This is a tuxedo, Swabbie, that is a busboy’s outfit.  We’re officers and gentlemen here.  Got it?’

     Dewey saw past PJ’s unifrom into his accent and origins.  Dewey too could recognize a guy from the old neighborhood.  ‘It’s going to take more than that uniform to make a gentleman out of you Paddy.’

     ‘Well, me lad, if the Navy says it’s so it’s good enough for the likes of me.’

     ‘Yeah?  You already said the Navy lied when they said my uniform was as good as a tuxedo; I know they lied when they called you a gentleman.  I’ve dug some potatoes in my time too, Paddy.’

     PJ flushed a little but he knew he had the upper hand.

    ‘Be that as it may, little man, you’re in the wrong place.’

     O’ Rourke was joined by a couple other officers.

     ‘Come on, Sailor.’  Growled Lt. Blackthorn genially.  ‘Listen to the officer.  Chinatown is thataway.  Go hang out with the rest of the swabbies.

     ‘I’m afraid the kitchen is out of just about everything, sir.’  The waiter said with a knowing glance at the officers.

     Dewey heaved a sigh then got up.  His only other recourse was cause a scene humiliating only himself.  He wasn’t up for that.

     As he passed thrugh the door PJ hissed in his ear:  No Anglos Need Apply.

     Dewey missed the reference but he received the injury.  Injured deeply in his soul he headed toward the embankment and the Teufelsdreck.  His mind numbed in his anguish and humiliation he stumbled along as though drunk unable to pick his feet up high enough to level out the streets.  Angered to his soul but unable to do a thing about it a cyst formed around the incident in his subconscious clustering with a few earlier ones.

page 1160.

     If he hadn’t before he now loathed his uniform and he loathed his Uncle Sam whose funny little busboy outfit made him a ‘nigger’ wherever he went even in old Chinatown.  The uniform he was wearing was not a badge of honor but an emblem of disgrace.

One Toke Over The Line

     Kayo Kreskin had a problem.  When he learned that the Asian tour would include Hong Kong he had excitedly notified his father, Soter Kreskin.  The elder Kreskin had found the Marijuana imported from Mexico so profitable that he had explored the possibility of an opium or heroin trade.

     San Francisco was a very advantageous place from which to develop that line of business.  The City has a very large Chinatown, the first in the US.

     It will be remembered that in the nineteenth century Britain fought a couple wars with China to compel it to accept the Opium grown by them in India that Britain wished them to buy.  This had some long range effects.

     The money from the Opium trade went directly into the pockets of the Kings and Queens of England augmenting their income greatly.  Nor were the wars and their results forgiven by the Chinese.  Over in mainland China Mao was still greatly incensed at the thought of the Chinese being corrupted by the British.  During the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76 the Opium Wars would again be a bone of contention.

page 1162.

     The English were most active in the area around Hong Kong.  The Chinese immigrants to the US passed through the port from the surrounding provinces.  Hence many of the Chinese coming to the US were opium smokers.  A large importation of opium into the US was already currently being done for its Chinese.  Soter Kreskin found it relatively easy to establish contacts in the British Crown (as being a private possession of the King and Queen) Colony.

     As another interesting but irrelevant aside, the fortune of Franklin Delano Roosevelt was made by an ancestor who imported opium form China to New York in his Yankee Clippers.

     Soter represented a Chinatown dealer, on other grounds, who upon learning of Soter’s interest, made contacts for him in the Colony.

      Kayo Kreskin was to make contact with this man in Kowloon, acquire a supply substantial enough to make Soter’s fortune and bring it back aboard the Teufelsdreck thus bypassing the most dangerous risks.

     At that time, at least, no one checked any packages brought aboard nor were any bags inspected in San Diego leaving the base so Kayo and Soter had a nearly foolproof, once in a lifetime opportunity.

page 1163.

     The only danger lay in the acquisition in Hong Kong and the distribution in the Bay Area.  It is not known whether Soter or Kayo were under suspicion at this time but as the suppliers might be and as an ounce of prevention is worth a kilo of cure, Kayo with sure intuition took all precautions.

     Thus he had to reach his contact in Kowloon but didn’t want to call attention to himself by making an obvious solo trip.  He was sitting pondering his dilemma as he watched Mike Deasy put a finishing lick to his shoes for liberty.

     ‘What are you going to do, Deasy?’  He asked idly.

     ‘Trueman wants to take the ferry to Kowloon like his idol William Holden did.  I’m going with him.’

     ‘You’re hitting the beach with that clown?’

     ‘I think he’s alright; besides after that escapade in Y’kuska with Maclen I agree with him; we’d been better off to take the train to Tokyo.’

     ‘Man, that…’  He began as a criticism of Trueman but then the light flickered on in his head.  ‘…doesn’t sound half bad.  I’d like to go to Kowloon too.  Mind if I come along?’

     Deasy did mind.  He didn’t like Kreskin.  He and all of operations knew Kayo was into drugs.  But not wishing to openly offend Kayo he passed the buck to Trueman who he thought would say no.  ‘It’s alright with me but it’s up to Trueman.  He has things he wants to do.  I’m just going along.’

     Kayo got quickly to his feet stepping down to First to find Trueman looping his scarf over his head.

     ‘Hey, Trueman, Deasy says you two are going over to Kowloon.’

page 1164.

     ‘Yeah.  So what’s that got to do with you?’

     ‘How about I come along?’

     ‘Are you kidding?  You remember Tokyo?  How you’re better’n me, how your super whore wouldn’t have anything to do with the likes of me?’

     ‘Oh that.  That was nothing.  I’d been drinking, that was the liquor talking, not me.’

     ‘No, hmm?  Nothing to you anyway.  By the way Kreskin I heard that the most beautiful whore in Japan laid a dose on you.  Any truth to that?’

     Kreskin who apparently thought that secrets could be held in such a small closed society, was thunderstruck because Trueman knew and was taunting him about it.  Had he been less interested he would have walked away but as a drug addict he was compelled to accept any humiliation to obtain his supply.

     ‘Yeah, she gave me a dose, damn whore.  Taking Penicillin now.’  He said humbly.  By taking Penicillin Kreskin meant that whenever the stash of tabs was on the Quarterdeck he popped one in coming back from liberty.  The pills had done no good.

     ‘Really?  Gee, the less beautiful girls I had didn’t give me anything but a good time.  What do you think of that?’

     ‘I…I guess I didn’t have any reason to be so arrogant as I was.  I’m the kind of guy who learns from my mistakes though.’

     Kayo’s seeming humility which was only the duplicity of the addict placated Trueman who, since he planned to view the Red Chinese border, thought that three might be better than two.

page 1165.

     ‘This is my trip Kreskin.  I’m going over to see what I want to see, so if you think you’re going to call the shots, forget it.  If that’s agreed Deasy has the final say.’  Trueman said, passing the buck back to Deasy.

     ‘He says it’s OK with him if it’s OK with you.’

     ‘Better get dressed then.  We’re leaving now whether you’re ready or not.’

     Kreskin dressed, running up to the Quarterdeck throwing his scarf over his head just in time to board the boat to the beach.  The boat ride to shore took fifteen minutes through the wonderful tropical Winter of Hong Kong.

     Dropped off at the sea wall they climbed the steps to the Esplanade turning right to begin the walk along the bay to the ferry.

     ‘Man, this is even better than in ‘Love Is A Many Spendored Thing’.  Did you guys see that?’

     ‘Yeah.  It was pretty good.’  From Kreskin.

     ‘Didn’t see it.’  From Deasy.

     ‘Man, that was the most fantastic photography I’ve ever seen.  My mind was stunned.  Gosh, I watched that and thought I’d never get to see this place.  William Holden was just incredible.  We saw the hill Holden climbed in the rain storm to see his girl the other day from the Tiger Balm Gardens.  Man, straight up and down just like in the movie.  Hard to believe people could live on a slope like that.’  Trueman must not have paid attention to cliff houses in LA.

page 1166.

     Trueman little knew how much that movie affected him.  To some extent he assumed the character of William Holden while his own experience in Hong Kong was heightened by his memory of the movie.

     The absence of cars in Hong Kong was taken for granted without notice or question.  Without realizing it Trueman found the absence delightful.  His enjoyment of the city was heightened by their absence.

     The Kowloon Ferry made no provision for cars being solely for pedestrians.  The great ferry with its broad decks slowly filled with the teeming mass of humanity that was Hong Kong.

    The three sailors were the only Caucasians aboard.  Dewey watched in amazement as every inch of space was taken up by the incredible variety of Chinese nationalties inhabiting the Crown Colony.  He, Deasy and Kreskin found their way to the railing where they could watch the chaos of people as well as the receding and approaching shores.

     Amidst the throbbing engines the big raft glided across the smooth bay almost without the sensation of movement.  The twenty minute trip was breathtaking.  Having boarded amongst the teeming hordes of Hong Kong Dewey was surprised to find the Kowloon side nearly desolate.  They docked in a comparatively deserted field amid the ruined foundations of old buildings.  Unlike Hong Kong where the buildings abutted being seemingly stacked on each other in Chinese style, Kowloon looked like a cross between the Occident and the Orient.  The appearance was much more like South San Francisco or Daly City or the little boxes of Malvina Reynold’s song but twice as exotic and charming.

page 1167.

     Deasy and Kreskin looked to Dewey for direction as he was the leader.  Dewey had thought no further than getting to Kowloon.  He neither knew where he was or how to get to anything else so he just followed the crowd walking down the road.  The road was the main thoroughfare leading directly into Red China which is where most of the ferry riders were going.  Apparently the boat load of Chinese were daily commutes from Red China to Hong Kong.

     The sailors walked along, Dewey glorying in this many splendored thing while Deasy couldn’t imagine what he saw to rhapsodize so while Kreskin champed to get to his drug dealer.

     They had gone a mile or so with Dewey babbling away in wonder when he looked down to see a white line painted across the road.

     ‘Hey, look at that, someone painted a white line across the road.  Wonder what that means?’

     As soon as they were across the line the surroundings changed.  Instead of the clean open feel of European Kowloon the area switched to the dirty closed in stacked Chinese feel.  The feeling of crowding was greater even than in Hong Kong.

     Once again immigrants blamed America for traits inherent in their own culture.  The Chinese of San Francisco crowded tens of thousands of people into just a few square blocks stacked on each other just like in their homeland.  But in the US this became an indignity heaped on them by ‘prejudiced Whites.’

     The attitude of the people changed to sulleness and suspicion.  This was the real China.

page 1168.

     Dewey handled the first hundred yards in China fairly well but the then the differences began to mount in sinister fashion.

     ‘Hey, look at that Mandarin type guy flattened against the wall.’  Dewey observed.

     Indeed a Fu Manchu type in long red Mandarin dress was flattened against a wall around a corner watching them.  Further, the attention of every single person on the street was riveted on them.

     By this time they had penetrated Red China by six hundred feet.  Another hundred yards and they wouldn’t get out again.

     ‘I can’t understand why things have changed so.  Everything looks so different, more sinister.  Boy, there’s red stars every where.  Look it there; every magazine on that rack has a red star on it.’

     ‘Yeah, I noticed that.’  Deasy said without curiostity.

     ‘Oh god.  You know what?’  Tureman said with a quaver in his voice.  ‘You know what that white line meant?’

     ‘No, what?’

     ‘You remember when they gave that indoctrination speech they said that the only thing separating Red China from Kowloon was a white line in the road?  No sentries, no guard houses?  We’re in Red China.  We gotta get out of this place.’

     So saying Dewey turned on his heel without a moment to spare.  Men under the direction of the Fu Manchu lookalike were already moving away from the stalls to fall in behind them.

     ‘Look sharp boys, and get prepared to make a run for it.  We might have to fight our way out.  Step smarly and with determination now.’

page 1169.

     Dewey took his long thin Japanese pocket knife out of his pocket pretending to clean his nails on the run as the three moved back to the white line.

     They were saved by their bravado and the fact that it would have been precarious for the Reds to have grabbed them so close to the line.

     ‘That was close.’  Dewey breathed as his right foot swung over the line.

     At this stage in his life Dewey had great faith in the sanctity of lines drawn across streets.  It would be only later in life that he would learn that lines were only psychic projections that are unaffected by morality.  They only determine where the guilt lies if you fail to have to power or cleverness to enforce your will.  That’s why Hitler is a bad guy; he couldn’t enforce his will.

     ‘Can’t you just see us on TV as apostates to Capitalism after brainwashing by the Reds?’

     Brainwashing was a concept from the Korean War in which various captives had been persuaded by the Red Koreans to condemn American Capitalism.  The great mystery of how red blooded American boys could be persuaded to reject an unlimited supply of washing machines and small home appliances was attributed to brainwashing.

     This was a fearsome concept to Americans, especially for Dewey who frequently imagined himself heroically resisting attempts to brain wash him.  No one had any understanding of what the term meant in practical terms although the book offering an explanation, The Manchurian Candidate, had recently been issued.

page 1170.

     ‘What does that mean?  How is that done…brainwashing?’  Deasy asked.  Deasy like Trueman had been twelve and thirteen during the Korean War but unlike Trueman he had paid little attention to it.  Deasy had been a popular boy while Trueman had been isolated without friends.  Hence Trueman had devoured newpaper and magazine accounts of the progress in Korea.

     ‘I don’t know.  They probably got some special psychic detergent they make you drink.  Probably just like JD only stronger, makes you forget anything you ever knew then they play records of Commie diatribe to fill in the empty spaces.  After a couple days you come out spouting better than Marx or Lenin.

      Wouldn’t work with us though, hey?  They’d get us up there on TV just like they did with those guys in the Korean War who announced they liked Communism better than the US and then raising our right arms we’d shout:  Screw Communism; we want a refrigerator and small electric appliances.  What do you think?’

     ‘I can’t follow you Trueman.  I mean, I think you’re OK but you say some of the strangest things.’  Deasy answered.

     ‘Yeah, I think half the things you say are beamed down from an alien UFO in space.’  Kreskin chipped in.

     ‘Why an alien UFO Kreskin?  Did anyone ever hear of a domestic UFO?’

     ‘That’s it!  That’s what I mean, Trueman.  Hey, I know this is your trip but do you think we could take a little side trip?  I’ve got to see a man about my crib.’

page 1171.

     ‘Yeah, sure, Kreskin.  I’ve already been in Red China.  I don’t have any other reason to be in Kowloon.’

     ‘Great.’  As though he had been there a hundred times Kreskin led them off the highway through the byways it seemed only an Old China Hand would know.  The scenery was all too marvelous for Dewey to object.  They came to a row house on the crest of the hill.  To the left lay the maze 0f streets leading to Red China; to the right lay the magnificent panorama of Hong Kong and the blue water.

     They followed Kayo up the steps where a middle aged European, looking quite Oriental, let them in the door.  He was quite surprised that Kreskin was accompanied by two others.  He looked at Kayo questioningly.  Kreskin gestured hopelessly.  At almost the same time that the European gestured to Kreskin to get rid of them, Mike Deasy who had scoped out the situation said to Trueman:  ‘Let’s wait outside.’

     Trueman’s mind was mind that had never been blown before so that the excitement of this extreme exoticism was quite transporting him.  The house itself was conventional in the extreme by Western standards yet so informed by the East as to transfigure it completely.  The spare decorations, the sparkling hardwood floors and the light of the tropics gave the place a sparkle that deluged Trueman’s senses.  Without thinking, however, he recognized the meaning behind Deasy’s request.  He followed the pressure of Deasy’s hand on the forearm of his dress blues.  The two retreated into the street.

page 1172.

    Dewey stood open mouthed; his attention was divided between the bay, Red China and what he imagined was going down in the house.

     ‘We should get out here.  Kreskin can find his way back alone.’  Deasy said sullenly not sure of what was going down but knowing Kreskin was sure that it wasn’t legal.

     ‘No.  It’s alright.’  Dewey said with the assurance of the innocent and the invulnurability of the just.  ‘Besides we don’t know how to get back.’

     ‘Just walk downhill to the bay.’  Deasy said with simplicity.  But he didn’t leave.  Trueman remained dancing back and forth his mind boggled.  The more stolid Deasy grew uncomfortable as he noticed a couple grown kids gathering near them and more mature eyes observing from a distance.

     Inside the house Kreskin was learning some facts of life that he wished he had never had to learn.  Others might have walked away but to the drug addict they merely represented what you had to do to get high.

     The Eurasian drug dealer having confidence in his Chinese-American connection had no trouble completing the financial arrangements but then there was the lagniappe.  The amazing thing about Liberals is that as Whites purporting to love freedom and liberty they encourage situations which deny both.  Thus the Eurasian had a condition for completing the deal;  he wanted to bugger Kreskin.

     The Eurasian like all druggies wanted supreme power.  He wanted control over the destinies of others.  That control could only be realized in the negation of the will of others, at his express command.  Now, Trueman had no father, which most people considered a severe deprivation, but here was Soter Kreskin, to all appearances a good and devoted father, who had commanded the sacrifice of his son’s virtue and integrity for a few paltry dollars.  What had Trueman lost by not having a father?

page 1173.

     Kreskin was a tall, slender, long legged apple of his mother’s eye; equally desirable in a faggot’s eye.  Kayo was not homosexual nor would he ever become a compulsive one.   But he would compulsively reenact this scene on his own drug buyers and even his sons.  And now, given a choice between drugs and his integrity, drugs won hands down.  A drug addict can have no pride, no will of his own.  He must submit to the desires of others and so Kayo turned it up to sell his birthright for a little liquid spurting from a needle.

     It is said most truly that virtue is its own reward.  A clear conscience is of inestimable value.  The negation of Kayo’s will by the Eurasian drug dealer cost him dearly, not consciously of course, consciously Kayo thought he could handle anything; he was a rough tough American gambling so-of-a-gun and consciously he could but as a submariner of the unconscious the price of the heroin was more than his market could bear.  But then, what does it mean to a drug addict; he is already beyond redemption.

     Unfortunately for the drug dealer his proclivities gained him a dose of the clap from the infected Kreskin; unfortunately for Kreskin the drug dealer added a dose of syphilis to his clap.  Well, druggies can shrug that off too.

page 1174.

     Kreskin was not aware of the psychological change he had experienced when he descended the steps into the street.  To Deasy and Trueman they saw almost a different person come down the steps.  Whatever innocence Kreskin had was gone.

     And now, the cops is on their trail.  The Eurasian drug dealer was under surveillance.  Amusingly Opium and Heroin which had been forced on the Chineses will they nil they was now illegal in British eyes.

     The cops always have a good general idea of what is going on but they’re usually short on details.  The Eurasian kept no drugs beyond those for his personal use on the premises.  The packages of heroin would be delivered to Kreskin on the streets of Hong Kong into his shopping bags with which he would carry them aboard the Teufelsdreck storing them in his locker.

     The Chinese under Mao would gain a little revenge on the Westerners for the Opium Wars.

     All three men realized they had picked up a tail at the dealer’s home.  Now, through the arts of misdirection which every addict learns, Kreskin would cleverly direct the attention of the tail from himself to Deasy and Trueman.  Deasy had been correct; they should have left Kreskin behind.

     The sodomy Kreskin submitted to at the dealer’s hands had immediately been encysted in his subconscious as irreparable shame and self-condemnation.  The change in his demeanor had been clearly apparent to Trueman and Deasy although they knew nothing to which to attribute it.  Kreskin would now attempt to transfer his shame to Trueman.

page 1175.

     The three wended their way downhill to the ferry terminal which after buying their tickets they had over an hour’s wait for the ferry.  The scene was wildly picturesque.  They moved off a few hundred yards up among the large boulders strewing the beach amid the remains of piers jutting up uselessly and the ruined foundations of some structures, possibly old warehouses, that studded the strand.

     The skyline of Hong Kong lay before them while in the middle of the bay the tiny Teufelsdreck moored to the buoy in front and trailing its sea anchor behind bobbed placidly.  Dewey’s wild imagination reconstructed the scene of the Teufelsdreck’s bearing down on him, thinking:  ‘This is probably the spot I would have come ashore if I had fallen in.’  He gazed ecstatically at the scene.

     Unable to comprehend the wonders that Dewey was seeing and experiencing Deasy muttered aloud:  ‘I could be having a good time in a bar rather than standing here.

      ‘Bars are a dime a dozen anywhere in the world and they’re all alike.  This is special.’  Dewey replied.

    ‘Huh.  Sand, sea, sky.’  Was all that Deasy could say.

    Kreskin stood apart as though contaminated by the presence of the other two for the benefit of the police tail.  He watched Dewey enviously, amazed at someone who had his own, someone who didn’t have to get it from little packets that went into needles that went into your arm.  Man with a golden arm my foot:  a fool with collapsed veins avoiding the tracks of his tears is all.  Why romanticize addiction.

page 1176.

     ‘You know who that guy is, Kreskin?’  Trueman asked indicating the tail.

     Kreskin shrugged, but looking at the tail he then looked back at Trueman in an accusatory manner.

     Trueman responded to his look.  ‘He started following us at that house you went in back there.  What was going on in there?’

     A drug addict is only a drug addict because they feel inadequate.  Their desire for a feeling of omnipotence is not reflected by their reality.  Even though Kayo Kreskin professed a feeling of power and superiority he really felt like dirt.  In his case his father loomed before him larger than life; a success of such huge proportions that Kayo would never be able to match or surpass him.  Indeed, his father, fearing castration by his son like Cronos by Zeus, let Kayo know that he could never be the man Soter was.  Unable to cut himself loose from Soter as Zeus was able to do from Cronos Kayo was himself castrated, after a fashion, turning to heroin for solace.  The process might be called the Precession of the Pyschoses.

     In this case the omnipotent father was using his son as a runner, as a mule, allowing him to play the catamite to augment his own wealth of which he would allow but a small portion to Kayo until his death at some very distant time.  He fobbed the kid off with a little red TR.  Nor thoroughly debased Kayo could not allow himself to articulate these facts which he subconsciusly wrestled with twenty-four hours a day so it was necessary to transfer his feeling of shame and inferiority to someone else. 

page 1176.

     While Freud put many of these concepts into scientific terms, Man has always been aware of their reality.  The notion of transference has been best expressed by the tale from the Arabian Nights of the man with the Monkey on his back.  In slang terms heroin addicts are said to have a monkey on their backs.  This does not refer to the heroin habit alone.  The monkey was there before they turned to heroin in a search to dislodge it by the drug.  A result is seldom a cause.

     Everyone is familiar witht he Arabian Nights story of the man who let a monkey persuade him to give him a ride on his back.  Once on the only way the man could get the monkey off his back was to persuade someone else to take it from him.  Naturally few people wished to volunteer.  The carrier has to become very devious and deceitful so that he can trick someone into accepting it.

     Certainly no one wanted Kreskin’s monkey.  Kreskin himself though subliminally aware of the feeling of inadquacy and failure foisted on him by his father was not conscious of his attempted transference with those he considered lower than himself.  He had already told Trueman bluntly in Yokosuka that he thought he was better than him.

     Now, partially because he knew the tail was for himself and partially from the feeling of inadequacy and failure by letting himself by sodomized he attempted to shift his monkey to Trueman.

     ‘That guy’s trailing you if he’s trailing anybody.’

     ‘Think so?  He wasn’t there until after we left that house you went into.  What was it, Kayo?’

     ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.  Probably your Communist obsession following us from Red China.  People think you’re a little bit balmy on the subject, Trueman, even crazy.’

     ‘Think what you like.  Those Red Stars everywhere across the line were not my imagination.  Reds are real Kreskin unlike your phony sense of superiority.  You ain’t better than me; I got you down five to one.’  Trueman spoke from his subconscious welling up from Kreskin’s claim in Yokosuka.’

     ‘Dope?’  Deasy questioned a little savagely.

     ‘He sure is.’  Trueman retorted, misunderstanding.

    ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’  Kreskin denied Deasy.

     ‘You were buying dope back there.’  Deasy pursued.

    ‘Haugh!  Nonsense.  I don’t know what you’re talking about.’

     The exchange was interrupted by the Kowloon ferry easing into the slip.  Trueman moved off followed by Deasy as Kreskin bringing up the rear let the others get ahead trying to distance himself from the accusation.

     The tail had not been close enough to hear but judging only from body language, the confident looking Kreskin had succeeded in transferring suspicion to the more tentative or guilty acting Trueman.  The divided attention of the authorities gave Kreskin the space he needed.

page 1179.

     Trueman was too absorbed in the wonders of William Holden’s Hong Kong to dwell on other considerations.  Apart from the memory of the scenery the human details had vanished from his consciousness.  Aboard the ferry he was once again lost in admiration and his good fortune to be there.

     ‘Hey, this is great.  Not as many going back over.  Room to move now.’

     ‘They probably work in Hong Kong.  We caught ’em going home.  Can we stop at a bar?  I want a drink.’

     ‘Sure, Deasy.  Whatever you want; I’ve done what I wanted to do.  You want a drink there’s a bar right over there.’

     ‘A bar on the ferry?  Where?’

     ‘In the center island there.  Look at it.’

     ‘No kidding?  Never seen a bar on a boat before.’

     The ferry glided into the Hong Kong slip as the three stepped ashore.

     The other two men had served their purpose for Kreskin.  As the addict no longer had any use for them he signed off.

     ‘See you guys later.  No offence, but I got some place to be that doesn’t include you.’

     ‘Gotta see a man about a monkey?’  Deasy asked insultingly.

     Kreskin made no reply hurrying off into deepest Chinatown.

     ‘That guy’s a real prick.’  Deasy sneered as the two of them went off in search of an appropriate bar for Deasy.

page 1180.

The Badge Of Infamy

     After Jim Sparks left the ship just prior to departure the leadership of the criminal element aboard was being assumed by the gold dust twins, Lawyer Screw and Judge Easy.  As tattoos are a badge of the criminal class the men of that class had all been getting tattoos in the various ports of call.  Kerry Maclen had yet to be tattooed as, quite frankly, he was afraid of needles.

     Screw and Easy both remembered the accusation of cheating leveled at them by Trueman in the mess hall some seven months before.  Nothing could be more appropriate than that Trueman should be induced to wear the badge of infamy; perhaps a heart with a dagger through it and the legend:  Born To Lose.

     A meeting of the cons was held where Maclen was given the address of a fraternity tattoo artist.  Without further words Maclen l0oked up the address and understood.

     ‘Take Trueman with you and get him tattooed too.’  Easy smiled blandly.

     Trueman and Maclen were in the boat going ashore.  Maclen said as though the thought just hit him:  ‘I’m going to get a tattoo.’

     ‘Why would you want to do that?’  Trueman asked.  ‘Only low brow neanderthals get tattoos.’

page 1181.

     ‘Think so?’  Said Duber sitting near them who had four or five including a fly on the head of his penis.

    ‘Do you have any Duber?’  Trueman said as innocently as possible.

     ‘Yeh, I do.’  Duber replied expecting an apology.

     ‘Then it must be true.  You look like a neanderthal to me.’  Trueman laughed.

     Nevertheless Maclen persistd:  ‘Why don’t you get one too?’

     ‘Because I’m not a slimeball, Maclen.  Save your money.  You don’t need a tattoo.’

     ‘I’m going to get one anyway.’  Maclen replied chastened by Trueman’s attitude.  He filed away in his mind that Trueman thought him a low brow slimeball if he got one and Trueman didn’t.  His future relationship with Trueman was conditioned at this moment.

     ‘Let’s get liquored up to make this easy.’

     ‘You know I don’t drink Kerry but if you want to go ahead.’

     As usual Maclen knew all the criminal hangouts.  They sat in a huge bar which was vacant but for themselves as Maclen recklessly poured drink after drink down.

     ‘C’mon, let’s go Kerry you’re drunk enough besides those guys behind the bar are getting pissed because I’m not drinking.’

     Once out in the street Trueman tried to steer the staggering Maclen back to the ship but Kerry knew what was expected of him.  He led the way to the tattoo parlor.

     ‘How do you know this place, Maclen?’

     ‘I just do.’  Maclen said mysteriously.

page 1182.

     The Chinese tattoo artist had the look of the hardened criminal he was.  He was thirty-five, a stocky well built muscular man with the air of malevolent corruption so common to the Chinese.  To Trueman the Westernized ones all looked tough and hard while the Mandarin types all looked contemptuously sinister.

     Maclen was really quite terrified of the needles.  He had really needed to get drunk to do this.  He was still so terrified that rather than get a tattoo solidly filled with color he chose to get a mere outline in blue on his right bicept.

      Trueman sat against the wall to watch.  He was aghast when his friend, a man for whom he had plans, chose to have a naked woman’s derriere half turned to display a breast and smile placed on his arm.

     ‘Oh no, no, Kerry.  For Christ’s sake no, you aren’t that drunk.  If you can’t think of anything else have a flag put on it.’

     Maclen was not only that drunk but drunker still.

     ‘An American flag? Naw.  I’ll never be without a woman with this tattoo.’  He said as the needles chattered.

     Trueman groaned inwardly at his friend’s gaucheness but his jaw dropped when Maclen instructed the tattoo artist to put three cheeks on the woman’s ass, two cleavages in other words.

     ‘O god no.  Don’t do that!’  Trueman pleaded almost begging.  ‘No, Kerry.  Think of your reputation.’

     ‘Go ahead.’  Kerry said smugly as Trueman considered discarding the man as a friend.

page 1183.

     ‘Why don’t you get one now Trueman?’  Maclen smiled.

     ‘No. I’m not getting any tattoo.’  Dewey said in disgust.

     ‘You’re probably not man enough.’  The tattoo artist grunted hoping to intimidate him.

     ‘Got nothing to do with manhood, Jocko, it’s got to do with having brains.  Lucky for you the world’s full of no brainers.’

     ‘I don’t like the way you talk.’  The tattoo artist said threateningly hoping to frighten the placid looking Trueman into the chair.

     ‘C’mon Dewey.’  Maclen coaxed.

     ‘I don’t care what you think, man.  No, Kerry.  Pay the guy and let’s get out of here.’

     Maclen paid up.  ‘You’ve got a bad mouth.’  The tattoo artist said stepping forward.  The guy was built well enough to make mincemeat of Trueman not to mention that he was proficient in the martial arts.

    ‘Aw, keep it to yourself, you crook.’  Dewey snarled making sure however to discretely put some distance between himself and the artiste.

     ‘It isn’t worth the bother kicking the ass of a punk like you.’  The artiste jeered.

     ‘Yeah, and I wouldn’t dirty my hands on fecal matter like you.’  Trueman replied with a certain amount of elegance which he hoped the Chinese couldn’t understand.

     Trueman walked off beside himself in disgust over the tattoo Maclen had gotten.  Dewey well knew what the reaction aboard ship would be.

page 1184.

     Maclen stumbled dumbly after him.

The Giant Rats Of Manila

     ‘Have you seen that tattoo Maclen got?’  Deasy asked Trueman as the ship was crossing over from Hong Kong to Manila.

     ‘Seen it, aw man, I was there when he got it, man.  I tried to talk him out of it but he was so drunk he wouldn’t listen to reason.’

     ‘That is the most asinine tattoo I’ve ever seen.  A woman with three asses.  I don’t know how you can stand to hang around with that guy.’

     Maclen’s tattoo had been met with universal revulsion aboard ship.  Even Duber, Easy and Screw were revolted.  Imagine a guy with a fly tattooed on the head of his deck being revolted by a guy with a woman with three asses tattooed on his arm.  The reaction was such that Maclen became ashamed.  Instead of wearing his shirt sleeves rolled up he now wore them down and buttoned.  The revulsion against him was such that he was almost in shock.

     The pleasures of Hong Kong behind them the men of the Teufelsdreck sailed the tropical seas back to the Philippines.  This time they were to follow in the wake of Admiral Dewey into Manila Bay past Corregidor the place of MacArthur’s last stand and visit the capital of the island republic.

     By 1958 the Communist insurrectionaries called the Huks had been brought under control although the sailors were still told to be on the alert.

page 1185.

     Manila was the most slovenly port on the entire tour.  Everything was decayed and rotting.  The citizens showed no pride or self-respect at all.

     Still in disgrace with the Commodore, the Teufelsdreck was sent to a pier that was so rotten it was barely standing.  Large, even giant, rats scampered visibly across the deck of the pier in broad daylight.  The pier itself was pockmarked with holes where the rotting boards had fallen through.  The rats stared out hungrily from the rotting supports beneath the pier, something Dewey had never seen before.  The only thing going for the docksite was that it allegedly had potable water.

     ‘Boy, we better get those rat guards on in a hurry.’  Dewey was saying to Frenchey when Dieter barked out an order to Trueman to affix the guards to the forward bow line,  Frenchey to take the crossing line.

      Trueman wasted no time shimmying down the line to put the guard in place.

     ‘Somebody give me a pistol in case I have to defend myself against these hungry monsters.’  He quipped.

     Manila was to be the destruction of whatever remained of Maclen’s reputation.  The criminal grapevine always tried to direct as many sailors as possible to its preferred brothels.  The word came to Maclen who organized a party to visit one of these houses.  It was always a mystery to Trueman how Maclen knew of these fronts in places he’d never been.

     Maclen’s own reputation was too thin to command respect but using that of Trueman’s to bolster his own he managed to get a party of six together including Deasy, Parsons and Vincent.

page 1186.

     Stepping ashore they made as much noise as possible to scare the scampering rats away.  This was no easy chore as they were nearly evenly matched with them in size.

     Picking their way carefully down the pier avoiding the gaping holes and testing each plank for solidity, Trueman looking back noticed the Electricians removing the cover from the cable reel on the boat deck.

     “Hey, what’re they taking the cover off the cables for?’  He asked to all in general.

     ‘An exercise for the Electricians.  They’re going to connect up to the Naval base and supply power to it.’  Parsons stated.

     ‘No kidding with the ship idle like that they can generate that much power?’

     ‘Sure.  The Teufelsdreck could generate enough electricity to run Guantanamo Bay.  That’s in Cuba.’

     ‘Yeah, well, the Commies are going to get that one.’

     ‘What Commies?’

     ‘What Commies?  Fidel Castro and his insurrectionaries, that’s what Commies.’

     ‘Fidel Castro isn’t a Communist.  He’s an agrarian reformer.  He just wants to get American mobsters out of Havana.’

     ‘Havana?’  Maclen said perking up.  ‘Man, they got some real dog and pony shows there.  I heard of a chick does it with a donkey.’

     ‘Aw baloney, that would kill her. ‘

     ‘Don’t neither.   Women like it big.’  Maclen said patting his crotch.  ‘Donkeys are big.  Can’t be too big for ’em.  I think they have that kind of thing here too.  Maybe I can arrange it.’  Maclen glazed getting really enthusiastic.

     ‘You can count me out.’  Trueman replied laconically.  ‘I don’t care if she gets screwed by a rhinoceros.’

     The boys were not yet so jaded that they wanted that kind of entertainment.

     ‘By the way, Vincent, how come you’re not wearing your new boots?’

     ‘I guess you haven’t heard, Trueman.  They cheated me.  The boots looked good but you wouldn’t believe that the soles were made of Wheaties boxtops.  The second day out of Hong Kong we had some heavy seas and my boots got wet.  Soles came right apart.’

     ‘Aw, they weren’t really Wheaties box tops?’

     ‘Yeah, they were.’  Parsons confirmed excitedly.  ‘Not the tops but cut from the sides.  About four layers of Wheaties boxes painted to look like leather.  Good job too.’

     ‘Yeah, the bastards.’  Vincent said.  ‘Oh well, live and learn although I really wanted those boots.’

     In fact Vincent had been so disappointed and shamed that he had broken down and cried.

     Trueman was going to say something about how the Captain had warned them but then thought better of it and said nothing.

     Nowhere in the East was American industry as prominent as it was in Manila.  The place appeared to be a company town.  As they turned the corner onto the main street they were greeted by a blaze of neon such as none of  them had ever seen before.

page 1188.

     Huge moving designs lit up the sky for several blocks.  Most prominent among them was a gigantic Sherwin-Williams Paints Cover The World sign.  The monster was literally as big as a football field in length and just as wide or wider at the point where the largest paint can in the world poured its flourescent paint down on a waiting earth beneath.  The whole operation took five minutes to unfold as the neon paint cascaded  from the can in waves of undulating color to make the splash as it hit the planet then rolling down over the earth until the sign lit up with its message:  Sherwyn Williams Points Cover The Earth.

     The effect was breathtaking.  The sailors stood entranced through three cycles before they began jabbering.

     ‘God.’

     ‘Isn’t that amazing?’

     ‘Why don’t we have anything like that in the US?’

     ‘They got laws against it.’

     ‘Wow!  I wonder if the Teufelsdreck could supply enough power for that?’

     ‘C’mon guys, let’s get going.’  Maclen interjected greedily figuring the kickbacks from negotiating such a large party.

page 1189.

     As if by magic Maclen led them through back streets until they approached a large barn like structure on the edge of Manila.

     ‘Let me do the talking.’  Maclen enjoined.  ‘I’ll get us a group discount.’

     Deasy remembered Yokosuka and was none too keen on it but as none of the others relished negotiating Deasy was compelled to go along.

     The barn was a large structure but it was nearly empty as a large number of houses competed for a limited number of sailors.  Without its criminal contacts this house would have gotten very very few.

     Using the technique of one large price Maclen collected the money from each before anyone had a chance to object although all of them grumbled inwardly at what seemed like a high price.  As usual Maclen chose the best for himself.  Trueman got an amazon of large proportions but as she had huge breasts that stood straight out he didn’t complain, but he had little enthusiasm for the place.

     The house was dirty and unkempt like the rest of Manila with very little attempt made for privacy.  The girls neither took pride in their profession as in Japan or were crudely pert as in Hong Kong.  They went about it as blue collar drudgery.

     The house was indeed a barn.  The public area occupied the ground floor while lofts on either side contained the cubicles.  Everything was jerry built.  You could see between the boards into the adjoining cubicle; you could see between the floor boards to the main floor.  The noises of lovemaking passed through the walls in raucous orgy.

page 1190.

     Trueman wished he wasn’t there but as he was he had to go through with it.  His whore stripped to the waist then flopped down pulling up her slip.

     ‘Aren’t you going to take off your slip?’  Dewey asked.

    ‘No. You can get in.’  She said lighting a cigarette.

     Dewey looked at her huge cans which had not receded at all when she flopped down.  The large brown nipples were enticing.  He put out his hand.

    ‘Don’t touch my tits.’  She said coldly.  ‘I don’t allow it.’

     Thoroughly put out Dewey just unzipped his fly, pulled it out and jumped on, hat and all.

     The waman was so repellent to him as she smoked and insulted him that he lost his desire and very nearly lost his erection.  He worked away mechanically without enthusiasm.

     ‘What’s taking you so long?’  She asked blowing a billow of smoke in his face.

     At that point Dewey alm0st lost it for good.  He went half flaccid in disgust.

     ‘Oh my god.’  He thought.  ‘That can’t happen.  If that got out I’d be a laughing stock.’

     He redoubled his efforts succeeding by dint of will in finishing her off.  Relieved at not embarrassing himself he rolled off pulling her slip down.

page 1191.

    ‘Where’s the toilet.’  He asked emotionessly.

     ‘What do you want that for?’  She asked stupidly.

     ‘Aw, they told us to always take a piss after to reduce the chances of VD.’  He said aiming at her heart.

     ‘Go over in the closet.’  She said.  ‘While I wash up.’

     Trueman opened the door to find an empty closet.

     ‘Hey, there’s no toilet in here.’

     ‘Just piss on the floor.’

     ‘Wha?  It’ll run down onto the main floor.’

     ‘So what.’  She said walking out without dressing.

     ‘What a place.’  Dewey said to himself in a rage projecting his anger on Maclen as the urine ran through the boards down to the main floor.

     ‘Glad I’m not walking down there.’  He thought.

     Going back out into the room he watched as the whore returned from the restroom.  Still half naked he watchd her in disgust as she nonchalantly lurched back upstairs.

     ‘I was hired to give you two.  Let’s go.’

     ‘Aw, that’s alright.  I don’t want to wear it out.’  Dewey said revolted by the woman.

     ‘No. No. I always keep my end of the bargain.  Let’s go.’

     But Dewey was disgusted his sexual drive had completely vanished.  Try as she might there was nothing she could do to arouse his hidden desire and she did try.

     ‘Aw, enough of this.  I’m going downstairs.’  Dewey said zipping up and walking out.

      As he was first out he went over to the juke box to check out the tunes.  ‘Well, they got better songs on the jukebox than pussy in the beds.’  He said to himself.

page 1192.

     The juke box was not so much behind in time as fixed in time.  Certain sounds and artists were selected to the exclusion of everything else.  The Platters of Great Pretender and Only You fame were represented with six sides but none of their US hits.  Apparently records reflected Filipino tastes of the establishment and not the patrons.

     Dewey was selecting a few tunes as the pimps, obnoxious subhumans in any country, hovered around trying to suck respectability and genuine manhood off him.  As will all losers they feel that if they insult or abuse a superior man they will somehow reduce him and elevate themselves.

     Dewey was too naive to understand the dynamics of the situation but his indifference to their presence served very well to repudiate their insolence.

     Gradually his shipmates drifted down as a few Filipino gangsters drifted in to swap tales and out tough each other.

     With the exception of Deasy and Maclen the rest of the sailors were callow eighteen and nineteen year olds.  They scarcely realized what environment they were in.  Maclen, of course, was in his milieu while Deasy who was fairly savvy and distrustful of Maclen understood completely where they had all been brought.

     The whores were now expected to entertain the boys to run up a bar bill.  The sailors sat around a long table with their whores on their laps.  At this point Trueman woudn’t have fucked his whore with Maclen’s dick.  His rage at the filthy beast was intense.  He wanted nothing more to do with her.  He was ready to leave.

page 1193.

     The girls all sat on the laps of their men where they allowed themselves to be fondled as they drank.

     The affection shown to the women was at this point a matter of pride to the whores.  The cooing of their men demonstrated the pleasure their man had taken in their company.  There was general surprise that Trueman had come down so early.  His whore who had treated him so badly was now subject to condemnation by the others at his rejection of her.

     She rushed to sit on his lap but Dewey pushed her away considering her vile.  His action drew titters and smiles from the other girls.  As Dewey’s whore would have been left standing around uselessly like a fifth wheel she desperately forced herself onto Dewey’s lap attempting to caress him in the same manner in which the other girls were caressing their men.  Dewey would have none of her; he only wanted to get away.

     ‘How come you aren’t playing with my little bird?’  She cooed trying to elicit a demonstration of lust.

    ‘Doesn’t sing a tune I like.’  Dewey sullenly stated.

     His reply got more titters from the other whores who had now scored off Trueman’s ox.

     Trueman’s resentment kept the hilarity down, so much so that the drinking was minimal.  A few more gangsters drifted in which aroused Deasy’s suspicions further.

     Thus he joined Trueman in wishing to leave.  Instead of five sailors getting up ripe for rolling, Maclen the sixth excepted, six sober mean looking men got up to leave.  A couple gangsters drifted across the floor in front of them but Deasy who was a husky guy made moves to indicate that they inteferred with them at their own peril.  Noticing Deasy’s moves Trueman casually hauled his long thin Japanese stiletto cum pocket knife out to pretend to clean his nails.  The sharp clasp knife was more dangerous looking than it really was, especially in Dewey’s hand who had neither the expertise or will to use it.

     Nevertheless the gangsters not caring for an even fight of uncertain determination let them out without incident.

     On the way back to the ship there was no chatter as Deasy sullenly eyed Maclen while Trueman still enraged at his treatment by the whore strode angrily along.  Maclen wisely kept his mouth shut fearful that he had been discovered.

On To Greener Pastures

     The Electricians having illuminated the Naval Base for twenty-four hours to show what the litle sub killer cum power plant could do wrapped up their gear the next day.   The Teufelsdreck steamed out of Manila the day after leaving the Giant Rats of Manila to other prey.

     ‘What did you think of Manila, Trueman?’  Deasy asked.

     ‘I have no regrets at leaving it behind.  If the Filipinos set up a cry of the Philippines for Filipinos I say let ’em have it.’

page 1195

     ‘I hear ya.   Why do you hang around with Maclen, Trueman?’

     ‘Oh, I don’t know.  Kerry’s alright.’

     ‘He’s a crook Trueman.  You should avoid him.  Ask yourself what kind of guy gets a tattoo like he did.’

     ‘Or a tattoo period.  Yeah, I know but I still think he’ll come out OK.’

    ‘Only if OK means at your expense.’  Deasy siad with more prescience than he knew.

     ‘Yeah, sure.  OK, Deasy, but you know, I think he’s OK.’

    Deasy turned in disgust not sure of Trueman’s intellegence in befriending such a character.

Men At Play

     The main thrust of the cruise was now over.  All the delicacies and rarebits the Navy had to offer were left behind.  The platter was empty.  The tremendous rush of events and novelties that had been as a racing mountain cascade now debouched in the more placid slow moving waters of the plains.

     The next couple months would be ones of aimless wandering.  The ship sailed out of the Philippines on its way to Guam which would be its home base for the duration of the tour.

     The lazy hot days of the tropic of Cancer as the sun eased its way back North would be ones in which the hostilities and enmities created in the heady first months would be continued.  The mind of Kanary which had suffered major traumas would be directed to exorcising its demons.  The exploit with his homosexuals in Brisbane weighed heavily on his subconscious even though he had consciously projected his act on Trueman.  His Captain’s Mast and demotion in Subic had gravely compromised his self-respect.  He had already removed the entry from his file so there was no record.  For the rest he was struggling to transfer the transgression to some other explanation.  He had not written his folks about it.  He denied the incident to himself but not successfully.  Thus he was in a restless rage.  He wanted Trueman to pay for his crimes as his negative alter ego.

page 1196.

     Another whose self-conception had been all but destroyed was Proud Costello.

     The memory of his performance on the Jacob’s Chair on the way to Brisbane was a livid scar in his memory.

     It had gone unnoticed but he had been involved in the riot at the bar in Subic.  Realizing the direction of things just before the constables burst in the door he had hidden himself in a broom closet.  He emerged only much later when the Wild Bunch was back on ship.  Thus, unknown to everyone but himself, he had escaped a Captain’s Mast although equally guilty.  He considered his expedient cowardly.  He lived in fear that someone might remember he should have been number twenty-six of the Teufelsdreck Twenty-Five.

     Then too his performance at the Sheridan Le Fanu when he had been too cowardly to use the cargo net after noisily projecting cowardice on Trueman weighed equally heavily on his mind.  He knew that Trueman had shown better than himself.  That, added to his purchase of the shoddy goods from the Whore Of The World in Kaosiung for which Trueman had castigated him disturbed his equilibrium.

page 1197.

     Plus there was lingering resentment aboard ship for his role in the initiation crossing the equator.  He knew that his manhood and acumen was less than Trueman’s  but his self-conception placed him way above Trueman.  Thus it was imperative for him to get some objective proof of his superiority over the Deckhand.  To do so he would have to manufacture incidents or force conclusions against the facts.  The need was so imperative that his character was in a virtual state of disintegration.  His physiognomy was distraught, his appearance was unkempt; he no longer wore his clothes with the same calm assurance of the natural gentleman.

     Both Kanary and Costello would direct their efforts to revive their characters against Trueman on whom they projected their inner failings.

     One of the great faults of the personal psychology of Freud is that it ignores the influence of the outside world on the individual.  The individual is made responsible for acts beyond his control.  The ‘paranoid’ personality becomes responsible for the actions of society.  Paranoid was not a commonly used term at the time.  The term ‘persecution complex’ was much more common but it meant the same thing.  It was used as a term to discredit someone who was being persecuted.

     In point of fact it is a very rare person who isn’t being interfered with by someone.  Most people are busy projecting their fears and inadequacies on other people.  Envy and hatred are staples of the human mind.  As with Proud Costello the justification of one’s own high opinion of oneself requires some more or less objective proof that others are inferior to you.  In the daily struggle most people do not appear as a threat to one’s self-conception or are acknowledged as superior for one reason or another.  But any who are threats must be brought down.  Thus the threatened will sabotage this person in many ways in an attempt to reduce him to what they consider his proper level.

     Anyone who minds their own business and is not involved in this dog eat dog struggle is a susceptible target.

     Thus while Kanary would accuse Trueman of have a ‘persecution complex’ even though Trueman had never complained of being persecuted the truth was that both Teal and Costello suffered from inferiority complexes which they projected on others.  In all such cases it is necessary to get the accusation in first so that it must be defended or reacted to in such a way that indicates a ‘persecution complex.’

     In addition to Kanary and Costello a long simmering problem rose to plague Trueman’s existence.  Trueman had served mess cooking in the first and second quarters of ’57.  At the end of  the third quarter the Blacks had come aboard.  They constituted themselves a caucus not dissimilar to a Department.  They acted as a corporate body.  Thus rather than be selected for mess cooking as a member of their Departments they chose to supply a mess cook from the Black caucus.  A way was found for them to do this without violating the Deparmental organization of the ship.  There were in essence two nations aboard ship.  However the Blacks were not successful in creating two autonomous bodies but they came close.

page 1199.

     In the fourth quarter a Black by the name of Clemons Hardee had served for the Blacks.  In the first quarter of ’58 his place was taken by Tyrone Jackson.  Trueman had forgotten about the incident in the Laundry Room; indeed, if he thought about it at all he recalled with pride how he had stood up for himself.

     The incident had been festering in Tyrone’s soul since it happened.  He had never reflected on the incident or tried to understand it; he just assumed that Trueman was a Negro hater.  The three or four months may seem recent to the reader as it did to Tyrone who had sat steaming in Supply constantly hashing the incident over with his fellows.  But the intervening months to Trueman had been so crowded with events that it seemed a millennium for each month.  Indeed, the States were only a dim memory, his home was wherever the Teufelsdreck happened to be.

     The Blacks had now been aboard ship continuously for the past four months.  They had not gone ashore since Honolulu.  They merely sat in the steaming supply compartment rehashing their grievances against the perfidious Peckerwoods.  Thus when Tyrone replaced Hardee in mess cooking his resentment against Trueman had reached gigantic proportions.  Just the sight of Trueman threw him into a rage.  He saw his man now three times a day while Tyrone was in the capacity of a servant in his mind.  The notion of serving Trueman enraged him further, although now he was in a position to interfere with Trueman directly and forcefully.  As a food server he began by placing the servings in the wrong compartments of Trueman’s tray.  Then he began giving dried out portions or some such thing ending by spitting on a portion and keeping it aside until Trueman appeared.  When he tried to give Trueman this portion which had obviously been set aside on purpose Trueman who had endured the indignities to this point, especially as he seldom ate all the mess, objected fearing that Tyrone had doctored it in some way.

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