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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.

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