Our Lady Of The Blues
The Heart Of The Matter
Back In The USSA
At any rate Tyrone broke a few handy double edged Gillette razor blades in two fixing them so they projected an eighth inch beyond the toe of each shoe.
‘Hey man, whatcha doin’ with those blades in you shoes?’
‘We bein’ transferred now, we don’t be havin’ nothin’ mo’ to do with this ship. This where that motherfuckerin’ peckerwood who insulted the Black race pays his debt to our society.’
‘Tyrone, Tyrone, let it pass, man. It ain’t no nevermind what no dumb Honky says ’bout nothin’. Man, they goin’ lock you up and throw away the key. That’s one Honky you goin’ to have to listen to. Forget it, man.’
‘How they gon’ do that? We be transferred. We don’t have nothin’ to do with this motherfuckin’ ship no mo’.’
Other Black voices joined in: ‘Hey man, you right but Distell right too. Let it pass, no peckerwood worth goin’ to jail for.’
‘I tol’ we bein’ transferred. We beyond their jurisdiction. Can’t be nothin’ done to me now.’
So saying Tyrone checked the security of the razor blades once again then making sure his clothes were squared away so he looked sharp, and all the Blacks wore their clothes more squared away than the Whites, he began the walk back to First where he expected to find Trueman. He intended to cut him down before all the other Whites.
The foregoing discussion had been conducted in tones well above the confidential level usually employed by Blacks so the whole of Supply heard it. Standing with the Supply sailors at the time had been Teal Kanary. Never one to lose an opportunity he said he would go back and warn Trueman by which he meant to say that he intended to enjoy watching the slaughter.
News travels like a tsuname aboard ship. Before the word had gotten out of Tyrone’s mouth everyone aboard ship with the exception of Trueman knew what was about to go down. the decks were cleared in anticipation.
Kanary went back to speak to Trueman.
‘Hey Trueman, Chief Dieter wants to see you on the fo’c’sle.’ Kanary had correctly divined that Jackson would take the port side to avoid possible detection by the Quarterdeck.
Tyrone was a little disconcerted to find Trueman approaching him midships. As he had expected the encounter to take place in First where Trueman would be humiliated before the White Race his resolve was not quite at the right pitch as he was still in process of working himself up to it. Nevertheless, he got down.
‘Alright, you motherfucker, you goin’ hafta fight me now. You can’t insult theBlack Race and get away with it.’
Kanary emerged from the toilet to stand on Trueman’s right to egg him on.
‘I don’t have to fight you for any reason.’ Trueman said stoutly unwilling to get inv0lved in a fight he might lose. Even though taller than Tyrone with a longer reach Trueman had never had a fight in his life. Tyrone’s razor blades would have made short work of Trueman’s Marquis of Queensberry offense.
‘Don’t be chicken, Trueman.’ Kanary drilled into Dewey’s right ear. ‘Let him have it.’
Fearful for the safety of his friend who he knew would be prison bound, Distell Washington left right behind Jackson in search of either Pardon or Dieter. He found Pardon first.
‘Man, Tyrone done flipped out. He’s got some razor blades in his shoe and he’s gon’ cut up that Dewey Trueman guy pretty bad, maybe kill him if you don’t stop it.’
‘Where is he?’ Pardon asked in alarm.
‘He goin’ down the port side to First. Stop my fren’ but don’t tell him I said it.’
Pardon had come down from the fo’c’sle just behind Jackson. By the time he walked up, Trueman who had no choice but to fight or lose status forever, was squaring away.
Two intellects were in collision. Trueman had been raised on Arthurian rules of a fair fight. He followed Marquis of Queensberry rules naively thinking those rules were the norm. He didn’t even look at Jackson’s feet because kicking was illegal.
Tyrone, raised in the Chicago Stockade had only ghetto rules: anyway fair or foul.
He was stepping back to take a kick when Pardon standing well back and leaning forward grabbed Tyrone’s right arm. It wasn’t the safest or smoothest move but Tyrone had at least learned to respect authority.
‘Let me give you some good advice, Sailor, don’t do this or you will go to the brig.’
‘Shit, man, I been transferred. you can’t do nothin’ to me now.’
Trueman had gotten into the classic stance as seen in every boxing ring although his boxing skills were squat. Even though he had his long thin dangerous looking Japanese stileto in his pocket it never occurred to him to brandish it.
‘OK, let’s go man.’ He said to Kanary’s joy.
‘Trueman, for Christ’s sake look at his shoes; he’s got razor blades in his toes.’
‘Razor blades!’ Trueman said astounded at such foul play looking down at the gleaming Gillette steel protruding beyond the toe of the sole. He stepped back.
‘Just because you’re being transferred to another duty doesn’t mean you can get away with cutting a man up. If use those blades on him you’re going to cut him up pretty badly, maybe kill him. If you do the only place you’ll be transferred to will be the brig while all your friends go to other duty stations.’
‘Bullshit, man. Once I’m gone the Captain can’t do nothin’ to me.’
‘But you aren’t gone. If you cut him we aren’t going to let you leave this ship except to go to the brig. Your transfer will be canceled. You are under Captain Ratches jurisdiction until you cross that gangway. Then you are still under the Navy’s jurisdiction and the Navy will send you to the brig.’
Doubt having been cast on his invulnerability Tyrone’s mind slowly grasped that there might be consequences he hadn’t counted on.
‘You one lucky motherfucker, peckerwood.’ Tyrone said jabbing his forefinger in Trueman’s direction as he turned to walk back to supply.
‘Oh no, man, you did the right thing. Nobody thinks bad of you, man. You just saved yourself a heap of trouble.’ Tyrone’s friends reassured him as they trooped up to the Quarterdeck to leave ship.
Trueman and a number of other sailors were assembled to watch them go.
Tyrone gave him a toss of the head and a derogatory snort as he passed across the gangway.
Trueman was only too happy to see him go.
Does Anyone Know The Way To Long Beach?
Dewey had had no idea why Tyrone was so antagonistic toward him. He could only attribute Tyrone’s statement that he had insulted the Black race to what others may have told him. He had by no means referred the statement to the incident in the laundry room. Suffice it to say that his little Black nemesis was gone.
With Tyrone Jackson gone Trueman’s attention was taken by Tory Torbrick. Trueman had been doing his best to avoid Torbrick since his singular introduction. But the ship was small, Torbrick was a Seaman who bunked in the same compartment. He wouldn’t be repelled; he couldn’t be avoided. Torbrick simply forced himself on Trueman; he would not take no for an answer. Unable to get away from him Trueman had to accept his presence.
Despite the coolness shown him by Trueman Torbrick asked Trueman to spend a weekend at his parent’s home. Torbrick lived in Long Beach which was eighty miles up the coast on the seashore in that little bulge of land jutting into the Pacific.
When he asked Dewey gave him a long cool look. Unable to understand the man’s intentions Dewey declined. Besides his mind was set on Oakland. He had already committed himself to Roque Da Costa who, Dewey felt, might take offence at an apparent shift or splitting in loyalty. Dewey was very reluctant to jeopardize that relationship by seeming to spurn Da Costa for a ‘better’ deal with Torbrick.
As Torbric importuned him unashamedly Trueman finally gave in. He agreed to see Long Beach which, after all, he had never seen before. He couldn’t imagine what harm could come to him.
Half the ship was Californian. Lucky they were because they had the security of escaping the Navy on weekends. Many, including Torbrick could go home at night if they desired.
Torbrick had his own car so how much more perfect could it be? Once on the road North Torbrick’s attitude quickly changed. No longer begging Trueman he assumed the role of handler dealing with a very unusual specimen. Although Torbrick was no homosexual the conversation took on a sex laden air.
Torbrick believed the stories his father had passed on to him from Our Lady Of The Blues. Thus he had to conceal his real purpose from Trueman but to hopefully get him to speak of the stories Torbrick had been told. Hopefully Trueman would confess to murdering Michael Hirsh. So the minds of these people went.
As the car sped along 101 by the mouthof the bay across from North Island Naval Air Torbrick began a discussion of a girl he knew.
‘Yeah. We have this girl in town, sad case, no one knows why she does it, some say an unhappy home life but my pop and me think it’s just the way she naturally is. Kind of genetic you know, she was just born that way, you know.’
‘You mean inherited and unavoidable, like, right?’ Trueman became uneasy and suspicious at the notion of heredity. He had long been plagued by the notion of hereditary insanity because of the injustice done his father by, among others, Yisraeli.
‘Well, yeah, I…we…I mean me and pop, think it’s just the way she is and has to be.’
‘Hmm. Well, I don’t believe personality or mental traits are genetically transmitted. I believe they are the results of training and environment. How does she have to be?’ quizzed Dewey, who felt that somehow this girl’s story would apply to him.
‘Well, when she was about fourteen she just started screwing everybody. I mean everybody in sight. Super loose. Drove her mother crazy. It got to the point where no one respectable would screw her anymore so she just sat out by the side of the road and offered herself to anyone who would pick her up.’
‘Wow! So did you ever screw her?’
‘Me? Gosh, no. We’re too high class for that. She’s real low.’
There was the crux of the thing that Dewey thought appertained to himself although he couldn’t figure out how. He sensed Torbrick’s manner toward him that he was considered as low as this girl hence beneath Torbrick’s dignity. This reflection only made Torbrick’s interest in him less explicable.
‘So what happened to her?’
‘Nothing. She’s still there. Her mom tried to help her. She sent her to psychiatrists for over a year. Cost a lot, too. We know one, Beverly Warnack, so we got the whole scoop. For a while it seemed like it was doing her good but then they thought they had her cured so she didn’t have to go anymore. But once the heredity comes out, me and pop think, it’s a form of insanity, you have to go on being your natural self. You can’t really fight it, it’s your destiny, your fate, you can’t avoid it so you might just as well lie back and enjoy it. Ha. Ha. You’ll be happier that way.’
The mention of insanity brought the story home to Trueman. He didn’t know where Torbrick got his stories but the hereditary insanity was a familiar refrain.
‘Well, Torbrick, let’s see if I’ve got this straight. What you’re saying is that you inherit all your proclivities, upbringing has nothing to do with it. For instance, a criminal is a criminal, a sneak is a sneak and cheat is so because it’s in his genes. He has inherited his disposition from his parents who must therefore also be criminals, or sneaks and cheats. Given that criminality is his natural disposition he will be much happier spending his life in prison, which is the natural consequence of crime, rather than fighting his inclinations and living unhappily on the outside. Do I have it?’
‘Well, yes. No matter how hard you try to suppress your real nature…’ Torbrick gave Trueman’s face a searching glance. ‘…sooner or later the real you will emerge. Even as bad as it sounds, yes, you will find more satisfaction with your kind in prison than with us decent folks.’
The way Torbrick said ‘us decent folks’ had the chilling effect on Trueman of being excluded. He had no idea why Torbrick had so assiduously cultivated his friendship since he appreared to think Trueman was insane, criminal, or both but he put his finger to his lips in a moment of thoughtful silence.
Torbrick broke the silence. ‘By the way, Dewey, why do you always call me Torbrick? Call me by my first name, Tory.’
‘It’s just that in the Navy we all go by last names. It’s just natural to call you Torbrick. I mean, you know, it’s the name stenciled on all your clothes.’
‘Speaking of that. You sure have your name big enough. TRUEMAN goes from shoulder to shoulder on your shirt. In white too. Everyone else’s is small and black. People wonder about that. I do too although, you know, I don’t care if it’s weird because we’re friends.’
Most of the crew who’d been aboard when Dewey arrived were gone now. The new men had no knowledge of how things had evolved. So whereas Trueman’s eccentricities had been accepted the new men saw his lettering as standout peculiar. That and bad mouthing by his enemies edged Trueman increasingly out of the ruck.
‘Yes, well, it’s genetic. No, that’s a joke Torbrick. When I first went aboard the ship had just come back from Westpac and all those guys had old gear or, rather no gear at all. For some reason both ship and crew were real rundown. It wasn’t neat and orderly like when you came aboard. We had to spend weeks to make it ship shape.
Rather than buy gear a lot of them stole it from us new guys. Everyone of them was walking around with blacked out blotches and their name re-inked. I lost a pair of pants which were returned because they were too small for anybody else and a couple shirts.’
‘How’d you lose them?’
‘Whadya mean how did I lose them? They just don’t make it back from the laundry. How else? So, if you ink over black the name can’t be seen. Black over white can be detected if you hold it to the light in reverse. It’s easier to ink over a small area than a large one. So, if anybody steals anything of mine I’ve got ’em dead to rights.’
‘Still seems pretty eccentric.’
‘Have you ever noticed there’s about four guys who don’t have anything that isn’t inked over?’
‘Oh well, at least one of those guys bought gear from guys on the way out. That’s how they got their stuff.’
‘Oh yeah? Have you ever had anybody offer you clothes because they were being discharged?’
‘Me neither. anyway I haven’t had anything stolen since then no matter how eccentric it looks and you have.’
‘No, I haven’t.’
‘Didn’t you till me that a pair of your pants was missing?’
‘Sure, but nobody stole them. They just didn’t come back from the laundry. They got lost somehow.’
‘Oh, say, did you ever notice that you and Laddybuck Ifrit are the same size and he’s one of those guys whose clothes are all inked over? Not to change the subject but what’s Tory short for, Torbrick?’
‘No. It’s short for Torrance.’
‘You mean like the town of Torrance up by LA where Ifrit’s from?’
‘Uh huh. My father named me after it.’
‘No kidding? Good thing he didn’t name you Gardenia. ‘Course, Gar’s not too bad.’
‘No. I could call myself Gary, too.’ Torbrick chuckled as he guided the car off the freeway onto the overpass leading over to the coast and Long Beach.
‘Wow, this is a lot further from 101 than it looks on the map.’ Dewey remarked after an hour of driving.
‘California’s a big state.’ Torbrick replied as they passed through a picturesque quarry with a quaint loading tower for gravel.
Trueman was disappointed with Long Beach. It was a dreary little town without the life and exuberance of LA or the golden climate of San Diego. There was even less there there than in Oakland. That was only the aspect Dewey saw because Long Beach was and is a good sized city. Built on oil and shipping including the Naval Station along with Terminal Island prison it seemed to be a prosperous city.
Dewey was further disappointed when Torbrick drove down a dreary street of little houses the residents called bungalows. From Torbrick’s conversation Dewey had expected something a little more grand. They entered the little thousand square foot house to be greeted by Torbrick’s whole family, father, mother, brother and sister.
Dewey gave them his warm and fuzzy best only to be greeted by a cold studied curiosity not hostile but not friendly either.
Bert Trobric was two inches taller than his six-two son. He was much bigger and more heavily built than his son. Given the task before him he could hardly be friendly to Trueman. It is a rare individual who befriends his victim. Bert had to have contempt for him. Indeed, given the stories of Our Lady there would have been little to like about Trueman.
What Trueman saw in his turn was one of that legion of losers who curse life for slighting their genius rather than exerting themselves to solve life’s problems and succeed. He projected an aura of failure that required Trueman to conceal the revulsion he felt.
Torbrick’s mother was a mousy beaten down woman who had never had any merit to her. The house showed no understanding of homemaking, no taste, nothing that proclaimed a superior genetic makeup.
Bert began by belittling and criticizing Dewey in a direct manner that couldn’t help but offend. Still, brought up to a semblance of manners, Dewey tried to turn Bert aside with no success. Finally Dewey looked about him and in an obvious manner asked Bert what he did for a living.
Bert, perpetually on the make but seldom employed, evaded the question by telling what he used to do.
‘I used to a musician. I was with a couple local California bands you probably never heard of.’
Dewey prided himself on at least knowing names. He had heard of Ernie Hecksher before he’d gotten to San Francisco so he was confident Bert couldn’t stump him: ‘Oh yeah, which ones.’
‘Well, I was with Harry James for a while.’ Bert said in an offhand manner as though he thought Dewey would not have heard of this ‘California’ band.
‘Oh wow! Harry James! Gee, he’s a pretty famous trumpet player. What did you play?’
‘I didn’t say I was in the band, I said I was with it.’ Bert had been a roadie with the band.
‘Oh. What did you do?’
Bert changed directions again rather than admit he had been the band boy.
‘I’ve done some composing.’
Dewey, beginning to see through his man, noted that Bert didn’t say he had composed for Harry James nor that he had been successful at composing, only that he had done some composing.
‘Oh yeah? Did you write anything I’ve ever heard of?’
‘Umm. I had a hand in ‘Melancholy Baby.’
‘Sure. Good song.’ Dewey said figuring that if Bert could write ‘Melancholy Baby’ he must have written other songs too. If so, where was the money?
‘Well, if you’ve made all that money what are you doing living in a place like this?’ He said, with seeming ingenuousness. Dewey had heard of royalties. In legend those ‘pennies from heaven’ added up.
Bert flinched giving him a sharp look. ‘I was only oneof the three who got rights so I had to share it. I still get a royalty check every now and then.’
‘How much?’ Dewey kept burrowing.
‘Ten or fifteen dollars maybe a couple times a year.’
Ten or fifteen dollars was much more than Bert deserved. He had actually no hand in the composition of ‘Melancholy Baby’ or any other published song; he had merely chanced to be there when the song was written. The composers hadn’t been able to get rid of him but rather than lose the idea while it was fresh they went ahead anyway.
Having suggested a slightly more felicitous turn of phrase, he suggested ‘cuddle up’ rather than ‘snuggle up’, he had demanded from the real composers a third of the copyright. In the circumstances it had been difficult to refuse him.
That was more or less how Bert made it through life. Now, as he looked contemptuously at Dewey, as a man must look at one he hopes to vicitmize, he saw only twelve hundred-fifty dollars on the hoof.
He never did answer Trueman’s question of what he did for a living.
After a dinner of undercooked hotdogs, Torbrick’s mother was a gourmet chef, Trueman was given a blanket and a dusty pillow from the couch and a spot on the kitchen floor to pass the night. He was offered no breakfast in the morning. Torbrick didn’t offer to introduceTrueman to his friends because he had none. The genetically superior Torbricks were not well thought of.
Part of the charm of bringing Trueman home with him was that plans were made to make Trueman seem less popular than Torbrick himself. Our Lady had been mystified because there was no indication that Trueman was following the homosexual practices which had been attributed to him. He thought that by replicating the original conditions Trueman could be invoked to return to his reputed ways. It never occurred to Our Lady that his informants could be wrong.
Thus he had set up a situation that he thought came close to replicating what he had heard. After sitting around all morning Torbrick suggested they drive down to a teen hangout on the beachfront road. Trueman geared his manners to meet a polite crowd rather than the tough guys of Da Costa’s acquaintance.
There was a mile and a half drive to the long beach that gave the city its name. The aspect of the city improved somewhat. There was a certain glee of anticipation on Torbrick’s face which gave Dewey pause to reflect but he had no choice but to trust in Tory’s good will.
Leaving the car parked across the street they began the walk to the entrance. When they were halfway across the street twenty teens or older erupted from the hangout shaking their fists and yelling and screaming at Dewey: ‘Get out of here, Trueman, go away. We don’t want your kind around here.’
Dewey stopped in his tracks his mouth open. Torbrick hung back a couple steps to conceal a pleased smile. There was no need to go on so amidst the hoots and catcalls, Dewey turned around to head back to the car. A snickering Torbrick followed him.
The scene did replicate almost exactly the situation at the skating rink in the Valley. Torbrick took the place of the guy who had driven him out to the rink. As he had stepped out of the car in the Valley the crowd awaiting his arrival had behaved in the exact same way.
Our Lady hoped that the replication woud compel Trueman to begin fellatio behavior, as he thought, again. Our Lady never questioned his assumptions. No matter how many times he was disappointed by results he merely thought that Trueman was repressing his true nature.
And on the other hand using defamation skills that only Judaism knows how to so artfully employ Trueman was now forever defamed in Long Beach as Our Lady would defame him throughout the Southland. The Anti-Defamation League should rightfully call itself the Defamation League.
Driving back to Torbrick’s house Dewey asked: ‘What was that all about, Torbrick?’
‘It looks like they don’t like you at all.’ Torbrick said with smug satisfaction.
‘They don’t even know me, Torbrick. How did they get my name in the first place. You’re the only one who knows I’m here?’
‘They didn’t use your name.’ Torbrick lied straight faced.
‘They certainly did. They said: Get out of here, Trueman.’
‘I didn’t hear that. They didn’t say that. You’re just projecting your guilt, that’s all.’
‘Guilt for what?’
Another maxim of the ADL is always deny and countercharge. No matter how clear the facts, have the chutzpah to deny them. Thus when Franklin Roosevelt told the people of Pittsburgh one year that he would never send their sons to war he had to appear before them a year later to say he was sending their boys to war, his Jewish advisor, Samuel Rosenman, told him with a straight face, no irony intended: ‘Just tell them you’ve never been in Pittsburgh in your life.’
Tory had been tutored by Bert who had been tutored by Yehouda; Tory stoutly denied hearing Trueman mentioned by the crowd or any previous knowledge of what happened. Trueman was not satisfied to have Tory deny what was in fact true.
‘You’ll notice they didn’t boo me.’ Torbrick said with smug satisfaction. ‘They liked me.’
‘They didn’t even acknowledge your presence.’ Trueman said in derision. ‘Let’s go back to the ship now.’
‘We’ve got till tomorrow.’
‘I want to go back now, Torbrick.’
‘Well, if you’re going to be a spoil sport and insist. OK. But my mother’s making macaroni and cheese tonight and her’s is really good.’
‘I can live without macaroni and cheese. I want to go back.’
Dewey was fuming as Tory’s car raced down the access lane to 101. He had repressed his anger all the way from Long Beach.
He decided to try again: ‘What the hell was going on back there, Torbrick?’
‘I don’t know what you mean.’ Tory continued in his ridiculous dissimulation.
‘What? You take me downtown to some back door dive and before we even enter the hoodlum punks come out on the sidewalk shaking their fists at me and you don’t even know who they were, who put them up to it? They’d never seen me before.’
‘Did you notice that?’ Torbrick stonewalled innocently. ‘They seemed to like me OK. Did you notice that?’
Trueman shut up. He could see he was going to get nowhere. He thought back to Torbrick’s arrival on ship unable to reconcile his self-introduction to this. Tory pulled the car into the parking space at their arrival back at the Naval Station. Dewey jumped out before the car stopped. He left Tory in the car threading his way through the traveling derricks back to the Teufelsdreck alone.
He was finished with Torbrick, but Torbrick wasn’t finished with him or, rather, Bert wasn’t. There was the small matter of twelve hundred-fifty dollars still on the table.
Second Verse, Same As The First
I guess we won’t be seeing you around anymore, Trueman.’ Laddybuck Ifrit sneered.
‘Yeah? Your transfer come through, I hope, Ifrit?’
‘No. Yours did.’
‘Mine? How’s that?’
‘You haven’t heard?’
‘The Navy’s decided to get rid of no good bums like you.’
‘I’m for it. How does it work?’
‘There’s a new program. Anybody with a GI quotient of 30 or less can apply for a medical discharge.’
‘Really, Ifrit? They’re going to let everybody out with scores from 25 to 30?’ A score of at least twenty-five was necessary for enlistment. The General Intelligence test was designed so that no one could fail. If you marked box A on each of the multiple choice question test you achieved a 25. If you lacked confidence the recruiters would tell you how to do it too.
‘I guess it’s back to Torrance for you, hey Ifrit?’
‘Hardly Trueman. I scored a lot higher than that, but you’re what a 26-27.’
‘Hate to disappoint you Ifrit but my score is probably twice that of your kind.’
‘Hah. They don’t go as high as seventy-eight.’
‘Oh. I see you’ve got a thirty-nine, Ifrit. Well over the line but a heck of a lot less than my sixty-two.
Ifrit was stung by having tricked himself into revealing his score. He was equally astonished at Trueman’s score.
‘Bullshit, Trueman. You ain’t got no sixty-two.
‘Really? Check up with your very close buddy, I mean very close buddy, Kanary. He’ll tell you.’
‘What’s very close buddy supposed to mean?’
Trueman crossed his two first fingers. ‘Just like that, Ifrit, Kanary’s on top. Ha, ha.’
‘If that means what I think it means, if I get up your ass is grass and I’m the lawnmower.’
‘If you find the energy to get up Ifrit you sure as hell won’t find the energy to push that mower. Use that mighty thirty-nine GI score and see if you can figure out what I mean. Let’s see, thirty-nine? Thirty-nine? Is that above the level of moron?’
‘Hey, Dewey. It seems like you’ve been avoiding me. My parents want me to invite you back for another visit. I want you to come too.’
‘I’m goin’ up to San Francisco, Torbric. Thanks for the offer.’
Torbrick would not take no for an answer but harrassed Trueman continually until he gave in.
You could ask for early liberty on Fridays to give you a few extra hours on the weekend. Torbrick wanted to do that but Trueman declined hoping Tory would leave without him. He had disappointed hopes. At five-thirty they were leaving the parking lot for 101.
On the drive Torbrick once again related the story of the girl who was screwing everybody adding new details and elaborating the old. It was difficult for Trueman not to think that he was being compared to her in some inexplicable manner.
The sailors arrived late enough so there was only time for a bit to eat, small talk and bed.
Our Lady and Bert believed that the episode on the beach had been enough to jog Trueman’s memory. Their scheme was thus to abandon Trueman to his own devices on Saturday. They believed he would find his way to a skating rink or perhaps sit on a streetcorner to resume what they thought was his former habit.
Consequently at noon Tory informed Trueman that his family was going to a gathering to which Trueman was not invited.
‘Well, what am I supposed to do, Torbrick?’
‘I don’t know. You’ll just have to amuse yourself until tonight when we’ll be back. There’s a roller skating rink down on the beach. Maybe you can pass the time there.’
Yah, maybe. Thanks for nothing, Torbrick.’
‘I’m sorry but that’s just the way it is. The house is locked up so you can’t stay here.’
‘What’s the matter? ‘Fraid I’ll steal the copyright to ‘Melancholy Baby’? Dewey said sarcastically.
Trueman was stunned and infuriated at being abandoned. Had he been closer to 101 he would have caught a bus back to San Diego but Long Beach is fairly out of the way to the main stem of California so Dewey thought he would be just as far ahead to wait it out.
Among the many conversations he had had with Southlanders aboard ship he had heard the Redcars mentioned. Dewey was intrigued by the name. Even though LA was fully committed to cars and freeways there still existed at that time an interurban trolley system known as the Redcars. Today it would be known as a mass transit system. Same function but I guess the latter name sounds more scientific. The rails were soon to be torn up only to be relaid thirty years later.
Dewey decided to spend the day riding the Redcars much to the disappointment of Yehouda Yisraeli, who you may be sure, was watching.
The day would stir deep memories and trauma from Dewey’s youth but not as Our Lady expected. Dewey had left the Valley in what can only be described as the deepest of depressions. In its own way the Navy had been Trueman’s salvation. Back in the Valley after graduation he had been reduced to a non functioning capacity unable even to get up in the morning. The Navy provided a framework within which Trueman could function with minimal effort. The Navy was the crutch of crutches for the walking wounded of the nation. Had Dewey remained at home he would probably have been unable to function at all sinking slowly into an inert mass.
Even now Dewey was very discouraged. While he would have objected to a description of a feeling of inadequacy every attitude, every movement of his body was shaped to cover up just such a feeling. His high voice and deferential, reticent manner betrayed just such a feeling. Under stress he invariably fell back on a defensive clownish manner that removed him from any conflict while being contemptuously dismissed by his opponents. Such contempt was immediately transformed in his subconscious into an acceptable correction so that he never showed any irritation at being so treated. Still, he fought manfully to overcome his feeling of inadequacy. Such a feat is not a matter of will but of the rearrangement of the intellect to expel the causes and replace them with positive motivations. Dewey did not yet understand this but believed he could will himself into character.
Mental images are always an important indication of where we are if we pay attention to them and are willing to understand their meaning. Dewey, who did not understand the following image except in the obvious sense, compared his life to a tiny compressed bubble rising from the bottom of a very deep sea. As the bubble wobbled upward the pressure decreased allowing the bubble to expand realizing its potential as it rose.
Dewey’s fear for this bubble, he would never have been able to explaine why he feared for the bubble, was that it might become trapped beneath some sort of overhang or projection of a shipwreck and be forever arrested in its ascent.
The psychological implications should be clear to all. In another image Dewey dreamed that he stood beside an empty manhole with the cover still quivering. It was not clear but it was still obvious that he had just emerged from the sewer. Both images aptly described his psychological interpretation of his origins.
Since it is axiomatic that one can never learn what one does not already know it is clear that Dewey knew what he did not yet comprehend. As these images accompanied him constantly it may be assumed that his subconscious was unceasingly worrying him and prodding him forward and upward. He had only to grasp the meaning and the symptom would disappear.
He had made tremendous progress in the year and a half since he left the Valley and under the most adverse of circumstances. A ship full of strangers in the Navy is no place to dwell on your psychology. Fortunately for Dewey most of the damage had already been done. The fodder for his dreams and nightmares for the rest of his life until he succeeded in integrating his personality had already been received. Some fine mental line had been crossed on the return from the Pacific. Prior to the return his psyche had been unable to handle its input. His mind had been overwhelmed by the data. From now on no matter how devastating his experiences he would be able to incorporate then into his experience and understand them to deal with them on a rational basis. His very difficult task would be to clear his mental landscape of its trash heaps.
With the elimination of the roar of the Niagara in his ears the foundation of his depression, so great was the distance on his road to recovery, had been passed. In the journey of a thousand miles only the first step had been taken. While the bubble would rise it would only rise slowly because of the intense pressure from above. Dodging projections like Our Lady Of The Blues aggravated Dewey’s anxiety.
Such was his mental state as he waited for the mass transit system.
Now, it’s a good long way from Long Beach to LA. The Redcar was a trolley but in any other state in America it would have been a trainride. In Michigan the ride would have the equivalent of from the Valley to Detroit.
An engine with three or four cars would not have been inappropriate. Thus when a single Redcar showed up at the stop, not station, but stop, Dewey was not prepared for a most surrealistic experience. Such a simple thing as a trolley ride would be a major life changing experience. Why life changing? As the author I don’t really know. Perhaps the reader will be more perceptive. Dewey was certainly not aware of it.
As the trolley moved through the Long Beach stops there was no difference than being on a bus with steel wheels. But then the Redcar burst through the city limits and began rolling through open countryside. I do not report the actual scenes but only as they appeared through Dewey’s subjective reality on his road to psychic transformation.
It seemed to him as though he was physically in the car but psychically perched on one of the long thin strands of coulds that streaked the immense gray-blue sky. At that time the area was not completely built up but was open land. Oil was the business of Long Beach. Strewn across this near desert landscape of bare soil interspersed with hardy tufts of grass innumerable oil pumps slowly rotated rising and falling in slow motion now in unison now to the beat of an unseen solitary drummer. Silently working, now the shiny piston fully exposed now plunged back into the sheath, working, pumping laboriously but effortlessly drawing up to the surface its p0ison that once released on the land must lay it waste unless genius turn it into something useful.
Even so there was no splash of oil upon the ground or even into visible storage tanks. the unseen subterranean bile was drawn from hidden recesses in the subconscious memory of the earth where without seeing the light of day it was mysteriously transported to processing refineries where the useless evil smelling bile was transformed into a myriad of useful products some of which were capable of transforming the Stygian dooms of night into the bright warming light like sunshine. It could be done in Dewey’s mind; it must be done.
The thick steel connecting rods, like drivers on a locomotive drew the heavy balance at the other end of the traveling beam to earh while the still heavier counter balance reared it back into the sky. Over and over and over, silently, with no visible source of power. The bile flowed and flowed and flowed ceaselessly in an endless unseen stream from the sewer of the earth like a bubble rising to be recreated into light.
Care was necessary. Planning. There was a price for the release of pressure. So much oil had been pumped from beneath the warm California sun that a greater depression occurred. The earth sank into the created abyss. The great concrete seawall at Terminal Island had cracked and broken as the earth sank beneath the foundations. In places the bay washed over the sunken seawall. Care must be taken lest one drown in one’s own tears. Genius had learned its lesson. Other pumps silently filled the depleted subterranean spaces with sea water to shore up the sinking surface. All the while pumps rose and fell and Dewey’s bubble struggled upward to his seat in the clouds.
For the first time in California he noticed that the grass was green. True, this was after the spring rainy season so the grass was still growing; it wasn’t the dull straw color that characterizes California nine months of the year. Still Dewey’s mental state had been such that all he had ever seen was sere desert. What greens he had acknowledged were dull and lifeless. The green grass came as a revelation like a flicker of light in inspissating gloom.
His astral being high on its cloud watched himself rolling through the green desert of black oil in the little Redcar. He could see the stops strung out along the line; stops out in the middle of the desert from the dwellings. and yet people got on and off. The lone tiny Redcar trundling through this strange delusive immensity slowed to a stop.
As Dewey watched breathlessly, tense and anxious for unknown reasons, a girl, perhaps a woman in years, but with all the dazzling freshness of a young girl, mounted the steps to enter the car.
Dewey gave an audible gasp. He was entranced by the vision. The gasp had been so loud that everyone in the Redcar had turned to look at him. The girl herself, lonely as a poppy on the green hills of earth, fixed a steady inquiring glance on him. Someone considerately changed seats so that when the girl sat down there was a space beside her for Dewey. A space for Dewey? Yes, a space for Dewey.
Dewey was transfixed but he was also immobilized. Like the stationary pumps outside the windows the black bile of his past was distributed from one point to another for processing purification. Dewey’s mind was as crude oil. The beauties it contained were enclosed in the thick viscosity of an undifferentiated past. Old memories of Ange collided with his recent desires to render him incapable of action.
He sat breathlessly clutching the steel bar atop the seat in front of him. The tiny Redcar rolled through the immensity until the girl’s destination had been reached. The girl got up. People looked to see Dewey’s reaction. Perhaps he would make his move now. The girl fixed a receptive look on Dewey. Perhaps on this enchanted evening the stranger who would redeem her life had arrived. She got off but not hurrying away she stood on the dock looking at Dewey waiting and hoping for his move.
The Redcar driver who had been watching the little drama had seen and approved. All the world loves a lover. He held the door open an extra moment longer, two, to give Dewey time to go to her.
The pumps in Dewey’s mind moved resolutely up and down; the heavy counter weight falling with emphasis. The black bile of Dewey’s past was drawn up and shunted away. He sat frozen, humiliated by his own inaction.
A myriad of thoughts passed through his mind. There was only one type of woman he responded to. She was a replica of the girl, the only girl, who had fixated him oh so long ago when he was fifteen. Fifteen to nineteen. What do you think? Is it only a matter of four years? No, no my friends, out across the Betelgeuse Bridge time is an irrelevant concept, in space time is frozen. ‘The’ girl had lived in his heart forever. The second that it took to put her there had never passed away.
And here ‘she’ was again. And she would accept him. Dewey thought that to go to her would provide a balm for his remaining time in the Navy. He could see himself taking up with her. He would go to her every weekend to refresh his soul. She would renew his life after a weekend of tortures. Ah, but, Dewey reflected, he was in the Navy. His desires were but the desires of desperation. He had only the need to take; he had nothing to give. His intentions were not honorable. When his time was up he would lose interest in her and have led her astray for nothing. The Navy was no place for two people in love. And so he eased back in his seat while the driver moved out of the stop shaking his head in wonder.
The spell of the journey was broken. Whatever adventure was to have been achieved had been achieved. Dewey got off at the next stop to take the desolate ride back to Long Beach. He no longer noticed that the grass was green. He was down from the cloud, body and soul being within the Redcar.
He had nothing to say to Tory Torbric on the ride back to the Naval Station.
Waiting For Lefty Or Someone Just Like Him
When McCarthy had been destroyed the pressure on the Reds had been completely removed. The counterrevolution had been completely emasculated. The next counter offensive came from the ineffectual John Birch Society. Conservatives were now known as lunatic warhawks. The movie Dr. Strangelove released in the mid-sixties caught perfectly the Red vision of the conservatives of the period. The effect was so complete that Dewey believed he had seen Dr. Strangelove in 1958.
The Reds themselves were in the ascendant but disorganized by the McCarthy onslaught. The Reds were still a threat to anyone who incurred their displeasure. The threat, When the Revolution comes, watch out. was frequently heard. Dewey in his simplicity thought it was a joke but it wasn’t; it was an actual threat from covert Reds.
Yisraeli had been active consolidating his sources and means throughout the San Diego fleet. He had a very substantial homosexual network. He knew of ship movements almost before the Navy knew them itself. Homosexuals were standard bearers of the Revolution. They expected that the New Order would put them on top.
A key factor in the success of the Bolshevik Revolution had been the revolt of the sailors of the great Kronstadt shipyards near St. Petersburg. They had actually been a Soviet all by themselves. The Space Cadets of the Revolution in America believed that if the sailors of San Diego revolted seizing the fleet that the Revolution would succeed in America. This was openly discussed.
Disregarding the fact that there was no groundswell of support for Redism in the fleet the Red segment walked around in a quiver of anticipation.
Teal Kanary had high hopes tempered with a growing sense of internal desperation. Going back to the Th. Crapper warehouse escapade in Brisbane his sense of purity had all but been destroyed. His Captain’s Masts and Court Martial had worked their way into his subconscious. He had worked out conscious defenses but the mind is controlled from the subconscious. Just as Dewey’s dreamwork for the next thirty years was formed so the basis of Kanary’s dreamwork and character had been irrevocably formed.
Now lacking the confidence that had characterized his pre-Brisbane days he was called upon by Captain Ratches to betray the foundation of his existence. Ratches, who understood the wellsprings of power was capable of taking direct action but only when direct action might appear inculpable. While Erect had paid the price for his criminal activity on the equator the instigator, Paul Duber, had not.
Ratches’ informers had kept him well appraised of the obvious characters of men aboard ship. Thus he knew of the gatherings in After Steering while overseas, what they did and who attended. He knew that both Duber and Kanary were queers. Thus he proposed to set one to expose the other in a rather diabolical move.
Jim Kanary, Teal’s father, while talking to Ratches on the dock when the ship returned had extolled his son’s virtues. Foremost among Teal’s supposed virtues was a highly developed sense of loyalty. The Captain had been informed that he could always count on Teal’s honesty and support.
Ratches had taken it wryly at the time but now he thought to turn the Yeoman to good use.
If anything, Duber, counting on the imminent arrival of the Revolution, had been more flagrant than ever. He was very close to being queenly. With a sly smile Ratches proposed through Bifrons Morford, although Ratches was present at the interview, that Kanary invite Duber up to the Yeoman’s shack to entrap him in an amorous vice.
Kanary was shocked and dismayed at the clash of his values but as Morford let the word ‘loyalty’ drop a few times Jim Kanary had entrapped his son into a position where he could not say no. His errors overseas had been unthinking errors which, though their effect was profound, could still be treated consciously as genuine mistakes. Kanary was now called to premeditate the betrayal of his innermost secret character.
He had some very painful moments of deliberation after Bifrons and Ratches left him alone. That evening he called his pop. Jim Kanary listened patiently as his son explained things in terms that included his own homosexuality. Teal placed it more in the context of a McCartyite naming of names. The American Communists had elevated the crime of naming names into the ne plus ultra of criminality. They somehow managed to overlook the fact that they approved of Stalin’s forcing the naming of associates and accomplices during the Great Purge Trials of the mid-thirties. They would also be able to overlook the same fault in Mao during the Cultural Revolution. But then, for Reds integrity is a matter of whose foot the shoe is on.
Jim Kanary pointed out that a good Communist must always be willing to seem to betray his convictions for the good of the Party but that a temporal betrayal without spiritual implications had no mundane effect on the purity of one’s intentions. It was the same with the Stalin-Hitler pact. One day you were an anti-Fascist the next day you were in bed with them and then the next day you weren’t. It all worked out in the wash. Right?
That was easy enough for Teal to comprehend so he said: ‘Sure, Dad.’ and hung up. Temporal rationalization was an easy matter. Teal’s conscious mind, his intelligence, had no difficulty with that but the heart, the subconscious, is a different matter. Already drowning in a sea of doubts about himself Teal Kanary now went down for the third time. He passed through the plane of existence into a different entity. He was now a double agent and acquired a doppelganger.
The entrapment of Duber went off without a hitch. A kick on the door at the right moment had exposed Duber’s dual nature for Ratches and Morford to see.
Then the problem arose as to who would press charges. The homosexual community was a secret society, a fifth column. Retribution against the prosecutor could come from any direction in any number of clandestine ways. Ratches was no fool, he quailed before the prospect. While Duber had been exposed before all, that is, his proclivities were made incontestable, manifest and obvious there was no one to denounce him.
Ratches, who thought Trueman had sufficient reason to hate Duber, made it clear to him that he could take vengeance on the Store Keeper. But Trueman was less a fool than he used to be. Time had been teaching him that it was unnecessary to be vocal about his feelings about homosexuality. Neither Ratches nor Trueman would have admitted fear of the homosexual community but both chose discretion as the better part of valor.
However as Duber had been exposed no practicing homosexual could be tolerated in an all male community. Not even other queers wanted to be seen with him. Duber became isolated. He could no longer stand at the head of the shower line ogling the sailors and smacking his gravid lips.
The Revolution was too slow in coming for Paul Duber. Unable to endure isolation he turned inward alone and confused. When his enlistment was up he chucked in his twelve years to return to civilian life. A few years later he could be found on the streets of LA hanging around the bus station.
Three Strikes And Out
Tory Torbrick had enough sense not to push Trueman too hard for the next few days. Nevertheless when he had informed his father that Trueman had told Tory that he no longer wished to go to Long Beach Bert realized that the time to move was now, or he could kiss twelve hundred-fifty smackers goodbye. He instructed Tory on what to say and not to take no for an answer.
Thus Trobrick approached Trueman: ‘Got any plans for the weekend?’
‘You could probably change them though. Yu won’t get a chance like this for a while.’
‘Chance for what?’
‘Well, you know how you like to always see new things, go new places, well, my pop’s going up to Atascadero to visit an old school chum. We thought you might enjoy going along.’
‘Oh, it’s up in the Bay Area around San Jose.’ Tory lied as he had been instructed. Atascadero is above San Luis Obispo and below Paso Robles on 101 a long way from San Jose. But, as Bert had no doubt his friend, Doctor Godwin, would admit Trueman it was thought best to keep his location as secret as possible from him so that if he did get word out he would direct his people to the wrong area.
Little did they know that Trueman’s mother was of the mind to say: Like father like son and let her son rot as his father was.
‘Oh yeah? What do you do, just go up ninety-nine?
‘Uh, well, you can but it’s a lot easier to go up one o one.’
‘One o one? Really? All the way?’
‘Yeah. Straight shot.’
Well, Dewey thought, What could happen? He did like to go to new places. True, he didn’t like or trust the Torbricks but this was the Navy. He didn’t really like any of the people he had to associate with so it wasn’t so much a choice between good and evil as the lesser evil. Besides it would be a weekend when he wouldn’t have to spend much money. He could conserve his resources.
‘Yeah, Torbrick, alright.’
Saturday moring found the entire Torbrick family and Trueman out on fabled Highway 101. The highway was much less traveled than 99 and much more picturesque. Up through the bizarrely named town of Oxnard to Santa Barbara and out through San Luis Obispo into the wild and gorgeous canyons that go all the way to San Jose.
As they approached the town of Atascadero Dewey asked where the Bay was as Tory had told him that Atascadero was just above San Jose on the Bay. There was nothing too subtle about Bert Torbrick. He didn’t yet know what chutzpah was but he had it in spades. He merely waved a hand and said: ‘Just up ahead there.’ He rolled past the long green hedges of the Atascadero State Hospital For The Criminally Insane and up to the gate.
Because of his father Dewey had often been taunted about being placed in an insane asylum. He was familiar with numerous stories about persons being unjustly committed by family, friends or even strangers who then had to plead to be let out. It was a fate that haunted him from the depths of his mind.
‘Atascadero State Hospital For The Criminally Insane? What are we doing here?’
Tory who was riding in the back with Trueman made an involuntary move to restrain Trueman lest he leap from the car. As it appeared that his worst fears might be realized Trueman was too paralyzed to even think such a thought.
The guard telephoned Dr. Godwin to clear Torbrick then opened the gate to allow him in. An immense expanse of the most vivid green, almost chartreuse, lawn spread away like the ocean. The huge forbidding asylum lay far back across the lawn. Dewey looked at it and swallowed hard. He was already in, the gate had closed behind him. Even though he’d heard of this sort of thing he had never believed it could be done. You never do until it happens to you but, my friends, whatever you have heard has happened somewhere, sometime to someone.
Dewey relaxed his apprehension somewhat when they didn’t drive up to the big house but turned into a semi-circular driveway before a neat little white house that glistened like a little island in the sea of chartreuse. Dr. Godwin opened the door with the air of one braving danger which was in no way misplaced.
‘Hello, Bert.’ He said in as affable a manner as his jittery nerves would allow motioning them to hurry.
‘You’ve met my wife Isadora?’ Bert said.
‘No, I don’t believe I have.’ Dr. Godwin replied quickly introducing his wife, Anne. ‘Hurry now, hurry.’ Doctor Godwin insisted as the others straggled out of the car.
‘This is my daughter Margaret, my son Hawthorne and my eldest boy Torrance that I told you about.’ Bert introduced once inside.
Dr. Godwin motioned Dewey to a seat on the bench of an upright piano that sat against the wall as the rest sat around him in a semi-circle staring at him anxiously but quietly.
‘And this is the…this is the…uh, young man I told you about.’ Bert stammered searching for the least offensive, least reviling term.
Dr. Godwin turned his eyes on Dewey and studied him attentively.
Dewey put it all together in an instant. He was there to be committed. Tory was staring at him with starting eyes as the excitement of his perfidy overwhelmed him but in the sincere conviction that Dewey was ‘criminally’ insane.
Bert stared at him as though he were twelve hundred-fifty dollars under the middle shell of a shell game. He didn’t want to lose that money. Bert’s wife and daughter and other son sat tensely awed by such a legendary place. Mrs. Godwin stood to Dewey’s right looking at him fearfully lest he explode in a murderous paroxysm.
Dewey aware of his danger went limp, relaxing more than he would have done in ordinary circumstances to as to preclude any gestures that could be construed as ‘wild.’ He knew that any animation could be construed as proof of violence. He looked deep into the jittery eyes of Dr. Godwin. That man had been dealing with dangerous types far too long.
‘Yes.’ Dewey said to himself, looking into him. ‘You’ve been on the job too long.’
Godwin’s mental agitation showed in his extreme nervousness, ever alert to jump out of the way or restrain yet attempting to look calm and in control. He was never in as much danger as one might think; a simple touch to a pressure point in the neck would lay out the most ferocious man. Of course, you did have to find the pressure point first.
Looking past Godwin out the window to the left Trueman could see the two guards at the gate watching for signs of danger. To the right Dewey saw an inmate standing on a small ladder in the bright California sun above the bright chartreuse lawn with a pair of hedge clippers furiously hacking into the dark green hedge. There was no doubt by the man’s attitude that he was insane. In his hands as he hacked violently at the hedge the shears seemed a lethal weapon.
Dewey looked at the tense apprehensive wife of the doctor to ask: ‘Do you really live in this house?’
‘Oh, yes. Why?’
‘How can you stand it? Aren’t you terrified?’
‘No.’ The woman lied. ‘Why should I be?’
‘Well, there’s one reason right there.’ Dewey said motioning casually at the lunatic just outside the neat little house in the middle of the chartreuse lawn with his eyes. ‘Don’t you worry he might try to kill you? Look how he’s handling those shears.’
The lunatic slashed at the hedge his lenses meeting Dewey’s eyes as he assumed they were talking about him. In his wild delusions he thought since Dewey was talking about him it must be love.
‘Oh, there’s nothing to worry about. We keep the doors and windows locked at all times, all I would have to do is call the guards. The State gives us air conditioning so we’re comfortable. Unlike many we don’t have to mind the heat.’
‘Well, yeah, but those are glass windows and he has steel shears in his hands. Put those through a window and he’d have plenty of time before the guards got here. Has he ever killed anyone?’
‘Him? He eviscerated his mother and father but that only makes him dangerous to them. That doesn’t make him dangeous to anyone else. Anyone he doesn’t love for instance. He just looks wild.’ Dr. Godwin said. ‘How about you?’
‘How about me what? Both my parents are living and I don’t look violent.’
‘Have you ever hurt anybody?’
‘No.’ Dewey said truthfully and quietly. Then he said perhaps imprudently: ‘Don’t you think you’ve been on this job too long, Doctor? Don’t you feel like you should take a long vacation.’
‘Why do you say that?’ Godwin asked.
‘Well.’ Dewey said still looking deep inside Godwin. ‘You’re real nervous, jittery even, tension all over your face and body. ‘I mean.’ Dewey said shifting his gaze to the lunatic just outside without moving his eyes, even then the lunatic, perhaps a paranoid delusive, sensing Dewey was talking about him, gnashed his teeth while shearing the same spot in the hedge wildly. ‘If you look at that guy’s eyes out there you can see that his brain is disconnected from them, I mean, he can see things so he doesn’t trip over them but he’s entirely disconnected from reality. The objective world means nothing to him because he projects his subjective delusion on it. When the world doesn’t respond as he thinks it should he blames the world; doesn’t even examine his own understanding. I mean, like, he’s been trimming that exact same spot since I’ve been sitting here. I bet if you accuse him of mutilating the hedge he’d turn the shears on you.
I mean, his mind is so tangled up that it’s not connected to his eyes. It’s kind of like if he were a deckhand on a ship trying to dock he had his lead line connected to the hawser and had the monkey fist in his hand but his lead line was so tangled that there was no slack between the hawser and the monkey fist. Every time he tried to throw the monkey fist at the dock to connect with the dock, or in another word, reality, his tangled line would just fall to the deck. He would have to stand out to sea forever because it will never occur to him to untangle his lead line. If he ever did he would be sane but still guilty of murder.
But, you, you’re different.’ Dewey was dangerously naive. ‘I mean, your face looks just as distracted as his but by your eyes I can see that you are still connected to your brain.’ A gasp went up from everyone but Dewey didn’t notice as he was staring acutely into Godwin’s soul. ‘So you can deal with real things in a real way. I mean, you know, you’ve got some idea of where it’s at but you’ve been dealing with lunatics so long that the connection is stretching thin. And you don’t have to be sane to know where that’s at. Do you dig me, Daddyo?’
‘Yes, Dewey, yes. I think I do dig you. But you? Where are you at?’
It might be construed that Godwin was mocking Dewey by his repetition of the hip jargon but he wasn’t. He was in the habit of adapting his speech patterns to those of his patients. Dewey just assumed that Godwin knew his brain was connected to his eyes, so to speak, as indeed Godwin was looking deep into his eyes and making connection.
‘Me? Where am I at? Well, you know, I’m waiting for ships that never come in. I’m kind of standing at the end of a long pier looking lonely out to sea. A long pier, way out over the water. I’m way out at the end with the toes of my shoes over the edge, standing, looking, standing, stretching, looking, looking out to sea. Staring way out at the horizon watching for sails or the trail of smoke from a stack. I’m watching and waiting for ships, for ships that never come in. I wonder where they can be?’
‘Maybe your ships will never come in, Dewey. What then?’
‘What then? I don’t know but I know they’re out there and I know I will at least get my chance. If I get hungry I can just walk back up the pier and get a hamburg at a hamburg shop…with mustard and onions, fries, lots of salt, no catsup. If I leave even for a second though I might miss my ship. Even though I’m surrounded by water I’m still connected to land. In a way I’ve not only got the water but the land. I’ve got my bucket and it doesn’t have a hole in it. God bless the child that’s got his own. Can you dig where that’s at, Doc?’
Godwin broke ocular contact starting back in his seat at the question. He could dig where that it was at. He thought it was quite normal; he didn’t think it was too dissimilar from his own situation. Seldom had he heard such an understanding articulated so well.
Shrugging his shoulders at Bert he said quietly with a well controlled sense of revulsion: ‘You can go now.’
‘Dr. Godwin, aren’t you going to…going to…keep him?’
‘Bert. This is an asylum for the criminally, the violently insane. As you can plainly see.’ He said, indicating Trueman. ‘This man isn’t violent. We can’t take up our valuable beds with harmless types like this. Besides he criticized me and no insane person criticizes a doctor. He tries to manipulate him.’
Sensing that Trueman was to be dismissed the lunatic just outside the window threw his shears down violently driving the points six inches into the ground. He stomped about wildly in a tight circle for a few seconds then snatching up his shears he violently stalked away shaking his shears at Dewey through the panes of glass.
Paranoid delusive? Or just tuned to a different wavelength. How could he have possible known that Dewey had just escaped confinement? Did Dewey imperceptively relax his features? Change his posture thus telegraphing Godwin’s decision? Did the others make some barely perceptible motion of disappointment or was he so attuned to Godwin that he read him like a book? Paranoid or hyper-sensitive? Or did he just distort the implications of what he did see? After all that is what insanity is.
Dewey in his turn had seen the lunatic’s fierce clipping as hostility to himself; some sort of jealousy perhaps because Godwin was giving attention to someone else. This was not the case. The lunatic had fallen in love with Dewey at first sight. As a murderer of those he did love, he was quite obviously incapable of expressing affection in a normal manner. Dewey conversely had been ill-treated so long that he interpreted interest in him as hostility as that was the only kind of interest he had ever known. Truly there would have been a tremendous clash of personalities had Godwin accepted Trueman.
The lunatic stomped off as Dewey saw but then either reconsidering or attempting to outfox the guards who were watching he doubled back around the little white house in the sward of chartreuse to get closer to Trueman. As the party filed out of the door of this fantastic setting the lunatic slipped out from beside the house appearing to be brandishing his shears.
There was a slight hitch in the fabric of space-time as all members present oriented themselves to the situation. The Torbricks hurriedly got into their car while Dewey coldly studied the lunatic as though standing at the end of his pier he watched the man trying desperately to reach him with his tangled line. He was just some poor desperate seaman who could not be rescued, who could not be saved. Dr. Godwin for as jittery as he appeared had the quiet confidence of a circus lion tamer in the cage with his beasts.
‘Albert. They’re leaving, Albert. This has nothing to do with you. We weren’t talking about you. This is something else completely. Go back to your room now. Go back, Albert. Go.’
Then turning to Bert he said coldly: ‘And Bert, you won’t ever have a reason to contact me again.’
Albert cocked his head at Dr. Godwin as if he was spoken to like a cat looking at his owner but otherwise immobile holding his shears up before him. Godwin was now between Albert and Dewey so Dewey quickly slipped around the car gettin in on the far side as Tory gave no indication of letting him in on the near.
Once Trueman was in the car Bert threw out a hasty goodbye quickly swinging the car around in the drive heading toward the gate. ‘I wonder why he said please don’t contact him again?’ Bert mused to his wife. Dewey looked back to see hurt and disappointment in Albert’s eyes. The iron gate swung open as they approached. Passing through they entered the street as the massive steel gate swung slowly shut behind them.
Dewey remained immobile for a couple hundred yards not daring to look back until he felt safely delivered. He knew how his father must have felt, deserted and betrayed by his loved ones as they led him into the labyrinth without his Aridane’s thread for a safe return.
Then he swung around to cast a last look at the Atascadero State Hospital For The Criminally Insane. The enormity of the attempt on his life and happiness hit him. He realized that had Dr. Godwin had had less integrity he would never have seen the light of day again. The Navy would never have been able to locate him if they tried. Nor would they have tried. In AWOL cases they just figured you’d turn up sooner or later.
Decades later if he survived the massive doses of drugs and electric shock therapy and other brutal so-called therapies applied by people nuttier than the inmates he would still be listed as AWOL.
Trueman heaved a sigh of relief.
Tory Torbric who had been turned toward him silently watching him said with a suppressed giggle: ‘That was a real close one, wasn’t it?’
‘Maybe you’re right Torbric; maybe criminality is hereditary. Can be passed from father to son.’
Tory’s comment hit Dewey like a taunt. Dewey’s subconscious desires assumed the ascendance for a moment. It is possible he might have done what his subconscious desire directed. He drew the the knife with the pearl handle and thin six inch blade he had bought in Japan from his pocket. The pin of the cheap knife was already so worn that Dewey just flipped the blade from its scabbard. The effect was electrifying.
Tory’s eyes went as wide as they ever would as he shrank guiltily back against the side of the car. Bert who had been keeping a guilt ridden eye on him through the rear view mirror emitted a fearful gasp.
‘That would be a silly thing to do, Dewey. If you cut my throat you’d be killed too when the car crashes into those trees.’ He said pointing to a row of closely set eucalyptus.
‘Naw. We aren’t going fast enough and besides God protects the insane. You know that, don’t you Mr. Torbrick?’
Bert involuntarily drove the pedal into the floor so that they would be going fast enough if they hit the trees.
‘Oh now, Dewey…’
‘Bert, you heard what your ex-friend in there said. You can see I’m not violent. I’m not crazy either and I’m not a sneaky criminal like you and Tory either.’
Neither Bert nor Tory had any inclination to muddy the waters by denying the accusation so they said nothing more. Dewey sat and pondered who could be behind the Torbricks as he corrected figured they weren’t acting on their own initiative. The true reason was beyond his knowledge so he could only assume it was someone aboard ship. He couldn’t imagine that Kanary had the influence nor did he think Morford had the power. He was therefore at a loss to explain it. He was now aware that he had more than a direct frontal assault like that of Tyrone to fear. His apprehension would estrange him even further from the crew.
Once in Long Beach Dewey ordered Tory to take him back to the Naval Station immediately. Guilt caused Torbrick to comply without demur. Nothing more was said on the way back to the Naval Station.
Un Homme Declasse
Just as Kanary’s betrayal of his leader, Paul Duber, had combined with his past transgressions to darken his mind altering his personality for good so the fear of incarceration in an insane asylum intensified all the anxieties afflicting Trueman. He too became darker and more wary. With slightly over a year before discharge the duration actually became a race to retain his sanity. He began to undergo subtle changes of behavior of which while conscious of them they yet seemed to make sense. Fortunately for Dewey they were reactions to these specific events. They would disappear when the causes did unlike Kanary’s psychic situation. Still, Dewey would always be amazed that he had done without reflection that which was in fact the product of a distressed and distracted mind.
He was now thoroughly disgusted with Torbrick. He meant to have nothing to do with him. He now realized the foolishness of succumbing to Torbrick’s request to visit him in Long Beach as his relationship with Roque Da Costa was irreparably damaged. Da Costa quite rightly believed his friendship had been betrayed or compromised.
It now appeared that Trueman would have to shift for himself if he wished to return to Oakland so Our Lady had accomplished something. As he knew no one in Oakland but Da Costa a cloud was cast over his future plans. But as he intended to enroll in the Thought Management System called Oakland City College he had to resolve his dilemma.
Kerry Maclen or Joe McLean, as he was now known, had developed a vengeful hatred for Trueman after Dewey had refused to share his guilt in Guam when McLean stupidly tried to smuggle beer on board.
McLean was of a devious criminal disposition. Had he been Trueman he would simply have had nothing more to do with him but as a criminal he meant to make Dewey pay. He knew he would have more opportunities as a friend than as an enemy. If he could he would implicate Trueman in criminal activities and then see that he was caught. If not he would sponge off Dewey sabotaging the man and his efforts. Thus he readily fell in with Dewey’s palaver about attending Oakland City College.
When Dewey made his Long Beach trips Joe seeing his opportunity stepped into his shoes with Da Costa. While Dewey was occupied in Long Beach McLean had been traveling to Oakland with Da Costa. Being of an opportunistic nature he had no qualms about dating Da Costa’s sister Terry. Through her he fell into a circle of Juniors and Seniors from Castlemont High School. As he was of a congenial manner he quickly made other friends abandoning Terry for dates with various girls in the Castlemont circle.
Naturally he boasted of his success to Trueman. This was the break Trueman needed. McLean as his ostensible buddy had no choice but to acquiesce. McLean had also ran into his old confederate in crime, Jim Chance, in Oakland. Chance was working daytime as a warehouseman on Airport Way, which is a great job for a thief, and burgling warehouses at night using the information obtained on the job. When he and McLean and Kreskin got together again the basis of the East Bay distribution network for Kayo and Soter Kreskin’s dope smuggling business came into existence.
Dewey had crossed Tory off. Bert however still had his eyes on that twelve-fifty which Our Lady had refused to pay because of his failure to place Dewey in Atascadero. Secure in his h0me and recovered from guilt he had the chutzpah to have Tory ask Dewey back for another weekend.
Dewey was preparing for the trip to Oakland. He was trying to get a good spit shine. Just as Torbrick was approaching him a cry of holloa went up from the Deck hands. Cracker Jack Driscoll stepped through the hatch back from the hospital.
The doctors had saved his finger. They’d stitched it back in place. Now holding his bandage swathed hand against his chest middle finger sticking straight up a shy smile wreathed the sailor’s handsome face.
‘My god.’ Thought Dewey. ‘He’s actually glad to be back.’
‘Good news.’ Cracker Jack said almost timidly. ‘I can stay in the Navy; they’re not going to discharge me.’
‘Congratulations, great, yowsah’, came from all sides including Dewey.
‘Isn’t that great, Dewey?’ Cracker Jack asked.
‘If that’s what you want, Driscoll. Personally I would have taken the discharge but then we all have different tastes. Welcome back aboard.’