Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 9

As promised in the 16 Week Writing Challenge, I will be putting up samples of work I did from the preceding week.

This week I doubled up. Two different samples.

Because I’m wild and crazy like that.

Watch out!


From my memoir in progress, Down Ladder: A Submariner’s Tale.


            Nobody really said anything the whole trip to the hotel. It was late, and everyone was rather tired from travel. I watched as huge green street signs that I couldn’t read flew by my tinted window. Some had strong warnings on them that meant something important, but I didn’t know. To my left was the city. Manama City, actually. Large skyscrapers jetted up through the night sky, alit by halo lighting, and some even lit by neon blue, green, and purple laser lights. A Pink Floyd concert at the end of civilization. A few of the towers looked like enormous scimitars carving out the black Arabian night. The phallic demarcation of power and wealth. This was no poor country. This was shock. This was awe. These buildings were singular, not in rows like New York or Chicago. They looked like fists or volcanoes sprouting from the desert wherever they felt it was right. Below them were small buildings of a few stories, cornered in where they could. To my right was the khawr al Qulay’ah, an inlet of dark blue almost cobalt water from the Persian Gulf—my real home.

The driver was tearing along at speed, whipping through lanes, turning without notice, cursing under his breath at every new road we turned on. He was a vicious Arab, rolling down his window to shout at people in crosswalks and red lights. I didn’t care. I rocked in my seat and let my head bounce soft off the window, staring at the world unknown outside the glass. Yellow lights streamed by in intervals. I blinked each time they passed.


           After several security checkpoints at the entrance to the port, we drove down the pier to the Springfield. It was moored all the way at the end, and we passed ship after ship on the way there. A French frigate here, huge like an ocean-liner with a pyramid in the center of it. Across from it a Royal Navy destroyer, squat and compact like a bulldog and armed to the teeth. An American cruiser with white globes and antennae sprouting all over it like hypersonic pods and twigs, the big gun on the forecastle like every turret gun in Star Wars, but much cooler. And ships I couldn’t identify, but was sure the enemy would not like to see. The tonnage at this pier could spearhead a war and sustain a battle for days, weeks, months even. Big, powerful, mighty terrors of the sea. Weaponized horror from the blue at every turn of the eye.

At the very end, sticking up in the horizon just a tad, sat a small black column against the strengthening haze of the mad Arabian sun. There she was. The USS Springfield. The black ship at the back of the classroom, sticking her middle finger up to all bigger ships in front. A primed torpedo ready to attack; a mechanized death machine ready to sink any ship, anywhere; a silent eviscerating apocalypse of black iron, cold steel, and precision engineered brutality.

The clandestine baby of the atomic age.

Offspring of Cronos.



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