Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 12

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

Enjoy.

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

 

Behind Anav was perhaps half a ruler’s length of space before lockers and equipment filled out to the bulkhead. There was no room for another soul to pass behind him, but somehow people kept regularly doing it. It’s as if these people could deflate and reflate themselves like balloon animals, contorting themselves into in all manner of giraffes and dogs or whatever the unseen hands shaped them to be. I would have to learn this skill to get by. But it’s not so much a skill as it is not caring about rubbing your junk up against another man’s ass or crotch. Knees and ‘bows crashing, breathe on breath mixing, belt buckles and flys catching—humans up close and far too personal. Get used to that, and I knew I could do this. But, it would take some doing some, yielding of my higher mannerisms. There was never anything sexual or weird about it, though we might crack a joke about it, and some took it too far. Closeness was a simple fact of life now. Our world of Submarine was tight and close, and just enough to live in. That’s all.

Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 10

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

Enjoy.

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

 

Across from the tables was the galley, entered into through a door built specifically for garden Gnomes. It was too short overhead so you had to duck. It had a large lip on the bottom you had to step over, which constantly and consistently tripped people attempting to cross it. It was wide enough for a small Chinese woman to fit through, so naturally, I (being 6ft tall and wide like a plywood board) hated the fucking thing.

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!

Enjoy.

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

#1

            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.

#2

           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.

World-Ender.

 

Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 8

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

Enjoy.

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

 

        

          “ET1, can I pick the last Pearl Harbor billet?” I asked.

            All through school they told us that if we were married, we would not be able to choose Pearl Harbor as our first home-port assignment. It’s too much of an investment to move junior sailors with dependents to Hawaii, because the wash-out rate for nubs is high and the government views it as a waste of money. A ‘wash-out rate’ meant that more than a few times, when a new guy got to the boat, he gave up after a few weeks because he couldn’t cut it. So, for us young dudes with wives and kids, Hawaii was out of the question.

            “Not unless you gonna’ swim there, shipmate,” he said.

           

 

Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 7

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

Enjoy.

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

 

      I walked down to the NEX and got some notecards and pens (and cigarettes, of course.) On my way back to the barracks, I stopped at a little used smoke pit behind a building. I chain-smoked three of four cigs, totally lost in revelry. Thinking. I never had any time to simply think, or plan, or just absorb anymore. I looked up at the cold New England Sun overhead, letting the blustery coast winds breeze up on my cheeks. I listened to the sound of my inhaling and exhaling chest, the rhythm of my lungs. Smoke bowled out from my lips, rolling up like grey thunderclouds over the plains.  Seabirds traped by overhead. I was beginning to enjoy their constant company. Occasionally a few would land nearby and peck at the grass or sidewalk. Whenever one got a morsel the others would snap at its beak, engaged in some form of concrete cabotage between one another. They’d croon for a second, then lit off to places high above and beyond my reach. I heard groups of sailors walking by in the distance, generally amused and happy. When the wind shifted just right, I could smell the brackish waters of the Thames down the hill from me. They let me know they were waiting. “Follow me” they called, the ocean, the continents unknown, the entire planet laying beyond its banks. It was all there, and I needed to see. All.

Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 6

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

Enjoy.

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

 

           “Well, Clark, I got one question for you, and you’d better answer honestly, or there will be serious consequences. Understand?”

            “Yes, chief,” the ball in my throat popping out my lips.

            “Clark” he said, doing that fucking leaning in close shit they must teach somewhere at military intimidation school.

            “Yes, chief?”

            “Are you a fucking Russian spy!”

            “No! I swear, I don’t know what that form is. I really have no idea. Honest, chief, I’ve never seen that shit before in my entire life. I swear to Christ, I’ve never seen it before!”

            “Is that so?” he said, standing back up straight. “Well, that’s funny shipmate, because your signature is on the bottom of it!”

            He flicked the paper to me. It landed on the deck. I picked it up. My signature, unmistakably penned in my own stick-fence handwriting, was signed on the bottom. The date stamp told me I had signed it with PO Krotsky, back when I was enlisting. The rest of the document was, indeed, typed in a foreign language. They thought it was Russian. To me, though, it looked more like a computer made up its own secret language one day, just to curse its human masters.

Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 5

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

Enjoy.

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

 

I’d heard off the Kursk accident as well, which killed all 118 hands on board, but that was Russia’s business — not ours. Somehow, though, I’d never heard of these total tragedies from the past. I simply can’t imagine the impact losing a submarine today would have on the national conscious. When the Thresher went down, it was big fucking news. The nation mourned. President Kennedy made a statement. The national ensign was ordered at half-mast for three full days.

The truth was, from triumphs to tragedies, you couldn’t get away from U.S. Submarine Force history on base.  Most of the roads are named after WWII era submarines that went down in battle, or others that were lost at sea. In fact, each street marker lists how many hands were lost when she went down. You see their sacrifice at every turn, and every intersection.

            That’s reverence, America. True reverence. Get it?