Damn The Torpedos full speed ahead

" Damn the torpedos! "  Captain Obama shouted.   We'll deliver this load of government cheese come hell or high water!   Just what kind of cheese I could not discern.  It was the foulest case I had ever encountered.  It stunk to high heaven and we were going to be smellng it for weeks on end.   When finally I saw the mark of the maker on the cheese disks I saw that it was some sort of circular symbol with a sky and earth.  I would say heaven and earth but heaven can not smell like this cheese.

As we sailed at flank speed towards oblivion I could not help but think of the horrible view of the hull below deck.  I could not put the ominous hole in the hull of the ship where I saw water gushing  out of my mind.  The image of the men trying to fix the bilge pumps who looked panicked and shot furtive glimpses that seemed to say without words:

" We are doomed for the fool that runs this ship "

I ran forward on the deck and informed Captain Obama that Ensign Geitner appeared to be having trouble with the pumps not running.   The Captain replied that he had already talked with Ensign Geitner and they had discussed opening the hole wider to drain the sea.  Their theory being that the sooner it ran dry the sooner the problem would be solved.   Top main mastman Judd Gregg argued against this from every angle but the captain's officers all agreed that Geitner was a genius.   I had also seen boatswain Bernanke with a crazed look on his face and his eyes bugging out of his head madly scooping up water with a cracker tin only to dump again into `the hold of the ship doing nothing more than a hamster does in its exercise wheel.   I could not help but laugh when some of the cracker tins of water would douse Ensign Geitner though the situation appeared dire.  

I knew we were near the end of our last voyage on the S.S. Hew Breeze.


The first signs

We saw the first signs the Captain had gone over the edge one very clear blue day.   We were on top swabbing the decks with not a care in the  world when the captain standing on the poop pointed and called out   " The seas are rising and a disaster is going to befall this grand sea.  We will set a course for Europe as I must consult with King Canute on his oceanic experiments…… ".    Captain Obama then related how King Canute had performed an experiment wherein he had place his throne on the beach and the oceans level had risen until it swamped him up to his knees as he sat there.   The levels of the oceans were rising.   The science was clear on this.  Only a fool could conclude otherwise.  Just the hopelessly stupid could not see it.  It was as simple as drawing a line between two points on a piece of paper with a straight edge.   The final conclusion by the Captain was as Canute had offered to lend him his throne he would repeat the experiment.  This time he would do something completely novel.  He would sit there on the throne by the ocean willing the oceans level to go lower while wearing swimming trunks made of special environmentally friendly fabric that only the righteous can see.  Admiral Gore had invented said fabric in the fertile laboratory of his mind.


The Captain looked shaken and panicked as he stood there pointing off to the horizon.  The deck hands stood looking and straining to see what he saw.  All we could see was a faint dot of land on the far horizon that looked like it might be an island or a little nearer and be another ship.  We common sailors were not accustomed to the Captain showing fear.   Now he was showing a form of imbalance far beyond fear.   I tried to reason with him.    He responded " The seas will spill over the land ".    We must use every power in our grasp to prevent  this"  And thus we ate rations short of meat which made the men weak and progress was thus slow going.    Captain Obama would stand on the poop and twirl 2 steel balls in his hands with a wild look in his eyes staring off to the horizon and ever repeating " What would Rear Admiral Gore do ?  What would Rear Admiral Gore do? "  

I knew then he had cracked but also knew I would have to wait to allow the other hands on the ship to see it too.  For I knew the Captain much better than they for I am Larry Sinclair the first mate and I knew if I made mention of this too soon they would not believe.  I had privy to knowledge other crew members had not seen.  When the Hew Breeze was in port I was the lackey sent to obtain the Captains illicit packages of Chinese tars.

We had no time for caulking the oak planks that constituted our ship.  The men grew restless knowing that our lives depend upon the integrity of the might behemoth the S.S. Hew Breeze.  The Captain grew ever more petulant when asked for permission to caulk the hull repeatedly.  He would reply each time with the cryptic line that " From tiny oaks might acorns come " .    He would order them to the contrary.  The Captain had a plan for every minute of every day.   He had plans for everything.  Everything was wrong and must be set just right by his design.   The deck hands were on edge.  They dare not start a job because no sooner had they started but the Captain would be upon them telling them they were doing it wrong and setting them straight.  Thus the ship fell into deeper disarray with each passing moment.


Cabin Boy Willy Fox

One time after making my inspection rounds I stopped by the Captains quarters and rapped 3 times quickly on the door and entered.   The visage I was treated to next was quite a shock.  The well liked cabin boy Willy Fox was tied to the futtocks with pants down and bright red stripes across his gluteus maximus.    The captains chief petty officer Emanuel had a bimmy in his hand and was administering  corporal punishment abaft the beam while the captain looked on.   The position they had him tied in I hope he would not end up broke back.    When I looked in Fox's eyes he had a faint glimmer as though he was enjoying the whole process.    I quickly excused myself as the whole process appeared a little queerish.  Later inquired with Gregg as to why the cabin boy was being punished.  The story I got was that Fox had not showed the proper deference towards Captain Obama and it did not take any excuse for petty officer Emmanuel.  Emanual hated the innate goodness of Willy Boy.   It disgusted me.  How could a man with so much responsibility as a ship's captain be so vainly concerned?  Did he not know that would only give him only bad press among the crew? And why would he not solicit the company of the foremast-jack Mr. Olbermann.  The little toady is constantly polishing the captains woodwork.   Surely he could spare the well liked Willy.   There had been rumors of Chief Petty Officer Emmanuel wearing a tutu and twirling and prancing to entertain his better friends in private but I always assumed that was just a sailors joke at his expense.  Could it be the stories were true and the captain was unwittingly being drawn into the scheme girlish twirling?   It all left me worried as a ship is tight space and that fate of one is generally the fate of all on board.   Such light hearted silliness did not bode well for such a serious undertaking as putting to sea.  I wanted to survive the voyage and as I only had one more voyage before my retirement from the navy the feeling was all the more intense. 

The truly odd thing about chief petty officer Emanuel was that he always had bad breath.  Not merely bad.  Atrocious.  I personally witnessed him exiting the head after brushing his teeth.  Even immediately after brushing his teeth his breath smelled that of a foul wind eminating from the wrong end of a man.  How could this be?  What was he eating?

Categories: Fiction


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