"Christ, how am I ever going to show this to to the Admiral?" The ensign held up a french maid uniform to show.
"Don't. Bad enough we got this crap detail to begin with cleaning up this asshole's mess. Not gonna explain every wacky detail of his dead son's life. You can if you want to."
"No, thanks! The intel boys must have come across it already anyway. I heard they scoured everything."
"Yup, including the Admiral now too. Can't have your son be a scumbag spy and not be above suspicion yourself no matter who you are."
"Yeah, but an Admiral! Thirty-five years - "
"That don't mean shit. You know what would have happened had junior here not offed himself? They'd of beat the shit out of him every day he spent in Leavenworth, no joke. None of this shit is a joke. Hard to blame Admiral Hawkins if he had protected him but they never give no slack on that."
"Ferguson told me what the lieutenant said when they caught him red-handed."
"Well, it doesn't make any sense..."
"Just tell me!"
"He said he just couldn't be the person his father wanted him to be."
"That's it? 'Daddy didn't love me'?"
"Yup. Betrayed his whole country for that. What does it mean?"
"Shit if I know. Looks of that maid uniform maybe he was a fag too." The senior ensign was puzzled by the sight of a wedding band. "Take a look at this. I thought he was never married."
"He wasn't. Ferguson said Hawkins used it to act like he was married because that's supposed to attract women."
"Your shittin' me! That's too funny. Damn, everything about this boy was a lie. He musta been in hell."
"Ferguson's theory is he betrayed us because he betrayed himself. I don't know about that."
"I don't know 'bout that, either. All I know is he was a goddam traitor and he did everyone a favor blowing his fucking head off."
"Still, it seems kind of sad. Hey, Washington, your dad proud of you?"
Washington stopped and glared, eyes frozen with reproach. "Who gives a fuck."
The two men resumed gathering up the dead man's belongings to be handed over to his father the Admiral. No more words passed between them as they filled the black plastic bags to the brim. They tossed the maid uniform in an outdoor trashcan and delivered the bags as ordered. Afterwards, the two ensigns got the hell away from each other as soon as possible.
"Hey Mom and Dad,
"Boot camp is neat! They run your butt off here. I'm getting in great shape! I bet the time I get out of here my whole body will be ripped and strong as an ox. The instructors really know their business, experts all of them. It's a whole different feeling than when I was in school. I never knew I wanted to do then. But I'm fitting right in here.
"I want to learn shooting the most. If we can't kill the bad guys what's the point of anything? The better I can kill the more useful I am. That's how I see it. What are these people thinking saying they don't war anymore? Just wait until those terrorists come over here blowing everything up. They'll be singing a different tune then! But I won't let that happen because I'm going to shoot them all first. Can't wait!
"I heard Kim is getting married. It doesn't matter because I don't care. The army's making a man of me. She might feel awful dumb when I come back with medals from defending our country. Her choice. I don't really care. Just heard about it is all.
"You'd be amazed at the officers here. When they talk have NO doubts. Really makes you understand how we got to keep these wars going. The civilians out there just don't understand. They only get to say what they say because we do what we do. But we don't need thanks. We know our duty and do it. This is the most noble I ever felt in my life. They even quote the Bible to us, Mom. I know you'll like that. It's very inspiring hearing how much God wants us to kill. I am grateful I have finally found true meaning.
"If we don't go on killing people I just don't know what this world will come to. Pray I'm a good shot!
Spenser enjoyed himself best when he was "forgetting", aka drinking. "Four and half more fucking years! I'm seein' the world stuck on fucking Okinawa! What the fuck we doing here anyway? I thought we won that fucking war!"
None of the Japanese in the bar took offense at Spenser. They knew him - and his misery - too well. For him, the military was simply a means to an end. It all seemed so exciting when he signed up. He realized now they were simply telling him everything he wanted to hear. Spenser also realized he didn't know as much about life and the world as thought. Those recruiters were slick!
Gaining some direction in his life had been like sticking his head above water for the first time in his life. Without that breath of air he'd of gone straight out of his mind. But here on the other side of tunnel he'd found prison - not the promised land he'd envisioned. The days dra-a-a-gged by, a constant struggle to keep himself amused amid an endless desert of banality. Any crumb of entertainment was viciously guarded and sought. And the times when he could do his "forgetting" were the best of all.
"Hey, who's going to love me long time?" he shouted out to no one and everyone. "American GI got mucho dinero."
Spenser got his languages mixed up when he was drunk. He expected them to understand any foreign word since they were all foreigners (seems logical at the time). He was only joking about the money, though, adamant on "never paying for it ever". And a good percentage of the time it worked out fine for him.
"Damn you people live in tiny places!" Spenser couldn't wait until his exile ended and he could return to the big wide open United States. The small room of her residence only reminded him he was in a prison. "But those legs of yours sure do help! That's something I can salute!"
She understood some English but she didn't need a translator for the universal sign of interest from a male as he dropped his pants. She kept smiling and laughing as Japanese girls are wont to do. His American manners were so different and exciting. She couldn't wait to tell about this experience later to her friends. Ayuko attempted to join Spenser's banter.
"Yes, yes, I salute your fag!"
"That's FLAG! Pronounce yer damn L's!" But her salutations ended all discernible speech and Spenser made it through another day alive.
Silverman never expected to end up on the wrong end of a mop handle in the bowels of an aircraft carrier even in the sorely misbegotten life he'd led so far. He hated his life, had always hated his life, and was going to hate his life until the foreseeable future. Joining the Navy was supposed to have given him something to fix his life but he never found it. That's when he decided he was just going to take it. "They owe me!"
He had a keen eye for weakness and naivete. Silverman trolled the hallways of the ship for fresh female recruits, especially those with "a missing Daddy syndrome" as he called it. He knew how many recruits joined up looking for guidance, but also knew the only "guidance" they would find was to be used and used up (which so few want to admit). That would leave them vulnerable and play right into his hands.
Raping was good but afterwards was better. To see the broken look of trust in their eyes, no longer looking at anyone directly. "Welcome to the real world, bitch!" he'd crow as he passed by later with a smirk. Silverman knew they wouldn't tell, they'd be too crushed by what Daddy would think of their failure. He too was a recruiter - a recruiter into the army of the miserable. No one felt more raped than he. Silverman bragged of his latest conquest to a group gathered round his bunk.
"Dumb bitch didn't know what to think when I whipped it out. Was like she was disobeying orders if she refused. Thank God for naval brainwashing! The minute I saw that hesitation, I knew! The feel of that firm ass drove me nuts. And like always, the more they protest the more I like it! Her protests got confused real quick and at the end she was just crying, which is really hot too."
"You really sure she ain't gonna say nothin'?"
"Who's she going to say anything to? She'd be cutting her own throat if she did. Besides, you know what I said after?"
"Want me to call Daddy for you?"
"Whoa, that's cold, man!"
Kohler was lying on his bunk overhearing everything. He thought it time to interject. "Spoken like a true gentleman and a scholar!" he surmised with a grin.
Silverman - as usual - was incensed by Kohler's words. "You just shut your faggot mouth over there! I don't want to hear shit out of you! You understand?"
"Me?" asked a surprised Kohler. "What could I possibly have to say? You're defending liberty and freedom - one rape at a time."
Silverman lunged towards Kohler but having already calculated his path of attack Kohler heel kicked his opponent in the upper thigh, putting Silverman on the floor clutching his leg. "I'll get you for that, you asshole!"
"You do that, smart guy, but know this: you start a war you goddam well better be ready to finish it 'cause I sure as hell am." Kohler's usual joking facade had disappeared in a burst of fury ready to pounce on any word Silverman said. Silverman was smart enough to keep quiet - which only hardened his grudge. But Kohler wasn't done yet.
"What is this shit, anyway? We're all scared shitless we're dying here. You guys sign up to be heroes? You really fucking think we're out here "defending democracy"? I've seen these gung-ho morons believing every officer descended from heaven and every general's an angel. Scare the shit out of me. What a collection of lost souls we are. Except for goofball Spenser over there you're a bunch of lost sheep with your head up your ass - and thinking that is patriotic!"
Kohler turned on his side away from the group. Everyone wanted to say something in their defense but words failed them, seeming too inadequate. The only retort they could finally muster: "Then you're a sheep too."
"Ba-a-ah," Kohler replied, putting the conversation to rest.
Next week when Silverman got a letter from home stating he was to participate in their "Hometown Heroes" project, he read it extra loud in order to goad Kohler. He read about getting front row seats at a pro basketball game and how he'd ride around in the back of a pickup at a baseball game. "The crowd will go nuts!" he laughed. But not a peep from Kohler.
Kohler knew already lost souls were not confined just to his neck of the woods. Nobody in this world wants to admit the truth, to speak about how they really feel, or stand out from the mad crowd. The world is swirling with lies and deceit, hurling headlong into a hopeless fate, life slipping through fingers at the speed of light - and the time of revelation coming.