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Tacoma, Washington, United States

Friday, August 12, 2016

Getting a Second Chance with the Navy

One afternoon sometime around my birthday in March when I turned eighteen, I came home from work and found Richard stretched out on my (our) bed upstairs.  His suitcase and a box of things he had at college were on the floor.
“Dick,” I said in surprise, “What the hell are you doing home?!  You flunk out or something?”
He grunted and swung his feet down to sit on the side of the bed.  “No,” he said morosely, making a wry face, “the money ran out.  I had a part time job at the Common building doing dishes at meals that was keeping me going.  They fired me when I got caught playing patty cake with one of the waitresses.  Let that be a lesson to you—do what you want to have funk, but don’t get caught.”
“What you gonna do?”
Dick heaved a long sigh.  “Well, I thought it over on the bust on the way home.  With that war in Europe being what it is, I’m going to join the Navy.  We are going to get into it sooner or later and I sure as hell don’t want to get drafted into the Army like Dad did during the World War.”
“The Navy?!  Well, good luck, Buster.  They turned me down last year, you know.”
“Yeah, I know, but you have that tooth missing and I have a perfect set of teeth.  Not even a cavity in my head.”
“You got nuthin’ but a cavity in your head,” I retorted, otherwise you would not have gotten caught playing around with that waitress.  I hope she was worth it!  You join the Navy, you’ll do something dumb, maybe even in boot camp, and get thrown out!”
That scheming, calculating look that I knew so well came into Dick’s eyes.  He smiled to himself and got off the bed.  As he went by on the way out he said, “We’ll see, flea-brain, we will see.”
Dick borrowed three dollars from me the next morning and caught the bus to Portland.  When he came home for supper, he proudly announced that he had been accepted and would be leaving for Navy boot camp in San Diego in about ten days.
Then he turned to me.  “By the way, numb nuts, when the yeoman at the recruiting office filed my papers, he found yours in the file next to it form when you were turned down.  He showed it to the chief petty officer in charge and they told me they are taking a lot more people now and that you could go with me if you still want to sign up.”
“You’re pulling my leg!”
“No, no bull.  It’s the god’s truth.  All them in the morning if you don’t believe me!”

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