Blackbeard the Smokeboat Snipe

by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong
 
 

When Flo Hemming dies, God will put her in the express lane to Paradise… This poor lady has had all the hell on earth that God assigns to any one human being. You see, Flo Hemming is the lovely lady Mike Hemming, a.k.a. 'Boy Throttleman' hypnotized into marriage… No parole… No time off for good behavior. Hell, Flo could shoot him and do less time.

Flo has never taught Mike the intended concept of sleep. The idea that God created night and day for specific purposes and that the dark part was to be spent putting a download on a Serta.

At reunions, there are always five or six long-range liars who hang around the bar in the hospitality room, unloading load after load of historically inaccurate horse manure… And putting a helluva dent in the 'toss the hat' liquor stores. Like injured race horses, the only way you can put Hemming down is to blow a hole in his head with a large caliber handgun. When senor Hemming starts consuming brewed products in multiple can increments, there is a resulting rapid erosion of truth. After twelve or so cans, Mike will swear to the historical accuracy of Dr. Seuss.

At the first Requin reunion, I felt that I should stay up and drink with the heavy hitters. Only in the ensuing years I had learned when to switch to Pepsi and when to say 'to hell with it' and toss my car keys on the roof. I stayed up until a drunk ran down the corridor in white hat and skivvies yelling,

"Take her down to six-five feet and report yer leaks…"

Followed by two guys yelling,

"Paint locker, manned and ready!"

Anticipating the not too far off arrival of the local Gestapo or guys from the local asylum with nets… I gathered up my confused Norwegian submariner's wife and went to our room… The one Bob Garlock put me in right next to some sonuvabitch who checked in with a dog that could have easily qualified for the Budweiser beer wagon team. Damn dog barked all night and every time he barked, a couple of fillings fell out of my teeth.

When we got back to the room, I found that my innocent foreign-born bride was wide-eyed shocked. She had been listening to Mike Hemming and was trying to deal with the revelation and discovery that she was contractually cohabiting with a perverted heathen.

"Darling, Hemming lies. Don't believe a word the sonuvabitch said."

"Sweetheart, there is no such thing as a six-story cathouse… And if there was such a place and I jumped out of a six-story window with a nekkit blond… I would be dead… D-E-A-D… Deader'n hell."

"No, no one ever had to use a high pressure hose to get me out of a tree."

"Mom, Hemming is a master bullshit artist… He and Stuke… When presented with a choice between truth and fabricating something out of ten pounds of pony shit, will go for the pony crap every time."

"No, neither of them ever developed an appreciation for what became known as the concept of sleep… They never figured out that the Lord's original idea of dividing the day into two sections of 12 hours was so tired bastards could sleep."

"Dex?"

"Yes, sweetpea?"

"Did you ever make love to a zebra?"

"Who'n the hell told you that!?!"

"Mike Hemming."

"Darlin', I could go around this hotel and round up a couple of hundred sworn affidavits that Mike Hemming hasn't been closer than five miles to the truth in ten years."

Hemming doesn't care whose reputation he flushes down the ceramic dumper.

I love Mike a.k.a. 'Boy Throttleman'… Proud to call him shipmate. Love Flo… Maybe someday this lovely lady will knock off Mike's rough edges and file his horns down enough to turn him loose in polite society.

Mike lies. I, on the other hand, only deal in the gospel truth… Never prone to exaggeration or concocted horseshit. I should be writing Little Golden Books for kiddies.

Hemming lies… But all the stories told on him are true. He is a totally unrepentant corrupting influence who needs salvation in the worst way. When he was assigned to the Carp, they say he tossed his seabag over the brow, saluted the colors and the quarterdeck and said,

"What the hell is 'C-A-R-P'? Don't you idiots know how to spell crap?"

Mike, if you are reading this, know we love you and after your invitation to the Carp get together, I spent the better part of a month pulling your harpoons out of my butt. Consider this a love note… Kind of a belated Valentine… A big, wet kiss from Stuke and Dex.

 

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