The Cigar Box

by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

In an earlier romp through 'navy days memories' I told about Requin's slush fund... The Saltwater Savings and Loan... The tooth fairy of all after battery rats.

The 'slush' had a board of directors... Six animals who met regularly to make the monumental decisions that controlled the totally illegal cash stash.

We would meet to report on the status of what was percolating in the cigar box. We would have two hour sessions about the future of our financial world.

"Hey! Pipe down! Dammit, secure the bullshit! Draw a cup of coffee and plant your butt... We haven't got all night."

"The Great Kahoona has spoken."

"We haven't got all night??? Whatcha got planned, Chief? In case nobody told you guys in the goat locker, this rust bucket is 400 miles at sea... If you've gotta date, it's gonna be one helluva wet walk."

"Buck, you know why they don't send donkeys' to school? Nobody likes a wiseass."

"Knock it off... Knock it off. Dutch, how much we got in the box?"

"3,458 bucks as of last payday with another 160 loaned out. Jack gave me a hundred when he got his orders to SUBRON EIGHT."

"A hundred? What in the hell for?"

"Because, idiot boy... He's a helluva good shipmate. You may not know it but you're gonna miss him, if we get some jerk to replace him. Jack could be a hardass but he was just doin' his job. The sonuvabitch got tears in his eyes when we handed him that new Chief's hat. He said, 'Who went in on this?' And I told him... The whole damn crew... Even the two messcooks. He said, 'No shit?' I said, 'No shit. Everybody tossed in the hat...They're going to miss you.' He squirmed around a bit and said, 'Bullshit... The slack bastards... You give that Hogan's Alley mob an inch and they will eat you alive. I've ridden six boats. Never saw a pack of idiots like those bastards.' I told him 'But they're sailor.' He looked at me, smiled and said, 'Depends on your definition of sailoring."

"Hey Chief... Jacks gone... Whatcha want us to do?... Cry?... He was a good guy... Old Navy... Old hard-ass Navy... I've got his teeth marks all over my ass."

"Yeah... Let's get back to business. What are we going to do with the surplus build up in the box?"

"Get Lucy a retread job on her diaphram."

"Jeezus, can we be serious for five minutes? Is that too much to ask? Will it kill you smart-mouth idiots to be serious until we get some damn things worked out?"

"Ships party!"

"That's original... Beer ballgames and ships parties."

"You got a better idea?"

"Somethin' different... For once, do something adult and responsible... Is that an alien concept, ladies?"

"Whatz your idea of reponsible? You sure as hell aren't gonna build a Requin wing on The Florence Crittenden Home For Unwed Mothers with three thousand bills and odd change. What have you got in mind... A college scholarship fund for Panamanian orphans?"

"For godsakes, don't buy any more of those gahdam Tiawanese lighters with the ships insignias... The Zippo look alikes that fell apart in two months... Boy, did we got hosed on that deal."

"Yeah and the cruise books... We all got soaked for twenty five bucks... The sonuvbabitch went out of business and no damn books."

"Boy, we're a bunch of great businessmen... Real smart bunch."

"The cruise books were a wardroom brainstorm... Don't pin that bullshit on us. The lighters, yes... But the cruise books were some officer's idea."

"Ships' party... Dammit, we've never screwed up one of those."

"You've got it... Beer and babes. Chief, you'd have to be a damn fairy not to think that's a good idea. That's what boatsailors do."

"That's what we do best."

"Chief, we don't build monuments... We aren't going to be remembered. We aren't going to write our names in the minds of our fellow men. We're diesel boat sailors... They are scrapping our boats and we are the tail end of an era that's passed... Sonuvabitch... Beer and our mates... That's what it's all about."

"Let's vote on it."

And we did... And we drank beer, danced with women we never saw again... Sang, told lies, laughed, and built memories that lasted a lifetime.

It all came out of a cigar box.