Being King

by Joe Roche

What I liked about being an engineman aboard the USS Sirago SS-485, the best gahdam boat in SubRon 6 in the early '60s' was that nobody fucked with you in the enginerooms. They may tweak your nose in the control room, ragging you about your filthy, oily, smelly clothes, breaking your balls in after battery crews mess, but in the engineroom you were the king.

It's great being king. As a throttleman, you had your own slave that had to perform the most menial, foul, filthy and demeaning tasks. Just like I did when I was a slave. As a slave in the enginerooms, the bilges were your realm. The fuel oil purifier was your steed, and the CFO tank was your windmill. It was to stay full at all times, and don't forget to pump the bilges, take the readings, start the Hardy Twins… We're gonna make some air. The cooks need water, lite off the Badgers. Gahdammit keep that float in the middle of the glass, or you'll be making battery water and everyone will be shitting non-stop for a week, and the Doc will be pissed off at you. While your at it, go make a coffee run for both rooms.

While I was a slave I always dreamed of becoming King, because I wouldn't break my slaves balls like my king is breaking mine! When I became a throttleman, I change my mind real quick. Had to give my slave something to look forward to didn't I?

Dinks coming in for a signature? Shit, he became slave #2. Especially if one came in while we were rigging for deep submergence. Give him the main salt water intake valve to shut in the lower flats… Don't remember how many turns it took to shut that sucker, but they were real hard turns and I'm certain a dink would count at least 342 turns by time he came topside all sweaty, oily and begging to be released… But slave #1 wanted to keep him around for a while. Being the gracious king that I was, I always let him keep his dink slave for awhile.

As the throttleman, you got to sit in the most comfortable chair. Answer the phone, and spin your finger in the air and point at what you wanted your slave to lite off. Of course you had to drink coffee. Your ears were always alert for any sound however slight, any noise that might indicate a potential problem, which could mean pulling a liner or some other equally horrible thing.

Your ears became your eyes in most cases.

When the rest of the crew had to pass through your kingdom, they always had to pay a toll of some sort. The most perverted of course were the best tolls to collect. Since they broke your chops when an engineman walked forward, it became your turn in the engineroom. Especially thrilling was when the cooks slave… Young and probably a dink himself, Mr. messcrank came into my kingdom and wanted my slave to go outboard one of the engines and fetch him a tin of coffee or sugar. We graciously agreed to hold his filthy white apron while he crawled outboard and got his own can of whatever, running back to the cook , sobbing about how those scuzzy fucking enginemen made him crawl outboard an engine while it was running… All the while begging the cook to let him spit in the chow, just in case one of us would eat it.

Yeah, it was great being King!