Topside Watch

by Mike Hemming

Its whatever AM, and its time to go on your topside watch.

Aw crap, I just finished a battery charge 3 hours ago. Well at least its summer now, not like last winter in New London when it was 10 below with a 30 knot wind. Couldn't keep warm for 4 hours, no matter what. Coffee froze before you could drink it. Whites tonight on this 4 to 8, but still no sleep... This qual stuff sucks, but it's almost over... A week to go maybe. Then it's below decks watches and going to bed after battery charges.

Jesus, this coffee looks like mud... Below decks watch goofing off until 0630 before making a new pot... Cripes. Taking the cup in one hand with two of yesterday's rock-hard Krispy Kremes balanced on top. It's out the AB hatch, sliding my back up the CRS, just using my legs to propel upwards. At the top, I set the cup and its doughnuts on deck to finish my climb into the cool night air.

Walking along the sail to the quarterdeck, eyes with no night vision, watch intently for open hatches or things on deck. 'Always walk lookin' down on th' boat' that old chief said, often enough. Don't wanna bust my ass tonight or ever. I seena guy fall thru an open deck hatch... OW!! But it was funny, too. Watch where you put yo feets, dumb ass.

Same old boring stuff assuming the watch, not much going on... Take the gun belt put it on... Check the .45... Some butt-brain may have put a round in. Grew up with guns, not like some of these city kids. Probably the most squared away thing I'll do all watch is check to make sure I don't shoot my nuts off.

OK I got it, don't drink the damn coffee, it sucks. But I need this cup... Tell the new below decks watch to send up a cup that's fit to drink, when he makes it.

"Yeah, only got a week to go till final quals. Yeah well, get your ass in gear then... Aint no gimmes on Requin. In 2 weeks I'll be signing you off in the forward engine room, and I'll make sure you know your shit. Tough babe, do your quals just like we all do."

Jerk thinks he's gonna slide through to his fish... Kids.

Eyes seeing better now... Lights from the cans and Mother Onion make it bright. Wonder where that can's going tomorrow? Wonder if they just go out and bore holes in the ocean like us. Probably they can't see the big picture like us, either.

Checking the draught reading - looks the same as always. This doughnut is only fit for seagulls... The KK truck will be here later, I'll get some fresh ones then. Maybe drop a box down the hatch for the guys. Nah, let 'em get their own.

MMMMMMMMM... Paddy wagon coming... Hope they aren't my drunks, or even have to cross my deck. Ahhh, its coming to the after nest... If that Smitty is pukin drunk again, I'll dump his ass in the water. Whew! it's stopped on the other side of the pier... No drunk's tonight, maybe.

Check the draught again, same as usual. Gawd, this is boring! Well, in a hour or so, things will pick up. Morning in port when it's warm can be interesting.

Lets see, the forward room is loading fish this morning. Torpeckermen got it easy, only work about half the time. But then they wrassle those fish around here 'n there. And then they get to pull them out of the water after firing them... Too cold for me. Staying in the engine room, good bunch of guys there.

Ike is gonna take on fuel today. Glad I'm missing that 'standing on deck, pickin your nose, watching water go over the side for 2-3 hours, great fun'. Darn, I bet they make me fuel king as soon as I qualify.

"Hey Runner! That clown McGarity still back aft? Went to sub school with that idiot."

" Yeah? Well tell him I'm qualed in 2 weeks."

" He did? That clown can't have done it yet... Shit! Yeah, I know I owe him a beer now."

Damn all these guys beating me to their fish.

"Good morning Mr. Schilling, your early this morning... Yes sir, Stewy and I finished the injectors last night before the charge."

" Okay, I'll tell him we can have off... I mean, Yes Sir."

" Yes Sir, I know my mouth is gonna get me in the soup if I don't watch it. I'm sorry Sir... Sir, thanks for the lift back to the barracks the other night."

"Hey, below decks! The Krispy Kreme truck is on the pier... Yeah, I'll get 'em but how about a blonde and sweet that's doesn't taste like yer old socks? You ain't got nothing to do, make some coffee fer crissakes! Okay, thanks... Yeah yeah, I knew you was kiddin."

" That's better... Tastes like new hydraulic oil, not yesterdays. Well, if you aux gangers ever worked, it wouldn't leak into the pot."

"Heres your doughnuts... Jellies are in the top box... Yup I left ya some."

Suns comin up... Pretty, even over Shit City.

Damn, I hope I got the bread to get home this weekend, need some lovin bad. But probably wont get it. How come I never meet these hot chicks like the other guys do? They probably don't either, except 'Lover Boy'... For a sonar girl he sure gets them. Gotta line, he does... Watching him that night in Virginia Beach with the girl from the wedding party... Now that took balls to say that to her, but it sure worked. Him coming back to the boat the next morning, lipstick everywhere, even on his skivvey shorts.

"Morning Stew... Yeah, pretty morning isn't it? Schilling said we are getting off after quarters. Yeah, he's aboard. Okay, see ya later. Wanna ride to J-50? Okay."

"Requin Arriving, Requin Arriving."

"Good morning Captain. No Sir, XO's still not aboard."

Ha Ha, XO's gonna get it now... Old man beat him aboard.

"Morning COB... Yeah, pretty morning. Yeah, I'm about ready for my walk through... Got to get signed off on maneuvering. Then a couple of things and get my drawings together and you can take me through the boat."

" Yes chief, I think I got it. You can trip me I'm sure, but I got it now."

" Yeah, I know I took too long. But it only hurts me, right? Well yes, it hurts the boat... Your right."

"Hey COB, you think there is any way of gittin' out of nuke school? I'd like to stay here... Yeah, I know... It was a hope. Requin's a good boat... I'd like to stay. Yeah, well maybe I'll make it back."

"Okay, nothing special, Old man's aboard, XO ain't... Wonder where 'Baldy' is. Here's the .45... Its empty. You going to th' barracks after quarters? Okay, if you're topside, I'll take you... Me and Stew will stop at Bells first. Breakfast of Champions... Slim Jims and a pitcher."

"Hey Lover Boy, yur clap cured yet? Well, it does prove that you're at least gettin' some every now and again, doesn't it?"

"Yes Chief, Attention to quarters, Aye."


" Damn Stew, it's a beautiful morning, lets go get a beer."