My mind is foggy when I awake from a Darvon induced coma. I stir in my rack - the navy term for a bed - stumble to my feet and shuffle down to the head-the navy term for the bathroom. I had twisted my knee while running in antiquated navy boots or “boondockers” as they were called back then and the combination of my injury and the Darvon which the navy boot camp physicians prescribed by the handful for about any form of ailment either real or imagined, made my journey slow and painful. It didn’t help that I had tripled the recommended dosage of the Darvon in a successful attempt for a cheap high.
I’m almost all the way to the head when I realize that the fire watch - who is just another dumbass recruit like me - hasn’t approached me, which is part of his two hour duty, and demanded to know “just what the hell I think I’m doing roaming around the barracks at zero dark thirty?” Strange, but then again I’m stoned and tired and really don’t give a fuck. The dumb bastard could have gone and hung himself (which isn’t unheard of in boot camp) for all I cared. I softly pad into the head and take a leak. After I’m done pissing I contemplate jerking off. It’s been an eight week sabbatical from self-abuse and it sounds like it would be fun but I don’t dare for fear of the watch catching me and then telling everybody about it by breakfast. Recruits have been claiming that our food is being spiked with saltpeter - which is actually used as a fertilizer - to cut down on us having morning wood and jerking off like monkeys but I think the line is bullshit. I’ve had diamond cutter erections the whole time I’ve been in boot camp.
Coming out of the head I stop to catch a drink of cool San Diego water from the scuttlebutt – the navy term for a drinking fountain – when once more I notice the fire watch still isn’t around. Now I’m starting to get interested so I go over to the posted watch schedule and in the dim red light thrown off from the exit sign at the door I run my finger down to the list to see that it’s Murphy, a world class prick and the recruit company yeoman – the navy term for a paper shuffler – who is scheduled for fire watch.
It’s then that I notice a light burning from under the office door of our short, black, balding, and mean as a snake company commander, Chief Johnson. Johnson is a nasty bastard and thief to boot. For eight weeks he has demanded two dollars from every recruit who smokes, about fifty boots in all. Johnson claims that it is against navy regulations for us to keep our own smokes so he buys them for us. Two cartons a week for the whole company, one carton of menthol, one carton of regular, whether we got to smoke them or not. Cigarettes at that time in the military were going for about ten bucks a carton at the Exchange, so you do the math.
I faintly hear radio music coming from behind the door. 10cc is pissing and moaning I’m Not in Love. It’s flirting with disaster but I can’t resist so I sneak quietly over and press my ear to the door. The song has changed on the radio, now Alice Cooper is singing about how Only Women Bleed.
Holy shit! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!
Within seconds I turn away quickly and do a combination limp/shuffle/speed-walk back to my bunk – hoping that no one hears the slapping of my shower shoes on the floor - where I throw myself down, pull the blanket up over my head, and lay there replaying what I heard over and over in my head, until I finally hear Murphy come out of the office and resume his patrols up and down the row of racks.
I didn’t sleep a wink the rest of the goddamn night.
To this day I don’t know if I was dreaming, hallucinating from that fucking Darvon, or if I really had been standing outside that door with my ear pressed up just under the nameplate that read COMPANY COMMANDER JOHNSON. But I never looked at Murphy or Johnson the same again.
“Man, you skinny little white boys can sure suck a mean dick!”