Gitmo Four

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic

Living on a restricted military base was confining. My brothers and I were always in search of something to get into. Like exploring the reef every chance we got.

Charley Four

Reef Walkers


Sunday mornings were always the best. My parents would sleep in after a night at the Officer’s Club. Sylvia, our maid, had the weekends off. When fingers of daylight would find their way through the tree leaves, my brothers and I would be up before anyone noticed to be off to find what adventures laid in store on the reef.

Just a couple of rock throws down the street and down a winding path behind the BOQ lay our destination. The point was a man made breakwater jutting out a few hundred yards into the surf. Tidal pools would form around the slabs of concrete and growths of coral, forming a haven for aquatic creatures left stranded by the receding tides.

Starfish, needlefish, sea urchins, little sergeant majors finning their escape from larger fish. Driftwood, broken shells, sea fans and sponge coral would find their way to clog up the receding waters to form a pool. We would look for Poseidon’s treasures. Wooden crates sometimes stenciled with the place of their origin would wash up on the beach. Driftwood and large clam shells glued together would make perfect ashtrays for Mom and Dad.

If we were out on the end of the reef at low tide, a passing ship would blow the horn to let us know that it was time to find a safer perch before the waves from it’s passing would cover the top of the rocks.

Every morning coconuts from nearby palms dotted the beach. The sands laid unmolested since the receding tide except for turtle tracks leading down to the water’s edge. An armada of seagulls fluttered around us, calling out for us to leave their little Garden of Eden alone, so that they too could hunt and make their finds.

It was our paradise too. Other kids that lived on the point would sometimes wave at us as they gathered on the beach. Most would never dream of climbing out to join us, obeying their parents demands. Our parents warned us too, but somehow between last night and the next morning, we forgot. To make our way to the end of the reef we had to jump from rock to rock.  Most of the time Duane was on my back.

The early morning sun rising over the horizon was a welcome beacon to what the day had in store. The spray from incoming waves breaking over the rocks would drench us. T Their spines pointed upward. Roll them over on their back with a piece of driftwood, then they would be easier to handle. We could get as many as we wanted. Their dried shells were ornamental and collectible. To us, yuck, but their flesh was a sought after delicacy that we knew we could either sell or trade to the Filipinos. It didn’t take us long to fill a laundry basket.

Fiddlers scurrying everywhere, washed up horseshoe crabs looking like monsters out of the deep. They were scary looking creatures. Invading coconut crabs were huge. During certain times of the year they would come out of the water in the moonlight to mate. Thousands of these huge crabs would own the beach for a few days, clawing blindly at any perceived threat.

We were never selective, we just collected whatever the tides would bring us.  Starfish, seahorses, even the purple balloons with trailing tentacles, known as Portuguese Man of Wars. Sylvia asked us to bring her porcupine fish, blowfish, man of wars and plenty of seaweed. Sylvia always had some Haitian concoction brewing; these were some of the ingredients she used.

Sylvia would store whatever potions she made inside of Mom’s old cold cream jars. She packed them in an old pocketbook and put them in the back of her top shelf in her closet. I know, I know, we weren’t supposed to be looking but a young boy’s curiosity always seemed to win out. When she was gone, we would search her room to see what she had packed away. The chicken bones left on display on her dresser were foreboding, like a silent warning.  We felt it was best to leave them alone.

As the sun climbed higher in the sky we knew it was time to give it up for the morning. Mom and Dad would be rising and wonder where we were. Launches from nearby ships would be bringing men with a liberty pass to the docks soon. We wanted to be there to greet them. Sometimes we would see old friends or old customers, guys  that we sold fruit to or bought comic books from. Since Gary was red haired and freckled faced, most every sailor that passed by would rub his head for good luck.

Not that we needed it though. We always seemed to make our own luck. Living in Guantanamo Bay we felt like we were the luckiest boys alive

Submitted: April 16, 2021

© Copyright 2022 mike frailey. All rights reserved.

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