Here is the next Chapter of my Memoir/Novel, Lost and Found.
Be well — be in peace,
As I walked into the barracks with my sea bag full of clothes over my shoulder, I saw the top bunks in each corner of the barracks were already being commandeered by guys who got into the building before I did. I wanted one of those top bunks in a corner. I was also in the mood for a fight. I looked around and spotted a guy near a corner top bunk who looked like he’d enjoy a challenge.
I walked up to him, pointed to the top bunk and said, “Hey, are you taking that bunk?”
He looked to be about nineteen or twenty years old. He had dark hair combed into a large wave in front and a sharply defined part. He had the type of face you see in newspaper ads. He’d be one of those guys who always gets the girl. He was about the same height as me and had a slim build. He hadn’t started to change into his uniform yet and the clothes he was wearing were neat and well-pressed. He turned around to look at me and said, “Yep. I like the idea of sleeping in the top bunk. The bunk under it is still available.”
“I don’t want the bunk under it – I want the top bunk. How about we switch?”
“Sorry. There are still plenty of top bunks available. Just take one of them.”
“Nah. I want that one. Maybe you should take one of the other ones.”
“Forget it. I’m staying right where I am. Now, why don’t you move along and quit bugging me?” He turned his back on me and started to open his sea bag.
I grabbed him by his shoulder to turn him back to me and shoved him hard against the bunk. He almost fell into the lower bunk but grabbed the leg of the bunk and reached out to shove me back. I was just cocking my fist for a first punch when I felt strong arms grab me from behind, pin my arms to my sides, and another guy arrive in front of me throwing his fist deep into my belly. It wasn’t the guy who I was talking to – he was still hanging onto the bunk leg to keep from falling. The next thing I knew I was being tightly held by someone who was extremely strong, and thoroughly pummeled by two guys, the guy I was hassling and one other. They were giving me one hell of a beating and I couldn’t break away from the guy who was holding me. I noticed I was getting weaker by the second. I was getting the worst whipping of my life. At some point my lights went out.
I came to in the bathroom and these three guys were washing my face and blotting a couple of bleeding wounds. One of the guys, a big, blond guy who must have been the guy who was holding me – he was certainly big enough – seemed to be taking charge of my cleanup and kept saying, “What the fuck is with you? What the fuck were you thinking? Are you just stupid, or what?”
The good-looking guy whose bunk I wanted was holding a piece of toilet paper up to one of my eyes where I was bleeding.
The other guy had light brown hair and was shorter than either of his friends and reminded me of Billy in some ways. He was well-built and had a look about him which gave the impression he knew what was going on in the world. His hair was short and he was washing my face with a cool cloth. He looked at me and said, “I don’t know why you tried to hassle our friend, but here’s something you need to understand. You can constantly be looking for trouble with us and finding it, or you can start to realize we would rather not be whipping your butt all the time. Join us or fight us – it’s your choice. But I think you’ll be a lot better off joining us. Right now though, we better find you a bunk you’ll accept and we all need to get changed. That sailor in charge is going to be walking in here in just a few minutes.”
He held out his hand and said, “I’m Jim. The guy you were picking on is Joe and this big Swede here is Ralph. What’s your name?”
I said, “Roland.” I could feel my lip was swollen so it came out sounding sort of strange. “I’m sorry I picked on you, Joe – and I do have to say, you guys give a damn good beating. Quite a team.”
Jim started to head out of the bathroom and looked back over his shoulder and said, “Yeah. We are a good team. I’d advise you to join it – not fight it!”