The Honch

The Honch

By: Garland Davis

Joe had liberty, but he was broke.  The fifty-one dollars a Seaman pulled in twice a month didn’t go far on the Honcho.  There was enough for a steak dinner at the Club Alliance, a couple cases of beer and a fifth of rum checked into three different bars, a couple of short times, a few drinks for Junko, a carton of smokes, some soap and toothpaste and then he would be broke until the eagle flew again.  Fifty-one bucks would get a sailor through the first week of steaming the Honch and then it was back to staying aboard and drinking coffee until payday.  He just didn’t seem to be able to stretch his money between paydays.  He just couldn’t say no when Junko grabbed him by the crank and said, “Joe, Honey-chan, you buy me drink?”  If he could make Third Class, this time, he would have more money for liberty.

Joe decided to walk over to the base theater and catch the movie.  He had a buck in loose change.  That would pay for the ticket, popcorn, and a coke. The ship was at a new pier, having come out of the dry dock yesterday.  It was the only ship in Yokosuka at the moment.  He wondered why they were at the far end of the pier.  It wasn’t like anyone was using the berths closer to everything.

As he neared the head of the pier, he noticed a small leather rectangle laying across the crane tracks.  He walked past and then turned back to see what it was.  Bending over and picking it up, Joe discovered a small leather folder like some of the guys kept their ID cards in.  He figured someone had lost their ID.  Probably someone from his ship.  He opened it to see who it belonged to.  Instead of a green ID with a picture of the owner behind the clear window, there was a picture of Benjamin Franklin. No! Not a picture, a hundred-dollar bill!  He slipped it out and unfolded it.  There were three one hundred dollar bills!  He quickly searched through the wallet for any indication of to whom it belonged.  The only contents were the three bills.

Three hundred bucks!  Man, a sailor could finance a number of liberty days with that kind of money.  He could set up cases and bottles in five or six bars and afford to buy Junko drinks.  Maybe he could get an overnight and go to Yokohama and spend all night with a girl instead of just wham-bam short times.  Screw the movie.  Joe started back to the ship to shift from undress to dress canvas and hit the beach.  It was barely six o’clock and liberty expired at midnight.

Walking toward the gangway, he formulated his plans for liberty.  Hit up the slush fund for some MPC tonight and change the green into Military Payment Certificates tomorrow. Then go straight to the bar and drink Sapporo’s until about ten and then hit the skivvy house to get laid.  That would leave time for a couple more beers and back through the gate at midnight.

He borrowed twenty from BM3 and went to get ready for a night on the town. As Joe was unfolding his Dress Blue jumper he was struck by a feeling of guilt about spending the money on liberty.  Three hundred bucks was a lot of money.  It really didn’t belong to him.  This was the only ship at the pier. Surely someone from the ship had dropped it.  He decided to take it to the quarterdeck and turn it over to the OOD.  The person it belonged to probably really needed it.

But then he thought about cold beer and getting laid….and came to his senses as he tied his neckerchief.


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A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.



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