One Saturday Morning in Subic
By: Garland Davis
“Well, I woke up Sunday morning
With no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad,
So I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled in my closet through my clothes
And found my cleanest dirty shirt.
Then I washed my face and combed my hair
And stumbled down the stairs to meet the day”—Kris Kristofferson
I woke to the thunderous roar of sunlight streaming through the window. On the other hand, maybe it was an un-muffled jeepney passing outside. I knew that I wasn’t dead. I hurt too fucking much. A dead man would not feel this bad. Where the hell am I? I squinted at the room through aching eyes. I think it is my brother’s house at Baloy Beach. I vaguely remember stumbling in here with a girl sometime in the night. He told me to stay, just lock up when I leave and drop the key with Hanson at the Rose if he doesn’t see me before my ship sails. He had to leave early; told me he had duty Saturday. He isn’t here. Must be Saturday. The girl isn’t here either. Was she a figment of my alcohol riddled brain?
I fell off the Futon onto the cement floor fumbling around for my glasses. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how drunk I get, I always know where I leave my glasses. Of course, I was bare ass naked. My crank was stuck to my leg with dried saliva and other body fluids. So I guess the girl was real. I hadn’t been wearing skivvy shorts. I had thrown them away when a group of Airdale assholes, somewhere in Subic City, started doing skivvy checks. I saw my denim shorts in the corner. I stumbled to my feet and slipped into them.
Somehow remembering that had I placed my wallet under the futon, I snaked my hand under and retrieved it. I hesitated to look inside. How much money had I spent or did the girl I was with rip me off before she left? I was afraid that I had shot all the ammunition in my peso gun last night. Wow, I was pleasantly surprised. I hadn’t spent a lot at all. I checked the secret pocket sewn into the denim shorts to ensure that the three one hundred dollar bills were still there.
My mouth was as dry as the street outside. I stumbled into the kitchen, looking for something to drink. There was nothing in the reefer. A cooler sat by itself in the corner. Looking inside the cooler, I found a single San Miguel beer submerged in tepid water. The thought of warm beer made my gut turn over. Nevertheless, I was so thirsty; my mouth was so dry that I would probably consider drinking a gallon of Shit River if it was served over ice. I grabbed the opener off the floor and popped the top on that hot beer. I drank about half the bottle, gagged and fought to keep it from coming back up. If it did, at least, there was something in my stomach to puke up. I held onto the table to prevent falling, weaving back and forth for a moment, and then forced down the rest of the beer.
I found my shirt in another corner, pulled it on and stumbled around looking for the athletic shoes that I usually wore out here. I don’t have to worry about combing hair or grooming. I keep it in a buzz cut. I discovered long ago that a man’s wallet carried more weight than his hair when it came to female companionship in Olongapo.
I remembered that there was an outdoor bar thing just down the beach. I would seriously consider performing a perverted sexual act for a cold soda right now. I locked the house as the bright sunlight almost knocked me to the ground and stumbled toward salvation for my dehydrated condition. The pretty young teenaged girl behind the counter showed no surprise as my sick drunk ass approached the bar. I asked for a cold Coke or Pepsi. Then I told her to make it two. She set the first one on the bar. It was streaming water and ice chips. I think I mumbled grace to some sailor’s deity as I clutched it with both hands and drank it down in an almost single gulp. Nectar! The cold and wet began the healing process. I sat the empty onto the bar as she replaced it with the second one. I threw some peso coins onto the bar and told her to keep them coming.
As I sat there drinking cold Pepsi in an attempt to repair the damage, I thought back over the previous day and the events that had led to my waking up wishing for death to help me feel better.
Midway had moored at Cubi Point, yesterday; Friday morning. As usual, when entering port, I had been occupied getting stores aboard, the underway watches secured, and the inport watch set. Finally, everything was done; a three-day weekend awaited, nothing between Tuesday morning and me but seventy-two hours of liberty.
I left the ship about fourteen hundred Friday afternoon. I grabbed a cab with a couple of airdale Chiefs. They were heading to the CPO Club. I figured “Why not,” I would have a couple of San Miguels there and then head for my stomping grounds in the Barrio. We walked into the main room of the club; the two airdales spotted some of their friends and moved that way. I told them to have a good liberty and made my usual way to the stag bar. San Miguel was calling!
I saw the beginning of my downfall at the bar as I walked through the door. A Senior Chief Aviation Boatswains Mate who we called “Smokey” (he smoked four packs of Camels a day) was at the bar. Smokey drank beer with a shooter of rum on the side and he had the proverbial “Hollow Leg.” No one could recall ever seeing him drunk. He always insisted on buying shooters for anyone he knew. He knew that I drink Crown and immediately ordered a shooter for me. I asked for a beer; deciding that one and I would be out of there. If I tried to drink with Smokey, I would be “knee walking drunk” by sixteen hundred.
I managed to get out of the club after drinking only one beer and two of Smokey’s shooters. I headed through the gate, across Shit River, to the moneychanger and stocked up on ammunition for my “Peso Gun.” I intended to take a taxi to the Barrio. There wasn’t one around, so decided to walk down to a shit kicking joint on the right and have a Pepsi. The beer and two shots were heavy in my stomach. I didn’t want to get fucked up before dark. Going in that joint was a mistake. A half dozen of my cooks was there and called to me as I entered. By the time, I made it to the table a frosty cold San Miguel was sitting before an empty chair. I thought, “You can’t fight fate, fuck, it must be my karma.” I sat down and took a pull on the bottle. I finished the beer and bought a round of Magoos. After that one, I left. Outside, I stopped a taxi and negotiated the fare to the Barrio. I told the driver to drop me at the Irish Rose.
Things went downhill from that point. There were about a dozen people that I knew in the Rose. The beer was flowing freely, the jukebox was playing, the overhead fans were exercising the flies, and I was negotiating with one of the girls for a blowjob when I suddenly realized that it was dark. Where the hell had the day gone? It seemed as if I had just left the ship. The rest of the night became a kaleidoscope of bars, beer, and girls. I remembered jeepney rides, a girl stroking my leg, drinking Mojo, another girl, more beer and going into my brother’s house with another girl.
Now here I am sitting on Baloy Beach drinking Pepsi trying to sort out the events of the night before to decide whether I had had a good liberty. I concluded that had a hell of a time; it was all good. I was hung over, sick, my dick was sore and I still had plenty of money. That is all a sailor can ask of a liberty.
I finished the second Pepsi and signaled for another as a tricycle taxi came roaring down the beach road and stopped at the bar. There were two passengers crammed into the passenger side car. I recognized one of them as Jack Coates, a Navy retiree, and ex-pat. I didn’t know the other fellow, but he and Jack were obviously about three sheets to the wind. But then, I had never seen Jack in any other condition.
They stumbled to the bar and Jack ordered three beers. The girl placed the beer on the bar and Jack handed one to his companion and slid the other in front of me. I said, “Jack, I’m drinking Pepsi, it is too early for beer.”
Jack stumbled toward me, grabbed my fresh Pepsi and threw it across the road onto the beach and said, “Stewburner, When I’m drinking beer, ever fuckin’ body’s drinking beer.”
You can’t fight your fate. Karma is karma. I thanked Jack lifted the bottle, hoping that I could keep it down, and took a pull. After the Pepsi, it went down much easier than the warm beer I had had for breakfast. Drinking the beer and laughing at one of Jack’s stories, I was thinking that I still had three days’ liberty to go.
Fuck, still three more days liberty. I love it; a sailor’s life is good.
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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.