By: David ‘Mac’ McAllister
The bar was at the end of a dirt road around the corner from the Marmont Hotel. The monsoons were in full force, and the streets of the Barrio ran resplendent with red mud; that horrible staining clay that would never wash out of a set of whites. It was dismal, dreary and depressing, the last Navy ship had sailed four weeks ago and aside from the occasional station sailor business was terrible. People were hungry
She sat in front of the Sansui fan that had just started circulating the wet, heavy air after the latest power outage. Fanning the perspiration with a banana leaf fan, nursing a rum and coke and silently cursing the Chinese son of a bitch that owned the place, she watched as Mama-san sat sympathetically across from her tracing the water pooled from her drink on the bar into obscene, suggestive hieroglyphics.
In the past, when business was slow, everyone had an opportunity to take the time to visit their province. A chance to be with family, see old friends, commensurate, rest and forget about the rigorous chaotic life of a bar girl. But not this time, the Koreans were starting to build a shipyard across the bay, and the greed of the owner overruled past precedent.
Oh, the Koreans made occasional visits to the bars; however, there weren’t enough of the tight wadded, short peckered, and ill-tempered little fucks to go around. If it weren’t for mamma san feeding the girls, they would have starved. She missed her US sailors with their deep pockets, pleasant banter and willingness to pay a bar fine for a night out. She especially missed her Tom Selleek. Oh, she didn’t know his name, that’s just what she called him. He always showed up in cute shorts, a polo shirt, dark shades, mustache, and a body that would make a girl stick to her seat – he was sought after by all the girls. He liked her, though, and when he was in port, they were as steady an item as you would find in this place.
She had just rolled off the bar stool, placed a Peso in the Juke box and was about to play “I am a Women in Love” for the umpteenth time as they bounced in. Two drunk, slobbering, groping pains in her beautiful heart shaped ass. Korean sand crabs never bought girls drinks, they just harassed them unmercifully, and if they were patronizing the bar, the commie bastard owner could care less. She and her fellow hostesses just endured this piss poor treatment until the Garlic breaths either got bored and left or passed out. In the latter case, they would always boost them for what cash they had before rolling them into the street. So there was some profit in the pestilence.
By now the sun had reappeared and as the rain water vaporized and filled the air with humidity the afternoon turned muggy. The Koreans moods changed as odious and sultry as the air, and the cold beer could not keep their tempers in check. Seems everything set them off, there was no consoling or placating the sorry little shits. To distract this bad behavior she reached down to fondle one of them only to have her hand grabbed and arm twisted up behind her back.
That is probably the last thing he ever remembered, for just as quickly, Mama-san came up from behind the bar with a shore patrol baton and laid him out colder than a Yukon turd. His amazed running mate was dispatched as he stood gap-mouthed and wide-eyed. Mama-san was on a roll; I guess the climate got to her as well, for she took direct aim on the little Chinaman in the corner and let that head knocker fly. On the run now, she picked up a chair and ran his ass out of his own bar.
While Mama-san was chasing Charlie Chan down the muddy street, she and the other girls relieved the Kim Chi gourmets of what cash remained on their persons. As the unconscious interlopers were unkindly deposited outside in the muck, she looked up to see a jeepney stop by the Marmont Hotel. An oh so familiar polo shirt short pant clad figure climbed out into the blazing sunshine, adjusted those shades and walked her way. It was her Tom Selleek.
Although the notoriously reliable bamboo telegraph had failed to tell her of his return ahead of time, she was happy beyond her surprise to see him. Having reached into that freezer in the back room and pulled out one of those famous, ice-covered Sam Miguel’s that he liked so well, she watched as he eased up to the Juke box, dropped a Peso in and selected “I am a Women in Love.” Turning he leaned up against the ancient record machine, drank deeply and grinned that pearly white smile of his. Walking towards him she was thinking, “I may just be only a Barrio Barretto whore, but its times like this that I love my fucking job.”
David “Mac” McAllister, a native of California, now resides in the Ozark Mountains of Southwest Mo. Having served in Asia for the majority of his 24-year Navy career, he now divides his time as an over the road trucker, volunteer for local veteran repatriation events and as an Asia Sailor Westpac’rs Association board member and reunion coordinator. In his spare time, he enjoys writing about his experiences in Westpac and sharing them online with his Shipmates