They Call Me “Doc”

stolen from Fred “Doc” Gardner

I Am A Navy Corpsman

© 2003 by Mark A. Wright, HMC(SS/FMF) USN

I am a navy corpsman. I possess the stamina and enthusiasm of youth and the wisdom and experience of an old man.

I am 3 parts doctor, 1 part nurse, 2 parts marine, 1 part yeoman, and 3 parts mom, yet I am 100% sailor.

I am unemployable to the civilian world in my given profession yet have been the very lifeline for countless marines, soldiers, and sailors since 1778.

I have carried marines from the battlefield… and have been carried reverently myself by marines who mourned my passing like that of a brother or sister.

I am young. I am old. brave, scared, and scarred. my title has changed over the years: loblolly boy, surgeons steward, pharmacist mate, hospital corpsman, IDC, yet with all the changes I am still simply known as “Doc”.

I have celebrated peace; yet felt the sting of war on the seas, in jungles, in foreign cities, in Washington D.C., and on beaches of every shade of sand… white, tan, coral, and black.

I have raised hell on liberty; hope in the midst of battle …. and Old Glory on Iwo Jima.

I have removed appendixes on submarines and limbs in the midst of battle and many other procedures far above and beyond what I am expected to do by the normal practice of medicine because it had to be done in order to save the life of a marine or sailor in battle or under the ice, far from a doctors care.

I have ignored my own wounds to the point of death in order to stay at my station treating the wounded of my nation’s Navy, Marine Corps, Army, and Air Force.

have the highest number of Medals of Honor of any corps in the Navy …..most of them presented to my wife, my child, or my mother because I was already in heaven at the time.

I am proud to know in my heart that every marine who has ever fought and every sailor who has gone to sea on ships owe their very lives to those they simply, yet respectfully know as “Doc”

30You, David McAllister, Paul Hanes and 27 others4 CommentsLikeComment

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Japanese Clay Grenades

stolen from Facebook

They may look like Christmas tree ornaments—but their origin is a bit deadlier. While they now sport beautiful decorative paintings depicting Mount Fuji through the four seasons, these colorful orbs actually began their existence as World War II hand grenades.

Type 4s, or ceramic grenades, were produced by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the waning days of the war as the raw materials of conflict, such as metals, were in ever-rarer supply. As the noose tightened and Japan prepared to defend the Home Islands to the last man, these crude, porcelain-encased fragmentation explosives were cranked out and distributed en masse to home-front reservists, volunteer defense groups, and the like. They also made their way to the beleaguered front lines, adding to the din at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Revered pottery kilns famous for their exquisite Japanese export pottery were mustered into the war effort to mass-produce the cheap boomers. Measuring approximately 4 inches in height and 3 inches in diameter, they employed a simplistic firecracker-like fuse, a rubber cap, and a glorified blasting cap as a detonator.

Because they were so prolifically manufactured, the Type 4s have become a popular collectible—sometimes turning up in their original plain and unadorned state, and sometimes repurposed into an odd sort of postwar folk art—as in this aesthetically pleasing quartet, now in the collection of retired U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Paul Reuter. And while they do look like they’d be great hanging on the Christmas tree, such an option is a no-go: They’re so heavy, they’d weigh the boughs down to the floor as droopily as Charlie Brown’s infamous tannenbaum. Still, it’s heartening to see how a device born of desperation and warfare can evolve into something that evokes thoughts of peace on earth, and good will toward men.

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Military Veteran

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To understand a Military Veteran you must know:

We left home as teenagers or in our early twenties for an unknown adventure.

We loved our country enough to defend it and protect it with our own lives.

We said goodbye to friends and family and everything we knew.

We learned the basics and then we scattered in the wind to the far corners of the Earth.

We found new friends and new family.

We became brothers and sisters regardless of color, race or creed.

We had plenty of good times, and plenty of bad times.

We didn’t get enough sleep.

We smoked and/or drank too much.

We picked up both good and bad habits.

We worked hard and played harder.

We didn’t earn a great wage.

We experienced the happiness of mail call and the sadness of missing important events.

We didn’t know when, or even if, we were ever going to see home again.

We grew up fast, and yet somehow, we never grew up at all.

We fought for our freedom, as well as the freedom of others.

Some of us saw actual combat, and some of us didn’t.

Some of us saw the world, and some of us didn’t.

Some of us dealt with physical warfare, most of us dealt with psychological warfare.

We have seen and experienced and dealt with things that we can’t fully describe or explain, as not all of our sacrifices were physical.

We participated in time honored ceremonies and rituals with each other, strengthening our bonds and camaraderie.

We counted on each other to get our job done and sometimes to survive it at all.

We have dealt with victory and tragedy.

We have celebrated and mourned.

We lost a few along the way.

When our adventure was over, some of us went back home, some of us started somewhere new and some of us never came home at all.

We have told amazing and hilarious stories of our exploits and adventures.

We share an unspoken bond with each other, that most people don’t experience, and few will understand.

We speak highly of our own branch of service, and poke fun at the other branches.

We know however, that, if needed, we will be there for our brothers and sisters and stand together as one, in a heartbeat.

Being a Veteran is something that had to be earned, and it can never be taken away.

It has no monetary value, but at the same time it is a priceless gift.

People see a Veteran and they thank them for their service.

When we see each other, we give that little upwards head nod, or a slight smile, knowing that we have shared and experienced things that most people have not.

So, from myself to the rest of the veterans out there, I commend and thank you for all that you have done and sacrificed for your country.

Try to remember the good times and make peace with the bad times.

Share your stories.

But most importantly, stand tall and proud, for you have earned the right to be called a Veteran.

I’m a VETERAN!

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Funeral Home – More of the Story

By Garland Davis

Cadillac 1963 Hearse stock image. Image of hearse, cast - 6703633

To read the beginning of this story:

https://garlanddavis.net/2021/11/03/the-funeral-home/

Junior Ledbetter returned home from a visit to the NC State Mental Hospital in Morganton.  He had gone there to visit his mama, who had become unbalanced during his dad’s viewing at the funeral home.  His mother was convinced that she had been talking to his father.  Supposedly his father told her there was a large amount of money hidden somewhere. She was convinced the money was somewhere in the house and started tearing it apart while begging her dead husband to tell her where it was hidden. A doctor was called, and she was eventually committed to the hospital.

The doctor there held out little hope for her recovery. It seems that all she does is sit in her room or in the dayroom and whisper to her dead husband about money promising him all manner of sex if he will only tell her where he hid the money.

Once Junior returned home, he walked through the house, surveying the carnage his mother had created before the medical people carried her away. He picked up his father’s hunting jacket and hung it in the hall closet where he noticed two cardboard boxes. He hauled one out into the hallway and opened it.  Inside were twelve half-gallon jars of clear liquid.  He screwed the lid off one and sniffed the contents. Moonshine!  His Old Man didn’t drink.  That means the rumors that George had been a bootlegger were true. Bootleggers made good money. 

Maybe there was something to the story of hidden money!

Junior dragged the other box out and found another dozen jars of the whiskey. He went to the kitchen for a Co-Cola. He decided that since he had so much liquor and didn’t know where to sell it, he might as well drink some of it.  He had tasted moonshine a couple of times when Clete Dowell was home from the Navy and had brought a bottle to a beer party down by the river.

He returned the cushions to the couch, righted the end table, and set the jar of booze and the soft drink on the table by his elbow.  He popped the top on the can and took a drink.  Next, he sipped from the jar and quickly followed it with more of the coke.  He repeated the process. The explosion of the alcohol in his stomach was pleasant. He did it again, thinking, “If the old man had any money, it would be like him to hide it. He must have hidden it.  There was only $400 in the bank.”

Junior spent the next two hours sipping the whiskey and thinking about money before he passed out on the couch. He had three dreams.  The first, dreaming he had to piss, he walked out on the front porch and pissed off the porch as he had done when he was a toddler. That was in his dream.  He pissed all over himself passed out there on the couch.  The second he was sitting talking with is dad, George. He dreamed George told him where he had hidden thousands of dollars, money he had earned from his Handyman business and selling white likker. He had to piss again so he told the old man he would be right back and went to the porch again.  In the third dream, he was sitting in a pool of warm water wearing his pants.  He could feel the warm sensation in his crotch and legs.

Junior woke to find himself wet and hungover.  Disgusted with himself, he peeled the pissy clothes off and went into the shower.  As he was bathing, he remembered talking to George in the dream.  He knew his dad had told him where the money was, but he couldn’t remember where.

After dressing, he raided the refrigerator sat in George’s chair trying to remember.  He pushed the chair away from the piss smelling couch and decided to drink more of the moonshine and try to reconnect with George. To no avail.  George just wouldn’t talk to him in his inebriated state.

He decided that he would search for the money.  He was a smart fellow.  He could figure this out! All he had to do was think like George. The old guy was a handyman, good at carpentry and building things.  It stood to reason that he had built a hiding place somewhere in the house or the workshop/garage.  All he had to do was find it. Junior took another sip of the shine while planning where to start.

George had repaired some termite damage in the rear bedroom.  He had replaced some studs, joists, subfloor, drywall, and carpet.  That would have given him an opportunity to build a hiding space.  The back room would be a good place to start.  He took another sip and decided to start tomorrow. Before he passed out, he stumbled out onto the front porch and thrilled old lady Murrow across the street by hauling out his penis and pissing in her direction.  She was fumbling in her bag for her binoculars.  It had been twenty years since she had seen a pecker and wanted a closer look. She wanted to see if it was one of them circumcised ones. She had a computer but couldn’t bring herself to ask anyone how she could see that porn stuff.  Maybe she would ask that Alexa bitch that her daughter put in or maybe that Googler thing.

Over the next six months, Junior drank moonshine and gutted the house and the outbuilding. The only money he found was %14 in a coffee cup in the back of a kitchen cabinet. He found a bunch of battery-powered things that looked like dicks in his mama’s dresser

He had gotten the tractor out put on the turning plow and plowed up the entire yard in case George had buried the money.  He thought he had found something when a Prince Albert Tobacco can was revealed he jumped off the tractor and grabbed the can. He had left the tractor in gear, and it plowed its way across the yard, through the fence, and across the neighbor’s pasture.

The can was rusty. He ran for the workshop and searched through everything on the floor and found a screwdriver and pried the top off the can.  He looked in and saw a lot of rusty fishhooks. “Just like the old man,” he thought. “Booby trap it by covering the money with fishhooks.”

Next, he went through the clutter on the floor to find pliers and a cutter to get the fishhooks out of his hand.

While all this was happening, Junior had taken to talking to his father, asking for directions and where to look next. George wasn’t talking! As he drained a jar and screwed the lid off a new one, he decided to go talk to the old Son of a Bitch in person. 

Back to the workshop to find a shovel. He followed the furrow to where the tractor had died when it came up against an oak tree, backed it out, unhooked the plow, and started for the cemetery.  He decided to dig George up and talk to him man to man.

He was digging down about two feet when Deputy Johnson walked up and asked, “What cha doin’ there Junior?

Junior paused in his digging, took a drink from the jar, and said, “I need to talk to the old man, so I am digging his ass up so we can talk face to face!”

The deputy radioed for assistance and the ambulance and stood and watched Junior digging while waiting for the ambulance. When Junior wasn’t watching, he took the almost full jar to his cruiser.  He liked a little moon on occasion. The other deputy and the ambulance arrived simultaneously. Junior put up a fight! It took the two deputies and the ambulance driver almost ten minutes to get Junior strapped and handcuffed to the gurney.

After removing a couple of fishhooks from Junior’s hand, treating him for infection, and pumping him up with a couple of tetanus boosters, the psychologists determined that he belonged in Morganton near his mother. The doctor determined to do some research on insanity

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Jack Tar

stolen from Paul Reuter

Sailor Drinking Beer Canvas Print / Canvas Art by Fox Photos

This was written about the British sailor but the same can be said about us.

The traditional sailor was not defined by his looks. He was defined by his attitude; his name was Jack Tar. He was a happy go lucky sort of a bloke; he took the good times with the bad

.He didn’t cry victimization, bastardization, discrimination, or for his mum when things didn’t go his way.

He took responsibility for his own, sometimes, self-destructive actions…

He loved a laugh at anything or anybody. Rank, gender, race, creed, or behavior, it didn’t matter to Jack, he would take the piss out of anyone, including himself. If someone took it out of him he didn’t get offended; it was a natural part of life. If he offended someone else, so be it. Free from many of the rules of polite society, Jack’s manners were somewhat rough. His ability to swear was legendary.

He would stand up for his mates. Jack was extravagant with his support to those he thought needed it. He may have been right or wrong, but that didn’t matter. Jack’s mate was one of the luckiest people alive.

Jack loved women. He loved to chase them to the ends of the earth and sometimes he even caught one. (Less often than he would have you believe though) His tales of the chase and its conclusion win or lose, is the stuff of legends.

Jack’s favorite drink was beer, and he could drink it like a fish. His actions when inebriated would, on occasion, land him in trouble. But, he took it on the chin, did his punishment, and then went and did it all again.

Jack loved his job. He took immense pride in what he did. His radar was always the best in the fleet. His engines always worked better than anyone else’s. His eyes could spot a contact before anyone else’s and shoot at it first. It was a matter of personal pride. Jack was the consummate professional when he was at work and sober.

He was a bit like a mischievous child. He had a gleam in his eye and a larger-than-life outlook.

He was as rough as guts. You had to be pigheaded and thick-skinned to survive. He worked hard and played hard. His masters tut-tutted at some of his more exuberant expressions of joie de vivre, and the occasional bout of number 9’s or stoppage let him know where his limits were.

The late 20th Century and on, has seen the demise of Jack. The workplace no longer echoes with ribald comments and bawdy tales. Someone is sure to take offense. Whereas, those stories of daring-do and ingenuity in the face of adversity, usually whilst pissed, lack the audacity of the past.

A wicked sense of humor is now a liability, rather than a necessity. Jack has been socially engineered out of existence. What was once normal is now offensive. Denting someone else’s overinflated opinion of their own self-worth is now a crime.

Pusser's British Navy Rum "Gun Powder Proof" Original Admiralty Strength  54.5% ABV

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Orville

By Garland Davis

50 Dollar Bill | SkiTalk | Ski reviews, Ski Selector

Orville was back in his hometown of Possum Creek, NC.  It is a no stoplight town  halfway around the mountain from the larger town of Possum Holler.  He was back from Winston=Salem where he had worked setting poles to hold electric wires through the summer.  Winter is coming and they don’t set poles in cold weather except in an emergency.  That have their regular workers for that.

He was sitting on the front porch of Ledbetter’s store smoking a ready roll and drinking a Big Grape.  He had heard his cousin Jebibiah, it was supposed to be Jedidiah but his mama and the county clerk who filled out his birth certificate had a combined education of third grade, was back from Balt’more. Jebibiah was the best they could do. Everybody called him Jeb except his mama, she called him Jed.  She maintains that no matter how it is spelled, his name is Jedidiah and should be called Jed.  She picked that name because she was watching Beverly Hillbillies when he was conceived.  She loved the show and never missed an episode. Her old man had to go to work and didn’t want to wait till it was over cause it would have made him late.

Jeb/Jed pulled up in a new red, white, and chrome 55 Ford convertible car.

Jeb climbed the steps onto the porch and said, “Hey, Orv! How ya doin?’

“I’m purty good,” Orville answered. “You done took up car stealin’ these days? I know you ain’t got ‘nuff money to buy one a them tars on that there car much less the car.”

“You wrong there boy. I went up there to Balt’more and got me a job voting. I tell you, money is falling off the trees in Balt’more.  I made almost ten thousin dollars in one day. Like pickin’ money up offin the ground.”

He continued, “I’m gonna get me a drank.  What kind a Co Cola you want? I’ll get you one.”

“One a them Big Grapes.”

Jeb went into the store and shortly returned with the drinks and a couple of Phillies cigars.  He handed the drink and a cigar to Orville.

Orville exclaimed, “Damn, a twenty-five-cent cigar. I’ll bet you be shittin’ in indoor torlets these days. Is it really that easy to get a job in Balt’more? I might just run up there when I git enough money for a Greyhound ticket.”

“I tell you, I bet I didn’t walk more than ten feet from the bus station when this feller offered me a job.  I tell you Boy.  Money is falling off the trees in Balt’more.  Tell you what I’ll do. A ticket from town is $9.46.  I’ll loan you $20 and you can pay me back when you come home.”

“Okay, I’ll do it!”

Jed, or is it Jeb, took two tens from his billfold and passed them to Orville.  He said, “I’ll give you a ride home to git yer stuff and then drop you at the bus station over to the Holler.  The bus leaves in about two hours and you’ll be in Balt’more by tomorrow mornin’.”

Shortly after dawn the next morning found Orville strolling along past a park about a block from the bus station. And there on the ground, under a tree, he spied a brand new $50 bill.  Orville became elated and bent to pick it up.  Suddenly he stopped and looked at the bill and said, “I ain’t gonna work on my first day in Balt’more.  I’ll pick you up tomorrow!”

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The Front Porch

by Garland Davis.

front porch

Where I grew up in rural North Carolina almost every house had a front porch. In winter it was a place to store firewood and during nicer weather, it was a place to congregate and talk about the events of the day.  It was a place where neighbors could congregate and share the news. I learned many things just sitting and listening to the adults.

 In the evenings after the day’s work and the after supper, yeah, I said supper, chores were finished. Dinner was what you ate at midday. The grown-ups would bring the chairs from the house and congregate around the open window where the radio could be heard. They would talk and tell stories, pausing occasionally to listen to a joke by Jack Benny or to a tense moment of the Lone Ranger when Tonto was dangling over a cliff.

 Although, people were sitting and talking their hands were not idle, especially when the garden came in. I remember snapping and stringing beans for my Mama and Granny to can the next day. Once, a fellow, coming back from down east gave my dad three bushels of peaches. We peeled peaches, it seemed forever.

 It was also a place to sip a little Shine on Saturday nights and “make music.” An uncle with his fiddle, my dad semi-proficient with the five-string banjo, and a fellow with a guitar, as well as a teenager who played guitar and sang. (he went on to make a life in Country Music).  He even had a hit song, “A Rose and a Baby Ruth.”

 But the people who used the front porch most in the spring, summer, and fall were the oldsters. You could drive through the country and nearly every house had an old man, old woman, or one of each sitting on the porch watching the traffic go by. They waved (what we called, “thowed up their hand”) to every car that passed. Looking back on it, the only contact they had with the outside was the people in those cars. I realize they were just sitting there waiting to die. You don’t see them on the porches or in public these days. They are in Senior Citizen’s Homes, Assisted Living Facilities, or whatever fancy name they can come up with in order to charge more to warehouse unwanted oldsters.

There is still a front porch of sorts for those of us who are old and not as physically able to do a hell of a lot. We sit alone in a room connected to hundreds of people we do not know but we call them “friends.” Officially I have 1643 friends this morning. I probably have met and know a hundred of them. My “front porch” has a twenty-seven-inch screen, the latest iteration of Windows, and two terabytes of something I do not understand. It is my window to the world where I write serious political commentaries and other crap that wanders through my mind. I, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, try my warped sense of humor on others.

We can write to each other and actually talk face to face, though hundreds and thousands of miles apart. I have recently discovered that some of us can get together in group calls and talk, tell sea stories, and laugh at the antics we engaged in during a younger day.

So, if you run across me somewhere out there in the ether, “Thow Up Your Hand.” Perhaps, we will both live a little longer.

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The Funeral Home 

I usually write stories, both true and false, about my service and my Navy. Every now and then, I tell a different story.

By Garland Davis 

Cadillac 1963 Hearse stock image. Image of hearse, cast - 6703633

I grew up in a rural county in the hills of Western North Carolina. As I reached my teens, I thought to get a job after school and on weekends to put some jingles in my pocket.  I had the misconception that if I had money, the girls would like me more. Didn’t work out that way.  The Hillbilly Mamas kept a close watch on who their daughters were paying attention to and who was paying attention to them. Being a well-known bootlegger’s grandson and a prison guard’s son, I didn’t meet their criteria. (I learned years later, in an island nation out on the Pacific Rim, that my misconception was a misconception and that the more money you had, the more girls you had.) 

My first job was sacking groceries, toting them out to the cars, and sweeping up at the local store. It was billed as the first supermarket in the county. Compared to today’s megamarkets, it was a medium-size store. It didn’t pay much but provided the opportunity to be criticized and ordered around by all the bitter old women in the county for putting too much stuff in the sacks and by the store owner for using too many sacks. It didn’t take me long to start looking for a different job. 

As a child, I was fascinated by the ventriloquists on television.  I ordered a book from the back page of a Superman comic book that purported to teach a person to “throw” his own voice.  I also found a couple of books in the school and county seat libraries and worked hard at learning the techniques of talking without moving my lips and making inanimate objects talk.  

I made my sister’s dolls talk until I got my ass whipped for making the dolls say dirty words.  A real ventriloquist’s dummy was out of the question; they cost a fortune. 

Before I could quit the job at the store, I got fired. One of the old biddy’s who found something wanting in everything I did was looking at a whole chicken from the butcher display.  She picked it up, sniffed the rear cavity, and said to the butcher, “This chicken don’t smell so good.” 

The chicken said, “And, I’ll bet your skunky old ass don’t smell so sweet either.” 

2,639 Chicken Carcass Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from  Dreamstime

She threw the chicken, let out a scream, and went running from the store. The owner had been standing behind me when I made the chicken talk.  He said, “I told you to knock that stuff off, boy.  I cain’t afford to be losing customers. I’m gonna have to let you go. Come to the front, and I’ll pay what I owe you.” 

That’s how I ended up sitting on the bench in the shade of the oak tree in front of the funeral home, smoking a Camel. A man, who I learned was the owner and funeral director, came from the front of the building and asked as he lit a filter tip, “What are you doing here, boy? Do your folks know that you smoke them cigarettes?” 

“Well, I was sacking groceries at the store, but they let me go.  Now I got to wait till five-thirty when my daddy comes by from work to get a ride home.” I answered him. “And yeah. My old man knows I smoke.  He don’t care as long as I don’t steal his smokes.” 

“Why did the store let you go?” 

I told him about the ventriloquist stuff and what I had done.  He chuckled and told me, “Well, boy.  If being around dead people doesn’t bother you, I need somebody to sweep up here, wash and polish the hearse and the bereaved car, and help move coffins around.  For that stuff, the jeans and shirt you are wearing are fine, but you’ll have to wear a black suit for the viewings and funerals. I’ll advance you the $21.00 to buy one at Yon’s Haberdashery.” He mentioned an amount of pay that was almost twice what I was making at the store. 

 As far as sweeping up goes, most jobs I’ve had in my life involved some sweeping up.  I must say that the Navy took it to the extreme.  I guess I spent a good part of my life “sweeping up.” 

I wasn’t too sure about dead people.  I had never seen a deceased person, but I had officiated at funerals for a couple of my sister’s cats and a dog. I had assisted a few chickens over the bar so my granny could cook Sunday dinner. I told my new boss that I would take the job. 

He instructed me to go to Yon’s for the suit.  He said he would call Mr. Yon to arrange everything.  He told me to come at eight the next day. 

I went down pst the store to the Haberdashers and went in. Mr. asked, “Are you the boy the funeral director just called me about?” 

I allowed as to how I was.  He led me to the back, took out a tape measure, and measured me all over.  I thought he was gonna de-nut me when he shoved his fist into my crotch 

He looked at his notations on a scratch pad and said, “It looks like we can fit you right off the rack.  The only alteration I’ll have to do is hem the britches.  If you can come at 3:00 I will have everything ready for you.  The suit, and two white shirts.” 

That’s how I ended up working in a funeral home. Over time I had taken on the task of sometimes helping the owner and the part-time mortician move the bodies around.  Getting them on and off the tables or into the coffins.  They thought it was funny when I made the bodies talk. Although I was cautioned to keep the ventriloquism in the back room.   

It was about six months later when I put Mrs. Ledbetter in the Crazy House. She had been one of my least favorite customers at the store, always complaining to the owner that I packed her groceries wrong causing her to drop stuff.  If she ever smiled, I bet her face would crack into a hundred pieces. 

Mrs. Ledbetter’s husband George had died of a heart attack and was Layed out in the back room.  The director and the mortician were hurrying to get him ready for a seven o’clock viewing.  I had swept up the viewing and waiting rooms and positioned the flowers that had been delivered. 

The window to our dressing room where we changed clothes to suits for the receptions and viewings.  There was a bench just under the window and we could often hear people sitting on the bench. As I was getting my stuff ready, I heard two women talking. One was Mrs. Ledbetter, I had heard it complaining about me too many times to mistake it. 

She said, “I can’t say I am sad the old Son of Bee is gone.” 

“Did he leave you enough to live on?” 

“He had $48 in his billfold and $400 in the bank. There was an insurance policy that will pay to bury him with about $4,000 leftover.  The house is paid for and with my Social Security, I’ll be fine. I am better off with him dead.” 

The other voice said, “Now, now Irma you don’t mean that.” 

“I do too.  The last few years he has been sneaking out at night, telling me he is going coon hunting when he was sneaking out to that Widder Essie Mae’s place over on Culpeper road.” 

The other woman gasped, somebody told me she ain’t nothin but a whoor.  I heered, she will do it for a sack of flour and some canned goods.” 

“Durn, I’ll bet that’s where my sack of cornmeal and them pork and beans I thought I had gone to. That dirty old man traded them for that nasty stuff.” 

I heard a male voice say, “Mama, Uncle Jim and Aunt Kate ain’t coming.  I stopped to pick them up and they say they are so saddened; they just can’t face people tonight” 

The funeral director came out and said, Mrs. Ledbetter, Mr. Ledbetter is in the viewing room if you would like to spend a moment alone with him before we let the mourners in.” 

A scheme had popped into my mind while listening to the two women.  I hustled from the dressing room to the viewing room and hid behind the curtains at the rear of the coffin. 

Irma Ledbetter came in, putting on a show of crying. She stopped by the coffin and said, “I hope you are in a warmer climate, you nasty old man!” 

George Ledbetter said, “It’s pretty good here.  Better than being there.’ 

Irma jumped and asked, “Who’s there, who’s talking.” 

George replied, “It’s me, you old bat. Is that Widder Essie Mae gonna come here tonight?” 

“I knowed what you been doin’ with her. I don’t care, it kept you from trying to do it to me.” 

“If you had moved ever now and then, stead a laying there like a plank a wood, you mighta liked it.” George opined. 

 “Where are my brother and sister, are they coming?” he asked. 

“Jim and Kate ain’t coming. They say they are too sad.  Probably don’t care about you no more than anybody else.” 

“Who did you leave at the house?” George asked. 

She replied, “They ain’t nobody there. Everybody is coming here.” 

“You stupid woman. Jim and Kate are probably there looking for all the money I hid. They’s always sneaking around, and you left the house empty.” 

Irma suddenly turned and ran for the door, yelling for her son, “Junior, Junior, get the car, we gotta go home!  Hurry! Hurry! Before they steal my money. 

“But, Mama, what about the viewing” 

“Fuck the viewing; they’re there right now stealing my money,” she screamed running toward the parking lot. “If you ain’t coming, give me the leys. I’ll drive myself.” 

“But Mama, you can’t drive!” 

“Then, I’ll learn on the way.” 

Junior had never seen his mother this distraught.  His aunt Irene said to him, “It looks like she is taking George’s death real hard.  You better do what she wants. Take her home, and I’ll call Dr. Garret to stop by.  Maybe he can give her something to calm her down.” 

As he drove her home, Junior listened to her talking.  She seemed to be asking George about the money.  He asked her, “Mama, what money are you talking about?” 

“The money your daddy told me about.” 

“When did he tell you about money?” 

“Just now at the funeral home.  Drive faster. We gotta get there and find the money before they steals it.” 

Irma had the door open and was out of the car the instant it stopped and running toward the house.  She fumbled her keys and unlocked the door, and disappeared inside. 

Junior parked and went into the house to find his mother throwing his father’s things close onto the floor from the hall. She seemed to be pleading with George to tell her where he had hidden the money.  She ran into the bedroom, dragged the mattress off the bed, and then started pulling drawers from the dresser and dumping them on the floor. 

She was tearing apart his desk when the doctor arrived.  Junior said, “Doctor, I have never seen her like this.  She is wrecking the house, and she keeps talking to my father like he was alive.  She told me that he talked to her in the viewing room t the funeral parlor.” 

After observing her for a few moments, the doctor filled a syringe, walked behind her as she was going through the pockets of a pair of pants looking for secret maps, and gave her a shot of a powerful drug that would put her to sleep in minutes.  He said to Junior, “Let’s get her to the couch before she collapses, and then I’ll call for an ambulance to take her to the hospital. 

After a short stay at the hospital and evaluation by Psychologists, she was committed to the NC State Menta; Hospital at Morganton. There she spends her days talking to George and promising him a myriad of sexual favors if he will only tell her where he hid the money. 

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“Spru-Cans”

by Brion Boyles

May be an image of vehicle

.This is a picture of a rack of “Spruance”-class Destroyers (Destroyers are lovingly referred to as “Tin Cans”, in Navy parlance), probably mid-’80’s, and probably San Diego…

I remember the first night I walked the piers at 32nd Street Naval Base, San Diego… A cold, drizzly night, December 1978.

I was 18, fresh out of Quartermaster School, and had arrived just before dark, with a few hours to kill waiting for a bus to take me to the airport to catch my own ship in Japan…After a few beers at the Enlisted Club, I thought I’d go stroll around a bit…

The Destroyer berths were a mere 50 yards away, alight and jammed with dozens of nested Spru-Cans… Like hulking, sleek leopards, they almost seemed to have breath, quietly hissing steam …Each with its close-set pair of red eyes of the Aircraft Warning Lights glowing at the mast-tops, far above in the night…

Then, “Ding-ding…ding-ding!”…four bells cracked out into the cold and the drowsy beasts all shouted at once: “TAPS! TAPS! Lights out…Maintain silence about the decks…The smoking lamp is out in all berthing spaces…Taps.”…

and then went to sleep…

It was mesmerizing…

They’re all gone now…

USS Spruance (DD-963) - Wikipedia

USS Spruance DD-963

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