It turns out in 1970, i was already a pocket of resistance. i was in the South China Sea about half-way between Pusan, Korea and Qui Nhon, South Vietnam. It was around 2030, GMT+8 time. The seas were relatively calm. i was relaxing in my cabin at the aft end of the 03 level.
i was executive officer of the military unit aboard the USNS Upshur (T-AP-198), She had been planned to be a luxury cruise ship for American President Lines by the New York Shipbuilding Company before she was requisitioned by Maritime Administration and configured to be a troop and dependent passport for military personnel. The cargo holds had been converted to troop berthing, about 1500 of them and the dining room and all above the main deck had been kept in the cruise liner configuration, where my cabin was located. By the time i got there, the “troop and dependent” bunch had turned into Korean troops and officers. My detailer had told me they would still be U.S. personnel and dependents, the reason i accepted the tour. i wrote him a nasty letter pointing out that the passengers had morphed into ROK troops and officers and all the major ports in the Pacific were Sasebo, Pusan, Qui Nhon, and Nha Trang.
This particular evening, i had completed my nightly pinochle game with the two doctors and the chaplain. Outside my porthole looking aft were Republic of Korea troops chattering, laughing, and swapping smokes, the variety of which i did not wish to know.
i wrote nearly every night, mostly letters back to folks back in the states. i frequently taped a rather horrible cassette to family or friends — i know they were really bad as i have since had several returned to me and listened to a couple for as long as i could stand, something just over a minute. Rather than write, i was reading a book, probably Vonnegut because i was really into his stuff at the time, and listening to something from the pile of records i had purchased in the Navy Exchanged in Sasebo, Japan, our logistics port for the twenty-two day round robin sail. But on this night, i just got this urge to be whimsical. Don’t know why. It just came upon me.
i took my seat at the fold-out desk with the clothes bureau underneath, lit up a Pell-Mell, and just started.
This early morning fifty years later, i woke long before first light for an inexplicable reason other than i am officially an old geezer (and proud of it). What i wrote back then kept popping up in my head for some other inexplicable reason, or perhaps the same one. So i found it in my files and decided to share it again.
It is pure whimsy. i suspect only the older crowd will catch all of the silliness involved, and those so engrossed with the new, slick, graphically enhanced version of super heroes might get confused.
i would like to think there are some things one might learn from it, but i don’t know. i don’t know.
As with nearly all of my dealings with folks nowadays, i’ll let you decide.
Raga Muffin, the half-Indian, half-British scholar, fought his way through the crowd only to find the bloody carcass of his cat (his reincarnated pet cow).
“What happened?” he asked tearfully.
“A covered wagon driven by a little old lady from Pasadena ran over him,” Billy, the young newspaper boy, informed him.
“From whence did it come and where does it head for?” Raga implored in his best pleading tone of guttural Dutch.
“To the gold rush, obviously to become a tenant farmer raising grapes and sheep in an apple orchard,” Billy said wisely, then added, “I’ll cut her off at the pass and bring back her golden inlays.”
With that, he said “ZHAZAM” (or however it was spelled, and what did those letters stand. for anyway?). Captain Marvel dashed into the sky, barely missing a Boeing 747 returning from a test flight and completely covered with pigeon dung. Later, the runway of La Guardia bloomed petunia and porky pigs because of the extra fertilizer. Even later, the ancient mariner, complete with an over-fed albatross closely resembling a young Jimmy Durante, stubbed his tow on one of the petunias when he wandered onto the airfield after mistaking it for the red poppy field located about two blocks from the city of Oz.
Several weeks after the cat died, Raga received a note sent via pony express through LA. There was no return address, but the typewriting was definitely in Billy’s hand.
Found the good life. Tony B. sings it on Columbia records. Caught her at a pass. We were married in a small mosque, two doors down from the local Salvation Army brewery, by the JP from Ontario. Settled in Death Valley. Traded in twenty mule team for some Dial soap and wish everybody did. Disguised the Conestoga as Apollo 13 and converted it into a streetcar cafe selling pork and beans to Navaho. Her gold inlays were prefab, and she turned out to be Tricia Nixon. I go to RVN as ambassador next month.
Love and Kisses,
Capt. Ima Marvel
Israeli Air Force
Raga chucked the intellectual bit and now lives as a hermit on 95th and Park Avenue, eating only banana peels and used gypsies. Marvel eventually made a fortune by turning his old newspapers into paper mache models of Batman and Robin, without tights. The cat is alive and well in Nova Scotia, but it came back as a Brylcream advertisement because a little dab will do ya. The sacred cow, once Raga’s pet, never made it to the rodeo but fell in love with a mink stole in Sears window. The stole stole away with Phinnias T. Bluster during a rain squall over Honolulu, 74 degrees and cloudy.
Mesopotamia rose again under the leadership of little orphan Annie and was aided considerably by Xerxes and Damon Runyan.
Heracles left for Homer as soon as he heard the news. All of them denounced Raga as the original instigator of the plot, and he was picked up in the Bronx for littering.
Moral: A rainy day brings a little sunshine into everyone’s life, but bicycle spokes do not good guitar strings make.
Your local terror firmer
South of the North Pole
Midnight, two minutes past sex (dreams of)
Wednesday named after Tuesday, 1970
1 thought on “A Fable”