Category: k stories
01/02/12 08:43 - ID#55841
K Story: Go Fly A Kite
â€œHe got hurt, actuallyâ€” ended up, well, maimed.â€ He rolls the cigarette between his fingers, field-stripping it, then folds the butt up and puts it into the chairâ€™s cup holder. â€œPretty bad. And she stuck with himâ€¦â€ He examines his fingers.
â€œBut Boomer. He was dumb, so dumb. He was on my damage control team. One thing about him, kind of weird, he loved to build kites. Big ones, box kites. And heâ€™d spend like a week making these things, these elaborate kites, and then heâ€™d go to fly them and the string would break. Cuz the thing is, weâ€™re on a warship. Itâ€™s kind of windy, out there at sea. Regular string isnâ€™t gonna cut it. So heâ€™d spend all these hours on these kites, then lose â€˜em right away.â€
â€œBummer,â€ I comment. He pokes around and finds his mug in the dark, and drinks.
â€œSo we found this cable. See, some liferafts, they attach â€˜em to the ship by these long spools of cabling. If the ship sinks too deep, it snaps off, but otherwise, it keeps the life rafts from drifting too far away. Much easier for rescuers to find all the survivors that way. This cable is really, really thin, but itâ€™s also incredibly strong.â€
â€œYou probably werenâ€™t really supposed to appropriate that,â€ I point out, sensing where this storyâ€™s going.
â€œWellll,â€ he drawls, â€œwe didnâ€™t swipe it off a liferaft or anything. There were spare reels of the stuff, stored in our locker room. So we justâ€¦ borrowed one. We wunâ€™t doinâ€™ anybody any harm, right?â€
I laugh. â€œIâ€™m sure the Navy always has a sense of humor about that kind of stuff. Theyâ€™re known for that.â€
â€œOh yeah,â€ he says, â€œtheyâ€™re known for that. So we borrowed this reel of cable, and went up to the stern of the ship, and tied this kite to it, and donâ€™t you know, it worked a treat. I mean, we got that thing to fly really good. It was up a couple hundred feet, easy. Beautiful.â€
He makes a swooping gesture with the hand that doesnâ€™t have a drink in it. I laugh, thinking of the image of a warship with a box kite flying gaily from the stern.
â€œThen all of a sudden the klaxons start going off, and the ship goes to general quarters. General quarters, general quarters, and everybodyâ€™s running around. So weâ€™re all, shit, what do we do?â€ He makes a face, wide-eyed. â€œSo we tie the kite off, real quick, and go running off to our stations.â€
â€œGeneral quarters is bad, right?â€ Iâ€™m not real up on the terminology.
â€œI mean, itâ€™s not bad, but it means shit is potentially gettinâ€™ real,â€ he says. â€œSo weâ€™re scurrying off, and this announcement comes on, DC5, come to the bridge. Thatâ€™s us, weâ€™re Damage Control 5. That canâ€™t be good. So we haul ass to the bridge, and thereâ€™s the captain. And heâ€™s got his fancy hat on. The real fancy one. Heâ€™s got a few different hats, see, and mostly he just wears one of the regular ones. But if youâ€™re about to get your ass chewed out real bad, you know it because the captain has the really fancy hat on.â€
â€œFor serious?â€ I am enchanted by the idea of hats in varying degrees of severity by fanciness.
â€œFor serious,â€ he says. â€œThis is the Navy, we do shit like that. So anyway. Weâ€™re all like, shit, whatâ€™d we do?â€
â€œWhatâ€™s wrong with a kite?â€ I ask.
â€œWe donâ€™t even think about that,â€ he says. â€œWeâ€™re all thinking, well, weâ€™re a bunch of trouble, mostly, so thereâ€™s probably a hundred things it could be, but weâ€™d all been on our best behavior. Or so we thought. So the captain says, gentlemen, why are my automated defense systems telling me there is a missile incoming aft?â€
â€œOh God,â€ I say.
â€œEvery time the radar sweeps aft, the captain says, the automated defense systems are freaking out. Might you have any idea what is hanging off the back of my warship?â€ He gestures, mimicking the way a radar antenna spins. â€œAnd I gotta point out, the automated defense systems are just that. Theyâ€™re these things that look like R2-D2 on the deck of the ship that automatically fire on incoming missiles. So theyâ€™ve had to disable these things; they were gonna go off by themselves, at whatever the radar was picking up.â€
â€œOh shit,â€ I say.
â€œSo theyâ€™ve had to disarm them. And weâ€™re all standing there, like, why is he asking us this? What could we possibly have to do with this? And then, as weâ€™re standing there, you can see the little lightbulbs going on above our heads. And over Boomerâ€™s head, thereâ€™s this little half-watt candle flickering. And he says, â€˜Wellâ€¦ thereâ€™sâ€¦ my kite?â€™â€
â€œOhh, shit,â€ I say. Iâ€™m really laughing now.
â€œThe radar was picking up on the kite, and identifying it as an incoming missile,â€ he says, shaking his head. â€œOh man, we got in so much trouble.â€
â€œI bet you did!â€ I stand up to get the whiskey bottle. If heâ€™s telling stories like this already, the nightâ€™s only going to get better.
â€œSo,â€ he concludes, lighting another cigarette, â€œit turns out, you can clean a warship with a toothbrush. And Iâ€™ve done it.â€
- Not his real name. Duh. Not even his real nickname.
Last Modified: 01/02/12 08:43
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