by Jack Scott, 2002
Was it a dream? After sixty years, I still could not face that night in the North Atlantic. The storm was in full force. The little
Destroyer Escort was pitching and bucking and the icy waves were washing over the deck. The day had not gone well for me. For the last two days I didn't care whether I lived or died. With four hours shut up in the crammed radio shack and the next four trying to sleep, I had lost track of life. I sat at a small steel desk typing four letter nonsense code as it came into my ears through static electricity. My head was turned sideways as I continually threw up on the floor. The sloshing of the bile from side to side and forward and back, increased the stench. As soon as Sam came to relieve me for his four hour stint, I took the towell I carried and tried to clean the floor. Bill, the decoder had complained that I had garbled some of the code so it didn't come out clear. I was desperate for a bite of food , but when I had tried to go below to eat in the enlisted mens mess, the smell of diesel fuel and the taste of it in the food drove me back up on deck for air. Yesterday I stole a cherry pie the officers cook had set out to cool on a shelf outside the radio shack. Ensign Bush, whom I considerd my mortal enemy, suspected me but couldn't prove it. I had developed a deep hatred for him and the authority he represented. He was an arrogant, smart alec, SOB.
After I had cleaned up, I went below and tried to sleep. It didn't work so I put on my rain gear and went out on deck. It was four thirty in the morning and still dark with the storm in full force. I got behind a bulkhead, wrapped a piece of rope around me and lay down. The storm was not letting up but I must have dozed off. Suddenly I was aware of someone coming beside me along the deck. I half opened my eyes and Bush was shouting at me. I stuck out my leg just as the ship rolled and a wave washed over the side. As the ship righted, Bush had slipped over the side with the wave. The noise of the storm, the rain
and the wind seemed to numb my mind. I did get up and go below. About six I was aware of a great hubub on the ship. Someone came by my bunk and said Ensign Bush was missing. I tried again to sleep but decided to go up to the radio shack to see what was going on. Outside the shack, Tom, the Radioman First Class, asked me if I had seem anything when I
got off at four. I told him I had been so sick I could hardly see how to get below.
I relieved Sam at eight, and went back to typing code. Some heaving returned, but it was dry heaves. I thought that when I got off at twelve, maybe I could eat a piece of bread and get some sleep. There was still a furor about Bush. You can't be careless on the deck of a destroyer in a North Atlantic Storm. To this day I'm still not sure if my part was a dream. It's been a long time since the war.
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