Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Leaving San Diego in the Morning

In Stories, secrets & dreams on May 22, 2014 at 5:29 pm

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By Michael Welch

I see the crowd of people standing below us looking up at us.

I see Booker standing next to me, a man I hardly know but I will be giving him orders to obey for the next two years – it was either the hard steel deck of this ship or the cold steel bars of some jail in Chicago, for Booker

And I see so many dangerous, deadly, stealthy planes tied tightly down around me; large muscular flying metal insects pinned and staked right next to me on the roughened steel flight deck, their sturdy wing pods and underbellies silently ready for festooning with all sorts of pernicious deadly darts designed to wreak havoc

And we, the both of us, are looking down, hanging over the thin rail of this giant grey aircraft carrier, we looking down one hundred feet below to the quay, looking down at the crowd.

I see so many people looking up at us.

I see people waving, I see people waving up at some of us.

I see my new wife looking up at me. She is so pretty; her long blonde hair tied with red ribbons and laying on her shoulders in two fetching tails, a look I have loved since we were kids, knowing she only stubbornly wears those two pony pretty tails now to soothe me when I am sad, and still she reminds me she is not a little girl any more. But she will always be my little darling, she will always be that young sweet smelling flower to me, with bright red ribbons in her hair. And she is waving her slender soft hand at me.
I feel the salt air of the harbor on my skin and the air feels warm.

I can hear the screaming of the crowd, the crowd is screaming up at us.

I see a child, a small child waving a flag – an American flag – a flag way bigger than she, the breeze off the bay is wrapping her all up in colorful play, the cloth flapping around her, and the cloth gently slapping her face. The stars and stripes. “How cute,” I am thinking, as she begins to cry.

And I can hear the screaming of the crowd, and I can hear the screaming of the sailors all around me, and I can smell the heavy diesel from the ship’s stack blowing down upon us – the strong bite of diesel exhausting and mixing with the salt sea air enveloping me.
And I can hear our ship’s loud whistle blast.

And I can hear the tug’s two loud chirps.

“CHIRP! CHIRP!”

Chugging along aside us to aid us in our departure – chirping in their sharp retort to our monstrous moan.

“CHIRP! CHIRP!”

And I can see the sailors on the dock below us uncoiling the thick white twisted lines of rope off the heavy, strong, thick stanchions and throwing us off – we are no longer secured to land.

And we start our year long voyage into the strange waters of the world, sailing across the wide blue Pacific and passing into the far off unknowns of the Orient.

And I can hear again the loud mournful horn of our ship and I can hear the quick spirited chirping shrill returns of that culpable tug below.

“CHIRP! CHIRP!”

And as I lean further over the ship’s thin rail I can see two large tugs below churning aside us in the bay, struggling mightily to push us off.

And we are underway…beginning our passage.

And I can hear the crowd screaming as the pier recedes into the bright sunshine.

And I can hear the sailors screaming as we float away into the bright sunshine.

And I can hear again the ship’s loud, mournful moan.
And I (fear) feel we will be gone forever.

And I can taste the diesel on my tongue, the clinging filmy oily exhaust coating my mouth.

And I can see my pretty new wife; I look at my new wife waving at me. Her long blonde hair is loose now, her beautiful long tresses are billowing free in the bay’s rising breeze, and the red ribbons from her hair are now in her hand, and she is waving her red ribbons and the ribbons are reminding me of colorful ribbons of streamers thrown from an ocean liner in long ago days. And as we slip away from the pier our last connection is torn apart…finally lost. The once taut and now limp remnants of colors will not hold us together any more, and the ship is turning and putting out to sea.

And I think I perceive an odd troubling smile forming on my lovely’s pretty face. Is she crying?

She is so far away.

And I am remembering – I am trying to remember – how she smells, as my thoughts are crowded in the stink of diesel that I will be smelling for the rest of my life. And I am thinking: “Will I ever smell her again? Will I ever taste her again?” as my mouth is crowded with the cloak of ship’s diesel. “Will I ever taste the sweetness of her skin? Will I ever again?”

And I can hear Booker next to me – he is whispering something in my ear, he seems to be whispering something important, as he hisses with a force of authority I am surprised to hear. I know he has been on one of these long voyages before, and so I try to listen, no matter his minor rank.

“Mr. Welch,” he whispers in my ear.

And I am leaning closer into him now in order to heed his words.

“Mr. Welch, don’t worry.”

And I can sense Booker is telling me something imperative for the journey we are about to take.

“Mr. Welch, don’t worry…you will find your wife when you return.”

And I am happy to hear that.

“You will find your wife just as you left her – freshly fucked.”

And I can hear the crowd screaming “goodbye.”

And I can taste a bitter pill of betrayal breaking apart in my mouth.

And I feel lonely.

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