In case you need something more than hot chocolate to put you to sleep:
The gator begins:
The gator's at this party in a hotel suite in Thailand with his buddies from his first EA-6 Prowler squadron, and they're all shit faced.
"Yeah, Gary," Buzz says. "The EA-6 Prowler, that's the jet with the bent dick looking thing on its nose for air-to-air refueling. The gator used to fly it, before his non-ex-wife bent his dick for him."
"Who's telling the story?" the gator says. "You or me?"
"Sorry Gator," Buzz says.
"Buzz is right, though," the gator says. "The EA-6 Prowler is like an A-6 Intruder that drops bombs, except the Prowler doesn't drop bombs, and it has room in the cockpit for three assholes instead of one asshole, like the Intruder has room for --"
"By 'assholes,' he means NFOs, Gary," Buzz says. "Naval Flight Officers, like Jack and me, with two anchors on our wings, who don't actually fly the airplane. As opposed to asshole pilots with only one anchor on their wings, like the gator has on."
"Again with the interruptions?" the gator says.
"Give me fifty pushups later," the gator tells Buzz. "When you can get around to it. Yeah, Gary, the EA-6 Prowler is an airborne radar jammer. Except it was a butt jammer when Fix Felon flew in the seat behind mine. Except he never did go flying, actually, but that part of the story comes later..."
The gator didn't take the non-ex-wife bait this time, but that's okay, Buzz and Gary and Jack think. This new Fix Felon story might be good enough he won't have to kiss everybody's ass on the corner of First and Orange. And if it isn't, that's okay too, right?
Anyway, the gator's saying, they're all shit faced in this hotel in Thailand, and in walks this tall, Abraham Lincoln looking lieutenant commander with pilot wings on his chest who nobody's ever seen before. Ugly as a wet poodle with AIDS, this guy is, but that's all right. The world needs character actors too, the gator says.
The squadron's skipper, who's as shit faced as the rest of them, tries to stand up and say, "Who the fuck are you, Boris Karloff, crashing into our party like The Curse of the Mummy or something?" But what he does instead is stumble off the couch and spill his drink and the rest of him tits down on the carpet. The squadron XO, a little short guy, grabs the skipper's tits and the rest of him up off the floor and hauls him off to a bedroom.
The Mummy lurks around the room with a drink in his hand, looking like he expects everybody to recognize him and shake his hand and kiss his ass. But nobody does that, because they're all too shit faced.
The short XO comes back from the bedroom and troops over to The Mummy, and stands under him, and says, "Just who the fuck do you think you are?"
The Mummy looks down at the little XO and says, "I'm Phil Felon, your new operations officer. Who the fuck are you, little man?"
The little XO goes ballistic, jumping up and down and cussing up a blue streak. The Mummy crooks a finger at him and leads him into the kitchen. Thirty seconds later, he comes out of the kitchen with his arm around the little XO, who has a Colgate smile smeared on his face, and who says, "Hey, guys. Meet our new operations officer."
Gary asks if that's all there is to the story. The gator tells him to keep his pants on, the story gets better from here.
Go back a few years, the gator says. This is all second, third hand. The gator doesn't know how much of it's really true. He heard it from a good buddy of his, a Filipino pimp, who's not the most reliable. But it sounds good, so here goes, the gator says.
This Young Abe Lincoln looking lieutenant checks in off transfer leave at the A-7 Corsair light bomber training squadron and says he's there to get checked out in the airplane. But Young Abe has to take emergency leave first. His grandma just died, or something. So he checks back out of the squadron. Nobody sees him again until six months later, when he shows back up in the ready room. This stash ensign has the duty, and Young Abe Lincoln tries to get the ensign to sign his papers saying he's completed the A-7 flight training, but--
The A-7 squadron skipper walks in just then, sees what The Mummy's trying to pull, and says, "Not so fast."
The skipper crooks a finger at Young Frankenstein and takes him back to his office. Two men go in, one man comes out--Young Frankenstein, and he makes the ensign sign his papers and walks out. The ensign goes to look for the skipper in his office, and there's nobody there!
"What happened to the skipper?" Gary says.
"Nobody knows," the gator says. "The Mummy just disappeared him, like in Catch-22.
"OOOOOOOOOOH!" everybody says.
Except Gary, who says, "Catch-22? What's that?"
"Famous novel," says the gator.
"By whom?" Gary says.
"Joseph Heller," says the gator.
"Who's he?" Gary says.
"Famous author," says the gator.
"What did he write?" Gary says.
"Catch... Hey, you look like you might be a little retarded, SWO Boy. You're not, are you?"
Gary, the surface warfare officer hereafter also known as SWO Boy, says, "No, sir. I'm very smart. I'm just pulling your chain. I know what Catch-22 is. I read it in grade school. My mother taught me to read when I was four, so I'd learn things and be smart, because she knew I wouldn't be the matinee idol type."
"Yeah, well, like I said before," the gator tells Gary, "the world needs character actors too. Now, do you want to hear the rest of the story or not? If so, keep your pie hole buttoned, or I'll send you to bed without any milk and cookies to put in it, which from the looks of you, you don't need any more of anyway."
"I promise to keep my pie hole buttoned," Gary AKA SWO Boy says. "Please tell the rest of the story, Navigation Man."
The gator, now also known as Navigation Man, says, "And don't call me Navigation Man. Not while the captain's around, anyway."
"Aye, aye," says SWO Boy.
Navigation Man looks at Buzz and Jack to make sure they're still awake, still paying attention, and notices his audience has gotten bigger. The duty bosun mate and the quartermaster have crept over by his chair to listen, and a couple of lookouts who got off watch an hour ago. The lookouts shouldn't still be up here it's okay because Chief Kirk--who got up at 0430 like he always doe--is keeping an eye on them. And they know they'll get a chief sized boot up their scrawny young asses if they pop their pie holes open while the gator's talking and the chief's around, so they'll keep them buttoned.
Navigation Man continues:
Fix Felon, in various personae, roams the earth in search of phony warfare qualifications. To this day, nobody knows how he got them put into his official service record without ever having flown an airplane, or been an NFO in the passenger seat of one, or jumped out of one with a parachute, or driven a ship or a submarine. And yet here he is, on our ship, in our battle group, in command of our entire...known...universe.
"Scary!" Everybody shudders.
"Of course," Navigation Man says, "like I told you, I heard all that from a lawyer who used to be a Navy JAG officer, so most of it probably isn't true. And however he got all those warfare pins, Fix Felon just wears his pilot wings now. Ask Buzz, NFO Man. Buzz sees Felon lurking around in combat all the time, right?"
"Some nights," says Buzz, now sometimes called NFO Man. "He likes to come in and spy on us, see if he can catch us sleeping when we're supposed to be jacking off. But he only does it after midnight, and he always wears a disguise. Sometimes he's a Catholic chaplain and shakes holy water on us. Sometimes he dresses up like a master chief mess specialist and brings us cookies. Sometimes he pretends to be a visiting politician acting like he's drumming up votes so he can figure out if any of us aren't Republicans. Not that it matters what he dresses up like. We'd recognize that Boris Karloff looking bastard if he dressed up like a ballerina. Which he did, back on WESTPAC, come to think of it. Several times."
"Keep it down," Navigation Man says. "We don't want to wake up the captain and have him come out here and catch us all jacking off."
Everybody tries to keep it down, but they all have the late night/early morning giggles now.
"That's the end of the story," Navigation Man says. "Is it safe for me to take Orange Avenue home when we get back, or do I have to find an alternate route?"
"You're safe," Gary the SWO Boy says. "You never have to kiss our ass ever again, Navigation Man."
"Damn your impertinence, SWO Boy."
They never find out about the deal with Navigation Man's ex non-wife, or about when he was a roadie for the Grateful Dead one summer in college. Before Jack and Buzz and Gary can steer him back in that direction, somebody brings up Bull Palsy, the Connie's old XO from WESTPAC, and everybody has some shit to pitch at that son of a bitch. What he did to who, how he did it, how far up he did it, how long it took for the bleeding to stop after he did it, how many tampons it took to stop the bleeding...
And the next thing everybody knows, the sun's coming up, and it's time for them to turn into their racks--which is a Navy way of saying "go to bed." (Except for Gary, who has two more hours on watch.)
But before everybody but Gary turns into their racks, they take one last look at the mountains as the sun climbs up to light their universe, and think about how much fun they've had, on the bridge, telling sea stories; and they feel for just a moment, that maybe, just maybe, life doesn't suck a thousand dicks after all.
Zach Taylor had been a single seat A-7 pilot in Vietnam. He had infinite confidence in himself, and little confidence in anybody else, especially the "black shoe" surface warfare types who ran his engineering plant and manned his bridge teams.
As an aviator, Jack was the only OOD left on board who had any sway with Zach, but that influence was mitigated by the fact that Jack was an NFO, and not a pilot--and an E-2 NFO at that, which put him only slightly higher on the Navy pecking order than black shoes like Gary. Gary, as we have seen, couldn't do anything on the bridge what-so-fucking-ever unless he checked with Zach or the gator first. Gary was actually a pretty competent ship driver, and a good officer all around. But he was a black shoe. And the other two black shoe OOD dip shits had no influence with Zach whatsoever, because Zach shit canned them, remember?
Yakkety Yak Zach.
Wake up, crawl out of your rack.
When the clock strikes one,
He'll take his gun,
And jam it--
Right up your crack!
Needless to say, the old Vietnam A-7 pilot's eyes were the sharpest navigation tools on the bridge. Zach's highly developed sense of space, time, and distance was far superior to anything lesser beings could calculate with radars and maneuvering boards. And an A-7 Corsair pilot's eye was a damn sight better than an EA6 Prowler pilot's eye. Just ask the gator.
"Yeah," Navigation Man said, after Zach had left the bridge for the night, and everybody gathered around to hear another sea story...