The Sailor's Stories

1031 Chapter thirty one – The Sailor’s Awakening.

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It’s funny how things turn out sometimes. All I ever wanted to be, was a sailor and a pilot just like dad, it had been my dream from a very young age. My dad’s bedtime stories was what fueled those dreams, stories about his career. Dad had started out in the navy as a lowly pilot, but had soon worked his way up to commanding a squadron of his own…, he had gone through several conflicts, but what he really wanted to be was a test pilot…, those were some of the best stories. Some kids have Goldilocks, and princes and the like for their bedtime stories…, I had take offs, traps, and dogfights over enemy territory as mine. Looking back on it now, I find it hard to believe that I wasn’t scared shitless, but to tell you the truth, I was enthralled by everything he said…, as if he had me hanging on every word…, the man was a consummate story teller, there is no denying that. Everything I had done in my life had lead me towards that goal, and though I had achieved it…, I still felt like there was something more to do, something…, missing. With that in mind, and out of some form of compensation…, especially after I lost Mark…, I threw myself deeper into my own career.

I mean…, at some stage I thought I would get married, have a couple of kids…, raise a family and be the all american dad. Of course that would probably mean the inevitable divorce…, statistically speaking, that plagued most career sailors, only seeing kids on weekends or when in port. Right up until the twins arrived I was still holding on vainly to that hope. Well…, in the end, I did get part of it I guess, and I wouldn’t trade a single day there of. But still, the whole marriage thing was really bothering me of late. Although I loved the twins, and now Carl, dearly…, they weren’t mine. I felt a little cheated to be fair, as it just seemed as though I was destined to be alone. I think within myself, I had come to the conclusion of what I was, or am for that matter…, though that did little to make me feel any better. After all things said and done, my chances for any romance, or even just intimacy, were even slimmer now…, even the boys had someone, and I have to admit…, I was a little envious.

The relationship that Dale and Carl had, was stronger than ever, they were damn near inseparable these days…, unless they were having some alone time, that is. They had been fighting a bit of late, but they were still so in to each other that the hurt and bitterness never lasted long. I had tried on several occasions to find out what they were fighting…, but I couldn’t get it out of them…, and I’m not sure why. There was definitely something there but, I just couldn’t put my finger on it…, as time went on, I was getting the feeling it had something to do with school. Carl was becoming more and more defiant by the day, but the worst of it only seemed to be during the week, as weekends saw him back to his usual self. Dale was almost his mirror, though instead of defiant, he had more of the look of resignation. I knew that going back to school would be hard on the both of them…, the news of their lifestyle would have certainly made the rounds by now. They had a lot of good friends, so at the time, I felt sure they would be able to handle it…, thinking they would come to me if it got too much for them. If they were being bullied, I was determined to find some way of sorting it out.

Corey and Sam had become quite the item as well…, it wasn’t as formal an arrangement as the other two shared, but there was no denying that she was his, and he was hers. I can remember coming home from work the other week, and finding the two of them together on the couch. I hadn’t actually caught them doing anything other than holding hands, but it had been clear, that before I got there something else had been going on. Their faces were a little peaky and there was still a subtle smell on the air, not too mention the rapid movement I had heard before I walked in the room. All that culminated in a somewhat embarrassed silence at first…, with the three of us just looking back and forth at each other. I made a mental note to talk to Corey again about it, and left it at that. While I smiled at the pair of them and gently started the conversation with how the day went. Sam ended up staying for dinner that night, to be honest, I was a little amused by the furtive looks the four were giving each other.

Don’t get me wrong…, I was happy for all of them…, it just made me a little sad, every time I would reflect on my own situation. I was content…, but to be honest…, I wasn’t happy. Just like in Karen’s office all those weeks ago, I couldn’t help thinking how long it had been. Every time I thought about it, I kept coming to the same conclusion…, I was alone, and that didn’t look like it was going to change. It was as if I had missed my one chance at happiness…, I mean, how many chances does one person get to have in life? What made me truly mad about that situation, was that I’d had no control over the course of those events. Moreover I just couldn’t figure how things had gone so wrong for me…, what had I done to deserve all this pain and loss in my life. My parents, sister, my brother in law…, and most importantly Mark. Don’t get me wrong, in my time, I have done some pretty horrific things, but how could one person earn that much pain.

All in all, life really had taken some interesting turns lately, and though I was becoming less and less sure about it by the day, I still loved the Navy, and loved my job. I just wasn’t sure if I could see myself doing it for much longer. Before my promotion, I think I was still holding on to the hope that I could go back to the teams someday, but since then, it had become all to clear that I would no longer be able to lead men in combat, the ‘Benefits’ of rank, I suppose. There were just too few options left for me anymore. If I stayed, I was destined to remain behind a desk, and I really wasn’t sure if that was what I wanted. I couldn’t even command a squadron, because that would mean going back to sea, and I couldn’t leave the boys at home for six months…, or more, at a time. What really was left for me here?

As for the boys…, well there is no question there, like I said, I loved them dearly, and would do anything for them, knowing they felt the same for me. The love that the three of them showed me on a daily basis was truly heart warming…, but it just wasn’t the same and although I appreciated it, it wasn’t really what I needed. I was beginning to wonder, if I myself was…, as a person…, unlovable. It just seemed to all be so hard. I had thought that there might have been something with Karen. Ever since we had met, she and I had spent a considerable amount of time together, dinner dates, the odd movie, and many conversations, but after a while I just couldn’t see her as anything more than a friend. To tell the truth that wasn’t even bothering me as much as I thought it would have. She was a very attractive woman, but I just couldn’t find it within myself to be attracted to her. Maybe it was the fact that she was too like Mark…, I couldn’t discount that…, or was it something else…, in the end, I think, she just wasn’t what I was looking for. Was I afraid to love again?

“Excuse me sir…, if you don’t leave now, you’ll be late for your appointment.”

Daniel had stuck his head through my door, with a soft warming smile, and completely pulled me out of my reverie. He always had a funny habit of doing that, with his sweet dulcet tones, and very soft voice. I had in fact, been wondering about that boy’s situation a lot of late…, ever since I had started thinking through my own. But to be fair, I was afraid to ask given the Navy’s policy on such things. Besides, it really was none of my business anyway…

“Thanks Danny…, do I look presentable?” I said, standing up, to display myself proudly in my undress whites.

“You look…, very nice sir.”

Why had he hesitated then? The look on his face seemed to suggest, he realized that I had noticed, though he forged on anyway. After a brief once over, he stepped up and adjusted the salad bar on my chest…, did he linger there a little too long? I couldn’t be sure, and thinking about it I was a little embarrassed. He must have seen that too, because he smiled that same soft smile, before looking into my eyes…, it was enough to calm me down a little…

“Sorry sir…, it was a little crooked…, you better go, if you want to beat the traffic.”

“Ah …Thanks…, see you next week.”

He said nothing further, but as I slid my cap on, now complete with the braided gold that denotes a person of flag rank, he stepped back and performed a perfect salute. He really was stunning, standing there in his navy blues…, but what he was doing just seemed so wrong for someone so young. Before I stepped out the door, I gave him what I thought was a reassuring smile, and returned his salute. I think I even saw a little cheeky appreciative grin of his own, slide very quickly across his face as I left.

Pulling on to the expressway, my mind was riddled with questions…, questions that had too few answers. What really did I have to offer? Was foremost on my mind…, career wise, I was an accomplished pilot that could fly almost anything, I was tactically trained, and trained in leadership, not too mention the years I had spent as an instructor. This may sound good to some, but really, it just means that I had even fewer choices…, airlines, mercenary or some kind of police force. The airlines, would mean that I would be away from home for long periods of time, couldn’t do that. Mercenary work put me in the same position, not to mention the danger factor. Then there was law enforcement, there was danger there too, as the only thing I could see myself doing, was SWAT.

Romantically speaking, I was still somewhat presentable, I was only thirty one after all! Sure I was a little scarred up, both physically and mentally, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome. Reasonably tall, athletic, blond…, all the hallmarks of handsome…, I was still getting the odd appreciative look here and there, so I guess I was still good looking enough. But then…, was it enough? I had three teenage boys living with me, and I knew that this would put a lot of people off, it’s not that I resented them for it, it just was  what it was. Once more, I found myself thinking that I just had too little to offer. Then again…, in the bedroom…, well, it had been a very long time…, so long in fact that, I had pretty much forgotten who got tied up. As I turned onto the bridge, I did a quick mental calculation, and came up with seven years. Seven years since I had slept with someone…, and that had been Mark…, I can’t even remember the last time I slept with a girl. With that thought still fresh in my mind, I pulled into the lot and parked the jeep.

It struck me just how far I had come…, standing there in front of those large double doors. In all these years the place hadn’t really changed that much…, the shrubbery, slightly grubby windows, the sills painted white, the red brick frontage. It was one of those places that just seemed so totally eternal. I can even still remember the first time I had stood here…, I had damn near wet myself, the place just seemed so huge and daunting. Above those doors in thick metal block letters, read the words ‘Thomas Sangstrom Middle School’. I had gone here many, many years ago…, I looked at my watch and smiled a sad longing smile. Lunchtime…,  I couldn’t help thinking that if I walked out back, I was sure I would still see children having their lunch, or playing whatever sport was in favor right now. And then maybe, just maybe, there was a solitary kid…, sitting all alone, finishing up his homework…, about to be approached by a long lost friend. For fucks sake…, stop doing this to yourself…, Marks gone! …

“Excuse me…, can I help you?”

For the second time that day, I was snapped out of my thoughts, lucky too, as I could feel the tears start to build behind my eyes. I snapped my head around, as an older lady approached from the far side of the building, carrying a stack of books and papers. Older is not the word really…, ancient, would be more of an apt description. Speaking of things eternal… I thought with a slight chuckle, as I turned to face her. To be fair, I shouldn’t have been surprised really, I think the old bat was just too stubborn to die…

“Mrs. Cartwright…, is that you?”

That floored her a little, and she stopped short. She stood there slightly aghast as she took me in. Taking an even closer look through those half moon glasses of hers…, I could see her mind working, the recognition slowly clicking into place. I can’t remember a single time that I had seen her without those glasses. I mean…, she was old, even when I had gone here. They seemed to always be permanently on that chain around her neck…, it was somewhat comforting, to see that things hadn’t changed so much.

“Well I live and breath…, Cameran Trevallian.”

“Yes Ma’am.” I said with a warm smile.

“Navy I see…, well you always talked about it so much…, It would have been a shame to see you otherwise…, you look very smart by the way…” She gave me an approving look, like I had turned out to be one of her success stories. “What brings you here?”

“Career day ma’am…, my nephews go to this school.”

“Do they now…, who are your nephews?”

“Dale and Corey McTiernan…”

“Those two are your nephews? … Well I suppose I’m hardly surprised!”

“They’re good kids ma’am…” I said…, maybe too quickly.

“Oh they are that…, I didn’t mean that in a bad way…, even though they can be a little…, spirited, at times, especially Corey.”

“They can be…, yes ma’am.” The relief was palpable.

She was still studying me closely…, like she always did, and I felt myself thinking that under that stare, I was right back in her classroom…, How do teachers do that? In the end though, I think it was sort of fitting that she would be the one to greet me, she had after all, been my favourite teacher all those years ago. She had been hard, and pushed us kids even harder, don’t get me wrong…, but she was always fair…, I so loved history. Having said that though, she was also pretty free with her praise, when it was warranted. She just seemed to make the whole experience come alive…, like the words leapt off of the page, at her very command. No teacher before or since had reached me like Mrs. Cartwright.

“I have them both in my class this year…, did you know.”

“No ma’am I didn’t…, though I am pleased to hear that.”

“Corey needs to work harder…, he’s a smart boy, but…, lazy.”

When she said that, she gave me a serious sideways glance…, I knew exactly what she was talking about, and had to stifle a small laugh. I guess nothing gets by the old battleaxe…

“Dale on the other hand is a joy to teach… Oh…, do you still see that friend of yours? The one you were so close with…, I’m sorry I forget his name.”

“Mark ma’am…, no…, he was killed several years ago…”

“Oh! Yes…, I saw it on the news…, now I remember…, I was very sorry to hear that…, he was such a good boy…, so quiet, so….”

The look on her face was the worst I had seen in a long time. What she said hadn’t been out of anything bad, and as she went on I could see that she regretted saying it. But then, some things, like actions, once said, can never be taken back. Standing there in the somewhat awkward silence, I could tell how bad it made her feel, as she was desperately trying to hold back a few tears. It wasn’t her fault, I knew that, and I couldn’t leave her, feeling the way she was…

“Yes ma’am…, he was…, we were very close, but he died doing what he loved to do…, you taught us well…, there is nothing to be sad about.”

I don’t know if I really believed that, but it seemed to make her feel a bit better. She sniffed slightly, and then looked at her watch before looking back up at me, she was so very short…, Had she always been that short?

“Well if you’re going to make a good impression young man, you can’t be late! The lunch bell is going to ring in a few minutes, so you better hurry along.”

“Thank you ma’am…, it was good to see you again.”

“You too.” She said, as I walked up the stairs.

When I stepped through those doors, I was struck again by just how much things hadn’t changed…


Written by bigct/Octavius

February 8, 2010 at 05:21

8 Responses

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  1. Wonderful bridge between the present arc and the future arc. Very well done. It seems as though Cam is finally doing the hard work and doing a great deal of thinking, trying to figure himself out.


    February 8, 2010 at 09:57

  2. Excellent work matie! I’ve enjoyed all i’ve read so far, PLEASE keep them coming as time permits 🙂


    February 8, 2010 at 23:36

  3. Good stuff, CT. I still say get this published!


    February 12, 2010 at 23:43

  4. I still want an autographed hardcover when it get’s published!


    February 13, 2010 at 02:44

  5. You have me hooked. Now, as in RB, I have to wait for the next installment. Love your writing style. Dave


    February 13, 2010 at 23:02

  6. hi my name is ray

    story is brilliant am at chapter 1032 that cant be the end please
    please where do i find the rest




    February 15, 2010 at 17:55

    • Hey Ray,

      Nah dude, it’s not the end. I’m just having a little administrative trouble with the next chapter. I am hoping to get it out soon.

      Thanks for reading…



      February 15, 2010 at 21:24

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