The Sailor's Stories

1032 Chapter thirty two – The Sailor’s Awakening.

with 6 comments

It was just over a month since the boy’s party, they had been back at school for almost four weeks. It still shocks me, and I find it hard to believe that the time had gone so quickly…, but then as you get older, time has a funny habit of doing that. Opening the door, I was struck once again by the hustle and bustle of that busy school hallway…, it was just like it had been all those years ago. But, gone was the tube socks, the leg warmers…, the bright almost psychedelic colors…, replaced by name brand hoodies, skate shoes, hip hugging skin tight jeans, camo pants, dark colors…, and all manner of other attire.

Then the noise came, hitting like a freight train…, kids running left and right, lockers slamming behind them, the shouts, the screams, the taunts…, some in fun, some aimed to hurt. Standing in that doorway, I realized it really was all just cosmetic…, the only things that had changed in all those years, were the faces. I stepped through the door, into those hallowed halls just as the bell rang, with it’s shrill wail…, I had always hated that sound, and I find myself cringing involuntarily…, even now. I was going to be late, like Mrs. Cartwright said, if I didn’t leg it…, but then, it hadn’t been too long since I had been here, I was pretty sure I still knew where I was going.

To tell the god’s honest truth…, it never ceases to amaze me, just what entices people…, the microcosm, that is a middle school, is no exception I discovered that day. Dressed in pressed navy summer whites, complete with gold braided cap, a large and colorful array of medals, my SEALs badge, pilot and jump wings…., deep black shoulder boards, toting three solid gold stripes, topped with a five pointed gold star…, and wearing a battered, but trusty, pair of old silver aviators…, I walked down the hallway. If I had to admit it, the very interested looks I received, did little to put me at ease…, and I’m not even going to begin to mention the few lustrous stares. Seems there was no age limit to the appreciation of a well built man in uniform. It sorta felt like I was walking the long walk to an execution, or meat market parade, or…, something. Even through all that, I still couldn’t help but smile at those thoughts though, as I continued on my journey.

Every now and again I would see a few kids I recognized, I made the point of waving back at them on my way. All too soon however, the halls turned quiet, doors slowly closing on the last students to enter. Then an odd feeling came over me, and I stopped briefly, scant yards short of my destination. I had this unerring sense of being an interloper in this somewhat solemn place of learning. It was strange that after all these years, this place still had such sway over my emotions, but then I wasn’t a child anymore, and I wasn’t headed for a classroom. Someone once said…, ‘You can never go home again.’…, odd, but I was here, yet I still felt so disconnected to it all. Shaking my head to clear the malaise, I headed to the auditorium. Not wanting to make a giant scene of things…, or at least not more of one, I slipped quietly round to the back door. I knew that whoever else, that had gotten themselves roped into this, would probably be there waiting.

My day so far had been definitely full of introspection…, thoughts on my life, what I had done, the things I had achieved, and where I had been. It was so simple really, I was about to give a speech to god knows how many middle schoolers…, and to be honest, I was scared shitless. I had thought that I had prepared for this, but, as I rounded that corner I realized far too late, that I really had no clue what I was going to say to these children. For the first time in my life…, I was without a plan. I mean I couldn’t exactly go through the finer points of how to kill a man…, or even the subtle psychological thought processes that enable a man to even consider doing that in the first place, to another human being. There was flying I guess, but then a lot of that is just mindless routine…, hardly that interesting a topic.

I was either early, or very much late, because when I got there, there was no one in sight. I tried the door, and couldn’t hear anyone up on the stage, so I decided to hang back a little. Being that I was outside, and out of view, I took a chance and lit a smoke. I stood there deathly silent…, almost statuesque…, watching the slow furl of the smoke from my cigarette, as it trailed lazily up into the air. It struck me just how like my life that smoke was…, clouded and…, fleeting. To be fair, I was trying desperately to think of anything to say, I just seemed to come up short at every turn. Honesty…, honesty, is all I have left… Deep thought had taken hold, and I was so entranced that when a hand came down on my shoulder, I spun around, nearly letting my instincts take over…, right up until the face of a man that had once been a friend came into view…

“Jesus! … Hey Cam…, welcome back!”

“Fuck…, sorry pal, you gave me a bit of a shock there.”

“You never change! Not even so much as a phonecall…, I’m gonna send you that bill asshole…, oh I’m sorry…, asshole sir!” He said, as he brushed something nonexistent off of my shoulder board.

“Keep it up buddy and I’ll have you scrubbing the base heads!” I said, bursting out laughing. “Yeah well…, you know I’m good for it Caleb…, what brings you here?”

“Same as you would be my guess.”

“All those years in a tin can…, when did you have time to have a kid?”

“For the good things you make time buddy.” He said, as he wiggled his eyebrows in a very roguish manner. “I think you’ve met her actually…”

“I’m sorry…, what?”

“Her names Sam…, been seeing that boy of yours.”

“Nah…, you’re gonna have to run that past me again?!”

“You mean…, you never asked her last name? … Or who her parents were? … You’re slipping old buddy.” He said, with a slight chuckle.

“Well no…, I mean…, I’ve talked to her mom a few times…, and she did say her dad was navy, but she never really talked about it, I thought he might have been…, gone…, so I left it alone.”

“It’s alright.” To be honest, I thought I saw his eyes go a little foggy when he said that. “I think she just sees me as dad now anyway these days.”

What had I seen…, what was it? Hurt? Shame? I wasn’t sure…, he soon recovered, however, and was back to his usual cocksure smile. Taking all this in, was when I saw the other fathers. They were mostly in suits or other work attire, there were four all told, not counting Caleb and I, but other than the cop, we appeared to be the only two in uniform. I have to admit, given the major industry in this part of the state, was military, I would have thought that there would have been at least a few others.

There was no more time for reflection, or even a chance to meet the other dads…, as the door to the stage opened on an elderly man. I could only assume he was a teacher, as he ushered us all inside. Once again I had that feeling of being led to some form of impending doom, and the closer I got the worse that feeling became. Slowly it came on…, getting tougher and tougher to move my suddenly leaden feet, every step I took pounding in my ears.  At the same time, my heart was trying to do it’s very best to repeatedly beat it’s way out of my chest. Even my breathing started to speed up. All this culminated a few steps shy of that stage. I started to feel dizzy…, and I thought I was going to throw up. When the room started to spin, I just knew I had to get the hell out of there.

While Caleb and the other dads were directed up the stage steps, I turned and bolted into the backstage bathroom. Diving through the door, I damn near kicked my way into the one and only stall…, I didn’t even have the chance to kneel, I just bent my back and hurled for dear life. I can’t tell you how long I was there, I simply don’t know…, but when I felt the nausea ease, I stepped back and swayed my way over to the sink. Then man I saw there just wasn’t me…, this guy looked dead, he was so pale and drawn…, When had I gotten so old? My mouth was rancid…, and I swirled a piece of sick on my tongue before hoiking it into the sink. As I turned on the tap to wash it away, I instantly fell in love with the cool water that flowed out.

It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just seemed to happen that way, cupping my hands, filling them with that delicious sweet clear liquid…, before raising them to my face. I must have done that a dozen times before I was even aware of it…, every now and again catching a mouthful before spitting it out. I could feel my heart rate start to come down…, the nausea almost gone…, my breathing starting to resemble a more healthy rhythm…, but just to make sure I closed my eyes as tight as I could, until I could see the little light worms running around under the lids…, and took a deep, somewhat, calming breath. I felt the room spin slightly, and I could have sworn that the lights flickered…, but then my eyes were closed so I couldn’t really tell…, Maybe the school hadn’t paid it’s electric bill…

“Cam? … Are you alright?”

“What? … Cabe? … Yeah I’m fine…, why?”

“Because you’re almost as white as your shirt.”

“Too many bad sliders I guess…”

“Come on…, it’s almost time.” Caleb said, sliding his arm over my shoulders and gently leading me out to the stage.

The stage lights were up, and way too bright…, so when I was standing, the glare had hidden the audience, but as I sat, the stark reality of what was about to transpire, again assaulted my senses. There were quite literally hundreds of kids out there, and as I stared looking in vain for the boys, my heart started to pound in my chest once more…, but this time I managed to control it.

“It’s not that bad buddy…, you do this every day remember?”

I almost managed a smile…, but to Caleb, it probably looked more like a grimace. I could see the concern on his face, and I had to wonder why I was feeling the way I was. I mean…, I had definitely been in some worse scrapes in my career…, and besides…, like he said, I lectured in front of people everyday…, why was this particular moment causing me such discomfort?

The teacher who had ushered us in, was the principal I discovered, when he stepped up to the podium to greet the students, and introduce us. None of the others, were related to anyone I knew, so I paid them little attention. All the while, I could feel the pit of my stomach churn over, with an abundance of wretched bile. One by one the others stood to have their say, introducing the next in turn. That thing about the sliders had been a lie, as I hadn’t had a chance to get any lunch before I left the base…, I realized then that that was not helping matters, though I had to say something…, right? But then, if I had had something to eat, I probably would have made an even bigger mess by now.

The proceedings were coming to a close all too quickly, when I heard my name being called for the second time…, well the second time that I had noticed. Caleb had been the last to say his piece, and he had been introducing me for the last few moments. It took the principal’s hand on my shoulder to even notice that much. When I stepped up to the podium there was no applause, no fanfare…, there was just this eerie silence. Looking out at that overfilled crowd, I finally caught sight of a familiar face, roughly in the middle…, looking deeper, I caught a second, then a third…, I hadn’t noticed my hands were shaking, but as I latched on to those faces, and the sides of that lectern…, a sense of calm came over me and when they smiled, and I smiled back…

“Wow…, those are some pretty tough acts to follow huh…? I guess I don’t need to introduce myself, thank you Commander Green. … As you can probably tell, I’m in the navy. I joined up right out of high school, not that much older than you guys are now…, in that time, I have served this great country of ours, as a pilot, a Seal…, and an instructor at the school of warfare. And what have I learned in doing these varied jobs…, well let me tell you…”

In the end I decided I had no choice, but to wing it, even though the handy cards that Danny had made were still burning a hole in my breast pocket. I thought the best approach to this, was to treat the whole thing like one of my lectures. As time wore on, my confidence started to slowly manifest itself. I started cracking jokes and even interacting with the crowd. I went into what it takes to be an officer in the Navy, the training that I had gone through, and the way of life. I told a few stories of the things I had seen and done, but I didn’t go into any specifics, especially any overly violent ones, but the whole time the kids seemed to hang off of my every word…

“… When you do what I do, for as long as I have done it, the only thing that really matters in the end, is the guy standing next to you. As you go through life, be it in the military or whatever walk of life you chose, friendship is what makes it bearable…, I’ve often heard it said that you make the friends you will keep for a lifetime in college…, well to a point that’s true, but don’t let the ones you have now escape you either. There are those that will come and go, maybe they will move away…, maybe you will, but trust me on this, when I say, if you are meant to be together forever, you will be. Life doesn’t get any easier from here on in…, we have a motto in the teams, and I think it is a pretty good one…, ‘The only easy day, was yesterday!’…, take from that what you will, but understand that the guy that stands next to you, will make it all the easier. That is all.”

When I finished, there was applause…, I think I was a little shocked at that, as I certainly hadn’t expected it. While I stood there a little dumbstruck, the principal whispered in my ear that I could ask the students if they had any questions for me. Apparently each of the other dads had fielded a few of their own. But I was so wrapped up in my own shit that I hadn’t noticed.

“Apparently now it’s a question and answer session…, so are there any questions?”

When no one raised their hands immediately I stepped back and let the principal retake control of the proceedings. He asked again if there were any questions, and slowly a few hands were raised. They were timid at first, and as I sat down I couldn’t really see them in the lights.

“Yes Jefferson…, speak up boy.”

“Ah I have a question for Commander Trevallian…, Sir…, is it true that when a pilot ejects from a plane that he gets shorter?”

The Principal just looked over at me, and indicated the microphone, so I stood up again and retook my previous position…

“Sort of yes…, you see what happens is that when you eject your entire body is put under a tremendous amount of pressure…, this compresses your spine…, kinda like a coiled spring…, but after a few hours, once the pressure is lifted, your spine gets back to it’s original shape. Good question though thanks kid…, any others?” I said, as the boy sat down with a big grin on his face.

“Yeah I got one…, is it true your nephews a fag?”

The whole room broke into fits of hysterics, and it didn’t take me long to track down the culprit…, out of the corner of my eye I saw the principal start to get up. I could tell he was furious, but I put my hand up to him, signaling him that I would handle it…

“That’s pretty funny…, I guess you must be one of the popular guys at this school then…, what’s your name?”

“Eddie Evans…”

“You wouldn’t be Sean Evan’s boy…, would you?”

“Yeah…, so what?”

“Oh no reason…, well in answer to your question…” As I said this, I quickly found the boys and gave them a subtle wink. “To be honest I don’t really know…, I mean…, I don’t like to pry…, but come to think of it…, if I was your age…, and not his uncle, I would think he was rather cute…, oh wait…, I get it! … You asked because you want his number…, right?”

The whole room took a collective gasp, before it broke out in hysterics again…, with not a little applause. I took a good look at young Eddie Evans, as I waited for the commotion die down. Even under the lights, I could see that his face had gone bright red…, at the time I couldn’t tell if it was embarrassment or rage. But when I saw him take a sideways glance at the boys…, I just knew he would want to cause some trouble. To his credit though, I saw Dale flip him the finger…, I couldn’t help but smile, my heart swelling with pride for my boys. I was so stuck there in that moment that I almost didn’t notice the crowd had died down again. I have to admit, that I sometimes do act rather childishly…, but then paybacks a bitch, and I really don’t like bullies. So what I said next was rather spiteful, I didn’t care though, I’m sure the kid can handle himself…

“You know Eddie…, are you sure you don’t want that number…, I mean, I went to school with your dad, and he always was a little limp in the wrist…, if you know what I mean…, and I heard that gay is genetic….”

I couldn’t finish, as young Eddie jumped up and screamed…, “FUCK YOU!”

“EVANS MY OFFICE NOW!” Yelled the Principal, standing next to me, before Evans stomped off up the aisle. He was kinda edging me away from the mic…, I got the point, and stepped back…, it didn’t matter to me…, my work there was done.

“I would like to thank all the fathers for coming into talk to you today…, the last bell is only a few minutes off, so when it rings, please calmly exit, gather your things, and have a safe weekend.”

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Written by bigct/Octavius

February 16, 2010 at 14:33

6 Responses

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  1. Oh man, Cam getting stagefright? That seems like out of character for him. But then again, anyone have it from time to time. And he gets over it eventually.
    And the way he answered that question about his nephew was funny. Well, the first one. But he had not enough of his satisfaction and must go further. That was unneeded and he caused some troubles again. But well, that’s Cam Trevellian for ‘ya.
    But I find it strange he didn’t know Caleb is Sam’s father. Man, I would care more about my kid’s girlfriend and her family And I would have never thought Cam is that careless about such things.
    Anyway, great chapter and I thank you for it. It was needed distraction from the current Olympic hype 😉

    Horn

    February 16, 2010 at 21:04

  2. The interaction with Eddie was hilarious! I doubt if I would have done it, but sometimes you just need to put bullies in their place.

    Horn – I think Cam never asked about Sam because he was too wrapped up in himself with the dreams and not sleeping and the whole boat incident with Corey. Irresponsible yes, but understandable.

    -Kevin

    stickypants

    February 18, 2010 at 11:14

  3. Stage fright is a beast, and it never makes any sense as to why it occurs. But, with Cam being off his stride for the past while, could have had that effect of knocking him down a bit off his stride.

    I like what he did to Eddie, little snot! But, I fear the last bit may have been over the line and retaliation is in the future….. Drama! Yay!

    As for the fact that Cam didn’t know who Sam’s parents were, why should he even care? My kids dated a lot, and did I always know their families? No. Did it matter? Not that I could tell. My job was to keep my boy in line, what her parents did or didn’t do really had no bearing on how we expected our boys to act.

    Great chapter! Thanks!

    biki

    February 27, 2010 at 00:40

  4. CT, I find this whole chapter…..strange and out of character in many ways. It leaves me feeling very unhappy and disillusioned with Cam and his public “persona”. I’m not trying to be critical but…….

    Vern

    July 9, 2011 at 14:55

  5. At first I thought the stagefright was a little out of char. but its definatly possible. This was one of my faviorite chapters so far, as always Cam stood up for his boys and it was hilarious as well. Maybe a little mean to bring up Eddies father like that, but hey Cam doesnt like bullies and it shows here

    Great story so far, I look forward to reading the rest. Your a talented writer keep up the good work.

    RobC

    August 29, 2011 at 09:29

  6. YOU ROCK!

    Beach

    May 6, 2012 at 17:28


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