Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pine Oil Miracle! Episode Two: The Pain of the Miracle Whip!

"What in the HELL were you thinking?" Chief asked.

Chief had no idea. Pity. It was up to me to convince Chief that he was lookin' at it all wrong. Up to me to help Chief to see the intoxicating power we now had at our command!

"Well, you see, I know what it looks like, but..." Rick replied, tryin' to work his crowd...the Chief.

Up to me and Rick! Afterall, we were a team!

"I not only know what it looks like! I know what it smells like! The XO will be here in...20 minutes! What am I going to tell him?" Chief asked after ranting.
This wasn't going well.

"It was an accident?" Rick offered.

Looks like Rick and I were no longer a team on this one. Rick had lost sight of my vision. I was on my own.

"An accident?" Chief asked, increduously, like he couldn't believe his ears.

Way to soften him up, Rick. How am I goin' to get Chief to listen after that lame excuse?

"An accident? Are you retarded or brain damaged? How many gallons did you open up and spill?" Chief asked, with more bulging blood vessels than I had ever seen on him. "And why are you both covered"

Rats! Chief was pissed! Rick glanced at me with a horrified look for some help. Although Rick did turn on me and it was tempting too watch him squirm, I decided to take the high road and take the fall, if it came to that.

"Uh, excuse me, Chief? I..." I began.

"WHAT!" Chief yelled, now glarin' at yours truly.

"Rick had nothin' to do with it, Chief. I did this on purpose so that..."

"You did this on...PURPOSE!?" Chief looked like he was gonna blow a gasket or kill me...or both. Once he got over the sheer disbelief that is.

The pressure was intense! I felt like I was tryin' to stop a bomb from explodin', and I only had 5 seconds left on the timer. Do I cut the red wire or the green? Or maybe even the white?
There were too many wires and not enough time, even if I knew which wire to cut, and besides that, I had no wire cutters, thanks to Ricks witty response.

"Yep!" I said, with the steady nerves and confidence only a bomb disposal specialist would dare exude. "Wait 'till you hear why," I continued, smiling.
I would diffuse the bomb (Chief) with confidence and a smile. Once the bomb was disarmed, then surely Chief would listen to reason. In fact, I was certain he would thank me after he heard the details of my super-genius plan.
How could he not?

"Not another word! We will talk later. You standby and wait for the XO!" Shouted Chief. I coulda swore he called me a moron as he stormed off. I couldn't decipher the rest of the mumbling.

Damn! Guess I shoulda cut the red wire...

"Does this mean I have to stay too?" Rick asked.

"How should I know? Why don't you ask him?" I replied, frustrated.

"Hey, I tried to talk you out of it," Rick said.

"Yeah. Sorry, man. I guess it was a stupid idea. If only I had used a little less, then maybe...I dunno," I said, feelin' down.

"Yeah, you did use way too much," Rick said.

"Yeah. Look, why don't you go take a break or somethin'. It was my fault, not yours," I said, lighting a smoke.

"No, I'll stay," Rick said, patting me on the shoulder.

I felt much better now. What a pal! What a true friend!

"Besides, I wanna see what the XO does," Rick said, laughing.

What an assh*le! "You ass!" I exclaimed, laughing along with Rick.

"What did you guys do?" A familiar voice asked.

Rick and I turned around to see OS1 Mike.

"And what is that...slime? Oil? Oh sh*t! Is that pine oil?" Mike asked, backing up and wiping his eyes.

"Uhuh," Rick replied.

"It was my idea," I said, getting it out of the way.

"What are you doin' here, Mike? I thought you were supervising the mast," Rick asked.

"Chief told me to be here for the XO's inspection. He also said that you screwed up the inspection," Mike said, looking at me.

"Not exactly. I had a plan," I said, defensively. "I just got carried away."

"I'll say," Rick said, chuckling.

Not helping, Rick!

"Let's have a look," Mike said, tryin' not to laugh.

I entered Combat and held the door open. Mike followed and Rick joined us.

"Looks clean," Mike said, checking for dust.

"Smells clean," Rick offered.


"Damn!" Mike exclaimed, wiping his eyes again. "Damn!" He repeated, heading for the door. Rick and I followed him. Rick was laughing his guts out.

"What the? Is that why Chief is pissed?" Mike asked.

"Yep," I said.

"Lucky guess," Rick said.

"But...why?" Mike asked, trying to make sense of it all.

"It's really a good idea. I just had some...difficulty, with the execution of my plan," I said, turning red.

"That's an understatement if I ever heard one," Rick said.

"Yeah, okay. But what was your plan?" Mike asked, trying to hold back a smile.

The hatch to the weatherdeck opened and the XO entered the passageway.

Terrific. Mr. Chuckles is here.

"Good afternoon sir. OI Division, ready and standing by for inspection," Mike said.

"OS1," said the XO curtly, acknowledging Mike. The XO ignored Rick and me. "Let's get started."

Mike followed the XO into Combat. Rick and I followed.
The XO checked for dust in high places, moving quickly. I noticed he was wearing a white glove!
I could hardly believe it! Was he for real? He pulled his mirror on a stick thingy out and looked under the first RADAR repeater. His nose wrinkled up and twisted.

"Smells clean," the XO said, walking a few more steps.

Ya think?

After a very cursory, 30 second inspection, the XO cleared his throat.

"Outstanding!" He exclaimed, quickly departing Combat.

After he left Combat, the XO turned to Mike. "You have the cleanest spaces on the ship! Well done!" The XO said.

Yeah right. Give Mike the credit. What, is this guy blind?

"Thank you sir," Mike replied, glancing at Rick and I. "Conrad and Atwood did all the heavy lifting," he continued.

Way to go Mike! You da man!

The XO glanced at Rick and me. He squinted his eyes then raised an eyebrow when he saw the slime.

"Very well. Carry on," the XO said, then turned to leave.

Once the XO was out of sight, Mike said, "This is the first time I ever heard the XO say outstanding! We got no hits at all! I can't believe it!"

"Neither can I," quipped Rick.

"Stunned, I'm sure" I deadpanned.

"So this was your plan," Mike said, then laughed.

"Took you long enough to figure it out," I said, sniffing. "Smell that? That's the piney smell of vindication! Yes!"

"Chief is not going to believe this," Mike said.

"We did it! We found the holy grail for quick, outstanding inspections! The anti-XO, pine oil!" Rick exclaimed.

"What's this "we" sh*t, Watson? It was my idea," I said, laughing.

"Hey, Sherlock! I fell for your idea, twice! That counts for somethin'!" Rick replied, rubbing his backside.

"Is that your British accent?" Mike asked, laughing.

"Southern Britain," Rick drawled.

We cracked up over Rick's antics.

Later...much later, Chief returned to Combat.

"Conrad, Atwood. I owe you guys an apology," Chief said. "I'm sorry. I over-reacted and didn't give you guys a chance to explain everything," Chief said.

"No probelem Chief. I understand, considering the slime and all. I'm just glad it worked and I couldn't have done it without Rick," I said.

"Ben is right. Without me his plan would've tanked," Rick said, smiling.

"Keep your lips sealed about this," Chief said, laughing. "I'm the envy of all the Chiefs, because the XO gave us an outstanding score! Not to mention how happy the DivO and Ops is! I would like to see that continue. Therefore...whenever the XO inspects, you both will be elected to do the honors," Chief said, smiling.

"I don't recall voting," Rick said.

"This isn't a democracy," Chief said. "I'll remember this when the evaluations are due," he continued.

"Thanks Chief! I think." I said, smiling.

"Oh! And Conrad?" Chief queried.

"Yes?" I replied.

"Next time you come up with a brilliant idea, do me a favor and tell me about it. Before you get it all over yourself, okay?" Chief asked, smiling.

"Roger that, Chief!" I replied.

"Alright, you clowns get out of here! I'll see you tomorrow, at muster," Chief said, chuckling.

Cool! It was only 1530. Early liberty! I was no longer tired, but I took a long shower. After drying off and getting dressed I waited for Rick.

After Rick got dressed Rick asked me "how do I smell?"

"I dun't know. Everything still smells like pine oil. Use extra aftershave. That's what I did," I offered.

"Good idea. I don't want to ruin my chances with the ladies," Rick said, splashing on more aftershave.

"What ladies?" I replied, chuckling.

"I have a feeling that tonight is my lucky night," he answered.

"You always say that. When was the last time we saw a chick anyway?" I asked.

"Hmmm...I wish we had fake ID cards. The EM Club isn't cuttin' it," Rick said, in deep thought.

"Yeah, well, good luck with that," I said. "What was it you said about wishes?"

"That's cold, man. Using my sailor wisdom against me," Rick said, as we made our way to the quarterdeck.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pine Oil Miracle!

Sweat was pourin' into my eyes, burnin' and makin' everything a blurry haze.
The pine-oil didn't help. It sure smelled clean in here though.

Waitaminnit! Smells clean! Yes!

An original idea dawned on me. Well, maybe not original per se, but no one workin' in Combat in recent memory had come up with this idea.
It was sheer genius! I giggled like a little girl chosen to play Dorothy in the third grade school play version of the Wizard of Oz.

Um...scratch that. I laughed like a mad scientist with one too many funny bones.
Make that a deliriously dehydrated mad scientist with too much time to think.
Not that I was thinkin' much. Mostly thoughts of crystal clear ice cold water and sleep tantalized me.
The fact that I was several hours away from both didn't stop me from thinking about them.
I had mentioned my thoughts earlier to Rick.

"You can wish in one hand and sh*t in the other and see which hand fills up first," Rick offered.

Sailor wisdom.



"Look who the cat drug in," said OSSN Brock, smiling.

"Man, you guys look like you got toasted last night," said OS3 Rutherford, chuckling.

"Nice of you to notice," I muttered, my mouth dry as mojave sand in August.

"Always glad to provide the mornin' entertainment," Rick said.

Everyone laughed.

"Your shirt," Mike said, smiling.

I looked down at my shirt and noticed I had not aligned the buttons properly. I thought it didn't feel right.
Quickly, I unbuttoned my shirt to line it up.

"Conrad. Your supposed to be dressed at muster. Not getting undressed," Chief said as he arrived.

Crap. "Sorry Chief. I'm fixin' it," I said, fumbling with the buttons.

I didn't wake up until about 5 minutes before muster and I had scrambled to get dressed and, to save time, I dry shaved.

"You're bleeding on your shirt," Chief said.

I looked down again but I didn't see anything.

"Here, on your collar," Chief said, helpfully pointing out the blood.

I wiped my cheek and blood came off on my hand. Damn! No wonder it burned like hell when I threw on some aftershave.

More laughter. I smiled. I was too thirsty to laugh. Rick was lucky. He could go for days before anyone noticed he hadn't shaved.
Me? I had a 5 o'clock shadow at 2.
I felt a bit lightheaded and some nausea, but I knew I would be fine after I got some water, and some coffee.

"And you," Chief said, turning to Rick, "look like you crawled out of a cave. Why is your shirt hanging out?"

"Sorry Chief!" Rick exclaimed, tucking in his shirt where he had missed.

"Perhaps, when your done tucking in your shirt, you might consider tying your boot laces. If it isn't too much trouble that is," Chief said, smiling.

More laughter. "I don't care if you guys have fun, but I expect you to be ready for muster at 0700 sharp! I'll give you a break this time, but next time there will be repercussions. Is that understood?" Chief said.

Chief wasn't in the best of moods this mornin'. His smile didn't fool me.

"Aye Chief," Rick and I weakly said, almost in unison.

"That was pathetic! Do you understand!?" Chief said loudly.

"Aye aye Chief!" We both yelled in unison, standing at attention.

"Good. See how easy that was? Now...because I care, I'm going to help you both get over your hangovers the tried and true way. You're going to sweat it out," Chief said, smiling. "You're going to work for me this morning. After muster, go get your toothbrushes and meet me in Combat."

Terrific. I can hardly wait. Wait. Did he say toothbrushes? That can only mean...

"The XO is inspecting Combat after lunch. You two are elected to make sure we pass, with flying colors. As you know, the XO likes to use his mirror on a stick thingy to look behind and under everything and in every crack. I expect all he will find after you guys finish is nothing but clean. Is that clear?" Chief asked.

"Aye aye, Chief!" We both shouted. My voice cracked and quiet laughter was heard.

"That's the spirit! We're going to have lot's of fun this morning," Chief said.

The sun was hot and bright and I was already sweating. I just wanted the day to be over and it wasn't yet 0705.

Flashback within' a flashback.

"Nope, haven't heard from her," said the bartender.

"Thanks anyway," Rick said, his hopes dashed to pieces and stomped on.

"You know, I can honestly say I would be surprised if I ever see Sue again. Take my advice son, she ain't comin' back. The sooner you realize it, the quicker you can move on with your life," the bartender offered.

"Yeah. I know," Rick replied, looking down into his beer.

Good thing Mr. Bartender wasn't a motivational thinker, I thought.
Then again, maybe he was and gotten himself fired for his uplifting wisdom. Why else would he be workin' as a bartender at the Enlisted Man's Club?

I shouldn't shoot the messenger, or the bartender with thoughts like that, I thought.
He meant well...and he was right. Sue wasn't comin' back. It had been weeks since she had left, and nary a peep.
Rick had left several messages behind. No go.

I wanted to cheer Rick up, but I couldn't think straight. I lost count how many beers I drank.
There might be a correlation between the two, I thought, drinkin' more beer.

Rick had become more depressed, and so had I, for different reasons mostly.
We were both developing a bad attitude about the Navy in general.

"I didn't sign up to be a painter, janitor, firefighter, and all the other crap we have to do," I said, changing the subject off of Sue.

"Me either. No way am I gonna reenlist! Hell no!" Rick exclaimed.

"Yeah, this sucks! I thought we would be goin' to a bunch of schools instead of doin' this!" I replied.

"Yeah, what's up with that?" Rick asked.

"Hell if I know. And I was told we were in an undermanned rating," I said.

"Yeah right. F*uckin' bullsh*t man," Rick said.

"Got that right," I said, ordering another pitcher. It didn't seem as if I was doin' a good job cheerin' Rick up.

"Wanna dance?" I asked.

"What the f*ck? What did you say?" Rick asked, eyeing me suspiciously.

"Well, there ain't no ladies here..." I said, tryin' not to smile and failing miserably.

Rick laughed for a long time, until he turned red. Just when I thought he was goin' to pass out due to lack of oxygen, he finally took a deep breath.

"I'm only decent at slow dancin'," I said, smiling. "This is our song," I continued, extending my hand.

Double Vision by Foreigner was playing. Rick lost it. This time I thought for sure he would pass out. I thought I would pass out soon afterwards. I laughed so hard my gut hurt.

Fast forward, past muster...a little more...okay, stop.

Pine oil. I know it will work. It's brilliant!

"Conrad, I'll be gone for awhile, but I will be back, and you guys better be making some progress," Chief said, picking up his coffee mug.

"Aye aye, Chief!" I said in a raspy voice. Damn! I was thirsty. I looked up at Chief as he passed, with forlorn eyes.

"Okay! Fine! Take a break, but you better finish before the XO arrives!" Chief said, pointing his finger at me and smilin'.

Chief was a softy even when he was in a bad mood.

"Thanks Chief!" Rick and I exclaimed almost in unison.

"Yeah yeah," Chief said as he left Combat.

I hurried over to pour Rick and myself a cup of Duluth's finest blend of roasted Columbian reject and lit a smoke.

"Oh man...that is so good!" I said, blissfully.

"Damn straight, relatively speakin'," Rick said.

"You missed your calling as a comedian Rick," I said, chuckling.

"More like it missed me. Louisville, Kentucky isn't known for it's world class comedy clubs," Rick said. "Horse racing, Check! Fried chicken, check! Barbeque, check! checks."

"Yeah, now that you mention it. Hey! Two words. Pine oil!" I said, excitedly.

"Huh?" Rick asked.

"Pine oil," I said, pointing to the pine oil.

"Okay. What about it?" Rick asked, perplexed.

"Don't you see? We use oh, say ten times the suggested amount and..." I began.

"Are you f*ckin' insane?! That'll burn our eyes!" Rick exclamed, cutting me off.
"Besides, those aren't suggestions on the side of the jug, those are directions. That stuff is easily ten times stronger than pinesol."

"Yes. True, but bear with me for just a moment and my genius will be revealed," I said, savoring the momentary lapse of genius I was experiencing.

"Alright, what?" Rick asked, rolling his eyes.

"If it burns our eyes and makes us cough what do you think it'll do to the XO?" I asked smugly.

"Hmmm...I see where your goin' with this, but the floor will be dry by then," Rick repled.

"I already considered that. Hence using ten times more, or maybe twenty," I countered and raised him.

Rick was now in deep thought, weighing the pros and cons.

Finally..."Worth a try, I guess, but I don't feel like barfin," Rick said, skeptically.

Obviously, Rick still wasn't a true believer. Must've been the hangover.

"I'll do that part," I said, helpfully.

"Are you sure?" Rick asked.

"No sweat! Well, probably a lot of sweat, but I standby my theory," I said, wiping the sweat from my forehead.

"Okay. It's your funeral. Just yell if you begin to pass out and I'll try to rescue you," he said, laughing.

"Save the comedy for the later, my friend. You are about to see a miracle!" I replied, confidently.

"It's not that I don't believe you, Ben. But you haven't even tried it out yet," Rick said.

"Point taken, Watson," I said dryly. "To prove my theory I'll test it. Are you about done with the scrubbing?" I asked.

"Yeah, maybe in 30 minutes, Sherlock," Rick said, looking at his watch.

"Good. Me too. The XO, aka Professor Moriaty is due in an hour and a half. After we finish the scrubbing, I'll experiment by the doors. If it affects Chief then we'll know for sure that it works," I said.

"Then let's hurry," Rick said, draining his cup.

25 minutes later, we were done with the scrubbing, and initial swabbing of the deck.
Rick went out into the passageway, and I began my experiment.

How much to use? I'll just eyeball it, I thought. No time to measure. I'll just use the swab without wringing it out. That should be enough water.
Hmmm...stuff is really slick, better watch it, I thought as I swabbed, left to right, left to right, more water...crash!!!

I landed on my back, swab in my hand. The deck broke my fall. I tried to breath but the wind was knocked out of me.

Rick rushed in, hearing the noise. "You okay Ben?" He asked, as he took his second step and...crash!!! The second crash was louder, because Rick was around 40 pounds heavier than me.

As I caught my breath, I coughed. The pineoil was working well. My eyes were watering. I tried to stand up but it was too slick, so I rolled over onto my stomach and got on my hands and knees.

"Rick? You alright?" I gasped and then coughed again, grabbing the RADAR repeater and pulling myself up.

Rick coughed. "You asshole!" He yelled, coughing again.

"Sorry man. Look, don't try to stand up..." Crash!!! Rick slipped again.

Damnit! I sort of skated towards rick, grabbing the DRT on the way. I bent down to lend Rick a hand.

"You okay Rick?" I asked, kneeling down.

"You're still an asshole!" Rick exclaimed, grabbing my hand and coughing.

"Here, grab the DRT," I said, coughing again myself.

We both made it to the door, walking/skating very slowly, and stepped out into the passageway.

"Ahhh! Fresh air!" Said Rick, taking deep breaths.

"Relatively speaking," I said, following suit and tryin' to laugh without coughing.

"Sh*t! I got that crap all over me!" Rick said with a disgusted look, wiping the slime on the dry side of his dungerees.

"Slight setback. I'm goin' in to finish up," I said, glancing at my watch.

"No f*ckin' way! You can't be serious!" Rick said, astonished.

"Yes f*ckin' way, and yes, I'm serious. Chief will be back any minute," I said, opening the door again.

Rick sighed. "Fine, but I'm gonna leave the door open, so I can watch your retarded ass!"

"How did you know I was constipated," I said, laughing.
Rick groaned at that. Or maybe it was the bruises from slipping twice. Hard to say, really.

I entered Combat gingerly, and slowly made my way to the swab. I grabbed it and dipped it into the pail, and commenced to swabbing with one hand, while I steadied myself with the other by grabbing the repeater.

That was taking too long, and my arm was getting tired, so I tried to lean against the repeater with my legs far apart. That worked better.

"Ha ha ha! You look like a moron or somethin'," Rick said from the door, only his head visible.

"Yeah yeah, kick a brutha while he's down," I said sarcastically.

Then it hit me. "You know, we wouldn't have this problem if I started at one end and worked back towards the door," I said.

"Little too late for that, doncha think?" Rick said, smilin'.

I tried to take shallow breaths, to avoid coughing a lot. It seemed to work. I was starting to get used to it. Sort of.

It seemed like a long time, but I finally finished up, after Rick emptied the bucket and refilled it with steaming hot water I swabbed it again.

"Alright, close the door so the fumes don't escape," I said as I exited.

"Ben, do you really think there's a chance that'll happen this week?" Rick asked, raising an eyebrow.

I laughed. Rick was too funny not to be a comedian. "Yeah, you're right about that!" I exclaimed.

It was almost dry when Chief showed up. He looked at us and we smiled. "Almost dry, Chief," I said.

"Good! I'll check out your work," Chief said, opening the door. Chief walked in and we followed him. Affter two steps Chief stopped abruptly. "What the hell is that!?"
Chief asked.

"Pine oil," I said.

"Darn, I'm outta here!" Chief said, going back out in the passageway.

"Told you, Watson," I said to Rick, smiling.

"By George, Sherlock, I believe your onto somethin'!" Rick said, in his best southern English drawl.

"Conrad, Atwood! Front and center!" Chief shouted from the passageway.

Apparently, the Chief still needed convincing...