Sunday, April 14, 2013

I think I have said enough in the political end of things and feel a need to tell a story about an earlier part of a very checkered career.

Let's go back to the time I was in the army and a couple of CS and smoke grenades turned up missing during a field problem. What kept the entire battery from being turned upside down was that it was the fact that they thieves had stolen the actual grenades themselves and had left the packing canisters.

This made it easy to cover for them. Back then proof of use was simply the empty canister with a pin in it. I was running the arms room at the time and of course I had a quart jar full of grenade pins that I would generally pass out to those that wanted them to use as key rings.

I just dropped a pin apiece into the half-dozen canisters and we turned them in. Quick fix.

Still, there was an air of concern over this not so much because of the smoke grenades but because of the CS grenades. While the Battery Commander wasn't worried, he was mildly concerned because stuff like that had a habit of showing up where it wasn't welcome.

The BC had a quiet word with me and asked me to keep my ears open and see what I could find out through Rumor Control. I agreed to tell him what I heard but not name any conspirators if I heard anything. He agreed that it was fair enough that way.

Payday was a couple of days away and I heard that a couple of guys were pretty miffed about the local strip club because I guess the strippers who also doubled as cocktail waiteresses were stealing money from the guys.

I guess they were using the wet the bottom of the tray trick to lift bills off the table and a few other tricks. Some of the guys wanted a little payback.

I told the BC that he might cruise Nevada Ave on payday night and look around, especially in the neighborhood of West Colorado Ave, then known as GI corner. It was an area of bars a strip club and a lot of hookers on the streets, which is standard fare in any GI town.

He surprised me whan he said, "Let's check it out. I'll pick you up at about 2000 on payday night. I'll even buy you a beer. Wear a big hat to cover up with."

He was good to his word and showed up along with his wife and Lieutenant Wagner, the XO. This was very unusual because officers and enlisted men generally do not do social things of any kind together.

In the apartment complex I was living in my platoon leader, Lieutenant Wolfe lived in another unit and from time to time we would run into run into each other. In front of civvies I would occasionally address him as Mister Wolfe and he'd call me Pic. Around the complex we never saluted, and my calling him 'Mister' seemed to work.

Occasionally out of earshot of anyone else I would call the BC 'Skipper'. When he asked him why I used a naval term I told him I had grown up near a Coast Guard facility and it was a term of respect. He nodded and in private I continued to do this.

That night I called the skipper 'Skipper', and addressed the XO by rank and called the skipper's wife by her first name, Sally.

We quietly slipped into a parking spot o GI corner and watched a certain bar known for its fine selection of GI town whores and watched GIs wander in and out.

Sally reached into a small ice box and handed me a whisky sour in a can. It was pretty good. I wish they still made them, actually but have not seen one in years. She also passed on over to the XO.

"There's Jiminez, Perry and Globie," said the XO.

"I wonder if they're going to pick up a prostitute," said Sally.

"Maybe Jiminez," I said. "But Perry and Globie won't. They'll just head across the street to the strip club after a couple of beers."

"Hey," said the XO. "Looks like a couple more."

The skipper chuckled, then stopped. "Look at their waists. I wonder what they have under their shirts? Bet we've found our culprits in the case of the missing grenades."

"Give them about 15 minutes and I'll bet all five of them head over the strip club. Some of the guys are pissed off about getting ripped off there," I said.

We were looking at the activity from across the street and things changed suddenly because on our side of the street we saw Captain Bridger, the Charlie Battery BC. He was known for going downtown on payday night and watching the antics of his flock and keeping an eye out for them.

He had been former enlisted and hadn't forgotten his past. Because of the fact that he went downtown periodically a lot of Charlie Battery NCOs did, too. As a result Charlie Battery generally had fewer disciplinary problems.

He also had a pretty good reputation of being able to handle himself on the streets, too as someone had tried unsuccessfully to rob him one night. He was a respected officer and was known for his dry wit.

Captain Bridger was walking past a streetwalker next to our front fender who offered her services. Instead of simply saying no, he decided to tease her a bit. I was in the rear seat next to the curb behind Sally and the pair of us rolled down our windows because we wanted to hear what was going on.

"You a cop," accused the hooker. "If you ain't a cop, wrap a twenny dollar bill round your dick and shake it at me!"

"Only got a five," said Bridger.

"If you ain't no cop then shake you dick at me." she said.

So Bridger unzipped and obliged her. She tried to grab his manhood but he was too quick.

I didn't stick my head out the window but I said loud enough to be heard, "Too bad you didn't have roller skates on, Sir. You could have been a pull toy!."

With that the skipper dropped the car into gear and we tore off, peeling off about 1000 miles worth of rubber off the tires. He had a hard time driving as there were tears in his eyes but we made it OK.

After the laughter died down the XO looked at me and told me that I should get an Article 15 for disrespect.

"Not really," said the skipper. "He used proper military courtesy. He said 'Sir'. Besides it WAS pretty goddam funny! A pull toy!" 

Sally couldn't move she was laughing so hard. Tears ran down her face as she laughed uncontrollably. 

Then we all laughed again for a while as we went around the block and parked in the strip club lot and waited. The skipper looked at me.

"I wonder if Captain Bridger recognized us," he said.

"I doubt he recognized you or the lieutenant but he likely recognized me. I doubt he'll say anything, though because if he did it would fall back on him." I answered.

"I suppose you're right," he said.

Sure enough the five of them showed up as a group in the lot and we watched them split up and go into the club. Jiminez went in alone and the rest split up into twos and entered.

"Think we ought to sneak in and watch?" asked Sally.

"I think we ought to stay the hell out. It's going to get nasty and panicky in there," said the XO.

"Quick! Skipper! Back it up and back it in that spot!" I snapped, pointing. "We'll get a better view there."

He did in pretty quick time before asking me why, which I thought unusual although I guess it meant he trusted me.

"Now we can see the main entrance and the back door," I said. "We're also out of the way of the fire department for when they get called."

I pointed out the likely routes of escape, the front door, the side fire door and the men's room window. "I figure we'll get a ringside seat here," I said.

It wasn't long before chaos erupted inside and the music stopped and there were screams. Almost instantly we saw the first two guys out of either door were our guys. The minute they got outside they took positions on either side of the door and pulled out a pair of scissors.

"What are they doing?" asked the XO.

"Wait," said the skipper. 

Sure enough as people streamed out the door the guys let them pass but when one of the dancers passed by the two of them would hook their index fingers in their G-string or the back of their top and snip it, leaving the hapless girl stark raving naked in the street.

We sat there watching the chaos in tears as everyone stumbled out with their eyes watering. The sight of naked women screeching and running off into the darkness wearing only a pair of stripper shoes was hysterical.

Then we saw the two by the fire door pick up a bag of some sort. Out of the bag they pulled out gloves and gas masks and entered the building.

"They going to rob the register?" asked the XO.

"Probably going in to get the residue. They likely don't want the police to get the lot numbers off of the grenades," I said. "That's what I'd do."

The two of them came flying out the back door just as the police arrived at the front door. They peeled off their masks and gloves, threw them into the bag and took off down an alley.

"Gas masks, Pic." said the skipper. "I want you to inventory them tomorrow morning."

"Sir, they were all there and the room is kept locked. Right now gas masks are running about two bucks apiece at Surplus City," I answered.

"Oh, OK," he replied.

We saw that the three of our guys in the front of the joint had vanished and a minute later we saw a car drive by and stop a little up the street. Two guys got in with a bag but we couldn't recognize them from the distance,but the car was unmistakable. It was Perry's. The front fender was still in primer. There were also three guys in the front.

"Wanna swing by the Las Vegas Cinema and see who's watching 'Deep Throat'?" asked the skipper. 

We laughed. It was a running joke too just about every GI as the cinema had been running the movie 24/7 for almost two years. It was a double feature with 'The Devil in Miss Jones'.

"I'll take you back," said the skipper.

"I've got some beer, a bottle of scotch and some gin and tonic at home if you want a taste," I offered.

Sally spoke up and said it sounded like a good offer and the four of us stopped at my place for a taste and took it outside into the courtyard.

We chatted briefly. He was curious to see if I had any interest in an army career and maybe a shot at what today they call a green to gold program. I wasn't. I wanted to do other things.

Then the skipper looked at me. "Five of our guys and me have their asses in your hands," he said. "If anyone ever knows I witnessed what went on tonight and did nothing there would be hell to pay."

I looked back at him, "If word got out I was out with the BC and the XO downtown I'd be called a kiss ass and be blackballed," I answered.

"Yeah, I guess you're right," he said.

They left and I never said a word about this incident until twenty-five years later.

Twenty-five years later I found my old platoon leader when his name came up in a small news article in a trade publication. He's a big shot now and I called him up. When the secretary asked who was calling I said Sp/5 Piccolo and he answered the phone immediately. He and I chatted and he told me how to get in touch with my old BC.

I called and he recognized my voice immediately and we chatted. I asked him about that night and asked why he invited a first hitch acting sergeant to go along. He simply told me that he felt I would have a little better feel for the guys because I was one of them. I could pick up on a few details for them.

He also was sniffing me out as a possible green to gold candidate but after that evening he realized I wasn't interested. 

One of these nights I'll tell you the story of how I helped the skipper get a bunch of missing property off of the books with the help of a helicopter in the middle of the night.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this:

No comments:

Post a Comment