Damn! The sun’s so bright. Bloodshot eyes pierced by the dawn’s early light. The night before, yet another blurred memory, I squint my eyes and try to see. “ Get up scumbag, come on buddy!” A swift kick in the ribs wakes me up completely. How did I end up on the floor? What day is it? I do not care as long as I am not at work. My mind painfully races in vain to reassemble the night before like a shattered mirror. Another kick from my man Jimmy and I get up. “Let’s go man, fish are waiting,” Jimmy says as he kills the day’s first beer. “I’m coming man,” I plead with him. “Let me get dressed and ice down this hangover with a few cold ones.”
Our two other buddies, Cory and Jerry, are already sleeping in the truck when we get downstairs. We leave the barracks in a cloud of dust as we speed for the on base marina. We unload the fishing poles and cold subs then head down the dock to the boat master. Half drunk and half asleep, old man Charan rings up the cases of beer and stumbles us to our boat. He gives us the same old speech: “No alcoholic beverages allowed onboard, you boys got ice?” Charan always says he is not the beer police, so he does everything but put the brew in the boat for us. With all aboard, we untie our rickety old boat and hit the river.
The sun rose quickly, and we started to drink the cold ones in pace. No Staff NCOs or Officers to report to. No junior Marines to baby sit. We just opened her motor up and let the river take us away. Past the Officers’ perfect homes and families we raced. Further from the barracks and our overwhelming responsibilities. Cruising down the river we were free.
I did not let off the gas until we reached the flashing red lights marking the boundaries of the bombing range. This was our limit of advance, any closer and we would be in the impact area. Anchored and content with our seclusion; we began to swim. Sweet Home Alabama blasted as we drank; ensuring not a fish could be found for miles. This was a grand time, just me and my trusted brothers.
The buzz kicked in and so did our urge to get on the move. Against the waves our little boat raced, catching air whenever possible. As we headed home, we took turns jumping off the speeding craft. Then, like in training, circled up to recover our lost. As long as either Jimmy or I were at the helm, all was safe. We were the only two with boating licenses and therefore undisputed captains of the vessel.
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