Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pigboats - "I'm Essentially Scum"

The Pike surfaced after sundown. The rain had softened into a falling mist. The Skipper ordered the sub to head for Cabo San Agustin, straight across the gulf from northwest to southeast. Mr. Rizzo was OOD as the XO headed for the Skipper's cabin to hand in his report. He looked ashen, colorless. He rapped on the doorframe. "Enter!" called out Roy Campbell. (What follows is verbatim)

He came in and handed over the report, tight-lipped. "I came to report our activity sir." Campbell: "Oh, right. You. What's got your panties tied in a bunch then? Seems like you caught plenty of pilots." Campbell pours himself a cup, black, and blows on it before taking a large gulp. Vaugirard thinks about fake Spanish and where it landed him. Campbell "pour yourself a cup and spill. Not the coffee."

Vaugirard "I screwed up" Campbell "How so?" "We got arraigned by a Japanese Corvette, and the plan I chose costed 3 lives" "And?" Vaugirard is so pale he's almost transparent. "I could have just let them bag us" "And what would that have accomplished?" Vaugirard "Those kids would still be alive" Campbell "Not likely."

Vaugirard "Oh come on, they're sons of bitches but they still capture prisoners! Especially me. They would have rubbed their hands" Campbell "Yes, and then they starve the POW's, beat them, and chop off their heads if they felt like it. The Japs treat prisoners like less than crap."

"Listen. I know what you're trying to do but that won't get the screams out of my head." "Nope it won't. But you can't let this haunt you." Vaugirard "I'm not sure I could watch anyone who was on the Pickerel straight in the eye" "Why not? afraid to see how much they still trust you?" "Trust me?" Campbell "Of course. You're their Officer." "I know I wouldn't trust myself"

Campbell "They trust me, even. And I'm essentially scum." Vaugirard "Well.. You got your success streak to your credit. You're no scum! You're untypical, sure - not scum" "Oh, no, I'm scum. A professional Gambler. But, here, I'm the Skipper, and I have to meet that expectation." "Oh don't worry. I'll do my part. I won't let anybody down. Until we're safe at dock." "Moping around won't help anyone then." Vaugirard "It's not about moping. It's about doing what is right." "Right." "Exactly." "Now, get back to work."

Vaugirard went to the forward torpedo room to check on the prisoner. On his way back, he ran into Johnston, who was on the Pickerel with him. "Hey, sir! Practicing your Spanish?" The XO blushed. "What do you mean?" "I can't believe how you kept them damn Japs at bay! That was smart thinking! I'll be telling my grandkids about how Mr. V saved us with hokey Spanish and a towering rage! I was about to pee my pants, sir! No lie!"

When he got to the bridge, the Skipper was scanning the horizon. Off the starboard bow, he caught a glimpse of smoke. (Yes, the skipper, not the Lookouts) "Smoke across the horizon! The ship is below the horizon! Bring us about to the south. Steer One Eight Oh, full speed." As they got closer, the quarry resolved into a single tanker of about 7000 tons escorted by a frigate, racing up and down beside the zigzagging tanker.

The Pike moved to the side and pulled the plug. The Skipper sighted in on the tanker. "Ready one through four. This is a shooting observation." "We have a solution, Skipper" said Vaugirard  He swung to the frigate, skipping on oblivious. "Fire one! Fire two! Fire three!" He swung back to the tanker. "Fire four!" "All fish running hot, straight, and normal!" BOOOM! The frigate was obliterated. "Now we have the tanker at our mercy!" KABOOOM! "The tanker is on fire, she's slowing down and listing to port! Bring our stern tubes to bear!" "Reversing course to Two Seven Oh, sir!" "Fire five!"

BAM! The middle of the tanker lifted up out of the water, her back broken. "That's all she wrote boys! Bring her up!"

 End of Session

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