Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Story-"Willy Don't Paint."

USS Tulsa PG-22

Nanjing China, January 1937

The Old Galloping Ghost of the Yangtze River Patrol US Navy, The USS Tulsa was looking rather shabby, Petty Officer Third Class William Anton Rostov was grumbling to himself as he was the ship's Electrician, and he hated anything to do with painting. The USS Tulsa was sitting in the Port of Nanjing, and t
he Captain wanted the old Ghost looking pretty before heading down river to Shanghai to join up with the rest of the Asiatic Fleet. 

Instead of getting dressed for liberty and a forty eight hour pass, Willy found himself chipping paint and wire brushing rust off the bulkhead of the port companionway. Lacking something electrical to keep him busy, this was the US Navy's answer for idle hands. 

Having only been in service for less than six months, this time honored tradition of keeping their ship, squared away and ready for action was still new to Willy Rostov. Who had incidentally joined the Navy as a skilled recruit and had been give an advance promotion as a result.  Willy found  he could just tolerate chipping off the old paint, while barely being able to bring himself to scrape rust. Painting on the other hand. Sheer unadulterated pathological revulsion.

Chief Petty Officer Jones, stuck his head out in the port companionway where Petty Officer Third Class Rostov was steadily mumbling a sordid stream of obscenities. “Willy! What the hell are you bitching about?”

Consumed with rage, Willy turned to his chief and replied, “I am a God Damned International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Four Year Apprenticeship Trained Inside Journeyman Wireman from Local Union Eleven, Los Angeles California. And Chief, got to tell you something...”

“Yeah? What the hell have you got to tell me.”

“I ain't no God Damned to Hell Painter! I am a union trained wireman. I don't paint. If you bastards don't like it you can send my money to the hall and let me off this chickenshit ship!"

Guess what Petty Officer Third Class Rostov? You AIN'T in the God Damn Union anymore, so shut your slop shop and get to working! And when you get done scraping this companionway, come find me.” Smiling with a evil glint in his eye, Chief Petty Officer Jones slid the blade home, “You'll get to paint this companionway, and it has to be done before you go on liberty Union man!” And with that he turned on his heels and walked away, leaving a seething Willy Rostov behind.

With the hope of liberty off the Galloping Ghost rapidly fading from his grasp the idea of not getting off this ship was killing Willy,  especially since Madame Mei Mei's Bordello in the Copper workers section of Nanjing was starting to slip from his grasp, not to mention personal alone time with the delicious Chun-Mei.

Twenty minutes later saw him standing outside the Chief's quarters with ten five gallon cans of Gray, Battleship, US Navy, Paint, One Each, stacked up on the deck. And the last words of the Chief ringing in his head, “No, god damned pussy for a god damned inside wireman from local eleven, Los Angeles! Get to Painting! And Maybe, Just Maybe a God Damned US Navy Electrician's Mate Might Get Off This Ship for a Beer With The Black Gang Coolies Down at the Coal Refueling Pier! Now Hop To It!”

Forty Minutes later, Petty Officer Third Class Rostov changed out of his utilities and had changed into his dress blues, and was about the exit the ship, when the ship's Executive Officer, Lt Fitzroy yelled down from the flying bridge of the ship, “Petty Officer Rostov! Stand where you are! The chief told me you had to paint the port companionway before you were allowed to take liberty. Where the hell do you think you are going?”

Pulling down on his tunic and tilting his ship's hat at a jaunty angle, Willy replied. “Nanjing Sir. Specifically a number one rice bowl where the beer is cheap and the women are easy!”

“Stand where you are! I know for a fact it has been less than an hour since the Chief came to me. You can't have painted the port companionway in less than an hour. It is just not possible.”

“Well sir I would never call anyone a liar if they told me they did something. I painted the companionway and I did my duty. If you don't believe me go look sir.”

The executive officer tore down the ladder and threw open the hatch leading into the port companionway and stopped dead in his tracks. It had indeed been painted. Fifty Gallons of Flat Battleship Gray Paint had been slathered over every conceivable surface. Doorknobs, Battle Lanterns, Live Steam Pipes, Portholes Wiring. 

The walls were running with paint, as was the deck of the companionway, every surface that could be painted had been coated in a thick slimy coat of gray. The air was thick with fumes as drips of paint could be heard plopping onto the deck from where it oozed from between electrical conduits. It looked like someone had used a fire hose to coat the entire area,

“Holy shiiiii.... Officer of the Day! Arrest that man!” The Executive Officer yelled at the top of his lungs, but it was too late.

Petty Officer Third Class William Anton Rostov, late of IBEW Local Eleven, Los Angeles had jumped ship and was half a block away in a coolie powered rickshaw running for his life.

Two Days Later...

“Seaman Rostov. I am curious what did you use to paint the port companionway of my ship?” The Captain of the USS Tulsa said in an evenly modulated tone of voice.

“Uh sir, the Chief failed to give me a paint brush sir. I went down to ship's stores and signed myself out a mop and got to work.”

“I see. Thank you Seaman. I think I will have a discussion with Chief Petty Officer Jones about his ability to give adequate and comprehensive instructions to his subordinates. Dismissed.”

“Aye, Aye Sir!”

US Navy 201 Addendum:

February, 2nd 1937

{Petty Officer Third Class Electrician's Mate Rostov has been Judicially reduced in rank to Seaman Recruit E-1.}

{ William Anton Rostov Service Number 33459062 Enter Service From Los Angeles California, is found both physically and mentally unable to paint and is henceforth forbidden from doing so, as long as he is serving the US Navy.}


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