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The Incredible Mr. Bobbit -- a farce

Old Guy

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The Incredible Mr. Bobbit


"Aren't you the famous Mr. Bobbit?" purred the buxom lass.  A river of blonde hair covered her shoulders while a clinging black dress set off other well-developed assets.

Mr. Bobbit tried to avoid staring at the lady's cleavage -- a difficult task since he stood only a few inches over five feet.  "Madam?  You have me at a disadvantage."

"Tessa Star," said the lady, extending one manicured hand.  "Reporter for the Metro Tattler."

"Of course.  I recognize the name."  Bobbit gave the reporter a suave smile.  He'd heard of Ms. Star.  The lady wrote fluff articles for the Tattler and was reliably rumored to be 'easy' in the quaint parlance of Metropolis society.  He was also fairly certain she was wearing nothing but the black dress and a hint of perfume.

"No fair hogging Mr. Bobbit," boomed a voice.

Bobbit tore his eyes from Ms. Star's boobs.  A broad shouldered oaf in a bad suit peered down at him.  "Sapper, Mr. Bobbit," said the oaf, thrusting a meaty hand forward.  "Reporter from the Bilgewater Chronicle.  We met before your last race." 

Bobbit whimpered under his breath and tried to extract his hand from the creature's grip.  "Ah -- yes.  Mr. Sapper.  I remember."  He got his hand free.  No bones seemed to be broken.  "Ms. Star has the floor, I think.  You'll have to wait your turn."

"Oh, I'd love to have a turn with Tessa," said Sapper with a leer.  "But I ain't famous enough."

"Buzz off, Sap," snarled the woman.  "I'm interviewing Mr. Bobbit."

"Is that what they call it?  I was about to call a cop.  Soliciting is illegal you know.  I was sure a working girl had wandered in off the street."

Ms. Star sighed, an action Mr. Bobbit found incredibly enticing.  She glanced around.  "Don't they have any security in this place?  This Bilgewater scribbler ought not be in here."

Before Sapper could formulate another insult, confused shouting broke out across the room.

"My God!" exclaimed Sapper.  "It's Manicotti!"

"Manicotti?"  Bobbit frowned.  "All that shouting over mere pasta?"

"No, you fool!"  The big reporter sidled away.  "Manicotti!  You ran over him in that last race!"

"But . . ."  Mr. Bobbit stepped quickly up on an end table so he could see better.  "I didn't run over him -- I shot him."  A frown creased his face.  "And his name isn't Manicotti -- it's Majoor."

"Oh, yeah."  Sapper shook his head and laughed.  "The Italian.  I knew his name had something to do with pasta."

"He's got a gun!" shrieked Ms. Star.  Pandemonium!  Cries of fear! 

"Bobbit!" snarled a skinny wretch covered with bandages.  "Bobbit!  Get down from there and die like the miserable coward you are!"

Ms. Star cried out and slumped to the floor.  Sapper grabbed a handful of blonde hair and pulled her out of the line of fire.  His moon-shaped face loomed up for a moment.  "She ain't a real blonde, Bobbit."  He dangled a long hair.  "Dark at the roots.  See?"

"Back!" yelled Bobbit.  "Get back, you fool!"

"Get down!"  The enraged Majoor waved a huge handgun in Mr. Bobbit's face.  "Get down, so I can shoot you down like a dog!"

"Be careful with that thing," roared Bobbit.  "That's a Morgenstern-Brewster .55-80!  It has a hair trigger and a bad safety!"

"I'll show you a bad safety," said Majoor.  He leveled the handgun.  The muzzle rested against Mr. Bobbit's generous nose.  "Say your prayers."

Someone pulled at Bobbit's arm.  "Get down!"

He blinked and made a mewling noise.  His wife peered up at him.  "Have you gone to sleep?  You're supposed to be changing a light bulb, not doping off!"

"Sleep?"  The images of Sapper, Majoor and his handgun, and the delicious Ms. Star faded slowly.  "Sleep?  N-no.  I -- I was just thinking."

"Change the bulb, Bobbit.  Don't fall asleep on that ladder.  You don't have the insurance for it."

"Of course, my dear.  Right away."  Mr. Bobbit, the famous motorcycle racer and firearms expert, fumbled with the burned-out bulb.  Blast!  Which way to turn the thing?

"Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey," called his wife, the light of his life. 

****

Mr. Bobbit adjusted his safety glasses, wiggled his respirator to make sure it was snug, then slid his hearing protectors into position.  He gave a quick shake of his head.  None of the safety gear fell off.  Shuffling from side to side, he tested the traction of his steel-toed boots.  Last, he slipped the gloves on.  Leather gloves -- split cowhide.  He flexed his fingers.  Now he was ready.  A quick tug on the starter cord and the weed trimmer purred to life.  Mr. Bobbit blipped the throttle twice, then lifted the black carrying strap into position.  Again, a throttle blip.  He was ready to do battle with the noxious weeds and overgrown grass in his back yard.

Mrs. Bobbit glanced up from her magazine and smiled indulgently.  He saw her take a sip from her gin and tonic.  If she said anything, he couldn't hear it over the soft growl of the engine.

"Forty miles, sir!"  Ensign Monkhouse saluted as he made his report.  "Forty miles to target!"

"Yes."  Captain Bobbit stood quiet for a moment, waiting for the excitement to die down on the bridge.  Finally, he nodded to the navigator.  "Lock in the servos.  Slave the engine controls."
Leftenant Duey, the veteran navigator, calmly lit a fresh cigar and began setting up the gyro actuators for the final run to the target.  He consulted a short checklist.  "Checked and set, sir."

The huge FWX-34 Flying Wing "Speedy" plunged through the night, shouldering its way through heavy black clouds.  On the darkened bridge, men clung to stanchions and peered into the black sky.  The enemy was out there, somewhere.

"Defensive systems at standby," reported Leftenant "Guns" Quagmire, the Weapons Officer.

"No hostile targets detected," announced Ensign Inch.  His voice quavered.  Inch was the newest officer aboard Speedy.  The previous Detection Systems officer, Leftenant Zoomie, had been killed in a baffling accident involving a banana peel on the deck of the officer's lounge.

Engines growling, Speedy dipped ever lower.  The final attack must take place at nil feet, down there in the weeds and tall grass.  Captain Bobbit chuckled.  He loved going in low.

"Sir!" cried Inch.  Bright dots filled his Detector Scopes.  He snapped switches and mashed buttons with abandon.  The Captain stepped to his side.  "Easy, son.  Reverse your fluxor arrays.  Ping the back scatter.  Some of those must be drones."

Slowly, Inch settled down.  "Seven targets, sir.  All running oblique radar and mauve-band detectors!  I'm starting counter measures."

"That's the spirit," said Bobbit.  He turned toward Quagmire.  The handsome officer stood ready, hands poised over his turret controls.  "Let 'em get in close, Guns.  Then rip them to pieces!"  The bridge crew glanced at their commander and chuckled.  Old Bobbit was out for blood.

Soon enough, the ripping began.  Enemy interceptors closed to knife-fighting range.  Quagmire set his turrets to fricassee.  Dots flared and died on Inch's scopes.  But it was not all one way.

Solid shot smashed into the overhead armor and howled away.  Explosive shells detonated all over airship's frangible metal surface.  One by one, the interceptors were targeted and killed.  Speedy lunged toward the target, trailing bits of aluminum.  A last defender appeared on the displays.  Guns leaped for his missile panel.  "I'll get that mother!" he cried.

"Easy," cautioned Bobbit.  "Conserve your ammo.  There may be others hiding in the weeds."

"Here's another!" screamed Inch.  He fell back from his position, twitching in fright.

Bobbit stepped forward and stabbed the big red FOR GOD'S SAKE, PUSH THIS ONLY IN DIRE EMERGENCY button.  "It's the mother of all battles," he murmured.

"Your mother!" someone shrieked.

"Who said that?"  The Captain looked left and right.  The crew stood rigid, tending to their duties.  Ensign Monkhouse looked confused.  "Something about your mother, sir."

Mrs. Bobbit reached around and hit the KILL switch on his trimmer.  She yanked his ear protectors off.  "Your mother!" she cried.  "Your mother is on the phone!"

"Blast!" muttered Mr. Bobbit.  He carefully laid the weed trimmer aside and pulled off his gloves.  Next came the safety glasses and respirator.  Gear stacked neatly on the picnic table, he walked slowly to the back door and stepped inside.  The eight-engine flying wing droned into the sky and vanished, crew and all.

Bobbit, Fighting Captain, picked up the phone and said, "Hullo, Mummy." 

****


"You're not going out like that," said Mrs. Bobbit.  It was a statement, not a question.

"What?"  Mr. Bobbit looked down at his red and white checked shorts, black socks, comfortable sneakers, and faded green t-shirt with the Army.ca logo.

"I laid out your new corduroy pants, mauve shirt, and loafers."  She sat down, arms folded.

"But . . ."  Mr. Bobbit's carefully thought out excuses died unuttered.  "All right."

In the bedroom, he tossed his comfy clothes in the corner and regarded with dismay the garments acceptable to his wife.  Grumping inaudibly, in the manner of married men the world over, he got dressed.

"That's much better," said Mrs. Bobbit.  She straightened his collar.  "Mauve suits your eyes."

"This funny purplish color matches my eyes?"

She shook her head.  "No.  Not matches.  Suits.  Goes with.  It's an entirely different thing."

"Oh, right."  Mr. Bobbit, who knew no more about colors than any other male human, decided simple agreement was in order.  He followed Mrs. Bobbit out to the car.

"I'll drive," she said, her tone admitting of no argument.  "Last time you frightened me half to death with your brazen lane changes and speeding."

Now, Mr. Bobbit knew very well that his changing of lanes had been done with exaggerated attention to traffic and that the charge of speeding was a complete falsehood, unless one were comparing their speed with that of a tortoise.  Still, he made no complaint.  Appeals were useless.  He was a man long broken to harness.

After a thorough check of seat belts, mirrors and seat positions (his seat was judged to be raked back to far and required adjustment), his one-and-only backed the car slowly out of the drive and crept down the street.  Neighborhood children raced by on their tricycles.  Mr. Bravo, the odd man who lived at the end of the block, was out mowing his lawn.  He easily kept pace with the Bobbit-mobile as it passed his house.

Mr. Bobbit smiled at the neighbor and allowed himself a single eye-roll, certain the Mrs. couldn't see it.  Mr. Bravo shrugged in return.  He had his own wife to contend with.

Soon, at least in relation to geologic time, they were out on the highway, impeding traffic.  Mrs. Bobbit kept up a running commentary about the nitwits zooming past, blowing their horns.

Mr. Bobbit settled back and closed his eyes.  At intervals he uttered the all-purpose grunt men have used since our ancestors lived in caves.  On the way to wherever they were going, he was bound to miss an important statement or three, but that was expected and allowed for.

Ensign Monkhouse knocked, then opened Captain Bobbit's cabin door.  He was clearly agitated.  "Sir!  The Jerries are moving closer.  Lieutenant Quagmire thinks they may have detected us."

"Impossible," replied Bobbit.  "But I'll come to the bridge."

Sub-lieutenant Inch glanced up from his detection apparatus as the Captain entered the bridge.  Bobbit patted the nervous officer on the shoulder.  "Easy, son.  They can kill us but they can't eat us.  It's against the law."

Lieutenant Quagmire stood peering into a blinking display screen.  "The Jerry tin cans seem to be moving in, sir."  He tapped the screen.  "And there are five of them now."

Bobbit ignored the display.  He didn't need a hundred-thousand dollar gizmo to tell him when danger threatened.  He grinned at Lieutenant Duey, the navigator.  Duey sat at his little nav table, outwardly relaxed, smoking a pipe.  "The lads are a bit excited, Captain."

"Sir," whined Lieutenant Inch.  "The Hun destroyers are armed with the latest depth bombs and razor-sharp steel rams.  We don't stand a chance!"

"Nonsense!"  The Captain's voice was stern, but fatherly sounding.  "Every man stand to your post!"  He paced the bridge, meeting each man's eyes.  "Are we rigged for silent cruising?"

"Aye, aye, sir!" cried Lieutenant Quagmire.  "Shoes off.  Anchor chains muffled.  Gutter snipes stifled.  We've even laid bunk pads on the barleycorns."

"Well done.  Well done, indeed."  Bobbit stopped by the main display screen.  "Then we have nothing to fear."

A sudden low rumble echoed through the submarine.  Captain Bobbit touched a metal frame.  "Noise and vibration?  Something is amiss."

Blood drained from Quagmire's face.  "Omigod!  I forgot to disable the heads!"

Bobbit nodded slowly.  "And last night's supper included beans and that spicy chicken dish the men like so much."

Quagmire sprang for the ladder.  "I'll put a stop to toilet use immediately, sir!"

"Better break out some buckets," advised Bobbit.  "And air fresheners."

"Sir."  Inch drew his captain's attention to the threat display.  "The Hun tin cans are closing in!"

"Yes, I suppose we'll have to deal with the blighters."  Bobbit looked around.  Expectant crew men looked back.  They expected one of his patented naval miracles.  "Too bad Quagmire is busy stopping up toilets, eh, lads?  He'll be sorry to have missed this."

Men chuckled and rubbed their hands together.  The Captain would save them all.

"What is the depth in this area?" asked Bobbit.

"1234 meters," said Duey, without even checking his chart.

"Very well."  Bobbit nodded, as if making up his mind about something.  "Load homing torpedoes!  Make turns for ramming speed!"  He glanced at Chief Sapper, one-time newsman for the Bilgewater Chronicle, and now Chief of the Boat.  "We'll fire all tubes, Chief.  One torpedo for each of four tin cans.  Then we'll ram the last one and head for the bottom."

"Aye, aye, sir."  Chief Sapper frowned.  "But that's below test depth, sir."

"We can't do it!" shrieked Inch.  He waved a map in Bobbit's face.  "We'll all die!"

"Calm yourself, Sub," snarled the Captain.  "One more outburst and I'll have you put in irons!"

"The map?" sneered Duey.  "That's the wrong map."

"Torpedoes fired, sir!"  Chief Sapper capered around the bridge.  "Four torps fired!"

"Quiet!" roared Bobbit.  He collared the celebrating Chief.  "I didn't order any firing yet."

"The map," said the Chief.  "It's all on the map."

Bobbit fell back in horror.  Through the hull he could hear the high-pitched hum of torpedo propellers against a backdrop of deeper rumbles.  Destroyer screws!  He shoved Sapper back into his neat padded chair.  "Reload, you fool!  You fired too soon!"

"The map," said Mrs. Bobbit.  "Look at the map.  It's all on the map."

Mr. Bobbit looked around, stunned.  "M-map?  What map?"

"In the console, dear.  I told you I marked all the turns on our route."  A lorry hurtled by, horn blasting.  Mr. Bobbit fumbled for the map.

"I have it, dearest."  Captain Bobbit, England's most feared submarine commander, opened the map and ran a finger along a route marked in orange ink.  "We turn at Bilgewater -- ah -- I mean, we turn at Brightwater."

"Thank you."  Mrs. Bobbit patted his knee.  "I had to call you several times.  Were you asleep?"

"Oh no, dear."  The whine of torpedoes faded.  Deep thumps made him think of exploding depth bombs, but it was only a careening police car striking a series of guardrail posts.


****

Bobbit struggled to keep his eyes open.  He glanced across the table at Mr. Teasley.  The blighter had his eyes shut.  Poor sod was obviously nodding off.  Bobbit shook his head and tried not to fidget.  His wife hated fidgeting.  He eyed the wall clock.  Less than a minute had elapsed since his last time check.  The second hand appeared to be stuck in molasses.  Light flickered in the windows followed at long interval by muted booming.  A storm was building. 

Lightning flashed.  Thunder threatened to shred thin gondola walls.  Lieutenant Quagmire, the City of Oswego's communications officer, reeled back from his position, clutching his ears.  Commodore Bobbit stepped over the stunned man and flipped the radio switches to OFF.

"Make a note in the log," he told Ensign Monkhouse.  "We're reduced to signal flags."

Wind blown rain slatted against the gondola.  The Oswego's massive Ford-Reo engines hammered away, unseen in the dark.  Lieutenant-commander Duey climbed down from the main body of the dirigible.  As always, he wore a devilish smile and an immaculate uniform.  An unlit cigar was clenched between his teeth.

"No leaks, Commodore.  The anti-dithering modifications are working like a charm."

"Yes."  Bobbit clasped his hands behind his back and peered into the impenetrable dark.  "I rather hoped they would.  What about the dimorphic fuel cells?"

"No go there, sir.  Evidently, dimorphs don't function well in the presence of concentrated electrical fields, like lightning."

Bobbit shrugged.  "Who knew?  Can we make it to the target?"

Duey chuckled.  He and every man on the bridge noted that the little commodore wasn’t concerned with returning to base -- only with reaching his target.

"We'll make it, sir.  And if we can get clear of these cursed thunderstorms, we might be able to coax the dimorphs into producing enough fuel to reach home base."

That was Duey, always looking on the bright side.  Unlike Sub-lieutenant Inch.

"Please turn back!" cried the Sub.  "The weather is horrid, we've lost our way, we can't call anyone for guidance, the dowsers are busted, Old Yeller is dead."  He cringed as another bolt split the sky.  "And I feel kinda queasy."

"Buck up, lad."  Bobbit signaled a yeoman.  "A tot of rum and cod liver oil for Sub."

"Sir!" Senior Airman Sapper, one-time newspaper reporter and ex-submarine sailor, called to the Commodore.  "I'm detecting wavicles consistent with Borscht-Krupp airship engines!"

Bobbit nodded slowly.  "Yes.  The krauts have their interceptors out."  He kicked Quagmire, still stunned from the lightning blast.  "Buck up, lad!  We'll need every hand to survive!"

"All hands!" roared Duey.  "All hands man battle stations."  He vanished up the ladder, heading for his post at the secondary gearbox.  In the nose of the gondola and elsewhere on the armored surface of the Oswego, turrets powered up.  Gun muzzles swept the sky.

"Give us range and bearing, Sap," said Bobbit.  The men on the bridge fell silent, concentrating on their individual tasks.  Now it was life or death.

The senior airman looked up.  "I can't make it out, sir.  All I get is clubs are trumps."

"Clubs are trumps?"  Bobbit reeled back.  "No!  It can't be!  The krauts have discovered our secret weapon!"

"Bobbit!  Bobbit!"  The Commodore blinked and found himself looking at the blemish on the end of Mrs. Bobbit's nose.  He jerked back.  She hated for him to notice that tiny spot.

"Are you sick?  I knew you had too much of that kraut for dinner."  She laid a hand on his forehead.  "No fever."

"I -- ah -- I must have . . ."  Sapper and Ensign Monkhouse and Lieutenant Quagmire and all the others turned back to their duties.  The City of Oswego vanished into a storm cloud.

"Sit up, for pity's sake," scolded his wife.  "The Teasley's have to go home in a few hours."  She touched the cards gripped in his hands.  "It's your turn dear.  Clubs are trumps."

"Yes, I see."  The famous airship commander stared blindly at his cards.  "Clubs are trumps."

****

"Honestly, Bobbit," sighed Mrs. Bobbit.  "You've been staring into space for nearly an hour."

"Um . . ."  Mr. Bobbit experienced a wave of dizziness.  The lovely stretch of white sandy beach disappeared, replaced by the anemic green grass of his own back yard.  "Sorry, my dear.  I must have dozed off.  I dreamed of a lovely beach and -- um -- a sunset."  He decided not to mention the bevy of scantily clad females.

Mrs. Bobbit said something else, but her words were obliterated by a round of smashing noises from the cannon factory across the Bobbit's back fence.  At least, Mr. Bobbit thought of it as a cannon factory.  Whatever the real output of the plant was, a great deal of stamping and cutting of metal seemed to be involved.

After a few minutes, the metal cacophony died down.

A vaguely unhappy expression resided on Mrs. Bobbit's face.  "Why can't we go to a beach?  I'd love to get away from all this --"  She gestured toward the factory.  "-- for a few days."

Like any man who's been married more than a few months, Mr. Bobbit knew that look.  The woman in his life hated sand, salt air made her sinuses ache, and she sunburned easily.  No, the problem lay elsewhere.  The light of his life did not want to spend time on a beach.

What could it be?  Did she need to have her hair done?  Mr. Bobbit always commented favorably when asked about her latest hairstyle, though he had never been able to tell one from another.  Sometimes he varied his usual 'Looks fine, dear' with a more energetic, but dangerous  'Best you've ever had done, dear'.  On several occasions that 'best ever' was exactly the same as ten previous tries and a frightful row had developed over his 'insensitive nature'.

Mrs. Bobbit stood up and tucked her knitting away.  "I'm going to call my sister," she sniffed.  "I'll get you some more tea first."

Tendrils of ice grew along Mr. Bobbit's spine.  This was serious.  A wave of despair washed over him.  What could be wrong?  He sighed.  There was no point in guessing.  The reason for her low morale would explained in painful detail at a time and place of her choosing.  Whatever it was, the callous brute she was married to would bear the lion's share of the blame.  And it would cost him.  A cure would likely require therapists, personal trainers, visiting foot massage specialists, aura adjustment technicians, and doctors -- doctors of everything.

He wished for a whiskey and water -- easy on the water -- but he smiled like a chimp and thanked her effusively for the tea and cakes she brought before stalking inside to call her sister.

A steady grinding noise began to emanate from the cannon factory.  He knew that sound.  It often went on for hours.  Mr. Bobbit sipped his tea and considered the sound.  Metal on metal.  Not unlike the sound the gearbox on his Corsair made when the Nips managed to put a cannon shell into it.  He smiled and settled back in his chair, tea and cakes at hand.

Sergeant Sapper looked glum as he helped Ensign Bobbit off the wing of his Corsair.  "What happened to the bird, sir?"

"The Nips got lucky, Sap."  Smoke rolled out from under the cowling.  Oil dripped to the crushed coral under his Corsair.  "I barely made it back."

Sapper shook his head.  The former newspaper reporter and ex-submarine sailor had recently been transferred from the Dirigible Corps where he had been a detection technician, a job which entailed absolutely no sweaty toil with greasy engines.  He was not happy in his work.  There was an engine overhaul and replacement crew attached to the air wing, but they spent all their time overhauling engines for the Air Corps.  Sapper wasn't sure why that was, but suspected it had to do with the steady supply of booze and WAACs he saw at their shop.

"It will take me a couple days to change the engine, sir."

"Capital, Sap!  Capital!  I'll be over at the O-club if you need me."  Bobbit sauntered off, barely able to conceal his glee.  Two whole days of not going out and getting shot at by angry oriental chaps!  He hoped the club hadn't run out of whiskey.

Yes, gentle reader.  This is not the man famous in London, Hollywood and New York.  You will see no heroic submarine captain, no impetuous motorcycle racer.  Dirigibles and flying wings make this Bobbit quake in his fashionable sandals.  This is the True Bobbit, a wastrel adept only at emptying whiskey bottles and malingering.  Small wonder his wife is demoralized.  She knows the REAL Bobbit.

"Bobbit!  Get your ass in here!"  The gruff voice issued from inside the VMF-666 Ops tent.  It was Major Quagmire, squadron commander.  The ensign gulped and made his way toward the tent.  Quagmire considered it his sworn duty to see that Bobbit flew into harm's way on as many occasions as possible.

"Afternoon, Bobbit."  Captain Duey waved a friendly greeting.  He lounged in a canvas chair at the back of Operations, smoking one of his slim cigars.  An affable character, he never seemed to lack for clean, pressed khakis, fine brandy, female companionship, and aerial victories.  Bobbit alternately worshiped and hated Duey.

"Take a seat, Ensign," snarled Major Quagmire.  "Have a cup of coffee."  Bobbit nearly refused the brew.  Though the liquid had a dark brown coloration and probably numbered coffee beans in its constituent parts, he suspected mess personnel added other, less salubrious ingredients.  Battery acid, engine oil and certain types of cleaning fluid ranked high on his list of suspect additives.  He sipped gingerly and waited for the bad news.

"I have a mission for you," said Quagmire.  He shoved a hand-drawn map across his desk. 

Bobbit displayed a somber expression.  "Sorry, sir.  My airplane is temporarily disabled."  He explained about the Japanese cannon shell, the metallic grinding and, without getting into the icky details of hypoid valve osmosis and cranial inverted sprocket assemblies, managed to convey to the major that his warplane was temporarily out of action.

Major Quagmire was not dismayed.  "You can use one of the spares." 

Without thinking, the horrified ensign swallowed a mouthful of coffee.  Pain racked his throat.  He pawed at the table, trying to speak, to scream.  Alas, his tongue lay stunned and useless.

"Glad to see you aren't going to beg off, like last time."  Quagmire smiled.  "It's a lone wolf mission.  Escort for a photo recon bird.  The brass want up-to-date pictures of Death Island."

Quagmire and Duey headed out to the O-club, leaving Bobbit on his own.  He tried to visualize his back porch, the yellow-green grass, the cannon factory.  Nothing happened.  Only the interior of the Operations tent met his frightened gaze.  He smelled no tea and cakes.  The hot, humid air was redolent with the stench of latrines.  Even the hammer mills of the cannon factory remained still.  Outside, someone cursed in rich, earthy tones and banged on aircraft sheet metal.  A metalsmith installing a complex fairing, no doubt.

Two burly ordinance types walked in, grabbed Bobbit and bore him out of Ops and toward the far end of the flight line.  Neither said a word.

Sergeant Sapper waited beside a spare Corsair.  He appeared to be enjoying himself.  "Checked the crate over myself, sir.  It's in good shape, except for a few missing instruments and a blown cylinder gasket.  Nothing to worry about."  Between the good sergeant and the two bomb handlers, Bobbit soon found himself in the cockpit, preparing to start the engine.

He paused, hand on the Start switch.  "What, exactly, is a cylinder gasket and how does it get blown?"  He blushed as he said that last part.  Mechanical sex always embarrassed him.

"Bad gas, poor assembly at the factory, low bid gasket material."  Sapper shrugged.  "The mill has lots of cylinders -- what's one more or less?"

The ensign proceeded with the start sequence, mulling Sap's words.  The significance of the word 'mill' in relation to the spare Corsair escaped him, but it would be useless to ask the sergeant for further explanation.  The blighter would just confuse him even more with technical terms like master rods, thrust bearings, knuckle pins and the like.

By the time Bobbit reached 10,000 feet on his way to the rendezvous with Dog Fox One, the recon bird, he had discovered a host of deficiencies in the spare aircraft.  First of all, the radio didn't work.  He didn't mind that because Major Quagmire insisted on the use of monosyllabic words and short phrases when using the radio.  Bobbit's preferred method of communicating involved carefully worded essays on letterhead paper -- typed by a ravishing secretary.  The radio he could do without.

Oxygen was another problem.  In obedience to clearly written procedures and reminders shouted by a host of flight instructors, he attempted to start the flow of oxygen to his face mask when he climbed through 10,000 feet.  Nothing happened.  After several minutes wasted in turning the valve on and off, he decided something was amiss.  The balance of his mission would have to be conducted below 10,000.

That bothered him somewhat.  Japanese pilots liked to attack with the sun behind them.  All the other complexities of aerial combat paled in comparison to that one issue.  Beware of the Nip in the sun, went the litany.  The obvious answer was to climb your own plane as close to the sun as possible.  Bobbit liked to scrape around at 30,000 feet.  Few Japanese airplanes could climb that high and it was a lot cooler than the island paradise VMF-666 used for a base.

The spare Corsair's controls seemed a little on the vague side, as if some of the steering ropes or 'cables', as the mechanical types liked to call them, were worn or stretched, like his mother's clothes line after she hung out blankets to dry.

Loose controls and dead radios were niggling problems, he decided.  The thing that worried him somewhat was the constant chuff-chuff-chuff from up front.  It could be an engine noise or maybe just a rough spot on one of the propellers.  The sound reminded him of a toy train he'd had when he was still in knee pants. 

Major Quagmire had been fairly insistent that he fly this mission, so he must be extra cautious about aborting the flight.  No sense enduring another week of filling sandbags for piddling little problems.  Bobbit figured he'd better stick with the mission until the engine caught fire, a wing fell off, or some Nip put a bullet in him.  He started to sweat.  Two bullets.  He wouldn't go back until he had taken two bullets.  That'd show them.

His ruminations were cut short by the appearance of another airplane off his right wing.  It was a twin-engine plane, vaguely familiar in shape.  The pilot grinned and tapped his ear piece.  Bobbit frowned.  The man was attempting to communicate something, but what?

After several minutes, the other pilot appeared to tire of the game.  He increased power and sped away, descending toward a distant island.  Bobbit felt a thrill of horror.  Death Island!

He turned to follow the other plane, though he didn't dive down with such wild abandon.  His job was escort, which implied he keep a certain distance from the escortee, so as to observe any threats.  Besides, he intended to go no nearer to that island than he had to.  Just looking at its black crags and poisonous green jungle foliage gave him the whim-whams.

Naturally, that was when his engine burst into flames.  Seconds later, while he was still deep in shocked denial about the fire streaming back along the fuselage, the right wing snapped off.  It broke cleanly at the bend in the Corsair's wing, a feature Bobbit has long looked at with suspicion.  He knew from experience that anyplace you bend something, it may break.  Why the designers of the aircraft had taken such a chance was inexplicable.

His panicked radio calls went unanswered.  "Of course," he muttered, as he hit the canopy release, unbuckled his seat harness, and fell screaming from the burning fighter, "the one time I really NEED a radio . . ."

The broken Corsair fell down toward the blue sea.  The ensign, hanging helpless in his chute, drifted slowly in the direction of Death Island.  The deadly black peaks and horrible green jungle came closer and closer.

A measured thump-thump-thump echoed up from below.  Black puffs dotted the sky well below his feet.  The photo recon plane was making a run, he realized.  Then he laughed, hysterically to be sure, but laughter all the same.  He wasn't much of an escort now.  The deadly jungle crept nearer . . .

"Bobbit!  What are you about now?"

Ensign Bobbit stared into the green.  It was close -- so close it tickled his nose.

"Get up!  The lawn is no place to take a nap."

Lawn?  He reached for his parachute harness and found only empty air.  The rhythmic thump grew louder.  Bobbit rolled to his back, stared into the gray English sky.  Mrs. Bobbit stood over him, arms crossed.

"Get up!  Of all places to fall asleep."

The cannon factory hammer mills drowned out his apology.  Shaking her head, Mrs. Bobbit helped him up and led him back to his chair on the porch.

"I don't know about you sometimes."  She patted his cheek and went inside.

Ensign Bobbit sipped cautiously.  The tea was cold, but tastier by far than the coffee served at the VMF-666 mess.  He munched a cake and wondered:  Did the recon plane get out unscathed?  Could Sapper survive many more career changes? 

Mr. Bobbit listened to metal smashing metal in the cannon factory.  Could hypoid valve osmosis and cranial inverted sprocket assemblies have any application to cannon production?  He sat there all through the cool afternoon, pondering such mysteries.


End


A big salute to James Thurber, humorist extraordinaire, creator of, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", the inspiration for my own little story of little people dreaming big. 

No offense intended, Mike.  Mike?  ;D  Honest, I was just kidding.  Mike?
 

Franko

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INCOMING BANNING Tomahawk missle......

All other members take cover...take cover...take cover...

Regards
 

armyvern

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Good one Old Guy.

Good thing it finally ended too...I was starting to wonder how you were going to get 10000 screen names into that story. And here's me thinking it's all going to end with the Cowboy and Infidel showing up to save the day...

 

zipperhead_cop

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Make sure you get to sell "The Delusional Life of Commadore Bobbit" in paperback in the kit shop.  I'll definitely buy one!  ;D
 

Burrows

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Lets print this and add it to the swag library...perhaps with a vest built in so its really "swag."
 

Old Guy

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I haven't heard anything from Mike.

Should I start looking over my shoulder?

jim :)
 

Bruce Monkhouse

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Mike is predisposed until the end of the week......your safe for a few more days.
 

a_majoor

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Old guy, why am I showing up in these stories as an oddball character; I'm eccentric, damnit!

Oh, yeah, no more of these piddling little firearms either.  ;D
 

paracowboy

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every time I read the title, I picture Mike wearing a US Navy Officer uniform across from a cartoon fish on a poster.
 

Burrows

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I do believe zipperhead has nailed it.
 

therev

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after reading this the other day, I had a dream of Mr. B as James Bond -o last night.  very strange indeed.
like the pic too.where do you guys find these things.  I have to get out more.
 

Burrows

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therev said:
after reading this the other day, I had a dream of Mr. B as James Bond -o last night.  very strange indeed.
like the pic too.where do you guys find these things.  I have to get out more.
Not being able to find things like that just means you get out more than enough to be considered normal. :p
 

Good2Golf

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Keep 'em coming, Old Guy...I love your writing!  ;D
 

Mike Bobbitt

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I'm afraid those stories have been very costly! I spent a good chunk of the morning reading and chuckling when I should have been unpacking and seeing to other details on the bridge around the house. Maybe I'll see if I can ensnare my wife into reading them as well, to buy me some time.

Nice work!

P.S. Maybe I should consider Admiral Fish for my avatar. ;)
 

Old Guy

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I'm not sure if having your wife read them is a good idea, Mike.

Every few paragraphs she'll shove the text in your faces and say, "See!  I KNEW you were doping off when my (mother comes to visit -- I send you to the store -- etc)."

Few wives understand the need for a colorful imaginary life.

:)
jim
 
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