01 Feb The Slumbering Battleship Awakens
THE SLUMBERING BATTLESHIP AWAKENS (PART 1)
December 31, 2019
The Catch 31 Restaurant on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk
The popular and classy Catch 31 Restaurant bar that sat on the corner of Atlantic and Pacific Avenue on the world famous Virginia Beach strip boasted the most amazing seafood and Kobe beef that you could find on the entire Atlantic Avenue boardwalk. The New Year’s Eve was cool, and the salty breeze coming from the Atlantic Ocean was brisk and refreshing as crowds of locals and tourists celebrating the last holiday of the year packed the beachfront and bars. Outside, the large wooden deck attached to the restaurant had a wrap-around tikki bar surrounded by palm trees and strings of tiny lights. The outdoor lounge was adorned with many large circular wooden tables which contained a warm and inviting wood fire set in a pit right in the middle of each table which illuminated the chilly night with a sultry warm glow. The sound of the Atlantic Ocean, rushing lazily on and off the beach, seemed to play a sleepy melody which was accompanied by the voices of partiers and revelers eagerly waiting for the New Year. On open air stages set along small parks which lined the boardwalk every half block, local bands played jazz, blues, and soft rock music to entertain the visitors as they awaited the start of the fireworks display which would light up the beach in bursts of bright and lively colors. Virginia Beach was a relatively conservative city, this being a large military town (mostly Navy) and despite the large crowds, no one was getting too loud or boisterous, even as New Years was only two hours away.
At the Catch 31, a petite but very attractive young college coed from Lincoln, Nebraska, her light brown hair flowing down her back in a ponytail, stood at the outside bar. She wore a white blouse and a tight fitting red jacket which accentuated her pert and ample breasts. The young lady swirled a tall glass of long island iced tea in her hand as she listened intently to a pair of tall, skinny, young men wearing baseball caps standing on either side of her. A second fresh long island iced tea sat on the bar in front of her, bought for her by one of the young men who was wearing the navy blue and orange sweater of the University of Virginia. The other young man, wearing a loose, white and grey button down shirt, had ordered three shots of tequila for them.
“So there I was,” the guy wearing the white and grey shirt said. “I turned the corner of the concrete wall and saw a set of wooden stairs leading up to a second story landing. I held my auto-rifle bazooka in the Ranger tactical operational up and ready firing position, the way I was taught when I went to the elite United States Navy SEAL training school, when suddenly, I saw him! There he was! It was Osama bin Laden! He appeared out of a side room and was running across the landing to a door on the other side to escape!”
“What’s an auto-rifle bazooka?” said the girl, her speech slightly slurred from the iced libations that the young men were pouring into her. “I’ve never heard of that.” The guy wearing the button down shirt stared uncomfortably at the girl, seemingly searching for words.
“That’s a special…uh… that’s a special gun-thing than only we elite United States Navy SEALs are allowed to use,” said the other guy wearing the UVA sweater. The two young men nodded at each other in agreement. “Yeah! Yeah! So the reason you’ve never heard of it is because only elite United States Navy SEALs like us use it. Not even the Marines or the Army have it! Anyway, as my partner was going after bin Laden, he suddenly had his auto-rifle bazooka shot out of his hand by Osama bin Laden! Osama had one of those…ummm… KZ-47 automatic assault machine gun rifle things and he sprayed it at my buddy here.”
“You mean an AK-47?” said the girl, woozily giggling.
“Uh, yeah, yeah, right,” said the guy wearing the button down shirt, looking annoyed at his friend. “His..uh… AK-47 gun. Not only had he destroyed my gun, but…but…but he also shot me in the shoulder! That’s how I got the Purple Heart for outstanding bravery!”
The college girl from Nebraska gasped, hand covering her mouth, then rubbed his shoulder. “Osama bin Laden shot you? That’s awful! Were you hurt bad?”
The guy in the button down shirt looked triumphantly at his friend. “I was fine. We elite United States Navy SEALs are specially trained to ignore pain and continue fighting until we complete the mission! Besides, I still had my really long sharp knife…”
“Your bayonet?” said the college girl.
“Yeah…yeah! My bayonet!” stammered button down shirt guy. “I pulled it out of my tactical Ranger assault special operations boot strap holster and ran up the stairs after Osama bin Laden!”
“Who immediately kicked my buddy here in the chest and made him fall backwards down the stairs!” interrupted UVA sweater guy, slapping button down shirt guy on the back. Button down shirt guy gave his buddy an evil look for interrupting his story.
Ignoring his smaller friend, UVA sweater guy quickly passed around the shots of tequila, smiling sweetly as he passed the shot glass to the girl while tauntingly sneering at his buddy. “Yeah, so while he was falling back down the stairs, I came around the other corner and sprayed Osama bin Laden on full automatic with my…um… my AK47. I had the sniper version because I’m an elite United States Navy SEAL sniper!”
“You two are the guys who killed Osama bin Laden?” exclaimed the girl loudly and excitedly, her eyes wide and hands clasped.
“Shhh! Shhh! Shhh!” said UVA sweater guy holding up his hands and looking nervously around. “Not so loud, honey. We elite United States Navy SEALs are ordered to keep a low profile. We don’t want people knowing who we are because there may be terrorists lurking around who still want to take revenge on us for eliminating Osama.”
“You know, President Obama awarded us each the Medal of Honor for taking out bin Laden!” said button down sweater guy. “But they couldn’t show it on TV or anything.”
The girl nodded solemnly. “Wow,” the girl said. “I never thought I’d actually meet two real war heroes when I came here to Virginia!”
“Yeah, well,” said button down shirt guy. “We don’t like to brag. Even around other elite United States Navy SEALs we don’t like to brag because they are definitely jealous of us. My partner and I are like, much better than just regular elite United States Navy SEALs.”
“Super SEALs!” said UVA sweater guy, putting his arm around the girl’s waist and pulling her into him. “You know,” he said with a sly smile, “If you want to talk more elite United States Navy SEAL stuff, we have a room upstairs. We’d be happy to show you our elite United States Navy SEAL big guns, if you know what we mean.”
The girl looked up at both of the skinny young men. Grinning knowingly, she slowly licked her lips. I looked over at my girlfriend, who only shook her head and rolled her eyes. We had been standing right next to them at the bar, enjoying a glass of Champaign while waiting for our table to be prepared. We walked over the few steps towards the young coed, my girlfriend pushing in between her and UVA sweater guy while I bumped in between the girl and button down shirt guy. In unison, my girlfriend and I loudly slammed our US military identification cards, called CAC (pronounced kak) cards on the bar as I yelled, “CAC card check, gentlemen!”
The two startled young men jumped, looking at me and my girlfriend with a mixture of surprise, annoyance, and uncertainty. I grinned and glanced over at my girlfriend. She was smirking evilly at the two genuine, all-American, elite United States Navy SEAL war heroes. “Well, gentlemen?” she said, in a voice dripping with deadly honey.
UVA sweater guy puffed up to his full six foot 2 inch tall, 130 pound self, and said in his best tough guy voice, “What are you talking about…um… sailor?”
I picked my CAC card up off the bar and put it in front of his face. “You meant to say ‘Soldier,’ didn’t you, elite United States Navy SEAL? As in, ‘Sergeant First Class.’ As in, ‘Gunnery Sergeant.’ You should know that, you being an elite United States Navy SEAL and all.”
The college girl from Nebraska looked at her two Navy SEAL heroes, confusion etched on her face. My girlfriend picked up her CAC card. “I’m the sailor, gentlemen. Petty Officer Third Class. Surface Warfare Sonar Technician. Now where are your CAC cards?” Her sweetly wicked smile never left her face.
By now there was a noticeable hush on the deck as several of the patrons had quieted down to witness the spectacle unfolding at the bar. I glanced over at a nearby table underneath a palm tree illuminated by the warm glow of the table’s fire pit where four short, casually dressed, muscular dudes with massive tree trunks for thighs were quietly sipping Corona Lites and intently staring at us. I slipped them a quick wink, knowing that it was time to swifty end this charade.
“C’mon now, gentlemen,” I said. “You know that if we challenge you to show your CAC cards, and you have them, we have to buy you the rest of your drinks for the rest of the night!”
“But if we challenge you to show your CAC cards and you don’t have them…” my girlfriend said, smiling as she took a sip of Champaign.
“Go ahead and show them,” said the college girl. “Free drinks for the rest of the night? Heck yeah!”
“Heck yeah!” my girlfriend and I said at the same time.
“But we… but we don’t…” said UVA sweater guy.
“We’re elite United States Navy SEALs,” said button down shirt guy. “We don’t need cork cards”
“CAC,” I said.
“We don’t need CAC cards,” repeated button down shirt guy, annoyed. “Elite United States Navy SEALs like us are too special forces to have CAC cards. CAC cards are for… for…”
“For people who aren’t as special forces as us elite United States Navy SEALs,” chimed in UVA sweater guy. Then, knowing that the gig was up, UVA sweater guy turned and said, “C,mon, Steve,” putting a shaky arm around button down shirt guy and dragging him away. “These people obviously don’t know anything about what it’s like being an elite United States Navy SEAL.”
“Yeah,” said button down shirt guy as he allowed UVA sweater guy to lead him away down the wooden steps of the deck and towards the beach. “They don’t know what it’s like.” He looked over his shoulder and stuck out his middle finger at us. “See you around, you ugly Nebraska corn fed slut.”
Taking a sip from my Champaign glass, I raised a toast to the two rapidly retreating fakers and said, “Happy New Years!”
I looked towards the table where the short muscular dudes were sitting and, as I expected, found it empty. The four quiet muscular dudes were probably following UVA sweater guy and button down shirt guy down to the beach so that they could discuss elite United States Navy SEAL stuff with them.
The patrons of the Catch 31 turned their attention away from us and quickly returned to their holiday celebrations and festivities. A lot of real military warriors live in Virginia Beach and it was pretty commonplace to see stolen valor “heroes” get their asses handed to them by the actual heroes they were trying to portray. I turned and looked at the little coed from Nebraska. Her eyes were wide and her mouth hung open. My girlfriend caught the coed’s glass of long island iced tea before she accidently dropped it on the wooden deck. My girlfriend took a quick sip of the potent drink before placing the tall glass on the bar. “Whoa! That’s good stuff!” she said, nodding approvingly.
I gently put my hand on the college girl’s shoulder and smiled. “Don’t listen to those jerks,” I said. “Look, there are only about two thousand SEALs serving in the Navy. Virginia Beach is a great place to visit and a pretty safe place to party, but be careful. You just need to watch out for…”
My girlfriend leaned on my shoulder, a huge smile on her face. “You just need to watch out for the eight thousand fake ass elite United States Navy SEAL wannabe’s prowling around the boardwalk looking for innocent college girls from Nebraska to take advantage of!” My girlfriend waved at the girl as she was talking and held out her hand.
“My name’s Ellie. What’s yours?”
“I’m Andrea,” she said, shaking my girlfriend’s hand.
“I’m Fox,” I said, shaking Andrea’s hand. “First time visiting Virginia Beach?”
“This is my first time ever leaving Nebraska,” Andrea answered.
“Well, Andrea,” said Ellie, still smiling as she wrapped her arms around my shoulders. “If you REALLY want to find a Navy SEAL, then look for a really quiet guy with broad shoulders and legs the size of oak trees who claims he is just a lowly Navy cook who has never been in combat, but yet drives around in a big, bad ass truck with tires the size of a mammoth! That’s a Navy SEAL! Silent! Strong! Deadly! And uber, uber, sexy!”
“Hey!” I said, pretending to be offended as Ellie chuckled and kissed my cheek.
Andrea laughed. “I’m just here visiting my sister for the holiday. She married a sailor and they were stationed here. She said that I need to get out of Nebraska and explore and not be so introverted. I’m not looking for a Navy SEAL in particular, but maybe just want to meet a good man. The ratio of women to men out in Lincoln is about five to three!”
“Well, Andrea,” I said. “This is the place! The ratio of men to women here in the Tidewater Area is about ten to one!”
“Yeah,” said Ellie. “Lucky you, Fox! Of all the guys I could have picked…”
“The absolute very best of them all picked you!” I interrupted, and we all had a good laugh.
The maître d’ of the Catch 31 approached us and said, “Mister Fox, your table is ready and waiting for you.” He looked at Andrea. “Will the young lady be joining your party, tonight?”
Andrea blushed, “No. I’m fine. I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure?” said Ellie. Both Ellie and Andrea looked to be about the same age, around twenty-two , although Ellie was a good head taller than Andrea. Ellie was always attracted to older military men who outranked her. I was always attracted to crazy young blonde German girls who were who were taller than me. I was fifteen years older than Ellie and outranked her by four stripes, while Ellie was blonde, taller than me by two inches (five, if you count her in high heels), and was of German decent. So we immediately hit it off when I first met her at the Starbucks in the mall. Ellie and I always had a blast when our deployment schedules allowed us to be together and the fact that I was Army and she was Navy meant that there were no conflicts of interest between our different service branches and chains of command. I also understood that Ellie would want someone closer to her age to talk with, so I didn’t mind when she invited Andrea to sit with us.
Still, Andrea insisted that she would be fine and that she’d take our advice about meeting guys here in Virginia Beach. “Remember,” said Ellie as we waved goodbye. “There are ten guys to every one girl here at the beach! Try not to break too many hearts!”
“I’ll try,” laughed Andrea.
However, Ellie and I had no sooner turned around to walk to our table when I heard some guy walk up to Andrea and say, “So, baby. You ever hear of the elite United States Navy SEALs? I’m the most elite of them all because you’ll never guess who I killed.”
I was about to turn around when Ellie tightened her grip on my arm and said, “At ease, killer!”
The maître d’ led us inside the restaurant and through a large crowded brightly lit circular shaped room which contained another circular bar in the middle of the restaurant. The bar was surrounded by cozy tables and couples enjoying courses of fresh seafood and other delicious menu items. The buzz of conversation intermingled with the clinking toast of glasses and the smells of sumptuous foods which made my stomach rumble and my mouth water. Next to the large bay windows a pianist was playing a slow, jazzy tune on an ebony grand piano as we followed the maître d’ through another set of double doors and down a short corridor into another section of the restaurant which consisted of a long room where the lighting was dimmed to create a more romantic ambiance setting. Our table was set with two tall glowing candles, a basket with a selection of warm fresh breads and rolls, two glasses of iced water, and a bottle of Champaign waiting for us. Our table was beside a wide, tinted, bay window which gave us a slightly elevated and unrestricted view of the bustling boardwalk and beach front. It was much quieter here in this section of the restaurant and the tables along the room were spaced farther apart to give each couple a greater modicum of privacy to enjoy each other’s company in relative peace and quiet.
As we waited for our food to arrive, we talked about the things which were going on in our lives, Ellie talking about US Navy stuff, half of which went completely over my head, and I was talking about US Army stuff, half of which – I’m sure- went completely over her head. I talked about fighting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan and Ellie talked about her US Navy “Terrorist Busting” cruises to places such as the Bahamas, Rota in Spain, Morocco, and Nice (pronounced ‘niece’) in France while she was serving aboard an Arleigh-Burke Class destroyer named after a US Marine Colonel who had earned the Medal of Honor.
“Good lord, honey,” I laughed. “You Navy guys ‘bust terrorists’ where most of us normal people go to vacation!”
She grabbed up some ice out of the Champaign bucket and playfully tossed it at me. “Oh, yeah? Well where were YOU when those two punk ass college jerks were out there killing Osama bin Laden, Mister ‘I’m a big, bad ass, Army Cavalry Scout?”
I grinned slightly and raised an eyebrow, whispering, “I was making your toes curl, remember?”
Ellie smiled and bit on her index finger. “Oh. Yeah.” she said, licking the corner of her lips.
“Anyway,” she said, changing the topic. “What if the zombie apocalypse has already happened?”
“Hah?” I said.
“No, no, hear me out,” continued Ellie. “What if the zombie apocalypse has already happened and we are all just shambling rotting corpses, but we don’t realize it? What if, in what is left of our dead and decaying brains, we think we are still living our lives, going to work, celebrating New Year, and eating dinner, but in reality we are actually chomping down the live and screaming body of some living person whom we had hauled to the ground?”
I looked down at my dinner plate. “Honey, this medium rare Kobe beef costs $135 dollars. I’d like to enjoy it without thinking in reality it’s some person’s entrails, or something.”
Ellie scooped a forkful of her slow cooked prime rib into her mouth. “Oh, that is really tender. You should try this!”
“No thanks,” I said. “It might be someone I know!”
“Oh, come on, honey,” Ellie exclaimed. “That would make a great story!”
“Ellie,” I said. “I am not submitting any of my stories to your Creepy Doctor friend! Besides, my stories are based off of actual paranormal events that had happened. I wouldn’t even know where to begin a fictional story from scratch.”
“EN! CreepEN!” said Ellie, emphasizing the EN in Creepen.
“Whatever!” I said. “What’s wrong with me just reading you my stories? Why do you need your Creepy Doctor to read my stories to you?”
“CreepEN!” Ellie said again, grabbing more ice out of the bucket. “And besides. His voice is silky and sexy. You always sound like you’re yelling at boot camp recruits.”
I crossed my arms, pretending to be offended. “Your mom’s voice is silky and sexy.” I said just before I was hit by a handful of Champaign bucket ice.
“She’s also only two years older than you, you cradle robbing jerk!” Ellie said playfully, a chunk of prime rib clutched in her teeth.
At that moment, the dark purple skies above the beach exploded with bright, flashing sparkles of red, yellow, and orange fireworks. We sat silently, ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘aah-ing’ as an endless boom of vibrant colorful lights burst forth and danced in the air before they slowly descended towards the ground. Outside, we could hear the muffled sounds of crowds cheering and celebrating at each colorful explosion of fireworks, but in the back of my mind, I imagined that in an alternate reality, the sounds could easily be the horrified screams of panicking people being drowned out by the hungry moans of hordes of the undead. I hated to admit it, but Ellie’s suggestion about undead zombies not realizing they are undead zombies would make a pretty cool scary spaghetti story, or whatever the heck type of story Ellie called them.
I looked over at my girlfriend, the bright bursts of the New Year light show being reflected in her US Navy issue eye glasses. Clinking her Champaign glass with mine, I said, “Happy New Year, Ellie.”
“Happy New Year, Fox,” she answered with the most genuine and loving smile I had ever seen. But behind the sultry look which she gave me, I could also tell that she wasn’t done with trying to get me to send my stories to her Creepy Doctor friend, whose smooth and relaxing voice she would often listen to on Youtube during the long hours she spent alone at night when the Navy had her on watch duty.
Later that evening, in the room on the fifth floor we had gotten at the hotel attached to the Catch 31 Restaurant, Ellie and I created our own fireworks to celebrate the New Year as our passion made us one, her dainty little toes curling often as my back was set ablaze with her scratches. The large sliding bay window leading out to the balcony was open and the sound of the seas crashing ashore seemed to match the rhythm of our bodies coming together. Later, as a cool and gentle breeze washed over us as we lay in the glow of our passion and exhaustion, Ellie was lying on her side facing me, drawing circles with her finger on the sheen of sweat on my chest. She kissed the side of my cheek. “Do you know what I want to do now?” she whispered huskily into my ear as she pressed her sweating, naked breasts against me.
“Jacuzzi?” I said.
“Damn straight! Jacuzzi!” Ellie said, suddenly jumping up and grabbing a towel and the second Champaign bottle sitting in a bucket of melting ice. “I’ve been wanting to try that thing out all night!”
The Jacuzzi was actually located outside on the spacious balcony which allowed guests to relax in the warm, jet driven waters while enjoying the scenery of the beach view below. Ellie barely had the towel around her nakedness and I, once again, admired her lithe and athletic body as she disappeared outside to get the Jacuzzi going. Soon, I could hear the water beginning to flow into the Jacuzzi as Ellie yelled, “Hey! Hurry up Gunnery Sergeant Grandpa!”
“Grandpa?” I yelled back, rolling out of bed and wrapping a towel around me. “Woman! I’ve deployed more…”
“I’ve deployed more,” repeated Ellie, imitating me in a mocking tone. “I’ve defended more. I’ve attacked more. I’ve patrolled more. I’ve fought more. I’ve kissed more officer butt. Heck, I’ve even met Bigfoot! Blah…blah…blah…blah… are you coming or not?”
Silhouetted by the moonlight, I could just see Ellie climbing into the Jacuzzi.
“Smartass!” I said. Instead of going directly outside, I headed into the bathroom and took a quick, cold shower to rinse away all the sweat which I had worked up from earlier, despite the cool winter breeze flowing into the room from outside. I got out and toweled off before stepping naked outside on the balcony. The boardwalk below us was still brightly lit as I stared down at the tall and majestic statue of King Neptune which stood and reigned from his own special pedestal on the boardwalk to the left of the hotel. Most of the partiers and revelers had already gone home, though there were still more than a few folks walking around getting in that last drink of the New Year or trying to make that last attempt to attract that special friend for the evening.