Being in a war zone in the middle of The Pacific is like, sitting in a warm bath surveying an expanse of waters, surrounding..bar-of-soap at your command; white, unsinkable, the shape of an aircraft carrier, floating..flat, at least!
But it’s really not like that at all, is it? In the tub you can measure depths in inches vs. miles, and you know what’s in it, no doubt; whereas looking out from the flight-deck at the sun, flowing, over the water, an explosion of phosphorous ether lime embers, waving good-bye, you can trust in your wood-and-iron ocean home, her seaworthiness, and – in case of attack – her bristling defenses, handled with loving care by your brothers-in-arms, all the way up the chain of command to your captain; until the day you are literally blown out of the water by some..devil-worshipping sham sons-of-bitches who just got very lucky, very lucky, indeed. Another difference, as I mentioned, or rather, alluded to, is the fact that the ocean is a very deep and very wide place, inclosing manifold mysteries of God’s creation swimming in it at all depths – down to its engulfed canyons, rising, cathedral-like, nearly two miles below – attended by worshipful creatures, which like to eat..some of them, every day; and they do so, naturally, utterly without compunction, these, diners of opportunity..instant! Some of the great fishes come from near-complete darkness to the surface to have a look..at what’s what. Some of them sense a wounded prey, bleeding in the water, sucking in air to preserve his life, hanging by a thread..clawing, desperate; and that is something you won’t want to think about, looking out from the fantail of your great houseboat afloat, upon the awesome emptiness all around, peaceful, for the moment, with no extra holes in you, there’s..there’s your belly-button, standing at the edge of the deck, someday, like another day you may have experienced..imagining all the stuff in there that can’t be seen, except occasionally, –like when you are watching a pod of dolphins cruising along pleasantly, lightly over the seas; and suddenly it explodes! as a shark, huge as one of those smaller planets..like Neptune, shoots straight out of the water with some of the family in its fearsome teeth; and slips back down inside the glassy depths once again, a horrid phantasm, ghastly. And gone! until..but you needn’t think of that, when once you recognize there are more pleasant things to reflect upon; or, similarly, when an aircraft, a robot controlled one, suddenly appears..Kamikaze! flying straight for you, your ship, your mates..in much the same manner as a shark gliding in inexorably, for the kill. Don’t think of it! but rather, think of being home for Christmas, after the fighting’s over; and no more death, no more foul, poisoned air to breathe..no more bloody ocean. And you can have a hot bath, at your leisure. And hopefully you won’t take a direct hit! by a torpedo sitting there with your soap, and have to swim for it; and a man-eater won’t come up and bite your vital parts off! and you won’t have to worry about it anyway, because you’ll know what’s in the tub, it’s just water, just water..that came out of the tap, a few minutes ago. And it ain’t so cold it’s making you think severe hypothermia, and, “Can this really be the end?” In fact it was pretty hot when you got in and now it’s just pleasantly warm, steaming a little over the surface, soft wash-cloth, within easy reach. And you might smell pumpkin pies baking in the oven, visualize the turkey-skin browning nicely, in process of being basted, and cooked to perfection; hear, sounds, of childrens’ songs, and laughter filling the living room, teasing the cat..beside flickering flames of a fireplace a-glow, exhaling aromas of seasoned oak, mixing with a scent of pine; and tinsel..ahh!
Being in a war zone is okay..a bit rough, sometimes; but this here is sure a hell of a lot nicer. For sure. “Merry Christmas!” everyone.