Centipede Valley (A tale of infantrymen in Hawaiian--Twain Style)
'Welcome to the 25th Infantry Schofield Barracks Hawaii' the sign read as the taxi van rode past. The only thing in the boy's mind was of guns, tanks, soldiers, and grenades. He accompanied his father who had used his veteran credentials with the Coastguard to gain admittance to the base; and thus able to reserve a round on the famous 'Schofield golf course." They were on vacation, and left the women at home.
The boy, expecting to see an army division rappelling down the buildings that the van was streaming past, was scrutinizing every person, vehicle and store. He thought he saw a humphvee, but it was just a hillbilly driving his spray painted doorless Ford Bronco with his flip flop clad foot hangin over the side. The boy spied a soldier in camoflage uniform with what looked like a rifle,"wooweee ,a rifle." But as the van closed on the pedestrian soldier,it was revealed that he was carrying only a loaf of french bread. Then another soldier,"wowee,a bazooka," but only a folded up beach chair.
Then a helicopter screamed overhead, the boy scrambling to position his head to see the still-hidden helicopter was ready to tear the roof panel off, "Hey easy Ben," said his father at the other window. The helicopter came into view,"must be an Apachee," he thought as his eyes came to discern a sign trailing from the helicopter ..."60% off flip flops at Kemoho's market." The boy sank down in disapointment.
He begged his father in order to come with him. The father agreed but with the surrender conditions being "Im playing golf, your going to watch me and be a good boy then we are leaving."
They were on a tough schedule and had engagements with the rest of the family.The father promised him that they would visit Pearl Harbor and the Coast Guard base. Ben would enjoy the battleships at Pearl Harbor, but he had heard from his friends that the rockstars were the "infantry." They were the 'Billy the Kids' of the miliitary; guns and mischief, and most of all....glory. But he would only see them and their toys from a van--and then a golf course. That was straight 'malarkey'to him, and that was what his mind kept repeating.
The van pulled up parallel with the side walk that was lined with a chain link fence. Palm trees rowed the inside of the fence, and the boy could see the lime green grass of fairways-he sighed. His father tipped the taxi driver, and grabbed out his club bag; they procceded down the sidewalk in direction of a shadow, which was the 'Scholfield Golf' club buiilding. The boy looked across the streeet at a barracks, tiered with balconies, he could see men in fatigues moving about on them,"wowweee,grunts." But they were only brandishing mops and brooms. "Malarkey."
They entered the air conditioned building, the boy became sleepy as he waited by his father's side who was checking his reservation in the golf store. "Alright sir, if you want you can sit out there on the verandah with complimentary drinks untill we bring your cart up to you."
Re-entering the stone paved fenceless verandah, they took a seat at a round table with an umbrella. The humid heat woke the boy back up. A vantage of bright green grass, palm trees,and men hustling back in forth in white docker pants opened up before them.
There was a grey haired man sweeping up the tile of the verandah within earshot of the father and son. The boy watched the old man sweep up something in his dustpan, then bend down and put it in a zip lock bag that he produced from his pocket. The boy's curiosity was ignited, he had to know what it was, maybe a spent shell casing, or a tripwire; he jumped down from his stool and approached the old man.
"Excuse me sir," what was it you picked up, a shell casing?"..... the old man just looked at the boy and smiled, and continued sweeping. "Ben, don't bother that man please," admonished his father.
Ben walked back to his chair,and picked up his coca-cola,and pretended as if his curiosity was quenched. He watched the old man, sweeping and sweeping, untill he bent down to pick another object up. The boy flew from his seat and closed on the old man.
"Ohhh man mister, what is that thing , a dragon?" At the old man's feet was a coil of something, corrugated, black with a red neon tinge, incisers and mandibles the size of paper cutters. It was dead whatever it was, but its shell was still intact; and so was everyone of it's hundred legs, its fearsome face was preserved amid a deathly stare with blackened eyes.
"Don't worry, it's nothing, just a bug sonny," said the old man who packed it away in a zip lock bag.
"Then why are you collecting them in ziplock bags?"
The old man hesitated, then he sighed knowing it was futile.
"If I tell you, you cannot freak out. Im supposed to rid these creatures from the guests sight."
" I won't freak out--that thing looks like one of those chinese new year dragons they parade in the streets."
"It ain't no dragon son--it is a Centipede." But to the boy, it reminded him of those Chinese dragon parades. It was massive.
The boy was hailed back to where his father was sitting. " Ben leave that man alone, he has a job to do."
The boy thought the old man and his centipede to be a riddle of the highest importance. He sensed a story, before he knew what a story was. He looked at this man inquisitively; he looked to be Hawaiin ,maybe South American, but he also had a martial stare.
The old man looked at his watch and sat down at table at the corner of the stone paved verandah, bordered by bright green grass. Ben saw centipedes now in the design of the old man's hawaiin shirt.
Producing a mango from his pocket, the old man proceded to strip the tough skin and spit out the peelings onto the grass as Ben's attention was broken by an employee. "Excuse me sir, there seem's to be a slight problem ya, there's only one golf cart available, and we have to fit you and someone else on there, but there is your son?"
The father's face froze. "oh, my son, oh yeah" he mumbled as he watched the beautiful tropical neon course ahead of him." The groundsworker who was finishing his mango was paying attention to the whole interaction. He watched the boy scanning the greens, it made the old man smile.
" Excuse me sir, I think I can help out, I can babysit the lad right here, and tour the golf grounds with him, I finished my duties....."
The father looked at the old harmless man. The hawaiin accent on him, and hawaiin shirt on him, rendered him as harmless as puff the dragon. No one has ever commited a misdeed in a hawaiin shirt, and that resonates in the subconscience of visitors to the Hawaiin chains. For Captain Cooke(the first anglo visitor to Hawaii) was boiled in a *** by shirtless Hawaiins.
" Sir, I can vouche for my employee....." It was in agreement, the father sped off.
They had two hours to ****. Just enough time for a story.
" So Ben, Im Edison, would you like to hear a story--" the boy interrupted him, " About the infantry?"
" Yes, the infantry, Hawaii, and dragons." The scene was too unreal. The tropical tableau panorama behind the old man--that made the old man's hawaiin shirt seem to disappear and make his head float--was pastel portraiture with palm outlines bursting with their leaves amid a light blue sky. The old man mumbled his lips every other second, possibly from denchers. The boy watched the floating head mumble, mumbling faster and faster readying for a story, captivating the boy. He came to see the infantry, and he would see them in words. No illusion this time.
" The story of Hawaii, is a story of short dynasties. The first known dynasty was the Rat dynasties. Like Attilla The ***'s followers, the rat's followed their king; down the ropes and piers from the ships and overwhelmed the populace. The set up Rat colonies, fishing centers, and cheese vendors." The boy interupted the old man, " How can rat's set up cheese vendors?"
" They just did, ' Cheese for Sale' was screeched on every block, now if I can continue my story lad." The boy nodded, sorry for slowing down the story.
" The Hawaiians tried to battle back, arming themselves with brass knuckles of sea conches, and throwing jellyfish at them, but it was of no use—there were to many. Then the other dynasty came, the Python Dynasty. Instead of scurrying down the ropes, they spiraled down at night. They were a clever bunch. They would play dead, and wait for birds who were hungry for a meal, then ' crunch' and the bird would be a knot in the snake's ropey body. The pythons also ate all the Hawaiians roosters. At the height of the island’s empire, every Hawaiian had a at least five roosters per household. Every sac and backpack was alive and moving as the roosters were carried about on the street. But the Python's ate them making only one rooster per household. The next dynasty was even more clever than the Python--the Mongoose Dynasty. They ate all pythons with lightning speed. They didn't scurry nor spiral down the ropes--they lolly gagged down them. Stopping to stare in the water, for a clam or fish they could eat, they were cocky sons of....
"By the time the Hawaiins raised their jelly fish at them sitting on the ropes, they already ate the belly button lint out of your belly button. They were crafty. But their downfall was that they were not unified. Their kingdom fractured, but they remained on the island.
"The last known dynasty, did not take the rope, but the plank. Drooling, huffing, and snorkeling--snorting up every barnacle on the pier in the two minutes they arrived on the island--the pig. They quickly broke their bonds and took to the mountains and jungles. But something came during the pig dynasty, that was the real scourge of the isles. And it is this dynasty, that my story starts, with two infantry members, from opposite ends of the empire--Seattle and Boston, who arrived to the island not knowing their position on the Hawaiian food chain.
" When Boston first walked into his barracks latrine(bathroom) he was overwhelmed with how humid it was, like he just entered an iguana tank. The ceilings were painted green with mold, the floor kept a semblance to checkered tile due to the heavy mopping of soldiers armed with ammonia. He noticed he was not alone. There were geckos on the ceiling, running around eating giant flying things. The geckos did not bother him, he has seen them in Florida, and perhaps that was there these fellas had come from. He walked over to the sink, for he needed a shave for the first formation. The barracks was old, and used as an overflow for departing service members, or newly arriving ones. It is rumored to still have 50 caliber holes in its foundation from Japanese Zero's.
"He looked down into the sink, there was a Gecko's tail, writhing in the sink--not attached t anything. The drain was open, it looked like the cave to a malevolent beast. And it was, a black tendril, or serpent, quickly emitted from the dark drain and grasped the writhing Gecko tail in its mandibles and retreated back into the drain. ' What in holy .......' Boston whispered as he stepped away from the sink.
"Meanwhile, Seattle walked up to his new room, and used his card key to open his barracks room. The door swung open, and on the floor in front of him, was a large cockroache on its back, apparently dying of over-eating. It bicycle kicked the air, and doggy paddled. It's belly was huge, and it's face said ' I lived a good life.' Seattle could only muster the words, ' well that ain't a good sign.'
"Seattle and Boston were roomates for only a month before they became bickering enemies, likened to England and France--coming only together under rules and regulations and enforced peace treaty. It started with a bag of potatoe chips. 'Seattle, you can't come home drunk and leave potatoe chips all over the room. This ain't the mainland, we are gunna get eaten in our sleep by cockroaches. Every night you explode a bag of potatoe chips all over the couch.' It was true, they had a black pleather couch given to them be an eager barracks member, and if you sat down on it, you would always hear a crunch.
" ' Whatever Boston, you keep leaving your cherry dip around attracting ants. You fell asleep with a dip in your mouth and you woke up with goat-tee of ants. ' And so it went, it was two male humans in a barracks cage. One, a North Eastern Humano, the other a North Western Humano, both ill-disposed to each other. One more afraid of ants, the other cockroaches.
" But then in a sign of peace offering, Boston introduced Seattle to his Fillipino girlfriend's sister. They went on a double date, and then Seattle went on two other dates after, with just him and her. But then Boston was getting pestered by his girlfriend to 'have Seattle call her sister," or he was getting pestered by " What , Seattle don't like my sister no more ya?" Boston always dodged the question, knowing the rules. Then one day, Boston had to go up to his room with the two sisters in his car. But they followed him up at the last second, and ambushed Seattle, who was really upset by this and left the room and barracks. That incident could have been water under the bridge, except for what happened.
"When Seattle returned to his now empty room, he opened a draw and removed his sneakers from them, for he still had on his flip flops. He put on his sneakers without socks and was walking down the barracks stairs when he felt it. It was like a nail just went through his foot. A medic in civy's (civilian clothes) was behind him watching him. " You alright buddy," he said.
" I just stepped on a nail or sumthin," said Seattle.
He shook his sneaker, nothing. Looking at his foot, he saw two fang puncture marks in between his big toes. His vein near the bite was surfacing like a snake all the way up his leg even up to his forehead, he felt dizzy. He shook the sneaker one more time, harder. Inside, now, was a coil, or a nest of black cobras, but it was not many cobras, but one centipede. " what the f...."
The medic looked in, " That’s a centipede, highly toxic, if you get really ill come to the Aid Station," he said then left.
"Seattle burned in a fever that night, having dreams of the scorned Fillipino girl haunting him, holding centipedes over him, doing a witch-like curse on him. Seattle was lucky, most react alot worse from the bites. He blamed the scorned girl for putting it there, and most of all--he blamed Boston.
"And that is only one side of the story, for soon after, it was Boston who would become livid with Seattle. One night, Boston was sitting on the pleather couch, with his girlfriend, when they fell asleep on it watching TV--they had the room to themselves. When they awoke they were covered in cockroaches. The girl ran out of the room and Boston's life forever. Upon lifting up the couch cushions, there spied, was a massive moving cockroach galaxy. " Seattle," Boston gritted through his teeth.
" Mister when are we going to get to infantry stuff--" whined the boy.
" Very shortly my lad," said the old man, producing another mango from his pocket and resuming his story.
" Seattle and Boston quickly rose through the ranks, and commanded teams in the same squad. At that time, they got their own rooms, and one would think that would make them get along better, but that was not so. The only thing that assuaged the wise remarks of Boston, and Seattle's feverish temper, was that they had to get along if they lived together, and now they don't. And now they both have a four man team competing against each other, when they are in the same squad.
" Boston's number one on the team was a kid named Mango. He was the go-to guy for Boston, and made his team look good. Seattle's number one guy was a soldier named Biggin who made Seattle's team look good.
" Well, one night, their whole platoon were siting under double canopy in the complete dark. They were in full battle rattle( ammo and body armour) readying their equipment and eating some rations in anti