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Always the Same Dream By Jeff Silcock

H

ey, Staff Sergeant, I think my feet are frozen. “Shut up, grunt, and keep walking.” So I keep walking. Up one hill, down the other side, back up another. Joy. My outpost partner, Mark O, a big, shiny black Marine says to me, ‘Man, it don’t even get this cold in Chicago.” It was a balmy 0 degrees outside. I stared across the rugged and ragged-looking mountains of this lovely little place called the DMZ that separates North from South Korea. I hate it here. When I get out of the Marines, I am getting as far away from this as possible. For the last two years, I have had to call R228, a South Korean airport runway, home. It always smelled like JP5 jet fuel and kimchi. I would fall asleep in my extreme-cold-weather sleeping bag with the cold, blue steel of my M16 inside with me, and I would drift off to sleep, always having the same dream; I was warm and the ocean was blue, and I could smell the saltwater in the air. My skin was tan, and even a little bit sun-burnt, and she was always beautiful. Trip flares! I was forced awake, because a rabbit got caught in some concertina wire and set off the flares. I now even hate rabbits. I got to get out of this place, just like the iconic song of Vietnam, sung by the Animals. Being honorably discharged from the Marines, Captain Pain-InMy-Buttocks asks me what I am going to do now that I am civilian. “Become a sailor.” “You’re joining the Navy?” “No, sir. I am going to Miami, Florida and buy a sailboat, live on it and go sailing.” “You ever been to Florida?” “No, sir.” “You ever been sailing?” “No, sir.” “You ever seen the ocean?” “One time out the back of an AAV, sir.” Upon my discharge, I purchased a 1975 AMC Pacer from a

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three-toothed, sloth-looking human being from the hills of North Carolina and bid my farewell. The car reminded me of a fish bowl on wheels. With one used governmentissue sea bag and all my possessions stuffed inside, I headed to Miami, Florida. I eventually pulled into the Miami Beach Marina and paid 50 cents for a South Florida Sailboat Trader magazine. I sat with my ass in the sand and my toes in the water, long before Zach Brown starting singing about it. As I perused the ads, my dream continued to grow inside, but my wallet, on the other hand, did not. I did not know it at the time, but I ended up on South Beach, the worst place in the world for me to try to buy a sailboat. I eventually ended up in a honky-tonk in Key Largo and had the pleasure of meeting a “lessthan-principled” fellow whom I will call Jim, for he said he was in the witness protection program. Anyway, I told him of my dream, my ‘75 AMC Pacer and my shrinking wallet. Go west, young man, cheaper boats and cheaper women on the west coast of

Florida was his advice. So off I go to find her, my soul mate. I eventually rolled into Fort Myers Beach before sunrise and parked my car in a restaurant parking lot next to a tall metal building. And I fall asleep, with the same dream as always—I was warm, the ocean was blue, I could smell salt in the air, I was tan, a little sun-burnt and she was always beautiful. Then the tap on the glass awakes me, one of Lee County’s finest doing his job. Now I am not a smart man, or lucky for that fact, but sometimes, life leaves you clues. Being I backed into my sleeping spot, I never saw the sign that said Moss Marine in big blue letters on the side of the building, until I stepped outside my car. Hmmm, I wonder if…around the corner I meander and there she was—the most beautiful thing I had seen since Olongapo City. It was love at first sight and I had to have her. Twenty-five feet of white and blue and full of mold green on her sides. That big metal thing that holds up the sails was lying on top of her, looking defeated. I found the for-sale sign on the pavement near the jack stand. $2500 dollars. I have that much, but I will have to sell my car. I was “all in,” as the gamblers would say. The marina even gave me 30 days to fix her up. I gave them most of my cash and tossed my sea bag aboard. I fell in love with this boat. I loved all of it, even the parts I didn’t like so much. Over the next 26 days, I cleaned, repaired and repainted. I learned what a mast was and where every wire went, and how every nut and bolt was secured. I knew where every hose went and how they were clamped. I figured out when you put the word “marine” in front of it, it triples in price. This boat consumed me and all my thoughts and all of my money, just like an incredible woman does. See DREAM continued on page 76

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