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Selling Hashish in VIETNAM. Chapter 3 - The Storm

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I was on the wheel. The time would be @ midnight or thereabouts. Earlier, much after dark, maybe half an hour ago, we had some rain, so the udders who were sleeping on the deck went down amidships under the hatch to avoid the rain. I was on watch 0n the wheel. It was my “duty time” on the wheel and Janet was supposed to be my “pair” for this watch, but when Jim & Janice went down the hatch when rain happened, Janet also went down amidships saying, “You can’t fall asleep in the rain. I will come up when the rain stops.” 

I knew why she went down. She went down to “Read the Bible” which did not exist. Groupies existed and happened right here on the AXARA every day! 

I was holding the wheel so I could not go down amidships. Now thick klouds were forming. The moon disappeared. It became pitch dark. We were heading south while the storm was approaching from the west. It would be hitting us on our starboard side………. Whatt0d0? The sea had become rough. The AXARA was heading into four-foot high troughs and crests. Four foot high waves mean nothing to large ships, but for the 37-footer AXARA, this was Trouble. Terrrrr-i-ble Truuuu-bble with a capital T. I had not encountered such seas since we sailed out of Bangkok. I could feel that we were in trouble and I did not know what to do. Only Jim would know. I needed him 0n deck telling us what to do. But how to call him? All the udders were amidships, under the hatch. How to leave the wheel? How to communicate? Today’s technologies did not exist then. It was 1973. 

This was terrible. I dinno0 what to do. There is a person (Jim Taylor) who knows what to do, but I cannot communicate with him even though he is less than four meters away. I was afraid to leave the wheel. In calm seas we did lock the wheel and the four of us would play udders on the deck. But this was not calm sea. Streaks and sheets of lightning were happening. Rain was coming. Heavy rain. The sea was getting rougher. How to call Jim? 

I needn’t have worried. In my panic I did not realize that the udder three under the hatch wouldn’t exactly be in the “Taj Mahal Hotel” level of Luxury and would surely feel and know the state of the sea. We were in big trouble. Sure enuff, the hatch opened and Jim came up on deck, closely followed by Janice and Janet. 

“Janet, you hold the wheel”, he yelled. Dilip, you bring down the mainsail. We scrambled. Janet came and took the wheel. Again I realized why Jim had made me climb up the mast on the first day I met him on the AXARA in Bangkok. I got to work. Bringing down the main sail in calm weather is no sweat. But bringing it down in pouring rain, climbing the mast in pitch dark with the boat being thrown about like a Badminton shuttlecock was a totally different ball game. Thank GawD for the streaks & sheets of lightning, I could at least see sometimes. This was the first time in my life I prayed for lightning. Jim and Janice were doing frantic things on the deck which I could not see bkoz I was up on the mast busy doing the mainsail ropes. So the lightning flashes helped. In few minutes we had all sails down and secured as best as we could in the darkness and the terribly bouncing boat. It is a miracle none of us fell overboard bkoz if any of us had fallen overboard there was no chance of saving him or her. That was it. But what followed in the next six hours was worse than death. 

All of us went down and battened the hatch and closed it as tight as we could. It was pitch dark and the flashes of lightning outside did not create any visibility inside amidships. By feel, Jim fished out a torch (flashlight) and some strong rope. He flashed the torch and spoke for the first time: “Take this rope. All four of us have to securely tie ourselves to the mast”, Jim said. Without another word we got busy tying ourselves to the mast. It was not easy. Nobody spoke. The mast which you see jutting out of the deck on sailing yachts actually goes thru the deck, down thru amidships right to the keel. In fact the mast of a sailing yacht is like the chassis of a car or bike around which the rest of the boat=car=bike is laid out. 

Nobody spoke. Everyone was shitting bricks. Lucky we had tied ourselves, udderwise in the boat which was being whipped about like a badminton shuttlecock, if we had not tied ourselves to the mast, we would have been banged against the walls of the boat and died of broken skulls and broken bones. To understand our plight, just take a briefcase, empty it and put four incandescent light bulbs in it, close it and shake it with both your hands as violently as you can. Can you imagine what would happen to the glass bulbs? 0r imagine you are a very small pebble inside the hollow base of a shuttlecock with which badminton was being played. Can you imagine the fate of the pebble? Of course, the pebble being of stone nothing would happen to it. But we were living human creatures with protruding arms and legs and many udder breakables. It was absolutely pitch dark, which I think helped us survive. If there was light we would be able to see each other and what else would we talk about except death? I don’t remember if anyone spoke. In any case this was more than 37 years ago, and I don’t claim to have an elephants mammary. 

I think all four of us passed out. The storm must have lasted many hours. Maybe two hours, maybe four. I cannot remember. When I came to my senses the boat was absolutely still. I couldn’t even feel the sea. It was like standing still on land. Janet and Janice were still tied to the mast. So was I. Janet and Janice were not yet in their senses. Jim was not around and the hatch was open. I untied myself and went up on the deck. Jim was on the deck. The boat was on a beach cum rocky outcrops. The waterline was about fifty feet away. The storm had brought us on land and deposited the AXARA on the shore in the storm at high tide. When the tide withdrew and high tide became low tide, AXARA got left behind on land. From where we were there were about another thirty feet of sandy shore inland, and beyond that some coconut or palm trees and beyond that was thick jungle interspersed with green paddy fields. 

“Where are we?” I asked Jim. 

“Where we shouldn’t be” he replied. “I will give you three options on how you would like to die, and you choose”. 

“What the fuck are you talking about?” I said. “We just survived the most severe storm I could ever imagine. We didn’t fall overboard. We didn’t drown. And we didn’t get broken into pieces by banging against the walls of the boat amidships bkoz we were tied to the mast. We’ve just cheated death in four dimensions, the storm is over, and now we are safe on land, so what the fuck three options of dying are you talking about?” 

“First option: getting shot. 

Second option: getting bayoneted. 

Third option: getting beheaded. 

What would you prefer?” Jim offered. 

“What the fuck are you talking about? Who will kill us and why?” I asked. 

“We are in Vietnam. 0f that I am sure bkoz we couldn’t be anywhere else. I think we were somewhere around nine degrees north of the equator when the storm hit us broadside from the west. And, from where we were, the nearest eastward land is South Vietnam. 

There is a war going on here. I know bkoz I was part of this war and shot and knifed enemies till I myself got shot. We should be somewhere in the Parrot’s Beak area of South Vietnam. The nearest meaningful settlement from here would be Ca Mau. I know this bkoz my unit was once stationed here. I imagine we would be around 50 miles westwards of Ca Mau, but I can’t guess how far north or south we are along the 100 mile long Parrots Beak coastline. We must find out where we are. But wherever we are we must keep going east. Let us go down and check on the girls.” 

We went down amidships from the hatch. Janet had recovered and was untying Janice who was also conscious. 

“Where the fuck are we? And why is the boat not shaking?” Janet asked. 

“Come up and see for yourself” Jim replied, “Go up, I’ll follow you.” 

The girls went up. I followed, and Jim followed a minute later. 

“Let’s get dressed and get out of here” Jim said, “It’s too dangerous to stay on the boat. It is too visible. We can get attacked any time”. 

We went amidships and got dressed as quickly as we could. Jim had a Rambo knife, which was standard issue to all American GIs during the Vietnam War. There were other knives on the boat. Each of us picked whatever took our fancy, though how useful a knife would be against guns nobody can say. Carrying a knife was just a psychological boost to our confidence. 

We had not carried any firearms from Bangkok, though we could have if we wanted to. Jim had said there was no point carrying firearms. There is an old cowboy saying in Amerika: “Don’t carry guns unless you intend to use them”. If we had firearms, we would attempt to use them and that would be suicide, Jim had said. “Point is: The Pirates operate mostly in the Straits of Malacca (today renamed Melaka) which is the sea between the east coast of Malaya (Malaysian peninsula) and Indonesia’s Sumatra island where trade traffic is heaviest in the world and pickings for pirates are large and worthwhile. Only sometimes, some of them would fan out into the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thigh Land. So our chances of NOT encountering pirates are pretty good. However these pirates are professionals. They know their job. They are armed to the teeth. They have powerful deck mounted swivel machines guns. And Dilip, specially for you (he knew about my love for Amerikan kowboy movies), it will be nothing like the gun battles you see between the good guys and the bad guys in kowboy movies, where each guy takes potshots and rolls or crawls from one rock to another. On the AXARA there are no rocks or any thing else to hide behind. Everything is made of wood. The bullets from the Pirates’ deck mounted machinegun would go right thru the boat wherever it hit leaving only a clean hole, except maybe the mast. If attacked by Pirates, abject surrender was the best option. Firstly we were purely a sailing boat. We had nothing worth stealing. Jim, Janet and Janice had credit cards. None of us would have more than 50 US Dollars in cash. If the pirates wanted the munny we would be happy to hand over all our munny to them. The AXARA which was a purely sailing boat would also be of no use to them. We had nothing they could have wanted. 

Nothing? 

We had all looked at each other. EveryBODY had the same thing on mind, but how to say it? It was a question of BODY. Janet and Janice were el-prim0 cunt0s. If one was built like Pamela AndersOOn, the other was Venus de MilO! What if the Pirates wanted the girls? That was a distinct possibility. If they did take the girls, it would make no sense for them to leave us alive. And even if they did leave me and Jim alive, Waddafukk could we do? Pirates are Pirates only if caught in the act. Carrying guns on the high seas is allowed by International Law. We had concluded that our chances of being left alive versus being shot were fifty:fifty. 

What would they do to the girls if they took them? 0f course everyone knew. In fact that is the reason girls are always taken since time immemorial. 

Janet had said at that time, “There is no point being squeamish about it. We all know what happens to girls who are ‘taken’. I will take my chances”. 

She had looked at Janice. Janice had nodded and said, “Same goes for me. All females are purpose built same as all males are. Getting fucked by the Pirates is simply LAW OF NATURE! You two aren’t the first men we’ve fucked, and you won’t be the last. Who knows we might even enjoy it. I’ve never fucked a Pirate before! And these Mongoloid types get quite a kick fucking a white woman. I know. I’ve fucked in Thigh Land before. The Mongoloids have the smallest prick. I have no sweat. In fact,” Janice cunt in you’d, “I am almost sure we will give them such good cervix, they might even drop us off at Singapore before you reach, if at all you make it.” 

Janet nodded. Both girls looked at each other knowingly. Then Janet said, “My Mommy taught me: If rape is inevitable, Lie down and enjoy it. And Mommy always knows best”. 

“There’s another angle”, Jim had said. “We need a crew of four to sail the AXARA. If you girls get taken, how the fuck we gonna sail the boat? 

That would be a problem. There was no foolproof solution. Inside the AXARA, amidships, there were two bunks which had lids which opened like the lid of a trunk and things were stuffed into them In a small ocean going sailing boat such as the AXARA, nothing can be kept on the floor as on land bkoz the boat is constantly rolling or bobbing, and anything that is not tied down would be thrown around. There were two hammocks but we never used them bkoz we always sailed and slept tw0-by two. 

It was decided that at the first sight of any other boat, the girls would immediately go down the hatch and get into the boxes under the bunks and lie there as still as they could, and pray like they had never prayed before (Actually read The Bible!). One of the men would hold the wheel while the other would go down the hatch and keep ropes and other soft, unbreakable sailing gear on the bunks so that the pirates would think there was just me and Jim on the AXARA. It was a chance. But we had no alternative. We had left it at that and sailed out of Bangkok. 

But at this moment, it was different. We were not at sea but were on solid land, in the jungle of the Parrot’s Beak area of South Vietnam. We were not facing pirates on the high seas who just wanted money and women. We were facing the Viet Cong. We were facing Communists, a political philosophy driven armed guerilla force. 

So far there was nobody in sight. We quickly made our way into the thick foliage. It offered some protection from detection. We huddled in a thick bush. Jim said, “We are somewhere around the southern tip of South Vietnam. This is dangerous territory. Avoid being seen by anyone. You never know whether the person is an ordinary villager or Viet Cong. The Viet Cong are the fifth columnists here, followers of Ho Chi Minh, who was the communist ruler of North Vietnam, which is the communist country against whom we are fighting. If the Viet Cong see us, we are finished. Ho Chi Minh died in 1969, almost four years ago but communism hasn’t. That’s why the US is here. Let us split up. Janet you go with Dilip.” 

By splitting up, we were increasing our chances of survival. I had the best chance of survival. The Viet Cong knew white Americans and Black Americans. But I was neither white nor black. So I would not be immediately identified as American and hence would be a mystery to them and hence maybe killed last. Or maybe not killed at all and become a hero to the Viet Cong. I knew much about Ho Chi Minh, who was an honored figure in India in the sixties. Much appreciated and honored by India’s first Prime Minister Nehru and later his dotter Indira Gandhi. There are roads in India named after Ho Chi Minh. In fact even today (2011) there is a street named Ho Chi Minh Street in Kolkata (==then Calcutta). If I sang praises of Ho Chi Minh, surely they wouldn’t kill me. 

We split up, and Janet and myself moved about hundred feet away from Jim and Janice within locatable / visible / hail-able distance, and continued to move eastward through the bush and paddy fields. Progress was slow. I had no idea where we were headed except that we were moving east. Why, I did not know, neither did Janet or Janice. There was no time for parleys. We just did what Jim told us. This was totally unknown for us. And we believed Jim. After all, he had been here, fought here, killed here, lived here, and nearly died here. Of course, at least I knew that there was a war going on, and I was scared. We cunt in you’d moving east for some time. Maybe two hours maybe four. 

Then we heard the sound of trucks. Many trucks together. We hit the dirt and concealed ourselves as best as we could and stopped breathing. We saw a convoy of US Army trucks moving on a dirt road. For us, this was nothing short of SALVATiON!

 

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