Saturday, November 21, 2015

Chapter 15 - Blowup

The Boys in the Boathouse
A Novel -- really, none of this ever happened -- by Dr. Frank Emfbo

Chapter Fifteen
The Night the Boathouse Blew Up

The years of revisionist history have erased any consensus that may have existed about the origins of the war. We had no Franz Ferdinand at the Connie. There was no armed camp, no Kaiser Willie, no Serbian nationalist.

Like all wars, though, the winners got to write the history. The Night the Boathouse Blew Up, as told by the winners, has all the elements of a classic. Unprovoked attack. Bullies. Victims. Righteousness. Traitors. Alliances formed, broken, formed again. Glorious redemption. Surrender. Capitulation.

We did have our Pearl Harbor. Bag and Behal flew down the hall on a sneak attack, threw the sleeping Dago's door open and doused him with the fire extinguisher they'd stolen from the dorms.

The revisionists will insist that Dago did something to enrage the guys and that they were just and correct in their measured response. That they only meant to register their intolerance for his offense. The revisionists may even claim Dago knew it was coming, and used it to start a war he wanted to fight anyway.

But those records were destroyed in the great climax of the battle. And on this Night of Infamy, Bag and Behal had awakened a Sleeping Giant.

Arising from his bed, Dago looked out the door to see the enemy duo ducking into Behal's room at the other end of the hall. He assessed the damage and searched his arsenal of retaliatory weapons. A handful of old firecrackers. That was it.

Whichever potential ally lived next to Behal, Doctor Frank doesn't remember. But the potential of a firefight with a penned-in adversary was too much to turn down. The doors were opened to create a war room.

Dago wedged Behal's door away from the jamb and dropped a few pennies in, to prevent escape. He stationed his loyal roommate on the outside deck to watch Behal's window. A six pack and a chair iced the loyalty. There may have been a Penthouse involved, and I don't mean a top floor apartment. With the tables turned and the aggressors under siege, battle planning could commence.

First a reassessment of ordnance. By now the great powers of the crew house world were circling like sharks in the water. Everyone wanted in on the action. More firecrackers appeared, plus ten M80s, and two gross of little bottle rockets to get things started.

Great, but how do we access the room? They’re in a fortified position. A couple rockets under the door and they'll just stuff a towel down there. Yeah but let's do it anyway.

Sure enough, there was barely adequate clearance to get a rocket under there, so we lined up a dozen of 'em and started lighting fuses. Not much damage outside the room but the sparks and flames shooting across the hall were spectacular. We could only imagine the terror we had unleashed inside. After the first explosions came the "hey, goddammit, motherfucker!" just as expected. We heard the door handle rattling, the "fuck, we're pennied in" and footsteps heading for the window.

"Think again, assholes!" Dago's roommate was waiting for them, leaning against the window frame. They knew they were trapped. Trapped in a smoky hell of burnt gunpowder and pepperoni farts. We lined up another volley of rockets but the gap under the door was blocked. The whole thing had played out exactly as our military strategists had envisioned it.

Someone showed up with a broken oar handle he'd found in the shop. “Hey guys, check this out.” He pointed to the two hollow sections running the length of the oar. These were engineered by the great Georre Pocock to reduce weight and allow the shaft to bend but not break. Now our guy takes two bottle rockets, slides them into the voids, points the handle down the hall and says “look, fuckers, it’s a rocket launcher! Somebody light those bitches!”

Shooting from the hip was fine. There was no pinpoint accuracy here, and we had no eye protection. Except guys like Trax who needed the coke bottles full time. Trax was designated artilleryman.

This was great except that we couldn’t get in the door. Then Dago pulled out the first M80.

An explosive device that’s already fucking loud will get way more so when put in a compressed position. Like in the gap between door and door jamb where Dago had already wedged a few pennies. It’s not known and not important whether Dago actually thought he could blow the fucking door off and get at his attackers, but you gotta figure, since they didn’t know it was about to happen, and they were already gagging and farting inside, they must have shit themselves when the boom went off. The explosion rivaled the acetylene balloon bomb mentioned in the last chapter, the one you really shouldn’t research on the google and the youtube. Really, don’t.

Still no response. He was waiting for some sign of surrender. So Dago lit another one. Hoping they’d pound on the door and beg forgiveness, the plan was to pull the pennies out of the door so they could escape, and have Trax waiting with the rocket launcher and two guys with fire extinguishers. Vengeance would be had, the battle would be over, and we could all go to bed.

Nope. Not a sound from within, and the door didn’t budge. Shit, did we kill them? Are they deaf?

Lacking the intensity of an actual battle, guys our age could only remain on point for so long. But, keyed up for combat, some went looking for another fight. Or at least for further weapons training. Grunt Row was always a fine location for such things.

Leaving a sentry at the door who promised to keep lighting a firecracker now and then, the platoon moved out. This is when it went from a pinpoint surgical strike to an all-out war involving the whole boathouse.

The lowlife residents of Grunt Row had hunkered down. Hearing the noise above, the shouts, the threats, each had gone to his hovel and locked the door. So, to the call of “all you fucking grunties come out of your rooms!” nothing happened. Trax was poised to flamethrow anyone brave or stupid enough to stick their head out. Nobody did. Smart grunties, as oxymoronic as that may be.

So the low level shelling began, with little Black Cats wedged in each of their doors, lit sequentially until we’d reached the outside door at the far end. It was about that time that “hey you varsity fuckers!” rang out from behind us. We turned to see a hallway filled with a curtain of smoke, and a monstrous shower of sparks shot down at us from behind the shroud. The screwm was like a jet taking off. One of us had already opened the door, and the huge rocket – the kind you can buy on the rez for twenty bucks apiece these days – went right out the opening, across the street, and exploded against the tennis court fence with a report as loud as any of the M80s we’d already used.

The cloud cleared, and of course the perpetrator or perps had disappeared. But they were grunties, they had bigger rockets, and they had smoke bombs. Bad combination unless we could parley and get their tactical support.

Silently we crept back along Grunt Row, listening at every door. Deathly quiet at every stop. Then we heard the window creak. Shit, huge error in our intelligence and containment. We hadn’t covered the outside escapes. We could make out the sound of guys coming in the window. Low level laughter. Boy we fucked with those guys. Yuk yuk yuk.  

Knock knock. Anderson, phone call. Wrong room? Ok, who’s this? You got a phone call. Get out here, you got immunity, nice show there. We need another rocket. We’ve got beer.

Those last three words nailed it. It’s tough enough to get beer when you’re a gruntie. A temporary truce arrangement with the varsity fuckers just made it easier.

Fortified with weapons of mass destruction, more training was in order. Rules of engagement determined Grunt Row was not the place to do it, so we tried the longest straight stretch we could find, standing by Mikey’s door and firing past the dining room all the way to the erg room stairs. This was maybe a hundred feet or more, and all kinds of bad shit can happen with a rocket that big in that distance. But we stationed a guy with a fire extinguisher around the far corner, rammed the rocket into the launcher and lit the fuse.

The first test was entertaining. Bouncing off walls and doorways, it made the end of the hallway in less than a second. We could feel the concussion all the way at the launch site, so we were a little concerned about Extinguisher Guy. But he jumped out from behind the wall and pounced on the remains, ready in case of fire. He was so jumpy that when the guy in the end room opened his door and wanted to know what the fuck, he got doused. Extinguisher Guy realized his mistake and took off running. The door to the room slammed when the end guy saw us lighting another one.

The fuse was already lit when we realized nobody was manning the extinguisher. Too late, and the rest still plays back in SloMo in Doctor Frank’s memory. Trax bracing himself for takeoff. The whoosh of the rocket. The opening door of the dining room. The Pride of Conibear stepping around the corner and facing us. His eyes moving reflexively down when his body was too slow to react, and watching that huge fucking rocket go right between his pant legs, not even a half an inch from that magical mystical massive missile he was packing inside his Levis.

The Pride of Conibear just stood there staring. He was in Army ROTC so you knew he was being trained for way worse shit than this. But still… the cock…  we rushed down the hall to check the burn marks.

“Jeez, Pride, we’re sorry. We’ll pay the quarter for the laundry to get those scorch marks out. But… y’know… Like, it could have been an inch higher and some lucky woman in your future wouldn’t be so lucky anymore.”

Everyone knew what Dago meant. Except the Pride of Conibear. Can you imagine a guy not knowing he has a fucking huge cock? We left it at that.

Practice was over. Highly trained fighting machines, we returned to the upstairs hallway, assuring our startled fellow varsity fuckers that it was OK, just for tonight, to have grunties hanging around up there. Rearmed and reinforced, the whole boathouse stood as one now in the siege of Behal’s room. Behal’s room in which Bag was a guest and Trax normally lived. Which had been incidental up until now.

We analyzed all possible points of attack. The door was solid and wouldn’t be opened by anything other than mutual agreement. Breaking the window would be fucking awesome, but, like kicking in the door, it would create other problems we didn’t want to deal with. That’s when we found the cheap construction secret of the Connie.

The Connie was built in the fifties, with American steel, American concrete, and a little more American steel. No bomb could touch it. Structurally it could have lasted a thousand years, which is why it was just fucking wrong and sad when it all got torn down.

Solid as it was, there were gaps. Gaps where the American steel roof beams met the American steel and sheetrock walls. Someone had forgotten to plan solid materials to fill in those gaps, so each wall was lined across the top with foam plugs. Plugs about an inch thick and four inches high to fill that gap. Those American steel beams were placed on about six inch centers in case someone ever wanted to build a living space on the roof, which Quinney did until Milo Fucking Lude decided he didn’t like looking at it every day, but again Doctor Frank gets ahead of himself.

So the war room staff is next door to Behal and Bag, tapping on the wall, and someone goes way up high and taps on one of those plugs. It falls away, and into the room next door. Immediately we get gunpowder smoke and pepperoni farts. The lights are off in there so we’re wondering just what the fuck they’re doing together. Dago’s roommate on the deck shouts that he has nothing to report as the curtain is drawn and it’s fucking dark inside. Dago’s roommate is about to finish off the sixpack he was given. We consider replacing him, but during the training crew’s foray to Grunt Row he has requisitioned a two by four and wedged it between their window and the roof post, so at least we know he’s been thinking. They couldn’t get out even if he wasn’t there to guard the window. We leave him out there.

Meanwhile we analyze the newfound hole in the wall. It took some doing, but Trax got that oar handle rocket launcher lined up. The gruntie handed the artillery team one of his massive rockets. zzzz---WHOOSH.

We waited about two seconds.

BAM! ..which truly does not come close to describing it. But it’s all Doctor Frank’s got.

We can hear ‘em moving shit around in there. But no words are passed. We wonder how effective it was.

“Hey guys,” we hear the whisper from the deck. Dago’s roommate has spotted something. “Trax, get out here with that launcher.”

Stormin’s car comes around the corner, headed for the Senior parking lot. He has no idea what’s about to happen. Trax considers distance, downward angle of travel, concealment and obstacles. He goes for the larger caliber.

“Gruntie. One more big one.” Stormin’s car door is opening when the flaming streak flies over his head. It’s about ten feet off the ground, clears all the cars in the parking lot and bounces across the street before exploding against the fence. Trax has fine tuned his aim. He’s found a career opportunity in hig tech arms development. Stormin’ heads for the bathroom to clean up the mess in his pants.

Meanwhile we go back to work. Considering another rocket attack, someone grabs the fire extinguisher.

“ummmm, guys…” says Trax, but too late. Someone’s already standing on the desk, hosing down whatever’s within reach on the other side of the wall. We hear a muffled shout of protest.

“Hey that’s Trax’s stereo, you assholes!”

Good call fuckers. The guilt card. We can’t ratfuck the artilleryman. The hose was removed. But we had ‘em. The gruntie was handing a half dozen smoke bombs to the guy standing on the desk.

Trax had to estimate where everything in the room was. Toss that smoke bomb too hard and it’ll hit the easy chair he bought for two bucks at a garage sale. Too far to the left and you might get the bed. Either way, shit will catch on fire. To the right, with a hop off the desk and onto the floor, it’ll land right under the window and by the time you’ve got six in there the poor assholes will be hiding in their pillows at the far end of the room by the door. Wait a second, that means Bag’s face will be in my pillow. Fuck.

It didn’t take long. Pillows or not, they couldn’t take it after the barrage. The smoke had nowhere to go. The pounding on the door started, the pennies were removed, the breathless fucks stood gasping for a air. Trax pushed his way in to check on his stereo.

Full capitulation required that Dago return the hosing. It was done. Someone mused that if a gruntie had started a firefight like that, we’d shove the fucking fire extinguisher up his ass. In fact, maybe we should do it anyway… Our gruntie arms dealers promptly disappeared.

Apparently Trax’s sound system was just fine. He stood in the doorway.

“Fuck this, it stinks like wet pepperoni farts in here. I’m hungry. Let’s go to Herfy’s.”

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