New Man

 

by

Sean Branigan

 

 

Sitting at the bar, Harriman paid little attention to the ruckus going on behind him. Just another bunch of rowdies on a Friday night. They'd get it out of their systems soon enough and they'd move on. If they got too rowdy, Jimmy would bounce them on their collective sixes out on the street.

Harry took another long swig from the bottle, puzzling over the problem at hand. Three weeks ago they had buried Curly. Now he had to deal with the problem of replacing him. The Russians were screaming for Seaview's assistance concerning the destruction of one of their undersea research stations and so far Nelson had managed to keep them at bay with the excuse that he didn't have a full crew. He needed someone resourceful and not afraid to wade into what might quickly turn into a bad situation.  He just hadn't been able to find a Chief of Boat that suited him.

Ain't you kinda old to be in here, old man? a drunken, slurred voice called out, and Nelson turned to find a blurry-eyed young man leaning against the bar, his attention focused on the Admiral. Out of uniform, Nelson was dressed in black jeans and a black turtle neck sweater. He looked nothing like a four star admiral.

Nelson was about to open his mouth when another voice cut over the din of the bar, clearly addressing the belligerent drunk.

Coop, leave the guy alone. He can probably mop the floor with your sorry six.

The one called Coop cast a grin back to the speaker. This old geezer? France, you're crazy.

Come on, Coop. Leave him alone, the plea came again, but Coop waved him off, leaning closer to Nelson.

Come on old geezer, won't you show me what you got, he taunted and grabbed at Nelson's shirt. He let fly with a punch that caught Harry off guard and landed him on the floor.

What followed was nothing short of a classic brawl. Nelson bounced to his feet, returned the punch, sending Coop spinning into the bar. Harry was grabbed and spun around, catching another punch. He was tossed against the bar, where he grabbed his bottle and smashed it against the side of his assailant's head. A third attacker came straight for him, only to be pushed aside by a new comer, who had pounded up to Harry's side and was now glancing wildly around.

These goldbricks are determined to pick fight. Sorry they picked on you, mister, the dark haired newcomer said, catching the fist of one oncoming attacker and returning fire with his own. Seems the least I can do is give you a hand,

A little help is always appreciated, Nelson replied with a twisted smile. Last brawl he had been in had been in Pearl, and it was Jiggs at his side then. The man at his side now was no slouch; Nelson pegged him for military right away as he pounded on one attacker then another.

In fifteen minutes, the small bar was swarming with cops, Coop was unconscious on the barroom floor, and Harry found himself and his newfound brawling partner scurrying out the back door into the alley.

Once outside, they didn't stop, but kept going until the two were five blocks away, gasping and panting for breath. Leaning against the buildings, both men tried to catch their breath.

You're not bad. Military? Nelson asked between gasps.

The man nodded, and leaned back against the brick wall. Navy, actually, came the quick answer.

Nelson grinned. This might be the answer to his problem. He pulled himself up and gave the man a good hard look. You make it habit of bailing out old men in tavern brawls? Nelson asked.

The younger man just shook his head. Not exactly. You just looked like you could use a hand.

What's your name, sailor?

Sharkey, sir,

Ever done submarine duty?

Sharkey flashed Nelson a somewhat lopsided smile. Yes sir, Chief Petty Officer, USS Rhode Island, Gold Crew.

Nelson felt his grin growing bigger. Yes, indeed, this just might be the answer to his problem. He stuck his hand out to Sharkey and they shook hands.  I'm Nelson. I've got a question for you, Sharkey. You ever think of going Reserves?

 

 

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