A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I’ve been doing a bit of writing away from here. Some I will never admit to, but I did say that once again I’d been bitten by the World War II naval fiction bug.
Well, I just polished off Chapter 14 of “The Old Girl’s New Tricks,” and once it’s finished I think I’ll publish it here, too, in case some of you folks want to see what I’ve been up to.
I won’t give spoilers, but I will say this: the whole story is written purely to rationalize and justify a naval battle that never happened, and was almost infinitely improbable to ever actually happen. I’ve written almost 10,000 words moving one ship halfway around the world to where she will fight, hoping to keep people too dazzled to notice just how insane the whole premise is. I’ve used humor, red herrings, Easter Eggs, and other forms of BS to keep them from doing so.
Here’s a sample of the kind of BS I’ve been throwing out to keep the readers there entertained. It’s a snippet of conversation between Captain Will Blythe of the U.S.S. Arkansas and his first officer, Commander Tucker. And before anyone goes to look it up, Foster’s home town is entirely my own creation.
Blythe blinked. “I thought you
were from New Hampshire?”
“That’s home now, sir, but I was
born in Arkansas, just like you. I think someone at Personnel had a
bit of a sense of humor; I’ve noticed that we have quite a few
Arkansans aboard — certainly a lot more than one in 48.”
Blythe paused. He’d noted he’d run
into quite a few people from home, but never really thought about it.
He’d figured that some had requested serving on the old gal out of
sentiment, but even that didn’t seem to account for it. Maybe Foster
was right. “I’m from a little town called Hope, if you can
believe it. Where were you born?”
“Oh, I can believe
it, sir. I’m from an even smaller town down towards the Louisiana
state line, with a far more interesting history than it deserves.
Believe me, I was glad to get away.”
Blythe was intrigued.
Foster leaned on the rail, assuming a
natural storyteller’s pose as they watched the festivities below. Now
the pollywogs were being fed on “Royal Grog.” Blythe vowed
to never find out what was mixed into that witch’s brew. “Back
during the Revolutionary War, there were a group of families in South
Carolina who were quite staunch Tories. When they saw which way the
war was going, they decided to head out and get while the getting was
good. Canada was too far and too cold, so they headed out for New
Orleans. They couldn’t stand the French, though, so they moved north.
They ended up setting up a town on the fringes of the swampland.
They’d been pretty close to the British — one of them even had
several dealings with General Howe and been very impressed with him,
so they named the town in his honor. Then, later, they found
themselves sold back to the Americans, and when the state lines were
drawn up, in good old Arkansas. Luckily, by that time the pro-British
sentiments had largely passed, and things worked out pretty well.”
“So, you’re from Howe, Arkansas?
Can’t say I’ve heard of it.”
“Not quite. Remember,
it was right on the edge of the swamps. They called it ‘Howe’s
good, sir. How’s by you?”
Blythe groaned. He’d known that Foster
was a punster, but even for him this was extreme. “Mr. Foster,
give me three good reasons why I shouldn’t throw you overboard for