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TOC Arriving In Vietnam The Night Cappers Came To Dak TO

Author Ivan Pierce
Copyright, 2000

Character Sketch


    Fred gently balanced his bulky weight at the wheel of the 60 foot trawler, the Augustina, out of Seattle. He stood 5' 10" and weighed in at 275 pounds. His huge head fit squarely on his massive shoulders, displaying no visible neck. Gray stingy hair framed his red face, and it was difficult to tell if the redness was from the salt air winds that had torn at him since childhood, or whether it was from the whiskey laced coffee nestling in the cup holder in front of the ship's helm.

    Despite his bulk and constant state of near intoxication, he only put fingertip pressure on the helm. He was perfectly balanced on his feet, his knees flexing with the rolling and
pitching of the Augustina, as she shifted with the gentle swells of the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

    At first Fred Holbrook drank the whiskey to ease the pain in his right knee, which had been severely damaged in an accident at sea some years ago. He knew that without the whiskey, he could not have returned to the sea this year because his weight, combined with the constant flexing of his knee produced steady and ever increasing pain.

    Life for Fred, his wife Marie and their two sons had been excellent until the Vietnam War brought Fred's world crashing down around him. Both sons had been drafted. After the boys were drafted, Marie contracted ovarian cancer.

    The older son joined willingly, became a helicopter pilot, and died evacuating wounded from a battlefield. The younger son ran from the draft and ended up in a Canadian prison. When the elder son died Marie had lost hope and succumbed to the cancer. After the loss of his wife and sons, for he considered the one in prison lost too. Fred also drank for relief from the mental pain.

    The Augustina was forty years old and her wooden sides were flexing a little more with each passing year. The remodeled superstructure, while sound, was beginning to sag. Like the Augustina, Fred's superstructure was also sagging. His once massive chest had slipped and now protruded in front of him like a steel push bumper on a wrecker. His cheeks had fallen, producing jowls that flapped out of control with each passing breeze or movement of his head.

    The previous week Fred's doctor told him he needed to lose 100 pounds then have his knee and right hip replaced. Fred knew he could quit drinking and lose the 100 pounds if the knee were replaced because the pain would be gone. It was also time he quit grieving for his lost family, so both reasons for drinking would be gone.

    For Fred to earn enough money for retirement and the operations he needed to work three more years, but the knee replacement would prevent him from going to sea again. He desperately needed to come up with a plan now to raise the money this year, but he didn't know how to do it.

Author: Ivan Pierce

TOC Arriving In Vietnam The Night Cappers Came To Dak TO


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