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A Confession Of Infidelity

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. "Really?"

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 Bayou.'"

"Howe's Bayou?"

"Pretty 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 that one."


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Comments (9)

First Officer or First Lieu... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves Author Profile Page:

First Officer or First Lieutenant are RN Terms. USN in WWII used Commanding Officer and Executive Officer. The First Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy is the officer in charge of the Deck Division.

Executive Officer was also ... (Below threshold)

Executive Officer was also called "the XO". Chiefs ran the departments. The Ensigns were there to be trained.

<a href="http://www.history... (Below threshold)


You might want to aquaint yourself with the battle record of the WWII Arkansas before using that name. If you time it right, you can have her almost anywhere in the world during WWII.

Rodney, Poole: I used "firs... (Below threshold)

Rodney, Poole: I used "first officer" here because I think it's more understandable to the laity than "executive officer;" in the actual story, I use it consistently.

Mycroft: I looked quite carefully at the Arky's "real" record to pick my point of departure; that's why it's (spoiler alert) taken me 14 chapters (and going) to get her to Guadalcanal in November, 1942. I even used the phrase "tons of industrial-grade handwavium" in my introduction over on the fiction board.


Who is this Captain Blythe ... (Below threshold)

Who is this Captain Blythe supposed to be? Bill Clinton's granduncle?

Also, Tucker or Foster?

Damn, Chico not only caught... (Below threshold)

Damn, Chico not only caught my error, but on one of my Easter eggs -- every single name I created is tied in to Bill Clinton in some way. There's both a Foster and a Tucker in the story, along with Admirals Hillary and Kelley. And my proudest -- a freighter named "Diamond Huckster."

With the "star" of my story being the USS Arkansas, it just seemed right...


If you have a Blythe from H... (Below threshold)

If you have a Blythe from Hope, readers will expect some explained link to Clinton.

and once it's fin... (Below threshold)
Red Five:
and once it's finished I think I'll publish it here, too
Yes please!
So, since there are connect... (Below threshold)

So, since there are connections to Slick Willie throughout the book, shall we also consider that "tricks" in the title is one?






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