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Home Country

By Slim Randles
Jun 15, 2005 - 8:38:00 AM

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I took the canoe out on Miller Pond the other day. It was a nice kind of day, sunny and warm, no wind. I paddled around for about an hour, I guess. Good exercise, right? A relaxing paddle, right?

Not in this canoe, and not on Miller Pond.

Because when I first launched the canoe, it became the Golden Hind, sailing into San Francisco Bay for the first time, allowing me to claim California for the British. Then, as I neared the point, out came the Iroquois in their war canoes, and I had to paddle like crazy and duck the arrows as I tried to keep them from taking my beaver pelts and my life.

But I made it.

Then, in the middle of a calm, warm afternoon, Miller Pond became the stormy Atlantic as my square-rigged ship tossed in the grip of the hurricane. I stayed glued to the helm and kept her bow facing the blast. We rode each mountainous wave to the top and then hurtled down the other side into a trough filled with dread and death. And just when the men had given up, my skillful paddling sent us safely climbing yet another monstrous sea into the sunlight of victory and life.

When the storm subsided, I spied an enemy warship, laden to the gunwales with high explosives. So heavily laden was it, actually, that all you could see was its eyes and nose and the slight rudderly switch of his tail as it camouflaged itself as a muskrat.

But there in my submarine, the crew was alert to these ruses. Swiftly and silently I turned the submarine until its forward torpedo tubes faced the enemy warship. As I watched through the periscope for any sign that their deck crew had spotted us, I gave the orders.

"Fire one! Fire two!"

"Torpedoes running hot, straight and normal, sir," said my second-in-command, who resembles a coonhound in civilian life.

Blam! Blam! Dead-center hits on the warship, which strangely kept going until it rounded a point in the ocean, preferring to sink privately, out of sight of its conquerors.

Then the armada was sighted, closing in on the north of Ireland. It looked a lot like Herb Collins in his new dory. As the armada swung around to face our guns, I took note of the dory's clean lines, the upswept bow and stern. It reminded me a lot of a World War II battleship.

I gotta get me one of those.

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