War is hell, but it is also hilarious.
People don’t tell you that, but Petty Officer Molly Barrone knows. Nearly two decades into what many consider a state of perpetual war since the terror attacks of 9/11/2001, Barrone is embarking on her second and last six-month deployment to the Gulf aboard the USS Mulligan.
Barrone has been in the navy for just shy of six years and knows from experience that the only way out is through, so her plan is to just do her job and work hard to keep her friends and her big fucking mouth from getting her into any more trouble before her enlistment is over. If she does that, she can get out of the Navy and go back home to do…whatever the hell she’s going to do with the rest of her life.
If she can keep them from killing her in the process.
All Hands to Quarters For Muster, Instruction, and Inspection
an excerpt of Deployed
Petty Officer Molly Barrone liked her hat low. While she was stationed at her training command in San Diego, she’d discovered that you could get away with saluting fewer officers if you pulled your hat really low and just pretended not to see them. Officers were everywhere and it was so annoying how, no matter what else you had going on, no matter what kind of hurry you were in, you had to just drop everything and stop and salute them. She suspected most of them resented being stopped and forced to return her salute as much as she hated giving it because most of the time they let her get away with it. Most of the time.
She was still conducting her mental deployment inventory when Barrone noticed her division stiffen and fall into line and she looked to her right in the direction she knew Chief would be coming from. Her vision collided with the new ASWO’s glance before she quickly turned away and looked straight ahead—past the Gunner’s division assembled across from them on the other side of the flight deck, past the chain-link fence that lined the entire perimeter of the basin’s piers, to beyond the treetops she could see–she felt penned in.
“Shit!” she cried out. “My fucking pillow!” Everyone within earshot was staring at her and beginning with MacFayden and Thompson, then Sessions and on down the two lines started laughing at her outburst. Chief Spreckler and ASWO had stopped a few feet from her and were staring at her in a way that made her face warm up.
“Problem, Petty Officer Barrone?” Chief asked.
“No, Chief. Just realized I forgot to do something.” She said, looking straight at the chief and avoiding the face of the tall officer on her periphery. She had forgotten to buy a new pillow for the deployment.
Because the brim of her hat was so low, if she hadn’t turned her head to look up at them he’d likely never have noticed, but the summer sun was already powerful that morning and was highlighting the left side of Barrone’s face in a way that made the bluish and purpling patch along her temple particularly startling.
“What the hell did you do to your face?” Ensign Denver asked her, sounding more accusatory than he intended to and surprising everyone, no one more than himself.
“What?” She didn’t know what he was talking about at first, but quickly remembered. She unconsciously raised a hand to the side of her face before explaining. “Sessions forgot all of his underwear.”
Chief Spreckler looked horrified and MacFayden laughed so loud he drew the attention of all the other divisions mustering on the flight deck. All decorum was lost as the rest of the division fell out laughing, except for Sessions, who not for the first time resented being one of the few black men he knew who actually blushed when he was embarrassed. He stood there, rigid, while Barrone turned the knife.
“He shoulder checked me last night on our way back from the gate because he left all his skivvies in the dryer at home,” she said, smiling. MacFayden laughed even louder, causing the chief to realize they might be drawing too much attention to their little corner of the flight deck.
“Shut up, MacFayden.” He turned away from Barrone and walked the rest of the way to Petty Officer Bradford, Ensign Denver following not far behind him.
Petty Officer Bradford immediately stood at attention and called out, “CA Division! A-ten-TION!” Which caused the jiggling and giggling bodies to stiffen in rigid fist-clenched back-straightedness while the lead petty officer saluted and formally presented the division to the chief and division officer for muster and inspection. The chief and ASWO returned his salute and turned to face their division. Chief surveyed his division.
“Well at least you’re all here…” he said, and went on to pass down the plan of the day to his motley crew: Two bodies from each of the four work centers would be needed for a forty person working party for the final store’s onload before getting underway, that would take place at 0830, one body would be needed for the ten person working party to secure from shore power at 0900, there would be a walkthrough of all the spaces throughout the morning to check everything was stowed properly for sea, berthing inspections would be cancelled for the day, the crew would assemble topside in dress whites for sea and anchor detail at 0945, everyone in the division was required to be there except Petty Officer Barrone and whoever was doing shore power, who would be manning Sonar while the ship exited the channel. Everyone was expected to muster back up in Sonar Control once secured from sea and anchor detail so watch sections could be assigned.
“Any questions?” no one responded. “Petty Officer Sessions.”
“The Executive Officer needs someone to pick him up from Officer’s Housing, I’ll give you the address. Take the duty van to go get him. On the way you can hit the Exchange and grab some new skivvies.”
“Make sure you get the skivvies first, don’t make the XO wait for you to do your shopping.”
“Don’t hit girls.”
“She had it coming, chief.”
There was a brief pause while the chief considered whether there was anything else he needed to tell them, then he remembered the tall man standing to his left.
“Oh yeah, CA Division, this is your new ASWO. Don’t get him fired.” He looked up at the young man, “Anything to add, sir?”
Ensign Denver smiled, still bewildered by his outburst, and shook his head.