The Great Bayou of Pigs Fiasco
One of the more interesting aspects of my portly Navigator, Doc Farto, is that when he gets boozy and holds a captive audience, he tends to spew forth bizarre paramilitary stories that revolve around failed Caribbean coup d'etats and nearly always have something to do with the sailing life. The following evening's tale, as I recall, was certainly no different…
It was early June a few years back and we were anchored on my Gulfstar Sailmaster not too far off of Ship Island in the Mississippi Sound at dusk. Several of my crew and I were enjoying a typical Gulf Coast summer evening: a light breeze coming in from the west as we sipped cocktails in the cooling air while waiting on Doc to finish cooking his infamous 'dirty' burgers on the stern grill of Cash Bar. Of course as the liquor flowed, we started swapping the unlikely and hilarious stories that inevitably come out between long time crewmembers.
Lawrence started by recounting how he'd been nearly fired from his volunteer radio DJ position at WWOZ, the community radio station in New Orleans, after causing a near panic by announcing on-air that Bob Dylan had died. However, the truth came out shortly as to how he was actually fired and had something to do with an ugly story of getting busted in the DJ booth in a flagrant state of self-eroticism while playing the same Lucinda Williams song over and over again on-air.
"Yeah bra, that's the real story." Lawrence monitored us bemusedly over the Natty Light as he drained the last sip.
Trudy then, not wanting to be outdone, excitedly spilled her mojito everywhere while blurting out the story of how she had bagged an unnamed Vice-Commodore over in the snack bar on the pier outside of Biloxi Yacht Club after GORC.
I then countered with how I won a one-design regatta on a J/30 by laying her down at the line, the top of her mast crossing a half second before my closest competition's bow, "Yeah, we got the bullet."
The half-true and exaggerated bullshit continued to flow for a bit with Doc remaining mostly quiet, other than several incredulous snorts every now and then, until finally he could take it no longer.
Laughing a little too loudly at something stupid Trudy said about beets, Doc suddenly took charge. "That reminds me of back in '82 when I nearly went off on an expedition to overthrow the government of the tiny backwater Caribbean island of Dominica." He paused for effect.
Trudy sneezed into her Mojito. "You almost did what fatty?"
I helped him out, "Doc used to work for the CIA and shit."
"Oh no." Doc corrected me. "This wasn't a CIA Op. This one was privately funded. And Trudy, I'll tell you; I was almost duped into doing this. This was before the internet, before you could, you know, google people… Well, anyway, I have a certain reputation for making things happen. Big things." He paused briefly. " I was contacted by a group that will at this point remain nameless. They were in need of a serious military mind, and as you know, I am a Colonel in the Cuban National Liberation Front. Did you know that some of the greatest military leaders the world has ever known were Colonels?"
Trudy chimed in, "Yeah, Khaddafi?"
Doc frowned at her. "Well… yeah, exactly. You see, this group had this bold plan to strike out from New Orleans on a 54' sailboat named Mañana and sail her to this small island called Dominica in the Caribbean and overthrow their Castro supported dictatorship. There were only going to be nine of us, but heck Dominica only had 90 soldiers at the time, and they were really only a police force. Well, I signed up thinking this would be a great launching pad for bigger things." He winked at me knowing that I understood that he believed if Che and Fidel hadn't come onto the scene, that he would today be in power in Cuba.
'This is such a crock of shit." Trudy stood up and started to make her way down the companionway below to make another Mojito.
I looked over at her nodding. "Actually Trudy. This one's true. I remember reading about it."
"Trudy." Doc continued. "Do you know that more coup d'etats and privately financed regime changes have been planned and conducted out of New Orleans than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, more than Havana or D.C. Even the big one was hatched down here… Kennedy." He took a slug off his beer.
Trudy snorted out to Doc, "You're a harangutan."
"What the hell is that slut?" Doc replied.
"An annoying baboon - of which you are." Trudy stood still in the companionway gazing out on the old blood red Spanish fort a few hundred yards in the distance.
"Ahh." Doc flipped her burger out into the sound. "That maybe so, but nevertheless I shall continue. It all started back in the late 70's when I was living in Paris. One night I was schmoozing around with this delightful stripper in the Pigalle when I nearly got into fisticuffs with this man who was constantly trying to one up me on tips to… ah, what was her name, oh yes, Dida." Doc stared up at the rising moon for effect.
"Dida was a lovely bird. Hair as crimson as a sunset after thunderstorms on the Isla de la Juventud, eyes of focused quasars in the night sky and long lithe legs as lewd as a reclining Ostrich." He took a long pull of his beverage.
Trudy turned and went below for a drink mumbling to herself, "Grotesque."
"Pass me up a beer." My question followed her down.
"But I digress." Doc focused in on Trudy's rear as she went below.
He continued, "Turns out the man I nearly crushed in Place Pigalle was quite famous in certain circles, though at the time, I had no idea of who he was. Fast forward now to the early 1980's where I was enjoying a fine single malt at the old bar at Brunings' in West End."
"That was a great bar bra!" Lawrence tried to hijack Doc's story, "I once…"
"I," Doc glared at him and went on without missing a beat, "in a very odd coincidence, happened to run into this same man over at Brunings. Remember, this is nearly three years after my run in with him. I had just finished up a seafood platter when he saddled up next to me at the bar. Unbelievably, Dida was on his arm. I would have recognized those legs anywhere. I actually dropped my last hush puppy into my scotch as I was so startled by this pleasant ghost from my sexual past appearing before me."
Trudy called out from below, "Harlen, where's the mint?"
I answered, "Should be on top of the beer. Sorry, go on Doc."
"Thank you Capitan. Well after a few uncomfortable fits of conversation, we eventually put a good drunk on and I invited them down to a friend's boat where I discovered that this man had actually heard of my prowess from Dida and was targeting me for inclusion in this covert operation, titled Operation Red Dog."
Doc belched, then continued, "After this first night, his party and I met several times over at Bart's on the Lake. I was promised great rewards with not the lesser being a launching pad for furthering my hegemony in the Caribbean, and I believed in the veracity of their statements. The head honcho was a man named Don Black. He was rather a tool and over time, I would have easily usurped his power. But one of these so-called freedom fighters, this guy they called T-boy, was always kind of quietly smoldering in the back of the group. I didn't like him right off the bat." Doc crushed his beer and asked me to grab him another. I did and grabbed myself a spare.
Doc was now standing on the lazaret and using it as a stage, beer in one hand and spatchula in the other. "I found myself having to fully re-organize their tactical plans for conquering this banana republic, which ended up seriously aggravating T-boy. And within a week, we used the cover of the Lightship Regatta to secret ourselves out past the mouth of the Mississippi and meet up with some Panamanians who delivered us weapons, ammo and grenades. That went off without a hitch and we were prepared to go through with our undertaking… But you see, old emotions are hard to keep down and I found that Dida, though a tad bit harder from her years as a whore in Paris and then the slums of Bogotá, could still command my coronel pequeño."
A horsefly flew near Doc's head and he haphazardly tried to intercept it with the spatchula.
"Well three days before we were set to sail out of lake Pontchartrain for Dominica, the inevitable happened, Dida and I had some long overdue sex leaning against a dockbox. It was short, but delicious. The moon was clearly rising over Southern Yacht Club and the lights from within of the geriatrics playing bingo were clear as birdshit on a windshield. As I invested myself in her sandy bottom, I knew then that I would never play geriatric bingo at that club - that would never become my fate." Doc was nodding his head and absently scratching at his belly protruding from his pink Hawaiian shirt.
"Besides some old grizzled liveaboard who walked past us, it was unfortunate, but T-boy came upon our little rendezvous. With his loyalties obviously lying with Black, he became infuriated. He screamed racial epithets at me, demanding to know whether or not I was a white man. It was then that the little disconcertments that I had noticed over time roared into focus for me, the Aryan Nation literature, the Nazi flag - it all suddenly made sense. These were not simply anti-communists, they were white supremacists."
Doc, standing on the lazaret, was now becoming fully animated, like Grape Ape, "I nonchalantly zipped up my trousers and coolly explained to him that I am easily mistaken for an individual of any racial heritage, for I am an octaroon. T-boy viciously snarled and quickly whipped out a pistol and aimed it at my head. Having been in these types of situations many times and as such, am always cool under pressure, I grabbed the whore and threw her at him, then dove off the pier, but instead of landing in that warm juicy marina water, I landed in the cockpit of a Cal 22. I woke several hours later tied up in the forward V-birth of Mañana fearing the worst."
"Bra did they torture you? Dude that would've sucked bra." Lawrence was captivated.
"I have no doubt that the torture would have commenced once in international waters. I could hear them discussing my terrible future in the galley, when suddenly there was a slight prying noise coming from the hatch above me. Dida, my lovely old tart had actually been able to come up with enough mental juice to hatch a rescue plan - through the hatch. Now I am obviously not a limber man, as I am healthy and obviously physically prosperous, but she dropped down, untied me and rubbed me down with generous amounts of suntan lotion, and I was then able to shimmy my way through with a little help from Dida below."
"Jeez." Was all I could manage, but Doc was not yet finished with the tale.
"There was to be no easy getaway though. For you see, the copious amounts of Coppertone had made there way to the soles of my feet, and I slipped on deck making a loud booming noise stirring up the wasp nest down below. The White supremacists scrambled out on deck just as Dida and I swam across the channel and were able to hide ourselves amongst the other docked sailboats. We swam for our lives to Southern Yacht Club, and got the attention of the local ROTC kids who escort the members to and from their cars. Together with two attorneys and a local sailmaker we rushed out and commandeered the committee boat, for Black's army now understood that the jib was up, and were rushing to get Mañana out of the marina."
"We tried unsuccessfully to block their passage through the channel, but luckily the bartender was able to raise the local Coast Guard Station. Within a few hours, Don Black's invasion of Dominica would now always have the word 'failed' prefacing it."
The three of us sat quietly in the cockpit of Cash Bar, staring up at Doc, until Trudy finally said, "Horseshit."
Doc ignored her completely and finished, "The Feds claimed then and still do today that they had been aware of the entire plot and through a coordinated effort between the FBI, ATF and the Coast Guard, were able to quash these nefarious plans, but that my friends is a an outright sham. The man who stands before you today, helped to put an end to the potentially tragic future for the people of Dominica. To this day, they celebrate me with a lavish feast every year in June."
"So what happened to Dida?" I asked.
Doc reached over and was handed the bottle of Barbancourt Haitian rum that we were passing around. He toasted the dark waters of Mississippi Sound, took a swig and stated matter of factly, "Well Capitan, you know I always end up with the girl."