"I'LL BEAT THE SH-T OUTTA ANY TWO SWABBIES IN THIS JOINT," screamed my Gator teammate and ex-paratrooper, Tony, to about 300 sailors in the all-night restaurant called Salty's.
Tony was a well-muscled offensive guard, who was always offensive and always guarded his ego with his life.
"You stupid sh-t," I muttered to Tony. "The Shore Patrol and cops will be here in less than 60 seconds. I've had it with your cheap ass."
And as I busted out of Salty's, leaving a drunken Tony behind, two US Navy Shore Patrolmen brushed past me on their way inside.
"That stupid sh-t" I thought, over and over, while I tried to clear my head in Salty's parking lot.
I had not parked my old 1957 Ford Fairlane at Salty's; that much I knew. But where? Where had I parked my car?
Salty's was a huge Denny's-type restaurant that was across the street from Smitty's, the most infamous night spot in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, which was notorious for accepting any kind of ID.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, Smitty's drew a houseful of sailors in their white uniforms who always outnumbered the ladies in residence by at least 10 to 1. Another reason Tony hated sailors.
And once Smitty's had closed, at 2:00 AM, on this particular Monday morning, it seemed that almost all the sailors had trooped across the street to have breakfast at Salty's.
Got the picture? Well even if you do, you don't yet know half of this incredible story.
Standing in Salty's parking lot, I was getting drunker by the minute. Having little or no money, we used to throw down the various drinks left by the ladies who were away from their tables dancing with the swabbies, especially near closing time.
And illogically, my worries about the whereabouts of my old Fairlane soon gave way to the crazy thought that I had to go back into Salty's and help Tony. But as soon as I turned back to Salty's front door, I heard someone yell, "I GOT THE OTHER ONE."
I turned just in time to see the fiercest face since our fraternity housemother, Mother Shiver, was last screaming at me.
Bearing down on me was the largest German shepherd I had ever seen. I swear that dog looked like a pony. And behind that horse-of-a-dog was a cop, running flat out toward me.