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My shipmate, Tom, approached me at a fast pace, and the look on his face told me he had important news. Tom grabbed my arm and asked, "Did you hear what happened to Pete last night?"  I shook my head no, and he continued," He came back off liberty and fell down the ladder going to first division compartment." Tom then exclaimed, "For god's sake! He hit his head on the edge of a locker and took his ear clean off"!

I blurted out, "What in the hell are you saying?!"

Tom said, "It's true, they got him over on the hospital ship, Hope, right now. I think they're trying to sew his ear back on, but it might have been too late."

I asked," Was he drunk"?

Tom nodded yes and said, "I think Pete might have been at the bottom of the ladder for quite a while before the security watch found him."

We got our shipmate back from the U.S.S. Hope, and our worst fears were true -- he was minus an ear.

Pete was a good-looking, dark haired young seaman who worked hard and played hard. The doctor on the hospital ship told him they would arrange for him to get a prosthetic ear. Not long after the tragic event they sent Pete to a place in Hollywood where they made a mold of his remaining ear. They reversed the mold and made him two artificial ears. Pete would put his ear on with adhesive every morning, and if you didn't know the story, you would not have noticed it wasn't real. He got a little paint on one of the ears, so he called that his working ear. The clean one was his liberty ear for wearing ashore.

Tom and Pete were buddies, and they went ashore together often and looked out for each other. One morning Tom called me over and said, "I got to tell you what happened, and Pete said it was O.K." He then told me how they had met two girls in a local bar the night before and hit it off with them right away. After an evening of many drinks, the girls invited them to their apartment. Nature took its course, and they retired to separate bedrooms. In the morning Tom was awake early and adjusting to the unfamiliar surroundings when he heard a scream from the bedroom next door. He leaped up and threw open the door. There was Pete's new-found love hugging the wall and a bleary-eyed Pete looking at him with his ear stuck to the middle of his forehead. They left as quickly as time would allow, and with Pete's ear safe in his pocket, they reported back to the ship.

When I could finally compose myself and wipe the laughter tears off my face, I asked Tom, "How's Pete doing?"

Tom replied, "He just told me he has to get some better glue."

2002 Maurice D. Karst