Chief Harper was the first to speak. He addressed the senior shore patrolman, a first class petty officer by the name of Williamson.
“First day on the new job and I get this. What have you got here, Willie?”
Williamson pointed to one of the two Marines.
“Couple of young Marines here, Chief. They got into a fight with the manager at the Utopia Club over a girl who they say robbed this one here and they busted up some furniture, the manager and the girl.
“City police were the first to show up and the Marine snuffys got into a scrape with them as well.
“Cops finally got ’em handcuffed and hauled ’em off to the local slammer. We picked ’em up this morning on the morning jail sweep.”
Harper took a bite of his sandwich and nodded.
“Okay so far, but what are the two city cops and the civilian doing with you?”
The civilian filipino began to speak loudly in his native Tagalog. One of the city policemen slapped the man on the side of his head, indicating that the man should shut up.
Williamson continued his account of the previious evening’s altercation.
“The civilian is the manager of the Utopia Club. He’s claiming monetary damages for the busted up furniture and for medical treatment for himself and the girl.”
Harper remained silent for a minute or so, swiveling from side to side in his desk chair.
“Medical treatment? Looks to me that he has a black eye and nothing more. And he wants money for a doctor?”
“That’s right, Chief.”
Chief Harper next questioned the Marines.
“Which of you two snuffys is the senior Marine?”
One man nodded his head, indicating that he was senior.
“I am, Chief. Lance Corporal Crank, Chief,”
“Well now, Lance Corporal Crank it appears to me that this 140 pound bar manager has gotten the better of the two of you. He don’t look near as banged up as the two of you.
“He do all that damage to the two of you, did he?”
Lance Corporal Crank gave a sideways gesture with his head to indicate that it was the police that had worked the two over once they were in custody.
“I see. And the two of you were scrapping with the cops when they arrived at the Utropia?”
Lance Corporal Crank nodded.
“Well then you two got what you deserved there.
“How much money did this one girl take and how did it happen that she was able to relieve you of it?”
The second Marine answered.
“Ninety-five dollars U.S., Chief. The money was in my wallet.”
“Ninety-five dollars. Just how was she able to get your wallet without you knowing about it?”
The second Marine cleared his throat.
“Hum-hum. Well, you see Chief, she was kind of giving me a massage under the table and this other girl distracted me. When I leaned over to kiss the other one she got my wallet and took the money.”
Chief Harper shook his head and laughed.
“Man, that must have been some massage you had going there, What happened after that?”
Lance Corporal Crank replied.
“We were pretty drunk, Chief, and we decided to go back to our outfit. We were almost to the main gate when my buddy checked his wallet and saw that he’d been robbed.”
Chief Harper nodded and turned to the second Marine.
“You would be Lance Corporal Crank’s ‘buddy’ I take it. What is your name?”
The second Marine nodded.
“Private First Class Brown, Chief.”
“Alright Brown, you checked your wallet and discovered the missing money. Then what?”
“Well Chief I told my buddy here that I thought I felt something at the back of my pants while the first girl ws giving me a hand…er…
massage and that I thought that the second girl took my money from my wallet then.”
Harper shook his head.
“You thought that you felt something? Why didn’t you do something then?”
The young Marine blushed.
“Well, um, Chief it was kind of bad time to stop what was going on, you know, and anyway I wasn’t really sure.”
Harper had heard enough.
“Alright. Martin, take these two Marines, uncuff ’em and put ’em in the holding cell in the back. We’ll get ’em back to the staging camp later today.”
As the two Marines left for the holding cell the filipino civilian began waving his arms and speaking loudly in Tagalog to the two policemen.
Harper banged his fist sharply on his desk.
Harper addressed the filipino civilian.
“You are the manager of the Utopia Club?”
The filipino nodded.
“How much money do you want for damages?”
The club manager thought for a moment.
“Three hundred dollars U.S. My club is ruined, I am hurt and my girl cannot work as she has a broken nose.”
“Alright, I will submit the paperwork to reimburse you. It will take a month or two to get this approved and there is the allegation of robbery that has to be investigated which will, if thoroughly investigated and documented, will take a month or more.
“In the meantime I am placing the Utopia Club “Off Limits” to all military personnel. No military man or woman will be allowed to patronize the Utopia club while the investigation proceeds. I will have one of my shore patrolmen placed at the entrance to enforce this.”
The club manager began to protest.
“You cannot do dis. My club will be out of business. I will lose my job. Oh, Lord, Oh Lord, please Chief do not do dis. Oh Lord, oh Lord.”
Harper nodded and motioned for the man to be silent.
“Well there is a way we can resolve this without shutting down your club.”
The filipino manager had been checkmated.
“What ‘way’ is dat?”
“You drop all charges and claims against the Navy and pay the police for their assistance and I will allow your club to remain open.”
The manager nodded.
“What about de investigation?”
“The investigation into the robbery goes away….for now. Any further accusations of your people rolling my sailors and Marines and we shut you down for good.
The club manager shrugged.
“I hab no choice but to agree.”
“Good. Now clear the hell out of here so I can finish my sandwich.”
The Olongapo policemen and the club manager exited shore patrol headquarters and headed toward the main gate.
Martin had heard the tail end of the negotiation between Chief Harper and the club manager and had a comment.
“Chief, you really handled that situation well. That manager could have caused a lot of trouble. I had no idea that you had the authority to put the Utopia Club off limits to military personnel.”
Chief Harper grinned.
Excerpted from “Stories from the U.S. Navy: II. Friendly Fire.”
Bob Stockton. © 2015. All rights reserved.