The Centipede That Gave Me a Black Eye
One of the nasty critters that infested the Rose Garden were those big ugly Centipedes (or were they millipedes?).
Hideous things they were, probably 6 inches or longer and as thick as your thumb. Icky,with spiny legs everywhere.
It was often told that even if one just crawled across your skin when you were asleep, the poison from their feet would raise huge welts. Although I don’t remember if this is true, we all took precautions against them and the other vermin that abounded.
Tuck your socks in your boots, make sure your mosquito net was secure, and always look on the floor before you get off your cot.
One of my buddies was a guy called B.J. He worked next door in the 232 Ordnance shop.
B.J. was the kind of guy you wanted on your side. He was one of the strongest people I had ever seen for his size, and he was a great fighter. B.J. had been a Golden Gloves Boxer. If you ever wanted to visit some seedy places, you were pretty safe if you had B.J. with your party.
B.J. had his faults though, one was his love of practical jokes, and the other was his primal fear of the Rose Garden creepy crawlers.
One day B.J. pulled one of his stunts on me. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I vowed revenge. Knowing his particular loathing of the centipedes I decided to take action.
Earlier in our tour, when I was on guard duty, I had seen a huge grasshopper type bug in the surrounding jungle. I captured it under my helmet and wrapped it in C-Rat toilet paper to take back so I could take pictures of it. Once I got it back, someone mentioned it might be poisonous and I should dispatch it first before handling it any more.
I put the critter in a pickle jar and into the freezer in a small refrigerator. After it was frozen and thawed I took the pictures.
This was my inspiration.
I cut a length of sisal rope about 8 inches long and inserted a bunch of pieces of safety wire bent to look like legs. Before long I had a pretty good replica of a centipede (viewed in very dim light).
After acquiring a jar with a top I was ready. I put my dummy-pede in the jar and screwed on the lid.
With the assistance of my confidant Bill, we waited until it was getting dark and went looking for B.J.
We found him.
“Hey, B.J., take a gander of what I found”, I said.
Bill could hardly contain himself from laughing.
“Holy Jeppers Cripes” (or something close to that), B.J. said.
I quickly unscrewed the cap, jiggled the bottle to make my `captive` move and yelled.
“Look out B.J. HE’S GOING TO GET YOU”!!!
I felt the slap to my hand, and heard the bottle break. Then it was BIFF! BIFF!
The lights were out.
As I laid on my back, I heard, “Mike, gee I’m sorry man”
Bill was laughing so hard he was doubled up on the ground.
My head was swimming as B.J. helped me up.
“You scared the crap out of me man”, B.J. said.
As I found out later from Bill, after B.J. got startled from my prank and hit the bottle from my hand, he countered with a one-two punch.
So that is how I got a black eye from a centipede.
B.J. and I never pulled pranks on each other again.