As Captain Corcoran hove into view, his unique shape and mode of locomotion made him instantly recognizable – even at a thousand yards. Baker had warned Goldschmidt to be on the lookout for this guy. It wasn’t that he was fat – just the opposite. There did not seem to be much of him that had not been chipped from the fine-grained granite monolith of his native Georgia’s Stone Mountain. His muscle-bound thighs made his only possible means of effective ambulation a mechanical swivel of his hips. To undertake any change in location, the Captain would swing his hips 30 degrees to the right of his appointed track, allowing his left leg to swing well past the centerline of his intended route. He would then plant his left foot, swing his hips and right leg 30 degrees to the left and continue tacking in the general direction of his destination. As much as Goldschmidt wanted to avert his eyes, morbid fascination won out as he stared at the approaching frigate. As Corcoran continued his voyage across the yard, his usual stolid expression was broken by his lips moving almost imperceptibly – perhaps in an inaudible litany of whispered internal nautical commands: “Prepare to come about!”
Even while not in forward motion towards a new port of call, Corcoran’s nautical motif held true. He seemed incapable of standing still for more than 7 seconds at a time. (Goldschmidt eventually timed the Captain’s periodic cycle of movements.) While standing in one spot, he would habitually shift his weight laterally back and forth, thereby closely approximating the gentle undulations of the foremast of a yawl at anchor in Camden Harbor swaying with the lapping swells.
In watching him, one could not help but wonder at the incongruity between his seafarer’s gait and his infantry soldier’s uniform. Someone in Central Casting had clearly had a bad day!
Watching Capt. Corcoran draw hear, Goldschmidt’s gaze fell first on those steely eyes – apparently untroubled by sentient processes or original thought. They were eyes that seemed to look through him and beyond him – but not at him. The chestnut eyebrows were astonishingly pencil thin – especially for someone who was otherwise so uniformly hirsute. Even by the stingy light of dawn, the Plebe could see beneath the Captain’s freshly-scraped five o’clock shadow a perpetual rubicund blush on his cheek – an apparent signal flare launched by his circulatory system announcing a state of distress over the demands being made upon it. The man’s under-sized ears appeared to be pinioned to his skull by invisible forces, further accentuating the effect of his “high and tight” buzz cut. His foreshortened arms bowed slightly forward and outward from the shoulders in deference to his hypertrophic lats.
The overall impression was of a prototype of an early generation of automaton – one whose level of cognition was roughly equivalent to that of HAL in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” To be more precise, he seemed a machine operating at the functional level of HAL - three choruses of “Daisy” into his decommissioning at the hands of Dave.
As Cadet Goldschmidt sized up Capt. Corcoran in all of his maritime magnificence, his first thought was: “Holy shit! This Neanderthal Red Neck is going to be a major pain in my ass!”