Yes, Mitty Walters is a pen name. It's a tribute to the classic, not the recent. When I read that story, I was a homeless teenager who was never sure where he would be sleeping the next night. I had an instant connection with Walter Mitty. But I always felt like his dark reflection. Walter's wild fantasy life helped him to escape his boring reality. But my fantasy was just to have a boring reality.
Too bleak? Fine.
The truth is I joined the Merchant Marines when I was fifteen. When they asked for ID, I gave them my dead cousin's birth certificate. Next thing I knew I was on a bus headed to Savannah. When I hopped my first freighter, my heart was filled with all kind of romantic notions. But three straight days of puking cajoled me back to reality. I didn't set foot on land for another four months.
The Merchant Marine is not some mysterious gateway to adventure for young lads. It's just work, sweat, and misery. I didn't get marooned on any island, didn't rescue any damsels in distress. I just toiled away pointlessly. The most adventure I had was getting arrested in Thailand with a bunch of drunken idiots that I didn't even know. I learned to speak a little Cantonese while I was in there, though. I wasted away for a eighteen months, until the riots began.
Crap. Too bleak again?
Look. You can be honest. You don't care who I am. You just want to go on wild ride. I'm cool with that. Let's do dis, yo. Just pick up the book and let's bounce.