Fighting Bob

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"You are most suited to complete the mission that I require."

With those spoken words I began a ten day journey with the ghost of my great-great-great grandfather Commodore 'Fighting Bob,' a journey filled with adventure, danger and conquest. I would witness the duels with British Officers while narrowly avoiding capture and imprisonment, subdue both Barbary Pirates and savage tribesmen and invade the California Territory, wresting it from rebel armies in pitched battle.

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"You are most suited to complete the mission that I require."

With those spoken words I began a ten day journey with the ghost of my great-great-great grandfather Commodore 'Fighting Bob,' a journey filled with adventure, danger and conquest. I would witness the duels with British Officers while narrowly avoiding capture and imprisonment, subdue both Barbary Pirates and savage tribesmen and invade the California Territory, wresting it from rebel armies in pitched battle.

Why was I selected? What skills or knowledge did I possess that I was the one uniquely qualified to carry out his mission?

It wasn't long before the answer to these questions and more would be revealed. I was about to embark on an unforgettable odyssey.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781463430726
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 7/14/2011
  • Pages: 172
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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Fighting Bob

By Bob Stockton


Copyright © 2011 Bob Stockton
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4634-3072-6

Chapter One

It was while I was recovering from a particularly nasty motorcycle accident last year that I decided to write the book. I had been threatening to put pen to paper and write an autobiography that would chronicle my many adventures and mishaps during a twenty year Navy career but had never done anything about it. The project would be just the ticket to keep me busy while all these broken ribs and sundry other bumps and bruises healed. I would begin the next day by requesting a copy of my Navy Service Record from the Military Record Archives in Saint Louis. Those papers would clear up some of the fuzziness surrounding the dates and locations of my service that had begun more than half a century earlier.

The next afternoon I printed and filled out the online form requesting the documents, put them in an envelope and dropped the request in the mailbox, returning with a sense of accomplishment that I was finally getting the ball rolling on the damn book that I had promised to many but had never written.

Late afternoon had arrived and a November chill was in the air. The pain from the five broken ribs was pretty intense so I made a sandwich, took a couple of prescription pain pills, applied a new Fentanyl patch and settled gingerly into the upright recliner that would become my bed for the next several months. Relief from the all-consuming pain could not come quickly enough. Maybe a gin and tonic on top of the meds would hasten the relief. I got up slowly and headed for the Bombay bottle in the kitchen, thinking all the while about the pain and suffering I wanted to inflict on the idiot that ran the red light a week ago and put me in the emergency room.

I mixed the Bombay and tonic - a little heavy on the Bombay side of the equation - and returned to the recliner to wait for the meds and the booze to kick in, which did not take long at all. The house was dark and a bit cool and I felt a wave of relief rescue me from the ever present pain.

I was drifting in and out of a fuzzy sleep when out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw some movement by the hallway. I could swear I saw the shadow of someone moving silently about the house. I knew that I was alone, my son had left over an hour ago and I was not expecting anyone to arrive. Was I hallucinating or was there really someone else in the house with me?

"Adam, is that you?" I could hear myself speaking but my voice seemed to come from outside my body, from another part of the house. I remember thinking that the Fentanyl patch was really cooking! I made a mental note not to mix gin and pain patches in the future.

No answer.

"Adam, goddammit this isn't funny. What are you still doing here? I thought you left."

Still no answer. The sound of my voice was still distant from my body. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a shadowy ghostlike figure move swiftly across the room.

"Who are you and what are you doing here?" The sound of my voice sounded as if it were coming from the next room. "What do you want?"

Still no answer. Obviously, there is no one here, I thought. Just the damn Fentanyl and gin causing some disorientation in my mind. Yet I had the distinct sensation that I was in the presence of some being, some entity living or otherwise whose presence in the house was unmistakable even though I could not actually see or touch whoever or whatever it was. I remember thinking that I ought to be afraid but somehow I was not. Curious? Yes. Afraid? Not at all. Whether it was the booze, the pills, the patch, or perhaps some other manifestation of my mind designed to help me forget about the pain I knew that there was no danger.

"Do you not know who I am, Robert?"

Whatever this thing was had a back channel directly into my brain. The voice was like a thought in my mind.


"Well, no I don't know who you are but I suspect that you are inside my head courtesy of the pain meds I'm taking to help with these damn broken ribs." I remember thinking that I hadn't been called Robert in that authoritative tone of voice in many years, a voice that was usually reserved for my dead grandmother to use when I was in trouble for having broken some rule or dodged some chore but the 'voice' was that of a man, a man used to getting his way.

Might as well go with the flow, I remember thinking, and see where this all ends up, probably in a detox center somewhere.

"Close your eyes and concentrate, sir. What do you see?"

I closed my eyes as the thing asked - commanded was more like it - and tried to focus on the sound of the voice that I was hearing. At first, I could see nothing but blackness but after a bit I began to discern a rather indistinct apparition, hazy and ill defined.

I must be hallucinating, I thought.


This thing was obviously used to getting its way, and yet for some reason I had no fear of it.

"Well, whoever or whatever you are, you appear to be a man in his mid forties with a set of mutton chops and curly hair that hides a widow's peak. You are wearing a uniform of some kind, probably that of a Navy Officer of the mid nineteenth century. Although you have not fully beamed up to me here, I think that we must be related somehow. You are a Stockton, but I can't be sure exactly which one."

"Very well, sir, as far as it goes. I believe that if you have your wits about you determining 'which one' as you so casually describe me should be within your grasp. And just what exactly does your phrase 'fully beamed up' signify?"

"Beaming up was a phrase on a television program that described molecular dispersion of.... Well, anyway I meant it to describe the fact that your image is not altogether clear and distinct in my mind. As to which relative of mine, seeing as Pop's family were mostly Army officers and lawyers I'll take an educated guess that you are Commodore Stockton."

"Well done, sir. I am in fact the Commodore and am also your great-great-great grandfather."

"Pleased to meet you, sort of, Commodore. I suppose that there is a valid reason for this hallucinatory visit, but I have no idea what that reason would be, and quite frankly were the choice of hallucinations my own I'd have selected a much more entertaining one of the opposite gender."

Old Grandpop had not been in the room more than ten minutes and already I was beginning to sound like the pompous old martinet.

"Hold your tongue, sir. Impertinence toward senior officers is not befitting a Stockton junior."

I had forgotten that our so-called 'conversation' was strictly inside my head. The old Commodore could 'hear' my every thought.

"And what is more you shall address me as 'Commodore' when we converse. Familial ties have no bearing on the upcoming exchanges that we will have. I am a Naval Commodore, commander of fighting ships of the line, conqueror of the Mexican territory of California and the first Governor of that territory. I have successfully fought Barbary pirates and the British, defeated the Mexican Generals Castro and Flores and have won numerous duels. I have served as a United States Senator and was once considered a potential presidential nominee. Great-great-great grandson or no, you will address me in a manner as befits my naval rank."

"What the hell. Commodore it is then. Stocktons have never been known to me to be terribly attached to extended family ties anyway. Is there a reason for this visit? I mean, why are you here?"

"Commodore? Commodore?"

No answer.

Whatever it was had left the building. Apparently, what was transpiring was going to be all about him and I had a feeling that the old Commodore was going to be with me again. I gingerly shifted my position in the recliner and dropped of into a restless sleep.

It was close to midnight when the pain woke me up. The house had gotten very cold. I eased up out of the recliner - even bringing it to the upright position was painful - and shuffled off to the bedroom to retrieve my old horse blanket bathrobe and the comforter on the bed. The damn bed looked so inviting but I knew better than to try to lay down on it. The doc had warned me that my rib cage would not allow it. After several attempts I got the robe around me, grabbed the comforter and headed back to the recliner in the living room.

It was time to apply another Fentanyl patch.

As I unwrapped the patch, I suddenly remembered the dream about the Commodore that I had dreamt earlier that evening. It had seemed so real that I almost believed that the encounter with the Commodore had actually happened, that it had occurred exactly as I have described here. Of course, I knew that I had not actually been having a conversation with a relative who had been dead for almost 150 years, but damn! It felt so damn real!

Patch applied, I threw together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich - I had learned the hard way not to use the patch on an empty stomach, popped two pain pills and just for the hell of it mixed another Bombay and tonic, being careful not to lean too heavily on the gin and returned to the recliner I waited for the meds to kick in which surprisingly didn't take all that long.

Sweet relief. Maybe this will hold me until tomorrow. I could feel myself again melting away into a state of blissful somnolence.

"I believe that we were in the middle of a conversation when you so unceremoniously left the room. I must tell you sir, that I consider that to be an affront and were we not of family I would be forced to offer a duel to satisfy this indignity."

"I.........I left the.......wait...........wait a minute," I was trying to clear my head from the fog that the pain meds had induced.

"Look, Commodore, or Granddad, or Bob, or Senator or whatever you wish to be called, lets tidy this up a bit. In the first place, I am dreaming this and you are not a real entity. You have been dead for what, some 150 years? Secondly, I am your great-great-great grandson and not some junior rating under your command and as such I suggest that we speak as adult men. Finally, just why am I dreaming this? What is the reason for this visit, if this is a visit and not some hallucination?"

The silence was deafening.

After a lengthy pause the apparition replied softly:

"Such impertinence. Very well, Grandson. I shall call you Robert. You may continue to address me as Commodore."

"As for my being an actual entity, I can assure you that your experience this day is very real. You are visiting me in my domain, although I cannot say exactly what mechanism has caused this. However, the mechanism itself is of little import. I have a mission for you to undertake."

A mission. What sort of mission could this long dead relative have for me, and for that matter why me?

"I have chosen you for this mission.....

I had forgotten that the Commodore could 'hear' my thoughts.

".....because you are most suited to complete that which I require. Your generation has had little experience with Naval Service and the generations immediately preceding yours have all been army officers, politicians or lawyers and have little more than a landlubbers acquaintance of a life at sea. No, Robert, you are best suited for this charge, although I daresay that had you applied yourself in a more serious manner you could have been more useful to both yourself and your twenty years of Naval service."

Praise with faint damns. Or was it the other way around?

"Commodore, as you can see - if that is the appropriate verb - I am recovering from an accident that has broken five of my ribs on my 'starboard' side, along with several other contusions and may be out of commission for months. I am not sure that I can be of much help to you in my current state. Even if I were healthy I doubt that I would have the qualifications for this 'task' that you would like me to do for you."

"Nonsense, Robert. You are perfectly capable of executing this task. I want you to write a book. You are already contemplating writing your memoirs so you obviously have the skills necessary to chronicle my contributions to our great country."

So there it was. Old Granddad - enough of all these 'great-greats' - wanted me to chronicle his place in history, as if there had not been enough already written about the old.....

"Have a care, sir. Choose your words. Wisely."

This inside the head thing was getting to be tiresome.

"Fine, Granddad. I assume that this will be a sort of oral history of your exploits as told to me by you. If nothing else, it will be fascinating to hear of your exploits out west. I don't know much about writing history so I'll probably write this in the form of a novel."

"I do not object to that. The public will derive great pleasure when they read your accounting of my naval career. You will achieve great fame and notoriety."

"Well sir, I don't know about the fame and notoriety part, but it should be a lot of fun putting this together. I'll do it."

"There are times when you twenty-first century Americans affect the strangest pattern of speech. We will continue at our next encounter."

And he was gone.

I was beginning to detect a pattern in the Commodore's visits with me. They were occurring between sunset and sunrise and seemed always to break off when my pain medication was on the wane. When I took another dose of the meds (augmented with a sip or two of the juniper berry) I could expect another visit from the old gentleman. My guess is that the narcotic effect on my brain had somehow 'unlocked' a part of my subconscious that gave the Commodore access.

Alternatively, perhaps the 'cocktail' of drugs and booze had opened some vault deep in the recesses of my brain where the Commodore and God knows who or what else resided..

Either way the whole thing was kind of exciting!

Chapter Two

Several days had passed since I last had a 'visit' from the Commodore. I was reasonably certain that the whole experience had been nothing more than a drug induced dream and not a visit from the beyond from old Granddad. In a way I was somewhat sorry that the whole affair had just been a figment of my imagination. I was beginning to enjoy the back and forth between what was probably one part of my narcotic soaked brain and another. Maybe this is how one comes to be dependent on these painkillers, I thought. I had briefly considered cutting back or discontinuing some of the meds but the pain was more intense than ever. I decided that it was too soon to wean myself from the drugs.

It was early evening of the fourth day of my return from the hospital. Time for another dose. I made a sandwich, replaced the old patch, took two more pain pills and poured myself a Bombay and Tonic and headed for the recliner - the damn thing was beginning to feel more like the rack - and eased myself ever so carefully into the seat. Maybe tonight would be the night that I would be able to get a couple of hours of real sleep.

Whoosh! That patch really grabs hold. Mmh.

"Robert. Robert. Focus on me. We have work to do."

"Commodore. Where have you been the last couple of days?"

I was amazed to find that I was glad to 'see' the old buzzard again.

The Commodore was silent for a moment or two and then heaved an exasperated sigh.

"Old buzzard, sir? May I remind you that you are seeing me as I was in the time of the war with Mexico, an apparition that is some twenty years younger than you sitting there in that contraption feeling sorry for yourself. May I also remind you of your duty to respect my former position as Naval Commodore and your ancestor."


"Let's see now, you want me to write some sort of journal that will describe your contributions to the building of our country. I have to say that I am really jazzed - excited - about doing this. All I know about you is that you have a city in California named for you."

"Yes. Well then let us begin at the time I entered The College of New Jersey - I believe that it has since been renamed Princeton University - in the year 1808 at the age of thirteen. My father Richard who was commonly known as 'The Old Duke' was a lawyer of some great renown and the son of Richard Stockton who affixed his name to the document which declared our country's independence from the British oppression. Our home in Princeton was built on a large tract of land purchased from William Penn long before our war for independence."

I had to interject: "Thirteen? You enrolled in college when you were thirteen?"

"That is correct. Please be so kind as to not interrupt while I am speaking."


Excerpted from Fighting Bob by Bob Stockton Copyright © 2011 by Bob Stockton. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


CHAPTER ONE....................1
CHAPTER TWO....................11
CHAPTER THREE....................27
CHAPTER FOUR....................40
CHAPTER FIVE....................50
CHAPTER SIX....................64
CHAPTER SEVEN....................80
CHAPTER EIGHT....................98
CHAPTER NINE....................105
CHAPTER TEN....................116
CHAPTER ELEVEN....................128
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    An Action-Packed Literary Thrill Ride

    Many things may be said about Bob Stockton, but one of them can never be that he doesn’t have a copious imagination...

    Throughout the pages of Fighting Bob, Stockton takes the reader on a nonstop, action-packed literary thrill ride rife with danger, suspense, and the all-too-familiar machinations of political intrigue. Led by his great-great-great grandfather, Commodore “Fighting Bob”, Stockton embarks on a daunting quest that takes him everywhere from the frontlines of the War Of 1812 to the throes of battle with Barbary Pirates – all in the midst of an hallucinogenic, drug-induced state. Readers should not be fooled, though: Fighting Bob features a host of eye-opening true-life accounts, highlighting the very real events that played a pivotal role in the birth and subsequent evolution of our very own United States. As such, Stockton’s epic narrative paints a vivid, compelling picture of living, breathing history at its realest – and most raw.

    An enjoyable, adventure-laden read.

    Karynda Lewis
    Apex Reviews

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2011

    creative disobedience

    How many times have you heard someone say, "If I'd only asked Grandpa--Uncle Joe, mother--about that. Now I don't suppose we'll ever know where, how, who, when such-and-such happened."

    That problem is resolved in Fighting Bob when the narrator--with the help of some pretty overwhelming pain killers--meets up with his great-great-great grandfather and follows "the Commodore's" adventures as a lad in the War of 1812 to the conquest of the California Territory in the 1840s. Over those forty-some years Robert Stockton carried Nelson's strategy of "creative disobedience" to the extreme and, as he wryly notes, "it is a two edged sword."

    This is a fascinating little book containing an enormous amount of information presented in dialogue that makes it easy and fun to follow. What with Barbary Pirates and duels and "political skullduggery" and steam warships (with single screw type propellers, no less) and an incredible cast of famous (and infamous) contemporaries, we have a story set in the same seas as the fictional Patrick O'Brien books, the same annoyingly duplicitous Washington as today, and a West as wild as Hollywood ever envisioned.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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