I was a little younger than I was old.
Walking through the narrow passageway as the ship rhythmically
pitched, I knew it wasn’t right. And to this day, years later, I still know it
At the time I didn’t know why it wasn’t right or how wrong
it really was. No, I felt it was wrong only because of what it did to me.
Later, many years after I left the narrow passageways and rhythmic
pitching of the ship, I learned that it was never about me.
But then I was a little older than I was young.
“So what I’m hearing you say is that you don’t care about
safety?” He asked, firmly.
I knew he was looking to start an argument, especially one
he could possibly win.
“No. I don’t care about you, and that’s you are hearing me
say.” I replied, curtly.
He shifted his stance uneasily, and I knew that honesty had
put him off guard. Honestly, I didn’t care much about him.
“But,” he protested.
“No, getting you the training isn’t going to make this place
any safer when we’ve already got other people available. So, it’s just not high
on my list.”
You know I can’t do that right?
Okay, well I probably couldn’t anyway. It’s not that I
wouldn’t want to put all of this down on paper, just that I don’t have the
And no, having someone follow me around to do it wouldn’t
work either. Because I’d still have to spend the same amount of time, perhaps
more, telling them what to write. Think about it a little bit more. That’d be
like hiring a consultant to write a grant.
Sure they might tell you they’ll do the heavy lifting, but
they still need to get the information.
“I’m not saying that I want someone to steal my car, just
that I wouldn’t be upset if they did.” I answered, as the class looked towards
me in disbelief.
“Of course you’d be mad, wouldn’t you?” the professor
prodded as the class watched.
“No, probably not. I have insurance, so I’d just get a new
one.” I answered, confidently.
"Even though they’d be stealing your car.”
“But how do I know the person stealing wasn’t going to
donate it to Polly Klaas?” I replied.
“But that’s not the point.” He stated, a little unsure.
“Isn’t it?” I asked, smiling.
The snow packed tightly under our boots as we walked across
the unmarked field.
There were no signs or markings to tell us that we shouldn’t
be there, but somehow we both knew that to be the case. I could almost feel the
trespass on someone else’s property as a palpable thing in the air.
Regardless, we walked on.
Somewhere at the edge of the field, where the woods began,
there was a low stone wall.
The thin layer of soft snow continued to pack tightly under
each footfall, with that same creaking sound as we reached the stone wall.
“What are you talking about?” He asked furiously.
Pointing at the live electrical cables sitting in standing
water, she said “That right there.”
Throwing his arm’s up in the air, he yelled, “really!”
“Yes, really. And until we get them pulled up out of the
water. All of them too, no one is going to start working.” She said calmly,
looking directly at him.
“You know this is ridiculous, we’ve always done it this way
and it’ll be impossible to get them out of the water.” He replied.
He walked away in disgust as she started fixing the problem.
It was all fruitless and trite; at least that’s how I called
One person would get up there and talk about how they were
glad to be part of a great thing, how they were directly helping the economy.
Another person would stand in front of us and comment on how
true all the bullshit we just heard was. They’d cite some meaningless study and
congratulate everyone in the room for their hard work towards this noble goal.
Sure, I was one of them. I got up there and spoke my part.
They asked me to.
So I did.
“Sure I don’t trust her.” I said.
“But you’d still vote for her?” He asked, puzzled.
“Of course. Hell, I’d vote for her because I don’t trust
her.” I replied.
“That doesn’t make any sense.” He said.
“If I trusted her she probably wouldn’t be a good
politician. I want someone willing to lie cheat and steal for their
constituents. Someone that will get the job done.”
“Wow, that’s pretty messed up man,” he said, before pausing.
“I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one.”
“Good, because I don’t like it either. But it’s true.” I
It was pretty cold and perfectly dark when I got into the
I didn’t check the rear view mirror before starting the
engine and putting it in drive, and didn’t see the woman sitting behind me. It
was one of those autopilot mornings, no time for keen observations.
“Hello,” she said as she quickly shifted into the middle of
the back seat.
“JESUS CHRIST,” I exclaimed jerking at the wheel causing the
car to veer sharply towards the median.
“Yes,” she said answering as if that was her name.
“What-“ I started as we smashed into the concrete barrier.
“I’m not going to extol the virtues of honesty today.” He
said, looking across the small audience.
“I’d much rather give you all a realistic lesson on how our
society works. And honesty for honesty’s sake never did anyone any good.” He
continued, as the city noise hummed quietly in the background beyond the heavy
Pausing for a moment to clear his throat, he started again.
“Sure there’s nothing wrong with telling the truth if it will benefit you, but
don’t make it a habit. And the same can be said for lies.”
“Just think before you talk.”
Are you kidding me, why’d you think I’d do that?
Sure it’s something that a reasonable person might attempt,
but that’s never been something that I’ve allowed to cloud my judgment.
Life is too short for that garbage, and I’d rather live, if
only for a moment. Many reasonable people simply look for survival, which is
something I’m not too concerned with.
Besides, who wants to spend forever living a B movie?
It’s safe, but definitely straight to video.
No, for me I think it’s only worth living if you’re happy
right now. Plan for tomorrow, live for today.
“No, I don’t think I’ll sit down.” Darryl said angrily as he
paced back and forth across the lobby.
“That’s fine Sir, but I do need you to calm down.” She
There were other people in the room, patiently waiting and
looking at the meaningless corporate art. Most of them were of no consequence
to the story.
He continued to pace, not heeding the request for calm.
“Nguyen, Billy.” The intercom called, as one of the
nondescript patrons got up and walked toward the desk.
“How’d you get ahead?” asked Darryl.
“Simple, I wasn’t an ass.” Replied Billy bluntly.
It’s depressing mostly, to watch something gold fade away.
But maybe it should be with a sense of relief instead. Once
it’s faded away, the arc complete, you know how it ends. There’s no surprise
and the whole of its collective history probably won’t be thrown out.
Sure it sucks that it’s gone, but really, that it existed at
all should be impressive. More, that it completed the arc, and found its spot in the
societal memory, is important.
Sometimes live gold can turn to blood or become toxic.
However, once something gold fades, it will always have been gold.
The band’s sound blended melodically with the beach noises
in the background as they quietly sat on the terrace above the enramadas and
flurry of activity.
It could’ve been Tuesday, but neither of them was really
sure. Life had slowed down, almost came to a halt at the hacienda. They’d wake
up, wander about and settle down to write or read.
On that particular day the crowds were especially lively,
maybe it was Christmas. But that was still of limited consequence to them on
Besides, they weren’t there for the schedule or anything
Just to escape.
“Did you drop the pin?” Jose asked, impatiently.
“Yea, just back there.” Replied Frankie, as he put his phone
They walked for a while, along what appeared to be a trail,
before they came across another stream. This one was violently rushing across
the ground and about four feet across.
“I’m pretty sure we can’t jump across that one.”
“Yea, if one of us gets caught in that, we’re screwed.” Said
Jose, looking for suitable crossings.
They both scanned the area, but found few alternatives.
“What do you think?” asked Frankie.
“Meh.” Replied Jose, shrugging his shoulders.
The blast grit lay about the deck like a fresh snow as I
walked carefully along the port side of the ship.
I could see the set of boot tracks going towards the bow,
and I knew that’s who I was looking for. They say he just wandered back in here
after lunch, no respirator or anything.
“Hey!” I shouted, muted by the heavy respirator.
It felt quiet under there, the grit in the air acts like an
insulator for sound too.
“Hey, are you under here?” I yelled again, but no reply.
Where the hell is he, I thought.
There’s a tiny speck of light that’ll flash on the horizon,
looking straight west from here. And then there’s another one that also flashes
on the horizon, but it’s about fifty miles north.
On a clear night they will both flash, seemingly out of tune
with each other.
Tonight it’s not so clear and I’ve been watching for a while
and haven’t seen either of them blink. I know they are out there, and if the
night’s sky was a picture I could circle them with a pen.
But still no flash.
I wonder if they’ll be there tomorrow night.
“Dammit, what the hell is that about!”
“I don’t know, seems pretty normal to me.” She responded,
looking back at him.
There was a short pause, as they navigated the tall aisles
looking for the eight pack of canned chili. There were people everywhere and random
displays blocked up the clear paths.
“I know they were here last week, I friggin know it.” He
“Probably, but we’re looking all over the store trying to
find them. It’s a pretty brilliant strategy, actually.” She said.
“Just think of all the new product’s we’ve seen today.” She
“There’s got to be some broken spare parts in the shop
somewhere.” He yelled, chasing Aaron out of the generator room.
“But, I looked everywhere.” Exclaimed Aaron, the most junior
engineer on the boat.
“Obviously you missed something though, and I don’t care if
you dump every vidmar onto the ground. Find the eighth-inch fittings.” Finished
Brian, as he turned around and walked into the dark machinery space.
Everything echoed differently when the ship was dead in the
water, and there was something about the ships movement. Like the sea was
happening to it, rather than the other way around.
It was a stupid political bet, one I knew I was going to
But sometimes you have to make a sacrifice, allow yourself
to loose, in order to win the next one. And sometimes the next one is worth it.
It sucked that it ended up being a very public spectacle,
however that’s just part of the game. I pushed all quarter to have the zoning regulations
changed in the Outer Richmond during the next session. I made no secret about
it either, leveraging it as a pro-business position to please my constituents.
But with concessions come owed favors.
“It’s not my job.” He said, grinning as he walked onto the
“Yea,” replied the boatswain half paying attention. “But,
it’s someone’s job.”
The sea was gently rolling the boat from port to starboard
and a dense fog shrouded the horizon, as Louis assessed the condition of the
mounting bracket for the big-eyes.
“I’m pretty sure that’ll take me a few hours,” said Louis.
“If they have the parts and the right wire.”
“Well, you’d better get looking.” Replied the boatswain, as
he continued to scan the indeterminable horizon.
“Roger that,” he said abruptly as he ran off.
Well, that wasn’t
bright, I thought.
Looking at the bent pad eye’s on the engine, I was
desperately trying to figure out how to continue drifting the heavy piece of
machinery across the generator room. But, with two of the lifting eyes bent,
that didn’t seem likely.
The clock kept advancing, and with each minute I drew closer
to a bad decision.
I had tried a couple haphazard-rigging configurations, but
with the overhead so low they didn’t work. And upon each new attempt, I found
the lifting eyes more distorted.
Shit, how do I fix this real quick? I thought.
They walked along the dusty valley floor.
The ground showed signs of an old wash, traced out beneath
their footsteps, and the scattered remains of dried out plants. It had been
some time since this place last saw rain, year’s maybe.
“It’s kind of a bummer that this place dried up,” said
Shrugging her shoulders, “Meh, I don’t know.” Replied Evelyn.
“If this thing was still full of water, we would’ve been stranded on the other
side of the mountains.”
“So?” Asked Karen, rhetorically. “We’re just two people,
think of all the shit that used to live down here.”
Sure, I’ll tell you everything you think I know.
If it’ll help paint your side of the story, it’d be my
pleasure to lay it all out there. I won’t be too specific about the semantics, that
way you can frame it however you want. Because in the end, that’s what matters
So, there let’s just start with the basics of the situation.
John was there, and not only that. He was kind of like the
ring-leader for the little covert group. He didn’t take minutes at the meetings
or anything, but he did egg them all on.
The yard was silent, almost painfully so.
In the abysmal quiet, I had lost my self, and wasn’t able to
Was it still break, or did I miss that altogether?
As I walked past the dry docked ships, I couldn’t help but
wonder what was going on. What caused the quiet on the yard.
Reaching into my pocket, I grabbed my phone for reference.
And found sure, enough, that it wasn’t break. But then what time was it?
There was a smallish ferry vessel near the edge of the
railway, which seemed like a good place to start.
“The fox guarding the hen house?” I asked amused.
“Yea, I guess that’d be what its like.” He said, avoiding
"But surely you are joking.” I replied, looking directly
into his dodgy eyes.
As we sat there, I couldn’t help but be amused with the
situation. It wasn’t the fox guarding the hen house at all, as that would be
far safer for the hens then what I had in mind.
“Maybe, whatever you think,” he said.
“No, but really.” I said, pausing. “Do you really think I’d
take a chance on one of them? That’d be crazy.”
It wasn’t terribly well conceived, our plan.
I think we mostly cobbled it out of spare parts and pure necessity.
The sort of magic only found at the very bottom of a vidmar, or buried
somewhere under the deck plates.
But, with scarcity comes some brilliance.
It was a very American idea, nothing as systematic as what
could’ve been figured out. No this was pure six gun, wild west stuff. And it
was this sort of ingenuity that kept us just a little ahead of the rest.
Did I like having a short budget? No, not really.
But it helped.
The ship was covered in wounds, the scars of a busy life
Smashing into a pier
over here, running onto rocks by the quay. It’s normal duty for a boat, but
with maintenance all navigational sins can be forgiven.
This boat was a little different though, it was ragged,
needing almost every inch of steel to be replaced. Her new owners didn’t really
get the concept of cleaning.
They just wanted her to work, nothing more.
It’s interesting though, to see the care that went into the
ship when it was younger, and still saving the new owners from headaches.