Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I wrote this back in 2002. Long read.

Blaine is dead now. He has been for quite a while. He was the lucky charm of the Kodiak fleet for quite a while following the dubious honor of being shipwrecked three times in ten days, and living to tell the tale. Many fishermen would tousle his hair for luck before they left on a trip. Everyone was amazed that he had the guts to go out again even after the first shipwreck. In an ironic twist of fate he was killed in a pleasure boat accident off the New Jersey coast several years ago.

I didn’t get word of Blaine’s death until about a year after if happened, and that was through a mutual friend that had gone to visit his mother. His mother gave him a Zippo that I had gotten engraved and had given to Blaine after the ten days reign of fear.

“Run as fast as you will and escape if you can, for you are the quarry and fate is the hunter,” the lighter said. The mutual friend recognized the lighter and returned it to me, along with news of his death. I carried it briefly until the integrated unit I was working on made a run to New York. Off the coast of New Jersey, near the sight of the accident, I threw it over the side. Fate had caught up with Blaine, and it was only fitting that the lighter be buried with him.
And, quite frankly, it weighed too damned heavily in my pocket. Seafarers of all types, especially fishermen are superstitious as all hell.
Blaine was a high-school dropout with a Master’s degree in life. He could do two things, as I recall, that impressed me: He could make any cheap flashlight work under any circumstances, and he could drive my vehicle with no instruction.
To anyone that uses a flashlight regularly, that says a lot. Bill Gates probably can’t. As for the latter? Well… that was a miracle among the order of loaves and fishes. I had built the truck, a ’62 Dodge, in Seattle out of parts, I had maybe $26 tied up in it, and had managed to nurse it up the Alaska Highway. That’s a tale in itself, and one I’m perversely proud of. The truck was one of the joys in my life. It was obstinate, moody, cranky, and had a mind of it’s own, but she never quit me.

I drive a brand new Toyota these days, which I find disgusting because the damned thing is sterile. Come 100,000 miles, it’ll develop some character. I hate new things. No character.

One of our last conversations was about the author John Irving. I asked him if the book, Hotel New Hampshire was any good.

“Typical John Irving,” he said. “Whores, bears and farts. It was as funny as hell, though, you’d like it.”

Farts are something I’ll save for Howard Stern.

My bear story is pretty brief. I was picking salmonberries to make wine and jelly out of once, when I heard a rustle and say that behind the bush, a huge Brownie was standing there. I let out a start, took off and shot up a skinny tree. When I looked behind me, the bear was running in the opposite direction.

I stopped shaking like a baby’s rattle in well under an hour. A stiff belt of cognac helped.
I really don’t have a whole lot of use for prostitution, not that I have a whole lot against it, but it just isn’t my vice, but there are three tales in my life involving whores.

There was a pretty interesting deal in Kodiak as far as the local hookers went. The madam hired from the Astoria area and really had a pretty good eye for what it took to work for her. One thing was basic honesty, and a certain amount of integrity in the way they acted.
They were quiet and acted like ladies. They did not drink too much or drug. They were discreet and when they were cruising, they melted in with the furniture. They could afford to be discreet and invisible, because in a commercial fishing town customers would go looking for them. There was no room in the town for sleazy or rough stuff. One incident and the police chief would close them down in a heartbeat.

The key to a successful, quiet night on the town is reconnaissance, and these women were recon specialists extrodanaire. Carnac the Magnificent couldn’t hold a candle to the talents of the Kodiak hookers. They intuitively knew who was going to do what, when and where, and who was going to go off on a tear and make an ass of himself. They also had quite a nose for trouble. I’m sure this saved my ass a couple of times.

If a guy treated these women with any degree of decency, they were pretty generous with their knowledge. Some of them also played cribbage when times were slow and I whiled away many an hour playing cards with one or two of them.

One Christmas eve, I wandered into Tony’s to see if anyone wanted to go to Midnight mass. The only taker was one of the hookers. She was discreet enough to ask me quietly and met me outside so as not to create a scene. She didn’t have to do that. I wasn’t embarrassed in the least.

I got a fair amount of flak over that, but in the process, I found out who the real Christians were in town. You guessed it, the drunks, sheepherders, and fishermen. The usual church goers were pretty uppity to me for a while after that incident. I told several of them to feel free to use the piece of mistletoe that I had clipped to my shirt tail.

When she found out about all the social shit I got into about it, she swore revenge. When she left town for good a couple of months later, she left an envelope with the bartender to be delivered to me. It contained her client book with all sorts of sordid details. This was a dangerous thing, and as you can probably imagine, whose names were in it. All sorts of so-called decent citizens, many of whom had shit all over me for bringing her to mass.

I never used any of the information in it, and I’ll tell you this: If I had 200 pounds of C-4 explosive, I could not have done half as much damage to the town as I could have with that little notebook. It was like having my own nuclear bomb! I never even told anyone I had it!

Proper style, for me, upon entering the bar, was to plunk down next to one of the ladies of the night, buy her a drink, and look around a while. After I sensed the mood of the place, and had found out what was going on, I’d move around. Or, if the place had an air of ugliness about it, I’d leave.

This was not paranoia on my part, just good sense. Life on the Last Frontier could get pretty weird when it wanted to. Like when a drug dealer would bring a bunch of Quaaludes or mushrooms into town and peddle them at cut-rate prices. When that happened, it was best to get the hell out of there and find something else to do. Half the town would be whacked-out., which was pretty normal when you think about it. But when Quaaludes are mixed with alcohol, it’s depressing. I’d get tired of moving inert, passed out bodies out of the way.

Mushrooms were another story. People would get animated as all git-go. When mushrooms came to town in any quantity, it would be time to hide. When mixed with large quantities of alcohol, some people could do nothing but sit and laugh themselves goofy. I’m patient. I can wait. If I wanted to see a three-ring circus, all I had to do is wait until summer until Barnum and Bailey arrived. Or go fishing.

Katie was the third whore that entered my life, and she’s my favorite. In fact, she isn’t even a whore. Katie worked as an office girl in downtown. She wasn’t particularly pretty, nor was she ugly. She had a way about her that men enjoyed. She was blunt spoken, had the tact of a .45 automatic being thrust in your face, and had an outrageous and ribald sense of humor that occasionally appeared. She could joust verbally with the guys, dishing it out and taking her lumps. She didn’t sleep with every Tom, Dick and Harry, nor was she a vestal virgin. She was not impressed with a lot of bullshit credentials and kept herself pretty squared away,

I privately call her The Whore of Life.

I wandered into Tony’s with Al’s wife, Judy. We were both waiting to see Al. Al owed me money. Katie was sitting at a table, looking like she wanted to be picked on. She had that sporting for an argument look about her. I went to the bar…the place was dead… and picked up drinks for Judy and I. We went over and sat next to Katie. Judy and Katie chatted a bit. Then Katie looked at me and asked me how I was.

“Pretty good after this last trip,” I said. “but that storm left me so damned horny that I’d even go so far as to even give YOU a hundred bucks for a piece of ass!” It was a good natured insult that I knew she would not let slide. I braced myself. Katie could be quick-witted as a rattlesnake, and I expected a mildly profane retort.

Instead, I found myself trying not to let twelve year-old scotch whisky squirt out my nose!

“Get your cash up on the table!” Big Boy,” she said. She turned to Judy, who was slack-jaw astonished. “The goddam rent is due, and I’m fifty bucks short and I gotta eat until Tuesday!”

Judy laughed. I reached into my jeans pocket. I knew this game. It had nothing to do with sex or money. The object of the game was to keep a straight face and see who would quit the game first. I threw a pair of fifties on the table with a straight-faced leer.

Katie opened her blouse, grabbed the hundred bucks and stuffed the bills into her bra. She stood up. “Let’s go,” she announced.

We both left quickly, leaving Judy with an astonished look on her face. When we got outside, I expected Katie to bust out laughing and hand me my money back. After all, the look on Judy’s face was priceless. Instead, she hopped into my truck. I got in and fired the old ’62 Dodge up, put her into gear and started to Katie’s apartment. I still didn’t know what she was up to.

She was abrupt and short with me until we got inside her apartment. At which point she startled me by starting to get undressed.

“Ya gonna screw me, or what?” she asked.

“Katie, if you need the lousy hundred, call it a loan,” I said.

“Take your frigging clothes off me and screw me.”

“Is there a method to this madness?”

“Yes. Now screw me.”

So I did, and I was very selfish. The whole act didn’t take very long. She commented on that, and I snapped back that she had gotten paid for it, so shut up and went over to my clothes.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Getting dressed.”

“Get back in bed!”

So I got back in bed.

“I hate having sex with someone for the first time because guys like you are so damned keyed up that I ought to have charged you TWO hundred bucks. Now we can both relax because the ice has been broken. Besides, I needed the hundred bucks to spend on my new sweetie this weekend.”

“Who the hell is your new sweetie?” I asked. I glanced at my watch. I wasn’t checking the time, I was checking to see what day of the week it was. My personal calendar at that time held two dates, today and tomorrow. To everyone else it was Friday evening.

“You are, you stupid shit! After all, whadda ya think I am, some kinda whore or something?”

I didn’t dare touch that one with a ten-foot pole. Without a single word, I simply walked into her kitchen, grabbed bottle of wine and climbed back into bed.

And, yes, she spent the hundred bucks that weekend. She took me out Saturday night. A pretty good movie and a great dinner.

Katie and I had a relationship of sorts for a couple of months that hit it’s peak almost immediately and tapered off quickly. The chemistry that makes long term relationships just wasn’t there. Shortly after the relationship was over, I was astonished and very much relieved to discover that out basic friendship had actually improved.

Usually when a relationship splits, it splits completely. After the split we rode each others cases loud, and playfully nasty. We publicly never had a civil word to say to each other.

Privately, things were different. After Houseboat Bob killed himself that spring , she knew I was pretty upset because I had just spent the day with his bereaved father. She came to where I was living with an overnight bag and a thick flannel nightie, and climbed into my bed and held me and listened to me alternately cry and ramble on about a lost pal and dealing with a distraught father. She held me all night.

The next day, she and I had another nasty good natured spat, and we were both quite vicious. Quite a few people listened, and found it to be very entertaining.

Years later, when my friend drove seven hours one way to tell me about Blaine and return the Zippo lighter, he asked me about Katie. I told him I had lost touch with her shortly after I left the Rock. (to locals, Kodiak Island is known as ‘the rock’) He told me that she was still there, and that the locals still occasionally talk about the way she and I got along after we broke up.

“We miss it. It was like listening to Danny DiVito and Rhea Pearlman having breakfast with their kids,” he said.

The Bering Sea, aboard a 98 foot Bender, a Challenger series semi-custom crab boat, an older model that has seen quite some use. We have left port singing a very cynical song to the tune of an old Janis Joplin tune:

Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Marco…crab …boat;
My friends all sail Benders, They don’t stay afloat…..

It is now the dead of winter, and a couple weeks before Katie and I got together.

It is also a pretty god time to give you some particulars: In the late ‘70s, the Crab fishery exploded. There was money to be made there, a lot of money. The shipyards were making boats left and right. Marco, a Seattle based outfit made pretty good, stable boats that were well designed for the Bering Sea. In Alabama, Bender, who started off as a welding and machine shop, was marketing a fairly inexpensive model, 98 feet and designed along the lines of the Gulf shrimpers. It was a pretty seakindly boat, well made, but with a few inherent design flaws.

The boat could not carry enough ice on her superstructure to get a case of beer cold, nor could it carry many crab pots on deck in heavy seas. These boats generally went to sea with de-icing equipment known as “Louisville Sluggers”, meaning garden variety baseball bats. A scared deckhand with a baseball bat can remove a lot of ice, but several fishermen were lost by being swept over the side by heavy seas.

Several of these Benders “turned turtle” and were lost, generally with all hands, before the design flaw was later corrected by retroactively adding sponsons, void areas that added to the stability. But that was later…….

By the early to mid 80s, the crab fleet was getting pretty overcapitalized, the seasons were short, and every second spent working the gear counted. Workdays were long, thirty hour days were normal, forty and forty-eight hour days were commonplace, and seventy-two hour workdays were not unheard of.

Shortening the length of the seasons meant that skippers would have to work in rougher weather. Boat payments still had to be made. And skippers took pretty hellacious chances. Working gear in twenty-foot seas became commonplace.
Too commonplace…..

The fishermen evolved, too. They were independent, rugged, devil may care characters that were tough and too often pretty wild. Many had nothing to lose. Many would drink like wild men, many would constantly drug themselves to a stupor. Then they would go back to sea sick as dogs and work the poisons out of their systems. They took hellacious chances, constantly risked it all. That they could survive such rigors and binges is a monumental tribute to a thing called youthful, rude good health!

It is interesting to note that after I left Kodiak, the Navy opened a base up there for training their SEAL teams in cold weather operations, they made it clear to the SEAL team members that they were to leave the fishermen alone! To placate SEAL egos, they told them that they’d probably win the scuffle, but they’d probably get pretty busted up in the process.

Besides, the Navy had a lot better things to do with it’s money than spend it patching up busted up SEALs. An injured SEAL is non-operational.

In short, the fishermen were not typical, old school fishermen, but were highly trained athletes, bred for endurance. Skippers would often fire a deckhand on their thirty-fifth birthday simply for being too damned old.

I’ll reenter the story here by giving you a rundown on the present whereabouts of the crew:

Blaine: Dead. Skiff accident in New Jersey.
Larry: The skipper. Dead. Went down with the boat a couple of years after I got off it and moved away.
Guy: Deckhand. Dead. Killed with Larry.
Bill: Crippled up with arthritis. Lives in the Cascades. Does odd jobs.
Me: I’m telling the tale, ain’t I?

The seas were running about twenty feet when we decided to call it a day, and besides, we were toast after about thirty-six hours. Still, running gear in twenties was pretty commonplace. The seas were expected to get a hell of a lot worse before they got any better. Bill and I took the first wheel watch. Usually one guy takes it, but things were pretty snotty and Blake wanted two guys in the wheelhouse. Besides, Bill and I were a pretty good team. We’d swap off wheel duties and the other guy did errands, got things and lit cigarettes for the guy at the wheel in addition to keeping his eyes peeled. His main duty was to keep the guy on the wheel on his toes.

Incidentally, the flare of a match can ruin night vision for almost half an hour. The night lights in the wheel house were both dim and red to preserve night vision.

Things grew worse by the hour, and the seas grew to about thirty or more and it got cold. We were starting to make clear ice, which meant little. But the seas quickly grew and the clear ice rapidly started to turn into rime ice and started to build up fast.

I was on the wheel at the time and I looked at Bill. Not a word was spoken. He went below and woke up Guy and Blaine and kicked the skipper’s bunk. The boat started to handle a little sluggish.

Blake was like a cat. He was in the wheelhouse in a flash, and took one look at what was going on. Blaine and Guy didn’t have to be told what to do. They suited up and broke out the de-icing gear and headed out on deck. Larry ran below and brought up a case of Louisville Sluggers, took one and turned on the back deck intercom. He went below and grabbed his raingear, returned and gave us orders: Both of us were to stay where we were.


“ Yeah, the pair of you!”

I gave the wheel to Bill because he was a better boat handler than I was. Besides, he was bobbing around a bit with nervous energy. I could tell. He needed something to do. I did, too, but I didn’t know it at the time. Outside, the other three were gaining ground, or at least holding their own. The hours since we had racked out were mounting up. The other guys had gotten about three hours sleep, which was enough.

The reflection of Bill’s face in the wheelhouse glass told me that he was dog-tired, and I’m sure he saw the same in me. I got on the PA and argued that I was more good out on deck than here and Larry relented. My next couple hours were spent on deck busting ice. About two a.m., Larry sent us in. We were ahead of the game, and the seas were taking a bit of a break. Besides, the ice wasn’t building anymore. I figure that maybe it had gotten a bit warmer. We thought the worst was over, but we were wrong.

Ten minutes later, we were hit by a rogue wave, and the whole boat shuddered. Bill later told us that it was a miracle that we had not lost our windows. I went back to the wheelhouse, Blaine went below to tend to the engine room and refill the day tank. We knew that if the main quit, we’d probably die. I saw the fear working itself out of Bill’s body, I could tell because he was bouncing and really getting into steering. Guy started putting things away and making something to eat, which wasn’t too bright of a thing to do with the way the boat was bouncing around.

Curses and falling pots and pans could be heard. This failed to stimulate my appetite. Guy was incompetent in the galley. Blaine once said that Guy could fuck up a can of green beans. Blaine was right. A couple days earlier, Guy tried to open a can with an old-fashioned punch type opener and wound up with green beans all over the deck.

Wham! Another rogue! Suddenly the fear that I had held for the past several hours manifested itself. Here I was as steady as a rock, grinning like a Cheshire cat, when all of a sudden the fear I had slaked off came through to me. It had gone into my body. My colon was starting to spasm.

One of the windows had almost popped out, it was leaking, so I hammered it in with my fist until it was back in place. I grabbed a box of Kleenex and a five-gallon pail some wag had labeled ‘Puke Pail’, tore off the lid, dropped my pants and sat on the bucket. My sphincter exploded!

The entire wheelhouse became fouled with an odor that I thought the human body was totally incapable of producing. All the poisons of fear had just exited my body, and the stench was overwhelming.

Bill didn’t bat an eye. He just stayed on the wheel.

A few seconds later, I exploded again. This time the stench was worse, but I knew the fear was out of my body. I wiped myself, pulled up my pants and slammed the lid down on the pail and returned it to the corner and bungeed it in tight. A fetid, vile stink hung in the air.
Larry opened the lower hatch and started up to the wheelhouse.

“Beat it!” ordered Bill.

“What’s going on…..”

“Just get the fuck outta here and give us some Goddam privacy, will Ya?”

Larry went below. He was a damned good skipper, and knew when to leave well enough alone. Most skippers lacked the social grace to simply go away. Most would have popped off with some big ego lecture about how this is MY boat, and so forth. Not that Larry wasn’t an in-charge skipper, he just had some compassion and knew how to keep his ego in check.

Bill grinned. “That was the aroma of fear, if ever I smelled it. It’s gonna take at least an hour for this place to air out. Started seeing mermaids yet?” He was referring to the hallucinations that come with lack of sleep. Most of had had them many times as fishermen. I suppose the Indians call them ‘visions’, although many Indian visions were drug induced. My most common hallucination was pink and purple dinosaurs. Brontosaurus Rex.

“No,” I chuckled. “Wonder if Blaine has seen his horses yet.” Blaine always saw a horse ride across the wavetops when the hallucinations hit him. When that happened, he’d get shaky for a few minutes until he got over it.

“He got some sleep, remember?”

“Yeah,” I said, looking out the window. The one I had just hammered in. I was on lookout again. I lit Bill a cigarette and handed it to him. He took it and inhaled. It helped make the odor go away.

Outside, it was nasty, and it looked like it was nearing it’s peak. I stared into the blackness and say the reflection if Bill and his cigarette. Then I saw her.

I saw the Whore of Death.

I didn’t flinch. I looked carefully. There she was. I looked at her, checked her out for a good thirty seconds. Suddenly, I felt a painful erection. It actually hurt. I stopped checking her out and shifted my eyes. For the next thirty seconds or more I stared her straight in the eye. My loins still ached.

“You want me?” I said aloud.

She nodded.

My eyes locked into hers. I stared for quite a while. Then I spoke. “You can murder me, rape me, or take me by force anytime you want. But you can NOT seduce me!”

She smiled, the look of a seductress that knew she could have me no matter how I protested. To her my protests were nothing more than pro forma. She looked entertained that I’d protest at all. I stared hard into her made up eyes. Under her false eyelashes, her eyes were hard.

“Besides, you’re Mother Nature in another form. I know who you are and what you want!”

She paled before my eyes, turned as white as a sheet.

“Beat it, Whore,” I said. “Be gone!”

And she vanished. Seconds later, I went soft.

A few seconds later, I turned to Bill.

“What was that all about,” he asked.

I casually told him that I had been visited by the Whore of Death. Bill paled, and I explained that she was gone. Bill stayed a chalky white for several seconds. I casually lit him a smoke. The day was breaking through, and we were no longer steering in the dark.

“Don’t ask, I don’t know why I know this. Just listen. There will be one more big wave, and this storm is going go blow itself out. I just know this. By the time we wake up, we’ll be working the gear again.” I said.

Sure enough, a couple of minutes there was a huge swell, but we changed course to avoid the worst of it, firewalled the throttle, rode it to the top, chopped power, and surfed down the back of it, throwing spray all over.

“That son-of-a- bitch would have killed us,” said Bill.

Larry came up into the wheelhouse.

“It stinks in here,” he said, looking at me. “Something crawl up your ass and die?”

Bill looked at Larry. “You got it, Larry,” he said. “I’m outta here.”

As Larry took the helm, I looked at him. “As skipper of this stalwart vessel, you are a leader of men. Right now you don’t have any men left,” I said. Larry looked at me and shook his head with a perplexed look on his face. Then he snickered.

“Yeah, really,” he said. “You two look like hell.”

Bill grabbed his empty coffee cup, opened a locker, grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and poured about an inch and a half into the cup. The liquor would put him to sleep in seconds. Sometimes a guy could be too tired to sleep, and a medicinal shot or two would take the edge off enough to do the trick.

I grabbed the ‘Puke pail’ and the pair of us headed below. I made a mental note
not to trip on the cup, which I knew would wind up on the deck next to our bunks. Bill headed into the stateroom we shared, and I went out onto the shelter deck to clean the pail with a fire hose. I cleaned it and filled it 1/3 full of water, went back to the wheelhouse to replace it.

When I got to the rack, Bill was out cold.

To this day I wonder if I shouldn’t have taken a good shot before bed and passed out. I would have avoided a lot of mental turmoil, yet I would not know what I know today.

I climbed into my rack and stared at the overhead and ran the last couple hours back through my head. The whole thing was surreal.

First, I had looked the Whore of Death straight in the eye and not flinched.

Second, I had not let my fear overwhelm me. I had managed it and kept my sense of balance. I could take pride in these two things.

Third, I knew Bill and I now shared a special bond. We had a special respect for one another that would last for life. Neither of us would ever say a word to anyone else about the events that had taken place.

Fourth, I knew that I had been right chasing her off. That bitch was trying to seduce me and take both my life and my very soul. Had I given in, she would have taken me, and most likely, the whole crew. I wasn’t so much worried about MY life, as I was the lives of my shipmates. Still, the thought of spending eternity chasing her scared the hell out of me. And chase her, I would have, like many lost souls.

Fifth, and this scared me, I knew that the client book I had that had been given to me by the hooker I had taken to midnight mass held more power that I had ever imagined. Most of the names in it were fairly normal people. Many were single, some were married man that had strayed from the marriage bed for a fling, or some reason or another. But some were people that were trying to satisfy some deep rooted thing that was an aching in their souls.

This latter would willingly kill me in front of a thousand people and spend the rest of their lives in prison rather than have to publicly face themselves. I decided to do two things: I would still keep the client book, but I was going to ship it out of Kodiak. I eventually did this, and later I destroyed it.

I realized that I now knew too much. I was dangerous.

I wanted to sleep now, but it would not come. I found I wanted to look at The Whore of death again. I brought her back into my mind. I didn’t was to see her eyes, I just wanted to put her into my mind for future reference.
At this point, the erection I had experienced in the wheelhouse earlier returned. It strained against my long johns.

The Whore of Death was a tall woman, a couple inches taller than me. She was ageless, but looked around forty. She didn’t have a bikini figure, nor a Playboy model look about her, nor was she stocky like a corn-fed farm girl. Her hips were a bit wider than the model types, and she was fairly well busted, but not top-heavy. Far from the ideal figure Hollywood shoves down our throats, I can describe her body as being utilitarian and practical. The type that can just about keep on keeping on forever. One thing was for certain though: She had stolen her legs from Tina Turner. They were powerful.

Her face and skin were nothing remarkable, either. Her skin was neither teenager tight, nor old age wrinkly, but had somewhat of a leathery appearance that comes from too much time in the wind and sun, and she had a quite few stretch marks on her breasts, abdomen and hips, as if she had given birth several times.

It was quite some time later when I figured out where all the stretch marks came from: She had given birth to every single natural disaster that had ever occurred on the face of the planet!

What made her so damned attractive was a total animal magnetism that defined total carnality. A thing well beyond the carnality of the flesh, a carnality that went deep into the soul. It was fearful, and a man that tied himself up with her once would be doomed to spend the rest of eternity trying to be with her again. In the pursuit of her, he would give up everything and become a shell of a human, lost forever.

Indeed, I was glad to have sent her away when she appeared in the wheelhouse.

Another thing was certain: This was going to be my last winter fishing trip---ever! I was going to get off the boat as soon as the season was over, at least until well into spring.

I blocked her out of my mind, but my erection wouldn’t go away. I needed sleep, and contemplated going to the wheelhouse for a stiff drink to knock myself out, but the erection wouldn’t go away and I really didn’t want to wander up into the wheelhouse with an erection.

I reached into my long johns and touched myself. Instantly I exploded and before the throes of a very powerful orgasm were over, I was dead to the world in a deep sleep.

I woke to Bill rustling around, and looked out the porthole. The seas were down, sixes and eights and no whitecaps. The wind had died out. I looked at Bill.

“They’re over there, Bill,” I said, pointing to his pants.

“You asshole,” he laughed. It was a reference to the time we had been in a rush and had both tried to put on the same pair of pants a la Laurel and Hardy several trips ago.

We got dressed and went out into the galley. Blaine was there looking pretty chipper. He had probably sacked out on the settee.

For the first time since I’ve known him, Bill announced that he was starving. He was always a coffee and cigarette man. Everyone gaped. Even Larry as he walked into the galley. Seeing Larry in the galley was a good sign because it meant that Guy was at the helm. Larry never left Guy steering unless things were pretty mild.

“What happened up there, last night?” Larry asked Bill. His voice had a cutting edge to it.

“Nothing that had anything to do with the safe operation of the vessel,” answered Bill, in a formal voice.
Blaine glanced at me, but the look I gave him told him that nothing was ever going to come from my lips. He nodded, and never asked me again. He knew better.

“Are you positive?”


“I will take you at your word.” Larry went up into the wheelhouse and Guy came down.

“One a you guys shit your pants up there?” He asked. “The wheelhouse sorta smelled pretty bad when we got up there last night.”

Blaine surprised us all. He grabbed Guy and bounced him against a bulkhead a couple of times. Bill and I looked at each other and laughed. Then Blaine backhanded Guy a couple times. More laughter. Guy broke loose and ran up to the

Larry came down a minute or so later. He was carrying a bottle of cognac, and poured the three of us a cup of coffee and added a tablespoon or two to each of the cups.

“Well, Boys, time for our morning booze,” he said.

More laughter. The cognac he added was not enough to effect us in any was, but it sure gave the coffee a wonderful aroma.

Blaine cooked up a pretty damned good breakfast, and we ate like hogs. Fifty minutes later we were working the gear, and would do so for the next few days until the season ended. We made pretty good money, too

Further adventures in deranged behavior:

I got off the boat as planned, and in June got back on. We fished black cod and halibut and I made a bunch of money. I could afford to take almost a year off, and in the middle of August, took my personal sailboat off for a long cruise down the inside passage. I was sailing nearly a year before the money ran out, and wound up having an interesting time for quite a while. It’s another story. A book, really.

During the Gulf of Alaska crossing, I hit a pretty good storm and saw the Whore of Death again. She announced that she had something for me and vanished. When I went below, I saw my father, who had died a few years before. He was funny, and left me in good spirits. I still miss him. He was a real character.

Bill got off in August when I did, and went to the Cascades to build himself a home on some land he had there, returning to fish as he needed money.

Guy took his money and took some woman to Hawaii. He was gone three days, returned pretty upset that she had left him after he had tossed her into the pool. We felt bad for him until a couple months later when the woman came back to town. Seems he HAD thrown her into the pool, all right. From a third story balcony! After that, no female would have anything to do with him, even the hookers. He left town, but returned in time to be rehired and later killed when Larry lost the boat.

Blaine went back to Jersey, where he met his fate.

I never did return to winter fishing.


my other blog is: http://officerpiccolo.blogspot.com/ http://piccolosbutler.blogspot.com/

No comments:

Post a Comment