Saturday, March 5, 2016


“Im only doing this because something seriously weird is going on.” Anda said to Lyn as they swam. “I have a reputation to uphold, you know?”
“Mmmff.” Said Lyn.
“Right? Like I can’t have it get around that I’m a reformed mermaid or something.”
“Fffff” Said Lyn.
“Lyn, are you judging me right now?”
“I know,” She said “you just care about eating penguins and playing in storms but don’t worry, I’m getting this over with this time and then we can go back to being awesome.”
“Mm.” Said Lyn.  Suddenly something struck Anda on the head and she stopped abruptly. Lyn made a sound like a laugh.
“God damn it thats the second time today!” She cried. “Stop laughing at me!!”
“Mmp map map!” He chuckled, spinning in circles and flips. Anda ignored him and held the object out in the quickly fading twilight.
“Y A H O O.” She read aloud. “That’s a new one, we must be close.”
“Mmp map mmp.” said Lyn.
“Oh you stop it. Come on.” She waved her fin at him motioning him forward, then they both swam on.

Anda wasn’t sure how it worked, maybe somebody explained it to her once but she hadn’t been paying attention. She just knew where to meet the ship. That was enough for her. She didn’t want to know how it worked, she didn’t want to know much of anything about it anymore because she had no choice in it and she hated it. It wasn’t the deaths so much that bothered her. A sailor that goes to sea without acknowledging that there his a chance he or she will drown is an idiot, Anda thought. Not to say there weren’t a few she’d met. Usually greenhorns and landies, she’d made sure to tell them to their faces what fools they were the moment before they took their first breath of seawater. Most went out dignified and brave though, as is the tradition of sailors. She left those in peace in their final moments, watching from afar. She knew most sailors have envisioned themselves drowning at least once, and did not feel she had the right to impede on their personal fates. No. It wasn’t the deaths that bothered her. It was having to be their harbinger, she thought. She liked the humans. She had to watch them for a few days before their fates caught up. They were funny. Some screamed and ran in fear, which delighted her. Others would sing with her and throw her roses, calling her beautiful. She even talked to a few, all of which offered at some point the opportunity for her to become human as well by sharing their bunk. She would respectfully decline, explaining that she would have to kill them for that to work. Of course they were to die fairly soon after, but she never had the heart to tell them and the thought of slitting a throat that had just shared so many beautiful words with her made her stomach twist in painful knots. So maybe it was the deaths after all, but she would never admit that too. Anyway, she did do cruel things sometimes, if there were a lot of wrecks in a short amount of time or she was just in a foul mood. She liked the fisherman even though everyone else hated them. But that was exactly why she liked them. Their job was death, and so was hers. She saw a certain kindredness there, though horribly misplaced. She fancied that they understood death best since it was there business as well, after all. Sometimes the souls of the fish would gather and claim a ship, then she would join in on the fun prancing along the waves of the bow, whispering to them in a storm to follow her - Don’t be afraid I’m here to guide you, I’m here to save you - she’d sing. When their ship rolled and sank she’d laugh wildly and loudly as they howled at her. So she didn’t mind death, or being a harbinger that much. Sometimes at least. What was it then? What was the word they used to call me? She thought. Contray! Maybe I'm just contrary. She was lost deep in thought, chasing her ideas like Lyn after a school of fish, when the shadow of a small boat appeared above her.

“Thats it Lyn.” She said softly, gliding to a stop. “You wait for me over there.” She pointed to the distance behind the stern. She didn’t want this sailor seeing him. The boat was too small to get away with announcing its fate without being seen. A mermaid was one thing, a mermaid and polar bear was too much. She wasn’t in a bad enough mood to do that to this one. Obediently Lyn swam away and Anda floated for a moment, looking up at the little craft. There was something strange about it. Its square bow and stern suggested some kind of barge or maybe even a boston whaler, but she hadn’t seen one of those in years. It was way to small to be out so far alone. No wonder she’d been called to its demise. “Dumbass” she muttered sorrowfully, then swam for the strange squarish bow.

“AWW COME ON!” hollered a middle aged man in a red sweatshirt, sitting on a cooler that had seen better days, beside a small outboard engine. “Music? Aha! Music means people! Ray is on his way baby.” He swung his arm and the boat whipped around. Anda dove to avoid the propellors. Not that they’d do much besides piss her off, she couldn’t die. She popped back up to the surface and swam alongside the boat. The man still hadn’t noticed her. It was getting dark. Then the engine sputtered for the last time and died.
“Oh no….” Said Ray, pulling off the engines cover. “No, no, no. We ain’t doin this. Now I know I called you a whore a little while ago but I didn’t mean it really. It was a joke. Jokes are funny right? Like us out here. Hey we’re a great joke! Old boat and retard, floating in the bay.” He sang. “But listen, listen, we got fumes okay? So when I pull this cord,” he said, shaking the gas tank, “You’re gonna start. Okay baby?” He stood up and pulled the rip cord out until it caught slightly. “Now… START!” He yelled. His own force flung him backwards so that he stumbled and fell, then jumped up with surprising speed for his age and grabbed the rip cord again. Anda watched from a few feet away off his port bow, her eyes and nose just barely above the surface of the water. This is getting weirder by the second she thought. “NOW START!” Ray yelled again lurching backwards. “Come on baby, come on, come on. START…. YOU…. FIVE…. DOLLAR… ASS… FETISH… WHORE… I… WONT.. DIE… LOST…. IN… THE… FUCKING… SHINNECOCK…. BAY…. AHHHHHH!” Ray fell backwards for the last time and slumped back onto the cooler with a resigned sigh. “Aww man” He said starting to cry. “I knew I shouldn’t-a paid that swedish hooker already. That was a hundred bucks… gone.” Anda decided it was time to finally intervene.
“Excuse me.” She said, grabbing onto the bow and propping herself up on her elbows. “You’re in the Bering sea, not Shinnecock. You shouldn’t be operating a vessel if you don’t know that.” She was being as polite as she could.
Ray cocked his head with a look more of being offended then shocked. “No right to operate a vessel?” He said indignantly. “Listen little lady, Ive been on the water before you were a sperm in your fathers nuts.”
Now Anda was pissed. “I am 798 years old you idiot. And you’re in the Bering sea. Learn to sail.”
“Sail?” He said shaking his head. “Baby this is an outboard, its 2016. Hey you said 798? Hot damn! I always wanted to bang a grandma! Hey how’d you get here…. is that? Wait… is that a tail? You’re a mermaid!” “Yes and - “
“I knew it! Its just like in Sharkzilla Vs. Alien! First theres this crazy storm, then aliens abduct the whole bay and give it as an offering to sharkzilla. One man must stand up to save them all!” He cried jumping up and thumping his chest “I knew it, I just knew it! Hah! Hah hah! Little old Ray saves the world. I always knew I was destined for something great.” “Wha-“
“Nope! Don’t tell me, I watched it last night. Mmmhmm.” He paused to light a Senenca, then blew the smoke out in an impatient puff. “So.” He said. “You’re the mermaid, your actually sharzillas whore, but your gonna be mine, cause we have to save the world. So then once we get that all… taken care of. Heh heh. Taking care of business! Yeah. Then uh…. Hey! You mermaids use condoms? You ever put lube on one of those things? Like a grease gun!” He said, making a farting noise and pumping at the air with his to palms clasped together.
“Oh what the fuck.” Said Anda, pushing herself away from the boat. “I am not dealing with this.”
“…So then i went back two weeks later and they says ‘what! how much porn didja download on this one?!’ I says ‘I dunno’ so they says ‘thats it! No more smart phones for you! you get a dummy phone!’ hah! get it! dummy phone! Hey…. I should call Bob. Your gonna hafta wait on your boat, Bob, Ray ray met a mermaid… Hey, that kinda rhymes…. Oh man, do mermaids have dildos? I always wondered that…” “LYNNNN!!!!”
“…till I looked it up one day and it turns out they do have dildos with a saws all fitting! Can you imagine that? Weeeeeee-aaaaaahhhhh! You’re gonna blow a top! Naw, naw, Blow a gasket! Hah haha! Your a lady how does that work? Wait no, i forgot, your a merlady! Oh yeah you never told me…” “LYNNNN!!!”
“….But I forgot your ‘sposed to tie a piece of line to the bucket, so when you open the door, just the water falls, not the whole damn thing. So it goes THUNK! and near knocks her out. Thats when I figured out no more pranks. Ray, your to stupid to play pranks…”
“LYN!” Anda yelled again. This time the big bear surfaced bedside her with a great splash.
“…They used to make me wear a helmet when I was a kid. No joke….”
“Please maul him.” She said. Lyn looked at her and hesitated. “Please. Just make him shut up.” Lyn seemed to shrug then swam casually over to the boat. In as many graceful movements he leapt up and bit off Rays left arm, then slipped back down under the water.
Ray fell silent and stared at the water then back to his shoulder in apparent disbelief. As he continued to stare at the blood pouring nub that, seconds before, was his arm, his eyes went wide. “…My stranger.” He finally wailed. “Its never gonna be the same now!”
“Gross.” Said Anda rolling her eyes. “Lyn, kill him.” Lyn shook his head.
“Come on why not? Im not allowed too? Can’t we just break the rules? Whats the worst that’ll happen?”
Lyn still shook his head. “Hey Ariel,” Ray interrupted “Im with yogi on this one.” Anda ignored him.
“Can you at least bite him every time he doesn’t shut up?” Anda asked. Lyn shrugged and swam back up to the boat. Before Ray could scream Lyn had sprung from the water and bit off his other arm.
“Hey I didn’t even say anything that time!” Ray yelled as the little boat filled with blood. Lyn looked at him almost apologetically as he chewed and swallowed the arm.
Anda swam to the bow and grabbed the painter, then motioned for Lyn.
“Here,” she said, holding it out to Lyn. “tow him to the ice shelf. I want to torture him before he dies.” With a sigh Lyn grabbed the line and began to swim. Ray watched silently as two nubs protruding from his shoulders oozed blood. From his sweatshirt pocket, a phone began to ring.


A large swell suddenly rolled out of the fog in front of the whaler and the little mercury screeched as it climbed its slope then descended down the other side.

“Assholes…” Muttered Crackhead Ray as he struggled to keep the boat under control. “Ever heard of reducing speed in poor visibility!” He yelled and straightened his course again. His own echo replied to him eerily through the white vastness. Another swell passed, larger, and then another. Soon they were so large that the tops disappeared in the fog, appearing like walls of water around him. A few minutes passed. CrackheadnRay drained another Yahoo and threw the bottle into his wake. The mercury continued to sputter and screech. it grew cold, very cold, and dark.

“Must have left the inlet.” he said, timed the waves, then spun the boat around. He opened his phone and called Captain Bob.

“Im gonna be late.” He said, lighting a Seneca Medium.
“Ray you said you’d be here and have that boat fixed an hour ago.” said Bob. “And why the hell is this a long distance call? Is this some trick to get me to pay because you cant afford your bill again?” His mate Matt looked up from the engine room and made a gesture like lighting a pipe with a grin. Bob waved at him angrily and stepped out on deck “We’ve got things to do here, where are you and where’s my boat?”
“Im in the bay with her!” He said, adjusting his course to take another large wave bow on. “Listen! Sounds like a fucking saws-all.” He revved the engine and held his phone to it. “See? Thats why ya call me, Ray is here!” “No, you’re not here and neither is my boat.” “Listen I’ll be there. Just wait five minutes for me okay? I got a little turned around in the fog.” Then he hung up.
Bob stepped back into the cabin of the old mainship yacht, sighed and shook his head at Matt.
“Where the hell’s he?” Asked Matt.
“Probably McDonalds.” Said Bob. Matt laughed. “He tries to tell me he got turned around in the fog. Can you believe that? Fog. On a clear day in February. He’s trying to tell me he’s lost in fog. Like I can’t see the bay from my god damn house. Do you see any fog?”
“Yeah, the fog in his head.” Said Matt, climbing up to the cabin sole. “You still paying me to do this shit?”
“Jesus! Money. Everybody wants money out of me. If I give everybody my money than I don’t have any ya know?”
“Hey, I’m a fisherman, not a mechanic.” Said Matt wiping his hands on his jeans. “Some more beer would be nice too.”
Bob held his head in his hands. “I’ll be right back.”

The little old whaler slipped down into a trough, then back up another slope of seawater. “Long distance?” Said Ray as he put his phone in his pocket, shaking his head. “Crazy old man. He should be givin’ me a medal for being out in this shit.”

Anda VII

When Anda woke again it was still twilight. Either she’d been asleep for two hours, or 24, and she didn’t care which. Her lungs, mouth and throat burned worse but she ignored it. She knew she could procrastinate her duties for another couple days at least before being in the perpetual agony of a sailors death would really bother her. And even then, she could steal some drugs and beer from a coasty cutter or fishing vessel and hide beneath one of the glaciers. She didn’t mind. Some of those strange little pills were pretty fun. She liked the blue ones that made Lyn turn into all sorts of strange creatures before her eyes, and talk like a whale. Also, there was some pretty cool shit beneath the glaciers, she thought. All sorts of caves and strange fish. Sure it was dark, but it was everywhere most of the time, and she had plenty of flashlights anyway. Anda smiled sleepily, thinking of her past escapes. She pushed it for a whole month once and the doomed ship made it back to port. Man did she hurt like hell that time! But she hadn’t realized that if the ship makes it back each sailor still needs to die in a wreck, turning one sinking into 30. And because it was her job she had to herold every single one of them. That was a bad year. Though, she did still wait a few days to complete each wreck. Procrastination was her signature, she claimed, and she was very good at it.
Some time passed and again the world grew dark. Dark and blue and beautiful. A school of fish swirled in the small cave with curiosity and Anda waved them away grumpily. After awhile she heard Lyn swim in the cave and settle on the shelf beside her. He nudged her with his nose.

“Hey buddy.” she said and rolled over to snuggle against him. He moved away and nudged her again instead. “Come on Lyn.” She said. “I got time.” He growled then pushed her clear off the ice shelf that was her bed. A flashlight tumbled with her and hit her on the head before disappearing into the depths. “Lyn what the fuck!” she yelled angrily. “Your gonna break my things again.” Lyn grabbed her by the waist with his mouth and swam for the surface. “OW!” She screamed and twisted against his teeth unable to break free. Just below the waves he finally stopped and let her go. “What the fuck?” She demanded again. He swam a yard away from her and glared.

The same music faintly played above them. Then she noticed it. The song was different. It wasn’t the same song she always heard when her name was called. It was a different one, but one she recognized from long ago. The one she used to hear with her parents in that strange crowded place full of objects floating in the waters. “What the fuck…” She whispered. Lyn continued to glare. She swam to the surface and broke through a wave with urgent force. Around her the swell had increased in size but the wind had died completely and an incredibly dense fog blanketed everything. She held up her hand before her face and could barely make out its outline in the heavy white mist. The music of a place she’d long forgotten was deafening. She dove back under the waves.

“Lyn,” she said after swimming back. “I think there is something seriously weird going on right now.” Lyn grumbled and swam away.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Anda VI

Rudolf the red haired nimpho…” Sang Crackhead Ray cheerfully as he ripped the cord and the little five horse power mercury sputtered to life on an old Boston whaler. “had a very shiny penis. None of the other raindeers, let him play in any orgy games!” He sat with a bounce on an aging cooler and wedged a Seneca in his toothless gums. “I knew you’d run old girl!” He said cheerfully, lighting his smoke. "Cause never fear! Ray is here! Mmmhmm.” He slapped his thigh then reached around his feet till he found a Yahoo bottle. “Empty? What the fuck. I just had that… Wait, empty cause I just had it! Hah! Hahaha! Get it?” He slapped his thigh again and threw the bottle over his shoulder into the water, then sprang up and flung the lines onto the dock. “Now where was I? Then one day on christmas eve, santa came to say….. Rudolph with your penis so bright, won’t you ride my wife tonight!” Crackhead Ray and the old whaler disappeared into a fog as he set out across the bay.  He was never seen again.

Anda V

The stars dazzled. They dazzled like Brooklyn on the fourth of July. They dazzled like the Hudson at night. They dazzled like the local bar on New Years Eve. The dazzled like a happy child’s eyes. God do they dazzle! Thought Anda, then she cried it aloud and tossed back her head, throwing her long hair in a glittering moonlit wake in the breaking waves. Lyn broke through the water and dove again with a thundering splash a few yards away from her, immediately she began to spin in circles. Lyn came crashing up to the surface again with a great wake sending Anda tumbling through the water. She flipped then sprang into the February air, landing with incredible accuracy in a dive by Lyn’s side.

“Four spins!” She sang above the raging storm around them. “Thats a record. Or your getting slow.” She grabbed his face and held it away from her in outstretched arms, then turned it from side to side. She gasped. “Lyn! Your getting slow and FAT!” Lyn gave a great roar and wrenched his head away from her, then dove forward so that she rolled along the underside of his body and popped up behind his wake. She laughed. “Oh come on, I didn’t mean it.” She said and lept through the waves after him. When she caught up she swam around his large body twice, twisting against his fur like seaweed and tickling his sides, then settled against his back with her arms around his neck.

“I love you Lyn.” she said. “Your the best polar bear this little mermaid could ever ask for.”

“Mmmp!” said Lyn and tossed his head with a splash that nearly sent her beneath the waves again. Anda laughed and splashed him back. Suddenly a large swell rolled beneath them and for moment they hung suspended on its crest. The stars danced behind fast moving clouds and great waves stretched out through infinity. Somewhere in the distance the running lights of a large ship blinked.

Anda felt like she was on top of the world. That great big world that floated above her, built of warnings and reprimands from her parents and the tales the elders used to teach. They angered her. How could you tell me, that a world you’ve never seen is so dangerous and cruel, she used to scream. The sea is dangerous and cruel. That’s what is. I’ve seen it. Not some world you know nothing of so you make up stories that it is to soothe your weak psyche. So you can sleep at night without thinking about how really your life is shit and you live in a sadistic toilet bowl. The elders said she was disruptive and asked her to leave. But to where? They told her to go but nobody suggested to her where. She wondered if they had even thought about it, they must have known. But then, once she left she wasn’t their problem anymore. Not realizing that was one of Anda’s worst mistakes. That was so long ago. Like that floating world, time, too, made Anda feel so small. But for a moment Anda and Lyn hung there. And Anda was on top of it. So vast and forbidden, always looming above her, above her all alone, except for Lyn of course. Anda felt small and alone, but she’d never admit that. For a moment, though, she didn’t. For a moment her smallness became connected to it, the howling wind and breaking waves, the stars that dazzled. It connected to her smallness like the colors of the sunrise connect the clouds to the horizon, and she was infinite. For a moment the world was all hers and it she, for her heart was captivated. She wanted to throw her arms to the stars but she knew she needed to hold on, so instead she tightened her grip on Lyn’s neck, and smiled with a sigh as they began to swirl down the back of a great mountain of ocean and fall into the next trough.

“Oh Lyn,” she hummed into is fur as they fell. “I just love an easterly gale.” Like on the crest of the wave, another moment swelled up and held her. It was a moment of complete peace. She wished it could last forever as she held Lyn’s fur tighter and felt her little chest rise and fall with little cold breaths. Suddenly a dark thought hit her and she remembered the last ship she’d been tasked to condemn was sailing through a particularly rough easterly. She shook her head, as if her eyes where search beams looking for the peace that slipped overboard off her back, back into the sea. She found it, and took a long sweet breath again with her cheek pressed to Lyn’s side. The memory of the ship forgotten as suddenly as it had arrived in her mind. They stayed like that for a long time. Hanging from the top of one world, then swirling down its slopes to another. Just before a faint twilight lit the horizon, the most they’d see of day, Anda began to drift away into a calm and gentle sleep.  As a pleasant dream began, a strange sound woke her, like old music begining to ring, barely audible above the wind.

“No!” Anda gasped coming to consciousness with violent force “No no no no no no no no, no…..” A bitter metallic taste like blood filled her mouth. She spat, unable to breath, choked and dove her face underwater taking a long draw of seawater into her lungs. The sound grew stronger, and the winds began to harmonize with it so that the gale and music became there own strange symphony. “No!” Anda screamed. “You stop it!” She cried. “Stop! Just stop it!” But the storm grew stronger still and the taste in her mouth became an unbearable burning pain with each curse she lashed out at the sky. The same sky that hours ago held her in sweet reverie. “STOP” She wailed, beating at the sea with her fists. “I won’t do it. I hate you! I HATE YOU!” But the storm continued, and with it the song of death. Defeated she clung to Lyn’s neck, the twilight making the white of his fur glow blue against the waves.  She held on as he continued to swim, seamingly unphased by the sound or her outburst. 

“Its time to go home.” She said quietly after awhile. "Lyn?"


“I don’t think I like easterlies anymore.”

She did not realize that he had heard the sound long before her, and the moment he did, had started to head towards their home. Lyn knew Anda didn’t take her responsibilities very well. She never had really.

Anda IV

“This is so fucking metal!” hollered Andrew, lashed to the port side rail of the bow. “YEEEEE AAAAAAWWWWW!!”

The Gorillaz paused as a voice came on the loud speakers. “Dude come on, get in here.”


“Capt’s gonna kill us if he gets up. You said just thirty seconds. COME. ON.”

“He’s not gonna get up if you get off the speakers.”

“Dude I’m serious! I’m not writing an incident at sea report and explaining to captain that you were lost cause you wanted to play Forest Gump.”

“Fine.” Said Andrew as he undid his lashings and reconnected his teather. “But know that you’re a pussy, and this is metal.”

“Whatever.” Said John. He crossed his legs and kicked up his boots on the dashboard of the helm, then hung the microphone for the loudspeakers on the bulkhead. After a moment Andrew came in dripping seawater and sleet like a creature that just crawled aboard from the deep. He shook his head like a dog, sending a large clump of salty snow from his mustache splattering across the cabin sole.

“Seriously?” Said John.

“What?? It’s my watch. I’ll take the flak from capt, relax.” Andrew struggled with unbinding himself from his life suit while John continued to glare through the port hole.

“I want to.” John said finally. Andrew turned around and grinned. “Give me your life suit.”

“Hah!” Yelled Andrew and clapped him on the shoulder. “The man comes back to his old self finally!”

John fought down a smile. “Shut up, just give me your life suit.”

“Whyyyy so serious?” egged Andrew, then in unison they both cried “NOOO RACHEL!”

“Yo, I loved that boat." Said John, remembering the schooner they met on. "Why were we obsessed with quoting that stupid movie?”

“I don’t know but it was hilarious. Did I ever tell you I swam to the boat and climbed the bobstay one night? I was like a naked ninja man.”

“What? No way! Did I ever tell you I totally skateboarded on deck every watch I had alone?”

“Naw. Whats the highest you ever jumped from?”

John laughed. “Not from the running lights.”

“Yee-aah” Said Drew and held out his fist to bump it in conspiracy. John pounded it then fastened the last straps of the life suit. “Now,” said Drew “are you ready for the MOST METAL EXPERIENCE OF YOUR LIFE!?”

“YEEEEEE AAAAAAWWWWWW!!!” hollered John, lashed to the port side rail of the bow.

Anda III

“Lyn, I want a hug.” said Anda

“Mmmfff” Said Lyn.

“Lynnnn” Anda said and grabbed two handfuls of fur, burying herself in his neck.

“MMMFF” said Lyn again and struggled away from her.

“No.” Said Anda, throwing her arms around his neck again. “I want a hug.”

“Ffmmff” Said Lyn as he shook his shoulders.

“I need a hug.” said Anda

“Ffffffffffffff” Sighed Lyn, and with a deep breath laid his head down and lifted his paw so she could curl her body against him. Then Anda began to cry.

Anda II

Penny and Michael struggled with the boom as they dragged the bag into the boat. A bag full of shit. Inedible worthless crabs and short ground fish catapulted from the skirt over the hopper and onto the deck. The net sighed and clucked like it was judging itself for being such a waste of fuel. Penny stepped out of the wheel house and caught a crab the size of a baseball beneath her heel before crushing it and kicking it through the scupper in two swift swings of her oversized boot.


“I wish you wouldn’t do that.” Said Michael as he dropped the stern boards into the ramp.

“They’re whores.” She said.

Michael sighed. She never used to be like this. “Trippers ready.”

“Fuck I guess we’re really still doing this huh?”

“Your captain Pen.”

She paused, then shook her head and walked back to the wheel house to man the controls for the boom again. She watched as he unfouled the lines leading from the tripper and stood back as she raised the net and its contents spilled into the hold and over the deck. The catch actually wasn’t as bad as she thought it was. It still wasn’t good though. Michael moved around the writhing mess getting baskets and shovels ready. He kicked and cursed at a chunk of ice, pulled his hat down even lower so that his eyes looked like two angry beads beneath a thick line of wool. She laughed. Even in the middle of the Bering sea he still looked like he just walked off the F train.

Michael looked up at the wheel house and rolled his eyes, then started to laugh too. He wanted to be angrier. This entire situation was insane. But he probably should have known, that any adventure with her was probably a bad idea, he thought. He remembered when they met.
They picked the pile together quickly. Michael knew Penny didn’t have to with a bag this small, he could handle it on his own fast enough, but she didn’t think of him as crew. He was a captain as well, and many years her senior at that. In fact, if it hadn’t been for Michael she wouldn’t even be a captain. Her days were numbered once, she was wild and reckless, angry, before she returned to the sea and found ships to tame her. They were deckhands together back then, on her first ship, and he took her under his wing. He was the first person to be her friend that year. No, Michael was not her crew and she was not the only captain of the Mary Celeste. They were partners, and chose to go to Alaska together.

When they finished the pile they shuffled back into the wheelhouse silently. They peeled off their rubbers, stacked their boots in the corner and put on dry ones, though they were cold. Michael asked if they would set again. She shook her head no - they needed a rest - then he made a note in the log and climbed down the companionway to his bunk in the fo’c’s’le.

Penny flopped in the chair at the helm with an apathetic thunk. She heard Michael pause, then continue moving about in the cabin below. So he heard me. She thought. Fine. He knows I’m not happy anyway. Im sure he isnt either.  Penny was not sure why she came. As the trip entered its 5th day she let her hope of a slow beginning ease out like surging a dock line. Nobody was catching, a storm was on its way. Not a dangerous one, granted - according to the marine radio forecast - but enough to kick up a decent sized swell nonetheless. In all, her maiden voyage was a total flop.

She missed her fleet back home. The unlikely Shinnecock Commercial Fishing fleet that became her home and taught her everything. Just everything. She wasn’t sure why she even left. No. Thats a lie, she did. Money. The years were getting increasingly meager off the south shore of long island and with just a little state boat she couldn’t chase after scallops or larger pay fish like some of the other boats. She thought she’d take her chances with a shiny red captains license that she never used and go to Alaska. Yeah. She thought, and spat a string of tobacco that escaped her rolled cigarette and on to her tongue, out the open porthole. Just like always. I thought I was so fucking smart. I always think I’m so fucking smart. Especially when I’m not listening to anyone. Penny was bitter. No. Salty. She was finally the salty foul mouthed, wild haired captain she dreamed of being when she was a little girl. I thought I was so fucking smart. She thought, thinking of that little girl.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Adjusting the lost chapters - Feb 3

February 3, 2012

…You and strawberry wine, inspire me to write words and write lines
but i cant describe, how I feel inside
Yeah you and strawberry wine, make me scream I am alive!
but i cant describe, how i feel inside
when i look in your eyes
or taste strawberry wine…

“Thats all I got…” I say sheepishly and lay the guitar across my lap again.
“I really like it!” Says Maria. I look up at her and smile shyly.
“I like the part about Barnes and Noble.” says Ben. “You should finish it.”
“Did you write that the other night?” asks Weenta
“Yeah…” I say and flash her a guilty grin
“You drank that whole bottle didn’t you?”
“Mmhmm.” I hum recklessly proud.
“Oh dude…”
“I was so good!”
“Wait whats this?” Asks Maria.
“Strawberry wine.” I say
“She got it from Homestead.” adds Weenta
“It was so good!” I say again. “I almost wish it wasn’t alcoholic ‘cause i just wanted to drink more… but the alcohol adds to it too. I cant describe it…. It was just, oh my god.”
“Where did you get it from?” Maria asks
“Theres a homemade wine store by the Barnes and Noble. I was there to get bottles to start my own winery in the kitchen cabinets but they had tasters and I had to buy a bottle. The ladies where really nice! I told them my story and they even gave me an umbrella.”
“Why? You didn’t you walk there did you?”
“Well, yeah. I didn’t feel like taking my bike.”
“She always does.” Says Weenta.
Ben starts to laugh. “You Holmans….”
“You’re just like your father aren’t you?” Says Maria shaking her head. I smile and shrug, absently rubbing my shoulder - its still sore. The empty bottles (and two full ones) I purchased from the winery weighed more than I thought they would. The kind clerks tried to make handles for me out of rolled garbage bags but even still I had to sling the mass over my shoulder and shift it often through the 3 mile walk home in the rain. By the first bridge I was wondering if I’d make it home. I tell myself I’m building my character when I’m in a fix like that. I tell myself “I’ve been through worse, Ive been through worse, Ive been through worse”, every mile. And maybe it is the worst, but it doesn’t matter if I tell myself it ain’t, and before I know it Im always home making an ice pack, taking off my boots, and forgetting the rest. I don’t know how my Dad does it, but that’s how I get by. No, maybe I do. I think he makes a game of it, well I do that sometimes, too. That's what he used to do with me, that's what I remember. We’d pretend we were fighter planes on our bikes and I’d have to chase after him making machine guns noises every mile of the 8 we used to trek from Greenport to Orient on Long Island. That’s how he got me to keep up with him despite how heavy our backpacks were and how small I was. That was a long time ago. I brush my hair in front of my face with my fingers to hide a sad smile that I can’t hold back. What dreams I had back then. Weenta opens her laptop and starts fiddling with its keys, typing and scrolling. Ben peers over her shoulder. Maria takes a swig off her wine and looks back at me. I wonder if she’s going to bring up the eggs in the mug again.
I tuck my hair back behind my ear. “Yeah.” I finally say and laugh, but nobody seems to hear me.
“Okay what’s next?” Asks Maria
“I’m looking for Mr. Jones.” Says Weenta. “Do you guys still want to sing that?”
“I don’t know it.” I say
“What? You definitely know Mr. Jones.”
“Dude you know Mr. Jones.”
“No, I really don’t.”
MR. JONES AND ME!!!!” Ben yells out in a cracked voice. Maria startles a little then bursts into a laugh that folds her over her guitar.
“Thanks for that Ben.” She chuckles.
“Anytime.” He says, taking a large sip from his mug.
“Okay!” Weenta breaks in and spins the laptop towards us. “Got it. Who’s scrolling this time?”
“I will.” Says Ben. He puts his mug down and shifts towards the center of our little circle on the floor. “Ready?” he asks looking at Maria and me. We nod. Then we all begin to sing.
Time blurs together as we sing and I don’t know how long we’ve been sitting cross legged together. Somebody pops their head in at some point and says we sound beautiful. That makes us all laugh.
“Were definitely all off key.” says Maria
“No, we just need more to drink.” Says Ben. Weenta rolls her eyes but I’m in favor of the decision. Im always in favor of the decision of more to drink.
We go through Bruno Mars, The Rolling Stones, Train. Our selections have no bias or method, we are guided from one song to another by our mirth and memories. We pour more wine. Maria explains to me what a “warm winter” is and offers me a similar mug to Ben’s. I don’t like it and make a face, we laugh, then we’re singing again. We come up with an idea to build a food truck on Braddock Avenue and sell everything in burritos - and warm winters for the locals at Ben and Maria’s playful suggestion. We keep singing. Finally, maybe just for a moment, but finally, my anger and my aching memories melt away. The southern sun fades from my guitar strings and the wail of sirens on city streets echo, then silence. The dull clang of the steel mill across the street slips in the room beneath our music, the too sweet taste of “warm winter” coats my lips. I wonder if some day this will be the sensations that haunt me. Walking through a town somewhere, maybe carrying groceries home, as i fight to ignore a ghost town hiding between little pink houses in twilight. I don’t like the thought. I like here, I like now. I like these songs, and not feeling alone.
After the evening winds down we plan to meet at the house to discuss our food truck seriously - soberly - and Weenta and I step out into the bitter cold night, my guitar slung across my back, Weenta in her red peacoat. She stops in the snowy parking lot looking up at the steel mill and turns too me.
“It’s such a symbol.” she sighs with the glow of the flame in her eyes. “Every time I look at it, its like this is real, I live in Braddock.
“Yeah.” I say, kicking at a hard lump of sooty sleet. “We live in Braddock.”

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Adjusting - the lost chapters

January 29, 2012

I wander up the road past the bodega for the first time on foot. My pace is slow, thoughtful. Calmer than it has been in awhile. I’m listening to music on my phone and pause frequently to bend at strange angles and to take pictures of the strange life Ive been gasping to describe to my many friends, many miles away. Bricks stacked and forgotten, decorate empty lots - somebody’s lost dream - and bars locked like prisons with rusted metal gates, forever shut, fill the small screen in my palm. The midday sun casts a cheerful glow on it all. Delicate shadows underline the cracks in the building faces crooked smiles and weathered backside of the pavement beneath my feet. The weather is mild for January, and so is the lost ocean inside me. I turn north at the end of the road, returning up the hill of the ridge that North Braddock is settled on. Eventually I come to a large bridge.

I look down at my empty side and stop. I’m not sure where I am and I don’t remember ever seeing this bridge before. It spans a large wooded gorge and in the distance I can see the tracks and a signal bridge. Suddenly I realize I’m looking down at the hollow. Second street stretches out below me through Braddock, hidden behind the trees from where I just came. I must not have noticed. I’ve never walked this far without Brooklyn before.

I hesitate, standing there looking around. The sun will set in a little over hour and I’m far enough from home that I’m not sure if anybody will know me here, nor do I know the political climate on this housing block - to put it lightly. But the bridge stretches out before me temptingly. It’s huge. I’ve only ever seen it before from the distant hollow and train tracks far below, and it’s even larger than I thought it was, standing at its narrow paved edge. I look back down the street towards home. Ive been walking for half an hour but I was dawdling. I can walk home fast if it gets late, and I can pick up my pace now to cover more ground. I look across the bridge again and smile, then take a light step giddy with rebellion. I turn up the volume on my headphones and sway to The Crystals as I take skipping strides along the concrete rail and long sidewalk to the other side. I pass a Welcome to Swissvale sign, but like Second street, I don’t notice that either.

The abandoned houses grow fewer, yet increasingly modern. The area becomes very residential, and feels slightly friendlier than the parts of North Braddock I usually explore. My courage picks up, and my pace slows back down. But with less desolation characterizing the scenery, there are less reasons for me to stop and entertain my budding taste for photography, so I’m making good time. Soon there are barely any abandoned houses and I begin to get disinterested. I had decided when I crossed the bridge that I would not break into any structures here since I was distrustful of the neighborhood, and just photographing their crumbling facades was already boring a few blocks before they disappeared all together. I am about to turn around when I round a bend to a long chained off walkway to the largest building I have seen in months. Its abandoned. Its been abandoned for years.

Again I stop and look down at my empty side, then back at the building. Its enormous. It looks like on of the old early 1900s manors, the kind with gardens and servants quarters. Red brick, three, four stories, stretching across a city block easily. The same temptation at the bridge gnaws at me, begs to me. I know I shouldn’t I swore i wouldn’t in this neighborhood. But its there, ruined. Huge, mysterious and beautiful. The afternoon breeze ruffles the vegetation that nearly obscures the long fence and foot path. Near the center of the building at ground level there is a large hole in the wall and scattered bricks across the parking lot. I shiver wondering what caused it. The Ronnettes hum in my ears. It is such a beautiful afternoon. I step towards the gate, then jump back, then step forward again. I know whatever I do right now I look plenty suspicious. I start to laugh at myself and realize that I’ve got to do, I can’t help it. I came all this way for what? To be disappointed by this seemingly normal residential street. I set out this afternoon in search of something, and I found something, I found something indeed. I can’t walk back. Not with time still on my side. I glance around again then dive under the chain and sprint down the path, ferns and thistle whipping my cheeks and catching on my jacket. I make the turn around the back of the building where nobody can see me from street anymore and stop, panting, with my hands on my thighs. Tag, your it. I gasp at an invisible companion. Chance, luck, my dreams. Then add boldly, Catch me if you can mother fuckers. I straighten up, take a deep breath, and climb the stairs to a large door under an awning. A large open door, inviting me in.

“HELLO!?” I holler into a wide room with wood paneled walls. “ANY SQUATTERS HERE? ANIMALS?” Silence. “IM COMING IN OKAY!?” Silence.

I shift my weight nervously then walk across the room to a doorway that opens into a long hall. I turn around and photograph the room behind me before stepping into the rest of the building.


Okay I sigh, starting to relax. I’m alone. Completely alone. Without Brooklyn, or anyone who knows where I am. A shiver runs up my spine as a cold breeze runs through the building, or maybe its just all in my head. I shake my shoulders and adjust my jacket around me. I’m not getting spooked. Im the toughest bitch in town. I begin to walk down the hall, and its lined with rooms. Im not scared of some bricks. I pass some sort of strange bathtub with rails and restraints. These pictures go straight to Facebook, there’s gps tags on them. A calendar, 1996. Who cares how late it gets or that I haven’t spoke to anyone today. A biohazard trashcan. Somebody will see where i am, where I was last.  If something happens. Peeling led paint. But nothing is going to happen. I make it to a window at the end of the hall then turn around, walk back, and stop at a stairwell in the center of the building. The opposite end of the hallway is dark, and down the stairs is pitch black, but the stair case leading up is airy and bright. I grin, smug and proud, then put my foot on the first step, testing it with my weight. I step up, one, two, three, four steps. I reach the first landing.

That’s when I hear it, a noise. A fucking noise. A resonant thud and scratch like something being dragged a short distance. I freeze. I think to yell out again but can’t find my breath to make anymore sound than a cracked whisper. Slowly I start to step backwards down the stairs. I make it to the hallways paint chip littered floor and stand there staring up the stairs i was just on, trying to move my feet through the chips and dead leaves without making any noise. I muffle a giggle into my fist nervously. Okay. Its okay. Its probably just the wind. I take a summoning breath and walk back up the first step again. Then the second. Im the toughest bitch in town motherfuckers. BANG!

I run. I run so fucking fast I nearly bust my ass on a pile of leaves in the first room and skid out onto the porch, jumping around the broken collapsed decking and fly down the stairs until I come to a stumbling stop in the weeds, bright sunlight and the mild breeze that carried me here like an explosion around me, dazing me for a moment. When I regain my senses I turn around and notice for the first time large letters engraved across the front of the building. LADIES G.A.R. HOME. I shiver again and pull out my phone, braced to discover I just spent the afternoon running around a women’s psych hospital or criminal half way home.

“A fucking nursing home!? For civil war daughters?” I look at my phone in disbelief then back at the building and start to laugh wildly. “Oh what the fuck! I just got the piss scared out of me by a bunch of dead old rich ladies.” I can’t stop laughing at myself. I shake with it, my eyes welling up. I swear its the funniest fucking thing thats happened all week and for a moment I wish with all my yearning that i had a friend to share it with. I cant imagine if anybody can see me, they must think I’m out of my mind. Hell, I am! Im laughing, uncontrollably, completely alone. This is absolutely ridiculous. “Alright ladies.” I say between fits of giggles. “Im coming back in, there’s important photography to be finished here.” I calm myself as best as I can and take a step back towards the entrance stairs. No sooner after my my foot stamps down the grass before me do I hear a distant echoing thud from one of the higher floors.

“Oh fuck this place!” I jump in the air and scream “fuck this fuck this fuck this fuck this fuck this.” I didn’t stop running till I hit the bridge.