“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.
Friday, February 12, 2016
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.
“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.”
“THIS IS SO FUCKING METAL.”
“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.
“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.
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
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.
“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.”