My Old Man and the Sea, and Me

My Old Man and the Sea, and Me

By David Himmel

A blackened city looms ahead
With foreboding consequences obvious in the darkness.
Behind us, a bright sky and calm waters and the time I feel we used wisely.
“We would have been home if you hadn’t been so anal,” my old man says.
“It’s better to fix and fully prep your vessel in port,” I reply. “Helps us avoid trouble at sea.” 

The wind arrives in furious fashion.
The knots speed up — they tighten and strengthen.
We’re under motor but that don’t matter none.
The tiny and mighty storm has found our little vessel.
We might as well throw the wheel overboard
For all the good it’s doing.

We’re twisted around so the gusts beat against us broadside.
Can we take safe harbor at 31st?
No. We have to turn back.
The weather won’t let us pass
And Jackson Harbor is closer. 

I would have put us on a less dramatic course. Safer, really.
Let the clever wind push us at our back
Then tack in at the break wall,
Slide into the channel with less resistance. 

But my old man has the helm.
I am busy righting lines and keeping our ship in proper ship shape.
Down in the salon I straighten something up
Balancing perfectly as the water does its best to toss me from the map table to the galley
And back again. 

“Get up here!” my old man says.
I can barely hear him over the scream of the engine and
Sounds of squawking—
Like birds attacking.
“Get up here!” 
“What’s going on!?” I shout back from down below. “That noise!”
“It’s my phone!” A duck quacking-ringtone. “Don’t answer it. Get up here! I need your weight!”

We are heeling hard to port.
It is remarkable considering our sails are furled and lowered.
This is pure hull.
My old man is concerned. Scared, maybe.
I am having the time of my life.
A challenge, a risk, a moment full of moments
Where the slightest wrong move can cost us our lives or worse.
Our boat.

We arrive. We survive. Of course.
We leave the boat in an empty slip
And wait for my old man’s old lady to pick us up.
We’ll be back in the morning.

And in that morning, it’s a different world.
Bright skies void of vapor-made mountaintops.
Smooth seas.
Enough of a breeze to unfurl the jib and bask in smooth sailing
On a massive lake completely empty.
No sound but the lines tapping the mast in time.
Just us.
Us and the wind and our vessel.

My old man, the sea, and me.

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