Monday, December 10, 2012

The Man Who Would Buy a Boat

The man who would buy a Boat

    Penniless, Fredrick woke one morning with an insatiable appetite for a boat.  Fredrick lived on a whim and in his late mother's house.  His whims he acted upon instinctively and his room was messy.  He wasn't the kind of man whom would buy a boat.  Not just any boat did he have in mind, but a grand boat.  He didn't know much about boats, save for that they float on water.  Fredrick hated water. 

    He was wearing his favorite slippers when he ventured outside.  A faint recollection stirred within him.  An advertisement for a burrito flew before his eyes ultimately collapsing upon his face.  The last time he ventured outside with his favorite slippers, he was arrested on account of them earlier that morning.  He was sleepwalking at daybreak wearing also an untied robe.  It was a cold and breezy morning.  He found his way to the harbor, his robe blowing in every direction.  A bus full of senior citizens had pulled up from the retirement home.  They were going to feed the ducks one last time for the year.  For some of them, this would be their last chance.  They had been looking forward to this day for quite some time. 

    The youngsters in the senior's group complained that this was a waste of time.  They'd been neglected by their children and forced into this home not of their own volition.  Their automobiles had been wrecked and the last of their freedom had been taken away.  To be sixteen forever, such a long time ago.  Just yesterday, they were loafing around the old folk's home watching last year's final duck feeding on videotape, tomorrow would be the real thing.  They loitered behind the couches full of watery eyes and waded up balls of tissue.  The youngsters made rude comments which fell upon deaf ears.  When they were too tired to think of further sarcastic remarks, or when the realization hit them that their commentary was witty but their intended targets were hard of hearing and it would be futile to continue, they made way for the couch and fell in love with those ducks.

    The seniors poured out of the bus in a molasses like flow.  Each bound for their accustomed seats.  Before they sat down, they placed solitary roses on the empty seats for those long gone.   It didn't matter if the wind swooped the roses away the moment they were set down, here was a place to commune with friends the living and the dead.  They plucked the roses out of the garden behind the old folk's home.  A prick from a thorn never felt so good.  "I'm alive and I can take it," they'd say.  "This one's for you."  They wiped a tear from their eye and called their favorite ducks by name.  "Here Abby," "Here Chester," "Here Raymond.  Here duckie duckie duckie!  Quack, quack, quack!"  The ducks waddled up and accepted their victuals.  Their distinguished feathery wrinkles crumpled upon their foreheads as they'd tear apart another slice of bread.  The ducks quacked and scurried in unison, their tar black bodies so sure of themselves.  This simple right of passage.  The folks quickly forgot their tears and smiled tenderly and laughed with their awkward friends.  Firmly rooted in their accustomed chairs, with serene and clear eyes, they looked across the foggy bay.  Clouds like the Dakota plains rolled, never ending.  

    When the bread was gone, they poured the crumbs into their hands and let the ducks lap it up.  Some salvaged bread from yesterday's dinner to prolong the inevitable.  With joyous smiles they mouthed their final goodbyes, too weak for words.  Felix the bus driver stood by wearing a big smile of his own.  He'd been ushering the folks every year for this occasion.   It was an honor to do so.  As they were about to depart, a man appeared in an apparent delirium.  He was walking with outstretched arms and foaming at the mouth.  His white and blue robe catching every breeze revealing his nakedness underneath.   The seniors gasped "The undead!" and panted after their walkers and oxygen tanks.  One of the youngsters rushed up to the delirious man and punched him in the face knocking Fredrick down.  Paul was his name, "Paul the Puncher."  He was once a decorated prize fighter afraid of no man.  He never met a man he liked, not even his own flesh and blood son.  Once he met those ducks, he fought for a friend.  He pulled the robe tightly over Fredrick, saving the day.  Fredrick strewn across the rocky ground with his yellow duck slippers pointed up and on the wrong feet.

    The deputy was summoned and Fredrick faced a day in court.  He was arraigned, booked, whatever it is they do to violators of law in sleepy harbor towns.  A jury was quickly assembled, the judge roused, and Fredrick was whisked to court still unconscious.  That's just how the law is handed out in this sleepy harbor town.   Quickly!

    His public defender sprang out of his house and onto on his fixed gear bicycle.  He weaved in and out of slow paced practically nonexistent downtown traffic till he approached the courthouse.   He locked his becoming mobility against a handicapped parking sign and climbed the steps to those two wreathed doors.  The courthouse wasn't stately, though she was modest and romantic.  She stood white, two stories tall in the center of town, a cross between a country farmhouse and a bare bones cathedral.  She was flanked not so ironically by Marion Ave and Kilpatrick St.   Her swooping veranda hugged instead of guarded her entrance, as warm and inviting as the person who inspired its erection.  Old Romona they called her, an homage to the architect's late wife.  Romona was a lover of life, her spirit was philanthropic.  A smile so electric she could light up the sleepy harbor town.  Even in death, she was this sleepy harbor town's defacto leading lady. 

    Old Romona once served her county before she was fleeced away in the middle of the night.  The roguish mayor Marion Kilpatrick sold her birthright to the counties' bustling landlocked city almost a century ago.  The money was used to fund a sculpture in his likeness right in front of City Hall.  City Hall looked like a nondescript but friendly enough library.  His laundry list of crimes was dirtier than the citizen's money he swindled.  If he would have heeded the axiom about statues dedicated to those still living, he might not have died a gruesome death at the hands of an unruly mob.  Is there any other kind?  Instead of tearing down the statue, the citizens decided it should remain as a testament of its history.  Why should we only be reminded of the positives history provides?  The citizens asked.  Besides, is not turmoil a great motivator for prosperity? 

    As the decades wore on in this sleepy harbor town, they forgot naturally of that vandal.  What was once a stoic reminder, a testament to hometown pride and the nobility and humility of past generations, was now adorned with Christmas lights, a Santa Claus hat, and a shopping bag.  Marion Kilpatrick's larger than life statue had stood the test of time even if his name hadn't.  It was ten feet tall and made of bronze. 


    Julius had seen better days.  He came into the courthouse looking like a  country breakfast.  A red and white tie like a fat slab of bacon rested on his fluffy biscuit gut.  His jaundiced eyes like over easy eggs ready to ooze.   They were dotted with peppery irises paramount on his hollandaise face.  His drooping sausage gravy beard itching to complete the meal.  Despite his sickly complexion, he was a jovial mom & pop kind of man. 

    Julius shuffled his awkward gait down the aisle.  His brown corduroy pants moving like walking blocks of toast.  For such a large man, his agility was breathtaking.  He'd play pick up basketball games at the sleepy harbor town's YMCA, and everyone didn't say that he didn't move like a ballerina.  He sat down next to his client and removed his ham colored jacket.  From his briefcase he removed a thermos of coffee and coffee stained literature and began taking notes.  His pen oozed like blackberry jelly.  Next to him sat Fredrick, in his wheelchair, unconscious of his concussion.  Like a hog waiting to be slaughtered. 

    "I'll be honest," his deep fried barrister said to Fredrick, "this doesn't look good.  Maybe we can get you temporary insanity.  Exposing yourself to the elderly?  These people are our sleepy harbor town's celebrities.  Didn't you see the front page of today's newspaper?  The duck feeding always goes without a hitch."  Indeed.  It was only eight in the morning, but yesterday's news happens today in this sleepy harbor town.  "Welp," he said as he linked his sausage fingered hands, "time for another miracle."

    The prosecutor didn't have to say much.  He was freshly shaved like a man of sensibility.  He was wearing an ill fitted gray woolen suit, baggy in all the right areas.  He was bald up top and short all around.  Like a poor man's Ben Franklin, minus the sex appeal.  He didn't get a haircut, but he was at the barbershop this morning.  Routines are tradition in this sleepy harbor town. He calmly unfolded two pages of newspaper and passed them around for the jury to look at.  The entire procedural consisted of closing arguments as this was a sleepy harbor town.  The juror members shared a smile as they gazed at the whimsical seniors headlining the front page.
    "What we have here, your honor, is a depiction of this sleepy harbor town's finest tradition.  Simply our greatest generation performing an age old ritual, a ritual which will soon be yours and mine.  What you esteemed folks have before you are the past two years of our grandfathers and grandmothers right there on the front page of our sleepy harbor town's newspaper.  I don't think I need to emphasize that these were our very own grandmothers and grandfathers.  And to think that it would have to come to justice for this miscreant to have his day, well, I'm a son of a mother and father who had a grandmother and grandfather and they taught me the right way to behave in this sleepy harbor town."

    He passed along the front page of this sleepy harbor town's newspaper the day of the incident.  Fredrick was captured getting clocked in the jaw, under the headline Pervert Thwarts Duck Feeding!!  Quite a departure from the previous editions!  They had already tried to erase the image from earlier that morning.  Their dogs would fetch the paper on cue at six oh three.  He would bring it to his master who was enjoying a cup of coffee and a blueberry name brand pastry.  At six oh six or so, the deafening sound of projectile spittle reverberated through these sleepy harbor homes.  The coffee and saliva pooled on Fredrick's naked black and white body.  I guess the newspaper boy in this sleepy harbor town was kind of like Santa Claus, who could deliver to hundreds of people in a matter of seconds ensuring every folk could enjoy the same news at the same time. 
    The juror members covered their eyes and cried after being held witness to the travesty a second time.  They passed the newspapers to each other and consoled those next to them.  How this man made them relive the experience! 
    Many of Fredrick's victims had required hospitalization for the trauma they endured.  Even an impassioned plea by his hot mess breakfast attorney couldn't sway the jury upon deliberation.  The seniors held too much clout.  They were celebrities and celebrities always have mass appeal.  Or would fate show remorse upon this simply misunderstood man?

     Julius had his script carefully orchestrated, like the very best of beautiful plays.   He was the kind of man who ate Popsicles in the middle of winter.  Without any dog in the fight, he was free to craft his magnum opus and air personal grievances.  Internally he fought between his opening statement and his end.  The murky middle, he'd employ a lawyerly tactic he could have been said to have invented.  Deflection and diversion, appeal to our inner sins.  Make them the enemy, not what's his face.  Considering the jury and the entire town had their verdict in mind, he felt it Shakespearean to leave them aghast from the beginning. 

    "Ladies and gentlemen, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it very well might be a duck." 
And asked Julius with a perplexing grin,  "But what if it ain't?" 

    The courtroom was aghast.  They heaved and their eyes bulged out of their sockets.  "How dare he!" 
they cried.  "You bastard!  Leave the ducks alone you monster!" 
    "Calm down ya hear!  Jus' e'eryone calm down now.  I know, I know.  It's painful.  Please hear me out," consoled Julius.  He waited a moment for everyone to collect themselves before continuing towards the crux of his story.

    "There are no secrets in this sleepy harbor town," said Fredrick's countrified lawyer, "at least that was once true.  Nowadays we shield ourselves in front of big screen TVs and privacy fences and lock the doors at night.  My friends, we've forgotten how to say 'hi."  We're making friends with television shows and movies at home instead of with our neighbors.  We're making love to channel five instead of with our wives.  Our children are taught not to trust strangers, cause they give you the heebie jeebies and all that nonsense.  Well, I was once a stranger here to this sleepy harbor town.   Upon assimilation quickly did i lose my Alabamese.  The accent might have left, but the appetite sure hasn't.  Woo-eee!! "  Julius clasped his all you can eat pancake belly and arched his back. 
    "Used to be you couldn't fart without the butcher catching wind of it.  Oh we'd know all the pertinent gossip come Sunday.  We'd all congregate downstairs after congregation.  Ms. Thompson would bake those awfully delicious bread pudding balls which (the rumor was) was a recipe she stole from that Palmer lady, our sleepy harbor town's only atheist.    Pastor Jenkins would take from his flask discretely and Sam the handyman would spike his coffee directly.  We all went to bed happily knowing that at least we weren't the Petersons.  He-he!" 

    'Some of these faces are new, and some aren't.  This sleepy harbor town ain't changed much, but I wouldn't know it from interacting with some of y'all on a daily basis.  Y'all's glum and miserable and act like it's a foregone conclusion that the world is about to end.  Which seems to me would make you folk a little more happy.  We can't share a thought with one another let alone a slice of apple pie.  Always too busy to get on home and make up to our make believe friends for neglecting them so."

    'Maybe it is life that is changing and it is not us.  Maybe I'm only seeing this sleepy harbor town in black and white and everything is in high definition.  Maybe.  Maybe.  Maybe I'm just too old fashioned with a hard on for nostalgia.  Maybe."

    Julius went to his briefcase and pulled out a copy of War and Peace.  "I'd like to quote Tolstoy for a moment.  I typically hate "quotes."  I'm a man who likes to speak his own words.  But every so often somebody beats me to what I'd been thinking all along.  Not my fault I was born when I was.   This is worthwhile." He flipped through page after page until after 10 minutes he finally came to the passage he was after.  "Oh, here it is page 953.  And i read.  'A superfluity of the conveniences of life destroys all happiness in satisfying the physical needs.'  

    'Now a superfluity of conveniences, what y'all suppose that means?  Now before you start hoot'n and a holler, rest assure I ain't gonna be the one that puts Tolstoy words on the stand no, and I ain't much a believer in Jesus for that matter.  Man has certain needs of course.  Food, shelter, sex, clothing.  Notice how I said sex before clothing?  Heehe!  And certainly man has proved he can subsist within those provisions.  But man hasn't escaped evolution and what greater starting point to the evolution of man then the spawn of community.  

    'Now many of y'all are probably wondering what this here has to do with my client.  Remember what Tolstoy said about how convenient life is?  How hard work isn't cherished anymore?  How we need and desire, nay crave the utmost exertion from our human hosts.  Now being someone's neighbor is something we here in this sleepy harbor town take for granted.  We don't think we need to work at common decent neighborliness, we don't even know our neighbor's names.  Now how sad is that?  How sad is that?  And don't tell that ain't true!  Y'all's strangers here right in this courtroom.  I know y'all's names and the only reason y'all know my name because I'm that barrister from south who's always causin' a trouble ya see.  And now my client has become a victim- and I can attest that what he did was Heinous!- if in fact you didn't know my client.  If you never took a minute to breach the blinds of your storm windows, if you never set foot out of your ivory palaces for no reason but to see what the weather was like, there's not a lot of folks living in this sleepy harbor town,"  Julius sniffled and wiped the tears from his eyes.  "So the next time you see a stranger, say hi.  He just might be in trouble."

     The judge stared at Julius with a look of unperturbed violence.  

    "You mocking me counselor?" asked the judge Warren Peace.

     "Yes.  Yes I am your honor," said Julius.

      "You must love prison more than your clients do.  What kind of sadomasochist are you?"  

       "Are there more than one kind of sadomasochists, your honor?"

       "The day we don't have to postpone court procedurals on account of having our sleepy harbor town's only defense attorney rightfully sequestered in prison will be a day that justice finally wins.  One week for contempt."

        "Of course, your honor."  

       "Anything, else."

        Julius put the copy of War and Peace back into his briefcase.  He glanced at his client and heavily sighed.  He took a drink of coffee and  looked the courtroom over and declared;

 "Yes.  Yes, there is, your honor.  I am hereby indicting this whole sleepy harbor town on grounds of it's cloistered existence!" 

    Julius' proclamation ended in an exclamation which caused the entire courtroom to stir.  This was intentional as it yielded a two pronged effect.  First, his exuberance would awaken the bored, sleepy masses and second he could delve out of the irrelevant middle (which while was the apex of his speech, he spoke more so to get a burden off his chest) and into more pertinent matters. 
    'Now here this unfortunate man is before us.  And I tell you that this man, is a once in a lifetime man catching the last train for martyrdom.  This man has shown me how my ways are erroneous!  I used to think that the sight of a naked man would warrant some jail time and maybe a heavy dose of psychiatric consolation.  Then I came around to what he was after.  Now here's a man who comes to us unafraid of his vulnerability, you see.  What secrets you all might have, he is not ashamed of his, brazenly does he flaunt his humility.  Now I don't want to pigeonhole the man or blaspheme, but his intentions are Christlike.  Should we ever stray away from the ordinary, with the scorn filled eyes of our neighbors upon us, we shall remember this hero that he shall never leave our side. 

    Julius pulled out a handkerchief and blew his nose into and with it wiped his forehead.  He pulled out a pair of reading glasses and proceeded.  Turns out Fredrick's public defender was also a beat poet or a Pentecostal preacher.   

    'He bore his naked flesh that much is true.  His genitals waved at the discretion of the wind that much is true.  And here's how it breaks down.  The penis doesn't perjure, got the whole sleepy harbor town in a fervor, woulda thunk the man committed murder.  Now a free spirit man, welcoming open arms.  To hug the elderly, no cause for alarm.  He's a free spirit man,such a fathomable charm.   Beyond the superficiality of every being's body is something that you cannot see on your television screens. 
    'Oh he bore his naked flesh to unveil his soul!  How can you feel superior, when this man's shown his posterior?   We had a gander at his cold, parched body and he's shown us..... humanity!  DEFIANTLY I SAY NOT GUILTY!" 

    Julius wiped his brow with his soiled handkerchief and as he sat down he said, "well I tried." 
    He sat down next to his comatose client, who evidently needed medical attention more so than a verdict, guilty or not.  Fredrick was slumped in his wheelchair, a pool of blood had collected in the back of his throat.  His left eye socket swollen shut and the size and color of a delicious apple.  Julius considered a thought.  As a happenstance of that consideration, Julius' biscuit gut heaved ever so slightly miraculously nudging Fredrick's wheelchair with such force tumbling him unto the ground.  Nonchalantly saving Fredrick's life.  Fredrick coughed and spilled the blood upon which he gargled.  Nobody noticed. 

    The jurors went outside to smoke cigarettes and talk deliberation.  They smoked two or three cigarettes instead and avoided eye contact with these strangers.  Not a word was spoken save for, "can I borrow your lighter?"  "Can I have a cigarette?  Thanks.  Wait, this isn't a menthol!"  They smashed their cigarettes with their feet and reentered the courtroom and assembled into their reserved spots.  Each of them a stern look of constipation coloring their faces.  Gone was the emotion seen just minutes before.  The elderly duck feeders were yesterday's news.  The big game was about to start.

    "Not guilty, I mean guilty," said the man who just now decided to be foreman.  "Guilty, your honor.  Uhmm, fry 'em." 

    The judge was a little more lenient.  He wore a parliamentary wig which clashed honorably with his pointed foot long beard.  He'd been serving this sleepy harbor town for more than two quarters of a century.  Still, he kept his wits about him wherever he went.

    The venerable Warren Peace had served this sleepy harbor town for two going on three decades.  He acceded his father's father as he lost his own father during the war.  Then he was such a small child.  

     Justice Peace hated Julius.  They'd find each other at the bar Myriad Harbor and tangle over a game of boccie.  Loser buys drinks leads to all night quarrels of literature to architecture.  It would have never occurred to them that they had never discussed politics. 

    Justice Peace to make his final remarks put down his papers and whatever it was he might have said.  "I shall too quote Tolstoy," said the judge Peace.  "The wine is drawn, it must be drunk." 

    He tossed his decree like a cigarette, carelessly unto the wooden floor and walked out of the courthouse.  Most of everyone had left.  What was read eventually was:

Fredrick was to register as a sex offender and make it be known to the community through Christmas cards, a favorite past time of the judge.  A sampling of the Christmas card is as follows:

Hi sir and or ma'am!  My name is Fredrick and I want to say "Merry Christmas!"  I'm not just a pervert, I'm a sex offender living in your sleepy harbor town.  Boys, sheep?  Who knows whose stable I'll end up in.  While I am court ordered to send you this card, I also do so of my own volition as I sincerely regret the harm I've caused.  Since I cannot take back my actions, I've decided to spread the Yuletide cheer!  In no way would I ever approach your children!  Welp, happy holidays!

Yours truly,

Fredrick, your sleepy harbor town's registered sex offender

    They poured out of the courtroom and drove quickly to their television sets for the big game.  Fredrick was left unattended.  His lawyer didn't care for the big game but was in a hurry for his Salsa class at the old folk's home which he taught.  Fredrick was mixed in with the recycling and taken away in the bed of a pickup. 

    "End of the line kid," said Sam the handyman after he hydraulically removed the contents of his truck.   Fredrick lay atop a mound of trash, a small hill perhaps.  Recycling and trash went hand in hand in this sleepy harbor town.  The landfill was to become a ski resort the following year as the lease on the land had expired.  Land for a grander dump had been allocated just on the outskirts of this sleepy harbor town.  

    A collection of debris gave way and Fredrick slalomed down the hill on his toboggan of trash unwittingly becoming the soon to be resorts trial contestant.  Fredrick careened to a halt and landed upon a bedbug mattress.  He opened his eye immediately refreshed.  He was on an unattainable high.  He had died and met God.  And here he was alive and good as new with an eloquent perspective on life.  What was God like?  He smelled like trees. 

    Fresh off his transcendence, Fredrick brushed off his rubbish blanket and up righted himself no longer reprobate.  His death and rebirth instilled within him a remarkable clarity.  A life mission.  What transpired in the afterlife was a vision for renewal.  No more slacking!  Time to get acting!  Must collect animals.  Two of them!  He said repeatedly aloud.  An advertisement for a burrito joint lingered about his face and collapsed into his hand.  Fredrick thanked Sam the handyman and went about to buy a burrito.

    Fredrick approached his favorite taco truck which was conveniently down the street.  A considerable line augmented.   Fredrick took his place in line.   Situated on a corner next to a shot gun shack on a plot of land no bigger than means to sell wares.   A ramshackle stationary trailer no more fit for a hobo than dishing out fine street fare.  A solitary man shuffled from inside the six by four window pleasing patrons with prodigious rapidity.  The line dwindled like time lapse photography.  Two blocks worth of people disappeared in a quarter of an hour.  Francisco, the rags to riches feel good story of this sleepy harbor town.  Son of Mexican illegals with coal black eyes.  Every inch of his 5'7 found its way to a customer's plate.  His tacos were the talk of the town.  Artisnal and methodical, he cultivated his craft.  Backyard garden full of cilantro and beans.  Stone ground corn for the tortillas made the night before and the farm was down the street.  Fresh beef and dairy he was on a first name basis.  He wore faded denim overalls and looked every part of a helping hand.  Fredrick asked for a steak burrito.  Francisco didn't appear to be in a jovial mood this afternoon.

    "When you finally pay for your burritos I'll give you another,"  he said
    "I have a tab.  My name is Fredrick,"  Fredrick replied.
    Francisco gave him a stern look.
    "I don't know why I ever let you have a tab in the first place.  You live down the street, so I thought, 'gee, maybe I show some neighborly hospitality.'  But a man can only be pushed so far! A man can only be pushed so far Fredrick!  I've only been open for a month!  And do you know by the time you finally pay up (and that's a big if), my kids will be on their way to college and your tab's gonna cover it!"  the vendor let out a huge sigh. 
    "You can't take advantage of people Fredrick, you just can't.  I'm cutting off your tab and..."  the vendor sighed.  "You seem like a good person Fredrick, just don't fuck me over.  If anything, just, just stay away from my kids."

    Fredrick's mouthed watered at the picture of one of Francisco's daily options.  A burrito boat. 

    "My name is Noses and I'm off to see about a boat," Fredrick turned Noses said.  He wasn't great with the Bible and had particular trouble with the Lord's aquatic servants.  So on he went with nary a taste. 
    The tacos' balcamaceous odor carried towards the shore and he along with it.  All the fortification necessary for a man on a whim.  He walked aimlessly for 12 or 14 miles along the coast of this sleepy harbor town.  Tethered boats frolicked in the harbor, like kids at the prom. The tide was changing, she ominously poured upon the shore only to recollect and do it once more.  Seagulls cackled and grasped for one last breath before continuing their world tour.  The wind howled and removed the pumpkin pie colored leaves.  They twirled in purgatory, their dirge before decay.  A man on a bench puffed on his cigarette, blue smoke caught the breeze and rushed it back into his face.  Winter was around the corner, you could feel it in your knees.    
    The man was selling boats on the side of the road.  His cigarette gingerly nestled against his rackety old beard.  He puffed it from the corner of his lip as to keep his hands warm in his worn insulated jeans.  He was old and gray and every day was the worst of his life, but he woke up in the morning with the prevailing thought that God must be good.  He was 87 years old stubbornly trying to catch a break.  He thought he had one when his nephew died and left him these boats, but they ain't selling.  And if them boats ain't selling, they sure ain't sailing.  Even if you don't know dick about boats, you gotta do what you can to survive. 

    Oh sure he held jobs in the past and skills acquired.  He built bridges and roads and forged a family.  But all that's gone.  A revolute joint failed and a steel truss clipped his back.  Landed atop the Ohio River and the steamboat Ms. Louise ferrying his family on a joy ride to see daddy finish his bridge.  He deserved a break, but never asked for one.  His only vice was wanting to live.   That's in the past and finally after 26 years a customer approached. 
    "I would like a boat please," Fredrick politely said.

    It used to be, the old man could sense a ruse from a mile away.  Age takes it's toll, just like 75 cents on the expressway.  "You's 87 sir or ma'am?  That'll be yo eyes and yo ears.  Come back again cuz we need yo memories and them walkin' legs."  But God must be good. 

    Feebly, the man gripped his cane and lifted himself from the bench.  Like a gentle grandfather, warm and inviting.  "Ok," the man selling boats said.  "Would you care to be more specific?"

    "That isn't necessary," Fredrick politely said," but if it can sail on the Pacific, that's fine by me."

    "No," said the man selling boats.  "I said specific.  Would you care to be more specific about which vessel you want?"

    "A grand boat," Fredrick politely said.

    "Would you care to be more specific?" said the man selling boats. 

    "One that floats," Fredrick politely said.

    "Would you care to be more specific?" said the man selling boats.

    Fredrick conceded to the knowledge of the man selling boats as his own was thoroughly exhausted.  And he politely said thus.

    "Why don't you show me around and tell me about your boats"

    A smile quickly erupted on the face of the man selling boats.  He grabbed Fredrick by the hand and with youth rushed him around his tiny, broken marina forsaking his woebegone reminder of the frailty of man. Woe be gone indeed!  

   The man selling boats assaulted Fredrick with great fanfare a plethora of knowledge nautically related.  He hadn't sold a boat in over twenty six years and it was killing him.  Fredrick wasn't remotely interested in what the man selling boats had to say, but feigned enthusiasm with polite, knowing nods in order to keep up the appearance of appearing polite. 

    After two hours of regaling this potential customer with his most intimate sea worthy knowledge, the man selling boats at once relented and sat down.  While he sat he asked Fredrick thus

     "Ok.  So what do you think?"

    Fredrick pondered a moment.  The fog unsettled unveiling a picturesque eve.  The clouds rolled like Kansan hills in the turbulent sky.  Often Fredrick pondered what ever came of his burrito.  And then he pointed at one boat in particular.  The slowly sinking sun, off to invade another horizon, reflected meekly on it's aluminum facade. 

    "Oh god that's a good one!" cried the man selling boats, "She's 15 grand."

    Fredrick searched his pockets for the 15 grand, but he was penniless.  He politely said thus:

    "I don't have any money."  His pockets dangled outside of his pants and flapped in the wind like tiny white flags of surrender.

    The man selling boats was too distraught to be upset at having been led on and dropped dead instead.  He fell into the harbor doing little to disturb the tide.  A noble death.  Returned to the sea from whereupon he first came.  His final thoughts.  His body floated towards the setting sun.  His obligation was complete and he was finally set free.  The man selling boats finally set sail.

  Fredrick was nonplussed at the passing of the man selling boats.  He searched his pockets once more and declared, "maybe it's in my other pants." 

   It was getting dark so Fredrick walked home.  As he walked he said thus

    " I'll name my boat Fredrick.  Fredrick's a beautiful name. Or, Godmustbegood!"

    And he was off on another fancy.