by: Ralph E. Ahseln 12/2014
A Story of Redemption at the Marina.
What Charles Dickens WOULD have written, IF he had been a Sailboater...
He was definitely dead. That was for sure. Dead as a Dodo. That is, we would have to assume being extinct , that Dodos are indeed dead. If he hadn't been dead, then this would be just another Christmas story about personal Redemption after a life time of nastiness. Which, of course, it is.
The old Wharfinger knew that Jack Marlow was dead, because Marlow's longtime boat co-owner and fellow sailor, Abner Crewge, had told him so. You see, Crewge and Marlow had lived on a big ugly (Fill in the Blank) sailboat that was moored in the marina. They had, for many years, traded and sold used boats and old boat parts out of their vessel at moorage.
They made a lot of money doing it. So much so, they hired a guy to do all the record keeping for them. The poor fellow had a big family and had been out of work for a long time so he needed the job. For years he'd had to put up with a lot of nastiness from both Crewge and Marlow.
"Not a FUN job" The old Wharfinger mused.
First off, the old Wharfinger and anyone else who came to Manger's marina, disliked Crewge. Even Stumpy the Wharfinger's tailless cat, hissed each time Crewge walked by. Everyone felt sorry for his clerk, Rufus Nachblok. Rufus had a family of 5 girls and one boy. The family laughed a lot even though they were bilge poor. Probably because they drank beer all the time. The boy ( A jobless 30 year old still living at home), Tiny Tom, had terminal Acne.
To make things worse, Crewge hadn't paid his marina bill in months. The old Wharfinger had tried to make him pay, but Crewge had always put him off by saying "Bah Humbug".. This made the Wharfinger so angry, that a few weeks ago, he had kicked one of dock cleats and broken a toe. Since then, the Wharfinger walked with a wobbly wiggle whenever he wandered....... and had to carry a cane.
A couple of years ago, Crewge had banged on the door of the marina office, waking the Wharfinger and his cat Stumpy, to say that, "My partner, that old fool Marlow, has just up and keeled over".
So, there you have it, Marlow was dead, fini, Kaput.
Crewge now was the sole owner of that Ugly (Fill in the Blank) sailboat.
Now we can get on to the rest of the story.
The Wharfinger knew the "Death of Marlow" thing had been years ago, but Crewge was still just as mean as one would expect from a Used boat salesman.
To give you an example of just how nasty he was, Rufus Nachblok had asked for the Christmas holiday off. Crewge howled about being "cheated" when everyone knew that no one would be buying used boat gear anyway and that business would stop during the next few days.
But, Rufus had begged and finally, old Crewge let him have the day off. ( Unpaid, of course ).
Later that day, Crewge left his rickety old (Fill in the Blank) sailboat to have dinner at the BILGE PUMP BAR & GRILL, a short distance from the marina.
To show you just how cheap old Crewge was, after he'd eaten most of it already, he claimed to find a hair in his oatmeal mush. There wasn't any hair, but they gave him a second bowl anyway. Then he had the gall to ask for a Doggie Bag !
Heading back to his boat later, he was chuckling to himself.
I think you can see why everyone thought Crewge was Not a very nice person.
Stepping onboard his ugly (Fill in the Blank) sailboat, he saw something move . It made a sound like someone was talking to him, and Crewge thought he'd seen a face.
( Crewge liked using that expletive every chance he could, because he knew no one knew what it really meant. kind of like sailors who use strange words to explain stuff to Non sailors)
"Bah Humbug" he repeated, "It's just the sound of that fender scraping the gelcoat".
He went below, Still, a bit shaken by the sound. (I write this because it makes the rest of the story plausible)..
Then ! He saw stepping out of the Head, a specter surrounded by a misty foul smelling cloud. It was the ghost of Marlow, his old partner.
Wrapped around Marlow was a length of rusty anchor chain and attached to it was a Danforth anchor with one fluke missing.
The misty shape groaned "Oooooo, You're a nasty old meanie, Abner, You're gonna get yours !".
Crewge was disturbed, to say the least.
"Ok, I'm having a momentary lapse in my cognitive thought processing" He uttered.
Say what you will about his Nastiness, you'll have to admit Crewge was Erudite.
"What are you, you misty shapeless specter resembling my former business partner? " He proclaimed. (See, I told you Crewge was smart).
"Oooooo, Ease the sheets, Crewge... Ooooooo, I'm here to tell you about your being mean and nasty to everyone. You old Poop ! Ooooooo ,, " The ghost wheezed.
"You're going to have a few of my Spectral crew come around to tell you a thing or two about how you've been such a bad skipper, lo these many years ! "
Marlow's ghost continued.
"The first will come aboard at two bells, then the second when 4 bells strike. And , Boy, you ain't gonna like the Afterguard spook that'll come at 6 bells. "
And with that , the misty shape disappeared up the vent pipe in the Head (As ALL foul smelling Mistys should).
"Bah Humbug", Crewge grumbled one more time, crawling into the V berth, letting out one big burp, he fell asleep.
"Clunk clunk, " ... I wouldn't say that it was a nice bell sound, would you ?
But, Yep, you guessed it, that old brass clock on the bulkhead made it to the afore mentioned hour and was sounding something LIKE a bell trying to ring two rings.
Crewge lifted an eyelid and took a quick look into the saloon.
There standing in the middle of the cabin, dripping water all over the rug, was a wrinkled old man. I know what you're thinking, but no, it wasn't the old Whafinger. It was a different old guy. He didn't smell very good either.
Crewge noticed that the thing was dressed all in yellow Oil Skin foul weather gear and was wearing a So'wester hat. No one wears that ancient stuff anymore. It never kept anyone dry back then anyway, But there he was, standing in the cabin, dripping on the sole.
"Yar ! Brace up the Bentinck ! Lie In and Trice up ! ".. He used a lot of other words that were meant to show just how Salty this ghost was and which would have caused even the old Wharfinger to quickly do a Google Search to find out what the heck he was talking about.
"Ye foul Lorrell" (using another archaic nautical term)...He belched and came close to Crewge.
"I'm here to show ye what kind of Rail Meat you used to be, afore ye turned into a poor imitation of Cap'n Bligh".
Before Crewge knew what was happening, he was zipped around in some kind of a Trippy"movie" showing that once upon a time, he really was a nice guy.
Oh, you know the kind of movie it was, don't you? Full of Flash Back scenes that showed how Crewge used to party, drink lots of canned martinis, used crews on his boat made up of Bikini clad girls (for the guys), and Glistening body boys (for the girls)...and always sailing downwind, never close hauled.
Even Crewge had to admit, he was a nice guy then.
Well, he and the old guy zipped around some more, saw a lot of Nice things that a young nice Crewge had done nicely.
Then the spirit of What Used to Be, took Crewge to the hovel of Rufus Nachblok.
The Rufus Nachblok's were poor as church mice. Although, I've never heard of a RICH mouse. Maybe except Mickey, but then we don't know how much Disney paid him, do we ?
At any rate, the Nachbloks were poor. Even so, they always seemed to be laughing and singing. They had a big pan of lasagna on the table that the Mom always set on fire. They Drank a LOT. Mostly Budweiser Lite. I guess that's why they were always laughing and singing. It's probably why Mom kept setting the lasagna on fire too.
There were six sisters and one brother. The brother's name, as mentioned before, was Teeny Tom. Teeny still lived at home with the folks. He had terminal Acne. There was little hope for his recovery.
He DID have one redeeming quality though. He said funny things !
one of everyone's favorites..was.
"I ain't just a' bragin', my anchor ain't a' dragin' "..
That line always brought the house down.
After hearing the comment from Teeny, both Crewge and the old salty ghost quickly left and Zoomed back to the boat.
Crewge climbed into the V berth and immediately fell asleep.