Just Another Day At The Marina
by: Ralph E. Ahseln 11/25/2010
It must have been around 5 o’clock that afternoon. The traffic sounds were gone. Normally, even though the Manger Marina was a half mile away from the freeway, there’s always a kind of a “Wind” sound that came from it. Today there wasn’t a bit of noise around the place. Well, except the purr of Stumpy who was curled up under the old Warfinger’s desk.
Holiday’s were always quiet around the old marina. It was a forlorn kind of place anyway, but on those special days it was a “lonely quiet”. The old man felt it deep in his bones.
Cold little “snakes” of drafts from a gray day, slipped through cracks in his office wall. Even though he had woolen socks on, the chill numbed his toes. He re-filled his old cracked mug with cold coffee left over from breakfast and sat the cup on the wood fired heater to try to warm it a bit.
Stomach grumbles rippled through him and the old man realized that hunger had snuck up on him. It hit him that , except for a can of chili, he didn’t have much left in the cupboard.
It would have to do tonight.
His old rusty can opener did it’s best to run around the rim of the can. Missing a few spots, the lid was opened enough so the can still could be emptied into the pan. The pan still had left over oatmeal
The pot of chili beginning to bubble on the stove and he started a fresh pot of coffee. That and a slice of stale bread may not the best holiday meal, but it would fill that grumbling stomach tonight.
He set out a plate (also in need of washing) and his big spoon. Dinner was on the table and about to be filling that void in his mid section . A tiny, hesitant knocking at his door gave him a start.
In the dark shadows of the doorway stood Angela, the old dumpster diving street woman. Standing there in the chill with a ragged old muffler wrapped around her head. She was shivering and was unsteady on her feet. She didn’t say anything at first. In fact the Old man had never heard her talk to anyone but herself in the 5 years he’d known her.
He heard a mumble, but he couldn’t make out what she was saying. It was obvious to him that she was in some kind of trouble. The old man reached out and took her hand, drawing her into his office. Angela came like a little child tottering into the room. Not saying a word, she sat down on the chair he offered.
“Can I help you Angela? “ he said. She started to whimper and the old man realized that she was a poor little old lady indeed needing help. He went to his galley and picked up his “Guest” cup. The only clean dish in the house, Pouring in some of the fresh coffee he’d made, he handed it to her. Without a word she drank it down until empty. He offered a second but she shook her head. Then she looked over at the table where the plate of now cooling chili was. She never took her eyes off of it until the old man realized that she was probably starving. “ The poor old soul” he thought. She lives off of the scraps of others and at this time of the year those scraps were probably few and far between. Without thinking, he picked up the plate and handed to her. She nodded and spooned the food into her mouth. He saw tears in her eyes. “ That darned heater is starting to put out a lot of heat” he thought. But the stove was almost out. Still, he fell warm and comfortable. He was about to pour himself a cup of coffee when, before he knew it, Angela stood up, Wrapped her arms around him and gave him one of the biggest hugs he’d ever had. She mumbled something and he saw those tears in her eyes, but a smile was on her face as well. There was a pounding on the door of the shack.
There out on the walkway in front of the marina office stood…. Both of the Shepherd brothers , Dana and Josh, from the security office, His old buddy Les, And a half dozen of the friends and neighbors along the docks. Each carried a box or bag. As they all pushed in they were laughing and chattering like a bunch of crazy kids. In their packages, a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, desserts and all the fixings of a big dinner. Les, of course, had a big jug of Gin.
For the next 3 or 4 hours the party continued. It was late in the evening when the last of them wandered out into the Not So cold night. The old Wharfinger hadn’t had such a glorious meal in a very long time. And he hadn’t laughed so much in as much time.
He stood in the doorway watching the last of his friends leave. The thought came to him that days like Thanksgiving didn’t mean …Food and Football
… They really meant,…. Love.
Love of family and friends. The kind of love that happens all year long.
He smiled and turned around and walked back into the office. There was Angela, Asleep, still in his big office chair. She had a smile on her wrinkled old face. And there was Stumpy, his old tailless cat. Damned if Stump didn’t have a kind of smile too.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING !!... Everyone
ralph e. ahseln November 2010