Once Upon a Night in the Marina
Wharfinger Yarns ……number Two
It was Clear and chilly. At least there wasn’t any wind. A little bit of breeze would have made the Wind Chill Factor drop like a stone. I hate doing my rounds when it’s blowing and cold. Walking around checking the slips in the dark of winter time is bad enough. One nice thing though, I was able see a whole lot of stars in the clear sky. Kinda pretty.
Me? Oh, I’m the Wharfinger at the old " Bob Manger’s Marina". The moorage out on the edge of town. Yep, that one that’s been falling down for years. The one with only a few beat up boats left in it. I live aboard an old 40 foot wooden Ketch tied up near the bottom of the entrance ramp. It ain’t much of a place, but it’s clean and warm. What’s a Wharfinger? You know, the harbormaster, the dock keeper.. Ok,.. The caretaker. But I like to call myself Wharfinger ‘cause it sounds more "sailor" like.
I’d just about finished with my regular trip around the slips. Checking to see if any old boats might be sinking or if mooring lines were chafing and about to part. I was making my way back to the ramp, and my boat, n’ looking forward to having a cup of that coffee still in the pot on the galley stove. (I might just put a bit a rum in it too. It’d be good for my cold hands).
Before I could make it to the boarding ladder of my "home", a set of running lights, a steaming light and even an anchor light, lit up the marina. They were from a small beat up sloop motoring into an open slip. It pulled up alongside and drifted in slowly. A young feller stepped off and began to secure a couple of ragged looking mooring lines to the dock. Now, I have to tell you that I was getting’ a bit nervous. In this part of town there’s always some tough kinds of guys hanging’ around. Some of which would knock your head in for a quarter. I was about to yell out something stupid like "I got a gun" or "I’m a cop". But before my words could come out, this young feller called out in a quiet voice. "Please mister, I’ve got a sick wife inside the boat. Could you help us? " Well, I was pretty darned suspicious I’ll tell you. So I walked up that boat and got real close to the young man. "What seems to be the matter with her? " I asked. "She’s gonna have a baby any time now. I don’t know what to do." He said.
That sure sounded phony to me. What young man, in his right mind, would be running around this time of night in this cold weather, with a wife whose gonna have a kid? Well, he didn’t fool me. He was up to something. I was just about to turn and run back to my boat to get the phone to call the cops …When…. There was this girl’s voice that came out from inside the cabin. "Please mister, I think the baby wants to be born right away, could you help us, pleaseº "
I have to tell you my heart melted right there on the spot. I stopped in my tracks. They might be pirates and murders ‘n such, but I just had to find out who’s talking and what she looked like..
I walked over to the rail of the little sloop and peeked into the hatch. What looked back up at me was…The sweetest little young thing. A big smile on her face. The smile had an edge of pain on it too. She was as big as a barge. About as pregnant as a gal could be. I know a little something about that. My Ex and I had 3 born and each time her belly would blow up to the size of a spinnaker. THIS young lady was about to pop.
I turned to the young feller and in near shouting voice said, "Why in hell are you out here tonight with a wife in that condition? You should be at a hospital. She’s about to have a child! "
In the glow of the ramp light, I saw tears running down the young boy’s cheek. "We’ve been trying to get to my relative’s place over in the next county. We’ve got to go there to do some kind of legal stuff. I thought we could make it before she had to deliver. But the boat’s engine broke down. It took all my money to get it fixed and I had to wait to get the parts. I guess we just ran out of time"...
I was starting to feel sorry for the lad. I asked him, "Son, Why didn’t take the boat over to the marina in town and get her up to the hospital that’s just a few blocks away? " "Sir, I don’t have a dime, No hospital would take us. They wanted proof of a health plan or a credit card. I don’t have either"... He sighed "We even tried to get into the marina next to the motel. Just to get some rest, but they wouldn’t let us... And The City Center Inn and Marina told us they would have, but they’re all booked up and didn’t have any rooms available. I thought we might have time to be able to sail down to where my relatives are. But I guess we aren’t going to make it…What am I going to do? "
He got kinda shaky in the knees and looked like he was about to fall apart and I knew that both of them needed a good night’s rest. I put my hand on his shoulder and said.. "Look, Young feller, You and your wife just stay here tonight. It won’t cost you a thing. I’m the Wharfinger here and I’m sayin’... You stay here tonight and get some rest... There’s always room at "Manger’s"….