THOSE DAYS IN OCTOBER...
by: Ralph E. Ahseln 10/2010
Around 6 PM the rain started. Small gusts of chill chased the warmish air and made the old Wharfinger shudder. He pulled the collar of his ancient watch coat up a bit tighter. It didn’t help much. The old coat had more holes than cloth.
“It’s goin’ to be a bit nippy tonight”, he said, although no one was around to hear.
Talking to himself was something the Wharfinger did a lot lately.
It didn’t matter to him that no one was around to answer. He kind of liked the idea of being alone. And he liked the Fall season. He liked the chill and the damp of that time of year. He liked the fact that the boating season was over and he didn’t have to deal with the “Sunshine Sailors”. He could say “Any damn thing I want”, without someone taking offense.
It wasn’t like he didn’t have company, There was his beat-up alley cat, “Stumpy”. Stumpy, with most of his tail missing, had taken up residence in the Marina office. He was kept in scraps and milk, but had to pay for it by listening to the Old Man mumbling to himself.
As well, there was Angela the homeless Bag Lady. She made the marina dumpster one of her daily stops. Then, there was the Sheppard brothers who were security cops on the docks. They came by once in a while to see if everything was OK.
His old pal Leslie often called in. Sometimes Les drove down from town to share a glass of gin with him. So, the old Wharfinger DID have friends to talk to, occasionally.
Tonight, no one was around. He liked that.
The marina rounds were done by 10:00 pm and he headed back to the office. A cup of hot gin toddy sound very good. He HAD gotten a little chilled.
He just opened the door to the office when the phone rang.
“Damit, Les is calling awful late tonight” he grumped.
“Stumpy” began to howl.
“What the hell’s the matter with you, you old ragbag ? “.
Stumpy kept howling.
The Wharfinger lifted the handset of the old Candlestick phone and shoved it to his ear. “Les, what the hell d’ ya want at this hour?” he yelled.
There was a long pause, then a voice sounding like a woman with a bad sore throat whispered, “Iss dis der Manger Mareena? “.
The old Wharfinger gulped, identified himself, mumbled an apology, and asked the lady what he might do for her.
After another long pause, she introduced herself (he didn’t catch the name) and she continued. Her scratchy voice was a little hard to understand and the old man had to have her repeat a few times.
She asked if the marina had any open spaces left. There were. She continued, saying that she owned a 40 foot custom built Ketch that needed a berth. It would be for less than a month. She would pay the full lease amount plus a bonus for the “inconvenience”.
“ Vould you mind eef I paid een cash? The woman asked.
“Cash would be fine” the old man responded.
Then she asked him “I breeng boot een tomorrow night late. Like Meednight? Eesst only time I can do.”
The Wharfinger had to think about that. He’d never had such a request before. Bringing a boat into any strange marina, that late, is always a risk.
With all the concern he could muster he asked, “Miss, Are you sure you want to do that? It could be unsafe”.
“Eess no problem. I haff done before many times”
The old Warfinger felt sorry for the lady. Her voice sounded like she must be in pain.
She continued, “No need for be waiting mine boot at late hour. Leef paper work on offize durrr. I peek up and leef money in packet on durr. No need to see…. Dank… “
The old Wharfinger took a second to think about it, then agreed.
He asked her to repeat her name. She did, but her voice was so weak and painful sounding that he really didn’t understand all of it. He did get the first name. It sounded like “Muh-rain”. Odd sounding. He’d have to check the spelling when he looked at the Application form.
He told her that he looked forward to having her and the boat as guests.
They both hung up.
“Stumpy” stopped howling !
To be continued...