“Ahoy there! Permission to come aboard?”
“Sure, why not. Things have been goin’ to hell all mornin’ anyway!”
“Aw, poor Baby! Is the world treating you harshly today?”
Not the WHOLE world, but this damn computer keeps locking up on me. Makes it damn hard to be creative, I’ll say that much.”
“I think I see your problem, or one of them at least. I’ve told you before, you shouldn’t drink and hard-drive!”
“Wise-ass, huh? Get me another beer while you’re up, and help me figure this thing out.
“Hey, what’s this thing on the table?”
“Well, I’m just an untrained observer, but it looks like an empty wine bottle to me.”
“There’s a piece off paper in it! If I can just pry this old cork out – there! Got it! Well, I’ll be damned! Looks like a real, honest-to-God note in a bottle!”
“So read it. The suspense is killing me.”
“To whoever might find this message:
I’ve had it with you people and your modern world! Pollute the air and water all you want in the name of progress, – I won’t be choking tryin’ to breathe the damn stuff any more! I put in my time working in the chemical plants and trying to live down the road from them, – then moving further and further away, so I could at least sleep at night without that damn stench in my nostrils. Of course, that meant I had to drive longer distances to work every day, which caused me to be on the road with some of the dumbest creatures nature ever invented – an’ I don’t mean the poor animals that had gotten crushed under the wheels of vehicles of various sizes and murderous intent! No wonder they have to teach Defensive Driving classes! I thought about getting a bumper sticker made up that said, ‘Drive friendly, or I’ll shoot your —!’, but I doubt most of the morons on the road can read. Besides, I think they all have a death wish, anyway.
Like Jerry Jeff Walker almost said, I had to get off that Houston freeway, without gettin’ killed or caught, so I looked for another way of making a living. I hoped to avoid progress and politics the way Ernest Hemingway avoided the depression – by staying offshore as much as possible! Politics! Huh! That’s another reason for not coming back to the dock at night. The only time most people really listen to anything involving a political process is when money is doing the talking. With enough money, anything will get done – regardless of whether it’s right or wrong. And Political Correctness? What an oxymoron. It is my firm and final belief that most of these groups representing themselves to be minorities don’t really have anything against the idea of one ethnic or racial group being in charge of everything – they just want it to be their particular group that’s on top! Equality and fairness aren’t really what they hope to achieve – except on their particular terms. Of course, an opinion like this will get me sued by the Left-handed-Black-Hispanic-Jewish-Overweight-Homosexual Captain’s Organization, but I won’t be here for them to kick around anymore!
And just when I got sorta used to taking strangers out fishing on my boat for money, the damn government starts making it damn near impossible for me to do that! First they put seasons and limits on everything that swims (be careful about keeping that undersized hardhead, – if they dig deep enough in their rule book, it’ll come out too small and out of season!), then – just to make sure they knock me out of business – they start workin’ on a moratorium on issuing charter boat permits! They want to put an income requirement in the rules, too. Well, it’s hard enough just to make money charter fishing, much less get over half your yearly gross that way. Of course, if you do any undocumented cash business it gets even more complicated. I had the first Federal Charter permit in Freeport, Texas, always kept it current, got and kept my captain’s license, got the boat documented for coastwise trade, paid for commercial insurance, – an’ they were laying plans to put me out of business! The way the proposals read, somebody who admitted to charterin’ without the permit, but could document 51% of his income came from it, stood a good chance of gettin’ the permit they took away from me! The only way to keep chartering would be to stay in state waters with a 55 gallon drum of peanut butter and take the sports out fishing for peanut butter an’ jellyfish samwitches!
Enough is enough, and too much is just that! I’m heading this old boat south. Good weather and calm seas willing, I’ll be starting over someplace warm, with blue water close in and pretty girls to bring me cool drinks on palm fringed beaches! Someplace where a man and his vessel can still make a good living with hard work and a few well-placed bribes to the local officials. We’ll start in Mexico, down on the Gulf side of the Yucatan. The maps don’t show much of anything in that area, and I’m not looking for much of anything. If Mexico don’t pan out, I’ll set a course further south, – Panama, Belize, Costa Rica – any of those banana republics that might offer a safe harbor to an ex-patriated American.
I know I’ll be leaving a few folks behind who will miss me greatly, – bill collectors, creditors, ex-wives and lawyers, mostly – and I’ll owe them some money. I’ve tried to keep this to a minimum over the years, but won’t lose a lot of sleep because of it. As the wise man once said, “In the game of life, you win some, you lose some, and you get some rained out.” I figure those folks I’m a little in debt to can still afford an umbrella! Whoever might find this can consider it a testament of will, and be welcome to publish it to explain my absence.”
“Damn! This is fascinating! It’s not signed, though, I wonder who wrote it? Where’d you find it, anyway?
“In the forward cabinet, next to the whiskey, – where I always keep it. I was just updating the list when you came aboard, – or tryin’ to. Need to add something about these damn computers!”
“You wrote this?”
“Yep. An’ I’m going to use it one of these days, too. Soon as I finish losing the rest of my sense of humor!”
(Author’s Note: Originally published in Saltwater Texas)