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by The Pirate
Here I sit, alone in my little piece of Vanuatu heaven; door to my left, shitter to my right and the bunk against my sore back. My right elbow takes it on the chin from the corner of a small cabinet whenever I right-shift to Capitalize. DAMMIT! I can hear the seashell-like echo of my shower, beckoning me like a siren song, to bask in its rusty, orange water. I can smell it, too. The ship’s water has a distinctive odor. I wonder if I do, now?
My bunk rattles behind me; in time with the door to my little clothes cabinet and the rusty, metal panels of my ceiling where the little bits of toilet paper we jam into the cracks to dampen the sound have fallen out, leaving them free to harmonize with the creaks and groans of the bulkheads as the ship wallows in the trough of a gentle swell. An overhead forte to my shower’s fortissimo, but there’s no room to dance in here. I can sweep my arms round in a circle and touch the extremes of my little world, without leaving my little chair pushed up tight to a hinged board that drops down from the side of my cabinet to resemble a desk, in miniature. I find it a cozy and familiar existence now, though it usually hurts to move around in here and forget rushing out in an emergency, lest I end up one myself, in this tiny, cramped room.
Just about one year ago, I came to this place, from another place; large and lush in its accommodations and atmosphere. I was at first appalled at the dirty, cramped ship and the utterly archaic technology and mechanics of this old scow. I was disgusted and physically sickened by the food-and the water? It’s unfit for human consumption. That is to say that some years after shitting our your intestines during your first night onboard, you will die horribly from some sort of exotic metal poisoning-just like a Russian spy lounging in Great Britain, reminiscing over cold-war stories that seemed and are now, exactly a lifetime away. It is foreordained and I accept it.
I accept it and a year ago I embraced it, one could say. After a few weeks, I settled in here, made a peace of sorts with my shower and well, sort of fell in love with the rest of the place. It was the people that initially brought me around and certainly not anything I’ve described above. The best of the best of a dying breed of pirate unlike any other before, since, or ever will be. Fingers missing from the old days of tossing one too many sticks of dynamite while smoking the good shit to help the pills taken to clear the head from a hangover. Stories like fables-of sea gods, shrimp and great feats of strength and endurance that rival anything in print, or on the big screen. Most exude that quiet wisdom born of a lifetime bent to the same task as it evolved through the years to be something they can claim to have created and crafted into what it is today. But they won’t and now it’s over.
It was because of this extraordinary crew that I requested to remain in the one place in this business that all others refuse to even visit and only talk about in hushed tones, lest someone hear them and think to send them there. It is a backwater, a dead-end, and a stinking garbage dump to most. It is a second home to me. The last year spent working and living with these guys has been an amazing, once in a lifetime experience. Experience. There must be collectively, over two hundred years of highly specialized experience on this small and aging crew. There has never in the history of the industry been one like it and never again will there be. I feel lucky for the last year I’ve spent with these guys and it has been a hell of ride.
Truly the end of an era and I wonder as I sit alone contemplating this, what their thoughts are on the width and breadth of their creation; now that its doomed to memory and fable. Do they ponder the fate of our home here-her name fading as she founders on the bank of some backwater canal where only children and derelicts will read her name until she slips beneath the surface. She will be remembered and missed by us and us alone.
The techniques used here will disappear along with the outdated technology used to perform this operation. The tools, the terms and jargon will all fade away, probably years before the rusted hulls of our ships slip beneath the muddy waters of time. The men who piloted these ships will move on, to pass their experiences to others, for naught. Nobody will ever again coax their ships to dance together in the moonlight.
I am saddened and will miss this place, these people and the amazing magic we worked.