The ship deck looked extra clean in the morning sun. The fresh coat of wax blindingly bounces the sun’s rays into the eyes of those foolish enough to look downward and to the east. The light’s presence was more than visual this morning, as the air was warmer than it had been the last week. It drew out more souls than the previous days, as dawn grew into day. Among the sparse crowd at the bow’s pool area (dubbed The Seven Seals) were two familiar occupants. The younger of the two sat in a reclined position facing the east, paying homage to the rising sun. He wore short blue trunks and was soaking up every last ray his body would allow. Silent and eyes closed, he listened to the older of the two men.
The older gentleman, donned in baggy shorts and shirt, deck shoes and a woven hat, sat erect in a chair with perfect posture. He faced the younger man, but his chair was skewed southward, as to not interfere with the ball of energy hanging over his shoulder and its relationship with the playboy before him.
The conversation kept up with the setting and characters in keeping with the status quo. Every morning it was one sided, as the young man’s main company was heating his skin – the older man he could take or leave. In addition to being one sided, the subject matter was similar.
“All I am saying now, all I am saying,” the old man liked to repeat himself (it added emphasis), “Is that the President don’t become the President by sitting around, ogling ladies, and drinking martinis all day. It takes hard work and practice and consistency.”
The young man slowly opened his eyes and nodded to the man, as if in agreement. This was a gesture of politeness. It is not as if the young man did not agree – hard work sounds like something the President would have to do – he simply did not care.
The older man kept making declarations of desire and pushing one’s limits. The younger man kept nodding and adding an amicable, “Sure,” intermittently. This went on until the older man started to tire. He paused his rambling for a moment, then added, “You see these legs,” he looked down at his bandaged limbs for effect. “These legs paid the price of hard work. Yet, there is not a day – not one day – that I regret giving it everything I had, in the name of greatness. I would break them down again… given a second chance. I would.” And with that, the older man drifted off, reflecting upon his own words.
He was silent for a few minutes when the younger man opened his eyes, curious if he still had company. He did. Instead of resting them again, the younger man opened his eyes wider and looked about the deck. “Say, have you seen Mike Jimmy this morn?”
The older man broke out of his trance. “God dammit, Carlos! Have you not heard a word I’ve said?!” The older man’s eyes had the fury of the sun lit up within them. “I am trying to talk some knowledge here. I am trying to educate you. I am trying! And here you are, worried about some lap dog!” They called Mike Jimmy a “lap dog,” due to the way he always obediently followed them around. I always thought that was a tad mean.
Carlos’ eyes suddenly felt heavy and he shut them with zen. As he did this, one of the ship’s employees came up to them, carefully balancing a tray with a martini. She was dressed in a shorter shirt and something resembling a navy’s sailor shirt. “Good morning, gentlemen,” she greeted them with a bright smile. They responded likewise. “Mr. Rip, are you not running late for your rehab appointment?”
Mr. Rip looked down at his watch. “Jeepers, mam, I sure am.” He pushed himself up onto his broken legs, smiled at the attractive young lady, and thanked her.
Looking down at Carlos and setting the martini on the small table next to his lounge chair, she asked, “Will you be taking your scalp shave and beard trimming up on the deck today, or down below?”
Carlos gave Connie the once-over and responded, “Aw hush now, baby girl, you know I will be going down below.”
Mr. Rip heard Connie utter something like, “Oh, you!” as he glanced back over his shoulder. His crippled legs staggered down the deck and he wondered where the future generations were headed. As if on cue, a door opened before him and a body shot across the gangway, into the guard rail. It was a young man with floppy hair pointing in every direction. He was a twenty-something kid with pasty skin. A large awkward looking European man emerged from the same door and proceeded to give the business to floppy-haired. Boot after boot landed on the mid section of the beaten man, as the large man cursed – presumably – in another language. Mr. Rip passed the the scene and said to himself, “Now that’s a real shame when folks be throwin’ away a perfectly good white boy like that.”