A Fool and His Boat

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A story of a man attempting to impose his fantastical whims upon an uncooperative reality.

Submitted: July 26, 2016

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Submitted: July 26, 2016

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A Fool and His Boat

-By Dillon Episcopo-


Finally making his way back to a ladder affixed so poorly to the wall, with care so as to avoid any further potential harm, he climbed out of the water. Fear of the black unknown cast upon this beautiful vista by the night had subsided. As did the pain from the cuts on his arms and legs. All that remained was simple frustration. Oh and his thoroughly soaked shorts and Sperry’s. “So many hours dumped into that damn boat.” So much effort, concentration, pain, etc, all now sitting in pieces resting on the jagged stones of a small island of volcanic rock just outside the harbor. “Why move to Procida in the first place? And then decide to build a boat?! Brilliant, truly your half baked plan based on whimsical desires served you well!” he thought. Now sitting on the wall, legs dangling a few feet from the surface of the black unfeeling water, his frustration grew stronger and ever dominating. He wanted so badly to be angry. Angry at Procida, angry at the sea, angry at that boat, everything! He wanted to be angry but he couldn’t. Honestly it was too difficult to muster up enough cognitive dissonance to remain angry for more than a few seconds. As he sat there thinking about this “journey” he had just been on he realized it wasn’t their fault, as much as he wished it could have been. 

Truly, Procida treated him so well. He loved it here. When they would visit his family on the island he now calls home, he knew that’s where he belonged. The tight cramped spaces shared with thousands of others working away and “enjoying life” on the picturesque mediterranean island. Amongst the boats, the colorful homes and shops, and not to mention all the tourists that paid his living. As a child though, growing up in a small village outside of Napoli just left much to be desired. I mean it’s great there but you can only get the sense that this is it. Good friends, family, food, times, all that. But it wasn’t going anywhere. Like the tomato plant on his old patio. It was sizeable and made great fruit but the pot it was in just prevented it from growing much at all. Every time they would visit Procida as a kid, the walks down by the boats were always by far the most memorable. That’s really what clinched it. There’s so much about Procida to love but some things stood out. The moon glistening off the black water on a still summer night. Listening to the light curl of the waves splash against the wall. The smell of the sea carried by a warm breeze. It was all  just… hypnotic. Strangely though he had seen it all before. Many times all over the western coast of Italia but this specific spot on Procida was different for some stupid reason and he just couldn’t let it go. And that was it. He packed his bags, found some work at a fish market, and started to chase. The chase for something he hadn't even come to understand why he was chasing it in the first place. The whims of a crazy person romantically, (but more accurately falsely), disguised as dreams. 

Finding work at the fish market, although tiring and not the most pleasant smelling, was satisfying because he could be near the sea. Watching the waves roll in. Watching all sorts of fishing boats, sail boats, sport boats, etc, glide effortlessly into the harbor. Working all day down by the water made for an inordinate amount of time to allow this need to be out there on the water to grow. It was consuming. “I want a boat” he said, further cementing his ridiculous aspirations. Just wanting to be close and enjoy the water as all others did started him down this unfortunate path towards a prize he could not “afford”. “I want a boat” Surprisingly patient when it came to fulfilling his “dreams” he started to think more deeply about just what kind of boat would be the right boat. Those wooden fishing boats are interesting. But they really only serve one purpose. Beyond that purpose there’s no reason for them to be in the harbor. Well that approach won’t do. Why have a boat if the only reason I own it is to fish? There are plenty of fish in the sea. There’s a million harbors and bays and sections of sea to fish. “I don’t want to be like any other fisherman. How will the sea appreciate me? How could I possibly stand out?” His mind then quickly switched over to the sports boats. Fast, sleek, easy to maneuver, music pumping, built in coolers filled with drink. A constant party. Seems like a good choice. As quickly as the approval for a sports boat came along his memory flashed to seeing one of those boats with the interior trim pulled back. The fiberglass, the epoxy, the tangled wires and bits of framing to loosely prop up what was seen from the outside, everything was just gross. After seeing the handcrafted sailing boats of previous generations these “things” were an abomination to true hand crafted sea faring vessels. A slap in the face to the artisan. The ones who respect and care for the sea. The ones who have eternal bond with her. The ones whose craft and dedication reflected the depth of that bond. Yeah sure these plastic bastards of what once was maritime innovation can zip around, grab attention, maneuver gracefully but they’re just… they’re just terrible! So fake. No labor involved in getting to the point where they can enjoy the beauty and majesty of the sea. They just come right off the line like every boat before them. No originality, no true character. Designed to be captivating and interesting but when the waves and the rocks come, utterly useless. Their hull will shatter. “Well that’s just out of the question then. Not going to become one of those fake characterless sports boats. It must the be the perfect vessel or else the sea won’t accept me.” he said, gradually loosening his grip on reality. A sail boat. A beautiful wooden hand made sail boat. Perfect. A vessel made with love and care to give the sea the respect she deserves. And maybe just maybe she’ll look favorably upon this offering from the heart. The only issue is that boats aren’t cheap. And he doesn’t have much money. Throughout his life he had come to realize that only those with the money to purchase their vessels could enjoy the beauty of his sea. “How could this happen?” he said under his breath in bewilderment as the anger welled up in his chest. Why does everything that’s beautiful have a toll booth, ticket counter, clerk, or bouncer guarding it. It used to be that if you wanted to take in and soak up the great vistas of a mountain top overlooking the sea all that was required was the determination, strength, fortitude, willpower, etc, to climb the mountain. You earned it. Now any retard with a fat wallet can wave some cash around and ride the cable car up to the top. The drive doesn’t come from an appreciative heart any more. Just hedonistic lust for more. Once you’ve satiated your desire for beautiful things, places, or experiences, off you go to the next. Practically forgetting what you just had. 

As his ponderances filled him with hate for those who were able to cut corners with cash, he vowed to do it right. To be genuine and true and to build this vessel that would carry him to his dreams as one should. With care, attention to detail, and most of all, with appreciation. He was determined without a shadow of a doubt that doing it “right” is what truly matters, and that if he poured his heart into it, surely the sea would accept him onto her waters. The owner of the market he worked at had a storage unit no longer in use right next to the shop, right next to the harbor. He was able, after enough pleading, to strike a deal for more labor in the later hours of the day in exchange for use of this storage unit for his new found obsession to set the world straight and be the first of his generation to “do it right” and win, even though so many had failed. Somehow the basic fact of universal failure never entered into consideration. With what little money he did actually have and a little help from a friend he made who just so happened to salvage boats, he got to work. Gathering materials, lofting the designs, setting the keel and getting the hull framed out. Everything was going so well! Beaming with pride for his efforts, he would end every laboris night by walking outside, walking over to the wall and dangling his feet over the edge just a short distance away from that warm, mysterious, comforting yet terrifyingly beautiful black water. On special nights when a bright moon was out, the way it smiled on the water looking like little stars dancing in the black, made the unknown seem welcoming.The light lap of the curly waves against the wall brought nothing but peace. It almost seemed playful. Beckoning him. No not yet. It wasn’t ready. Plus who knows what horrible fate would await him under the black in the night without his boat to carry him? Not yet. Keep working. 

Many months passed by. It was starting to look like a vessel worthy of the sea. All that was left was to paint, stain, trim, prepare the sails, etc. He already tested the hull of the boat before. It held its own. It could float. This was just wonderful. Already things were looking up. His doubts started to leave him gradually after every night when he would gaze in awe at the majesty of the sea. Beauty that surely only he had truly come to appreciate and understand. And with each and every unique experience of every night, those would then be what guided his tools the next day as he continued to craft the means to his dream. Weeks went on and every night, come rain or come clear skies, was special. But whenever the moon would smile upon him, an insatiable need to launch and begin the voyage festered inside him. It almost became impossible to resist. 

The boat was mostly done in his eyes. Pretty much all that was left was some of the aesthetic adjustments. One night he was working away. Painting, each brush stroke getting him closer to the end of the project and beginning of the voyage. This night was fairly unique. With the garage door open behind him he could hear the the waves lap against the wall. It was fairly windy and the Moon would flash its smile between breaks in the fast moving clouds. It was taunting him. Then, in what in hindsight can only be seen as a fleeting moment of completely irrational thinking, that damn Moon was making it too hard to resist any longer! He tossed the brush aside and feverishly pushed the boat to the launch. Getting it in the water and tying it off he went back, fetched the mast and sails and affixed them to his boat. Starting up the trolling motor he slowly made his way out of the docks and started out towards the sea. Unfurling the sail and using what little knowledge of sailing he had he made his way past the break wall. It wasn’t a stormy night, the waves weren’t at all violent, but the wind was stronger than he realized. Much stronger. Now would have been a really good time to know how to sail. The trolling motor now rendered useless on the open water, the wind was free to have its way with the little ship. Unable to guide his ship the wind carried it ever closer to one of the small “islands” of volcanic rock poking out of the water. Too late and distracted by the impending disaster to think about what a grave mistake he made, the little ship was cast upon the rocks and ripped apart like a morsel of meat tossed to the dog sitting outside your door. 

Swimming towards the docks of Marina Corricella, his abrasions burning in the salty dark water, he couldn’t figure out what was worse. That his boat was taken from him, never to be seen again or repaired or that he barely even made out of the harbor before the steely cold rejection of the sea rendered him a fool for even thinking he could gain the favor of the sea? 

Finally making it to the ladder attached poorly to the wall, his arms and legs burning from lactic acid now, he climbed up and promptly dangled his feet over the edge. He wanted so badly to be angry. But now that the spell was broken by the wake up call of being dropped into the cold waters of the night, clarity returned to him. It was his fault and his fault alone. He didn’t know how to sail. The sea had no precedent to bless his voyage. Why would it? One fool with his little boat decides to set sail and all of a sudden the laws of the sea are supposed to make an exception for him? Staring down at the ever still beautiful black water lapping against the wall, it no longer seemed cold or unfeeling. It was just water. Still though after being spat out by the dark moonlit harbor which once was the only dream that took hold in his mind, while sitting on dryland he was still for the time being lost at sea.

 


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