An Event in Maine

I kissed my wife and kids goodbye and headed for Newark Airport. I would be taking a flight to Portland Maine. My dad and brother Bill were to meet me in Portland where we would take the 98 mile drive to the town of Belfast. Maine. I got off the plane and didn’t see anyone at first. Looking further I noticed a sign for the airport lounge. I headed in that direction sure enough there was Pop chatting with some locals while sipping a glass of scotch.” Hi Pop”. I said enthusiastically. “Having a late breakfast?” “Here’s the stiff” my dad said to his buddies at the bar. “Come over here” He motioned me over closer to him. He grabbed me around the neck and squeezed “I’m glad you’re here kid. We are going to have a great time.” Have a drink” he offered. I resisted ” It’s only 11 :30 AM “? “Come on, have one wimpy” That was a nickname I couldn’t stand. You see I was a business man. I wore a suit and tie for work. My father and brother Bill worked with their hands. So I never really measured up in their eyes on some sort of pumpkin tooth smile macho crap scale. “We’ll have one drink then we’ll go bail out your brother.” Said pop “bailed out? What happened? I asked “Just a bit of a disagreement with the locals.” He answered in his slight Irish brogue that faithfully appears about the time he would fail a breathalyzer. “Your brother has gotten a reputation up here in a short time.” said one of the locals drinking with Pop. “Really” I questioned. “Yes, he’s quite the talker and quite the ladies man”. I nervously laughed and said “Pop I’m driving. We said our goodbyes and left for Belfast.

I almost forgot. The reason for this trip was that my Dad, born and raised in Red Hook, Brooklyn, N.Y.C. had decided he wanted to buy a boat. A 30 ft single mast sailboat made by a company called Bristol. It was a beautiful boat from the pictures he sent me. The problem was one person without experience would not be able to sail it back to New York harbor. Since the boat had the room to sleep a crew of five, my dad decided to recruit his sons for the trip. Out of six of us, Bill the youngest brother and myself were the only two that offered to help. I certainly had no sailing experience other than the fact that I owned a 19ft Chaparral with an 88 HP Evinrude outboard. I used it on weekends for Blue fishing and for bottom fishing for fluke. My mom said she was worried for pop and he needed his son’s help. So, here I am in Maine.

It seems that my brother Bill was annoyed that the town of Belfast smelled like potpourri and had a limited amount of females other than those with the propensity for practicing both witchcraft and lesbian rituals. Apparently he voiced his displeasure to those facts in a pub with the tough guy of Belfast present. After explaining their geopolitical theories on such matters they began to have a fist fight. At the jail the town sheriff had the good sense to lock them up in the same cell. So by their morning hangovers they had actually become friends. They traded their embroidered stadium jackets. The tough guy having “Consolidated freight” sewn on his while Bill had” Mr. Met “of the New York Mets. So after a Tuesday of sobering up the captain and crew to a respectable level, Wednesday was preparation day as we stocked supplies for the trip.

The Bristol is a beautifully crafted sail boat. It also had a 5 HP inboard diesel. The plan was to sail about 50 nautical miles a day from sunrise to sunset and then get to a port. Maine is great for this as they have ample ports that generally charged $1.00/ft for electricity and fresh water. There were plenty of public showers also available. Thursday morning we left Belfast for our trip. I quietly said a prayer for travel mercy. Neither Pop, Bill nor I knew much about sailing we planned to rely on the diesel engine as our main mode of transport supplemented by the sails. We finally set sail! It was great. The water was clear the sky the bluest of blue. The air smelled so fresh. We passed along side one of the tourist sail vessels. We waved and watched as tourists gave us their envious stares. We checked the map and the GPS and learned to sail inside the buoys to avoid all the lobster traps. I hadn’t seen my younger brother for a while. It was nice to be with him on this trip. My Dad looked so proud behind the tiller. We decided to get to a port a bit early the first day so we sailed into Camden. We hooked up the electric and water then went inside the dockside restaurant. We dined on Lobster and it was the freshest most mouth watering I had ever tasted. We had Romeo and Juliet cigars with our cocktails out on the restaurant veranda. My Pop insisted on showing us how the Maine resident drivers yield to anyone crossing the road. This was totally new for us being born and raised in Brooklyn. We had a good laugh. Back on the ship Dad was in his bunk and Bill and I were just talking. “Hey Gary, did you know that one of those woman back at Belfast put a hex on me? ” Why did she do that”? I asked “You know I honestly don’t remember.” He sheepishly admitted. “Do you believe in that stuff?” he asked me. In my big brother tone I assured him that he shouldn’t worry. “Nah, that’s all bull crap for the tourists”. I figured that we travelled less than 20 miles from Belfast to Camden we were anxious to go further tomorrow.

Friday morning the sun was out, the temperature in the low 80’s we felt great. We sailed almost 50 nautical miles to Booth Bay Harbor. We again tied up the boat, purchased our electricity and water hook up and went to the first sea side pub we could. Booth Bay in the summer can best be described as beer, bikinis and high heels. We had another good night. Not quite as great as Billy’s. When I left him to go back to the boat and call Diana my wife he had two bikini clad girls one on each arm asking if they could sail with him tomorrow. He gave me his patented “this is so cool look”. I smiled approvingly.

Thanks to Billy and his crew we started out late on Saturday. Around noon the wind picked up. It became alarmingly clear that we need to take down some sail as not to capsize. Around 4pm it got really dark. The first bolt of lightening scared the three of us. It was time to get to land. We worked the tide and wind to get to a port but it was dark and pouring rain. Quite frankly we didn’t know where we were I think it was Hart-swell. Any way, the boat was tied up and the placed looked like one of those 18thCentury Bed & Breakfast places you see in magazines. We walked in soaked to the bone. We waited to check in as this tall tanned guy was yelling at the receptionist. I figured he was the owner. He had this nasty aura about him. We paid for two rooms one for Pop and the other Billy and I shared. We took our first HOT shower in days. Dinner wasn’t bad just ridiculously over priced. It did strike me as strange that the seating was for at least 50 people and it was just us and one elderly couple seated during prime dinner hours.+

Around 9 PM I was ready to turn in. I heard yelling downstairs in the lobby. It was that same guy’s voice. This time the other voice was my Pop’s. My dad may be in his 70’s but he never backed down from anyone. He also has a temper of his own. The guy was threatening to untie our boat and let it drift away unless we moved it away from the dock to a mooring float. My Dad was arguing for our money back. He said “This is no way to treat guests. It’s pouring outside and the wind must be 40 miles a frigging hour!” Pop added some choice adjectives directed at the proprietor. Trying to make peace of the situation I offered to get dressed again, take the dinghy and tie up the boat. Billy said he would help. Trying to snag a mooring while in pouring rain and stormy wind is no easy task. We did it after almost 30 minutes. Soaked and wet again we entered the lobby. Pop walked over to the receptionist. Where is that SOB? I want to talk to him. She was literally shaking in fear. She said sheepishly” Please sir, he’s not a nice person don’t provoke him.” Pop answered “Screw that! He’s an A-hole and I’m going to tell him that!” I looked closely at the receptionist. I saw black and blue marks on her face trying to be covered with a tan blush.

Just then the tall guy came back into the room and went straight for my dad. Billy stepped between them. He started yelling at the owner.”Hey tough guy, so you like to pick on women and old men? Why can’t you bring some of that shit to me dude!” Just then I saw the guy going for a 38 pistol in his belt. Something came over me. It really happened so fast. I had brought in the dinghy oars so they wouldn’t blow away in the storm. Billy lunged at the guy knocking down Pop as he went for the gun. I was behind him. I took the oar and swung as hard as I could. There was an awful sound I remember it clearly even today. It was like the sick sound a pumpkin makes if you drop it. He went down. He was still. The whole scene got quiet in a second. “Gary I think you killed the dude” my brother said. I put down the oar. I felt a buzz going over my entire body/ I felt sick. We called 911 and the receptionist knew the police that showed up. Evidently the guy had a history of abuse. There were no charges. When we left that port we sailed to Portland. I flew back home to Jersey City. I wasn’t doing well.+

It’s been years now since the event. I guess I’m better dealing with the justification of it and all. I learned how fragile a life can be. I know “I didn’t mean to kill him.” I got tired of living those last moments over and over in my head at night. I’m trying to be a better husband and a better father. I hug my kids a lot more than I used to. When I see my Pop or brother we don’t ever speak about the events of that trip. Oh, and I don’t sail anymore…

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