Posted in Saturnius McWhirr stories

Old Hand’s Babylonian Voyage-The Escape

Attention! Attention! Tsunami alert! Tsunami alert!

The speakers on the church walls crackled over the dismal howl of sirens.

Dust of crumbled masonry rose from the collapsed reliquary amid screams and prayers for deliverance. I ran into the streets and made for Old Hand. I leaped onto the dock as the engine roared to life above the frenzied tumult of the throng. McWhirr had just cast off the dock lines when a repulsive splog pirate wielding a cutlass grabbed my monkey jacket and said in a malodorous, rasping tone: “Are you sure you want to close your Babylon account?”Awilda

A blast from the ship’s deck sent him sprawling into the rank harbor. McWhirr threw aside his smoking musket and hauled me over the rail before jamming the ship full throttle and steaming for deep water.  A glazzy spam-bot, with wires dangling from her stove-in side, gushed at McWhirr as we bore away from the pier-head: “Look! It’s Gregory Peck! I saw you on MeTube.  Can I have your autograph?”

We headed for open sea just as a group of cyber-ruffians thundered onto the wharf with a volley of deprecatory oaths and small arms fire.

 

Once clear of musket range, I lifted my head above the rail to inhale the sea air. It lay calm and of a such a limpid sheen that I fell into tranquil revery. It felt as if all the fetid smog of Babylon were dispelled by the sweet Levantine zephyrs that wafted over the sun-dappled main like Mother Gaia’s beneficent caress. I silently offered a prayer for the gentle hand that had rocked the Adamic cradle of mankind. It was as if I quaffed from the verdant spring of the mystic Green One of Araby-that master of masterless souls who wander the globe’s Byzantine seaways seeking the vivifying elixir of immorality.

“Look sharp, Mister Spencer.”

McWhirr’s cautionary words roused me to behold the distant horizon demarcated by an edge of deep ultramarine blue that advanced steadily upon our gallant ship.

“We’re in for some fun and games now.”

Posted in Saturnius McWhirr stories

The McWhirr stories-An Afterword?

Cormorants are huddled like a conclave of robed mystics brooding over lost fish. The wind blows from all directions in Port Madison.

I write windy dialogue that transpires between two contrary characters.  I suppose the I of the story refers to myself, but even this first-person identity gets pretty tenuous at times.  I am obtuse foil to McWhirr’s exacting command, and he is confounded by my poetic flights.  This tension, this ever tipping dynamic, propels the leaky vessel of my prose.

In the voyage of this yarn to it’s “conclusion”, fact and fiction are interwoven to create a tapestry of associative episodes in order to express some ineffable truth about man’s impulse toward adventure.

But to what degree can I actually claim these adventures mine? Where was the line crossed between inspiration and plagiarism? All my powers of expression are called upon to render a fictional account of  vaguely recalled events in the transient world of sensations and ideas.

craig at helm 014
Me sneezing

I’ve come close to foundering in a fog of  fantasy, relevant only to myself or to those souls fortunate enough (or unlucky enough) to be conversant with sailing lore, and experienced in the sea’s fickle ways.

Where has McWhirr gone? While his vanishing act seems a natural outcome of the narrative flow, it has left me without bearings-without a meaningful waypoint.  He’s left me becalmed at slack water, transfixed by sunlight on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with only an obscure missive from Virgil’s heroic verse:  From me learn courage and patience, from others the meaning of fortune.  Then again, maybe this is all the bearing I need.

Though the dream of finding a copy of the Aeneid happened some 20 years ago, it’s true import remains enigmatic.  But I feel it has to do with carrying on a lineage, the bearing of the household gods to establish a new homeland or  mode of awareness.  It’s also about a mutual need, a pact made with the dead to honor them.  My dad’s ghost comes and goes in the story, and recalls me to some forgotten bond.  He says I should heed McWhirr.

The View from the Wheelhouse is a fluid one, and successful navigation depends on an ability to tolerate a constantly shifting perspective. The conclusion of this tale is as elusive as a Micronesian landfall.

So I trust this isn’t the last we’ve heard from McWhirr. The wily old coot’s vanishing act may be prologue to his reinstatement on a more believable level of fictional existence.

Wars are started by mistaking the thing in itself for the metaphor, and the inability to see through the symbol, as through a veil, to the symbolized. Scientists have recently discovered that the north wind doesn’t really have a beard and puffy cheeks. We’ve evolved beyond such nonsense.  But this knowledge is of little use to the sailor driven on a rocky lee shore by a fierce northerly gale.  For myself and everyone, I pray to the household gods.