Posted in Saturnius McWhirr stories

Old Hand’s Babylonian Voyage-The Sermon

“Hey sailor, lookin’ for a good time?”

The voice hissed from the shadows. I turned to see a toothless hag in fish-net hose and leather thong clutching a length of chain in her skeletal hand.

“How ’bout I clap ye in virtual irons and tickle yer bum with me E-Lash?” she leered.  “Just like the real thing.”

“Er, no thanks,” I said and quickened my pace.

As I walked through the lurid, labyrinthine back-alleys of cyberspace, I beheld woeful scenes of hunger and vice.

It was Sunday and, as a pious man, McWhirr had given me leave to knock about on my own; hoping, for the good of my soul, I might attend the sacred service to our lord.

I passed a low dive with a weathered sign that bore the name: Bucket of Spam. The carved, cedar chisel marks suggested its date of manufacture to be (roughly) early 21th century.

Below this it said: We have WI-fi.

I could see, through the fogged window, sleazy spam-bots lit by the eerie blue glow of duck-taped lap-tops inside.  I went on.

At last, I arrived at the ancient stone church. An inscription on the facade said something about a guy named Swedenborg. Clear voices sounded through the ancient, stone walls:

By the Rivers of Babylon…”

I pushed open the heavy oak door and found a pew. The congregation fell silent.  A portly preacher in a plaid suit and brown toupee ascended the pulpit and solemnly spoke with the stentorian delivery of Orson Wells:

“And the lord spake unto Noah:  I shall make it rain for 40 days and 40 nights.”

He looked up from the good book and continued in a confiding tone: “And here shipmates, we find already deeper truths than was ever sounded by our learned interpreters of holy texts-aye it comes from the lips of the almighty Himself. And what water are we speaking of here? Is it the water that flows from the reeking taps of the Babylonian waterworks?”

“No!”  responded the pious congregation.

“Is it the water of sewers that carry Babylon’s foul waste into the vast oceans of the globe?”

At each interrogatory his voice grew urgent.

“Is it the rain that nourishes our genetically modified corn?”

“No Suh!” responded a dread-locked harpooneer.

“Is it the water which rose ever higher to make Babylon a busy, working port?”

“Make it plain!”

“No-o, it is another kind of rain of which I speak,” he warmed to his theme like a southern preacher:

“It is the flood of materialist greed which immerses ma-AN-kind in self-love and se-ELF-ish desires. He wishes ON-ly for con-firm-A-shun of his vile ways through sensory DAY-ta and the false gods of materialist SCI-ence. He EE-vun denies divine kn-OW-ledge and the possa-BIL-ity of an-GEL-ic per-CEP-SHUN.” He banged the pulpit with his meaty fist at each accented syllable. “This is the da-AY-luge that engulfs Babylon today: a flood of kn-OW-ledge that is comp-LETE-ly de-VOID of CHAR-IT-Y!”

The last words resonated with a low rumble that seemed to rise from beneath the worn flagstones of the church. The heavy arches over the altar swayed wildly and collapsed into dust with a thunderous roar. From somewhere in the distance came the mournful wail of sirens. A speaker sputtered and blared:

This is NOAA Weather Radio- Tsunami alert! Tsunami alert!

Posted in Old Hand's northern voyage, videos

Port Headlock

I’ve been anchored in Port Hadlock for 5 days.  Actually, after being pinned down here so long I’ve come to think of it as Port Headlock.  As soon as I start to haul in rode, a sound rises from the far north, a deep rush of sound that gives me pause, and my hand is stayed from weighing anchor.

Since the Equinox, the weather has taken a nasty turn, with savage gusts from the Austral quarter of this turbid globe cast into the swirling cosmos.  After long, night-watches, I see the gale steam the weather-glass a frenzied, vaporous scene of genesis. The glass is the vessel which holds the primordial spark and the damp, hylic goo of the Prima Materia in a seething, Hylic confluence.  The torn north hangs rain-slanted like a black curtain fallen over the final act of a Doric sea tragedy.

Like I said, it was a nasty storm with gusts to 70.  But now I pace the deck and see over the port beam, young men learning the old shipwright’s trade at the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building.  A vessel went by that’s based on the old longboat design of Vancouver’s rowing/sailing launch and skipered by a young, pretty lass who calls from the bow with all the assurance of an old salt.  Does my heart good to see the old tradition of working sail carried on by such eager hands.