The rain delayed our descent. We’d arrived. We’d arrived rather sooner than I expected. Not in terms of days but in the speed with which they seemed to pass.
It rained hard. Though sitting snug with a cup of tea in my cabin was cozy. The thought of that much water hitting that much more water was disconcerting.
Fortunately, there wasn’t much turbulence. I was grateful that the worst thing we’d likely have to fare was heavy rain.
I wasn’t happy about the setback. Leo, Captain, and crew were all flawlessly reticent on the nature of what now lay beneath the deck.
The closest thing to a revelation came from Marty Blumenthal. Marty was a microbiologist. I’d cornered him in the wet lab where he set peering intently through a microscope.
He was the most pensive man I’d ever met. A perfect bundle of nerves. Kind but frightfully neurotic. Which was strange because he was nearly as tall as the Captain. Odder still was the contrast between his massive frame and the cautious jerky precision of his motions. He had the body of an Olympian but the mannerisms of a high school nerd.
Maybe bodybuilding was his way of reigning in his nerves. But that seemed too convenient an explanation. Despite being kind. Marty was probably the scariest guy aboard. There was something uncanny about the fierce smoldering of his large dark eyes. They seemed to read everything about everything. It was as if they were burning away layer after layer of some great cosmic onion that pervaded everything.
I was really keen on knowing what we were getting ourselves into. Why was this geek flotilla so secretive? Trappists were probably chattier.
Fortunately, I had a weapon. I’d found Marty’s weakness.
It took a while for those massive shoulders to unhunch.
“Yea…is it important…I’m kinda busy here…”
“Well then…I’m sure there’s better company aboard…”
“You do yourself a disservice…you’re probably the hardest working boffin here..and I think you deserve a reward…”
“That’s very flattering but not only do I not swing that way but I’m married.”
“Don’t be silly,” I said affecting a lisp. “I just thought you know…you’d be interested in the last bit of cheesecake till port…”
The stool swiveled.
“As a matter of fact…that’s the most interesting thing I’ve heard all day.”
“Yea, well you know..I’m a capitalist. And capitalism is the best means of exchange…”
“Yea, you have something I want, and I have something you want.”
“What’s going on Marty? What’s down there. What’s up with all the freemasonry? Is this some kinda cult?”
“The captain has a weakness for melodrama. You know his philosophy. He wants to teach the world to dream again. There’s really nothing much more to the ‘freemasonry’ than that. We like old Reed and don’t want to spoil his fun.”
“Hmm…I’m getting hungry…” I said wielding a fork threateningly over the coveted sweet.
“I’m telling you the truth Alan…as far as the reason for keeping you in the dark…but it really is for the better. There is something down there. I’ve never gone down myself but I’ve seen pictures, videos, pieces, I’ve heard the talk, it’s…well…it’s insane…telling you would never do it justice. Expectation would poison your comprehension.”
“Hmmm…,” I said slicing a bit of New York style with the fork.
Marty moved fast. He traversed the nearly eight-foot span between him and the prize in what seemed like less than a second.
“You might be a capitalist but I’m a commie…” I was so surprised by the sudden explosion of motion that my hold on the plate weakened.
Grabbing the desert from my hand he said. “And I must seize the means of confection.”
The cheesecake did work, sort of, because after a few bites Marty said, “We’re floating above an ancient prayer.”
1.1 (Intro) The Sketch of Sam Monroe
1.2 The Cajun Prayer
Help a Hipster