Even when I was living in our big fine home on the river, I never liked it. It just wasn't me. I'm a carpenter. We live in simple dwellings, we nail-slingers, spaces often unfinished, as we like to continually shape and mold our dwellings to reflect the next bounty of found materials and time off. Not my shack behind the Crooked Angel. This is a place on the waiting list of destruction and there will be no reprieve.
My home with Mona had been a place of, if not joy, (or reprieve) at least it was suitable for entertaining and influence, two tools that suited my ex-wife to a (stop...I was going to say “to a tee” but I have no idea what that means) So here is what happens next: My Uncle Old Phil Stine and his beloved dog Ruby followed me across the parking lot behind the Crooked Angel Saloon over to the old surf shack where I was currently crashing. Ruby Tuesday ran ahead and kicked the door open with her front paws. She knew just how to do it; there was no lock on the door and a few hundred feet away, the waves, calm just a little bit before, were picking up.
The Moon, hanging there doing nothing, had a mind of its own, laughing and joking around as the Moon is known to do, and as for me, I knew the plot was about to thicken. My head hurt and also: here was Old Fucking Phil Stine.
“Uh, Uncle, I don't think I have anything to offer to drink.” I shuffled a little (a lot) drunkenly towards the refrigerator at the back of the shotgun shack. It was a symbolic dance, I wasn't even sure if the damned refrigerator was plugged in. Opening the door (carrying my lame act all the way) I was a bit stunned to see a light come on (inside the icebox) and also, there were a couple dozen Red Stripe beers (cans) in there along with some kind of a pretty luscious-looking sushi tray and one of those pseudo-caterer cold cuts and vegetable trays from the Publix Deli.
“ I took the liberty of stocking some provisions, Blix.”
“Like for a journey, Uncle?”
“Let's call it a small voyage.” I underhand tossed him a beer, a little hard. Maybe another guy would have thought I was trying to hit him in the head with a full can of beer but Old Phil Stine snatched it so fast it looked natural, popped it open with one hand and drained half the can in one motion. It looked like one of those videos of astronauts that we see from the Space Station in slow stop action...except this was all so quick that if I didn't already know what was going to happen I might not have noticed it at all.
“Do I have anything to say about this?”
“Of course you do, as long as it is yes.” I cracked a Red Stripe for myself and another for Miss Ruby. I put my best bowl down on the floor and poured the beer in fast, making a lot of foam. That's how she likes it. Here at my shack she will snuff and snort through the foam and guzzle her beer like a wild hog. This is the only place she is allowed to be a pig. Me and her go back a ways.
“OK, then, yes. Let's hook up in the morning after I get a little sleep and I'll do it, you already knew that.”
“Oh, it has to be tonight, Blix. I need you and the Bitch to take me out to the hundred foot line to meet a boat.”
What a big surprise. Me and Uncle Phil...
“I don't do that anymore, Phil. You know that.”
“This ain't that, lad. I have to have a quick conversation with a man on a boat and we come back in. No contraband, no nothing.”
“Why don't you take the Shadow?”
“Because the people I'm dodging know about the Shadow. They also know Blix Dixon likes to get wasted and launch his boat on big-moon nights and wander aimlessly around out there.” Well, that much was true. I didn't inherit this damned failing enterprise called my life; I fucked it up methodically, one step at a time. Some of it involved moonlight boat trips. And trouble.
I looked at Ruby Tuesday. She must be mostly yellow lab, because she has that shape and that friendly-goofy smile of the labs; and yet, those dogs can also show a noble demeanor that gives pause, and makes us glad that dogs are our friends. Not Ruby Tuesday. If Ruby were a human she would be a pawn broker or a bounty hunter.
“Will you keep an eye on the house, Ruby?” I asked. “Me and your buddy are going for a night sail.”
More smiles from the yellow dog.