Every evening about dusk, a twelve-string guitar began strumming from the shuttered-off recesses of an old cabin cruiser isolated over near the mangroves. Haunting and blue, the wailing of a jilter lover, a disillusioned vagabond, a rolling stone gathering no moss. Live-aboarders paused to discreetly wipe away tears. No one ever saw him. Either he crept in and out in the middle of the night—or he was a ghost.
The Dykes on Bikes–which they called themselves—were apparently sumo wrestlers in previous lives. Their old tin-and-sheet metal houseboat listed precariously whenever both were on one side at the same time. Every time they got drunk down in “Margaritaville,” they planted themselves on the dingy dock like a pair of Little Johns in Sherwood Forest. Failure to pay their toll of a beer subjected one to a prompt dunking.
The more masculine of the Dynamic Duo went to jail for stabbing the emaciated little fellow called “Superman” who lived aboard his sloop with fourteen cats. Talk was he made a regrettable pass at one of the Dykes and suffered the consequences.
The Kraut on his 45-foot ketch intended to sail around the world, only he turned around and came back every time he got out past the lighthouse and encountered open water.
George and Wanda owned the best boat at Cow Key Channel. Wanda had muscular dystrophy. George toted her around like an infant, transferring her tenderly from bow to dingy to shore. Wrapped in blanket finery, she rode their motor dingy with all the dignity of a Hawaiian matriarch of the previous century.
Wanda developed a crush on me. In the middle of the night, her plaintive cry like that of a human gull shrieked over the still water and sent me cringing: “Chuckie! Will you come sleep with me?”
One house boater called himself Albert Q. Einstein. Another used the moniker Bill Bailey; he lived on an old houseboat with girlfriend Jeannie. He and his cat Scavenger scooted about on a surfboard, the cat splay-legged in front, Bill wild-haired and wild-bearded and often naked on his knees paddling.
Every time Bill and Jeannie quarreled, which was often, Bill and Scavenger took off on the surfboard and left Jeannie singing her little heart out across the water:
Oh, won’t you come home, Bill Bailey. . .?
I know I’ve done you wrong. . .
Great counterpoint to the ghost twanging his guitar in the old cabin cruiser. . .
Want to see America’s future? Try A Thousand Years of Darkness by Charles W. Sasser. “Americans have no Constitutional right to produce, obtain and consume the foods of their choice,” said Sam Shrader, head of the President’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. “There is no deeply rooted historical tradition of unfettered access to food of all kinds. . .” In a statement today, President Anastos promises to recruit unemployed workers, using conscription if necessary, and truck them to rural areas to work on communal farms for the American people. . .