Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Finding Andy Defresne

White-capped waves gently broke on the white sands of western Mexico. The sun to my back, lit the blue Pacific like polished shimmering tanzanite.

There he was sitting on a log washed up from the sea.

You’re Andy Dufresne, aren’t you?”

He stared at the sea as if nothing was there. “Are you a U. S. Marshall?” Andy said.


Then who are you?” Andy said and turned to examine me closely.

I heard your story and wanted to meet you.”

I’m Andy,” he said. “Who did you hear my story from?”

Family. My father was in Shawshank when I was born.”

Shawshank. Do I know him?” Andy said.

No, he said you were hard to get close to.”

What is it you want?” Andy said turning back to the seas and allowing the wind to part his hair.

I just want to know how you’re doing?”

You care?” Andy said.

Sure, why do you think I came all this way?”

Then let’s walk for a while and talk,” Andy said.

Andy stood and we walked along the shore.

Dad said you weren’t much of a talker. He said you were a man of deep things, things that no one could touch.”

That’s right,” Andy said.

I don’t want to touch them. I just want to know what they are.”

Your father is dead,” Andy said.

Yes, how did you know?”

What you really want to know is your father’s deep things, right?” Andy said.

Yes, that’s what I really want to know.”

Then we shall walk and I will tell you,” Andy said. “There is hope and there is love. Love keeps hope alive.”

A minute or so passed as they walked along the beach.

Is that it?”

Now tell me about your father,” Andy said. “Maybe I do remember him, but I’m certain we are brothers.”

I stopped and Andy walked on for another two or three steps.

You’re going to string me along aren’t you?”

Andy grinned an old man’s grin with deep carved wrinkles. “If your father was my brother that makes you my nephew. You have been the only one to visit me. That makes you my favorite nephew. Come on, walk next to me, let me tell my story in my own way.”

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Smitten By Smith

 John Smith’s home is just down the beach from his favorite haunt and watering hole, Smithery‘s. He’s like a king who holds court during the day at the bar and by night his home.

His gatherings at his home are legendary and to be invited is an honor. He invites no more than a dozen. It’s a mix of his regulars, strangers, princes, and paupers. Anyone in the presence of John is on equal footing. Anyone with ill manners or putting on airs is quickly asked to change their behavior or leave.

He tells stories leaving listeners spellbound. No one ever says prove it—because he will. He listens to stories without doubting. “Even if the story is not true,” he once said, “as long as it’s told honestly—it is true.”

Several years ago while John related his adventures in the Himalayas and his scaling Mt. Everest, a hardy rich lad challenged the veracity of his claim.

John immediately chartered a flight to Tibet and took the unbeliever with him. John climbed to the summit; the young rich companion stopped 5,000 feet from the peak. On the way down John performed an emergency amputation of the lad’s left arm; it had been overtaken by frostbite and gangrene.

In an act of charity, he hired the lad as the manager of the Smithery.

No one doubts John Smith. If they do the manager gladly steps in with his experience and brandishes his left stub.

Somewhere during the evenings, there is always a game of poker. It lasts long enough for John to win all the money brought with a guest. The casinos of Monte Carlo don’t allow John to participate.

The famous French gambler Pierre Bennett left John’s home` declaring he had won. He came with 60,000 Francs and left with 4,000 Francs. For Pierre that was a victory.

Once you have played cards with John Smith it is said you have been Smitten.

Friday, October 15, 2021

John Smith's Ocean

 A small bar sat near the beach on John Smith Island. The bar is named in honor of John Smith. It’s called Smithery’s and dubbed “Where you go to get hammered.” This is where John Smith likes to be.

He gazed at the ocean and no one knew for sure how many oceans John had seen or what adventure was just over the horizon.

No one knew where his imagination took him, but if it took him anywhere his reality had already been there. There was nothing he could not relate to or speak about for he was a man who experienced only what many men dare imagine.

A tourist sat next to John at the bar.

What do you see, the ocean or the waves?” the tourist asked.

Why do you ask?” John said sipping a margarita.

I want to see what you see,” the tourists said.

You are at least five margaritas behind me,” John said. “When you catch up with me you will see wonderful things. Not true, but wonderful.”

John turned to the bartender. “A pitcher of margaritas for my friend.”

After two hours John left the man at the bar in a stupor.

A man who can’t hold his liquor has no place in my ocean,” John said as he paid the bartender and walked to the shore.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Dishwasher

 Fisherman’s Cove is a remote town tucked away in one of many inlets that pepper the Maine coast. It’s easy to travel there by boat, but by car is another story. The Cove was at the tip of a small peninsula. It was shielded from the mainland by a huge rock formation that thrust out of the coastline and stretches to both sides of the peninsula. It was too expensive to carve an easy access road or tunnel. Instead, a small road twisted through the rock formation until it wound its way into the small village that barely hangs on to dry land, Fisherman’s Cove.

Edwin Furman visited the town 10 earlier and never broke away. Why he stayed was a mystery to everyone. At first, everyone tried a sort of shunning; they would not speak to him unless he spoke first and used the minimum of words. After the two-year probationary period he became a mainstay, but always referred to as the “new guy.” And he waited for someone the move in to take the title from him. But to many, the locals seemed too hostile to remain more than 6 months. Edwin seemed bright, friendly, enthusiastic, and articulate, but Fisherman’s Cove offered nothing for anyone other than what already existed.

The town was bound and shackled by the rock to the north and the sea to the south. What land was available was taken and no one who lived there was about to allow it to slip into the hands of anyone from the outside.

Edwin worked as a dishwasher at the Fisherman’s Hut. A good place with a steady clientele of regulars and the occasional outsider.

It was owned by Silas Carpenter, stock from one of the founding families of the Cove. The restaurant had been run by his family for 75 years. Edwin was the only person not a Carpenter who ever worked there. Edwin’s chance of advancing from dishwasher was zero and he knew it.

The Hut, as it was called by the locals, closed Saturday at 3:00 PM. It was 3:30 and Edwin had just finished his final duties of the day. He removed a plaid coat from the coat rack in the dining room and slung it on.

See ya Monday morning bright and early, Silas,” Edwin said.

Edwin,” Silas said with a friendly lilt in his voice, “you have a minute?”

I don’t know, Silas,” Edwin said feigning seriousness, “I got big plans, bingo at the fire department. They may have Miss Doty calling the numbers. You know she was a runner-up to the Cod Festival two years ago.”

I want to talk to you for a moment,” Silas said. “Have a seat in the booth by the window.”

Edwin took his coat off and tossed it in the booth and slid in himself. Silas came over to the table with two coffees.

The bottom of the pot,” Silas smiled, “don’t like to throw anything away.”

What’s up Silas,” Edwin said blowing the steam from his coffee.

I’ve wanted to have this talk with you for a month or more,” Silas said. “It’s about your future.”

It’s nice of you to be concerned,” Edwin said.

You should move on,” Silas said. “You aren’t going to be nothing more than a dishwasher in my place. My son Wilton will take over The Hut when I retire. You will always have a job with him. You’re the best darn employee I’ve ever had and ever hoped to have. Ya know the business as good if not better than me. You should go someplace else and open up a diner of your own. It’s time you think about yourself and your future.”

Silas, I’m never going to have a better job than I have now,” Edwin said. “I sleep good at night. I have no worries.”

It’s minimum wage,” Silas said, “you can’t do nothin’ on that.”

I do okay,” Edwin said. “I rent the apartment above the library for next to nothing and I got access the all the books. I got the whole world below me.”

Don’t you have goals or ambition?’ Silas said pushing his coffee aside.

Honestly, Silas, does anyone in this town have goals or ambition,” Edwin said. “The minute someone does it’s snuffed out with the next breeze that comes off the bay. There are two reasons people leave this town; there’s no jobs and ambition is frowned upon. If anyone in this town wanted my job you‘d find a way to fire me just to keep a local here.”

If that’s true,” Silas said, “what on earth would keep you here under such circumstances?”

Grab your cup and bring it to the back sink,” Edwin said.

They stepped into the kitchen.

Stop,” Edwin said and gestured toward the double stainless steel sinks, “behold, my work station.”

And your point is?” Silas said.

Step up to it, Silas, and tell me what you see?” Edwin said.

Silas walked to the sink and looked into it.

No,” Edwin said. “Look ahead.”

It’s the cove,” Silas said.

What else?” Edwin said.

Boats, docks, a boatyard, the ferry dock,” Silas said, “what is it I’m looking for?”

See the boat with the yellow cabin?” Edwin said.

Yes,” Silas said, “I see it.”

Peter Landau’s boat,” Edwin said. “I’ll tell you something, Silas, there’s no better fisherman in The Cove than Peter Landau.”

What about Nathan Argot?” Silas said. “He’s always talking about his large catches.”

It’s bluster,” Edwin said. “I see what they bring in. Landau plays it close to the vest. If you see gray clouds over to the southwest you can bet Peter Landau will be climbing aboard his dory and heading to his boat. By the time he gets to his grounds the weather has passed and the fishing is good.”

You know that from looking out the window?” Silas said.

Everything that happens out there on the cove two days ago will be news in town today,” Edwin said, “but look again, tell me what you see?”

It’s a cove!” Silas said. “What else is it supposed to be?”

Silas strained and slowly his shoulders slumped, his face softened, and his hands relaxed to his side. “It is incredible!”

Silas turned to Edwin. “That’s what you look at every day.”

Can you think of a better view and your hands are kept busy too,” Edwin said.

I sometimes come in here on my day off, stand here for a while, and just look,” Edwin said.

Edwin slipped his coat on and slowly backed away until he was at the door to the dining room.

Edwin,” Silas said. “Monday morning you run the front end and I’ll do dishes.”