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.”

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