daughtersofnormabates











{October 16, 2012}   The Mariner

I took a cab to The Mariner, a small motel right beside the boat docks. When I walked into the motel restaurant with my flowered suitcase, Walt and Mike were having coffee, waiting for their breakfast. I sat down in a booth next to them. “So, here I am” I announced. “So you are” Walt said. “We’ll get started after breakfast. I’ll get you a room after we start cleaning the boat. Whatcha wanna eat? Fill up ‘cause we’ve gotta lot of work to do.” I ordered two eggs, toast and coffee. After breakfast, we walked the docks to the boat.

The boat was a huge fishing vessel. I’d never been on a boat like this before. It had cabins underneath for sleeping, a tiny kitchen and an even tinier bathroom. It was strewn with debris, making it hard to walk inside the boat. My job was to help clear the debris while Mike and Walt worked on scraping the outside. While I worked, I thought about docking the boat in an exotic port on a tropical island where you could just reach up and pick fruit off a tree and eat it. If I could talk these guys into taking me with them, I wouldn’t have to worry about the Florida police finding me and sending me home. I’d be safe.

For the next three weeks, I helped Walt and Mike clear, scrape, repair and paint the boat. We worked four and five hours a day, taking frequent breaks so Walt and Mike could smoke. We spent a lot of time at breakfast, drinking cup after cup of restaurant coffee so that sometimes we didn’t get started until noon. After work we’d eat pizza or sandwiches while watching TV in their room. Most nights I walked around the marina with Walt. The marina was lit with twinkling lights and the boats swayed in the water under the moon. Walt had a funny way of looking at things that made me laugh even when I was worried. Mike was more quiet and kept to himself. He had a more cynical view of the world than Walt and I had. He didn’t trust anyone. He said everybody is just out for money and that’s what’s wrong with this country. I agreed with him, but I didn’t think everybody was like that. There are good people, too. You just have to seek them out.  Mike and Walt were going to sail to different countries, and see if they wanted to set up  home there. I wanted to go with them, but every time I brought up the subject, Mike got quiet and Walt changed the subject.

After four weeks, the boat was finished and ready to launch. The guys were getting excited about their trip, but I was nervous. If they didn’t take me with them, I didn’t know what I’d do. I’d been gone from home for a month and I was accustomed to life at the marina–eating breakfast at the motel restaurant and drinking coffee until noon; walking around the marina at night with Walt. I had to press my case for them to take me. I figured once the work was done they’d try to ditch me. I had to bring up the subject.

I was watching TV in their room and asked when they were leaving. “As soon as possible” Mike said. “What’s the possibility of you guys taking me along? I can help out with the boat” I offered. Mike and Walt looked at each other. They were expecting this. Suddenly, Walt took a pillow and started walloping me with it. Mike joined in and they both jumped on the bed and hit me with pillows. “Go home!” they chanted. “Go home!” “No!” I screamed. “I’m not going home!” Being pummeled with pillows didn’t hurt but being told to go home did. They stopped hitting me when I started tearing up. I cradled by head in my hands and cried. “You need to go home, Lynn. You’ve gotta finish school” Walt said. “You can’t get a decent job until you finish school. I know how much you hate your mother,” he continued. “she’s a real bitch. But we can’t take you with us. You’re jail bait. We wouldn’t even make it out of the port with you onboard. Besides, your Dad is probably looking for you everywhere. Even if your mother doesn’t give a shit about you, from what you’ve said about your Dad, he does. I’m sure he’s worried about you. As long as you have one parent who gives a shit about you, you’ll be okay.”  I choked up, “I do miss him.” “Anyway, you don’t wanna live like we’re gonna have to live, on a boat in the middle of the ocean for weeks” Mike said. “Anyway, from what I can tell, your dad is loaded. You go to a good school. You got friends. Just suck it up with your mom a couple more years and then you’re outta there” he continued. “I can’t go home” I explained. “It’s worse than prison. At least here I’m free. I’m gonna look for another job. I’ve still got $250 left of my money. That’s enough to stay a week or two if I’m careful.” “Yeah, but with food, that’s gonna run out fast” Mike said. “Okay, if I can’t find a job by the time my money runs out, I guess I’ll go home” I said. “Fair enough” Walt said. “Tomorrow, you won’t work on the boat. You go out and apply for jobs. If you can’t find one in the next couple of days, you’re going home” Walt said. I agreed. I’d walk along the beach strip and apply for anything I could find. First, I’d walk to the Fontainebleau from the marina. It was a nice hotel. I’d start there.

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