Gerry drove a truck, and was always late paying his taxes. For him, life was bitter vinegar, never sweet honey. His school years he’d wasted, lighting cigarettes, kissing girls who let hands into bras, not doing much work. But then, he knew something others didn’t, that he wanted to be a ship’s carpenter. He’d read about them, in a book borrowed from the town’s library, the school didn’t have any books on old ships. Gerry had discovered ‘Galleons’, and on each, was ‘a man of respect’. A man who could mend every joint, turn and warp in any piece of wood, but there hadn’t been many since the end of the 17th Century. Gerry didn’t see this as a downside, he held out hope for some niche work, and a chance to leave Morristown.
He’d returned that book two weeks later than its due back date, he had wanted to keep it for longer, but didn’t want a late library book on his record. He had a record, for fighting and theft, one rarely followed the other, and his thieving was without violence, whereas his violence was with violence. He hadn’t been to prison, yet, his father had political contacts, and he twisted arms, threatened to end marriages if his ‘boy’ didn’t walk away. Gerry was always, eventually, a ‘free man’.
Landlocked Morristown, to its east, an ocean, over five hours drive away, to the West, further than that. Gerry always drove across mid-states, never across land to either coast, and for Gerry, that was evidence of a life with no sweet honey. He’d called in sick, it was Wednesday. He’d been due to take a shipment of hot-dogs to Nebraska. He’d done that run before, stolen a few jars of frankfurters, they were never missed. He’d hired a car, was heading east, on towards the high seas, the Atlantic. He wanted to look out from a shore-line, out towards a distant blue, but he knew Weather was fickle, so it might be grey. He wanted to picture a fleet of high seas galleons coming into view from a wide horizon, Spanish Galleons, or English Ships sent by the Elizabethan Court, all filled with ruthless men who’d be unstable on dry land, who’d made ships right for mercy.
Six hours, the Virginia coast. He’d decided on Virginia, it had sea-fearing roots. He’d read a bit of colonial history in Morristown library. He booked into a cheap hotel, liked the look of its ship’s anchors in the front garden, the nomenclature of its rooms, famous sailors.
Gerry’s next morning, jogging to the shore line, couldn’t believe his luck! There, in the distance, Galleons! But too far away to make out their ethnicity, couldn’t tell if they were Spanish or English? But Gerry didn’t care, he could wright their timbers. He stripped to his boxers, ran, jumped into the waves, swallowed salt, had the strength to keep going, a drive fuelled by dreams of Piracy and a full stomach of stolen amphetamines.