His name is Jack Shut-up Bower Goodale.  Shut-up, shut-up – because he owns the world and we are all invaders, even me, and he’s got to protect his turf.  He growls and barks and lunges and tears at things, just about rips the house down when the oil man comes up the drive.

He likes to ride in the car so he can patrol his territory, which is the whole world.  No way a dog on a leash on the sidewalk gets off without a lunging attack held back by auto glass.  You can barely see out any of my windows because of the slobber and nose prints smudged like paste on the glass.  Hey, why would I want to clean them?  He’s only going to do the lunging thing again.

Here’s a good example.  The little terror chased a squirrel up under my car.  The rodent tried to hide up in the hollows and Jack goes after him, gets to ripping everything in sight, pulls out all the wires and I gotta get triple A to put the car on a flat bed, take it to the shop so it will run again.  Mother of God, what a dog!

Just think about it – a wicked smart juvenile delinquent teenager in a dog’s body.  And the body – he’s solid like a bristly white mailbox filled with concrete.  Vet went to give him a shot and Jack was so tight with muscle, vet could barely pull any skin up to slide the needle under.  All that and I got Jack in a head lock so he wouldn’t tear the vet to pieces.

Besides patrolling in the car, he likes his toys.  The wife comes home from shopping with a new toy, what the hell is she thinking?  It’s a hard round ball that’s got this recording that goes off whenever the damned ball moves.  Like giving your kids a drum set for Christmas, for Christ sake!  So all day long he’s back and forth across the house with this ball just a screaming, like to drive you crazy.  So, I go to hide it (after I deal with the lock jaw, got to flip him on his back and grab his throat so he’ll let go). I hide it behind my back and drop it in the garbage can.  I’ve owned the dog, what? for three years? and I ain’t fooled him yet.  He flips the can over and he’s got the ball.  So, we do it all over again.

Finally I take him and the ball to Wall Mart, a walking dog diverts his attention and I get the ball in my pocket and take it into the store and throw it in their can.  I go back to the car.  He’s chewed half way through the way back shoulder belts, third seat in the Excursion.  Later, thinking what’s the big deal?  Get a new straps.  Costs me $100 dollars a side, they got to tear the back panels out and replace the whole system, the fancy retracting spool things.

So, you want to know why the hell I don’t just shoot him?  I love the little guy.  Talk about pizzazz!  When he was a pup we let him out one night and he goes around back and corners this skunk under the stairs, ends up dragging the poor little thing out by the tail, getting sprayed something fierce.  Jack thinks, so what?  That was two years ago and even today, when he gets wet, he smells like skunk, no wonder the perfume people study the lasting effect of skunk juice!

He is always on the alert.  He sits on a kitchen chair in the sun room that looks down on route 1 and barks at anybody walking by.  Half the time he’s got his nose in the air, sniffing, turns his head left, then right, head still up, sniffing.  There ain’t nothing that gets by him.

The wife get’s up at 4:30 in the morning to meditate, do yoga and let all four of our dogs out.  They get back in, and Jack comes back to our bed.  He loves to sleep, but God forbid you disturb him.  He’ll growl and go for you, all teeth, if you wake him up.  Even once the day’s started, he loves to go up stairs and nap.  It’d be my guess he is so strung out about his daily mission, he needs to get all charged up.

Say, you want to meet him?  I got him right out in the car.  I’ll go get him. Just kidding.

A Horse’s Horizon



I ponied my 5 year old horse-in-training, Pampero, a black Lucitano stallion, up the mountain behind my reliable 7 year old steed Bandolero, a liver colored quarter horse.

Pampero’s delight, and his sense of wonder, caught my imagination. I was opening the world to him.

Pampero’s world has been limited.  A year ago he broke the coffin bone in his right front hoof.  His questionable recuperation (only half of horses so afflicted recover), required a year of relative quiet.  This was a task, given his youthful exuberance and the fact that he had two working testicles.

His life was confined to a stall for the first month.  In that time he learned the power of his weight and first broke the restraining chain and then learned he could leap the newly installed three foot stall door.

I then had to corral him in the pasture.  He would whinny and pace along the barb wire fence as I rode Bandolero up and away or drove the pickup truck with horse and trailer out the gate, distraught at being left out of the adventure.


So his world was limited to this spot of sloping land that looks down on the Tarqui valley.

Yesterday Bandolero lead and Pampero followed at the end of the lead rope I held in my left hand.  We ambled up the dead end dirt road and onto a mountain trail.  Pampero’s ears danced and his eyes were keen to every tidbit of life beyond his previous world.  He soaked it up, light on his feet, head swiveling to each new distraction – a tethered grazing cow, a growling darting dog, a puddle he suspected was endlessly deep.

The world was opening up.  I suspect his dreams were coming true.  His future includes wild rides in a trailer to be offloaded amidst other eager horses, then off on heart stopping trails into the high Sierra. I believe he feels complete and is now free to live the destiny of a horse. It makes my heart sing.

A Wild Ride



Ever wonder about the Saturday destinations of all those horses in trailers on the winding roads up and down mountains in Ecuador?  We’re all headed to join other eager horses for a “Paseo.”

The thrill woke me at 2:30 in the morning and I tossed and turned until I finally gave up and ate breakfast at 4.

At dawn, I opened the side-swing trailer back door and Bandolero, my liver- colored gelding quarter-horse, leapt the two foot rise with a loud clang.  We drove out and down the mountain dirt road and then up the erosion-gouged entrance to my friend’s ranch.  We loaded his white Arab stallion Sasu who immediately started to annoy my horse but was thwarted by a quick tie-off to the side.

We stowed Alfredo’s rain gear, tack, and saddle into the back seat of my crew- cab Chevy 4-by-4 pickup truck and off we went.  My trailer has a roof and forward compartments for accessories and is heavy by itself, but with the two big horses and the steady three-thousand foot climb out of Cumbe, my trusted truck began to overheat.  We stopped twice on the shoulder with the engine a needle’s width from the red zone.  She idled herself to cool-enough, and we lumbered on. Once up on the high plain, the road leveled and we cooled down and picked up our pace to 80 km/hr.

An hour and a half south of Cuenca, by the side of the road, we met up with the other Vaqueros.  Two cowboys sat at the dash of an older red Mitsubishi double cab pickup truck towing an open trailer with two calm horses (looking around); a black Trooper, open trailer and a single horse; and finally a snazzy new white Mitsubishi truck with two horses in an open trailer.  That made a nice convoy of men in cowboy hats in pickup trucks.

After another half hour we turned left and up a cement road into the little town of Ona.  We wove on small streets into a crowded central square which was readying itself for a celebration.  It was early, so the stage was vacant.  Streamers caught the breeze and the fire crackers didn’t bother the horses.  Nor did the fact that we were lost.  The correct turn was back a block.  We reversed, four competent drivers turning appreciative local heads.

We twisted and turned out a pot-holed dirt road for 5 km to our destination. Seven men, seven horses and one dog off-loaded at the ramshackle farm.  Chickens scattered, dogs barked and a small but stout horse tugged at his stake rope, excited by the new arrivals.  This pony-sized horse would be our guide’s mount.

This was a dry part of Ecuador and the wide open vistas scanned parched sloping mountains of scrub brush and occasional pastures.

Without delay, we saddled up and donned caped oil-cloth drover coats and cowboy hats.  All except me.  I’m relatively new to riding and I wear a polo helmet.  Also, I could only envy their coats.  And I figured that with all their rain protection, and even with a heavy overcast, it would surely not rain.

Bandolero is a calm horse.  I ride him two or three times a week.  We’ve been horse-and-rider for two years.  We’ve been on countless Paseos.  Sometimes he’s a little feisty, especially when I force him to the back of the group.  He thinks he’s a race horse and expects to lead the pack. And I’ve yet to cure him of his mounting dance.  When I’m a second from raising my boot to stirrup, he begins to circle to the left.  I need to hop hop.

This morning he was particularly dance proud, but I managed to get up in the saddle.  Once settled, the unsettling began.  He buzzed with energy, as if he had fire ants under the saddle, on the edge of out-of-control.   He made “frisky” look like a sleeping baby.  I had my hands full and my legs wrapped.

We were the first to follow Manuel on his diminutive horse up into the fields and Bandolero bucked and backed-up and side-stepped and threw his head.  I hadn’t thought to use a martingale to limit his head thrusts back into my forehead.  We managed to get up to the high road, where I thought I could burn off some of his energy.  We galloped up the 200 yard rise, turned and trotted back.  Twice.  This did little to calm my boy.  When joined by the other riders, I dismounted and took a lead rope and hooked it into the leather strap under his chin then through his girth and back.  At least now I didn’t need to worry about being knocked out cold by his wild head thrashes.

My dog Jack was along for the ride.  He is a mail-box sized, white, long-legged, rough-coated Jack Russell Terrier.  A year ago I’d run him over with my truck tire.  This resulted in a dislocated hip and an operation.  He was trampled a month ago on another Paseo.  He’d already managed to explore a briar patch and his snout, chest and feet were covered with teeny round green stickers. His legs were caked with mud.  He kept up nicely as we trotted along, running well off to the side, perhaps remembering his close brush with equestrian death, lying stiff legged with vacant eyes and blood in his mouth. (Another story).

We left the gravel road and climbed into the aromatic sage-covered hills.  So far, so good.  It was easy going and I was still on the semi-control side of my horse.  The trail led down to an open plain next to a river.  It was an opportunity to let him run, so I made the kissing sound that released him and we galloped full-out to the far edge of the field.

Then the trail got skinny.  Ecuador is vertical. We were at the low level of the day and rode the right side of the roaring river on a narrow ribbon of trail scarfed along the mountainside to a narrow open bridge 30 feet above the flowing water.  I dismounted and led Bandolero across.  We did the dance routine again on a rock slope with a precipitous drop to the river below.  In my frustration, I slapped him upside the head and he held still.

Imagine walking upright up a ladder but the rungs are irregular rocks and the voids are mud.  You’re on a horse.  We climbed and climbed.  All the horses lathered up, first white sweat foamed where the reins met the neck and where the bridles circled the ears, then they were soaked. Their nostrils flared with each heaving breath.

All of the Ecuadorian Andes seem to be 45 degrees or steeper. Sometimes the down-trail is so steep that you’re convinced that you and your saddle will be pitched over the horse’s head.  You can’t seem to lean back enough. Your horse’s front legs will surely collapse. You’re left with only faith. Your horse tucks his hind legs and slides.

Where there was mud, it was invariably deep.  Hooves buried and sounds sucked with each step.

The trails switchbacked and dropped dramatically at you elbow.  The line of horses lumbered up the narrow high-sided, rock-strewn trail, nose to tail until a straight stretch urged them to lope.  Don’t look down.

Two hours of this and Bandolero showed some calm.  It was unsettling to be riding a fidgety horse on the edge of a precipice, and the stress was getting to me.  I’d barely had time to look around to appreciate the majesty of my surroundings.  We occasionally broke and sat in pastures of soft grass as the horses grazed around their bits. We passed the cocktail bottle, ribbed each other and admired the scenery.

We rode up and down impossible trails.  These horses were used to this, but some were more sure-footed and confident than others. These horses faced rocks and mud and dramatic fall-offs and six inch channels to place their hooves.  The switchback’s turn was often slippery.  They clattered up.  It surprised me that more legs weren’t cut, scraped and bloody.

Bandolero was especially sure-footed.  He would stop and survey an obstacle then proceed according to his plan.  He was not bashful or scared, nor was he oblivious to the dangers a foot-fall ahead.  We crossed a stream without hesitation but the following horse shied and had to be pulled and prodded across.  She panicked midway and ended up splayed across the slick ledge.

We stopped for a scheduled lunch at Manuel’s father’s place; a tidy family compound with ducks corralled in a tiny pond to the left of the sweeping path running down to the house.  I unsaddled Bandolero so he didn’t roll on his back and wreak the gear.  I tied him to a fallen log.

Chickens scattered and dogs barked, again.  Scraggly Jack stood nose to nose in introduction, his tail vibrating.  We seven sat shoulder to shoulder, filling the table in the dark kitchen.  It was a lean-to addition with rough eucalyptus rafters, a corrugated tin roof and plank walls.  The hard-pack earthen floor sloped.  Shingles shimmed a gas stove.  Pots of soup and potatoes boiled on the burners.  Mother and daughter served the chicken-foot soup then plates brimming with the potatoes, feed corn on the cob, a fried egg and a slice of salami.  Sparse foodstuffs sat on raw-wood open shelves and an incongruously  modern refrigerator dominated the right wall.  We got red Jell-O served in cups for dessert.

The remainder of the ride climbed another mountain on seldom used jeep trails that joined the gravel road that led to Manuel’s house.

The truck warmed up but didn’t overheat on the two hour ride back to Cuenca.  We dropped Sasu and Alfredo, then made it back up the 4 kilometers to my place.

It was 8 o’clock; two hours dark. I turned on the stable lights and Bandolero jumped out and into his stall for grain, hay and water.  His work was done.

It didn’t rain.  I’m alive.  Jack is sleeping on the sofa.  My horse is stabled and unscathed.  I’ve earned a day off.

I’m Baaaaaaack!

Dear readers,

I met up with a friend yesterday and he asked me about my absence. He had enjoyed the hoopla about the book, Vacationland.  He bought the book and thought it was really good.  My social media disappearance had him wondering if I’d given up on promoting the book, and if I really cared.

His observations were telling, but I assured him that I was serious about getting the word out aboutVacationland, and in fact was just beginning a major push to catapult the novel to best seller status.  That goal is no small feat, but it’s time to think BIG.

Though I haven’t fallen off a cliff, I do find myself huddled beside a baseboard heater after enduring a 36-hour snowstorm and shoveling out this morning in 10 degrees below zero with wind chill @ minus 20 degrees.  I’m in Maine with the family until the end of February and then a trip back to Ecuador.  My work for these next two months all revolves around my writing and promotion of my novels.  Novels?  In the next several weeks I’ll be pre-selling copies of my upcoming novel Once Upon a Nightmare. It’s in the final edit stage and will be published this summer.  Briefly, it’s a story about one man’s descent into the drug trafficking world in the late 1980s, his growing internal darkening, and his ultimate desire to “retire” from the business.

While I polish that book, I’ll be pushing Vacationland and my comfort zone and scheduling lots of book signings here in Maine.  I’m mailing books to every reviewer I can think of.  I’ll be offering the book to marine supply stores, airport book stores, LLBean, boat yards and marinas, statewide and national publications for review, and obviously book stores.  I’m also working on a neat promotional video that I’ll put on Youtube.  I think it’s so cool it could go viral.  (Thinking BIG again, so shoot me.)

As I dust my hands from all that work, I am looking forward to writing my next book, A Maximum Mistake.  It’s partially set in Cuenca, Ecuador, where a courageous police chief is under fire, literally and figuratively, for fighting the spread of drug cartel violence into his quiet city.  There are four other independent stories that come together in the end, the unifying theme being how narco-trafficking and the War on Drugs are impacting the culture of South America.

So what do I need to do to get Vacationland onto the bestseller lists?  I believe I’ve satisfied the “great product” aspect.  The rest is up to me (doing the above) and you.  It’s simple really:  buy and read, write a review for Amazon (could be as brief as thumbs up or down), then, if you like the book, recommend it to friends who then recommend it to their friends and so on, down the line.  Think of it as a wave, a stadium wave.

Word on the Street

” I really enjoyed my visit inside the lobster trap. It’s a page turner. Well crafted, some great sentences. Good local color. Well done.”

“Love the Donny character and the insights into lobstering.  And of course the shout out to H’ford, BMC and the Main Point.  It would make a great movie.””Hysterical clause.  You are so clever.  Now let’s sell some books!”

“I finished the book. Really good Nat! My favorite Chapter I think was 37 (book is at home) when Shelly and her mother are in the garden and Shelly cries. Very touching and wise and so much more. You are a good writer. Keep going. I wrote a review for Amazon ending with “I hated when the book was over.”

“I am reading your book and I think it is very good. It is believable. One area that many writers have great difficulty with is the sex scene. Yours are real. I think you have achieved something very difficult to do. Congratulations. It should sell.”

“A  straight through read from start to stunning finish! Incredible  verisimilitude… you can taste the salt spray, smell the bait and feel the  chills run up your spine. The guy knows his stuff. Vacationland is no island  picnic; it’s a gripping story that will educate you some to boot. This is a  must-read and a cautionary tale for flatlanders contemplating a migration up to  quaint old Maine to munch lobster rolls and patronize the locals. I’m looking  forward to the movie.”

“Doesn’t that describe a bilge pump?  I enjoyed “Vacationland”, lots of familiar stuff.  Movie next? BTW, I thought the dialogue and the descriptions were excellent.  The sex scenes were even fresh, though I didn’t find the toe-sucking.  Maybe that happens in the sequel when Shelly and Donny reunite and the DUBs appear.”

“Congratulations, a great read!  Just finished and posted a 5 star review.  Jerry Darby??”


Winter to Spring


We are in the winter of our lives.  It is dark and dreary and spongy wet.  The air is cold, almost freezing and the chill penetrates the skin, bores in a blanketed assault on the warm core.  And we are inside the crusted walls of what was called home.  You might imagine that outside is worse, and it is.

The spindly woods of trunk and branch and twig, craggy and derelict in the fading light, filter the alien winds that come from the empty fields, mud choked and rutted and encased in a dingy crust of frost.  If there was sunlight forecast, it might burn off, but the fog that clings to twigs is not wet enough and we expect freezing rain in the afternoon.

The weather is coincidental to the bleak outlook for our town.  Shipments of food are a memory and a steady diet of deer meat is taking its toll.  Everyone is undernourished and weak.  Hollow sunken eyes bear witness to failed desires and lank hair falls out in patches.  The uneven sporadic static from the radio waves of fading volume reveal a mirrored wave of suffering that extends down the coast, across the plains and infects the entire planet.

A decade ago the elite decided what was best, and they dictated to the huddled masses.  They had the power and the glory forever.  But verbose and fanciful words strung along in eloquent speeches did little to stimulate the production of needful things, because you cannot dictate production when there is no incentive to produce when it is all stolen away and spent by others for the benefit of others.  And staples evaporated like solvent on the skin.  There was little and then less and less and then nothing for anyone.  Death came among us as aspirinic relief, we awaited in envy without the energy to hasten the inevitable.

I waited to freeze to death.  But in the depths of my soul, through and across my stupor, I sensed an inkling of warmth, a front of thaw.  It was a mirage; I was sure, perhaps the harbinger of the relief of death.  But I did raise my head from my crooked knees, back to blue ice wall and withered ass on hard wood floor.  I lifted my nose in the air, like my remembered dog, and sifted through the scents of damp death and decay, and caught a whiff of clean.

My four companions in the bleak midwinter room remained statue still, knowing that a movement would only bring a renewed feeling of ice.  But I came off the floor and went to the window and rubbed a circle into the pasty grime and rime crystals and put my eye to the glass.

To the east under the layer of low stratus underclouds was a band of blue and a hue of sunlight, a harbinger of hope, which, quite frankly, I refused to accept.  I stood there with my Cyclops’s visions of a future in which I had no faith.  There would be no salvation or miracles.

But I did crack the door and widen the gap and pull it full open.  I faced the east and dared to watch the brightening of the morning.

And then this happened: The bad gave way, the dark was engulfed and consumed and gorged by the sun, and the barren hills of wooden sticks took on a tinge of blush as the sugar red and scarlet maples budded out and the birches came into forgotten shades of neon lime green like breaths of blossoms, and the earth filled out and closed in, buds to little leaves to riots of long forgotten shades of green brought lush and vibrant in the aching sunshine.  The noises returned and song birds bounced on limbs and heralded a new beginning. The gentle renewal swept before my eyes, lush and full and hot bursting with rejuvenation.

The evening came and it remained warm and the peeper fogs serenaded my ear drums and I was not worried about the return of winter’s death.  We had turned the corner and left the disastrous experiment behind and now we could be true to our own natures again and remake mankind as kind man without the pretentious progressive falsehoods of the slipshod elites.

And I could see into the future.  The collective know-it-alls faded and wilted to the strength of the individual men and women who took matters into their own hands, and scraped and gouged dents into the earth and found seeds to push with fingers deep into loam, warmed by the spirit of awakening and possibilities.

The world started to move again, people came out of huts and  hovels and blinked at the brightness and stirred their limbs, sweeping arms in circles and limbering knees to chest and shedding the outer layer of damp woolens so the sunlight could spread the glow of life across the pallid skin.  And they looked to neighbors and ventured a touch of hand then an embrace of arms in celebration of future.  Unbelievable?  I think not.



Vacationland  is  FOR SALE

Welcome to Vacationland.  We are now open for the season.

You may purchase a physical copy of the novel from Amazon.  We are having formatting issues with the Kindle edition and are presently ironing out the kinks.  The ebook should be available in a couple of days.

Vacationland  will also be available through your local bookstore.

A note to my readers:  Needless to say, I am very excited about this launch.  This book is a culmination of years of work and decades of living in Waldo County, Maine.  I trust you will find the book entertaining – my ultimate goal as a writer.

Perhaps it is gauche to put this so plainly, but after you buy and read Vacationland,  I would be grateful if you wrote a review for Amazon.  It could be as brief as “two thumbs……..” If you liked the book, I would be much obliged if you spread the word to all your friends.  I believe in this book, and want as many people to know about it as possible.  Think of it as a project.  We can all watch this phenomenon take off.

I welcome any and all comments and insights.  You may contact me through my websitewww.natgoodale.com, or email ngoodale@aol.com.

My writing continues…

Once Upon a Nightmare is a novel about a bored family man who receives an offer he should refuse.  He chooses a life of crime, becomes exhilarated inside the maelstrom, then decides to leave this darkness and turn towards the light.  Giving notice and requesting severance pay is not the suggested exit strategy from the underworld.  How would you get out?  This book is “finished” and is in the editing stage.

A Maximum Mistake is in the initial stages.  Five stories intertwine, connected by their links to narcotrafficing, the war on drugs and what the money and criminality are doing to the fabric of Latin American society.

I will keep you informed.  As always, I appreciate your interest in my writings.

Many good things (come from inside a lobster trap, buy Vacationland),

Nat Goodale

Turbo Encabulator


Welcome to the test lab.  Today we will reveal our newest invention.  We have developed a new line of heavy duty transmissions and created a new standard for reliability, durability and quality, with customer service being our primary focus.  Work is proceeding using crude ideas for an instrument that would not only supply inverse reactive current for the use in unilateral phase detractors but would also be capable of automatically synchronizing cardinal grammeters.  Such an instrument is the Turbo Encabulator.

Basically, the only new principal involved is that, instead of power being generated by the relative motion of conductors and fluxors, it is produced by the mobile interaction of magneto reluctance and capacitive diractors.  The original machine had a base plate of prefabulative amulight surrounded by a malleable logarithmic casing in such a way that the two spurving berrings were in a direct line with the panametric bam.  The latter consisted simply of six hydrocoptic marzel vanes sole fitted to the amberpatient lunar rein shaft so that side fumbling was effectively prevented.

The main winding was of the normal Lotas O Delta type placed in panendurmic semi-boloid slots of the strator, every seventh conductor being connected by a nonreversible D Tremmy pipe through the differential girdle spring on the up end of the grammeters.

The Turbo Encabulator has now reached a high level of development and it is being successfully used in operation of no-for trems.  Moreover, whenever forescent score motion is required, it may also be employed in conjunction with a drawn recipricator dingle arm to reduce sino-soidal depleneration.

Now that we know how the Turbo Encabulator works, let’s take a closer look at its diagnostic service.  For the purposes of obscurity, we have removed the casing to expose the heart of the Turbo Encabulator – the magneto reluctance modial interactor.  Since little or nothing is known about the principles involved in magneto reluctance, diagnosing faults can be a problem.  Connect a DRV2 to the aft end of the moxy interpreter using the special adaptor WUPD4, making sure that the osmolality of the phase detractor in not extrapolated.

Begin the test by selecting model year, transmission system, and Turbo Encabulator test run.  If there are any system faults, they will be displayed in secret code on the DRV screen.  It is a simple head code.  Anyone can catch it.  The most common fault is sigmoid rumbling below the belt line, which the customer would refer to as a burping or even a hiccupping noise.  To service this fault, refer to the Turbo Encabulator diagnostic procedures manual and song book and perform test TE 10.  Using the Geiger scale on the DRV2, measure the wrenchin output of the capacitive reactor flux muster.  If it is above 10 rgs, replace the unit.  If it is below 10 rgs, you will be directed to perform a series of tests that will effectively raise the billable hours for the service department but will perform no other useful function.

All other faults should be treated as if they do not exist and customers should be told that the burping and hiccupping noise is normal, caused by too much gas in the fuel system.

Please be sure to tune in next week for the revealing instruction on how to cleanse a martingale using a eupheraneous bath.

(* I am not the author of this piece. I don’t know who is. I am passing it along as a service to all good nonsense.)

The Plan

           October 20

Pot Luck, a 31-foot wooden Willis Beal lobster boat, slipped through the fog at a slow and steady pace doing close to three knots. She headed straight for the shore without deviating or slowing and ran up on the rocks beneath the shrouded spruce trees and a lone maple, its leaves glowing a dull red, on the northwestern tip of Seven Hundred Acre Island. Nobody was aboard.

With her momentum, she rode up smartly on the slippery seaweed. Her bow rose and her planks splintered. She came to rest listing severely to starboard.

The jolt caused all the fishing gear to slide forward. The bait trays crashed into the engine box and tipped over, spilling chopped herring onto the deck. The lobster tank ripped loose and dumped its contents into the herring slurry.

The propeller remained free and continued to turn. Her engine ran steady at a thousand revolutions per minute. The wet exhaust no longer muffled the noise. Her only through-hull fitting, which normally brought cooling saltwater to the engine, was now sucking air. The 275-horsepower Chrysler gasoline engine began to overheat. Within fifteen minutes, the engine shuddered, seized, and went silent.

The tide continued to recede. Small waves lapped at the shore. A gentle breeze blew through the evergreen trees. The only thing moving, besides the squirming lobsters, was the sweep of the radar in the display over the helm. It went around and around until the battery went dead four hours later.

It was noon. The tide had turned, and the fog lifted. Shelly called the Marine Patrol to report Donny overdue and missing. At the same time, Wally was just leaving the mainland docks in Lincolnville for a run at his own traps. He looked across the now-clearing three miles of Penobscot Bay and saw Pot Luckon the shore. He headed straightaway toward the island, running flat out.

The Common Cold

Journey Of The Common Cold (masculine)

Stage 1:

Slightly congested, a little runny nose, increasing sinus build-up, reaching for the Kleenex, still with vigor.

Stage 2:

Confirmed head cold, sinuses filling, blocked nostrils, when horizontal (dread bed) post nasal drip and tickled throat and superficial cough.

Stage 3:

Annoying cough, maybe sore throat, weak and fragile, 2 hankies, maybe 3, you sound like Darth Vader, body aches and chills.

Stage 4:

Cough moves down to your bronchial tubes, initially unsuccessful attempts to get purchase on phlegm (what a great word!), cough becomes a full body blow, a seismic eruption, you become aware of all your torso muscles, sneezing with extreme vigor, dread bed continues, cannot sleep horizontally, lower nostril blocks up and drips onto pillow, mouth breathing turns lips and everything else to crusty parched desert, slides into slumber are interrupted by wracking cough. fragile, partner moves to another bedroom.

Stage 5:

Head begins to clear, slight headache due to residual congestion, urge to cough slackens, still fragile, move slowly so as not to awaken the monster within.

Stage 6:

Finally able to return to work. Milk the absence. Exaggerate the experience. At any stage, bronchitis, strep throat and/or pneumonia may be invited to participate in the ravaging of your body. You are a hero.

Journey Of The Common Cold (feminine)

Stages 1-6:

Feels like shit, powers through, gets job done (and takes care of sick spouse and children). She is a hero.