Friday, January 10, 2014

Pot of Gold Farm & Cruise Line

*disclaimer - I understand that much of what is in here is improbable if not impossible but just suspend disbelief and try to enjoy *

Sitting alone in his dingy studio apartment one evening after work Silas was flipping through the channels on his flat screen TV. 46, balding and single he had recently splurged on an 80" flat screen along with an insane cable package with more channels than hairs left on his head. In all reality he only watched a handful of the channels but it felt good to have the options there. Cynthia, his last relationship, had left him a year ago stating that he had no sense of adventure or drive. To be clear his last sexual encounter had been over two years ago when he first met Cynthia. He had shown an uncharacteristically adventersome spirit that night when he walked up to her on the dance floor and virtually snatched her out of her boyfriends arms. At first she was incensed by his brashness but her boyfriend Kyle was becoming stale and the Silas' impudence turned her on. The moment when he dipped her, she knew she was going to fuck this strangers brains out.

Silas had been fulfilling his end of a bet with some coworkers. He quickly slammed 4 shots of Jamison and virtually bolted onto the dance floor with the frenetic energy of a man who knows that if he doesn't keep moving forward, he'll turn and run. He hadn't been with a woman in several years (he hadn't lost count by accident but preferred to not keep track because as pitiful as his life was, he didn't want to commit suicide). Cynthia knew how to have a good time and for about 2 months dragged Silas through her sexual escapades till it slowly began to taper off due to his unwillingness to get a prescription for viagra. It wasn't that the sex wasn't fun but this woman scared him and being flaccid seemed the only way to keep her at bay and then only sometimes.

With Cynthia gone, life had become predictable which for a while was great but now predictable was turning into boring.  The television was a bandaid on the ever growing chasm of insecurity and loneliness. Flipping through the channels he was jarred from his comatose state by a bright and loud commercial for the Bargain Boat Buyers club. The commercial was shot on the deck of a swell yacht in pristine waters. Admiral Ben, the owner of the company with babes under each arm, told viewers about the possibility of owning a beautiful boat of their own at "discounts so deep you'll need Navy divers to find another deal this good". Silas thought that maybe this was what he needed. Wasn't he in his midlife? They call it a midlife crisis for a reason and he certainly fit the bill.

With the same dogged determination that he had shown on the dance floor, Silas grabbed the keys to his 1998 Toyota Corolla and headed for the door. Forgetting his appearance until he walked up to the front doors of Ben's and saw his reflection in the doors, it occured to Silas that no one would sell a boat to a barefoot man in a grubby T shirt, boxers. He was about to turn away when the door flung open and Ben himself, from the commercial greeted him. By his reaction to Silas you would have thought Silas looked like the Sultan of Brunei. Shaking his hand vigorously Ben asked "what can I do ya for sailor?" "A boat I guess" Silas stammered "like the one in the commercial, if you don't mind".

"Do you want sail or powered? Yacht or sport? We've got it all and can put you on one." Silas hadn't considered the options in his haste to maintain his sudden momentum. "A yacht I suppose. I want to be adventerous and take trips." As he said it, confidence was building in his chest. He would show Cynthia (not that he really wanted her back but it would feel great to post pictures with his new girlfriend and the boat on Facebook where she was bound to see them). Ben led the way to their largest yacht, a 130' beauty with ever amenity you could get in a 5 star hotel. Standing on the deck Silas could feel his future changing in front of him. "What is your price range if I may ask?" The question froze the vision like taking a bath in liquid nitrogen. He really didn't know what to expect. Surely this boat had to be expensive but he didn't want to taken advantage of. If he fudged the numbers a bit and it was a little too low, he could just get a smaller yacht. "200-300". "That's wonderful" Ben laughed "but are you buying a small country? This yacht is only 80 million".

The word million was like Ben had taken that frozen dream and dropped it onto the deck. His shoulders visibly slumped, mind racing for a way out without being humiliated further. "Do you want to look at the others or do you want to go sign the papers for this baby now?" Fighting a stupified mind Silas finally choked out "ou out of curiosity, what's the absolute least expensive yacht you have?" For a split second Ben eyed him first quzically, then with a "you're wasting my fucking time aren't you?" look but ever the quintessential salesperson, he forced a smile and clapped Silas on the back. "A real shopper here aren't you. Okay well we've got one in the back I can show you".

When he had said in the back, it wasn't an exageration. At the very opposite end of the boat yard nearly buried behind scrap hulls, propellers and other detritus sat the largest,  sorriest, ship you've ever seen. It was clearly hand made but it was enormous. "It's a big one. 450 feet long and 75 feet wide. Ugly son of a bitch and I don't know where you could dock a thing like this but I'll just about give this away to get it off my lot." If million had shattered his dream, free had glued some pieces back together. "I'm just curious, can I see the inside?" Silas asked trying not to sound too eager.

It took a 40 foot extension ladder to reach the deck and both men to manuever it into place. Standing on the deck Silas realized that all the lumber was rough hewn and the sides of the boat had a mixture of pine pitch and epoxy for water proofing. Ben was right - this was one fucking ugly boat. But it was huge and nothing says adventure and midlife crisis more than a big toy. "You'd probably have to anchor this thing somewhere off shore and have a small boat to just get out to this thing" Ben mused. "Where did you get this thing...and why does it smell like shit?" Silas hadn't noticed it from below, apparently the pitching kept the smell from seeping out the sides, but up top the odor was pungent. Ben covered his nose looking over at the ladder "it was here when I bought the business. Apparently one of those crazy climate change nut jobs decided it was his job to save everything with a heart beat. Story goes that he spent so much time and money building this thing that the bank repo'd it when they came for his house." He motioned to the ladder "you done looking?" Silas nodded and the headed down the ladder. On the descent Ben continued the story "the fucking guy disassembled most of his house and installed it inside that boat so the bank figured it was now theirs. The only problem was that there was a fight with the city over it being an unlicensed, unsanctioned zoo. By the time they extricated Noah, the old geezer, he had somehow gathered 30 some odd species of animals and they had taken to shitting up the place."

The men had reached the ground again and Ben light up a cigarette. "Fucking thing is a fire hazard" he said without irony as he waved the hand holding the cigarette in the boat's direction. "I'll take it" Silas said matter of factly. Ben had started walking back to the office not realizeling Silas was not following. "Pardon?" Ben turned around. "I said I'll take it off your hands...I mean if you'll let me". Silas had said this louder to cover the small distance between him and Ben but also in an attempt to convince himself that he wasn't being an idiot. A slight quaver in his voice betrayed his self doubt. "Yeah okay. You and your slave army going to haul it out of here? That was 200 thousand you have wasn't it?" Realizing that he had just wasted 2 hours with this motly looking idiot Ben icyly stared at Silas and "if you can get it out of here, it's yours but don't waste anymore of my time dicking around in here" the disgust in the "Admiral's" voice was palpable and Silas shrank slightly. "I'll buy one of those boats you mentioned I would need to get out to this one" he mumbled bashfully offering an olive branch. "A sale is a sale is a sale, is it not my friend?" Ben's tone had changed as quickly as weather in south Florida. 3 hours later the paperwork was signed (which included a stipulation that the giant boat was his if he could somehow remove it) and Silas was the proud owner of a 35 foot yacht. As he walked out of the shipyard, a rain storm appeared out of nowhere pouring buckets of water soaking Silas. He didn't run though because for the first time in a while he felt on top of the world. When he reached his car, some of the clouds parted and the sun beamed through producing a vibrant rainbow over the shipyard. "That's a good omen" Silas thought. "Take that Cynthia. There's some adventure for you".

The rain storm that started the day Silas became the proud owner of two boats did not let up for an entire week leaving many areas of Saint Louis completely flooded. Unable to go to work Silas sat and thought about the massive purchase he had made. A few days of bipolar buyers remorse thirst for adventure tormented Silas. He could call and try to get his money back right? And he really wasn't obligated to remove that behemoth according to the contract. So what if he lost a little money. It was better than being a complete laughing stock. Unsure of what was going to come out of his mouth he dialed the Boat Buyers Club fully expecting to get the voicemail. "Admiral Ben here, what can we sail to you today?" "Hey this is Silas. I'm surprised you answered." "Well that's the perks of living in a boat. I can pilot it to work down the streets. Hopefully I don't get stuck here though. Shirley, grab me a beer darling. Okay, what's on your mind Silas my man? You know you could probably float big Bertha out of here and down the Mississippi, that is if you can figure out a way to steer it." "Steer it? What do you mean?" Ben belched. "I mean the jabroni that made it didn't intend for it to be a pleasure ship. It's a floating box really. There's no rudder." Silas was ingenious and what better way to show he was willing to tackle anything than to tame a 450 foot boat - the nautical equivalent of riding a Brahman Bull. "I'll be down there as soon as I can pack." Silas hung up adrenaline pumping through his veins.

It took 3 hours to paddle the kayak to the boat yard but it was pretty clear which boat Ben was living in. It was the one from the commercials which had clearly been shot a decade before judging by the appearance of the boat now. Ben invited Silas in where they shared a couple beers not saying much both contemplating the insane undertaking about to commence. "Thanks for the beer. Better get going. You got any decent sized anchors I can use?" Silas outlined his plan to drop an anchor off both sides of the stern raising and lowering them to cause drag theoretically steering the ship. As far as drunken plans go it was reasonably solid and both men were completely sold on it. It took some doing to devise a system for one man to manipulate the steering system but a system of pulleys fixed that problem. "You ready?" Ben shouted over the roar of the wind. "Yeah, let her go". When Ben released the last line mooring the boat it began wallowing around the ship yard like a pissed off toddler throwing a tantrum. Overcome with the excitement of the situation Ben shouted "fuck all these boats. I'll claim insurance on them. Run that bitch out of here!"

Silas had the look of a mad man as the lightening flashed and he pulled desperately at first on the chains. It took an exhausting half hour to master the singular technique of steering the vessel but once he had it down, he felt like the king of the world. It was dark at this point which was fortunate because he couldn't how many homes he had plowed through following the current to the Mississippi. When the sun rose the next day Silas was well down the river into Tennessee. Floating such a massive vessel down the river attracted a good bit of attention which was great since he had lacked the forethought to pack some provisions and after wrestling anchors for days he was fairly spent. A news helicopter landed on the deck of the ship for an exclusive interview. "I'm just going to the ocean and I want a hamburger. That's all I have to say. Oh, and hey Cynthia". As soon as his escapade hit the networks, restaurants were clammoring to supply food just for the sensational advertising. The networks true to form, hunted down Cynthia probing into her life asking questions like "what is your relationship to Ahab and his whale of a boat? Are you in love? What is his story?" The entire thing was a shock to Cynthia but very alluring and absolutely shockingly stupid. She remained tight lipped only furthering the speculation. Several reality show producers approached both Silas and Cynthia trying to get approval to shoot a reality show on the boat.

Silas would have been loathe to be on TV before but they were willing to pay and he would need cash if he was going to overhaul The Farm, which he had taken to calling the boat due to the smell. She would need two engines, a rudder system of some sort and rudimentary radios, lights and navigation if he didn't want to be run into or lost at sea. All of this would be much more than he had left after the purchase of his 35 footer. What the hell? Another shot with Cynthia, although as his confidence grew she became less important as he realized how many women he could have despite his appearance. Women love a man with serious balls almost as if they can smell the testosterone. He'd never had women pay any attention to him before but now they would line the river banks and flash their tits as he went past. Unfortunately stopping was unweildy and nearly impossible making hooking up with anyone nearly impossible. Not to mention the fact that he had to man the steering constantly dozing off only for short periods of time or risk running aground.

The reality show was short lived as Silas only was interested for the money and when he had enough to install the massive diesel engines and outfit the rest of the ship, he shut down production and launched out to sea. In the weeks following the launch of his adventure, it seemed that rainbows had a habit of following The Farm around. Of course a rainbow following around a ship begs for people to ask "you got a pot o gold on The Farm?" or "are you starting a gay cruise line?" When the show, Man vs Boat ended, a title he openly mocked himself, the public was left with the question - what the fuck are you going to do with this thing? Silas thought it best to keep everyone in the dark. The plans he had running around his mind didn't need attention right now and he wanted to get away and have some peace with Cynthia - the other take away from the show besides the money. Admittedly she had misjudged him or maybe she had given him the push he needed but after a few months of watching Silas dive head first into the project, his fat burning away and being replaced with rippling muscles, she was smitten.

Modifications made, show ended with money in the bank, the couple launched out on an voyage to where only Silas knew. The Farm was going to become just that - a pot farm. All the puns, jokes and piles of dried up animal shit had ruminated in his mind germinating into this. They would float just inside international waters where they could grow copious varities of marijuana unmolested. Hence the secrecy with his plans. No need to attract the attention of drug cartels or pirates. The rest of the room on The Farm would be converted to living quarters and a desalination for the hydroponic growing tanks. They would offer high paid vacations to select groups of individuals ferrying them to day excursions on the 35 footer and back at night to get high on the high seas. Cynthia was dubious as to the viability of this plan but when she discovered that as a ship captain Silas could marry folks, she proposed they market to homosexuals. Hell, they had a rainbow following them so why not offer cruises where you could get married, smoke some weed and have a great time. Silas felt uncomfortable talking about it at first not because he was homophobic but because he felt the need to tell people "it's a great time as long as you don't mind whiffs of shit from time to time". It seemed only right to let them know but at the same time he worried that it would come across as ignorant and bigoted. Cynthia told him "intelligent people know when to be offended because someone is actually being an asshole". He had to agree despite her choice of words making him chuckle considering the debate.

Five years in to the gay wedding cruise / pot farm venture, Pot o Gold Cruises, Silas and Cynthia had banked enough money to buy a small island or nice villa on the coast of Italy and do nothing except what ever whim took their fancy. It wasn't just the money that had kept them going but the principle of undermining the system and helping couples in love seal the deal. The last state in the US was slated to fall to marriage equality soon rendering their service a novelty instead of a protestation of necessity. "What do you say Babe, we do one more and retire?" Silas was reading the news on his tablet and turned it to show the headline to Cynthia. "One more..." she contemplated the thought. So much had happened in the last few years but she was having to admit her thirst for adventure was waning. "Yes where do you want to go? They say the coastal towns may be unsafe any day with the melting ice." Silas laughed sarcastically "maybe those Westboro fuck snots are right. God is going to drown us all for letting the boys and girls marry. Hell, I guess we could just ram this thing into an island and if the waters rose high enough we'd have an escape pod so to speak". "Sounds good to me." Cynthia remarked twirling her hair "this last one has to be fabulous and exclusive. I'm going to make some calls".

Only inviting their favorite couples back from the past five years was a challenge. There were so many to choose from but the final list was made and invites emailed for the 2 week bash set for the 4th of July. The day arrived and Silas spent a full day ferrying couples from shore to ship. He couldn't help but think about the day he had gone to the Boat Buyers Club and seen The Farm. 5 years of pot filled bliss had followed and he didn't even recognize the man he used to be. Some crazy old man's delusional project had saved his life and given him life long friends. A rule on the ship was "international waters - no problems". This simply meant that unless there was an emergency, there was no internet or phones for the duraction of the cruise. Had someone checked the news, they would have realized what was coming because you surely couldn't tell on the ship. When you are in the middle of the ocean with nothing for comparison, you can't tell that the ocean level is rising. As the trip came to an end the passengers attempted to check their email only to find no servers available. One passenger who worked in the tech industry hacked the satellite connection and was able to pull the last data transfers stored in the memory and they slowly put the pieces together. The irony was not lost on them - the last remaining humans on earth were most likely on that ship: a hetersexual couple too old to procreate and numerous gay and lesbian couples. Humanity would be saved through homosexuals. "up yours Westboro" Silas thought looking up at the rainbow over The Farm.

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