Letter Fourteen

capt'n fear-of-rain-man,

this story of the darker side of paradise is for YOU because you've lived in paradise before and you know there's no such thing as "it's all good all the time."

jean paul got back from montreal just as i was rinsing off the last bit of soap from the deck of his boat. i washed clothes and sheets the day before and did a good cleanup of the interior and exterior for JP's return. it was time for me to deliver my beautiful luxury home back to it's true owner and move ashore or onto another boat. i had been offered accommodations on another boat (the "death boat" - so called because two people who lived on it had died in the past year) and in turn i offered to clean up the interior. in talking with JP about this he turned up his nose and asked if i knew the history of this boat. i said, "yes," and he says that hard-luck-patty had been dead at least three days before she was found on the boat... "in canada, if they have a death on a boat or a car where the body is not found for that long, they don't even bother trying to disinfect or clean it... they just burn it," he said, "and this is the tropics! so it's worse."

Chisme Vindicator Article

i took this into account but i had been assured the boat had been disinfected and cleaned after patty's demise and the only cleaning needed was from tropical mold beginning to grow on the walls just from not being ventilated and cleaned often enough over the past couple of months... no problem!

JP and i are having a couple beers as i'm getting ready to move off his boat and he continues with more un-fun revelations about the "death boat"...  "and you know, the fellow that owned that boat didn't really die of a heart attack like some have said, he was cut completely in two with a machete."

"that would certainly give me a heart attack, if it happened to me," i replied, trying to lighten the mood as the sun set and darkness creeped into the marina. JP then said that he would never stay on that boat and that i should just stay on his boat until danyelle returned because there was plenty of room. whether it was pride in not being fearful or my determination to clean up the "death boat" like i'd offered or a little of both, i don't know but i told JP thanks for the offer but i was going to stay on the other boat and clean it up.

i finished my beer, thanked JP profusely for allowing me to be his boatsitter for the past month and then i grabbed all my belongings and carried them over to my new digs. it was raining steady now, so i quickly stashed everything below, jumped in and closed the hatch three quarters to keep most of the rain out.

i spent 30 minutes just looking around... trying to assess how i might clean it up but also trying to get a feel for the person who had owned the boat... i listened to some of his CDs, looked at the books he had on the shelves, checked the foodstuffs, etc. it looked like some fictional ladies' man lived there who brought women on board to seduce them but the only ones that would stay the night were cheap whores that he'd have to pay. even if you could mentally remove all the filth and deterioration and take the boat back in your mind to the immaculate condition that he always kept it in, it was, in an odd sort of way, repulsive. some of the glassware and fixtures in the boat were just too ostentatious for comfort.

if i could translate strong odors into strong words, this would be the strongest paragraph i've ever written. there was old food aboard, dirty dishes in the sink with putrification in a couple of bowls and cups, a kilo of live maggots in the refrigerator (not working), oil and diesel fuel in the bilge, mold growing on all the walls, cushions, linens, books and headliners... if you could have bottled the air from inside it could easily be sold as a cheap substitute for syrup of ipecac:

by now i couldn't do anything more than sit in the cabin hoping that i'd get used to the odors while the fan pushed thick air through the boat and out through the partially open main companionway hatch.

the cabin must have been gorgeous when this guy was alive... it was still a super polished hardwood that you could see your reflection in... even the wood flooring... even after a year's worth of neglect. one wipe of the mold with a damp rag and the wood shone mirror-like. all of this pointed to a proud boat owner who took great care of his ship... except for one other wacko thing that was completely out of place... (and this still baffles me)... all around the perimeter of the salon ceiling, he had installed an electronic "light rope"... the stuff that is sometimes used in bars or for christmas decoration. it had a computerized brain and it would alternate patterns of flashing, moving lights around the cabin ceiling. it seemed so cheap and tacky for such a vessel... degrading... like putting lime green and purple flourescent lighting in the wheel wells of a rolls royce, or cheap, plastic streamers on the handle grips of a harley. WTF? maybe this guy wasn't a ladies' man at all... maybe he was a PIMP! yeah, that's the ticket... (i don't know... i'm sorry... i'm just thinking out loud and writing it down... maybe none of this is true...) but what about the machete whacking? WTF? wassup wif dat?

i'd been in the boat for a hour and a half and i wasn't getting used to the odors... they were starting to get to me so badly i was naseaus... especially after seeing the tacky "light rope" in action. i opened up the hatch and walked halfway up the steps sticking my head out into the rain to get fresh air but still got no relief from the thick odiferous gases wafting through the cabin and up through the open compainonway... i had reached a melting point of character,  courage and stamina and all three were collapsing inward upon me as i tried to make a decision about my next move. i gave myself four options:

1) stay on the boat and tough it out. (can't do it... my cast iron stomach has already melted down into a pool of baby puke)

2) get off the boat and sit in bruno's outdoor restaurant under the palapa roof out of the rain for the rest of the night. (can't do that either... i'm too tired and physically worn out and it's too cold outside tonight)

3) go over to jean paul's boat, wake him up and see if i can take him up on his offer to stay aboard with him. (can't do that... i'd be admitting defeat and i'd look like a wimp)

4) walk out in the rain and find a hotel room to rent for the night.

i decided on number four. i grabbed a backpack and my small umbrella and left everything else on the boat. it was still raining. it was getting late now... after 11 pm. i walked down the street to the first hotel... bars on the doors and windows, no lights and no response to my knocking. i had the same result at the next two hotels. i've exhausted option four. i was going to have to swallow my pride and go for option number three.

i thought i might just try to walk around and stay up all night until i could get a room in the morning but i was too tired and worn out. i mustered the courage to go back to JP's boat... (he was almost a stranger because i'd only seen him twice - first time just before he left for canada and second time when he came back this morning.)

i tapped on his metal railing with my umbrella (the sound travels deep into the cabin where he sleeps.) finally, i roused him and when he came topside i sheepishly said, "jean paul... i can't sleep on that boat." he laughed and took me aboard and i crawled into the hallway lower bunk berth. i felt humiliated but still... at the same time, it was a huge sense of relief and i fell asleep right away. it was a dark and stormy night. i was afraid to dream so i slept as fast as i could.

a shitty day in paradise... and things were about to get worse.