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20 Jun 2014 8:48 AM

On the plains of northern Alberta, life goes on just about the same as it would anywhere else. The distances are greater and the population is less, but life is civilized and organized just as well as the rest of Canada or anywhere in else in North America. The schools work, the buses tend to run on time. City hall manages all public services and life goes on. The only difference might be that certain politeness that Canada is so well known for.  Public protection is as one would expect. The police and fire department do their duty, but they are polite. Even the criminals are polite. 911 is always polite.

A typical call might go somewhat like this. Ring! 911: 911, Good evening. How may I help you? Caller: Yes.  I’m terribly sorry to bother you but it seems my house has caught fire. I wonder if you could help me? 911: Well I’d be delighted to help you. Could you tell me your address please? Cr: Certainly, I live at 10805 102st street. 911: Oh yes, right near Avondale School. Such a lovely area. Cr: Yes it is. I’m sorry but I wonder if you could hurry just a bit. It seems the roof is about to fall in. 911: Certainly Ma’am. I’ll get right on it. And the call goes out to the fire department. FD: Fire department. 911: Oh hello. This is 911, we just had a call. FD: Yes ma’am, how can we help you? 911: Well it seems there is a house burning down at 10185 102st. If you’re not too busy, do you think you could maybe pop by there and see if you can lend a hand? FD: Happy to do it. Have a nice day. 911: You too and thank you! Aren’t those Canadians nice?

So our story is about one those modern day, unsung heroes of Canadian civil protection. This is not a story about radical, delusional nut cases like EMT Rambo, but about your normal, feet on the ground, polite, every day urban hero. And our hero’s name is Betty.

Betty’s real name was Gordania Kameron Robertson. But everyone just called her Betty. She was actually a first generation Canadian. About 100 years ago her parents had come over from Scotland because they had heard there was free land available for homesteaders and other nice people. So they had come to make a life in the new world.

Betty could remember all the stories they would tell about the old country, about their clan, about the beauty of their lovely village Pitlochry in the heart of the Perth Highlands, on the banks of the River Tay, just north of Edinburgh. They remembered the walks they would take across the River Tummel to the dam on Loch Faskally, to view the salmon ladder and the Hydro Station, on through the ancient hamlet of Port na Craig.  They would watch the Red and Roe deer and the red squirrels in the forest. They would admire the Pine Martins, Golden Eagles or Osprey soaring high above Ben-y-Vrackie Mountain. They told stories of their history such as the Battle of Killiecrankie and the Soldier’s Leap. They talked about their beloved Edradour Distillery – the smallest distillery in Scotland. And they always dreamed that Betty might go back there one day to the home of their ancestors.

Betty had given 35 years of heroic service as a supervisor of the largest 911 dispatch area of Alberta covering 286,000 sq km, 43% of the provincial landmass with 66 departments and municipalities extending all the way to the border of the Northwest Territories. Her fondest memory was the time she organized and directed a mere 25 volunteer firemen in the defense of Slave Lake, a small town just north of there. In the face of a huge prairie fire backed by 100 mph winds and no fire bombers or helicopters available, only 1/3 of the town was destroyed and no one was injured. How proud she was of that. Her territory was a massive area requiring great diligence and dedication to which Betty gave generously and politely.

Betty’s parents had passed away, first her father and then her mother just a few years before she was coming upon her retirement. In their will she found that they had left her the title to an old family home known as Donnachaidh Manor, the spiritual home of the Donnachaidh Clan. They had also left her the sum of  £12, the cost of a sailing ticket from Scotland to Canada.  Betty’s father had always stayed in touch with his uncle Bothain back in Scotland. Bothain was still alive and about 120 years old now.

So Betty wrote to him with the news of his nephew’s passing and about his request that Betty move to Scotland. She told him she was thinking about coming and when she might arrive. She even included pictures of herself. Bothain wrote back that the family was eager to meet her and she should come to his house when she arrived to get the keys to the old place. At the station, just tell the cabbie to bring you to the Old Stone House and he will find us. He added: “Tis a wee cottage but s’a bit of cowp in it. I shall tidy it up a bit before ye come. Nae boer”  “ A wee cottage?” Betty was thinking. I wonder if he understood that I’ll be moving into the manor house?

So in the evenings, old Bothain would sit next to the fireplace with his great grandson Ruadh and tell him about his Aunt Betty. “Ach Aye she coomes from Canada where she’s the boss of the fire brigade and she’s goot to keep er eye on boot haf o Canada, which is bigger than Scootland even. Her da always said she was a proper git, Aye. No muckin aboot“ And look at those pictures lad. Ain’t she a bonnie lass? “ Ruadh stared at the pictures of his Aunt Betty and admired her long red hair, the same color as his. “Gordania Kameron Robertson. What does her name mean Grandey?” Bo: Well laddie, the Robertsons are part of Clan Donnachaidh along with the Reids and Duncans. You were named after the famous Scottish warrior, Ruadh the Red, who’s where the Reids come from.” Ru: But what does Gordania Kameron mean?”  Bo: Aye it’s a splendid name. Her Da could’n ave choosin better. Gordania means heroic and ye can see it in er laddie.  “Ru: But what is Kameron?” Bo: S’a crookid nose lad. Well jis look at er, Aye???”

So the day came for Betty to leave. She had retired from 911 and picked up her last check. She had sold everything she owned and packed her bags. She took the £12 travel fare her parents had left her and added another £800 so she could fly from Edmonton to Edinburgh instead of taking an ocean liner. She just assumed her parents didn’t have £800 to spend when they first came over. The flight arrived in Scotland in the morning so she would be able to take the train from Edinburgh to Pitlochry, her new village.. She remembered her daughter and her grandchildren standing there at Edmonton  International waving goodbye and crying out “Haste ye back Granma!” & Betty cried as she boarded the plane. 

The flight from Canada arrived on time and Betty managed to find her train and get all her luggage aboard. She looked out the window as the train crossed the Firth of Forth. She thought out loud about what a cold, damp and miserable day it was. “Ach Aye tis a dreich day.” said the passenger next to her. The train headed north towards the Bridge of Earn and Perthshire. She stared out at the fog over Loch Leven and wondered if she had done the right thing leaving in search of her dream castle and family heritage. Just north of Perthshire they passed Scone Castle, the historic home of Scottish breakfast biscuits. It is said that residents of the area emigrated to Minnesota in the 1870s and started the Sconce Biscuit Company. The company was later taken over by a greedy English robber baron by the name of Charles Alfred Pillsbury and remains famous today.       

When the train arrived in Pitlochry, Betty found a single taxi sitting in front of the train station. It had the blue & white flag of Scotland on it and there was written SAOR ALBA!  She got in the cab with all her things and saw the driver’s permit posted on the back of the front seat. The driver’s name was William Daimh Wallace. His friends just called him Ox. Betty thought she would like to see  Donnachaidh Manor first and asked the driver if he knew it. “Ach Aye!” he said, “It’s a lovely wee cottage over on the Cuilic Brae near the Cuilic.” Betty said “ I don’t understand everyone using this word cottage. Isn’t this a manor house we are going to?” And the driver replied: Well, it ain’t Blair Castel Ma’am but it’ll do in a pinch.”

When they got to the Brae she saw a lonely country road that ran alongside a small lake. At the end of the lake there were four small houses all in a row, where the driver stopped. “Is this it?” Betty asked. “Aye Ma’am.” “Well, are you sure?” “Aye Ma’am.” “Well which one is it?” she asked. “Tis the wee one Ma’am.” 
She stood outside the cab looking at what appeared to be an old stone cabin. It had three tiny windows and an old wooden door that was barely attached to its hinges. There was ivy crawling up the wall with its roots anchored to the crumbling mortar in the stones. There was an old thatched roof which was in great disrepair. It was sliding down the house and hanging over the edges like an old woman with long bangs above her eyes. There was green vegetation growing out of parts of the roof. The place looked like it hadn’t been lived in since her parents left for America. The neighbor’s dwellings didn’t look much better. The neighbor’s children were running around the house. They were small and dirty. They were barefoot and had dirty tee shirts on with no underwear. They were playing with wooden sticks, pretending they were swords and they were beating on each other while screaming insults and obscenities about the English. “Who are those children?” Betty asked. “ Those wee waynes be Duncans Ma’am and they’re rights scunners they are. I believe they’re your kin Ma’am.” Betty was thinking, “Oh Lord, what have I done?” She then asked the driver to take her to the Old Stone House. “My uncle Bothain lives there and he has the keys.” “Aye Ma’am.”

As the driver was leaving for the Old Stone House as the call came in on the radio. “OX! The Atholl distillery is burnin. Git in here now!” so he turned the cab  around and headed off for the fire station. “Where are you going?” Betty asked. Ox: “There’s a fire in town Ma’am & I’m a volunteer for the Fire Brigade” By: Well can’t you drop me off at….” Ox: no time Ma’am Ye’ll just have to come along.

They got to the fire station and Ox ran off to get ready. Betty walked into the office where an old man was pulling on his uniform and frantically screaming orders. Betty asked the man: “Can’t you call 999?” and he screamed: “This is bloody 999 & we need yer help. So git to it!” as he ran out the door. As soon as she heard the word git, Betty’s childhood came to mind and she remembered her experiences in the Canadian Girls in Training. She saw the old rotary telephone and the one walkie talkie on the desk and she knew what she had to do. As the reports were coming in on the radio she first called the police. “Police” By: Yes this is 999 and there appears to be a fire at the Blair Atholl establishment. Traffic is backing up on Atholl road and it is difficult for our first responders to get in there. We could also use some extra help if you don’t mind.”  Po: Wat are ya on aboot Lassie?” Betty realized they had a failure to communicate. So she pulled out her laptop and typed her request into her Canadian – Scottish translator program: “Are ye a daft teuchter?  The bloody distillery is burning down Numptie and we could use some fokin help here. So get yer fokin erses out and clear traffic on the Atholl rood so the bloody fire trucks can make it. And send  a couple of ya buggas around to help the men put out the fokin fire.” Po: Ach Aye Lassie! She then called every fire brigade within a 100km radius to ask for help, using similar language. She even called the RAF to ask them to send the Canadairs but had to change her translator program. 

Help came in droves. The men couldn’t believe it. There were fire trucks pulling up from as far away as Edinburg. Then the fire bombers showed up and started to dive and drop tremendous loads of water in the fire, refilling in the Tummel river. Soon the fire was put out and there was a tremendous uproar of joy! Someone asked: Who was the lassie in the office that got us all this help?” “She calls erself Betty”

So they got back to the fire brigade to put their gear away. The men were so happy that they pulled out the 10 cases of whiskey they saved from the fire and proceeded to have a party. Here’s tae us few, and they’re a’ deid. Saor Alba wha’s like us? Gey!  Slàinte slawn-chuh Betty! Lang may yer lum reek Betty! And they were soon bladdered to the last man. Betty, so tired from her flight and the jet lag raised her glass one last time and keeled over, right where she stood. The men crowded around. “ “Gawd mates she’s boffing.” “Yeah and she’s drookit too. I think she’s pissed erself.” “Weren’t you spose to take er somewhere OX?” Ox: Aye mate but I ain’t gaunnae do it. I’m too bloody blootered.” “ Well git that barkit barre o’er there & take er home Bawheid.” So they rolled an old dirty wheelbarrow over and tried to load her in it. Eight drunken firemen were standin around trying to pick her up. “Whit part have ye got?” They finally got her lumped in there in an unrecognizable mass if her gown and red hair and a bit of barf. They wheeled her over to the Old Stone house and knocked on the door. Bothain came out with little Ruadh standing behind him who asked: “Who’s that Grandey?” And the old man replied:

“Well laddie, Aunt Betty’s coome hoome.” 

23 May 2014 12:15 PM

(Disclaimer: The title of the book comes from an Austin powers film in which he says: "You may be a cunning linguist, but I'm a master debater." I actually heard it first from one of those in the room that have accused me of plagiarism. To set the record straight, my blogs quite often include jewels I have combed from the web. It is a normal procedure for me to copy pages and pages of useless information, sift through them slowly and then carelessly sew bits and pieces together in statements taken out of context and outrageous misquotes. I find my creativity and insight where ever  I can. It reminds me of the time in the room when Buck referred to Stang as Muttsack.  True inspiration.)

A double entendre is sort of a figure of speech, either written or spoken which could be understood in either of two ways. Normally one way to understand it is pretty obvious but the other may be more subtle. Often, the  more subtle of the interpretations is sometimes sexually suggestive. The Oxford English Dictionary describes a double entendre as being used to "convey an indelicate meaning".

The expression comes from the French word  double, same as English and entendre, to hear or also to understand. However, the English formulation is a corruption of the authentic French expression à double entente. Modern French uses double sens instead; the phrase double entendre has no real meaning to a native French speaker.  The French though could say something about speech vs French kissing with “Je parle/connais bien la langue" or even "apprenez la langue"; with kissy lips.  An Australian kiss is like a French kiss, but  it’s down under.

Puns can offer a double entendre with an ambiguous second meaning. Sometimes a Homophone, or another word with the same sound or pronunciation can imply a double meaning. That’s why gay twins can have similar voices but differing opinions, In rhetoric, a play on words, either on different senses of the same word or on the similar sense or sound of different words is known as Paronomasi.

In other occasions, the double entendre can be created by the visible similarity of two different things. In America we might call them oysters or tacos. In Italy they talk about figs. Have you ever cut a fresh fig in half and looked at it? I’m sure you get my point. 

The Italians have various other linguistically ambiguous terms for activities like sawing (male masturbation) or sweeping (intercourse). 

Shakespeare often used innuendos in his plays. Sir Toby in Twelfth Night is seen saying, in reference to Sir Andrew's hair, that "it hangs like flax on a distaff; and I hope to see a housewife take thee between her legs and spin it off;" The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet says that her husband had told Juliet when she was learning to walk that "Yea, dost thou fall upon thy face? Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit;", or is told the time by Mercutio: "for the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon"; Remember when  Hamlet torments Ophelia with a series of sexual puns, viz. "country" similar to the C. word? ( See how delicately I handled that?)

A triple entendre is a phrase that can be understood in any of three ways, but that is far too kinky for a Senior’s chat room.

The double entendre has become an established part of common culture. It can be seen in the arts such as theater or music. This tradition can be seen in the work of the great Marie Lloyd.  Marie Lloyd was a prominent singer on the dance hall circuit of London in the late 1800s.  Lloyd created her reputation while enduring the prudish attitudes of the Victorian era. This lead her to develop her art around the satirical disguise of the double entendre.  She was best known for her performances of songs such as "The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery" or “She Sits Among the Cabbages and Peas”. By the mid-1890s, Lloyd was in frequent dispute with Britain's theater censors due to the risqué content of her songs. (For additional information about these classic English folkloristic songs, just ask PJ.)

Examples in modern music include Tush by ZZ Top, Cat Scratch Fever--Ted Nugent, Givin' The Dog A Bone'' AC/DC , 'Poundcake'' Van Halen and Kiss Me Where it Smells Funny by the Bloodhound Gang.

In any case, music has skin flutes and pianists who play with their organs as well.

Double entendres terms and  jokes can be found in other aspects of daily life such as sport with Muff Diving or Bone Jumping. An Irish horse racing commentator once said "This is a very lovely mare. I once rode her mother."  Regrettably, actor Michael Douglas credits his reason bout of throat cancer not to smoking and drinking but aquatic sport marathons.  It is reported that before any tournament, Arnold Palmer’s wife used to kiss his balls to give him good luck. they say it really made his putter stand up.

In the food industry they talk about when Pamela Anderson walked out of a grocery store with 2 gallons of milk and someone said “Nice jugs”. In the culinary sense there are oysters and figs of course but also tacos, cucumbers, melons, bananas, 2 pieces of an orange and cherries. Fruit seems to offer limitless possibilities for innuendo but that just may be our collective oral fixation. There’s the famous Fur Burger on Thigh. Sausage never goes unnoticed and mature fish is often used to describe a fragrance.  In London, a muff diver might be known as an English muffin. Adult ice cream manufacturers now offer genital slurpees. Dill pickles are an insult but red hot chili peppers are ambitious. The Japanese say the only difference between eating sushi and oysters is the rice.

The most famous story of course is about Colonel Angus (said with a southern accent) of Kentucky who went on to establish a chain of cult fast food restaurants offering, (you can guess) Marine Bivalve Molluscs and Anguilla Rostrata. They say that Colonel Angus is an acquired taste.

And remember the Irishman who goes to see his lovely red-headed girl friend and says “I came to get some... Ginger snap".

Computer nerds have their own obvious metonyms such as a guy’s Joystick or a woman’s Port. There’s the  Interface which can lead to a Hard Drive. Disks and copies can also be hard but that’s just a hardware issue. Bytes are kinky and Tape Backups are kinkier. Megahertz is a form of sexual energy which can only be measured with some very strange instruments. Downloading and Uploading are questions of position and mouse pads are hygienic.  SCSI is what she said before he blew her Motherboard. BIOS is sex with tree huggers and using a Parallel Port is against Islamic law. An Escape Key sounds more like my flight to Europe, 35 years ago.

In religion, Catholics like to tell the story about the two nuns riding their bikes down a country road when  the first nun says, "I`ve never come this way before!" and the second nun says, "Oh, it must be the cobblestone!" Jews say that  a cheap circumcision is a rip off and Muslims think actually getting 70 virgins would be Heaven.

Schools in Europe are full of misguided expressions and humor. In Serbian the verb svršiti has a slightly archaic meaning "to finish". In a school, a very old teacher might say “Da li ste svršili?” but to the students, the common use of the expression mean “Did you have an orgasm?” In Dutch a similar word is used Klaarkomen.  So a teacher might (but usually won't) say 'Kom je er wel op tijd mee klaar?',  “Will you finish is time?” but translates to “Will you have an orgasm in time?” So much for Dutch and Serbian education. Italian students study the poet Catullo. In one of his more noted poems he says “"my girl's bird has died". Now you should understand that bird or Uccello is Italian slang for a man’s organ. In fact a Passero is a sparrow and a woman’s Passera is her…..bird house? Students never fail to notice these things.   

I’m not informed on the American education system although I have heard that the current Sesame Street joke is why does Miss Piggy douche with vinegar and honey?  Because Kermit likes sweet and sour pork. 

But I digress.

I know that having sex on an elevator is wrong on so many levels and I realize that this blog has gotten out of hand. I guess it says something about the derangement of the writer. I truly apologize to all the delicate sensibilities who may be reading it.

I think the French say it best with “Mon essai entier du sexe est une blague et si vous avez dérangé de le traduire, vous êtes muets. il n'y a aucun sens caché ici. La blague est sur vous.” Ahhh, a true classic.

One dear friend of mine actually told me I shouldn’t write this blog before her departure to the Yukon. I remember when she said:

Vagina jokes aren't funny. Period.

26 Apr 2014 9:47 PM

When Flaggard told the cook to report to the captain, he was visibly shaken. C.“What’s he want?” MH:” dunno. Just get up there”  The cook hurried off and Flaggard was thinking “Cap’n prolly got the muddy squirts last night like I did & wants to discuss it with the cook. “

The cook knocked on the captain’s door and said “You called Captain Starryvere?” CS: “Come in Heisenberg”. The cook walks in and sees him standing there with a salad fork in his hand and is thinking . (Oh God what is it about now?). CS. “We have a little problem on the ship I wanted to talk to you about” “Yessir”. CS. I’m told there is a new man on board, a foretopman by the name of Budd. “Yessir” CS: “It seems he is creating considerable disturbance below.”  “Yessir, he is.” CS:”I have seen this man before and know of him. I can assure you that he is of the lowest character and quality.” “Yessir” CS: “ I have decided to cut Master Flaggard’s ration in half for a month, for bringing the man on board. I trust you will carry this order out for me.” “Yessir” CS:” I also have it on good authority that this Budd was paying unwelcomed and inappropriate attentions to my daughter on shore.” (as the cook begins to squirm).CS: “I must make him pay for this” C: (Better him than me, poor bugger. God only knows that as long as he was workin with Woody, there wasn’t a woman in town that would come close to him, he smelled so badly. I saw women on the High Street cross the road when he walked by, even the pimply ones) CS;” I shall require your help in this matter Heisenberg”  “Sir?” 

So Captain Starryvere explained to the cook that he wanted to get Ben to do something he could be punished for.  C:” And how should I do that Sir?” CS: “ I will tell you what to say and what to do. You simply follow out my instructions and repeat my words as I have explained to you” C: “Then what Sir?” CS: “I Want you to anger Budd, to  provoke him into violence, to make him try to kill you.” C” well I dunno Sir” CS: Then I shall hang him for his crime” “Hang him Sir?” CS: “Are you afraid of such a skinny little wart as Budd, Mr Heisenberg?” “No Sir, but” CS:” I notice you’ve brought another young cabin boy on board Mr. Heisenberg. I’ve also noticed he is not listed on the ship’s roster” “Yessir” CS: “If I were even to suspect that there was something inappropriate about your choice of labor in the galley, you do realize what the punishment would be, don’t you Mr. Heisenberg?” “Yessir. I’ll take care of Budd Sir. Will there be anything else Sir? ” CS: “Yes, you left my salad fork up here last night and it didn’t get washed.” C: “sorry Sir” CS: “If that ever  happens again, I will give you 40 lashes. Is that clear Mr. Heisenberg?” “Yessir”  CS:”And if you ever mention our little discussion to anyone, I will give you 400 lashes. Is that also clear Mr. Heisenberg?” “Yessir”

CS: “That will be all, cook.” “Yessir”

Ben goes into the galley that night for mess. The cook has been waiting for him. He looks him in the eye and says: “The Episcopate is a fraud and there’s no history to it.” Ben:”What?” C: Thomas Cranmer was a bugger and your bishops prey on children. B:”How dare you?” C:”How dare I? sneers the cook as he slaps a blob of the yellow paste on Ben’s plate. Ben looks down, sees a dead mouse in the middle of it and turns his nose up. C: “What’s the matter me lord? Can’t eat like the common man, is it? Going Papist on us again? Shall we call you Elizabeth, me lord?” B:”Have you gone mad?” C:”Lex orandi, lex credenda me arse!”  B: I won’t have an ecumenical conversation with a Presbyterian.” C: “Go sit on a three-legged stool !"

As the cook was getting angry and the two of them were yelling at each other, some men started to whisper at the back “ 10 articles weren’t really enough. 16 weren’t either.” “Yeah but 42 is too many.” “They’re down to 39 now” “Yeah?” “Yeah, they took out the ones about masturbation and napkin rings in the House of Deputies.”  “Sort of makes it all sine qua non without those though.” “ I heard that the word "episcopal" is derived from a Greek term, "episkepes" which means Overseer." “Nahhh, Bud’s too short to see over anything.”

C: Your lot is just a bunch of bloody latitudinarians. You can’t make your minds up about anything. B: The Westminster Confession was a fascist document you anabaptist fool !”  C:“  Tunstall and Stokesley were  born foolish bastards.” B:“There is no dignity in wickedness, whether in purple or rags.” C:” and Hell is a democracy of devils, where all are equals.” B:”We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified.” C: Don’t drop your filioque clauses on me you devil!!” And with that, the cook grabbed a meat cleaver and ran at Ben “To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell's heart, I stab at thee; For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee.” Ben was trapped. All the doors were blocked with men eager to see a fight. There was little room to move. He glanced down and saw the captain’s salad fork sitting on a table. He knew it was a sign from God. He grabbed the fork as the cook tried to lunge at him but slipped on some fish guts on the floor (more guts?). He fell forward against Ben, knocking him to the ground. The cleaver was wedged tightly in the wall. The cook was laying on top of Ben, the salad fork stuck deep in his heart.

When the captain heard the news, he simply said: “Throw Budd in chains Master Flaggard and I will hang him for murder in the morning.” “Yessir”

As soon as the crew saw Flaggard putting Ben in chains, they knew his fate. The crew began to murmur and Flaggard quickly dispersed them to various tasks. Whistles blew and the ship returned to regular business. But during the night, the sailors engaged in various discussions concerning Birp’s fate and the captain’s  mysterious sense of justice.

It was a dark North Atlantic morning. Gales of cold wind drove the sea into incredible waves. The ship bobbed around like a child’s toy in a bathtub. The men could hardly walk on the deck when the captain ordered them to assemble. The port side boom was swung around and a rope was hung to it. When the captain came out, he was still in a dark mood. He had no desire to stand there and gloat over the situation. He wanted Budd dead as soon as possible so he could bury both him and the cook at sea and close the matter forever. He read the accusations to Ben and the crew, pronounced sentence and recited a few words from the Book of Common Prayer.

When he closed the book, he heard Ben say:”God bless ye Capn” as he gave the signal to turn on the winch. Ben began to slowly rise towards the boom until his was very high up and dangling in the storm. At that point, the storm became a terrible tempest. The sea rocked back and forth. Then men feared for their lives when there was a break in the clouds and a brilliant beam of light came through and focused directly on Ben. The light become brighter and brighter until it blinded everyone. And when the great light dimmed and the clouds covered all again, Ben was gone. The water calmed, the storm died down and the crew stood staring at the empty noose as it swayed in the wind.

Our story has no happy ending for the young cabin boy that the cook had brought on board was now earning his keep as the new cook.  He knew the whole story from listening to the men in the galley and he knew justice was not yet complete. The captain never spoke to him or even looked at him when the boy would bring his meals up to his cabin. Was he afraid of what he might see in that young boy’s heart? All we know is that one night,  the captain became very ill. No one ever knew why or even seemed to care. They finally had to put him into a hospital in Gibraltar. His conditioned worsened and nothing could be done. He was dying and he knew it. They say he would lay there in bed with fever and delirium calling out in the night “Benji Budd, Benji Budd.” 

Finally, the legend of Benji Budd became recorded and institutionalized in naval circles. A newspaper reports the incident from afar, implicating Budd as the villainous assailant of an innocent Heisenberg  The sailors themselves, however, begin to revere Ben’s growing legend, treating the spar from his gallows as a holy object, and composing laudatory verse in his memory.

Back in Portland, Woody was saddened upon hearing the news of Ben’s demise. He had always liked Ben and he remembered with fondness when Ben would bring the Potent Belly’s garbage to dump off the pier under his boat. Then one night he thought about him and said:  “Why not? I will do this for Ben.” So he threw his nets over, right there at the dock, without moving the boat. And when he had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and his nets were breaking.

Sileo in Pacis

25 Apr 2014 11:35 PM

It was a grey, misty Stephen King morning when the Colander pulled up to dock. Ben was just sweeping the rest of Portland’s finest off the deck, into the water. Woody always thought that if he left a little of his cargo at the end of the pier, lobsters might grow there one day and he wouldn’t have to go so far to get them. As Ben was lowering the ramp for one last time, he saw the Potent Belly steam into port.

It was a massive ship with great smokestacks bellowing clouds of black smoke into the air. It had giant booms with nets as big as the ship itself. The stern gantry was bigger than the boat Ben stood on. And at the tip of the bow, there was a harpoon gun as big as a cannon with at least a mile of cable coiled up below. There were men running all over the decks in a frenzy of activity. Others were cursing them and shouting orders to put their backs into whatever they were doing.  Ben just stared at it and dreamed.

True to his word, Woody had sought out his friend Flaggard, who was the Master of Arms on the ship and asked him if they were looking for any men. He told him about Ben and his young man’s desire for travel and adventure.  Flaggard told him he was looking for a new foretopman. It seems the last one had gotten his foot tangled in an anchor chain and had gone over the side. It wasn’t clear what a foretopman was doing working with the anchors. But then it wasn’t clear why a trawler with 10,000 hp engines needed a foretopman. In any case, Flaggard told Woody to send the man over and he would give him a try.   

During their time in port, there was much coming and going about the Potent Belly. Men were leaving the ship to go home and visit their families, some taking an extended leave. Others were coming on board as their replacements. As Captain Starryvere was leaving the ship for a brief visit to his home there in Portland, he encountered the ship’s regular cook Walt Heisenberg who was coming back on board after 3 months on shore. The two men greeted each other and went on their ways. Flaggard, who the captain had left in charge during his absence was directing traffic and giving work orders to the new men on board. When Ben arrived, mentioning that Woody had sent him, Flaggard immediately sent him to clean the fish processing plant and holding tanks. Woody had already explained to him the duties of a foretopman, so Ben was puzzled with this. But he accepted his chores with enthusiasm as he looked forward to his new adventure.

Alas, his adventure was slow in coming. The boat was tied off in port for days and Ben spent his time  cleaning and scrubbing in the lower decks of the great boat where all the fish was cut up and processed before freezing. There were blood and dead aquatic remains everywhere and it didn’t impress him. But as a favor to Woody, he would take bags of the crap he had picked up all day and carry them over in the evening, to dump off the pier where Colander was sitting.

His living conditions were dismal. He slept below water level in a room without ventilation and breathing was difficult. The room was lined with 50 iron bunks chained to a wall. His 49 sweating roommates cared not for cleanliness and the only shower in the head was over-grown with moss and mildew. The only water to be  drawn was cold and straight from the bay. The galley was worse. There were bugs everywhere. On the back wall there was a small statue of John Knox and a picture of St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, put there by the cook.  The cook picked his nose or scratched his armpits as he worked. The only meal was a yellowish porridge that stuck to everything it touched. Along with that, there was either overly mature fish or a leathery, salty substance they called meat, which only came boiled, on Sunday. They had a collection of rusty tin cups and plates to eat from and the silver wear was totally inadequate. The men wiped their mouths on their sleeves. It was Hell. The other men clearly saw Ben’s discomfort and abused him for being snotty and woman like. The cook stared and hated him from bringing discord and incongruity into his galley.

When Captain Starryvere returned to the ship a few days later, he was in a very dark mood. Things had not gone well at home. Flaggard could see something was wrong but the captain would not say a thing. Flaggard had seen that evil look in the captain’s eye before and wondered who would be the object of his wrath this time. The captain only said: I want to see the cook, Master Flaggard.“  “The cook is busy loading on 3 months food supply Captain. Should I send him up?”  “As soon as you can” replied the captain.

Captain Starryvere was a deacon in the St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Portland. His family had their own pew there which he proudly occupied every time he was at home. Last Sunday while sitting and listening to The Revd. Samuel Moore Logan give an inspiring sermon on the virtues of chastity, he noticed his daughter, sitting next to him, quietly crying. When they returned home later, he asked her what was the problem and his daughter broke down in a flood of tears, sobbing and crying. It seems that during his absence, she had been taken advantage of by a man who had left her disgraced and in a family way. He demanded to know who the man was but she could not tell him. She said he had dragged her into an alley way and that she had never seen him before. She could only remember that he had a tattoo of an anchor on his wrist.

Captain Starryvere knew immediately who to look for. Heisenberg the cook had such a tattoo. He had seen it many times when Heisenberg had delivered his meals to his cabin. He would kill that cook when he saw him. But in the meantime, he had to begin making his rounds and attending their preparations for departure.  He left his cabin and went to the bridge first. From there he was looking down on all of the scurrying men when he noticed Ben walk by. He knew him. He had seen him before. This was the infamous son of Rev Budd in Biddeford, the disgrace of their fine and noble family. He wondered why Flaggard would bring such a man on board. He noticed how small and gangly Ben was and wondered how they would ever get any work out of him. Then he noticed his wrist. An anchor? He’d never seen that before. That boy has an anchor tattooed on his wrist.  Now what would he do? He had vowed to kill the man who had disgraced his daughter. How could he be assured of getting the right man now? Then he realized that he must kill both of them. But he needed to think first. “Master Flaggard!” he cried out, “Belay that order of seeking the cook. Let him continue his work. I shall attend to him later.” “Aye Aye Captain”.

Potent Belly sailed the next day in search of rare Dugong Mermaids hidden in the Khor Al Tha’aleb at the mouth of the Euphrates River. He also thought about the possibility of trawling up some Lessepsians migrating through the Suez Canal. As the ship pulled out of Portland harbor passed through Danforth Cove, the captain reflected on his situation and what he must do to send Ben and the cook to their so rightly deserved sentence of eternal damnation in Hell.

It came to  him in a dream that night. The Captain could see the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela as clearly as if he were standing in front of it. And there was James, bigger than life, staring down at him and telling him: “You will see that your demon and your devil must work together, that your faith will be made complete by what you must do.” When he awoke he realized, They must kill each other. I must find a way to provoke them into great conflict such that they will be smitten and struck down. And should one survive the  ordeal, I will hang him for murder. But I must press one of them into unwitting service and bring to bear my desires.” 

Then he called for Flaggard to summon the cook.

25 Apr 2014 8:49 AM

While pondering his future and stuck in indecision about just where to start out, Ben remembered the $20 he had stolen from the church collection plate last Sunday. He had left it in the pocket of the only suit he had ever known, used and passed on by 5 brothers, worn only for church, funerals and family pictures, for all these years. Along with the $20, Ben found a bus ticket for Portland.

Originally he had planned to disappear right after church and go up to go see the Portland Sea Dogs play against New Britain. Word was they had a new third baseman with a hot bat named Carlos Rivero they were bringing up. It seems they’d found the guy playing in the NBL in Trinidad & Tobago and he looked like he was heading for a spot on the Boston Red Socks. He also wanted to place a bet on the Sea Dogs with that bookie working at that gas station on Park Avenue just up the street from Hadlock Field. After the game he figured he’d go spend his last $5 on Shaggy Maggie, who hangs out down by the port.

But it wasn’t meant to be. Ben’s dad corralled him just coming out of the service and put him to work setting up tables and chairs for the church luncheon which he would also be helping prepare and serve. While he was serving on the buffet line, the chubby little blonde, what was her name? Beatrice I think. Anyway, the one with the pimples, kept coming up to the line to get seconds on something. But it seemed more like an excuse to smile and giggle at Ben through her glasses. She’d try to talk to him but couldn’t stop laughing or blushing and Ben wondered if Maggie would have been any better. But his father kept a close eye on him. So he stayed there in service to a nobler cause and helped clean up. He didn’t get out of the church until 4 that afternoon and the game was already over. It’s a shame he didn’t get to place that bet though. The Sea Dogs won 6-4 and he could have had something better than a Shag.

Then the day came that Ben had to leave his home forever and go seek his life out in the world. Deep in his heart, he had always believed that God had a mission for him, something to do in order to redeem himself from his past sins and find his path to Heaven. So he decided that stolen $20 and ticket must be a sign from God.

When he got to Portland, he went straight to the port. He knew his future lay there. Ben walked around from boat to boat, admiring them and wondering what adventures each one had seen. He was wondering if he would see Queequeg or Ishmael down there. He was eager to find a job and began to stop men in the street to ask.  One told him he might find work on an old junk trawler farther down the pier to the right. “What color is it?” he asked and the guy told him not to worry about the color. “It’s the worst smelling boat in the harbor.”

Ben walked farther down the pier until he came up to what looked more like a garbage scow. The name Colander was painted on the side. The thing was filthy and it sure did stink like garbage. There were odd bits of paper and plastic on it along with what seemed  to have been someone’s salad at one time. Chicken bones here & there. He saw a grey headed fellow with a vacant look and a wooden leg, standing by the garbage, smoking a pipe. He was a scraggly old dude, his face all sun-dried & wrinkled and half covered with his beard. He was wearing bright orange deep-waders and rubber boots. He had a little cap on but you couldn’t see what color it was for the dirt and the grease. He said his real name was Zechariah but his friends call him Woody.

So Ben says to him, “I hear you’re lookin for a hand.”  And Woody asks him “you even been on a boat before?”  B:“No.” W: “Well you’ll do just fine. Welcome aboard”  B: "So what kind of boat is this?" W:"Well this here is a Bottom Trawler.” (Ben liked the sound of that. Stick to the bottom. It’s easier.)  B:"What’s that?” W: Well we just throw a net off the stern & drag it around the bottom of the bay, pickin crap up. Sometimes we get a few fish or even a lobster." B:"That doesn’t sound too hard. What’s that big thing at the back?" W:"That’s the gantry for operating otter boards. B: And what are those booms there to the sides?" W:" Ah well, those are side riggers. I use those to pick up shrimp anytime I go down to Florida to see my ex wife. Helps pay for the gas." B: (I can imagine why she’s an ex.) W:" What’s that?" B:"uhh, Wow, you sure fish for a lot of stuff. What’s that ramp on the back there for?" W: Well I also gotta contract with the Portland Dept of Sanitation. B: You dump garbage where you been fishin? W: Sure, the crustaceans love it.”

So Ben took the job but soon realized that his dreams of adventure on the high seas were nowhere to be found. The Colander was an old stern trawler that would go out in shallow water and drag a 500 sq ft net across the bottom of the bay and scrape up whatever they could find. They would sail out every night & ride amongst the islands of Casco Bay working their nets and be home every morning in time for breakfast. Colander couldn’t really be described as a seaworthy vessel and Woody understood that. So he wouldn’t go far. Woody generally stayed no farther from a shore than he could swim to and in any case, never went out into the bay. Other fishermen wouldn’t waste their time in the skanky places Woody chose to fish. The catch was much less and there was a higher quantity of sunken debris and garbage from being too close to land. But Woody just saw it as a reasonable trade-off. Less take but no competition. And he loved the islands.

Fifty years ago when Woody was a young man, he’d married a beautiful girl by the named Elizabeth who he truly loved. For his wedding night, Woody put a small tent on the scow he owned and towed it out to Danforth Cove, just off the coast of Cushing Island where he and his new bride could sit and admire the beauty of the Portland Headlight near Cape Elizabeth. But it was a  tragedy because just after Woody and Elizabeth had consummated their everlasting love for one another, Elizabeth got up to go to the head and slipped on some fish guts on the deck, fell into the water and was never seen again. Woody was heartbroken. And he spent the next 50 years trawling the bottom of Danforth Cove and looking for his wife while staring up at the light house, remembering how much he loved her.   

But for Ben, this was all too boring. Where were the exotic ports and putanas? Where were the pirates? Where was the Great Leviathin? This was not the life of adventure he had planned for himself and he asked Woody to tell him about the big ships. “Where Can I find them? Where do they go? What can I do?” he asked. Woody asked him: “ Have you ever seen a guppy?” and Ben replied: “Yes I have.” W. Can you fill his hide with harpoons or his head with fishing spears?” B. “I believe I can.” So Woody began to tell him about the big ships.

These days the really big ships are the Freezer trawlers which operate on the high seas. They run 10,000 hp or more and they have facilities for preserving fish by freezing, allowing them to remain at sea for extended periods of time. Any fish processing usually occurs in deck houses or below deck. A wet fish stern trawler stores the fish in ice or sea water which has been refrigerated. A freezer stern trawler stores the fish in frozen boxes or blocks, and a factory stern trawler processes the catch. A pelagic stern trawler may use fish pumps to empty the catch. Some work together as pair trawlers.

“But where will the take me?” Ben asked.  W: These ships know no limits, no boundaries . They can trawl for shrimp off the Florida coast or even the Wild Pink Oysters of West Palm Beach. They look for Copepods from Belize or Snook and Tarpon in the Panama Canal. They use the Panama Canal because the Penguins from the Straits of Magellan taste so gamey and have very little value on the fish markets of Maine. The best trawlers can drop-angle the Malacca Straits for  Goliath Groupers and mega huge Snappers. They look for White Sharks in the coral reefs in the Gulf of Thailand. They defy international bans and hunt for the Green and Hawksbill turtles of the Spratly Islands. Some ships have even become modern day pirates by attacking Japanese whalers for their blubber.     

Finally Ben asks: “But how will I find one of these great ships?” And Woody replied: “Don’t worry about it Lad. I have a friend that sails on the Potent Belly, who should be returning to port soon. I’ll have a word with him about a job for you.

And may God have mercy on your soul.” 

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