The Butterfly Nebula 7 – Bob Crane

January 20, 2014

Bob Crane

In early 1972, with the United States still mired in an insane war in Southeast Asia and coping with an autocratic, paranoid president, Bob Crane invited me to accompany him as an assistant navigator aboard the sloop “My Little Brainchild” on a voyage to The Bahamas. We would pilot the sloop from Manasquan Inlet and follow the barrier islands down to the Chesapeake and the official beginning of the Intracoastal Waterway in Norfolk, Virginia, and then possibly keep with the Intracoastal Waterway to Florida and from there sail the Atlantic on to Nassau. Bob wanted to leave at the end of January and the Atlantic Ocean would be too rough and cold then, so instead we would cruise the Intracoastal Waterway long enough until the weather and seas were milder.
Bob was inviting me for a couple of reasons. Ostensibly he wanted to rely on my navy experience and my knowledge of astronomy to teach him celestial navigation. When I told Bob I knew little about celestial navigation, he assured me that during our voyage the two of us would master it together. And I’d recently achieved the milestone of a decade with Brainchild Scientific, and Bob wanted to show his thanks for all my hard work, my running of the business and all I had done to make Brainchild Scientific a success over the past 10 years. He praised our decade-long, near-perfect professional relationship. Bob was now 38 and I was 31, turning 32 in early May, and we were both much different people than we were in 1962, certainly we had drifted apart culturally and politically, but more on that later. My regular salary would be paid for the duration of our voyage; I could have Kate manage the store and leave Stuart in charge to run the factory and warehouse. Bob was bringing his latest girlfriend, a 19-year-old by the name of Wendy, and I could invite Gladys if she wanted to come—meaning, if Gladys cared to leave the house for more than a few hours without having a panic attack.

Bob’s offer was too good to refuse.

But Gladys declined when I asked her to come along on the sailing voyage. The thought of being on open water terrified her, and I understood her fear from having been in the navy and exposed to that particular phobia (a hybrid of agoraphobia and hydrophobia), though I’d never experienced the phobia myself. Gladys also didn’t want me to go on the voyage.

“Do you want to drown and die along with that ridiculous playboy?” she warned.

“Oh, come on. I was in the United States Navy, Seaman 1st Class. Why would a little trip on a sailing yacht cause me any trouble?”

“Will there be any young girls on board?”

“Oh, so that’s what this is all about, not about me drowning . . . why would Bob be asking you to join us then?”

“A polite formality, and a ploy,” Gladys said with smug self-assurance. “Both you and Bob Crane are betting that I will never join you on your hedonistic pleasure voyage.”

And she was right.

A week later, as the sloop gracefully launched from the marina in Point Pleasant, Bob Crane mentioned that we would be docking for a day in Miami to meet a friend of Wendy’s before sailing on to the Bahamas. The friend was going to be joining us for the final days of the trip, and without having met the “friend,” I was already thankful that Gladys would not be coming. When I inquired about the age of Wendy’s friend, Bob stared at me and said he didn’t know but assumed the friend would be at least as old as Wendy (for legal reasons, he said with a knowing wink) and possibly a little older.

Wendy was 19, tall and blond, a mélange of a few Playboy Magazine models. According to Bob, she was “very smart and mature beyond her years.” She attended community college part time and worked as a go-go dancer, which explained how she and Bob had met.

The irony of my being invited was that, at least for the early part of our trip, celestial navigation would not be needed. There were numerous markers of civilization on the Intracoastal Waterway and we would most likely be waiting until Florida and clear skies before making a legitimate attempt on the open seas. Bob and I could work on sighting the sun and moon as practice until then.

I should have recalled from my navy days how much activity occurred behind the barrier islands and on the Intracoastal Waterway, especially when we were closer to urban areas and saw a large number of marinas and even more stopping points that merely consisted of a dock and gas pump with maybe a few open slips. And sometimes at a stop, and always at a marina, you could moor a sloop as large as the Brainchild and get off to briefly rejoin terra firma, and there might a be a lobster house or an Italian restaurant, or a combination of those two cuisines, a red neon lobster beckoning or a flickering mound of spaghetti and meatballs. Near Atlantic City the parking lot held a couple of Cadillac Deville’s, and inside a Mafia capo and his mistress were dining near the window that overlooked the inlet. Mobsters and Lobsters . . . as we moved further south and away from the metropolitan areas of New York and Philadelphia and Atlantic City, the lights, traffic and stop off points became fewer and far between, and still one saw a great number of lights winking and pulsing along the inlets and bays, lights on channel markers, towers, drawbridges, marinas and docks. On the sloop we kept a red light on the port bow and a green light on the starboard at all times, and we saw other craft in the distance and knew them by those two lights. White and yellow dock lights punctured the oily skin of black water like long golden shimmering fangs.

And after we’d docked and Bob and Wendy had pleasured each other in their bunk and fallen asleep. I stood on deck near the helm and watched the spangles of winter stars mirrored in the water, an illusion of sky below, two heavens—one up, one down. The Atlantic Ocean was just beyond these barrier islands, beyond this inlet, you felt its presence and its boundless reach, like the universe above, the ocean and all the oceans and seas and great lakes of the planet calling and beckoning in the darkness with their latitudes and currents, with their troughs and trenches. . . . Two thousand miles across that ocean was the coast of Portugal and then southward the coast of Spain and at its southern terminus, The Straits of Gibraltar which I had passed through on another Navy ship, “The Tamarind” some dozen years ago. The headlands of two separate continents had enclosed us like a pair of great lazy giants, and I’d been transfixed by the mythic grandeur and history of The Pillars of Hercules where the colder Atlantic eased you into the warmer and saltier Mediterranean and on toward shores of ancient civilizations, as if you were living in some dream of the Argonauts or The Seven Wonders of the World.

The Intracoastal Waterway is a 1200-mile canal officially beginning in Norfolk Virginia on the Chesapeake and running all the way down to Miami Beach. There are two branches, or forks, but the “Great Dismal Swamp” true to its name, is seldom used except by wildlife enthusiasts and naturalists. The more common fork follows Route 1 along Albemarle Chesapeake Canal to Albemarle Sound. There are points of departure along the canal that would take you out to the Atlantic. Bob and I were interested in moving out to sea at Charleston, South Carolina or Savannah, Georgia, depending on the appearance of storms, but if we chose we could stay on the waterway as far as Miami and even Key West, and we were planning a two-day stopover in Miami.

The following morning, after pulling out of Somers Point, we saw a number of dead fish floating near the banks of Great Egg Harbor Inlet. Wendy stared in rage and horror at the dead fish, but Bob explained that the fish could have died from a sudden change in water temperature or a bacteria, and not pollution. Wendy called him a polluter.

“I’ve been helping the environment for years,” Bob said, “even before it was fashionable.”

Wendy wore a fur jacket and a pair of tight jeans that hugged the curve of her long thighs. She was being exposed to something she’d never previously been exposed to in her 19 years, and though horrified she nonetheless continued to stare at the dull white ventral of a dead floating fish. Some fish had ragged pink holes where other fish and crustaceans had cannibalized the meat and possibly an organ or two. There were tears in her eyes as she turned to Bob.

“Then why aren’t you doing something about it, huh? You have all this money. Do something! Saving the planet isn’t about ‘fashion.’ Can’t you see that we’re doomed? These must be the last days they talk about in the Bible. Revelations . . . the Beast.” Wendy stamped her feet. “You’re the Beast!”

“Please allow me to defend myself,” Bob said. “For one thing Brainchild Scientific has never polluted! And we support and sponsor a lot of science programs in the schools that are doing good things for the environment, and we are working and helping to save the planet. Ask Soren. Isn’t that right, Soren?”

I had to agree to some extent, but a number of the calibrated instruments we sold contained mercury and I knew that mercury had been poisoning fish.
Wendy wiped a tear from her eye.

“Yes, what do you think, Soren? What or ‘who’ killed these fish?”

“Bob’s theory is correct regarding sudden unexpected changes in water temperature,” I told her, “but Atlantic City discharges a criminal amount of effluent into the ocean, and all the garbage that’s dumped from the barges in New York Harbor or Newark Bay sometimes finds its way this far south . . . medical waste . . . toxic chemicals . . . petroleum and petroleum derivatives . . . solvents . . . the polluters hope their hazardous waste and trash will stay off shore, but there’s no accounting for shifts in tides that will carry the pollution leeward. So I think the cause could be attributed to both things. We really don’t know, but whatever the cause you can’t deny it’s still sad and sickening. And to think there’s talk of building a nuclear plant, right here, in Egg Harbor! A floating nuclear power plant!”

On our voyage we were assisted by two deckhands: Ramirez, or Rami, and Raul. They would be with us until we reached Miami. Bob called them Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum and liked to tease them about Castro being such a great leader, but Rami and Raul were having none of Bob’s banter. Wendy noted that they were “kind of cute” and kidded Bob about the possibilities with two strong Latin lovers. They made excellent crew but did not hide their contempt for Castro and Marxists like Guevara and others, and they became angry whenever Castro’s name was mentioned, howling epithets at the United States government for not having been more aggressive in removing him, especially following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion a decade earlier.

That afternoon Bob and I worked with the sextant, taking a measurement of the sun, while Wendy got stoned and joked with Rami and Raul before heading down to the cabin for a nap. I began to see through Bob’s game. He hadn’t needed me on board his yacht for celestial navigation, but more as a male companion to hang with, to help ground him and offset the intoxicating presence of Wendy. Late in the afternoon we shared some single malt scotch and enjoyed a couple of good cigars.

“She wants it all the time, Soren. She’s a sex addict, a nymphomaniac. I do my best to keep her satisfied but she’s insatiable.”

“I thought she was mad at you. Your callous indifference to dead fish and the fate of the planet.”

“Believe me, she’s already forgotten that . . . nothing will get in the way of her wanting to fuck and fuck again.”

I wasn’t sympathetic to Bob’s predicament; there were a lot worse fates. And it had also occurred to me that I didn’t necessarily covet what he had; I was never jealous of Bob Crane’s sexual prowess with women, though I did admit a touch of envy at times. But I was enjoying being unattached and on my own, enjoying my freedom, and as “My Little Brainchild” quietly scudded south, I realized that Bob Crane was in another kind of prison, a prison like the one I was living with Gladys only turned on its head, the flip side of the Gladys prison but a prison all the same.

As the smell of charring prime rib wafted up from below deck, I mentioned how Brainchild sales had been sluggish the past six months. Psychedelic merchandise such as black lights and strobe lights had peaked in sales in 1970 and we needed new products. Listening, Bob Crane gazed upwards as the first few stars of evening poked through the sky.

“Telescopes are our business,” he said with a ringing optimism in his voice. “We will always be selling telescopes. There will always be people just getting interested in astronomy, thinking, ‘hey, now there’s something I’d like to try, watching the stars.’ So they go out and buy a telescope, or a family member buys them one for Christmas—a small Schmidt-Cassegrain or Celestron, or one of our own models, and he uses it (the telescope hobbyist is almost always male) for maybe a year or two if that, and then the telescope winds up in a closet gathering dust and it’s maybe trotted out occasionally for some big celestial event like a meteor shower or eclipse. . . . These people are not like you, Soren, they never seriously pursue Astronomy, most of them have neither the time nor patience for spending hours looking through some metal tube or attaching a camera to the tube and tracking the movement of a distant insignificant object, but just when they’re at the point of abandoning the hobby, someone else is getting started. Don’t you see? We can’t miss! We’ll be selling telescopes and related optics forever. That’s our core business.”

Although I essentially agreed with him regarding our business model, there was an undercurrent in Bob’s words that I found disturbing. I should have been feeling more secure in the warmth of the scotch and Bob’s vision of shepherding Brainchild through what would turn out to be an economic downturn in the following year, but I thought he was frighteningly disengaged and indifferent toward the company he had created. He might as well have been talking about a car wash! Maybe he’d never been that connected to science and to Brainchild in the first place; the enterprise had been simply a means for him to become rich, and his lack of emotional investment in the business he’d started was belied in the present conversation. I’d already known for a few years that I was more personally invested in Brainchild Scientific—in the scopes and lenses of all kinds, the science kits, the Van de Grafs, the skeletons, the astrolabes—but Bob’s alienation still shocked me. He’d abruptly changed from an aging silent partner, or a “founder” into a mere board chairman who treated Brainchild Scientific as so much “paper,” a balance sheet for investors. Bob was big on quick life-changing scenarios, on getting rid of things and people, or at least distancing himself from things and people when they no longer interested him, or more precisely when he no longer had any use for them. . . . I did not understand Bob Crane.

But he understood me very well. I was the loyal lieutenant, the consigliore, the trusted advisor, always standing in the leader’s shadow, or behind the throne, waiting to be summoned, to dispense advice, to describe possible courses of action, to sniff the proffered gift for poison, to shield him from anything unpleasant. I was his shield. Or I was the foreman, the straw boss overseeing the workers, guaranteeing day-to-day operations run smoothly and profitably. “We Sell You the Stuff That Your Dreams Are Made Of.”(I’d borrowed and paraphrased that Shakespeare line that became our slogan). I shouldered all the worry and responsibility so Bob wouldn’t have to, so he could “play at Life” free and unencumbered. Gladys saw me as a sap, a patsy, but I knew what I was doing, I understood my role in relation to Bob Crane: we had a mutual attraction but with him dominant, like a binary star system, or twins, and his wisdom was in knowing he could use me because I would never see our business relationship and friendship as one of exploitation. “You’ve been a godsend to me,” he would say, “and we’re going to do alright. Better than alright!” But never once in the past decade had he mentioned that I could one day be rich like him or become a partner in the company. It was small consolation, but I guess he wasn’t deceiving me by holding out false promises of eventual success.

We stayed on the Intracoastal Waterway south of Charleston, and Bob was now on deck in the morning with his cameras and a case of high priced macro lenses. The cassette tape player was playing a Seals and Crofts tune, “Summer Breeze.” Bob’s musical taste leaned toward “mellow,” a word he liked to utter frequently, and besides Seals and Crofts his musical offering during our voyage would cycle through Loggins and Messina, John Denver, the Eagles, America, Joni Mitchell, Dave Mason, etc. and ad nauseum— not that there weren’t gems in this selection, but it was all of a type and played constantly for our collective “mellowness.”

And I could tell that Bob was no longer really interested in photography. In his rush to be rich and stay rich he’d not only lost touch with the company he’d proudly started but with the thing he’d loved that had provided the impetus to start the company in the first place.

The weather was much warmer but still on the chilly side when Wendy emerged from below decks wearing a cherry red bikini bottom beneath a pale yellow sweatshirt on top, a kind of upside down garnished French vanilla shake, her legs the straws. She’d been waiting for the earliest possible chance to appear on deck in a bikini, braving the elements to bare her goose bumped thighs, because she was an exhibitionist. She positioned herself on the foredeck, reclining against the warmth of the pilot cabin that was catching the morning sun while Bob took a couple test photos of her, possibly for submitting to some yachting magazine. Wendy was reading a book titled, “The Art of Loving” by Erich Fromm, and at first I thought the book might have been a kind of Kama sutra.

“No, it’s psychology,” she corrected me in a tone of mild petulance. Her voice had a slightly nasal quality. “I had to read it for school.”

“I didn’t know you were interested in psychology.”

Wendy studied me with a guarded smile.

“Of course I am,” she said, flipping the paperback over from where it lay open on her lap and perusing the cover. “. . . but it’s a book for everyone, you don’t need to be a shrink . . . you should read it sometime, I think you’d like it.”

“What’s that?” Bob called from the stern.

Wendy held up the “The Art of Loving” and Bob nodded, still tinkering with his camera.

And that afternoon I found Bob reading the book. He seemed keenly interested because most likely he was absorbing, or trying to absorb, ideas he’d never thought of before. Loggins and Messina’s “Danny’s Song” was playing on the tape deck.

“Isn’t this a beautiful song?” he said to me and crooned a few lyrics: “and even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with you honey . . .”

Wendy reappeared, once again clad in her red bikini and bearing a lit joint in one hand and a tray with three glasses of Margheritas in the other. She was trying her best to will and summon the hedonistic gods of tropical weather, and she set down the tray and handed Bob a drink, her fingers deftly playing in his hair. Bob rarely smoked pot; he said it made him paranoid with thoughts of violence and death. He tasted the Margherita and nodded his approval.

“Is this guy a Freudian?”

“I think so.”

“I’ve read a bit of Freud . . . penis envy . . . Oedipus complex . . .”

“Oedipal complex,” I called out.

“Whatever.”

“Are you enjoying the book?” Wendy asked him.

Bob shrugged. “It’s okay.” He continued reading. Wendy passed me the joint, a rich whiff of tarry red cannabis. I trapped the smoke in my lungs and observed these two as if they were playing the part of some sensuous bored couple in a modern European film.

“Give me that,” Wendy said, taking the book out of Bob’s hand. She turned to a page and read aloud: “Love isn’t something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling, it is a practice.”

“Right,” Bob mumbled, a bit ticked. “Hey Soren, have you ever read or seen Love Story?”

Wendy lightly shoved Bob’s head and inhaled the joint, while holding the book open with her left hand. “Shut up a minute,” she said. “Here, listen to this:

“The main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of one’s narcissism. The narcissistic orientation is one in which one experiences as real only that which exists within oneself, while the phenomena in the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are experienced only from the viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one. The opposite pole to narcissism is objectivity; it is the faculty to see other people and things as they are, objectively, and to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one’s desires and fears.”

Rami and Raul were watching and listening. I realized I was quite high. Wendy said, “That’s so profound. I’ve read it half a dozen times. I really like this one too . . . it reminds me of those dead fish we saw,” and she continued reading.

“Alienation as we find it in modern society is almost total… Man has created a world of man-made things as it never existed before. He has constructed a complicated social machine to administer the technical machine he built. The more powerful and gigantic the forces are which he unleashes, the more powerless he feels himself as a human being. He is owned by his creations, and has lost ownership of himself.”

“Bullshit,” said Bob Crane.

Slyly, Wendy said, “I think Soren would like this book. He’d understand what Erich Fromm is telling us and that we need to change or perish.”

“What’s there to understand?” Bob nearly yelled, “I ‘get it,’ I know what the book is about. I’m as ‘sensitive’ as Soren!”

Wendy and I looked at one another and burst out laughing.

The girlfriend’s name was Pilar. The first night in Miami we met her for dinner and drinks, and though I was a little put off by her smug self-assurance concerning all forms of divination and holistic healing that she practiced (astrology, tarot, i-Ching, chakras) and her derisive attitude toward applied science in general, I found myself attracted to Pilar, to her curled cascades of brown hair, and her olive skin and lithe slender figure. But I was heading for a bigger surprise regarding her anatomy.

Pilar and I were going to be sharing a cabin, and we’d made it a point to discreetly dress and undress when the other was not in the cabin. But as we were sailing to Nassau on that first afternoon, Pilar appeared on deck in a white bikini and I noticed a port wine birthmark spreading in a loose fan pattern several inches above her waist toward her right hip, as if she’d been lying on her stomach and someone had poured claret wine onto her lumbar and the wine had permanently stained. The shape of the birthmark closely resembled the Large Southern Magellanic Cloud. I’d always had problems with skin defects or blemishes—moles, warts, pimples, boils, etc. — on women, but there was something exciting about Pilar’s dark nebula stain.

The second night in the Bahamas we dined on board the yacht—fresh crab, mahi, and oysters, French bread with brie, mango and papaya salad and several bottles of fine vintage wine. Bob had his tape player going to the sounds of Seals & Croft, Loggins & Messina, America, and The Eagles. We were all dancing casually and taking turns with a joint.

“What’s that star?” Pilar asked.

“That yellow star is Capella in the constellation Auriga.

“How about that group of stars up there? Is that the Little Dipper?” Wendy asked, childlike, drunk, pointing.

“The Little Dipper is over there. Those are the Pleiades. They’re in the constellation Taurus the Bull.”

I fetched a high-powered flashlight from steerage and started to impress Pilar by tracing the outlines of constellations: first the polar ones, Ursas Major and Minor, Perseus, Cassiopea; then the major winter groups, Orion, Canis Major, and Taurus, and then the constellations of the Ecliptic, better known as The Zodiac.

Pilar said: “I thought you astronomer types dismissed astrology.”

“There’s still a Zodiac,” I said. “No, I don’t discredit astrology, not at all. Astronomy and astrology are two separate disciplines, separate pursuits or fields of study. And historically astrology was all we had in the ancient and medieval world, and was a precursor to astronomy, the same way alchemy was a precursor to modern chemistry. Galileo was a court astrologer.”

Bob interjected. “Speaking of Galileo, why don’t you get your scope, Soren.”

I went below decks for a few minutes and returned with a small refractor I had built along with a spotting scope.

“That telescope was made with the finest Brainchild lenses,” Bob Crane boasted for his and my benefit.

Pilar and Wendy seemed truly interested in the astronomy lesson, but Wendy soon became distracted and began shining the flashlight in our faces. Swaying, Pilar held onto my arm and shoulder as I lined up Rigel for her on the Bausch spotting scope, and then let her look at Rigel while I trained the silver tube of the refractor on that same blue giant star. Bob wrested the flashlight from Wendy’s hand and kissed her, his other hand massaging her tit beneath the elegant but sheer evening dress. I watched Pilar as she peered through the telescope, and I placed my hand against her waist to steady her balance. Pilar removed her glittering mascaraed eye from the ocular, and her lips found mine, and then her tongue. . . .

We were both pretty stoned and drunk by the time we stumbled down to our cabin. I watched Pilar disrobe, having more time to appraise the port wine birthmark in the shape of the Large Magellanic Cloud (or was it the Tarantula Nebula in the large Magellanic Cloud?) that spanned for several inches above her hip and lumbar. I was struck by how perfect her body looked—the limbs and lines shorn of clothing in a guiltless state of nature that her white bikini, though splendid, hadn’t managed to accentuate. She was soon alongside me and I became aware of the sloop’s slightly rocking motion. Her fingers worked on unloosening my pants belt and zipper, but I was out of my pants and shirt soon enough, and the two of us stared into each other’s eyes for about a minute before we kissed.

“Crazy couple, that Bob and Wendy.”

“You said it.”

“Are you two close friends?”

“Not especially.”

“You don’t seem much alike.”

“Neither do you and Bob.”

“I just work for Bob. We were more alike 10 years ago.”

Pilar smirked at me and said, “Do you always think in decades?”

After we made love, Pilar placed her head on my chest as her fingers gently began reviving my cock.

“Why didn’t you become a professional astronomer? You’re definitely intelligent enough . . . You seem like a misplaced person. There’s something a little sad about you . . . a little unfulfilled.”

“I’m not sad or unfulfilled,” I told her. “I never really went in for academia. After the Navy I was lucky enough to get this great job working for Bob Crane that’s closely related to telescopes. I’m exposed to lenses and scopes of all types and makes. Although the business is mostly retail and mail order, I still work with lenses quite a lot. I’ve even made some of my own.”

Bright-eyed, she gave me an almost sisterly peck on the mouth.

“You’re so smart. You should really try and get out of your marriage. Can’t you see that it’s holding you back.”

“I know . . . but I can’t figure out how to end it.”

Pilar turned over, her head pressed against her upper arm. She was annoyed with me.

“Just end it if you’re unhappy,” she said. She had recently broken up with someone she’d been living with for three years. She was 24 and already understood that suffering in a relationship, whether married or not, simply wasn’t worth it.

“I know it may sound corny, but I can’t seem to rid myself of the idea of commitment . . . to stay with my wife, for better or worse,” I laughed, and added, “I’m not even religious.”

Pilar somehow understood the core of my being from a single sexual encounter. She was unnaturally perceptive.

“Then I feel sorry for you,” she said.

The fun ended the following night when Wendy became excessively drunk on 150-proof rum & Quaaludes and, naked, began firing Bob’s gun into the harbor. Bob quickly disarmed her, but in the struggle the rum bottle smashed on deck and Wendy landed on top of it. She was rushed to the ER and a few of her nastier cuts required stitches. That was Pilar’s cue to leave. Although we liked one another, and would have enjoyed spending another night or two together, Pilar had had enough of the Bob and Wendy show. (“Too much crazy negative energy,” was how she’d phrased it). I agreed with her and the following morning told Bob that I would be leaving too. Wendy stood near the mizzen, her bare limbs adorned with white tape and gauze, streaming like pennons in the Caribbean breeze. She pouted for a few seconds but then appeared happy with my announcement as if she’d already forgotten me, erased our talks from her opaque addled memory. But a look of horror crossed Bob Crane’s face.

“Don’t leave me alone with her,” he begged. “You don’t need to go back this soon. The store and warehouse will be fine, and don’t forget you’re being paid to be here, to enjoy the tropical sun and water, the women, the boat, and the stars.”

I took the next flight back to Newark.

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