By Scott Sullivan
My imaginary polar trip, paired with Ron and Maggie Conklin’s real one, had grown more dire. We were on a 10-foot Zodiac ‘twixt Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica, provisions out. Chef had smashed a penguin, pried it from the inflatable’s bow and served it.
“Wait,” I asked. “Two of us on a small raft. You struck and killed a 50-pound penguin. Why didn’t I see, hear, feel or smell that?”
“Wait till you taste this,” he said. “I struck it two weeks ago coming from the North Pole to pick you up. He claimed he was emperor and I’d violate right-of-ways. ‘On the open sea?’ I asked and stored him in the hold below. Shut up and let me serve him.”
“Now I can smell the emperor,” I said. “Much as I can’t wait to sink my teeth, might you wash, cut and cook him first?”
“Brined 2 weeks in average 33° Arctic and Antarctic oceans, warming high as 60° in Atlantic waters, I’ve dragged as keel till extracted sushi-primed for dining sans, forks, plates, garnishments. Not a single negligee ..”.
“Don’t you mean ‘luxury’?”
“Been away from women too long. I mean whole, pure numbers … a real thing.”
“This didn’t happen without a camera,” I said. “You saw what I brought when you picked me up and I still had land legs.”
“You knocked it off.”
“Knock it off,” I echoed. “You could have turned and gone back; I could still see my whole bag of gizmos floating.”
“You’re the one who chartered this.”
I sniffed the penguin. “You’ve added something.”
“My secret i constant.”
“An additive!” I flushed out my mouth with seawater.
The old salt watched as I spat out the saline, retching even more. “Dehydrated, drowned by thirst … He pulled out his canteen. “Here, swig this.”
“Absinthe! So you still had some. Alcohol dehydrates worse. Plus you call this hull mess a mess hall?”
“Glad you’re back, Felix Unger.”
“You’re the one who’s inconstant,” I accused.
“Oh yeah? Who scheduled his own colonoscopy just before we set off? Played lucy-goosey with doctor’s orders? Enjoy your self-blest oblivion.”
“OK, I don’t always poop in the ocean too. There’s no room left to eat in this s#*! ship, yet it’s all we have now the emperor’s carcass is fully picked. How far to Antarctica?”
“See a compass? It was in your camera bag.”
“You could have turned back. Think it’s still floating?”
“Rejuvenation,” he said. “That means you’re a-buoy again.”
As we weighed our fate a whale tail broke the waves between icebergs 30 feet starboard. Blue, killer, sperm are common, narwhals less so here.
“Great, a 150-ton leviathan sniffing our penguin bones. Who will save us?” I wailed.
“Rescue an inner tube helmed by 2 stooges x 1 ghost on a hopeless Pole quest with bomb-cyclone blizzards bearing down that that will freeze us into 1 very-imperfect ice cube? Call the Coast Guard with that phone kicked overboard in the bag. ‘Take a number,’ they’ll say. ‘Estimated wait time never.’
“Yay!” We won’t have to wait at all.”
“A Jimmy John’s raft pulled up. “Here,” said its pimpled pilot. “Pepperoni mini-subs.”
“The Beatles’ Yellow Submarines!” I cried. “We’ve been saved!”
Ron and Maggie dallied for another day noshing on culinary creations in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, population 3 million last check. Like Saugatuck, it boasts a harbor ambience. The Rio de la Plata is the world’s widest river if it is one; most view it as an estuary. South lies Montevideo, Ecuador’s capitol. The towns argue which counts as Tango’s birthplace.
Exotica the waterway drains inward might be likened to our Kalamazoo flushing Allegan, Otsego, Plainwell, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek … as its basin widens and links into neighbor watersheds. Remarkable wildlife roam this rural pampas too.
Buenos Aires is an alpha city based on connectivity, per the Globalization and World Rankings Institute. Saugatuck-Douglas too are a melting pot during warm seasons that are now down under
On board, the Fab 4 were in a fine fettle. “Gracias,” I
said, “for saving me.”
“It was nothing. Depends where we’re bound,” John said.
I was no Odysseus. “Land ahead!” I cried, then my mind sank back to the Saugatuck-Dunegrass fracas. Depositions to read in imagination, I strapped up for slapstick:
Father, Son, Holy Ghost v. 3 Stooges, entered before Magistrate Khans Genghis this 21st Day September, Year of Our Lord 2022, re: Floating Homes/Land Swap Deal. Private v. Public v. Ever- Repeating decimal. Dismal.
“Plant a flag! It’s our new port city!” I cried.
“Your hallucination is ours?” queried Paul.
“Check their lawyers Moe, Larry, Curly. They’ll say we’ve transgressed. Let the magistrate decide.”
An attendant whose shape, curves and angles I calculated, passed on a truffle broasted to imperfection.
“We all live in a yellow submarine,” thump. “Yellow submarine,” thump-thump., “Yellow submarine,” Ringo sang/chanted..
“Let me out!”
“Where to next?” thump. “To see what’s green,” thump-thump. “In our Yellow,” thump. “Blues Tureen.”
“Mixing blues with urine in a drinking vessel? Let me out! No way? Then up the tempo!”
Our periscope pierced air; its kaleidoscope lens showed penguins, seals, one-horned ne’er-do-wells, fuzzy pups with backdrops of rusted chains.
“What happened to the Chef?” I asked.
To be continued