As the Boat Floats: Marina Drama

Characters: Austin, marina owner; Simon, marina manager; Clyde, runabout owner; Louise, Clyde’s girlfriend; Jerry, hippie; Randy and Jim, houseboat owners; Scott, Jerry’s nephew

Before the police arrive, Austin and Simon join us for moral support. Simon’s cell recorded a dimly lit, out-of-focus video of Clyde dragging Louise by the hair. The police interview each of us individually in an attempt to identify the individual who instigated Clyde’s behavior. Our stories mesh. Because his slip is on B-dock, none of us on A-dock know him very well. Even Jerry, who has lived on his cruiser, docked on B-dock for years, and thought he knew the secrets of everyone there, met him for the first time only recently at the post-tornado meeting.

Unfortunately, I’m the only one who knew about Clyde’s drinking and behavioral problems through Louise’s conversation with me. That’s considered “hear-say,” not evidence.

“Louise is the only person who knows Clyde well enough to report a history of dangerous antics,” I confide to the officer who questions me. “His damaged runabout is evidence of his lack of judgment. What did he gain by running a 24-foot ski boat into a 100-foot houseboat?” I ask. Of course, the officer knows that as well as I do. I want to demonstrate to him my clear thinking, even though I had two glasses of wine, which I don’t want to discuss with him. (The law intimidates me, even when I’ve done nothing wrong. I feel like a child being accused of stealing from the cookie jar when I knew my sister committed the crime. I wouldn’t rat on her but I’d get even later).

After the police leave, Austin organizes a debriefing. “Tell me step-by-step, what happened?” he asks. Randy begins, “I saw you ask Louise where she stepped off of the damaged dock. I assumed that Clyde also witnessed this, while filling his boat with gas. He apparently jumped to the conclusion that you had a romantic relationship with her. I explained this to Clyde but his jealousy made him deaf and dumb; he couldn’t hear me.”

“Marilyn, what do you know about their relationship?” Austin asks.

“She was very concerned about his uncontrollable temper but thought she could rein him in. Unfortunately, she was wrong. I tried to warn her but to no avail,” I report.

Jim restarts the music and offers drinks, trying to recapture the festive spirit, so rudely interpreted. Instead, each of us retreat to our boat havens, wanting to forget the episode but, instead, reliving the terror of looking down the barrel of a maniac’s handgun.

At daybreak, before sunrise, commotion on the dock outside the bow of Prana woke me up with a start. Did Clyde return for revenge? Are the police resuming questioning? Is Louise asking for sanctuary? I slip into a coverup over my swimsuit and look out the window. There, Jerry appears frantic. George, Jim, and Randy are wrestling him into a chair. A young man I don’t recognize seems to be trying to talk sense into Jerry.

“Can I help?” I ask.

Five sets of eyes look at me as if I were an apparition.

“Hearsay claims you’re a doctor. Yes, we need your help!” the young man exclaims with urgency.

“Tell me what I can do?” I ask.

Obviously trying to remain calm, the young man explains, “Jerry is my uncle. I’m Scott. We were fishing with treble hooks for largemouth bass in the empty slip next to yours. A good-size bass sucked in the lure but when Jerry set the hook, the bass spit the hook out, piercing Jerry’s eyelid. We need someone like you to remove it or else we’ll have to take him to the ER, 20 miles away.”

My knees are wobbly; just the thought of removing a lure from an eyelid makes me queasy and dizzy. “There’s been a misunderstanding. I’m a psychologist, not a medical doctor. I’ve no expertise in removing a lure from an eyelid. I’m sorry.” I sit down, feeling faint.

“Uncle, I guess it’s up to me,” Scott explains. “Are you ready for this? Are you in pain?”

“No pain. Go ahead, but I need another beer,” Jerry insists.

Scott reaches into Jerry’s motorized cooler and hands him a Natural Light. “Ready?” he asks.

“Go ahead. The sooner the better. I can’t walk around with a lure in my eyelid.”

The group encircles Jerry, bracing himself. Scott hovers over him. “I will explain step-by-step what I’m doing. Don’t move. Stay calm.”

“Easier said than done,” Jerry whimpers.

“I need a needle-nose pliers,” Scott orders. George hands him one from his tool belt around his waist. “The first step in removing a lure is to clip off the barb of the hook,” Scott remarks. “Are you okay?” Scott asks. (

“Fine. Hurry up. I don’t like being the center of attention,” Jerry claims. Everyone smiles, knowing he relishes the spotlight.

“The barb holds the hook into the eyelid or the fish’s mouth, wherever the hook lands,” Scott jokes. “Without the barb, I can pull the hook out. First, I have to push the barb through the eyelid and cut the barb off.” The snip of the pliers produces a popping sound, that turns my stomach. “I now will pull the hook back through.” There’s another loud pop. “O’lah!” he exclaims. “Any pain?” he asks again.

“None,” Jerry responds.

“You made it look easy,” I acknowledge.

“Not the first time; won’t be the last. But I’ve never had an audience before. And Jerry was a good sport. Many people freak-out with a treble hook embedded in their eyelid.”

“Imagine that,” I remark.


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