It was a grey and rainy morning... Okay, that opening line stinks. Let’s try it again; I awoke to grey skies and a hard rain... Pretty meh, if you ask me, how’s this: My head was pounding when I finally opened my eyes—what the heck was that sound, anyway? I couldn’t tell, I was still only half awake. The only thing I knew for certain was that I was in pain. The pounding from before was still rattling my brain. Then I tried to move, and pretty quick I realized any kind of movement was strictly a no-go. I was in pain, yeah, I already said that, but I’m sayin’ it again for affect. The base of my spine was knotted up like kid’s sneakers—the ones from that super-discount store with the laces that only can take being knotted up just once. After that their finished, and you’re reaching for the scissors, and your wallet...I digress. So there I was; I couldn’t move, and my my neck felt like the chiropractor had used a crowbar, but it was worse than that—way worse. Because what I was going through was bad, the sort of pain you get the morning after a bar fight—one that you lost.
I rubbed my eyes again, and thought about uncapping a bottle. Vodka. I don’t know why, but Vodka stuck in my head; seemed like a good idea. But not just Vodka, double Vodka & Tonic—a lot of em’, and with lime wedges, and ice—not too much ice. Then I thought about why writers drink so much, and why they say the best writers are the ones who hit the sauce pretty hard, but I’m not buyn’ it—those kinda guys: Falkner, Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, that guy who wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas—those guys all drank heavy because it was the only way they could build up the courage to bare their souls to the public. But I’m getting off track again. Anyway, I turned my head. I looked out through the window—I saw the ocean. Not just ocean, but a grey, seamless, tangled, monster of a sea; tormented and twisted—torn to shreds like that moment when you reach middle-age and you come to fully understand that your future options are only going down from here. The waves were big rolling suckers—dark and angry. The sky was dark and angry too, then it hit me. Suddenly I knew where I was, and the feeling it gave me felt pretty crappy—there’s no pain like the truth. I looked out the window again, and it all got real clear: I didn’t just lose a bar fight last night—I’d been Shanghaied.
I had to think—I had to put the pieces together. Then there was that sound again, big and booming, it rattled my brain just like before, but now my eyes were open and I knew what it was. It was those waves, the ones outside my window—it had to be. Crashing, bashing, and smashing into the hull of the ship—smashing into my cranium too, one after the other—Bam! Bam! Bam! Then I heard a big Whoosh! I look up in time to see a huge mass of foamy sea pass over the hatch above my head—holly cow, I thought, this is pretty serious. I decided to stay where I was for a while longer. I needed to pee, but first I had to work on getting my head straight. The bar fight last night, yeah, that was the connection. I thought some more, and then I finally remembered who I was with—Charles Bukowski. That’s right, it was all coming back. Charlie and me had been up most of the night; slamming down Vodka Tonics at the Chelsea Bar. The bar tender was worried about the tab we were running, then these two knuckle-draggers walk in and things start getting rough. But old Charlie and me, we weren’t in the mood to be pushed around. That’s right, Charles Bukowski and me, sitting in a bar, slamming down the hard stuff, and asking the big questions...
The day wore on, the sea state improved so I wondered into the galley to catch the vibe from the crew—familiar faces. All of them. Yep, it was all coming back, clear as Polish Vodka. I hadn’t been Shanghaied onto this boat—I’d volunteered. With the case solved I poured myself a coffee, made my way back to my cabin and fished around for my iPad...now let’s see, what was I reading last night? I flipped open the iPad, opened the iBooks application, scanned the digital library, sipped my coffee, and there it was: Pulp, by Charles Bukowski. The psychoactive stimulants in the coffee started kicking in, the Advil too, and I felt pretty good, better then good—I was feeling great. But the boat’s not called Feeling Great, that would’ve been a mistake, and widely perceived as pretentious. The boat is just plain Feelin’ Good. Because anybody can feel good, everybody likes feeling good, and nobody ever has to be guilty about it. Best part is, I got an iPad stuffed full of books and I’m on a boat headed for Indonesia...not bad, not bad at all.