Monday, January 7, 2008



“Ok, call it.”
I opened my eyes. That disturbing dream again. Darkness muffled by cotton gauze and syringe sharp needles pressed against my forehead from within. Bright sparks ignited every time a needle pricked my brain and slowly the gauze and heavy darkness gave way to early morning gray. I rose. Dragging my feet across the room I found myself staring at a corpse in the mirror. Pale mottled skin and straggled strands of unkempt hair drawn across a sallow face did not hide the sunken eyes or pallid gaunt cheeks that formed the death’s skull illusion before me. I brushed the yellow teeth and ran a washcloth over my face, brushing back the hair. Not much improvement.
4:30 in the morning is not a conversational time. Very few bodies moved silently about the city and those unfortunate to be about at this hour tended to shy from company in general. I was grateful for the solitude as I passed through the door into my office. I stumbled against a leather ottoman and cursed the cleaning crew for rearranging the furniture again then awkwardly found my way to a huge worn mahogany desk and safely deposited my body in an old cushioned office chair. My partner, Leroy Shrugg never graced his presence this early when he was alive, but lounged across the couch opposite me while I checked my phone messages.
I removed my glasses and pinched my eyes closed tightly for a few moments and opened them again. Yes he was still there. Leo was a figment of my imagination of course, but since the accident, figments have been playing a large role in my life. It was still difficult to look back at what happened just a few weeks ago. I never could have imagined how such a routine job could take such a drastic turn that terrible January night.
Rain drummed non-stop against the van, seeping through the rusted hole in the corner of the roof, soaking into a rag I jammed roughly to stop the wind. It was cold - bitterly cold, much too cold for surveillance. Still I watched and I waited. This was the easy part of my job. A few hours stakeout; a few pictures. Keep the clients happy and they pay, fifty-five bucks an hour plus expenses, keeps me happy too. But not that night, that night was different. That night there would be no payment. Sitting there freezing in the middle of winter, this time was different all right.
I had picked the spot carefully. No one would notice another abandoned junk heap rusting amongst the rotting debris and stinking decay strewn everywhere. I remember blowing on my hands, my breath turning to vapor in the icy air. Rubbing them together, trying to encourage blood back into my numbed fingers. I tugged my collar up high around the neck to keep out the draught that was blasting through the taped up window as well as an unconscious act of playing the tough guy as I pulled the rim of my hat down further over my eyes. I shudder at the vivid memories that are all to easy to access.
Looking out through the cracked tinted glass, I could see lights glowing dimly behind closed curtains of the last two inhabited houses. The others were just shells, no windows, no doors, and some with no roofs. Like ghosts from a previous age, haunting only the memories of the few stragglers left behind. Nothing had moved, not since the old guy at the end of the street had taken his mangy dog out for a walk. That was two hours ago. Time was dragging. I remember I looked down at my watch.
Then came the yawn, large and silent and I began to stretch, fighting the cramp creeping into my muscles, pushing myself hard against the armchair bolted in the rear of my ancient Ford Econoline. I decided the night was a bust and began to disentangle myself from the rear of the van, when a feint light appeared as a door cracked open across the street. I reached for my Mark III Panoscan forensic camera and brought it to focus just in time to capture the image of a figure stepping out of the shadows into the street. I continued to snap photos as the shape took form and suddenly I swore to myself, flung the camera down and threw the back doors open.
“What do you think you are doing?” I whispered in incredulous exasperation at the oncoming image. “You will ruin…” at that moment headlights illuminated the dingy street and a loud engine roared around the corner. I looked up and frantically dove for my partner without thinking but before I could reach him, the oncoming car was past me and Leroy lay dead and disfigured fifteen feet away. I looked around and saw that the vehicle stopped down the street. I walked slowly towards the dark sedan. I saw no movement at all as I approached. Only its taillights glared angrily at me, and wisps of smoke escaped the exhaust pipe. I pulled my revolver as I drew near the passenger side door. There appeared to be no one inside as I cautiously peered through the window and then, nothing. Darkness.
“Ok, call it.”
Dead for two minutes. That’s what they told me, I was officially deceased. Toe tag bound. The attending physician fully expected my autopsy to reveal cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head. He did not expect me to kick death in the crotch and return to the living. And for that matter neither did the attending nurse.
“Excuse me, Doctor? Are you sure he’s dead?”

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Further Tales of Sherpa Kitty

There was once upon a time a little kitten that lived near a frozen lake in a large valley nestled below the Himalayan Mountains named Sherpa Kitty who one day came upon a young boy named Jack, and a milky white yak named Milky-White. Jack told Sherpa Kitty that all he and his sickly mother had to live on was the milk the yak gave every morning, which he carried to the market in the village across the valley and sold. The trip took so long that by the time he came home, it was time to leave again. But this morning Milky-White gave no milk, and they didn't know what to do.
"What shall we do, what shall we do?" said Jack’s sickly mother, wringing her hands.
"Cheer up, mother, I'll go and get work somewhere," said Jack.
"We've tried that before, and nobody would take you," said Jack’s sickly mother. "We must sell Milky-White and with the money start a shop, or buy ice fishing gear and sell fish."
"All right, mother," said Jack. "I’ll be off to the village market today, and I'll soon sell Milky-White, and then we'll see what we can do."
So Jack took the yak’s halter in his hand, and off he started. He hadn't gone far when he met Sherpa Kitty, who said to him, "Good morning, Jack."
"Good morning to you," said Jack, and wondered how she knew his name. “How fare you this fine day?”
"Well, Jack, and where are you off to?" said Sherpa Kitty.
"I'm going to the village market to sell our milky white yak Milky-White there."
“But what of your sickly mother, Jack? Who is to care for her?”
“Well I am.” Said Jack defensively. “But I spend all my time traveling so I cannot care for my mother properly. I am so wrought with guilt.”
“I am Sherpa Kitty, Jack; may chance you have heard of me. I am here to help you.” Said Sherpa Kitty. “I will sell your cow for you.”
“Thank you Sherpa Kitty.” Said Jack, for well had he heard of Sherpa Kitty in his travels across the great valley beneath the Himalayan Mountains.
Jack handed Milky-White the Yak over to Sherpa Kitty and rushed off to tend to his sickly mother. Sherpa Kitty set off in the direction of the village market.
“Is that a yak at your back?” came an inquiring voice from high above. Sherpa Kitty looked up to see the smiling face of the great Yeti Yeshe looking down at her.
“This yak belongs to Jack and his sickly mother. Milky-White will bare no milk so I have offered to sell her at the village market.” Said Sherpa Kitty.
“I wonder if you are best suited for selling a yak Sherpa Kitty, the village is a long way off and you have never sold anything in your life. Perhaps I should buy her for a fair price and take Milky-White to my cavern by the frozen lake.” Suggested Yeshe.
“What do you offer, Yeti?” inquired Sherpa Kitty.
“Why a fine pole with strong line to catch fish with.” Said Yeshe. “I only found this today on the frozen lake bed when some strangers ran from me as I strolled by. I do not care for fish but I do fancy the company of your fine yak friend there. Perhaps with some care and comfort Milky-White might once again produce milk.”
After carefully considering Yeshe’s generous offer Sherpa Kitty addressed her long time friend.
“A fine offer my pal, but I suspect that more can be made from the village market than on the road bantering with an old friend, and if Milky-White were to be found unsociable company and finished with her yak milk yielding days, I would feel guilty and remorseful, so I think I will not sell you this yak Yeshe.”
“Have it your way Sherpa Kitty, but know my offer may not be available later.” And with that the great Yeti Yeshe turned and bound into the snow quickly fading from sight.
Sherpa Kitty pressed on, urging Milky-White along as she begrudgingly followed, thinking out loud that maybe Yeshe’s offer was a fair one after all.
“Oh, you do look the proper sort to sell a yak.” Came a voice from behind a flowery ginger bush, as Ounce poked his sinister snout out from its fragrant hiding place.
”What are you up to?” Asked Sherpa Kitty suspicious of the shady creature that greeted him.
“I am just an interested party, considering making an offer for that juicy, I mean healthy looking yak Sherpa Kitty.” Said the nefarious snow leopard Ounce.
“And just what do you have to offer for this fine creature?” asked Sherpa Kitty.
“I have a broken claw that is very sharp and strong. It could be used as a pick to gather gems from the mountains to make jewelry.” Said Ounce quietly. “I broke this claw as I scrambled out of the frozen lake some time back and I have kept it with me all this time. Perhaps a smart little kitty like you knows its value.”
A jewelry shop could be quite profitable for Jack, thought Sherpa Kitty. “That seems a proper offer from you Ounce, but I must confess I have no trust for you at all. I will not sell this fine Yak to you today.”
“Your loss.” Growled the snow leopard. “ I will not make such a generous offer again Sherpa Kitty, and it is a long march to the village market. Terrible things can happen.”
I shudder to think thought Sherpa Kitty as she and Milky-White made their way across the valley. Ounce is a powerful foe and I should not be on his bad side. Perhaps I should have taken his offer, considered Sherpa Kitty.
Just then a voice cried out “Beans for sale! Beans for sale! Buy your magical beans right here!”
“Excuse me sir,” said Sherpa Kitty to the tall gaunt fellow dressed in a shabby torn choba-robe. “Why are you selling beans by the side of the road?”
“I am a desperate man, in a desperate need.” Said the gaunt man. “My wife is sick and cannot feed our baby and I must sell our only treasure to buy milk for my child.”
“And how many beans do you have to sell?” Asked Sherpa Kitty.
"I wonder if you know how many beans make five." Said the man.
"One under each paw and one in my mouth," said Sherpa Kitty, as sharp as a needle.
"Right you are," replied the man, "that is how many I have and here they are, the very beans themselves," he went on, pulling out of his pocket a number of strange-looking beans. "As you are so sharp," says he, "I don't see any reason to haggle with you I will give you -- all these magical beans for your yak."
"And what of these magical beans," said Sherpa Kitty. "What will they do?"
"Ah! You don't know what these beans are," said the man. "If you plant them overnight, by morning they grow right up to the sky. Eberyone knows what magical beans do Sherpa Kitty!"
"Really?" said Sherpa Kitty. "You don't say."
"Yes, that is so. And if it doesn't turn out to be true you can have you’re your milky white yak back."
"All right, then." Said Sherpa Kitty, as she handed over Milky-White's halter and tucked the beans under her hoodie.
Back to Jack went Sherpa Kitty, and as she hadn't gone very far it wasn't dusk by the time she came to his door.
"Back already?” asked Jack, as his mother called out from her bedside.
“I am back already with a fair deal for you.” Said Sherpa Kitty. “I bring you five magical beans!”
“Beans?” asked Jack. “What will I do with only five beans?”
“It should be more, I agree,” said Sherpa Kitty, “but all I had was one yak.”
“Oh my goodness.” Said Jack as he walked back to his mother’s bedside.
“They are magical.” Called out Sherpa Kitty behind Jack’s back.
"I see you haven't got Milky-White, so you've sold her. How much did you get for her, then?" asked Jack’s sickly mother.
"You'll never guess, mother," said Jack.
"No, you don't say. Good boy! Five pounds? Ten? Fifteen? No, it can't be twenty." Guessed Jack’s mother.
“I told you, you couldn't guess. What do you say to these beans? They're magical and we have five of them. Plant them overnight and…”
“What!” exclaimed Jack's sickly mother. “Have you been such a fool, such a dolt, such an idiot, as to give away my Milky-White, the best milk yak in the valley, and prime meat to boot, for a set of paltry beans? Take that! Take that! Take that! And as for your precious beans here they go out of the window. Now off with you to bed with you, not a sup shall you sip, and not a bit shall you bite this very night."
So Jack went upstairs to his little room in the attic, and sad and sorry he was, to be sure, as much for his mother's sake as for the loss of his supper.
At last he dropped off to sleep.
Sherpa Kitty was upset as well for she knew that Jack’s sickly mother had not taken the good news so lightly in the throws of one of her sickly spells. Poor Jack went to bed hungry and Sherpa Kitty had to make things right. But for now, Sherpa Kitty chose to sleep on how to best deal with the problems at hand and curled up right on top of the tossed magical beans moments before falling into a deep sleep.
When Sherpa Kitty awoke, her head was in the clouds. As she looked around she was high above the mountain peaks around her, higher than she knew was possible. She rose and stretched on a thick green vine that was four times as wide as she and extended out as far as the eye could see.
After a good stretch and yawn, Sherpa Kitty walked along the length of the green branch that shot away from the main beanstalk. Sherpa Kitty walked for quite a while until she happened upon a big tall house. And In front of the house was a big tall woman.
"Good morning, madam," said Sherpa Kitty, quite polite-like. "Could you be so kind as to share some breakfast?" For she hadn't had anything to eat don’t you know, the night before, and was as hungry as a hunter.
"Its breakfast you want, is it?" spoke the great big tall woman. "It's breakfast you'll be if you don't move off from here. My man is an ogre and there's nothing he likes better than kittens broiled on toast. You'd better be moving on or he'll be coming, for you."
"Oh! Please madam, do give me something to eat. I've had nothing to eat since yesterday morning, really and truly, madam," said Sherpa Kitty. "I may as well be broiled as die of hunger."
Well, the ogre's wife was not half so bad after all. So she took Sherpa Kitty into the kitchen, and gave her a hunk of cheese and a bowl of milk. But Sherpa Kitty hadn't half finished these when thump! Thump! Thump! The whole house began to tremble with the noise of someone coming.
"Goodness gracious me! It's my old man," said the ogre's wife. "What on earth shall I do? Come along quick and jump in here." And she bundled Sherpa Kitty into the oven just as the ogre came in.
He was a big one, to be sure. At his belt he had three goats strung up by the heels, and he unhooked them and threw them down on the table and said, "Here, wife, broil me a couple of these for breakfast. Ah! What’s this I smell?”
“Listen to me little ditty, I smell the blood of a Sherpa Kitty,Be she alive, or be she dead, I'll have her bones to grind my bread."
"Nonsense, dear," said his wife. "You' re dreaming. Or perhaps you smell the scraps of that little kitty you liked so much for yesterday's dinner. Here, you go and have a wash and tidy up, and by the time you come back your breakfast'll be ready for you."
So off the ogre went, and Sherpa Kitty was just going to jump out of the oven and run away when the woman warned him no. "Wait till he's asleep," said she; "he always has a doze after breakfast."
Well, the ogre had his breakfast, and after that he went to a big chest and took out a couple of bags of gold, and down he sat and counted ‘till at last his head began to nod and he began to snore till the whole house shook again.
Then Sherpa Kitty crept out on cats feet from the great oven, and as she was passing the ogre, she took one of the bags of gold in her mouth, and off she scampered ‘till she came to the beanstalk, and then she threw down the bag of gold, which, of course, fell into Jack’s yard, and then Sherpa Kitty climbed down and climbed down till at last she got to Jack’s home and told her tale to Jack and his sickly mother and showed them the gold when Jack said, “Well, mother, wasn't I right about the beans? They are really magical, you see.”
So Jack and his sickly mother lived on the bag of gold for some time, but at last they came to the end of it, and Jack went to Sherpa Kitty for help asking that she to try her luck once more at the top of the beanstalk. So one fine morning Sherpa Kitty rose up early, and got onto the beanstalk, and she climbed, and she climbed, and she climbed, and she climbed, and she climbed, and she climbed till at last she came out onto the branch again and over to the great tall house she had been to before. There, sure enough, was the great tall woman a-standing on the doorstep.
"Good morning, madam," said Sherpa Kitty, as bold as brass, "could you be so good as to give me something to eat?"
"Go away, little kitty," said the big tall woman, "or else my man will eat you up for breakfast. But aren't you Sherpa Kitty who came here once before? Do you know, that very day my man missed one of his bags of gold?”
"That is strange, madam," said Sherpa Kitty, “I dare say I could tell you something about that, but I'm so hungry I can't speak till I've had something to eat.”
Well, the big tall woman was so curious that she took her in and gave Sherpa Kitty something to eat. But she had scarcely begun munching it as slowly as she could when thump! Thump! They heard the giant's footstep, and his wife hid Sherpa Kitty away in the great oven once more.
All happened as it did before. In came the ogre as he did before, and said,
“Listen to me little ditty, I smell the blood of a Sherpa Kitty,Be she alive, or be she dead, I'll have her bones to grind my bread.”
And he sat down and had his breakfast of three broiled bullocks.
Then he said, “Wife, bring me the hen that lays the golden eggs.” So she brought it, and the ogre said, “Lay,” and it laid an egg all of gold pure through and through. And then the ogre began to nod his head, and to snore till the house shook.
So Sherpa Kitty crept out of the oven on cat paws and caught hold of the golden hen, and was off before you could say “Sherpa Kitty.” But this time the hen gave a cackle, which woke the ogre, and just as Sherpa Kitty got out of the house she heard him calling, "Wife, wife, what have you done with my golden hen?"
And the wife said, "Why, my dear?"
But that was all Sherpa Kitty heard, for she rushed off to the beanstalk and climbed down like a house on fire. And when she got all the way down to Jack’s home she showed Jack and his sickly mother the wonderful hen, and said “Lay” to it; and it laid a golden egg every time Sherpa Kitty said “Lay.”
Well, Jack and his sickly mother were not content, and it wasn't long before he begged Sherpa Kitty to have another try at her luck up there at the top of the beanstalk. So one fine morning Sherpa Kitty rose up early and got on to the beanstalk, and she climbed, and she climbed, and she climbed, and she climbed and she climbed ‘till she got to the top.
But this time she knew better than to go straight to the ogre's house. And when she got near it, Sherpa Kitty waited behind a fragrant ginger bush till he saw the ogre's wife come out with a pail to get some water, and then she crept into the house and climbed into the copper. She hadn't been there long when Sherpa Kitty heard thump! Thump! Thump! As before, and in came the ogre and his wife.
“Listen to me little ditty, I smell the blood of a Sherpa Kitty,Be she alive, or be she dead, I'll have her bones to grind my bread.”
Cried out the ogre. “I smell her, wife, I smell her.”
“Do you, my dearie?” asked the ogre's wife. “Then, if it's that little Sherpa Kitty that stole your gold and the hen that laid the golden eggs she's sure to have got into the oven.” And they both rushed to the oven.
But Sherpa Kitty wasn't there, luckily, and the ogre' s wife said, “There you are again with your kitty ditty. Why, of course, it's the kitty you caught last night that I've just broiled for your breakfast. How forgetful I am, and how careless you are not to know the difference between live and dead after all these years.”
So the ogre sat down to the breakfast and ate every bit of it, but every now and then he would mutter, “Well, I could have sworn…” and he'd get up and search the larder and the cupboards and everything, only, luckily, he didn't think of the copper.
After breakfast was over, the ogre called out, "Wife, wife, bring me my golden harp."
So she brought it and put it on the table before him. Then he said, "Sing!" and the golden harp sang most beautifully. And it went on singing till the ogre fell asleep, and commenced to snore like thunder.
Then Sherpa Kitty lifted up the copper lid very quietly and crawled down like a cat stalking a mouse and crept and crouched till she came to the table; when up she crawled, caught hold of the golden harp and dashed with it towards the door.
But the harp called out quite loud, “Master! Master!” and the ogre woke up just in time to see Sherpa Kitty running off with his harp.
Sherpa Kitty ran as fast as she could, and the ogre came rushing after, and would soon have caught her, only Sherpa Kitty was fast as the wind and dodged the ogre a bit and knew where she was going. When she got to the beanstalk the ogre was no more than twenty yards away when suddenly he saw Sherpa Kitty disappear like, and when he came to the end of the road he saw Sherpa Kitty underneath climbing down for dear life. Well, the ogre didn't like trusting himself to such a ladder, and he stood and waited, so Sherpa Kitty got another fast start.
But just then the harp cried out, "Master! Master!" and the ogre swung himself down onto the beanstalk, which shook with his weight. Down climbed Sherpa Kitty, and after him climbed the ogre.
By this time Sherpa Kitty had climbed down and climbed down and climbed down till he was very nearly dizzy, but also nearing the bottom. So she called out, “Jack! Jack! bring forth an ax, bring forth an ax.” And Jack came rushing out with the ax in his hand, but when he came to the beanstalk he stood stock still with fright, for there he saw the ogre with his legs just through the clouds.
But Jack took a deep breath and got a good hold of the ax and gave a chop at the beanstalk, which cut it half in two. The ogre felt the beanstalk shake and quiver, so he stopped to see what was the matter. Then Jack gave another chop with the ax, and the beanstalk was cut in two and began to topple over. Then the ogre very suddenly fell down and broke his crown, and the beanstalk came toppling after.
Then Sherpa Kitty shared with Jack and his sickly mother the golden harp, and what with showing that and selling the golden eggs, Jack and his sickly mother became very rich, and Jack became known far and wide as Jack the Giant killer. Jack hired a physician to care for his sickly mother and married a great princess, and they all lived happily ever after.
“Is that what really happened?” asked Yeshe the wise Yeti.
“As real as I am ready to admit,” admitted Sherpa Kitty.

Sherpa Kitty


Once and not so long ago, upon an ageless time there lived a lonely kitty near a frozen lake in a large valley nestled below the Himalayan Mountains. The little kitty was far too poor for Birkenstocks or warm lederhosen, nor did she even have a traditional Chuba-Robe to wear in the cold. She was often seen however, wearing a blue lambskin hoodie made of fur and silk thread, which came to her possession thanks to the lazy little girl who lived in a nearby village. Often neighboring animals would call her little Hoodie Cat but she would always exclaim "but I am Sherpa Kitty!" And so Sherpa Kitty is how everyone in the valley knew her.

This is the story of how Sherpa Kitty came upon her blue thread hoodie.

One day a lazy little girl who lived in a nearby village gave Sherpa Kitty a basket with some cakes and warm goats milk packed away inside and asked Sherpa Kitty to walk to the other side of the valley across the frozen lake to where Grandma Porter lay sick in her bed.

"Remember not to talk to strangers!" the little girl said.

On the way to Grandma Porter's cottage of stone and bamboo, Sherpa Kitty met a fierce Yeti.

"Is that you, Sherpa Kitty?" Asked the big bad looking Yeti.

"It is I, Sherpa Kitty," she replied "and who might you be Yeti?"

"I am the mighty Yeti Yeshe." He boldly replied "And where might you be going this frightfully cold day?"

"I am off to Grandma Porter's cottage far across the valley to the other side of the frozen lake to deliver this basket of goodies for the lazy little girl who warned me not to talk to strangers." said Sherpa Kitty.

"It is good we met then, Sherpa Kitty for now we are not strangers and I would be no gentleman if I did not offer to escort you on your long journey to the far side of the valley beyond the frozen lake." said the great Yeti Yeshe.

"Oh no, Mr. Yeshe I have promised the lazy little girl that I would not trust in strangers and must make hast around the lake if I am to make it to Grandma Porter's cottage before dark."

"I respect your wishes Sherpa Kitty although I worry about the wisdom of your choice." said the Yeti Yeshe. "But I will leave you to your journey and wish you well."

At that very moment the great Yeti turned away and blended into the snowy background as he dashed out of Sherpa Kitty's sight and far from Sherpa Kitty's thoughts.

"I must quickly be away." thought Sherpa Kitty for I have many hours of travel before me.

It was not long until she encountered Ounce, a snow leopard known throughout the valley to be of low regard and who smelled Grandma Porter’s basket from more than a mile away then tracked and stalked Sherpa Kitty for the longest time before presenting himself.

"Hello Sherpa Kitty, where are you going this fine frozen day?"

"I am going to Grandma Porter's cottage to deliver this basket of cakes and goat's milk for Grandma Porter feels not well this day." replied Sherpa Kitty.

"And why must you perform this thankless deed Sherpa Kitty?" asked the hungry snow leopard who was no leopard at all but a mean panther dressed all in white leopard fur with gentle tawny spots to blend into the countryside when he stalked his prey. "Why don't you just sit down and take a break, you look weary and hungry. Perhaps we could share what is in the basket?

"Oh no! Ounce, this is for Grandma Porter who lives across the valley beyond the frozen lake and I must hurry to reach her before the dark night falls."

"It is too bad you will not share your basket Sherpa Kitty, I could take it from you had I a mind too" thought Ounce ready to pounce, but at that very moment he detected a movement of shadow just so, in the snow bank behind and beyond Sherpa Kitty that brought to mind a juicy snow hare. A much better treat than stale cakes and goats milk for a hungry panther dressed as a snow leopard, so he bound off without so much as a goodbye to Sherpa Kitty in pursuit of possible prey.

Sherpa Kitty continued her trek across the white wilderness of the vast valley below the Himalayan peaks and hours passed while the sun slowly fell to earth ready to slide behind the tall mountains when suddenly, before her eyes emerged the site of Grandma Porter's stone and bamboo cottage.

Very excited to be concluding her journey and anxious to share her basket with sickly Grandma Porter, Sherpa Kitty rushed to the cottage, and knocked loudly on the door; for she knew Grandma Porter was deaf beyond her years and a heavy sleeper as well. If she were asleep in her sickbed, Sherpa Kitty knew not how she would raise grandma Porter's attention, but her fears were set aside when a low growl came from inside the house.

"Come in!" said the low gravelly voice from behind the door. "uh hummm, come in deary" came a higher strained voice welcoming Sherpa Kitty into the cottage.

Dashing in from the cold, Sherpa Kitty was happy to find Grandma Porter in bed with a roaring fire warming the gray stone walls of the cottage. Sherpa Kitty took a moment to appreciate the cozy hearth and shake off the snow from her fur in the doorway.

"Come here little Sherpa Kitty, and bring me that basket." Said the strained high pitch voice from Grandma Porter's bed. "Come sit beside me if you will and tell me of the goodies you brought me."

"How do you know who I am?" asked Sherpa Kitty.

"Everyone in the valley has heard of Sherpa Kitty!" growled the voice from the bed. "Now bring me my basket!"

The creature in the bed looked odd to Sherpa Kitty and she declared "My what white fur you have grandma!"

"All the better to keep warm my pretties" came the answer.

"And my, what big eyes you have grandma!" said Sherpa Kitty.

"All the better to see one so itty bitties." was the reply.

"And oh, my! What big teeth you have!" exclaimed Sherpa Kitty.

"All the better to eats the little kitties!" roared Ounce as he pounced from the bed.

It was once and not so long ago, upon an ageless time that there lived a lonely kitty near a frozen lake in a large valley nestled below the Himalayan mountains.

The young cat, known far and wide as Sherpa Kitty was talking to the lazy little girl who lived in a near bye village.

"And what happened next?" begged the lazy little girl.

"There is much to tell and I am weary and cold." said Sherpa Kitty.

"Oh my, Sherpa Kitty, please take this blue hoodie to cover your cold ears." Offered the lazy little girl. "You may keep it, I have a red one at home that matches my cape any ways."

"Thank you," replied Sherpa Kitty, "I will wear it always."

"Now tell me please! What happened after Ounce pounced on you?"

Now old Ounce was quite angry when he discovered there was no snow hare to be found, and after carefully searching the area, Sherpa Kitty was long gone as well. That is when the sinister mind of Ounce created a plan to steal Grandma Porter's basket from Sherpa Kitty.

Ounce knew of a shortcut to Grandma Porter's cottage and dashed away across the frozen lake dodging and leaping over dangerous thin ice patches and reached Grandma Porter's cottage just moments before Sherpa Kitty. He snuck up on Grandma Porter as she slept and whisked her away into a broom closet, as there was no time to do anything else when Sherpa Kitty knocked loudly on the front door. Ounce quickly crawled under the covers of Grandma Porter's bed, pulling them up tightly to his chin.

"Come in!" Ounce called out in a low gravelly voice from beneath the covers. "uh hummm, come in deary" he said with a higher strained voice after clearing his throat.

Sherpa Kitty burst through the door so fast it startled Ounce making him believe that she already knew what was amiss, but then as Sherpa Kitty shook the snow off of her fur, he realized she was merely eager to get in out of the cold.

"Come here little Sherpa Kitty, and bring me that basket." Ounce spoke with a strained high pitch voice from Grandma Porter's bed. "Come sit beside me if you will and tell me of the goodies you brought me."

"How do you know who I am?" asked a wary Sherpa Kitty.

"Everyone in the valley has heard of Sherpa Kitty!" Ounce said after thinking hard and fast. "Now bring me my basket!"

Sherpa Kitty looked puzzled and a little frightened and declared "My what white fur you have grandma!"

"All the better to keep warm my pretties" Ounce replied.

"And my, what big eyes you have grandma!" said Sherpa Kitty.

"All the better to see one so itty bitties." Ounce growled.

"And oh, my! What big teeth you have!" exclaimed Sherpa Kitty.

"All the better to eats the little kitties!" roared Ounce as he pounced from the bed.

Just at that moment the door burst open and the great white Yeti named Yeshe grabbed Ounce by the gruff of his neck, dragging the fiercely indignant snow leopard outside and then flung Ounce far over the lake bed where the sound of ice cracking and water splashing could be heard upon his descent.

Grandma Porter then came stumbling out of the closet so Yeshe and Sherpa Kitty put her back to bed and they all had cakes and goats milk and laughed at poor Ounce soaked to the bone and learning how to swim at his age.

Upon reflecting on the question posed by the lazy little girl from the nearby village, Sherpa Kitty replied; "Let's just say a wise friend knew when to not be a stranger."

The End

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


There is a reason why Sam Gambol became an explorer scout, preferring the quiet solitude of uncharted space to the dread responsibility involved in his previous line of work. Let’s just say that for Sam, a day at the beach was no walk in the park.

Sam Gambol sat quietly in the dim lit compartment, carefully studying the subspace surveillance stream being relayed to him. "Isolate 350/150," he ordered the computer.

"Activate MDO search."

And there it was on the floatie-screen in front of him, in all its blood and gore. He took his time, letting each of the pictures etch itself into his mind. The satellite probe had just circled Prometheus II once, but already he knew he had the critical data that would legalize his actions.

"Save targeted files and upload to Earth Data Central. Confirm receipt." They'll need to have those photos to justify what I'm about to do.

"Files received," the computer whispered in his mind.

"Activate the troops. We're going in."

Calling those he commanded "troops" was using the term loosely. They were titan terminator drones designed for accumulative slaughter as they circled a planet. There were only five biologicals under his command in the whole of the fleet, and they were merely window dressing.

"You need a human on board so they'll have someone to blame if the machines screw up," was what his instructor had jokingly said at the academy. But the teacher hadn't smiled and the students hadn't laughed, too much truth in the statement.

There wouldn't be any screw-ups this time. With documented photos of the scattered dissected colonists haunting the depths of his mind, he knew anyone seeing what he'd sent back would be willing to justify any actions he took, even a drone extinction strike.
And that was just what he'd intended to give the nether-ghouls on the planet his fleet was headed for.

"Three minutes to alignment," the computer warned.

"Command order: We'll go in with blaze," he grimly told his computer which relayed his message to the fifty networked hyper ships around him. "DES. Terminal mode."

"Confirm order please: Command is DES, terminal mode."

"Drone Execution Strike, terminal mode confirmed."

There was a rattle through the deck below as the ship automatically maneuvered for the transfer to sub-light speed. Then the high-pitched hum of Drone bays coming online.

"Full monitor," Sam ordered. Instantly the dark room he sat in was surrounded by light, as if he floated in space encircled by the sleek ships around him. There was a rainbow of light and then they were through the hyperspace barrier. Below his feet was the blue and green globe, lush with life. "Engage program."

For six seconds the drones fired, wide beam masers flashing from the hulls glowed a dull red, the power beams slashing like crimson spotlights through the atmosphere of the planet. The nether-Ghouls most likely never had time to react since their communications and weapons systems were knocked out during the first milliseconds of the battle, the computerized systems on the ships circling them working from the satellite data stream that constantly relayed updated information throughout the networked fleet.

After that, drones methodically hunted down and killed each of the skeletal creatures on the surface below.

Sam knew what was happening but all that registered with his slow nervous system was one massive flash of light; the human mind was unable to following the numbing speed of the attack on the planet below. It seemed that they had only just come out of hyperspace. Yet the battle was over, the enemies below, slaughtered.

"Mission completed," his computer whispered.

Sam closed his eyes. "Total enemy kills?"

"One million, forty-three thousand, two hundred fifty-six."
Sam remained silent a moment. "Time for the most important part," he said. "Time to wake the actors."

Stanley waded ashore, wondering how it was that the complex system of microchips that were capable of the pinpoint accuracy needed to direct a fleet of drones to wipe out more than a million sentient creatures in just over six seconds could manage to miss the beach, putting the crew into nearly three feet of slimy warm ocean water.

"This is great," the cameraman beside him yelled over the noise of the surf. "We couldn't have planned it better. The actors can wade ashore just like in the old newsreels -- they'll love this back home. Let me set up the camera on the beach and I'll be ready for the 'troops'."

"No big hurry," Sam said, staring at the charred jelly coated skeleton that floated in the waves thirty meters from him. For a moment he felt pity, and then he remembered the hostages that had been mutilated, their arms and legs missing, their faces twisted into gruesome death masks.

"Believe in it," he told himself, closing his eyes. "It happened. They did it. You were justified in ordering the attack."

But perhaps the Nether-Ghouls hadn't known what they were doing. Or perhaps they'd done it to send a message to future trespassers. It didn't make any difference to Sam. Anything or anyone that treated people like that deserved to die.

Wait, had it really happened? Weren’t the settlers still in transit? He felt confused, old doubts resurfacing. He shook his head. It was about time for him to return to the EDC for update programming indoctrination --

"I'm ready," the cameraman called, breaking into Sam's thoughts.

"Computer," Sam ordered. "Send out the landing party."

The large cargo door at the side of the Lander hissed opened and three men in battle gear splashed ashore, surrounded by battle bots and tracked vehicles. As they advanced, the fake guns they held discharged smoke and empty cartridges while the machines around them belched fire. Within minutes the men and mechanicals were ashore, racing past the camera.

"That's it," the cameraman yelled.

The machines and men came to a halt. The mechanicals returned to the cargo bay and stowed themselves, the actors huddled around the camera to check the replay of the scene.

"Are we ready to go?" Sam asked.

The cameraman studied the display on his equipment a moment and then spoke. "It's a wrap. All the stuff we need to create a computerized mass invasion of the beach."

"Right," Sam said. He'd seen it all before. The computers took the images, created variations of the actors and machines that had been filmed, and then reassembled them into an entire army.
When the people back home saw the scene, they'd watch thousands of troops jump into the surf from a hundred ships. Enemy power beams would cut some of the troops down and some would make it to shore to engage the enemy. Images from the surveillance satellites would be added, creating in-orbit pictures of the enemy being destroyed by the landing party.

Eventually, after virtual days of heavy fighting in the shadow war created by the computer matrixes, the invading humans would defeat the skelly foes. Then, according to the script, the nether-Ghoul colonies In the face of defeat would commit mass suicide, leaving the planet open to another wave of Earth settlers.

When protesters back on Earth raised any objections, and they always did, the images of the slaughtered colonists would be released. Those who managed to keep their last meal down would be talking about how the nether-Ghouls deserved everything they got after that, and besides they turned on themselves.

"Let's load up," Sam told the cameraman and his actors that huddled around the screen, watching the replay of their landing. He turned and wadded back toward the Lander.

"Don't you want to look around?" one of the new actors asked. "This is the most beautiful piece of real estate I've ever seen."

Sam said nothing.

"Don't be silly," the cameraman said. "We've got three more planets to hit before the end of the week."

Sam wondered how many they'd kill by the end of their tour. Again he felt the twinge of conscience and nearly stumbled in the surf. It was time to take action. "Computer," he said softly.

"Yes, commander?"

"Prepare the next set of images of slaughtered colonists. And alert EDC that my programming seems to be failing. I'm having trouble believing we're justified in what we're doing."

"I have already alerted them. I suspected you were having problems. Can you continue the mission."

"No problem," he answered grimly. To a good commander, what were a few million more deaths?

Especially when they already had the data ready to justify his actions.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

GRUMPY BEAR- The rest of the story

Here we go! - Day 26 of 28

Well I was all set! I fueled to the max, rented another slip for the day, planned to fix a nice meal, take a nap, and set course about midnight. I've been going over my books, studying different scenarios on the Chart plotter, looks like once I can get around the bend, life is going to be very good. I still don't know what to anticipate, I've been told to expect 40 miles of hard road. So I am ready to face it in whatever form it takes. I guess it depends on the time between breaks in the swells, and the wind speed and direction. Some have said the winds were at 50 knots last week, and the waves were at 15 ft. swells with 6-second breaks. Not real good for a little boat. I am hoping for no more than 6 to 8 ft swells with a 10 to 12 second break, and southwest winds at 15 miles an hour. I am sure I can handle that, plus it certainly doesn't look like I will be alone out there.
Who out there is surprised that things didn’t go as planned?

Fear and Loathing in Santa Barbara - Day 27 of 29

Well I am in Morro Bay getting fuel, and all is well again. If I could have found the plug to this boat, I think I would have pulled it.I didn't sleep much last night, the tension and fear factor just kept growing, I just knew that as I departed the safety of Santa Barbara's Cove, there would be a huge Jolly Rodger Flag and a sign that said:"Beyond This Point there be Dragons!" Yaargh!So I lunged out of my berth at about 10 pm. I fixed a quick meal, stowed my gear, secured the boat, disconnected the electricity, and decided to debark an hour early. The suspense was just killing me. So I charged the port ignition, set her to idle, turned on the blowers (was supposed to do that first, oops) charged the starboard engine and everything went dark.I looked about me in the eerie darkness. There were a few boats with cabin lights glowing, but nothing around the docks, the immediate shoreline or anything on my boat. I could hear my port engine, but I couldn't tell if my starboard engine kicked in or not, so I turned off my port engine, and silence.Darkness and silence... a creepy, tingle seemed to vibrate between my spine and my shirt, maybe I needed a shower, but I think it was tiny hair follicles straining to stand up trying to get my attention, screaming that something was terribly not right. I looked at my shadowy silent boat, and put my fingers to the starboard ignition. I gently pressed against the key and then abruptly and abrasively turned the switch on.Nothing. No sputtering engine, no sudden illuminata, no equilibrium within the forces of nature. Just silence, and dark obscurity, vague gloom and uncertainty followed by an unexpected flash of obscenities, uncoordinated motion, and evil activity the likes I am unable to describe. To this day I don't know where it came from or where it finally settled, it may still be traversing the universe as I write this, but I know it couldn't have come from me, not mellow mild mannered me.After playing with a 100-hour flashlight, which gets its reputation by flickering off intermittently 100 times an hour, I pulled the engine and battery boards up, then stared fruitlessly into an innocent looking compartment; clean, orderly, and compulsively neat. I reached the conclusion that I had no clue as to what I was looking for and that this so far unknown but likely electrical ailment was probably terminal and would require the costly services of a professional.So I went to the Harbor Master’s office, picking my way through the ropes and pylons, barking dogs, and scurrying wharf rats, for as you may recall the complete area was devoid of light, and all the while I couldn't shirk the feeling that somehow I was responsible for sucking the light out of the entire vicinity. As I reached the humble abode of the harbor master's office, I informed the grizzly bear of a duty officer that I would be remaining the rest of the evening and into the morning and that I was experiencing electrical difficulties as apparently so was he.

He then informed me that I would of course have to be moved from my present slip into another more appropriate slip, and so I reminded him of the power outage and my serious lack of said power on the boat, and he suggested that if I couldn't handle the move, he would gladly call for a tug to tow me for a nominal fee. I then realized the simplicity of moving a 30 foot boat around the pylons, docks, rocks, and embankments in the middle of the night, with only one engine drive, and absolutely no navigation lights, and for that matter, nothing but dark shadows contrasted against more dark shadows to steer by. I told the officer with the twenty seven acre body that I would gladly move my boat and get right to it, praying silently to myself the entire way back to my day slip for a small miracle.As I was gleefully securing the lines to my newly homesteaded slip, lost in the pride of a job well done and humbled by the fact that my boat was broke and I didn't know how to fix it, a figure loomed in from the shadows and said "strange night, ain’t it?"I nearly shed my skin like a molting snake; this old man caught me so unaware. After climbing down from the non-existent mizzenmast that I surely would have scaled had I owned one, I told him he didn't know the half of it as I explained my misfortune to him. He merely nodded and said that he came down to check on his shop after the power went out, and low and behold it was still there (the shop, that is what passes for harbor humor). He said that he owned the marine store, and that he was a qualified marine mechanic and would be pleased as a pickle (whatever that means) to take a look at my boat, for a nominal fee.Well I agreed, and he drifted back and forth between my boat and his shop, and finally isolated the problem as a loose ground wire. Five seconds and $390.00 later I was in complete operational mode!At 0730 hours I set my course for Point Conception. Alone.

Where have all the bay seals gone... - Day 28 of 30

Gone to no good everyone, when will they ever learn?Well the seals are gone. Most everyone I spoke with told me of the problems I would encounter with the Monterey seals, if and when I got that far. There’s no sleep to be had when thousands of barking pinapeds invade the coastal inlets. There will be seals on the rocks; seals on the docks, most captains that moored in Monterey adorned their boats with seal nets to keep the bloody nuisances away. Tourists come for miles around to see and pet and feed the troublesome noisy seals. And then grumble because they can't get their boat down the launch ramp, because it's filled with barking seals.They are not there now, I heard two separate barks throughout the night, and that was it. I asked the fishermen who seemed to have reclaimed their levy, "where did the seals go?" “Don't know” was the unanimous response. "Where are all the seals?" I asked the shop proprietors next to the marina, “Don't know” was the immediate response. I suspect collusion and conspiracy, but I don't know where to point the finger, apparently everyone has benefited from the disappearance of the barking seals.It's too late to get fuel tonight, so I'll pick some up in the morning, I am tied up to the fuel dock right behind the Normanda, a 62 foot monstrosity that I have been following since Morrow bay. I just finished speaking with the skipper of that boat; he is taking her up to the San Juan Islands for the owners. He was complaining about his big ole diesel getting only five miles to the gallon, I thought that that was pretty good compared to the 1.25 miles to the gallon I seem to be getting. He left Marina Del Rey this morning, and says he's been hitting 25 knots most of the way. He was impressed I was only two hours behind him, and I told him that was only because I got boarded by the coast guard coming out of Morro Bay. That set me back about a half hour.I made really good time myself (about 21 knots) actually once I got around Point Conception. The Point wasn't too bad, kind of like a roller coaster ride, only three and a half hours long. You get turned one way, then another, then up, then down, then repeat, then rinse...then all of a sudden, once you become accustomed to the motion, it levels out, the fog lifts, the sun is shining, the birds are sitting on the water, the dolphins are playing, seals are floating on their backs, otters are scampering about, and you come over a rising swell, and every living thing is gone. I looked about, but all I could see for miles around was these little floating plastic bubble pack bubbles. I later learned they were little jelly fishies, an entire flotilla of jellyfish. They made the gentle rolling swells look like vast green hills empty except for little tiny cacti growing up from them.After I cleared the jellyfish world, the sea opened back up to birds, fish, dolphins, seals, otters, gray whales, a veritable playground of creatures in abundance. I certainly didn't feel lonely with so many onlookers barking, snorting, chittering, and splashing, in fact I felt pretty good about finally being underway again and moving farther from the rougher seas.

I left my heart.... - Day 29 of 30

I now know how hearts are left in San Francisco, they are jogged and jolted and shaken loose going under the Golden Gate Bridge...I pulled out of Monterey this morning 0830 hours saw more freighters and tankers out on the horizon, but none as I passed through the shipping lanes, and all out bound. I had a southerly wind pushing me 21.5 knots all the way. I saw pilot whales outside of Frisco Bay, and a group and a bunch of slow moving grays heading north. Dolphins and seals were everywhere. I actually saw sailboats under their own power for the first time today, and more traffic than the past two weeks combined.Once I began my approach to the bay entrance, I discovered I had an inbound tide, and the wind still strong behind me. I was hitting 26 to 26 knots coming up to the entrance. I finally backed off on the throttle a bit, only to find that made things worse, so I throttled up and went with the flow.Once past the first rocks, the seas settled down considerably, and I was just cruisin' up to the Golden Gate Bridge! I noticed around me, I was receiving an official escort by three playful dolphins. It was magnificent. The skies had surprisingly cleared, as there had been some sea mist and hints of fog earlier in the trip, enough to remind me of the nightmare that could await me without radar and all.But there I was San Francisco unfurling with all her sun-drenched glory. Calm seas clear weather and a dolphin escort led me towards hundreds of colorful sails floating across the bay just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge. I made it! It was magical. It was premature, but a sense of accomplishment was surging through me. I stood and stretched, and took it all in, breathing deeply and sighing relief from worry of the unknown. The journey is almost complete, and I am still afloat.I should have been paying attention to the dolphins, who peeled away from the boat, I should have noticed the sail boats that kept their respective distance, if I had only focused on the waters ahead instead of 'taking it all in' I might have been prepared for the jolt, I might have at least sat down, but all of a sudden the water was boiling around me. I was directly under the Golden Gate Bridge, and it was like I was in a washing machine. My little boat was vibrating one way, then the other, I finally realized that over correcting was just making matters worse, so I set me rudders forward and just braced myself. By the time I figured out I was in trouble, I was out of it just as quickly as I got into it.Welcome to San Francisco!

Sacramento or bust - Day 30 of 30

Left for Benicia from the Emeryville docks at 1400 hrs yesterday, set a clear course northeast cruising at 21 knots. Made it to Benicia by 245 pm (oops 1445 hours). I had planned on lying over at the Benicia Marina, but I didn't expect to reach my destination so soon.After respectfully slowing near Benicia, I decided to continue on with my final leg of the journey, only to be rewarded with a complete loss of signal from my GPS Chart plotter two miles up the inlet. Now, for the first time, the navigation was getting tricky. I still had a GPS map of the area, including the Sacramento River all the way to Sacramento complete with Navigation Buoys, so I felt somewhat competent to continue on.As I mentally checked off each buoy marker as I proceeded, I gained more confidence in the map, despite the inability to match my surroundings with the terrain displayed on my chart plotter. Without my little boat icon, bearing, course and speed info, I felt slightly near sighted, and each time I passed a buoy marker, I inevitably had to scan ahead or behind where I tried to imagine my location on the GPS map. I passed towns, and communities, landmarks and bridges that I could not identify with my map, and it was because I was fidgeting with the GPS monitor and trying to second guess my location I think, that I missed the buoy marker that led to the entrance to the Sacramento River. The last point of reference I was even remotely sure of was a set of docks across from a Naval, or Coast Guard Moth Ball fleet, and that was several miles behind me I am fairly certain despite the fact that I could no longer monitor my speed or course direction. I did start paying closer attention to my compass, but the river kept winding this way and that way that even the compass direction was deceptive.I fell in behind two good sized river boats that I imagined with false logic were heading up the Sacramento River, but eventually I became more and more concerned that I had veered off course onto a secondary Sacramento tributary leading me towards Stockton. I finally dropped back, scanning the area, and decided to approach an anchored boat and ask directions. The gentlemen on the boat spoke broken english, and I had a little difficulty making them understand me, but finally one of the men said "si, Sacramento River behind you, but that slough over there will take you to it."I thanked the crew and set my course slowly at first, but as I began to realize from my depth finder, the channel was fourteen to twenty five feet through the center, I brought my speed up to 18 knots with confidence. I was headed north, my depth finder was consistently reading in the twenty foot area, and up ahead I could see boats and a wide opening at the mouth of the slough. I was back on track, and it was still early in the afternoon, things were looking up.I could see sailboats in the distance, across this wide opening, and other powerboats anchored and or traveling on the opposite side of the sailboats. Traffic was a good sign. I could smell fresh water, and I was beginning to look forward to dinner in old town Sacramento.That's when I looked down at all the kelp, or seaweed, or just plain weeds. I glanced at my depth finder, and it read 4 feet! A lot of things sunk in at that very moment. The powerboats were 8-foot bass masters and the sail boats, were actually sail boards with colorful kites attached and floating lazily in the sky. I was the not so gentle giant, a bull in a china closet, and quite obviously not in the Sacramento River.I have a 3' 10" draft on my boat, and I had in no uncertain terms dispatched myself across dicey waters. I knew that I needed to lower my Bow and raise my trim to minimize my draft, and so I instantly went into heroic action. I grabbed a firm grip on both throttles, and slammed them back into neutral as I squealed at the top of my lungs like a little girl. Problem solved. I screeched to a sudden stop, my bow came down, and I raised my trim, but not before my stern shoved itself into the water with teeth loosening force. I just sat there for a moment, taking in the results of my actions, mentally inventorying my bicuspids and I swear, every one else on that body of water came to a complete stop when I did. I could feel calculating eyes upon me. My secret was finally out, the judgment was in, I am an idiot with twin mercs strapped to my butt with no clue as to what I am doing and no common sense. How could I possibly have survived as long as I did? I am at the bottom of the food chain, a mental midget; a disgrace to Davy Jones (of locker fame, and probably the Monkey Jones as well).As the world began to revolve again and fishermen went back to drinking, the sailboards went back to sailing, auto traffic on the distant bridge began to move again, I eased my boat into motion, slightly shaken stll. I experiencing difficulty at matching both engines, my trim was to high, and props kept clearing the water, and I was frantically searching for an "exit". Traveling at about one knot I managed to cover nearly every segment of that marshy hell, avoiding the populated regions of water out of embarrassment, and busying myself with the difficult uncooperative motors, playing with the trim with the panicky realization that not only have I made a monumental fool of myself, but judging from the temperature gauges, my starboard engine was heating up, the trim response from both engines was negligible, the sun was dipping low in the sky, and I was lost.There seemed nothing left to do but approach one of the witnesses to my blunder and confirm my ineptness by declaring that I am lost and beg for guidance, maybe a tow. The fishing boats seemed to have retreated into the reeds, and appeared to be deliberately inaccessible and averted their eyes when I gazed in their direction, so I limped over to the sail board region cautiously anticipating a restriction sign of some sort to fend me away, watching my depth finder religiously as I slowly fought my way across the marsh.First I found five feet, then six feet for the longest time. Then eight feet, then twelve, fourteen, twenty, and finally twenty-four feet when I reached the sailboards. Still I could not get my trim down any further, and if I tried to raise the rpm's my starboard engine started to heat up. I was crippled, but not dead in the water, I just needed to reach the sailboards. What I eventually discovered as I peered across to the other side of the sailboards was the waterway known as the Sacramento River. A couple of mid sized power boats sped through the sailboards with what I determined to be a reckless amount of speed with my new found maritime respect and awareness, but I also concluded that it must be permissible to pass through the sailboard field and proceed along my way.As I slowly cut through the colorful sails, moving much more slowly than the surfers themselves, it became painfully obvious that they were barely aware of my presence, they just slid back and forth across the mouth of the river as if in some kind of a mellow daze, or completely self absorbed with little interest in my passing.I now had a clear course ahead of me, and I meticulously stood buoy watch as I slowly made my way upstream. I found and identified my 1st buoy, and established my location; I played with the trim, and the rpm's until I found a happy medium of about 10 knots. At 1200 rpm, I was dragging a wake like a speedboat, but I could not get my bow up, or my trim down completely. I broke my boat. I accepted that now, but at least she was still under her own power. I kicked back, and pretended I was on the Disney Safari Boat ride and started looking at the shore line for hippos, and other wild animals, I imagined I was an Indian scout making good time in a canoe, and turned up the radio and listened to the distress calls of my fellow lame sailors who had drifted onto the rocks, or lost their engine and needed a tow, or were in dire need of assistance from the coast guard, but not really certain what kind assistance they actually needed. But not me, definitely not me, I was still under my own albeit crippled power. Channel 16 can be kind of entertaining on a late weekend afternoon.I grew eventually tired of the paddlewheel pace I was making up river as the sun began to set, I was also weary and sincerely apologetic numerous times to the people who madly waved their hands at me and yelled "trim down!" at the top of their lungs repeatedly from one 'no wake' zone to the next, so I decided to weigh anchor for the night, and found myself a nice quiet section of river and settled in for the evening. Tomorrow is another day, and Sacramento can't be far. It just now occurs to me;
Sacramento or bust?
Well I didn't make Sacramento. I sure wish I hadn't busted my boat.