The last time I wrote, the Vandercrew had just cleared Miami on the way to Key West. Today Jackson and I are in the office, just generally bouncing off the walls and getting some work done that I just can't put off any longer. I'm finally getting the house addition drawn for 'good old what's his name' (Joe Butler), and Jackson is doing Sam DeOto's job for me. None of this is real fun and on top of it all, I discovered I've got a nasty cold hiding under last week's hangover. In between fits (yes that's the right word, fits) of inspiration, I'll try to cover more of Key West.
We stopped in Marathon for lunch and fuel and then moved to the Ocean side for what proved to be the only rough seas encountered during the entire trip. At least that's what the others tell me. I was so wrecked on the way back that I wouldn't have recognized a full gale if I was married to one.
We docked at the Galleon Time-share resort about 4:30 PM, secured the Manta and checked in. Krash jr. tied the bow-line and used the opportunity to rekindle his Navy days knot-tying abilities. He went a little overboard in his enthusiasm though ... The U.S.S. Battleship New Jersey would not have been able to break loose from that dock. It would take Derek the good part of thirty minutes and mass quanities of profanity to cast off that line. Bobby Silvia noticed a couple of little black kids on the dock.
'Hey! Who wants to make a five-spot?'
'No need to fight, boys, There's plenty for all.' (Bobby waves the ragged five in the air.'
'What do we have to do?' (the biggest one)
'Just carry our things upstairs.'
With the exception of Krash jr. and myself, there is enough baggage, coolers and loot to fill a trailways cruiser. Bobby begins to pile suitcases and garment bags on the smallest of the three. He stops at about a hundred pounds (that's a reasonable amount for a forty pound kid, don't you think?). All we can see is his little legs from the knees down. The rest of us move on to the check-in counter and leave Bob to deal with 'his hoadies'. For an instant in time, Bobby is back in his beloved Marine Corps. Later we hear him marching them down the corridor. It comes time for the payoff.
'Well guys, all ya hafta do is clean up the boat, and the five is yours.'
'We'll slit your lilly white throat, you honky bastard!'
'Just kiddin' boys, here's the five. Make sure everyone gets an equal share. Come back tomorrow an' ya can carry the coolers around with us.'
'We got school.'
'Too bad. Take it easy.'
We settled into the time-share units and Bobby and B.C. flipped a coin to see which couple would get the master suite (the one with a balcony, T.V. and Jacuzzi tub). Bobby lost and he could be heard grumbling about it from time to time all weekend. Craig and I settled into the smaller bedroom of the other unit with Derek and Isabelle in the master suite. After about an hour we all regrouped on the balcony to consider the situation at hand. The Galleon is at the southern tip of Key West, and from the third floor, we had a great view of the marina where the action would be taking place. Bobby Silvia thought it would be a nice side trip to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson on Friday, if the weather was nice. Several of us agreed, except for Craig who wasn't listening. It was natural, Craig being an ex-sailor, to tune out whatever Bobby was saying, Bobby being an ex-marine. Krash jr. was stationed in Key West for nine months in 1971, and from time to time his knowlege of the place was put to use ...
'Craig, which way and distance are the Tortugas from here?' (Bobby).
Krash jr. surveys the horizon, thinks for a minute, and points towards the center of Key West.
'As I recall, it was about three blocks in that direction when I was here.'
'What the FUCK'?!?' (bobby displays confusion).
(Craig regards Bobby quizzically) "You're talking about the bar, aren't you?'
After a few more hours of downing Budweisers and rampaging around the new quarters doing the kind of things you never do at home, you know, playing loud rock and roll music, runing the air conditioner full blast with all the doors and windows open, yelling comical but often foul comments at passerbys, someone decided it was time to eat. Judy Silvia wasn't feeling well, so Bobby ordered a pizza for them, and the rest of us got ready to go out.
Fay Clark knew of a place she wanted to try, and we set out on foot, high-stepping, dancin' and laughin' (We're off to see the wizard .... etc.). Walking through Key West at night, especially a festival weekend, is a great experience, sorta like a toned-down, laid-back Mardi Gras without the costumes. We passed Sloppy Joe's and I smiled slyly to myself. I would not make the same mistake I did last year and pay for a beer with a Franklin. I learn from my mistakes. I was careful this time to bring all my money in fifties! After walking for a hour we weren't dancin' and prancin' anymore. The troops began to get restless, but Fay kept us whipped into line and moving, and we eventially stumbled into the place. Like every restaurant in Key West we had to wait a long time. The bar was a funky place, reminding one of a run-down, Miami beach hotel with a twist: It was decorated in a pseudo-south seas island motif with a big mural that looked as if it had been painted by a depression era WPA artist. I naturally began to order tropical rum drinks from the 'grandmother' type woman running the bar. After another forty-five minutes, we are finally seated, but everyone is beginning to grumble over the poor service. The place is not crowded, but there are only two very swishy boys waiting on tables. It is now thirty more minutes down the road, and neither "david" or the other faggot has been over to our table yet. Everyone is pissed at this point, even Fay. I can see that it's time for ACTION. I spy 'David' scurrying by on the far side of the room.
'Hey! ASSHOLE!!' (the best of the King's English I can muster at this point).
'David' does not blink an eye or turn from his task, but at least half of the patrons in the room do. I point at 'David' to explain which asshole I mean, but before I can speak, I begin to receive franic hand signals from Bill. I can't tell if B.C. is signing for a Football Time Out, or if he is making a cross with his fingers to ward off any vampires which may be hanging around. Several of the others at our table begin to tell me to cool it at the same time. I am somewhat confused by this reaction. I was merely attempting to make the restaurant management aware of our presence. It is uncertain now whether we will be served at all. I get up to leave. 'David" appears at my elbow as if by magic. The others decide to stay, and I sit back down. It turned out to be a good repast (it would be my last solid meal until Sunday), but I would not be asked to join the civilized folk at mealtime again for a couple of days. We took a cab back to the Galleon and split-up. Krash jr. and I headed for Sloppy Joes's. We got a table, listened to the band and guzzled beer til closing time. We zigzagged back to the Galleon and passed out.
Craig and I got up late, drank Budweiser all day and watched MTV until Bobby Brant and 'Old what's his name' showed up on Friday night about eight PM. After Bobby and Joe got settled in, we planned the evening. Dana and the other Bob showed up about this time too. Krash jr. and I would go on ahead to Sloppy Joe's while Bobby Brant and Joe would replenish the beer supply. They would meet us later, as would Dana and Bob. As Craig and I strolled to the bar, I noticed that my legs weren't doing exactly what I was telling them to, and I knew at this point that I was in trouble again. Never mind, I thought. Plenty of time to deal with motor nerve problems later. We were lucky to find a table again, and the band sounded even better than the night before. I barely remember the others' arrival, but it seemed to me a good time was had by all..... much time passes .... I am being led gently, but firmly to the door by a bear of a man. a very small spark of self-survival instinct tells me to go quietly. Krash jr., Joe, Bobby, Dana and Bob are nowhere to be seen. Somehow, I find myself back at the Galleon. I open the door to my room ... HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, THERE'S A MAN AND WOMAN IN THERE! ... I close the door quickly. I don't even know if they had clothes on. DON'T PANIC, BUT GET OUT OF HERE! Back out into the Galleon corridor. WHERE THE FUCK IS MY ROOM? ... FORGET THE ROOM, I THINK I KNOW WHERE THE BOAT IS. I find the manta in the marina and manage to board her. Into the cabin and shut the hatch. I gratefully collapse on the bunk.
Daylight seeps into the cabin, and the manta occasionally rocks gently. I groan a lot and drift in and out of the ozone. A couple of times someone walks across the deck above me, but I don't give a rat's ass. As far as I'm concerned, I'm safe for the moment. I can't remember what it was like when I was that young, but this cabin seems wornblike, and I ain't moving yet. I need sanctuary. Every once in a while I wonder what all the commotion is about outside, but I don't care enough to get up to see. At least that Goddamn parrot, Skipper, isn't in here with me. These thoughts come to an abrupt end when the hatch swings open, and the brutal morning light pours in along with the equally brutal visage of a grining Bob Silvia.
'Fuckin' non-hacker!' he acuses.
Before I can respond to this unwarranted attack on my reputation, Bobby disapears again. I crawl up on deck and look around in befuddled amazement. I am literally in the pits. I am surrounded by racing boats and crews, changing and tuning engines. Hundreds of people are walking and running up and down the slips. The noise is deafening, even in my already buzzing head. I stare up at the Galleon. Krash jr. is on the Balcony. He spots me, and yells something over his shoulder. Several of the others come out on the balcony to witness this miracle of my survival.
Craig makes his way to the manta several minutes later, and he begins to fill me in as we thread through the crowd.
'We were worried about you. Joe and Bobby called the police station this morning.'
'What did you tell them? There's a drunk Floridian lost in Key West.?'
'Well, you know you were kicked out of Sloppy Joe's at least three times last night.'
'You mindfuckin' with me, Craig? I was thrown out once.'
"No. You kept going back in the other side. Joe and Bobby were still with you, but they lost you in the streetpeople somewhere along the line.'
'SWEET JESUS CHRIST! Where were you when this was goin' down?'
"I got nostalgic and decided to check out the old Navy base, but I got lost and ended up in a bad part of town. By the time I made my way back to Sloppy's, you were M.I.A.'
'FUCK! Here we go again.'
'Cheer up. It's Race Day.'
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Last updated: 8/3/96