The Boat: part 1

This story is the last of my Isla Vista, 1970 series.  It’s somewhat of an adventure tale, so I’m not going to give many comments, but will publish it serially over the next week or so.  Enjoy.

I didn’t know all of Henri’s friends.  He was pretty high energy and sociable and people liked to be with him when he was on, so he had access to resources that I was unaware of.  I wasn’t surprised when he told me he had bought a thirty-foot abandon fishing boat for fifty dollars.  But I was surprised and impressed when he got it moved to a vacant lot in Isla Vista, with some kind of frame supporting it.

By this time it was June.  School was out and all of the young composers I was paid to hang out with had left town.  Barbara was spending her days at the Music Academy of the West and I was talking with Bob about writing an opera on Abelard and Eloise.  But talk is pretty much all I could get out of Bob.  He was a very good poet, and had the gift of gab, but opera was not in his comfort zone.  So I spent my time at the boat.  Henri’s plan was to convert it into a sailboat and head to Mexico.  The boat drew a crew of desperados.  Henri and Connie just wanted to get out of the Isla Vista scene.  Then there were the brothers, Pat and Eric.  Pat wanted to kick his drug habit at sea.  Eric talked of the need to escape.  I don’t think whatever he needed to escape from had happened yet, and to me the likelihood that this rotten hull on a vacant lot in Isla Vista would be the ideal vehicle for a timely escape; well, it didn’t seem very well thought out.  But it provided motivation for him to put some energy into the project.

I was, by default, the ship’s carpenter.  The first task was to repair the rotten boards on the hull.  Every morning when I arrived, there would be materials ready; boards, caulk, paint, and I got to work.  My pride was the cabin.  I extended the deck, made a hatch with stairs down to a small kitchen area (galley) with a counter on the left and a table with benches on the right.  In the front were four bunks, two on either side.  Eric made the anchor.  He was a sculptor, so had access to welding equipment.  He was somewhat like Roland in that he thought big, but he was a little more impulsive.  His masters thesis was going to be blowing up the Campanili on Campus.  I must say that he had a lot of support for this.  The Campanili was a tall, narrow square tower full of bells, the tallest building on campus.  The man who played the Campanili practiced all the time, and played what sounded like transcriptions of Paganini Violin Etudes, completely inappropriate for the instrument, and an annoyance to all for miles around.

Connie was young, but smart and level headed.  We got along well.  Pat was more docile.  He, too, loved Dostoyevsky.  The Possessed was his book; Stavrogin his character.  There was something about his leaving Berkeley that was related to this book, but he didn’t go into details.  Pat always went barefoot.   His feet were pretty cut up and infected but he wouldn’t put any antiseptic or bandages on them.  I think there was some self-punishment associated with the Stavrogin’s identity, not sure.  In any case he could barely walk and was pretty useless as far as helping, at least in the daytime.  I’m not sure who was in charge of procurement.  It happened at night.

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About Newell Hendricks

I have lived a good life. Maybe a counterculture life, maybe a normal life. I have written operas, built houses, been involved with cross-cultural education between Latin America and the U.S, and hardly ever had a job I have helped raise two wonderful children with my amazing wife. It's been a good ride. And I go to church. I've just finished a book of stories from my life, I am still connected to an organization in Nicaragua that promotes sister relationships between communities, faith communities, or schoold, and to the extent that my cancer doesn't pull me down, am attempting to share some of what I have learned, or at least tried out. Welcome, and let's share.
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