Monday, March 14, 2011

A Tale Of Two Sailors

Contents
A Tale Of Two Sailors
Winter Question
Murder Mystery

Some have it hard and some have it easy, but everyone has it.

Dana Bate
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I knew two men who worked as mariners aboard merchant ships.

The story of the first one is how he would go down to the docks with his duffle bag and his card, hand the card to the harbor master, who collected the cards from all the sailors looking for work that day. When a ship was loading and looking for crew they would put in an order for so many men. The harbor master would go through the cards to find the qualified members of the union and call off their names. When your name was called you stepped up, got your card and were directed to the pier number and the ships name, you reported on board and went to work. That's the way he explained to me, more or less.

My friend usually shipped out of Boston, but as work was getting sparse there he decided to come to New York and try his luck. He had no place to stay in NY so I let him use my apartment.

I had only one bed, but I had an all night radio program, from midnight to 6 am. So he slept in the bed at night and I slept in it during the day. When I got home from work at about 7 I woke him up. We'd chat. He'd have a coffee while I had a beer, then he would grab his duffle and head out. I usually didn't see him in the evening. If he didn't get hired he would find some entertainment for himself but he would be in the bed when I got home every morning.

Then one day, when I got there, he was gone. There was a message on my phone telling me that by the time I got the message he had shipped out and was on his way to Greece.

I didn't see him again until a few years later, looking quite well and prosperous. He got an inland job of some sort, eventually got married, had some kids, settled down to a middle class life and never went back to sea.
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The story of the other mariner is quite different. As a teenager he taught himself the Morse Code and how to operate a telegraph and a ships radio. At 18 he got a radio operators licence from the Federal Communication Commission and signed on to a ship that went back and forth from New Yoir to Liverpool. He was the ships radio operator and didn't have to do any work unless he needed to send or receive a message. So he spent his spare time reading books. Every time he reached New York he would buy an armful of books to read as he traveled the Atlantic.

He soon became interested in the stock market. His reading became exclusively about economics, Wall Street and investing. Soon, when he came to New York he would buy some stocks. Because of his reading and some good advice he became quite wealthy. At the age of 30 he was rich enough to build a house for his mother, a house for himself, send his younger brother through college and then send himself through college which is where I knew him. I don't know where he is these day, but I wouldn't be surprised if he is sipping his drink while gazing out at the Mediterranean from his private villa on the coast of France.

As the Oliver and Young song puts it "It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it."

DB - The Vagabond
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WINTER QUESTION
(This is not a contest)

What was the most significant event that happened in 2010?

dbdacoba@aol.com

Will you people get your act together and answer this question, please?
Only 7 responses so far. Winter is almost over.
DB
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What happened to old Jasper Fingerhut?

A murder mystery in 7 sections.

Section 1

The police came soon after Brett Salazar called them. He had called to report seeing a man floating face down in a quiet part of the Borden River. A police wagon soon arrived and they fished the man out of the water He was dead.

The man was old, barefoot, wearing large brown corduroy trousers and a tattered and torn blue shirt. There was nothing in his pockets. He had a large metal cross around his neck and on his left middle finger a ring in the shape of a skull with a small green stone in the left eye socket, the other socket was empty. No one recognized him.

Doctor Skinner, the Bordentown Medial Examiner, received the corpse to begin his examination. He was to determine time and cause of death and any other important information he could find about the mysterious dead man.

While this was happening Boris Klipton, Professor of Art History at Bordentown State Teachers College, was way upstream. Sitting by the river, he was working on his latest book. It was an account of recent unsolved art thefts.

During his interview with Detective Rice Turner, Brett Salazar, testified of hearing four gunshots in the distance long before he saw the body. When Detective Turner asked him what he was doing at the river, Brett answered that he was planning to fish but had forgotten his fishing gear and was about to go home when he spotted the dead man floating in the water.
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Section 2

At around 3 p. m. Professor Klipton gathered up his papers, put them in his briefcase and got back in his car. He noticed some lint and bits of cloth on the seat, brushed them off on to the floor, put down his briefcase and drove to Sam's Place.

Sam Nevitt opened his general store and gas station about 25 years ago. It was on the outskirts of town, away from all the bustle, which is the way he liked it. He would get business from folks leaving Bordentown on their way home and others who were passing through. He did a good business.

Sam was a good man, but he had one nasty habit. He liked to go down to the river with his rifle and shoot birds.

When Professor Klipton arrived he found Hank, Sam's part time help. When asked Hank didn't know where Sam was but thought he was probably out shooting. Klipton filled up with gas, bought a few items for his dinner and drove home.

The dead man came to Doctor Skinner's office in a body bag. He and Ivan, his assistant, opened the bag and as they did Skinner immediately put a large towel over the dead man's face and upper body. Then he dismissed Ivan for the day and went to work.
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section 3

Detective Rice Turner didn't speak often, he seemed to others to be bored with life. That was a mistake. He was very well educated. He had a PhD in Economics from Yale and a law degree from Princeton. He was Phi Beta Kappa and a Mensa member. He was looking forward to a career in government whn he discovered he had a genius for solving problems. That soon became criminal investigation. He settled.

Signing, he opened the report form the Medical Examiners Office. Reading through it he discovered that the dead man was between 70 and 75 years old, approximately. and in reasonably good health for a man his age. Doctor Skinner had removed three 22 caliber bullets from the body, one from the shattered right shoulder, one from the right ventricle and one embedded in the large intestine. All the bullets had entered the body from the right side of the back. There were severe bruises around his neck. There was water in his lungs and a strange substance in his blood stream which Skinner had suspected was poison. He sent it on to the police lab for analysis. Time of death was between 2 and 3 in the afternoon. Cause of death: strangulation.

Attached to the report was an advisory. Skinner thought the body should be buried as soon as possible. He didn't say why.

Presently the report came from the police lab confirming that the substance in the man's blood was arsenic.

Section 4 tomorrow.
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4 comments:

Valerie said...

wow, shot strangled and poisoned... I am intrigued still =) Interesting entry of your sailor friends today. Hope your week is going well!

pacifica62 said...

I have met a couple of those guys who used to be mariners in their youth. A duffle bag, a pea coat and the nod from the person hiring and they were off to some corner of the world. Fascinating stories and few regrets. The spirit of adventure. Probably good sound training for life ahead.

Krissy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I think being a merchant marine would be a lot of hard work but a worthwhile adventure.