Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
It was late in the morning before I made it to Saugatuck. I had hoped to get right in and out of the marina, but it didn’t work out that way. There was a lot of messing around getting the Parabellum ready to haul away, moving as much stuff as possible into the car, then having to tie the rest down. Some of the pieces didn’t have a good way to be tied down easily, and I was glad Nate had sent a lot of rope with me.
On top of that, while the Pontiac had a trailer hitch, it had a two-inch ball. The trailer had an inch and seven-eighths hitch, which would almost work, but not quite. Phil was glad to sell me the right sized ball for only three or four times what it would have cost at a decent hardware store – marinas are notorious for jacking up prices on things like that, but it was getting late and I didn’t want to waste the time. I tried to remove the old ball with a couple of big wrenches, but the old ball was rusted on thanks to all the salt that they throw around on the roads in the winter. It took a trip up the street to a garage that had a cutting torch to get the old ball off. Then, the wiring harness didn’t match up, so that led to more messing around.
What with everything, it was closing time at the marina before I was ready to go, and getting close to dark. I’d never driven a car with a trailer in tow and I didn’t want my first time to be after dark, so I found a cheap mom-and-pop motel out on the edge of town and called it a night. I could see already that there were times that being a boat owner was going to be a pain in the ass.
I kept it slow getting back to Winchester the next day, but I still arrived well before dark, just about the time Rachel got home from school. She’d known the boat was still in parts and could now see that it really was, but she still couldn’t wait to get out in it. She was just about jumping up and down with excitement and ready to start the job of putting it together right now.
Working on it was going to have to wait. It was cold that night, and there was a skin of ice on the harbor the next morning, though the mild current through the channel kept the ice away from that part for another few days. Winter had come to Winchester Harbor and looked like it meant it. Barb and I finally got around to winterizing the fuel pumps – she told me it had been close to two weeks since they’d sold any fuel.
While Nate and I had been taking the Harvest Time to Florida, Barb had purchased a new mattress for my bed, and a couple more comfortable chairs for my room. We got the chance to try the mattress out together shortly after I got back, and she said it felt so good that she was tempted to stay the night. As it turned out she did, but that was the only time, though we did get together in the evenings once in a while after that.
Debby still joined me two or three evenings a week, and while she agreed the new mattress was more comfortable, we both also thought it felt even better when we had someone in bed to help warm up the cold evenings.
I wouldn’t have minded having Debby with me more than she was. She was still a very close friend, and we fit together nicely in a lot of ways, especially in bed. There were a few places where we differed on things. She could take boating or leave it, but preferred the latter. It would have been tempting to get more serious with her, but it was impossible so long as the prospect of her getting back together with John lay out on her horizon.
One night we were lying cuddled together just about exhausted after a particularly rousing session when the subject came up, which it didn’t very often. “This time next year,” she said, “I sure hope I’m lying in bed with John like this.”
“Any idea if that’s going to happen?” I asked.
“Well, maybe,” she admitted. “I don’t hear a lot about what’s happening with him down in school, and most of what I get is third-hand. Apparently he and that Karen bitch have been talking about marriage, but nothing really has changed. He still wants to come back here, and she thinks there’s maybe a million less people around here than she’s comfortable with. They still haven’t been able to work it out. If they both stay stubborn, I still have a chance.”
“You don’t think he’s going to have a problem with all the time we’ve been spending in bed together?”
“He damn well better not have any problem with it,” she snorted. “After all, I know that he and that Karen bitch have been getting it on as much as we have. In fact, that’s part of the reason I’ve been spending time with you, other than the fact there’s nothing on TV and it gets lonely next door. You’ve gotten to be damn good for me, Jake, and it reminds me of what I’ve been missing with John. At least this way, I’m keeping the scoreboard pretty even between John and me.”
“When you put it that way, it sounds a little spiteful,” I replied.
“Hell, it is spiteful,” she said with some conviction. “If he’s having his fun, why shouldn’t I have mine? I mean, it’s not like we were supposed to be faithfully waiting for each other, like that Brittany bitch should have been doing for you.”
“Well, yeah,” I agreed. “That still pisses me off more than a little. We had an agreement, even if it was more or less an unspoken one. She broke her word and left me hanging. It doesn’t bother me as much now as it did a few months ago, but you had a lot to do with it.”
“I’m glad I could help you out,” she said. “And I want to go on helping you out with it while I can. But we need to have the agreement that we don’t have much of an agreement. If I can ever corral John again, fun stuff like this between us is over.”
“I’ve always known that,” I agreed. “There have been times that I wished it didn’t have to be that way, but until the chance you might have with John is over with, we can still make do. You said they’ve been talking about marriage. Any chance that’s going to happen?”
“I don’t know,” she said and sighed. “Like I said, what I’ve heard has been third-hand, so I’m not getting a lot of details. But I’ll tell you this much: if they do wind up getting married, the problem is still going to be there, and I’m guessing the marriage won’t last long. John has too much of a good reason to come back here since he stands to wind up with a good chunk of the golf course. His folks would like him to more or less manage it for them once he gets his feet under him so they can do some traveling in the summers. That’s a pretty good sized bird to have in the hand, when the alternative is getting into that Karen bitch’s bush. She doesn’t have much to offer him besides her skinny body and the need to make something of himself without his parents’ help.”
“So, you’re saying that if they do get married, you’re still going to wait him out?”
“Well, yeah. Like I said, it ain’t gonna last between them, even if they do get married, although I’m hopeful it won’t get that far. I’ll tell you what, when I do get back together with John I don’t plan on letting him go. I’m planning on throwing out my birth control pills the morning after we make it again for the first time.”
“That won’t necessarily prove anything,” I pointed out. “Lots of guys have walked out on a pregnant girlfriend.”
“Ain’t gonna happen with John. His parents would be all over his ass, and then where would he be? Not that he’s the type of guy to do it anyway. I sometimes wonder how much of his staying with that Karen bitch is just the pure loyalty he tends to show. I will say that when she dumps him, he’ll feel like he was dumped hard. I plan on being there to pick up the pieces.”
“Well, I hope it works for you,” I replied, playing with one of her big breasts. They were always fun to play with. A guy could get his face buried between them and suffocate, though it would be a happy way to go. “It still seems, well, a little odd.”
“I wish it didn’t have to be that way,” she said. “But that’s the hand I’ve been dealt, so that’s the cards I have to play. Do you just want to play with my tits some more, or are you about ready to do me again?”
It was a few days before I could get to work on the Parabellum, since Nate and I had to make room in the boat shed for it. That took us several days of messing around, but finally everything was inside, and I was able to clear all the loose pieces of the boat out of my car. Nate and I took some time going over the plans, and only then were we really able to take a good look at all the work that had to be done.
With that came a surprise. “Oh, hell,” Nate said after a good look at the plans and parts. “I thought this thing had a swing keel, but it turns out that it’s a centerboarder.”
By then I knew that the swing-keel version had the keel mounted underneath the boat, so the keel could swing up out of the way to run in shallow water, still leaving a draft of about a foot and a half, maybe more. The centerboard version had pretty much the same keel, but it swung up through a slot into a trunk inside the boat.
“Yeah,” I said. “I guess I’d noticed that but I hadn’t really thought about it.”
“It’s not all bad,” Nate said. “The centerboard just takes a lot of space out of the interior and makes it harder to get around inside, and it’ll make the boat a lot more tender with the centerboard up, not that you’re going to want it up much when you’re out on open water.”
“I can’t see that it’s going to make a lot of difference. This thing is probably just going to be a daysailer. I might get out overnight with it once in a while, but probably not enough to say so. I don’t see that it’s a big problem.”
“Well, the good part about it is that the centerboard version will just about float on wet grass,” Nate pointed out. “That’ll make it easier to launch off the trailer, and you can get into really shallow places if you want to, especially if you’re using an outboard. The only problem is that these idiots have a rudder on this thing that’s going to stick down a lot farther than the boat will float.”
“That could be a problem,” I agreed. “Any ideas?”
“We can probably come up with some way to make the rudder kick up out of the way when you’re in the shallows. We might have to build one, but that won’t be any big deal. Let’s get started on this thing and see what else we can think of.”
We started by finishing the hull, which had originally come in several pieces, and which had to be bolted and fiberglassed together. The original owner, who I never actually met, had only gotten partly done with that, and even the transom had to be bolted into place and ’glassed down.
As time went on Nate made several other suggestions about things that we could do to the boat to improve it. I listened to most of them. As I went over the plans and talked about them with him, I came to realize that the boat had really been designed for cheap and it showed – there hadn’t been many corners to cut that they had missed.
“You know,” Nate said one day after looking at the completed hull and the plans, “If I was you, I’d be thinking about making some modifications to the interior layout. It’s pretty damn cramped, especially with that centerboard trunk right in the middle of the whole damn show. I think it was mostly because they wanted to advertise the boat as sleeping four. You could change things around some so it could sleep one person, or maybe two in a pinch if they was real good friends. You could get rid of that half-assed quarter berth and use some of the space for another under-seat locker like is on the starboard side.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “That has potential. I haven’t actually tried to work out the layout or set anything into place to see how it fits, but if we did something like that there might even be room to turn around inside.”
We spent quite a bit of time talking and thinking about the interior modifications over the next few weeks, since there was a lot of work that needed to get done before we got to that part. I won’t go into the details, but after a while we came up with a somewhat-unorthodox layout that would be a lot more comfortable for one person and possible for two, though it was still going to be pretty primitive.
I don’t want to sound like we worked on the Parabellum all the time, because we didn’t. We spent a lot of time working on Nate’s winter project, the restoration of a rather tattered and beat-up old wooden Chris-Craft runabout from back in the 1930s. There was a lot of dry rot, and quite a bit of wood had to be replaced, which was a huge job. The old Ford flathead engine in the boat was shot, but the guy Nate was doing the job for wanted the boat to be as close to original as possible, so we pretty well had to stick with it. I was actually able to help with that one. I knew of a guy who ran a race track in Bradford, a couple towns over from Wychbold, and he spent his winters restoring old cars. He had a reputation as being especially good with old Fords, and he was glad to take on that part of the project.
The Chris-Craft ate up the majority of our time, but we still spent several hours each week on the Parabellum, at least partly to take a break from all the sanding and varnish stripping the old boat required. We made steady progress, and by the end of the year had the Parabellum’s hull completed and were working on some of the fitting out.
While we were working on the boats the holidays came along. Thanksgiving came not long after Nate and I got back from taking the Harvest Time to Florida. Susie and Annette drove back home for that, it was good to see them again, and I wound up spending some time with each of them. They were both glad of that. Apparently neither of them had anything like a steady date down at college, and they each needed some kinks worked out of them in bed.
What with Marge not doing any better, it was decided that we’d all get together for a Thanksgiving dinner at the snack bar, where there was more room and a better kitchen to work with than was available in either of the homes. The snack bar was technically closed that afternoon, though it had been open for breakfast. Barb and Marge decided to invite a few regulars who wouldn’t otherwise have had anyone to enjoy the holiday with. Debby did most of the cooking, with a little help from Barb and me. She did a great job, and it turned into a fine dinner.
When Christmas came a month later I gave some consideration to heading home, at least for the day, but in the end I decided not to. Lisa would be there, I was sure of that. The subject of Brittany was sure to come up, and I didn’t look forward to the fight that was sure to result. I called and talked to Dad about it, and he agreed that under the circumstances it was probably a good idea to give it a pass. After all, it had been years since I’d been home for the holiday, what with being on a ship out at sea each time, so Christmas at home had lost a bit of the thrill. Besides, in a lot of ways the Kunkles, the deReuyters and Debby had become more of a family than my real one, and I was happier to spend the time with them, anyway.
Since Susie and Annette were home for almost a month over the holidays, I wound up spending several more evenings with them, and a few full nights, which were especially fun with Susie. It was always nice to be up next to her. While she wasn’t as rounded and soft as Debby or Annette, it always seemed like we could get especially close to each other. “So,” I asked, more or less making conversation, “Any progress on what you’re going to do when you graduate?”
“Not really,” she said and sighed. “I don’t really have a guy down there right now, at least anyone with the prospects of being permanent, and the time for putting something together is running out. I’m not really planning on trying to start something in the time I’ve got left there. The only thing that looks like a possibility is I’ve got a girlfriend who has family in Chicago. We’ve been kicking around the idea of getting an apartment together there and looking for work. I’ve been looking at the want ads in the Trib every now and then, and it looks like there may be some prospects. If something doesn’t come up between now and then, I’ll probably be heading there with her not long after we graduate.”
“I know you don’t want to stay around here,” I said, “and I think I can understand why, as there aren’t any prospects for jobs around here. If it weren’t for the special situation I’m in now, I’d probably have been out of here a couple months ago, though I don’t have any idea of where I’d go. When we took the Harvest Time to Florida I didn’t get any time to look around, but what little I did get showed it was warmer than it is here right now.”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t mind a little warmer weather myself, though Chicago isn’t really any warmer,” she agreed. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Annette decided to move on when she graduates, too, but that’s still a couple years off. I hate like hell having to leave Mom here by herself, but I don’t think I want to stay around here for only that reason.”
“No, that shouldn’t be a reason,” I agreed as I started to massage her bony hip. “I guess you have to do what you have to do. I’m sure going to miss you if you aren’t around next summer, though.”
“Hey, I’ll be missing you, too,” she grinned. “I haven’t had enough of this the last few months, and as long as I’m going to be sore in the morning anyway, I might as well make tonight worth my while.”
Having the joint dinner in the snack bar had worked so well at Thanksgiving that Barb and Marge decided to do the same thing again at Christmas, though Debby and I joined Barb and the girls with a Christmas breakfast and gift-giving in Barb’s house. It was hard to figure out what to buy the girls for gifts, and in the end I just took the chicken route and asked Barb to get something for them. That left me with the problem of Barb, but I drafted Debby to deal with that question.
The gift giving was fun – again, what with the Navy involved it had been a long time since I’d had any experience with that – and the dinner went well, too. As at Thanksgiving, we invited a few lonely regulars to join us, so it turned into quite a festival. Unfortunately, Marge wasn’t feeling well, so she, Nate and Rachel left early. After they were gone we broke out a couple bottles of wine and got even friendlier.
I doubt that the wine had anything to do with what came later. In fact, I’m pretty sure the girls had planned it ahead of time. After everyone had gone home and the snack bar had been cleaned up, Annette suggested we go over to my room to have a little more intimate fun. I was more or less in the mood for it, but was more than a little surprised when all three girls went to my room with me.
What happened over the next few hours proved to be the best Christmas present I ever had. It was pretty exhausting and very crowded with all three of them in bed with me at once. Sometimes it was hard to tell what I was doing, with which and to whom. I know the less-occupied girls had some fun with each other, which I found interesting to the limit I was aware of it. It was the only time the four of us got together like that, and it was one hell of a memorable Christmas present.