The Mud on the Bottom of the River,

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(short story)

contact me at:
justin (@) deepdrift dot com


GyozaQuest is a non profitable site,

The ad would read: For sale, 25' sailboat, old but well taken care of, ready to sail, new hull paint, aluminum spars, boomvang, single handed rigged, 8 Hp outboard, compass, VHF antenna AM/FM CD player.

James was a minister, or at least he used to be, he'd always had a way with people, there was a gentle yet assertive nature to him that people trusted. He'd always loved being around people seeing them develop, seeing their self confidence improve with faith in themselves. He'd ministered to mostly college students, he was young enough to relate to them and be able to understand the issues which they were facing. That was before he bought the boat. Before he discovered the solitary pleasure of being alone on the water with only the wind and the waves. That was before his life changed.

In a way the boat was his lifeline, it was what sustained him for these past few years, where he'd spent countless hours upon hours. The thing that took him away from the life which he hardly wanted to remember; the trauma, the pain, the struggle and the failure. Fittingly, the boat was christened "Serenity," a common but rather odd almost ironic name for a sailboat in the SF bay, because the bay was not serene, the wind would blow almost constantly and 3-foot swells were not unusual. When he got the boat, his life was as troubled as the sea. More often than not, the small boat was being tossed around in the waves. Yet, paradoxically, he did find some serenity when he was out with her. He knew the way she felt, he knew her every inch of her from bow to stern. He loved the feel of the tiller in his hand, the way she heeled to the wind. He loved the way her hull seemed to vibrate with the water when she approached her top speed. She wasn't a fast boat, by any stretch of the imagination, and she didn't move like a modern racer. Yet the snap of the boom as he brought her around to tack, brought him confidence. The mellow push as the wind filled her sails, almost as if being pushed along by God himself as she accelerated to speed, it still always exhilarated him.

Yet it was time to sell the boat, that portion of his life was over. It was fitting that he bought the boat thinking that his life was over, and here he was about to start again, where the other one had seemingly left off.

He'd bought the boat on a whim. The story he told to his boating friends was that he'd gotten drunk pawned off his fiancé's engagement ring and to a guy at a casino bar in Las Vegas, for a boat he'd never seen. Instead of going to Vegas to end his life, he wound up coming back with a romantic dream of losing himself sailing off into the sunset.

He'd thought about ending his life a time or two, that dying out to sea on a boat was a much better way to die than in a hotel in Vegas. Anyhow, it seemed like a better way to die than the poor souls which he'd heard about who were found in their hotel rooms by the maid. Perhaps maybe, in that crazy half drunken stupor, sitting in the bar, such nonsense had it's own logic to it. He probably never really was seriously contemplating suicide, at the time he just didn't know what to do with his life. The boat would either take him far out to sea, to his own death, or it would be the savior which made him realize what living was. He looked back over his life, and what had brought him to Vegas that fateful night.

James always thought of himself smart enough to be anything. He'd excelled in high school, earning excellent grades and even been a runner on the cross-country team. His grades had been excellent, although he wasn't the top student in class, that honor being bestowed upon a quirky introverted character, whom nobody actually could remember getting along with. James was the only who actually been able to teach the calculus class, when the instructor was too lazy to explain the correct answers to the homework. James considered himself the one who was always helping others out. Although he found high school challenging, it was not difficult. People had expected great things of him.

His grades were good enough to get him into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he thought it appropriate that from San Francisco he would travel across the country to attend school in Cambridge, Mass. MIT was supposed to be the place where he would find himself. It was college in the big leagues, the best engineering school in the nation. Where the best and the brightest attended.

Although he did well in most of his studies, during his first few years there, suddenly he found he wasn't the top of his class anymore. Where once he had been an A-plus student all through high school, now he was simply above average. He was now simply a B-plus student in a highly competitive institution. But while his classmates struggled, he took an easy going attitude about his studies, always confident that he'd find what he was destined to do. He started there as an engineer because it seemed the thing which everyone else there was. Yet he found it unsatisfying. He took a few finance classes, although he certainly had enough friends who found the work stimulating and looked forward to careers in business, James didn't really feel called to a job as a consultant, or on Wall Street. He thought of becoming a pre-med, and going onto medical school, for he definitely had the ability to memorize and seemed to have a knack for chemistry. He sometimes thought that he might have been called to be a lawyer, for that also fit his temperament. Yet he'd always dreamed of more, of really changing the world and of being part of a great movement.

In the end fittingly he'd been called to be a minister, he'd always been the type of person who was passionate enough in his beliefs, and willing to stand up to his moral character. MIT was a humbling experience for a lot of the kids who attended there, and James was the kind of person who always seemed to be nurturing people out of their problems. He seemed to reassure the students who were once like him, A+ plus students, that there were more important things in life than grades. James had managed to thrive in the hyper-competitive environment, and show others how to make their way through it as well. He'd always shown gumption and leadership, been encouraging as the underclassmen struggled through their lives. He'd led his college fellowship at MIT. He was good at what he did. Even becoming part of the staff there. Amidst the engineers, and seen so many of his friends through so many other things. So after he graduated from school he announced he was going to seminary to become a full time minister.

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