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June 2019 Writing Challenge

  • 21 Jul 2019 10:40 PM
    Reply # 7790017 on 7559562
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    Jan read the names of the boats, Money Pit, Miss Lucy, Retirement Plan, but none were the one she was looking for. Where could they be?

    Snuggling into her jacket she stared off towards the inner coastal waterway praying the yacht, Cash Flo would soon arrive. Her brother Charlie had signed on as the cook for the wealthy investment banker he’d met at the Blackbeard’s Tavern a month ago. The trip was only supposed to last a week. It was going on three.

    “Still no sign of the Cash Flo?”

    Jan knew without turning it was her ex, Matt Rains. Matt was a fisherman, he earned extra money working as a guide for wealthy men wanting the true experience of fishing or hunting on the inner-coastal. He’d been her boyfriend all through high school, but he’d broken up with her just before leaving for college.

    Her last year of high school was consumed with caring for her family. Her mother’s illness and death left Jan with little choice but to care for her younger brother and help her father with the restaurant. Her dreams of going off to college and getting away from Beaufort had drifted away like debris on the tide.

    Ignoring Matt, she wished he would just go away. Six years with not a word of condolence or anything. It wasn’t as if he’d come back for her. She blinked away a rebellious tear. No one meets the love of their life at fifteen.

    “Has there been any word?” Matt asked falling into step beside her as she marched down the boardwalk.

    “Not since the first week.”

    “There’s a storm coming in,” Matt said looking at the darkening sky.

    It was one of the reasons she was starting to get uneasy about Charlie being out so long.

    “Have you contacted the Coast Guard?”

    “And say what? My baby brother, who is eighteen years old, hasn’t come home?” She snorted.

    “They could check with the yacht see if there’s a problem.”

    “They were just going to travel down the coast and back. A week-long trip.” Jan tried to keep from shouting.

    “Where was the last place Charlie mentioned?” Matt followed her into Blackbeard’s Tavern.

    Ignoring him, Jan put on her apron and tied up her hair. He followed her into the kitchen. “I want to help Jan.”

    “Why? We don’t mean anything to you?”

    “I thought we were friends,” he said in a quiet voice.

    “Yeah, I thought we were more but we’re both wrong.” She turned away before he could see her tears. “I’ve got to get ready for lunch.” She went to the sink and began scrubbing her hands all the way to her elbows as if she were going into surgery.

    “Why didn’t you ever write to me?” He asked.

    Whipping around, she glared at him. “You broke up with me.”

    “I tried to stay friends. I wrote to you…”

    Shaking her head, she dried her hands on the towel one of the line cooks offered. “I never heard from you after you went away to college.”

    “You never got my letters? The condolence card I sent?”

    “I never received anything, no letter, no card, no phone calls, nothing. When your grandparents moved into that retirement home, I lost my last contact with you.” Her voice cracked.

    “That explains why you’ve been so hostile since I returned.”

    “I don’t have time for this, I’ve got work to do.”

    “All right, but meet me after lunch, I’ve got an idea.”

    “Matt…” she started to argue but when she turned around, he was already gone.

    Matt was waiting for her when she left the restaurant. “I think I know where Charlie and the Cash Flo are?”

    “What, how did you…”

    Taking her arm, he pulled her to his boat. “Come on, let’s go see if we can rescue the boy.”

    “Rescue?”

    Matt gave her a rueful grin. “Yeah, he probably won’t agree that it’s a rescue, but I think he needs us.” He released the lines and leaped aboard.

    “What are you talking about?” She followed Matt into the bridge.

    The small fishing yacht pulled away from its slip. “The Cash Flo has been partying down in Wilmington. There’s been a few complaints, some drunk and disorderly tickets. Charlie’s underage and that could get him into some trouble.”

    Jan wanted to throttle her brother but knew the owner of the Cash Flo was the one with the money, he would think nothing of corrupting a young guy like Charlie and leave him hanging.

    Matt didn’t say anything until they were cruising through the Innerbanks. “I never stopped loving you.”

    Jan’s heart stopped. She couldn’t look at him.

    “Jan?”

    “It’s been six years. We were children.”

    “We’re not children now.”

    “No. We know better now.”

    “How about a fresh start?”

    “I have responsibilities.”

    The arrived at the marina where the Cash Flo was last seen. The boat was gone.

    Jan wanted to cry.

    “Let me go inside and see if the harbor master knows where they’ve gone.”

    Jan followed him inside.

    “Jan, what are you doing here?” Came a voice she recognized. “Oh God, I’m so glad you came.” Charlie pulled her into an embrace.

    He little brother was nearly a foot taller than her own five foot six, but she still felt protective of him. Returning his hug, she asked, “Why are you here?”

    Blushing, Charlie shook his head. “I’d had enough of the party and decided to jump ship. Unfortunately, I left without any of my things. Mr. Humphry’s has been letting me work for him until I could get the money to go home.”

    “Why didn’t you just call me?”

    “I’m a grown man, I can’t expect my sister to rescue me every time I do something stupid.” He noticed Matt and frowned. “What are you doing here?”

    “He’s the one who figured out where to find you.”

    Charlie glowered. “Thanks, but we don’t need you anymore.”

    “Charlie, that’s uncalled for.”

    “I listened to you cry over him for two years. I know he broke your heart. I’m not going to let him hurt you again.”

    Jan frowned. “Do you remember any letters or cards from Matt?”

    Charlie looked away.

    She sighed. “Oh Charlie, why?”

    “I was trying to protect you.”

    Gritting her teeth, Jan said, “We’ll talk about this when we get home.” Matt was setting up with the old man. “Do you have anything you need to get?”

    Charlie shook his head but kept his eyes on the floor.

    “Fine, then let’s go.”

    They followed Matt to the boat. The trip home was a quiet one. Matt put his hand over hers and gave a gentle squeeze. He made no attempt to defend himself or berate Charlie.

    When they arrived in Beaufort, Jan thanked him.

    As he helped her from the yacht, Matt asked, “Fresh start?”

    Meeting his eyes, Jan nodded. “Fresh start.”


  • 28 Jun 2019 12:23 PM
    Reply # 7697875 on 7559562
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    Thank you both for sharing your stories, both held hints of the past that made me smile. It's interesting how different they are. I enjoyed them both. 

    Keep up the great work.


  • 21 Jun 2019 11:06 AM
    Reply # 7592190 on 7559562
    W. Oliver Barkley

    Storm Clouds Over The Pamlico

    “Distant Memories”

    I had recently returned stateside from a twelve month tour of duty at Marine Barracks Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, (aka) the only whole on top of the ground, and I was en-route toward home on a 96 hour weekend pass traveling Highway 17 North from my new duty assignment at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.                                                    

     Just before crossing over the draw bridge that spanned the Pamlico Sound connecting Chocowinity and Washington, suddenly I remembered at the foot of the bridge, there once sat a sea food restaurant that served a mouthwatering captain platter, and a stuffed flounder with crab meat that was simply delightfully delicious.  

     As I exited the bridge, I found that the restaurant was still there, so I decided to treat myself to evening chow before traveling on to Plymouth to visit with my parents and enjoy my extended weekend. As I pulled into the parking lot, I laid eyes upon her.

    The year was 1995, but seeing how she was dressed, I drew the conclusion that she was nostalgically caught-up in the late sixties, early seventies. She wore a tank-top with matching mini-skirt, knee high black platform boots, huge dangling hoop earrings, and a huge well-groomed afro that reminded me of once Black Panther member and activist Angela Davis.

    She drove a little red Volkswagen Bug with a peace sign on its front bumper, and once getting herself situated within, she sped out of the parking lot as if urgent business awaited her.

    As I watched her taillights disappear, I was so taken aback to yesteryear by her appearance that I raise a clinched fist and shouted, “Power to the people, go on my sister with yo bad self.”

     There is something overwhelming beautiful about a sister styling a well-groomed afro that warms and excites my heart. Maybe it is because I remember back in the late sixties and early seventies, most sisters I encountered were sincere, sweet, loveable, articulate, and attitude free. Nowadays, well, that’s another subject for another time.

    Anyhow, I disembarked from my old restored 1974 Grand Prix and made my way up the sidewalk toward the restaurant.  As I pulled back the door, there stood three sisters carrying gift bags and wearing 70’s retro attire also. I acknowledged their presence telling them how beautifully they were dressed thinking maybe they, and my sister in the parking lot had most likely taken part in a birthday or fraternity party, or some other special event. I held the door while they exited.

    Entering the restaurant, the waitress lead me to a booth next to the window where I had an excellent view of the Pamlico Sound. I ordered coffee, a captain’s platter, and a stuffed flounder with crab meat as a carry-out for a late night snack.

    After enjoying my evening chow, retrieving my carry-out, and paying the bill, I decided to drive down to the waterfront before getting back on the road toward home. Once leaving the parking lot, I drove a short distance up West Main Street, and then turned right onto Steward Parkway which ran along the water front. And believe it or not, the first car I saw was a little red Volkswagen Bug. Instantly my eyes like a roving camera began to scan the area zooming in on her sitting on a bench a short distance up the boardwalk.

    I parked my car, lit a cigarette, and there I sat admiring her beauty, and listening to the quietness of the Pamlico Sound. Moments later, I crushed out my cigarette, and then decided to casually stroll along the boardwalk to stretch my legs.                               Drawing nigh to her, her body language caught my eye, but it was the book she was holding, along with  the optimism I saw in her smile when our eyes met that warmly tugged at my heart. I walked a little further along the boardwalk, and then returned to my car. While sitting quietly and in deep thought I mused…

    Storm clouds over the Pamlico like distant memories in my mental skies… Alone

    she sat, lost in a novel, as wave after wave of rippling tide crashed

     against the shoreline singing a joyful sweet melody.

    Across the channel against the horizon, age old cypress danced to a cool

    summer breeze… as she read line after line of fiction that

    brought soothing warmth and peace to her

    countenance and smiling eyes.

    In the harbor, seaworthy sailboats like ole worn-out ghost ships rocked

     steady to the rhythm of the current that flowed deeply beneath

     their bow…

    While she sat motionless, starring out into the bay holding tightly against

    her breast, a copy of Terry McMillan’s widely acclaimed novel

     “Waiting to Exhale.”

    The afternoon sun peeped through an opening in the overcast Beaufort

     county sky revealing a glimmer of Carolina Blue…

    Her countenance glowed radiantly bright as her body language spoke

     silent alluring provocative words that my heart struggled to

    discern.

    Can she be recalling distant memories of a love affair from days long ago

    I wondered, or dreaming about embarking on a romantic Mediterranean

     cruise to Cyprus, Egypt, France, The French Riviera, or Italy where

    the beaches are sandy white, and the waters are blue and

    crystal clear.

    Then suddenly it occurred to me, maybe, just maybe, like Terry McMillan

     and so many other sisters, she too is patiently waiting to share in a

     loving monogamous relationship that will allow her to get her

     groove back, and finally exhale.

    My heart smiled after drawing that conclusion, and as I recalled the very moment our eyes met, and I saw the optimism in her smile, I realized at that moment how “One moment in the lifetime of another could possibly last forever,” even though we never spoke one word, no, not one single word, one to the other.

     I did a U Turn in the middle of the street, drove back to U. S. 17 north, inserted New Birth’s Satin Soul rendition of “Wild Flower” into my stereo, and then, continued my journey toward home.

    W. Oliver Barkley

     

     

  • 07 Jun 2019 6:30 PM
    Reply # 7564329 on 7559562

    The Booseyat

    The waterfront was quiet in the dawn light as crabbers and party boats made ready to go out. Two fishermen, who had they had chartered a boat for a day of deep sea fishing, patiently waited on the dock as the captain and a deckhand bustled about making the boat ready.

    “Where’s Yakup?” the captain asked, using the Old English pronunciation of ‘Jacob’.

    “He’s under the weather,” the deckhand answered.

    “What?” the captain said. “When he left here last evening he was fit as a fiddle.”

    “Well,” the deckhand explained, “his nephew graduated high school so the family threw a booseyat last night.”

    “Drime! He momucked things again!” the captain said. “Then you’ve got to do his job as well as yorn.”

    After a few more minutes, everything was stowed away and the guests were invited aboard.

    “Hi, I’m Captain Bob and this is Mordecai.”

    “Just call be Mort,” the deckhand offered.

    The older fisherman replied, “I’m John and this is my son Ted.” Then they shook hands all around.

    “You can stay on the aft deck or lie in a berth,” Captain Bob said. “There’s java in the cabin but it’s a long way to the Gulf Stream so you’ll need your rest. The soundside is slickcamed rite now so it’ll be a smooth ride until we pass the channel. The mahi-mahi and red snappers have been biting so you should have a nice catch.”

    John and Ted just looked at each other trying to make sense of what he had said, but they understood java and cabin so they went forward to get a cup.

    The boat started to really rock when they got into the ocean waves, but about an hour later the seas subsided when they hit the Gulf Stream. The deckhand helped them with their fishing poles and rigging, and then he went up to the cockpit to relieve the captain who joined the passengers.

    “What is a booseyat?” John asked the captain.

    “It’s Hoi Toider brogue,” Captain Bob answered.

    “Huh?” Ted asked.

    “Hoi Toider means high-tider. It’s what we islanders call ourselves. We speak an old English brogue amongst ourselves, like the English spoke in Elizabethan times.” The fish weren’t biting yet so he decided to entertain his guests with a story.

    I was born and raised on the Banks, but left to put in twenty years in the Merchant Marines before I bought this boat. A lot of youngsters left the Banks back then because there wasn’t much to do but fish. My father served in the Navy before he retired back here, as did many others who served in World War Two.

    Up until the 1930s, there won’t no bridges or even ferries, and nobody had electricity or telephones. People got drinking water from cisterns that collected rain from roofs, and everybody used outhouses.

    During the Great Depression, one young man left Ocracoke Island and worked himself up to the position of a tugboat captain in the New York City harbor, but he worried about his father who was still fishing for a living. He knew that fishermen would stay out late if they hadn’t caught much and that it was tricky navigating in the dark, so being a good son, he got his father a search light for his fishing boat which was a rare thing at the time.

    One night, the old man was coming in late when he heard the rumble of an engine even though he couldn’t see any navigation lights. He turned on his search light so the other boat wouldn’t collide with him, and all hell broke loose! A fusillade peppered his boat while he dived into the bilge and his light exploded from a burst of bullets. Then the other boat’s engine roared and they skedaddled out of the area.

    The old man was shaken, but deduced that he had come up on a rumrunner from the Bahamas who had thought that he was a Coastie rum-chaser. His boat wasn’t badly damaged, so he headed for home.

    The next morning, tow sacks of glass jars littered the beaches. The rumrunners had dumped their cargo to lighten the load so they could outrun the supposed revenue cutter. Times were hard and liquor was scarce during Prohibition, so the Hoi Toiders gathered up the bounty from the sea and proceeded to have a huge party. After they recovered from their hangovers, they hid the remaining bottles in a safe place.

    When the rumrunners figured out that they hadn’t been chased by the Coast Guard, the yacht returned and some city fellows in black suits questioned the islanders about their rum. Hoi Toiders are a very clannish lot, so the dingbatters met a solid wall of denial. Finally, a delegation of islanders approached the gangsters with an offer to sell the rum back.

    Taking the O’crokers for rubes, the bootleggers offered a very low price. The fishermen agreed to the price, but stipulated that only their men would handle the merchandise and that the transaction would occur at sea in the dark of night, supposedly to avoid attention from the Coasties.

    The islanders tied their small boats alongside the yacht and passed the rum bottles hand to hand up the side and over the gunwale. The gangsters carefully counted the bottles as they came on deck. In the hold, islanders would put one bottle down and pass the next one out a porthole. Swimmers carried the bottles back around to the small boats and the bottles would be passed up the side of the yacht again. They figured that some of the bottles made ten trips before finally being laid in the hold.

    And that is why Hoi Toiders call a big party a “booze-yat.”

    ****************

    Retelling of a story by Judge Charles H. Whedbee, who was a fixture around Greenville, NC when I was a boy. I often saw him at events like tobacco markets and church homecomings because that’s what politicians did in those days. After he retired from the bench, he co-hosted the “Carolina Today” TV show for WNCT, performed a soft-shoe act, and wrote several books. His best seller was ‘Legends of the Outerbanks’ and he went on to publish several more books about down east folklore.

    Last modified: 25 Jun 2019 12:38 PM | Michael Worthington
  • 06 Jun 2019 10:28 AM
    Message # 7559562
    Kimberly Riggs (Administrator)



    Are you taking a stroll on the waterfront, or sailing to a new place?  New adventures, a romantic meeting place, or is this the location of a crime scene? Share your story or poem in one-thousand or less words by uploading it here as a reply. All genres and levels of writing welcome! 


    **** A small prize will be given to one of you for the  Round of Applause award*****

    So show us your best effort with the June writing challenge. Good luck!


    Last modified: 06 Jun 2019 10:28 AM | Kimberly Riggs (Administrator)
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