"Always bear in mind, that your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing"
-Abraham Lincoln

Friday, January 30, 2015

Milestones and Markers



My dearest Blogger friends,

Hello and welcome, once again, to the High Cost of this Low Living.


If I didn't love the title of my blog so much I might be apt to change it.  You see while it is still high cost, it isn't quite so low as one would gather from the title.
Contrarily, it is rather good living but nonetheless the title remains.

Today marked a milestone in my writing career.  My new book topped the 20,000-word mark.  Dialing in at 20,067 words.  1/3 of the way to a full novel length.
I am averaging 1500-2000 words every time I sit down with a few longer bursts of 3-4 thousand.
Not bad me thinks.  I only started 27 days ago.  At this rate, I will be finished by April.

I am excited, yet pessimistic.  (It's in my nature)  I really don't expect much to come of it, yet still I write.  Practice makes good!  Most would say perfect but is there such a thing as a perfect book?
Some would say yes, and most would cite the Bible, which is obscene, but all books end.  All good books leave you wanting more, but none are perfect.

My only desire is to find a handful of people who will love it for what it is and it will spark dreams of their own adventure.

Fame and fortune?  Oh, man wouldn't that be nice.  I don't live in pipe dreams though.  There are things that we dream of as kids.  Being a professional athlete, Fireman, Doctor, Nurse or Chef.

I dreamt of being a writer.  A published one.  How amazing would that be?  Can you imagine walking through a store and seeing your book on a shelf?

Well, we can all dream, right?

So back to reality.

I finished the painting in the writing room today.
I took down my huge dry erase board and painted the wall behind it.  I had previously purchased wooden trim to surround the dry erase board, but I forgot that they sell the sheets of melamine oversize to accommodate for chips in the edges during handling.  The trim would be an inch too short.  I took the entire sheet of melamine into the garage and shaved two inches of each side and two inches off the length.

After I secured it to the wall I cut and installed the trim around the edges.  It gives it a nice finished look.  Momma is bringing me home some wood paste to fill in the nail holes and polish off the mitered corners.  Then I will stain it to match my writing desk.  A nice maple.

I took a little video to show off the room.  It isn't much, but I hope you like it.





Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thirsty Thursday

Hello and welcome to a rare edition of Thirsty Thursday!

I haven't done this in a while and I won't promise to keep doing it either but it's nice to live vicariously through one's old blogs!

I started off the evening with a rare vintage of Donut House coffee, craftily brewed in my Keurig wonder machine.  I followed that up with and excellent year of Starbucks Verona blend.

While sipping the exquisite blends I opened up a few different windows on my new computer system, one being the classic Microsoft Office and the other being my writing software, titled Scrivener, and proceeded to hunt and peck my way through a few pages of story line.

Yes ,it is for the Lion and I, and no it won't be published here today.

I will tell you that I am just a few more pecks away from 20,000 words.  Progress is being made and before you know it, I will be on here begging you to buy a copy.

In case your wondering if he is still alive, of course he is.  Has he made it to the island?  Nope, not yet.  Well what in the world could he possibly be doing?  I know your wondering so I'll give you a little snippet.


"I found myself thinking of so many things during those days on my raft.  Friends and family, my dear wife, who must be worried something terrible.  I thought about people I’ve treated badly and those who I have broken promises to.   Every fiber in my body yearned for a chance to make it right.  I couldn’t count the number of times I prayed for rescue, prayed for release and prayed for death. 

I contemplated suicide many times as well.  Letting go, floating away.  Floating down.  Down where the blues turned into blacks.  Where the deep became so cold and the sunlight never penetrated.  Into the abyss where pain ended and rest would come. 

Once, I even let go of the raft, I watched it begin to drift away and when the currents started to pull it faster and faster, I panicked, the will to live was too strong and I swam like a man possessed to catch up with it.  When I reached it, I pulled myself up on it and kissed the rough boards, then I cried, blubbering like a baby but without tears.  I was too dehydrated for tears.  I didn’t want to die but I just wasn’t tough enough to take this anymore."

I am having fun with this story.  Honestly I don't know where it came from.  I don't make up the stories, they are already made up, inside me, just waiting to get out.  I merely extract the energy from within, let it run down my arms and through my fingers where it dances along the keyboard until, ultimately it dies.  Once dead, it is trapped in my hard drive and on paper. 
After that I give it to you. 
You are responsible for bringing it back to life.

On a side note, I have officially signed up for the A to Z challenge.  I am looking forward to that. 

January is almost over.  Everything here is covered in ice.  I almost slipped and fell on my keester today. 

The woodstove is heating the house quite comfortably, my efforts are paying dividends finally.  The furnace has been off since I came back from deer camp on the 18th of November.

Remmi has survived his tutoring and is recovering nicely.

Big Brown Dog is doing well.  He has lost some weight and is looking great, although his chin whiskers are as white as mine now.  I feel lucky having a great dog to grow old with!

My wife begins her new job on Monday.

I would say I am feeling blessed.  I can only hope that our good fortune continues.
It sure is nice to have things go your way.  I almost feel guilty...almost.

I should have the painting finished in my writing room this weekend.  I'm thinking maybe I need a plant in here.  I think it would be nice.

I may download some sort of typing instructor program, as I am lousy at typing.  My hands and wrists take a beating typing the way I do.  One finger, left hand and two fingers and a thumb, on the right hand.  I sure could get my stories out a lot faster.

Enjoy your Thursday evening be it thirsty or not!
Ciao,
Bushman
 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tutored, neutered, there all the same right?

It's finally Thursday and guess what?
I don't have to work tomorrow.  Apparently the work gods deem that 40 hours is enough this week.

That means I get to sit in my writing room and wail away at the keys until something, clearly meant for either a weekend at Bernie's, or some public restroom stall comes pouring forth.
Shouldn't take much for either one but you had better believe I will think it's funny.

Just like I think it's funny when I hide behind the door in the bathroom and scare the bejesus out of my wife.  I don't know why she doesn't appreciate it.  I laugh my ass off!

I haven't made any progress on anything at all this week.  Work has been dreadful.  The higher ups have got their whips out and they are finely tuned and polished to a painful point.

It has been non-stop, go go go, and hurry the &*$% up all week.  I'm not as young as I used to be (why does everyone say that?  Isn't it obvious) and it has taken its toll.
We built 16 fire trucks in 4 stinkin' days.

When I get home it takes the remaining energy I have left just to change clothes and make a cup of coffee...and I use a Keurig, so all I have to do is push a button!

Yeah, I know, if you want it bad enough...but really you don't want to read what I would write after work.  It would be likened to an episode of Threes' Company, but Jack would be played by Michael Moore and the girls would be played by Roseanne and Riki Lake.  (That actually might be entertaining for a spell)  What I'm saying is it just wouldn't work.

What the hell is going through your head...punk!

So anyways I don't force it.  Mornings are my best time.  Early bird gets the worm.  The worm, in this case, is words.  Lots of them and they all make a little trip together to adventure land.

Couple new things for today.

I just left the optometrist.  I have new contacts in my eyes.
My eyes are worse than before.
He is correcting my "bad" eye.  My left eye can't really read anything without my right eye.
He is correcting my distance vision (which means I may have to wear a pair of readers over my contacts for up close stuff.  I guess he can't fix everything with one solution.
My "oilers" in my eyes, which keep the tears from evaporating too fast, don't work very well.  (I think they must be Mexican) so my eyes dry out fast, especially with contacts.
I just dropped $80.

Best news of the day:
My wife finally landed a new job!  Not sure what she will be doing but it's more money than the last job, which was corporate downsized, and it is a heck of a lot closer to home.
Can you smell that?  It's new cabin smell.  Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Painting has commenced in the writing room.  More to follow tomorrow.
Out of the 7 new books, stacked on my awesome new writing desk, one of them has been closed and moved to the read pile.

Tomorrow, Remmi goes to get tutored.  Maybe it will calm him down a bit.


That's about it for now.  Time for dinner and most likely a nap before bedtime!

Later
-Bushman

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Lion and I #9

Hello and happy Sunday,

Today I hit 10,000 words on The Lion and I, with a total of 11,160 words so far.  I am one-tenth of a way to a full-fledged novel.  Wouldn't that be special.
I had fun writing this part this morning.
Hope you enjoy reading it.
---------------------------------------




When I came to I was piled up in the back corner of the stern. I had made it out of the cargo hold just as the ship rolled over on its top. My arm had been entangled in a mooring line and the thick rope had kept me from separating from the main body of the boat. Luckily for me the boat was not top heavy and once it went over it must have rolled back upright. The entire thing had done a complete three hundred and sixty-degree turn.

The waves bashed at my body, it was difficult to get a breath of air with the water constantly pouring over me. The boat would spin every time it would dip into one of the troughs made by the towering waves. In one direction, I would be doused with waves, then the boat would spin and the wind and the rain would gnaw at my face.  There was no middle ground.  I reached up to protect my eyes from the driving, spike-like, rain drops and when my hand touched my face it came away bloody. I must have bashed my head when the ship rolled. I couldn't believe that I hadn't been washed overboard and drowned. I wasn't sure if I could consider myself lucky or not.

The wave that had rolled the boat over had also done some considerable damage to the upper portion of the ship. The Cargo hold, with its flimsy, fiberglass panels, had taken the brunt of the wave and the soft aluminum under structure had bent from the force of thousands of gallons of water smashing into it. It creaked and moaned whenever a big gale blew. I knew it wouldn’t be long and the entire structure would rip apart. Even though I had never been on the ocean in a boat before I had the idea that maybe the top being ripped off, along with the sides might give me a fighting chance at survival. The walls of the cargo hold acted like a giant sail. The wind beat upon it relentlessly and drove it mercilessly through the water. Crashing headlong into waves one second and then sideways through a deep trough the next. It was only a matter of time before the boat rolled over again and this time it might be for good.

For the time being, I was helpless. I laid there, entwined in the lifesaving rope and prayed. Lightning bolts ripped through the night sky and in those brief seconds of light I could see my ultimate demise. Events of my life flashed through my mind, mimicking the lightning bolts. Thunder boomed overhead and the waves continued to roll over the hapless boat. This was the end, I was almost sure of it.

I looked up into the pitch black darkness as a monstrous bolt of lightning tore the sky apart with white-hot electricity and I cried out.

“I'm sorry!”
“I should have never done those things, I'm sorry for who I am, for who I was.”
“I'm sorry Mary, I love you.”

Tears washed down my face and even in the storm you could see the sadness trace its way down my cheeks. Bits of light flashed and illuminated the sorrow.  I had never in my life felt so much remorse.   Death would have been a relief.
Once again, across the sky, a horizontal bolt of lightning flashed from one end of the sky to the other. It was so bright I held up my hand to block the light but not before I noticed the sixty foot wave that was about to crash down upon the stricken vessel.

“Goodbye,” I choked out into the night, where no one but God could hear me.

The wave reached the boat and at first it seemed as if we might ride up and over it but halfway up the boat turned over and rolled down the wave. Over and over it turned as the wave continued folded in on it.  Now completely under water and still rolling the boat began to tear apart.
The bridge was the first part to be torn away. I struggled to maintain my grip on the rope. The boat was still rolling over underwater and as it rolled upright the lightning flashed and I could see, through the turbulent water, the bridge being snatched away from the main body of the boat.
So easily, like popping the head from a dandelion. In one instant, it was ripped away like it was never there in the first place. I thought he saw a glimpse of the captain swirling through the water as the bridge was swept away, but I wasn't sure.

The next thing, to go, were the fiberglass panels that made up the sidewalls of the cargo hold. One by one they were ripped off the aluminum framing and pulled into the deep.
I watched as the heavy wooden crate repeatedly slammed into the framing as the boat rolled. It was like an animal fighting to free itself from a cage. One of the aluminum uprights broke free and the crate tumbled out of its confines and rolled away in the waves. Don and Juan’s lifeless bodies, crushed by the crate, must have been washed out before, as I saw no trace of them anywhere.

I couldn't breathe, the boat had been under for too long. I had to get out, get untangled from the rope, which had saved my life just moments ago but now seemed to want to claim it. I wrestled with the heavy rope. Pulling my arms free, I reached down and tried to untangle it from my feet. It was pulled tight around my shoes. I couldn't get it off. It had cinched tight on the leather and would not let go. My vision began to blur and little black specks danced before my eyes. I panicked, I was about to black out. With one last desperate attempt, I reached down, untied my shoes, and wrenched my feet free from the binding rope and leather footwear. With a giant push, I headed towards the lightning bolts.

Breaking the surface, I pulled in a breath of air like no other. It was possibly the best breath of air I had ever taken in my life. My lungs were burning and I sucked greedily at the air around me, coughing as I inhaled splashed of seawater. I was alive, at least for now.

I treaded water for the longest time. Every time the lightning flashed I would get a glimpse of my surroundings.  I couldn't see the boat anywhere. I needed something to hang on to, I couldn't tread water forever. It was already getting difficult to keep my head above water with the waves trying to force it down every ten seconds. I searched, desperately looking for anything. Another bolt of lightning shot through the night and that's when I saw it. The large wooden crate that had been in the cargo hold. It was some sixty yards ahead of me-I started to swim for it.

The ocean was merciless as I tried, in vain, to make it to the crate. My body would ride high up on the waves and in one moment I would be looking down at the crate, some 20 feet below me and on the next wave, the crate would be twenty feet above me. I couldn't seem to make the distance any shorter. When the next wave lifted me up, another flash lit up the sky and just as the light was fading, I noticed another piece of wreckage much closer to me. I gave up on the crate and headed towards the other piece. When I reached it I was surprised at what it was. It appeared to be the top of the crate that I had, just moments ago, been trying to catch. I drug my body half way up on the piece of wood, my heart skipped a beat as it began to sink from my weight. I stopped halfway on to it, my waist and legs, still in the water and my arms stretched out before me so my fingers would just reach the top edge.. This would have to do. It would hold me for now.
I held fast to the top of the crate and watched, through flashes of lightning, while the rest of the crate drifted off into the night.

Throughout the night, the wind and the rain beat down on me as I clung to life astride that piece of wooden crating. The storm raged for another 10 hours before the wind began to let up and the rain ceased. The seas were still rough, with waves cresting upwards of fifteen feet, but I had held on. My fingers ached from the effort of clinging to the wood, shards of wood had embedded under my fingernails and the pain was intense but I had not let go. Far off in the distance, the horizon lightened as the sun began to awaken.



Saturday, January 17, 2015

Progress of sorts

So today was an almost uneventful day.  The fact that I was out of bed at 4:30 am had me anxious and restless by 8:30.  In fact, so much so that I woke momma up from her beauty sleep and bribed her with breakfast at a local restaurant which has great food.  She was up and out of bed right quick.  I guess she was hungry.

Last night Kait was home and we all were eager for dinner as I was trying my hand at Asian lettuce wraps.  On a recent visit to P.F. Changs eatery, we had some and thought they were great so I intended to reproduce the tasty treat.  They are incredibly easy to make, and healthy too.
I made them with ground turkey for an even healthier edge.

I did not have a recipe for the dipping sauce that they had at the restaurant so I winged it and it turned out almost perfect.  We ate every last bit.  I also managed to wash it down with slightly less than a six pack of a new beer.  It is Leinenkugel's Big Butt Doppel Bock.  It is quite tasty. (and if you drink 5 of them you wake up with a headache...bonus prize)

So while I ate healthily, I killed that with beer.  Oh well, life is short and I make it shorter every day!
I was going to make egg rolls to go with the lettuce wraps but decided not to.  So guess what's for dinner tonight?  Yep egg rolls!  I just made the filling a bit ago and it is in a colander cooling.  the house smells delish!

I have made some marked improvements in the writing room today.  I finished cleaning out some more of the junk that always seems to collect in here.
I also found a new desk on Craig's list and picked that up today.  It was quite the steal at $75.

I went from this




To this





Not too shabby eh?

I also picked up the last set of blinds for the east window.  Eventually, I will get some window dressings for them so they aren't so "sterile" looking.

Next in line for today was getting the paint out of the storage room.  I will begin painting the room either tonight or in the morning.  I have a very nice color for the lower walls.  It is an earthy shade of green called grapevine.  Very dark and comfortable.  I want my room to be warm, soft and a place I can just come hang out and read or write.  The upper walls will be two different colors.  I would like to see a rich brown, sort of like coffee with just a touch of cream.  The other color will be white for the trim and window casings along with the doors.

Here is a picture of it so far.  You can see my giant 8x4 dry erase board on the wall.  It is filling up with notes, quotes, and ideas.



I want to replace the ceiling tiles as well.  I would love those replicas of the older tin squares or bronze ones.  It is a drop ceiling unfortunately and I really don't want to drywall it in.  It's one of the two rooms left, but I'm not up to the task right now.  Drywall sucks!


Enough for now, I'm off to fry eggrolls.
See you tomorrow,
-Bushman





Friday, January 16, 2015

Pondering the problems.

Hello and Happy Friday,

I'm taking a post off from the book.  I can't be serious all the time.  I do hope you enjoy what I have written.  In hindsight, I wish I had not committed to publishing this extemporaneously.

My biggest issue is that I feel as though I am neglecting the story.  Publishing it directly after first draft leaves me no room for error.  I can't go back and fix things or adjust timelines or geographical locations.  This forces me to adapt to the situation, and albeit a good exercise for writing, it doesn't give the reader a fair shake.

I enjoy creating this story and sharing it with you.  I know it will be so much more intriguing after a re-write.  Writing is really a neat thing.  Once you realize you like it, there's no turning back.
I think the biggest obstacle in writing is getting it out in the first place.

If you write, I assume you read.  It kinda goes hand in hand.

When I read a big, badass novel from say, my favorite author, Stephen King, the words are smooth and the book is flawless.  The points are driven in, the characters are well formed and the whole thing moves along effortlessly.

When I write a book and I start re-reading the first draft I think to myself, "I suck!".
I seriously do.  Sometimes I can't believe what I wrote.  I think to myself that no one in their right mind would read this crap.  Then I get disheartened.  I'm not cut out for this.
I throw in the towel and walk away, disgusted.

Here is where I go wrong.  I'm willing to bet, when the big boys (and girls) write their books, it probably reads something like mine.  But, and that is a big BUT, they understand that all, they are doing, is getting the main story out.  Planting the seed.  Then they get to go back and fine tune it and fill in all the juicy details.

Like this for instance.  Let's say I'm writing a story and there is a part about a guy that walks into a bar.  I know why he is walking into a bar, he is going to get into a fight, which will end in jail time, probation and eventually his turnaround and falling in love with his probation officer.
(When I write the story, first draft,  I simply type that a guy walks into a bar.)

There is the story in a nutshell.  That is a pretty boring story but...when I go back and fill in all the details it gets a hell of a lot more interesting.  Like this.
-----------------------------------------------------
Donovan pulled the dust streaked Camaro up to the curb.  The morning's dew had trickled down the car in little rivulets, streaking the orange paint with dirty tear like stains.  It needed a bath, but first his thirst needed to be quenched.
He emerged from the car, his pride and joy, driven by Bobby Allison in the Daytona 500 back in 1995.  It was the official pace car and he had picked it up for a mere five grand.  Cocaine!  Who knew it would bring him such luck!

His foot hit the dust covered street and small brown plumes, puffed from the ground.  It was hot.  The rain, a scarcity in these parts, had refused to come around this spring and everything was scorched.
He stood up and stretched, it had been a long drive.  His snakeskin boots were covered with a thin veil of dust and his worn, but comfortable blue jeans, had a permanent wrinkle from sitting in the car for so long.
He nonchalantly reached around behind him and patted the small of his back.  The feel of hard iron reassured him.  He adjusted his oilskin hat, purchased in Wyoming, a few hundred miles back and headed towards the door of the tavern.
------------------------------------

See that is how you go back and fix a story.  At first I knew why he was going in there but I didn't know anything about the man.

Now after a re-write I now know that he has been on the road for awhile now, he has snakeskin boots, which screams badass, and he has a nice car that he got from dealing drugs or taking a payoff.  You could also glean that he has an alcohol problem and that he may be expecting trouble because he checked his gun.

Now the story breathes a bit more and the direction for further writing opens up quite a bit.

This is what I need to conquer.  Getting past the first obstacle.  Stop being in such a hurry to get it right.  And stop trying to get it right the first time.

That being said, refer to the second paragraph.  As much as I try to get some details in my story I feel pressured to get a page or so published on the blog.  It outweighs the creativity.  To me, it kills the story.
I won't complete the story of, The Lion and I, completely on my blog.  I will get you good and warmed up and then I will deliver a complete book later on.

My apologies for misconstruing the facts.

So anyways,
Would you buy it?

Cheers,
-Bushman


Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Lion and #8

The Lion and I
VIII



 The waves were building as the wind whipped across our bow. The steady lap of waves against our hull became louder and louder. From below our feet it sounded as if all of hell were breaking loose. I held firm to the gunnell, grasping and old rusty cleat. Seawater washed over the sides of the makeshift cargo boat and poured over the top of my shoes and at the same time, waves crashed against the other side, splashing on my back. I was soaked, from head to toe.

I looked at my wrist, where my watch had once resided, and cursed myself. I looked across the boat at the only other person stupid enough to be out in the open, in this storm.

“Que Tiempo?'' I asked him.

He looked at me for a minute, I was hoping the deafening roar of the storm was the reason for the delay. He shifted his eyebrows up and shrugged his shoulders. Then, turning his palms up, he gestured the universal sign for “What?”

I pointed at my wrist and repeated myself, louder this time, “Tiempo?”.

He nodded and glanced at his watch.
Instead of trying to be heard over the roar of the ocean he simply held up 5 fingers.

“Holy Shit!” I thought to myself.

I started counting backwards. We had left the dock that morning at sunrise, about 6:30, I guessed. We had sailed due west for several hours before the captain came out with sandwiches. bologna and cheese on dry white bread with no mustard, ketchup or mayo. I was hungry so I choked it down. I regretted it now as my stomach began to churn with the ocean and the rocking of the boat.
After lunch, it was 2 to 3 more hours before they met up with the ship. He guessed the time around 3-3:30 when they pulled alongside the large container ship.

He was quite surprised when the giant black ship cut her engines and slowly came to a stop. It was just the two of them, alone in the ocean, most likely 100-150 miles from any land.
The sea had been calm at that time. The storm would begin about an hour after their encounter with the container ship.

He watched as a large boom swung over the side of the taller ship. On the end of the boom was a large crate. Probably six feet by six feet and almost as tall. The boom lowered the crate down to the ratty, smaller ship and with much concerted effort the two shipmates slid back a large hatch cover on the top of our cargo hold. The crate was lowered into our hold and my two mates quickly unstrapped the slings and then secured it to the floor of our cargo hold. As soon as the last click of the ratchet strap sounded the two quickly exited the cargo hold, climbed up on the top deck and put the hatch cover back in place. Neither of them seemed to eager to stay in the hold for very long.

I had pretty much figured it out that we were smuggling drugs of some kind. I just didn't know why I needed to be apart of it. The two Mexicans surely didn't need my help and no one, except for a few brief words from the captain, had said anything to me the entire journey. I said a quick prayer that we didn't get caught and watched as the container ship sailed off into the horizon. The entire time the two vessels had transferred cargo not one person was ever seen from the larger ship. Another reason to think, whatever I was in on, was highly suspicious.

I expected the captain to turn the boat around and head back for the coast but instead he kept our current course. We maintained our line directly into the setting sun. I wondered if we were going all the way to Hawaii. That would take days not hours. I began to worry.

The storm peaked in intensity about 8 hours after our pickup. I knew I was a dead man. Giant waves crashed over the entire boat. Engulfing it in thousands of gallons of water at a time. The wind was so fierce that the boat almost lay on its side at times. Wave after wave pounded into the boat and I could not stay outside anymore, like I had been instructed. I released my death grip on the cleat and lunged for the cargo hold door. I almost made it before a wave hit and slammed me up against the opposite rail. My head hit something hard, I couldn't tell what it was, it was too dark and there was too much water sloshing everywhere. I staggered back to my feet and locked on to the door handle. Giving a mighty tug I opened the door and collapsed on the inside. The remaining Mexican followed me inside. Seems as if he had enough of the storm as well.

He closed the door and I wiped the water from my face. There was a red light on, inside the cargo hold and once my eyes adjusted I could make out the large crate. The second Mexican was busy cinching the tie down straps and double checking the cleats on the floor. I stumbled over to where he was to see if he needed help. He pointed to a box in the corner and said, “sientate”.
He slapped his butt with his hand and pointed at me and the box.

“I got it, I got it...sit,” I said and headed towards the box to sit down.

As I passed the big crate, that had come from the other ship, I heard a low growling sound.
I whipped around, facing the two men, my eyes big and questioning.
“What the hell is in there?”, I asked them.

“Nada, nada, nada,” they replied.

“Bullshit,” I said to them.

I walked over to the crate, listening as best as I could, over the storm raging outside. I put my hands on the crate. I didn't know if I should be expecting to feel something or not.

Don and Juan, the two Mexicans I had nicknamed, just stood there gawking at me before one of them ran towards the door of the bridge.  I figured he was going to tell the captain I was snooping around. Which is exactly what he did but before the captain came down I had a chance to survey the box a little more.   As I searched, I detected a distinct odor of an ammonia like smell. Almost like strong cat urine. Something stirred inside the crate. I could feel it, almost sense the vibrations in the wood.

The captain burst through the door, apparently trusting Don to drive the boat in this storm. He charged up to me, pushing me back towards the box I was supposed to be sitting on.

“You sit, no worry. You no look. Not your time. We need you...we ask,” his English was broken but I understood enough to make do.

As my butt hit the wooden box whatever was in the crate let out the most God awful sound I had ever heard. It scared the bejesus out of me and judging by the reactions of the captain and Juan, it did them too.

He looked directly at me, like it was my fault.

“We need you help,” he said. Desperation, fear and panic showed in his eyes.

He staggered over to me where I sat on the box. The boat was rocking terribly and it was almost impossible to even walk around. He motioned me up off the box. I stood and he removed the lid.
Inside of the box was a small leather briefcase. He pulled it out and replaced the lid on the box. He then set the briefcase on top of the box and flipped opent he triggers that opened the case.
The lid popped open and inside, tucked into loops of elastic, were three syringes. Big syringes, like the size you would use to tranquilize a horse.

He removed one and handed it to me pointing at the crate.

“You make sleep,” he said.

“Me? Why me?,” I asked him.

“You are the doctor,” he replied. As if this made perfect sense.

I stared at him. My mind was racing, so many questions, so little time.
I shook my head at him. No way was I going to participate in any of this. I wanted no part.

“No fucking way pal,” I yelled over the creaking of the boat and the pounding of the waves.

“You make good on bad money doing this,” he said. “You even with Mr. Sal.”

That's when it all began to make sense. Now I knew why I was here. It seemed as though Sal was smuggling a live animal in the crate and he need a veterinarian to go along  for the ride should something come up. Which, just my luck, had.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” I stammered as I stood up. I headed towards the crate as the captain made his exit. Juan promptly re-appeared and together with Don's help they began to remove a section of the wooden crate using a hammer and a crowbar.

The crate was nailed tight and try as they might, they couldn't quite get the crowbar in between the seams of the wooden planks that made up the crate. One of them disappeared through the doorway and came back a second later with a large sledge hammer. He lifted it high over his head and as he brought the hammer down with a grunt the boat was hit by the final wave.

The boat rolled over onto it's side. The hammer flew from his hands and smashed against the wall. I fell forward and slid into the opposite wall. All three of us lay in a huddle against the wall, which was now the floor. The crate remained strapped to the floor, which had now become the wall, and sat above us a few feet away. I scrambled to my feet and started to move towards the rear cargo door. I was getting out. I didn't care about anyone else. I was not drowning in this stinking cargo hold.
Water began pouring in through every seam and crack.

I looked back just in time to see the straps that held the crate in place let go. The snapped and even in the gale of the storm it sounded like a bull whip. The crate came crashing down and before they even registered what was about to happen, it crushed Don and Juan.

Another wave hit the boat as I opened the cargo door and sent the vessel over on its top. I lunged out the door into the pitch black and that was the last thing I remember of that night.