Ben Oostdam story # 255


more serendipity

The Captain had joined the Professor and the Journalist
for their 6 pm Cuba Libre.
"Once in the Adriatic, I was painting the walls of
the toilet..." - he started.
"The Head, he means," interrupted the Professor -
and "Why did you have to do that yourself
when you were the boss?" queried the Journalist.
"The Captain took the interruptions in his stride:
"Because the woodwork of this boat was teak and mahogany
and I did not want a dumb crew member to make spots on it!"
he replied.

"Suddenly my little cell phone rang and I kept it
ringing while I carefully cleaned my hands first."
"An impatient voice said that his was the US Congress
calling and asked me to hold.
I shouted that I was too busy for jokes and hung up."

"A few minutes later the same thing happened, but now
I told them that all calls would have to be directed to me
through the American Embassy in my country."

"I went on painting and sweating, because it was a
hot day and I was annoyed with these practical jokes
that did not seem practical at all."

" When I was almost done painting, there was one more call,
and this time it was the U.S. Embassy asking me very
politely for my assistance."
I was surprised they would still want to deal with me,
but they said they had investigated me and that I had been
considered a safe risk for a certain secret mission."

The Journalist and Professor looks at each other in
amazement, and one of them mumbled: "Mission Impossible?"

"Anyhow, they wanted me to charter my boat to a Congressional
Delegation for a couple of days, so they could pretend going
fishing while actually meeting with our Foreign Affairs Minister."
"This was just before the Second Iraq War and they were busy
lining up support at that time."
"I was not supposed to tell anyone about this and they said
they would trust my promise to keep quiet."
"I told them I would charter to anyone paying the right price
and then they said they would have a rather large party with
the Congressmen, their wives, assistants and a lot of security."

"Well, when they came, Mr. X, the Chair of the Foreign
Affairs Committee, sat down in a deck chair -
I brought him a Cuban cigar and a drink
and he did not get up for four hours."
"One security man asked me how my girlfriend and I
had liked our trip to Miami, so that's how I found out
that they had investigated her, too!
Later, another guy talked about the lobsters in
Boston Bay not being as big as they were when
I was fishing there ...which was some ten years ago."
"One of the Congress wives liked our wine so much that
she ordered a case, so I want to get in touch with her
now because we just set up a company to import
our beer and wine into the southern United States."

"I got along very well with the Chairman's Assistant,
a very big man ...," the Captain continued,
at which time the Journalist - who knew everyone
in Washington - asked him if that fellow's name was "Y"?
"Yes", Captain Anon acknowledged with a happy smile:
"See what a coincidence, the Professor here knew Bill
Schilling for whom I worked first and who later worked
for me, and now you know this man . . . ,
the world is not so big after all!"

The Professor mumbled something about six degrees of removal.
The Journalist chose to enquire about the Captain's
liquor import affairs in the USA.
The Captain jumped up and walked away:"I'll be right back!"
While waiting, the Professor and the Journalist kept up some
conversation as to the credibility of the tales told.
One even surmised that the Captain might be on Cristine's
payroll as the resident raconteur ...
When the object of these questions returned,
he showed a very impressive wine bottle which,
to the captain's expressed regrets, they could not
open and drink now because it was intended as a present
for a prospective customer to-morrow.

At that moment, the Journalist's wife came by
and he excused himself to go for dinner.
The Professor cast the conversation "over another bow" -
as he called it:
"I took three years of Geology at McGill when Dr. Thomas Clark
was still Chairman - he is now a hundred years old
and still gets to his office every week!
I learned from him and Dr Stearn about theGeology of North America,
so a decade after that, when I drove through Tennessee,
I recognized one outcrop as the famous "Chattanooga Shale"
so I stopped to get a sample for my collection.
I noticed a piece of it lying on the ground below the cliff which
was just about the rigtht size, so I picked it up.
By coincidence, I looked at the small depression which
it had made in the ground and noticed a dirty green color.
I bent down and picked it up, and - believe it or not-
it was a fifty dollar banknote!"

"I can trump that one!" promised the Captain,
"because on the first night I met the Irish guy
with whom I became best of mates, I had too much to drink.
I went to the bathroom and was leaning too far forward
toward the wall of the urinal, waving back and forth,
as when you are seasick. I saw out of the corner
of my eye some messy stuff behind a bucket next to me."

I reached down and brought up a hundred dollar note!"
"Well, that's only twice as much..." the Professor interjected,
but the Captain held up his hand and said,
"I am not done yet...there was more, and when I was done
I had picked up about three thousand dollars!"

"Some days later, I picked up my Irish mate at his house,
in the open sportscar I had bought.
We went for a drive and he insisted we stop at
a pet store to buy something for his youngest daughter
who had justed turned three to-day.
I thought it might be a gerbil or a small rabbit or
even a snake or a turtle, but no,
this crazy guy insisted on buying her a pony!"
It was no use to tell him that the pony
would not fit in the car, because he was
showing signs of a growing rage again. . .
So I pacified him and we stuffed the pony
in the passenger's seat- because it did not fit
it the trunk. When we got to his house,
his wife refused to let the pony in ..."
"So what happened next?" asked the Professor.
"I left them there to sort out their problems,
because she was about the only one
who could deal with him when he reached a full blown rage."
By then it was getting pretty late for dinner
and they moved to the dining area.
They were barely there when his cell phone rang again.
He jumped up and walked away, returning within a minute with
a lovely young senorita, who he introduced as :
"the daughter of the Police General" . . .
She joined them for dinner and talk, and it was fun
to see the Captain "operate" and watch her reactions.
When around desert they started to "text" to each other
on their respective cell-phones, the Professor got a kick
out of seeing the Captain's huge hand hovering over a
keyboard that was about as large as his thumb,
yet delicately pick the right numbers.
The Professor made his excuses,politely pressed his lips
on the girl's dainty fingers
and disappeared into his room to write up his journal.

BLO fecit 20060201_18 - stories