Friday, June 7, 2013

Smiling In the Sunshine: Dragonfly

Hey Guys,  it's a Rainy Saturday and I'm bored and maybe you are too  so I thought I would share a chapter from the book I never wrote called Smiling In the Sunshine.  TJ

One Lazy Summer Day
It was late in the season when Phil thought up the idea for the flying catamarans and that about did it for the summer, for the drinking and hell raising and womanizing and practical jokes and everything else important to the boys on Flagler.  Phil moved out to his family’s old farm outside of Ruby Beach and started inventing. Well, the inventing part was pretty much complete. What Phil was doing out in that stinky old  barn was cutting the hell out of two or three perfectly serviceable but extremely used Hobies and trying to figure out a way to put together the articulating wing-form he had developed. The necessary light construction of the wings conflicted with the need to build a machine that would stay together long enough to lift the boat clear of the water. Those little beach cats practically fly, anyway, and what Phil was after was not true flying but the skipping glide of the flying fish. The wings would fold into the sides of the hulls when the boat was being operated as a regular catamaran, then fold out like the wings of a dragonfly when the flying was to begin.

Sea Trials
The initial test runs were at first quite dismal, but then Phil got hold of some old mainsail cloth from one of those big 21 foot Stiletto cats and a pair of carbon-fiber spars from who knows where and then the fur began to did the boat, after a fashion.

Captain Dave
It was Cromwell, of course, who was to serve as test-pilot due to his greater skill with a sailboat. They decided to take her out on a day when the wind was particularly strong, from the East. As the boys unloaded the boat from the trailer a crowd of curious beachgoers began to gather. The launch area was right there in front of the Crooked Angel Saloon at the end of Flagler Avenue and so the strange little boat was getting more than a small amount of attention from the boisterous Happy Hour crowd. When Phil stretched out the fifteen foot wide rainbow-hued starboard batwing, an actual murmur of skeptical and boozy derision could be heard developing from the drinkers on the Saloon’s huge front porch overlooking the beach. This negative attention did nothing to dissuade Phil and Cromwell. They were well accustomed to an audience as they perpetrated their various sailing exploits, and readily welcomed the hoots and applause from the Angel’s deck crowd. (It was no coincidence that it was happy hour that time when Crazy Captain Dave blew by fast on board his 18 footer, trapezed way out to windward, butt-naked with a long yellow “Police Crime Scene” ribbon tied to his penis.)

The Maiden Flight
Once rigged the cat slipped sweetly into the surf. There was only the slightest onshore break. Phil was to ride along to the outside of the surf, then drop off and swim back to shore. They had decided that light weight was more important than extra crew for the maiden flight, besides the fact that Phil wanted to videotape the event for prosperity.

Crazy Captain Cromwell
Cromwell got her out on a beam reach to build up speed, hiking way out to stabilize her, and that damn boat just screeched off, barely in the water as it was. He reached down and cranked hard on the little winch that pulled out the windward wing, and this additional lift leveled the boat  enough to clear space for the leeward wing to be deployed. Cromwell looked like a manic marionette, mainsheet in his teeth, cranking one winch with his foot, steering by jamming the tiller extension into the waistband of his trunks. That enabled him to steer by moving his butt around, freeing his hands and feet for operation of the additional winches that opened the wings.

The Miracle of Flight
Suddenly, just like that, he shifted his ass down hard to the center of the trampoline, causing the boat to turn sharply straight into the wind, and it flew. The damn thing gently lifted clear of the ocean and flew, rising quickly some three feet out of the water. A great cheer rose up from the onlookers on the beach.

Uh Oh
Then she jibed hard to leeward and the tip of one hull caught the top of a wave and dug in, causing the boat to lurch sickeningly sideways. Instantly Cromwell found himself driving a four-sailed pinwheel, or rather hanging on to a giant four-sailed pinwheel because that was all there was left to do, as the crazy little boat alternated from flying to sailing to cart wheeling to basically hauling ass across the surface of the water at a high rate of speed that made it obvious that it was definitely coming onto the beach. Exactly where was impossible to say, so bizarre and erratic were the motions of this crazed jabberwock, and Phil and the other spectators on the beach scrambled first this way, then that, trying to guess where the inevitable wreck would occur, doing their best to not be there when it did.

Never Waste An Audience
The crowd at the saloon was going crazy, shouting encouragement and “I told you so” and thoroughly enjoying the whole spectacle. Phil was all the while shouting frantic instructions and curses and trying to film the whole mess and then, with one great righting motion, (a noble indication of Cromwell’s cool head and sailorly skills), the strange little vessel leveled off gracefully and sailed, no, flew the last twenty yards up the beach, straight downwind, wing and wing and wing and wing at what later was estimated to be twenty or thirty miles per hour, crashing delicately, like a dragonfly into a windshield, directly into the huge old log-timbered Lifeguard Tower.

All's Well That Ends Well
This was a fortuitous landing spot, (as Phil commented later), because there was already an Ambulance there, and skilled first aid help, which Cromwell definitely would be needing.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Publishing House


  1. That is a great read man, Hope you "serialize" the adventures of Phil and Cromwell. Author Author!

  2. Thanks, Buddy. I think I will be doing just that, maybe on Friday's.

  3. TJ,

    If that's a taste of your fiction, I'd have to say that you seem to be able to make it as riveting as your personal/semi-personal/reality inspired writing that all us Whispering Pines visitors have come to enjoy so much.

    Looking forward to a bigger chunk to read sometime soon.

    Steve Z