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Mace & Crown | March 23, 2018

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Miami and The Sea of Misfortune

Miami and The Sea of Misfortune

Ch. 5

The Dark ‘N’ Stormy is single handedly the most significant vice for influencing my agreement with Dr. Bob’s terms to come to Miami and peruse the islands. Predominately doing so as I lower my inhibitions, sipping from a Collins glass with a secreting lime wedge on top, while staring off of our balcony trying to count and compare the number of tiger sharks in the water to camera snapping tourists on the ship.

The night before my spring final Dr. Bob was in town on one of the legs of a cruise trip up the Atlantic. After having him over for dinner we broke into the liquor cabinet, arranging Diego’s first meeting with the doctor over several different bottles of rum and bourbon and then immediately testing, examining, and downing shots. Certainly it was an esoteric occasion for our sinister coalition, exclusive to those with abusive motives in light of what is normally considered fair, decent productivity for a Monday evening.

The Wild Turkey 101 ran smoother than expected, with favorable responses from our trio, producing that inner stir and blanket of warmth that sees that binge drinkers wrap their mouths around the bottle to the last ounces of fluid droplets. The Gosling’s Black Seal Bermuda Rum was “a good swish” and also a surprise, as the first bottle I had ever bought of Gosling’s was condensed to half a bottle of foam, likely the cause of distribution misplacement or some homeless man stumbling into an ABC store and knocking over a midsection of the rum shelf.

Bacardi Select had turned the trick so to speak, a house favorite, and a giant jug of dark rum that had been rolling in the trunk for the past two weeks as Diego and I sped along highway 460 in a fit of commotion for spring weekend at the university. Dr. Bob’s brainwaves were losing their compatibility with words to represent real meaning. He broke into hissing laughter and remained wordless with the gap of his mouth wheezing, with a banana in his hand to serve as a pointer in a demonstration to compare the diverse ratings we gave for each bottle. Regardless of his limited vision with color or depth perception, Dr. Bob would not be able to read a straight line on the labels for the rum names, referring only to Great Dismal Virginia rum as swamp gas.

But our hero of the story, Dark ‘N’ Stormy, planted the doctor in a pivoted delirium, as he began talking to President Barack Obama on the telephone, which was formerly his pointer banana, about reaching the pinnacle of the evening.

To properly make, mix: two shots Gosling’s Black Seal rum, one shot of freshly squeezed lime juice, half a shot of sugar syrup boiled in water, shake with ice and strain, and top with Gosling’s ginger beer. The lime wedge is a complimenting garnishing, as is a crazy swirly straw to uptake the flavor.

On this day henceforth the Dark ‘N’ Stormy is the allure of traditional tastings and momentous gatherings, a mood swinger and kicker to trite cocktails at hack conventions and spiked punch bowls at juvenile banquets. And speaking of which, it was quite the reason for the three of us to self medicate with the stormy remedy from a room the size of a postage stamp on a ship of a thousand lights moving at 20 knots across the water.

I’ve made a point not to refute the credibility of journalism by the use of over simplification, but let’s not waste time with spacious descriptions, as a cloudy head full of rum bothering with minute details can lead to dry spells that preside over the important task of reaching our table in the main dining ballroom. Dinner consisted of a first course of red lobster tail, snapper, and most importantly a bottle of Estancia Pinot Noir. This rather was the start of an excessive capsize of fortunate values, as we began pounding out further requests with raving and incoherent expressions, swatting at all of the waiting staff like they’re servants for a plethora of seafood at the ship’s all inclusive expense. A lion’s share of shrimp, clams, potatoes, key lime pie, raspberry chocolate cake, all of it, our free will, but all of it, food with ingredients of zero alcohol content, a concept that is very evil to grasp, as the Pinot Noir was split and emptied mostly by Dr. Bob and myself. It was replaced in a matter of milliseconds by a Jameson whiskey. Gone.

The waiters were sure to be left uneasy, sea urchins were aboard and spiking orders with mixers and chasers of large quantities of alcohol in toxic proportions from the cellar inventory. Just the few of us were bound to be known as swatters, these swindlers ruining the beneficial free enterprise of food if only not for us balancing the cost with our own checks and balances.

Dr. Bob retired respectively early that evening, though not before seeing a note placarded on our door for Diego and I, “Please come to Captain Cook’s bar for a rescheduled safety muster at 5pm tomorrow in accordance with regulations since your absence from today’s training assignment for passengers.” We were short on time and high on a drink count when we missed the original training. Dr. Bob was exempt from formal safety regulations, dually to his handicap condition. Norwegian Sky will just have to cut its losses during a case of risky emergency evacuation and leave the doctor stepping with his cane on a tilting ship, running his hands along the wall like he’s reading braille, using the rest of his senses to accommodate when the lights go out.

Diego and I sickly delighted our aptitude for the seventh floor casino, commandeering more drinks and drifting about as on lookers in a circle of hell, where the only similar feeling is being in the presence of a pest living in your home with its fleas roaming around on the carpet. People all shapes and sizes, feathered able body persons, gambling men playing craps that look as suspect as Joe Camel, some old bags dried out who were nymphs sometime long ago with masterful longevity to spend their lives pulling the levers on malfunctioning slot machines, hitting them, wishing they could get their money back, while the others starve in manic depression from their innate natures, feeding coins and smoking cigarettes, godless creatures void of frontal lobes.

I’m inclined to off putting statements when vitalized by a rotten, blotted reverence from casino partakers despite really never getting to know them. Maybe it’s the empathy I have for the custodian during closing time, filling his dust pan with filtered butts and ticket stubs. Or it could be the sly eyed sphinx with implants blowing smoke rings around her table, and all the resounding impressions from a world of cruise ship gambling, commercial airlines, fake tans, expensive jewelry, plastic surgery, cell phones, social networks and switchboard operators all currently prevalent…I’m no being of righteousness and in all reality not someone infatuated with contempt or bedridden with malice, but for all intents and purposes it’s worth noting the feeling in my stomach and giving some explanation to why I think my dinner is coming up.

Actually as a result of my pressure Diego lost about 20 dollars filtering his card into a lonesome machine before giving up and deeming us completely hypocritical for everything I just wrote. Screw that misleading cornucopia of indulgence and fortune.

I began losing track of mind after that, and all the noise peeked at the seventh floor casino. The flat out uproarious breakouts of the cruise subculture commonly were held at the opposing banks of elevators. An older woman with a tube top and a grill tan boarded our lift with her daiquiri-a-day husband, who was checking over his shoulder to go as far as to see if Diego and I would notice his ring finger going down the crease of her back to her rear. She was the pinup model for all the self obsessed orange wafers growing old with themselves and sunbathing in oven toasters. Her daiquiri-a-day husband in his white cream suit didn’t seem to mind by giving some affection. But now I’ve gone to wonder if she didn’t mind the ring on his finger, belonging to another woman just as well.

Self defense seminars teach petite young women late at night that boarding elevators are a worrisome danger that exposes almost a completely defenseless vulnerability. Not that I believe the two of us fit the common profiling description of rift raft but why take the chance and become soft when you would least expect it on a ship? We awaited the long silence; at any moment could be the deterrent of pepper spray. Egregious ideas were beginning to shape shift and take hold…a screaming cry of heresy crossed all of our minds in that elevator during that moment…a terrible utterance in a clause of danger…Throw the body off the bow, they’d never find it!…there’s cameras everywhere you fool!…nervous laughter.

Too much right brain nonsense. Our partition led us to some hollow halls that were quite creepy. Suddenly an allusion appeared on the surface and all the commotion from earlier broke down to emptiness at the bar that resembled the place of Jack Nicholson’s last temptation before lifting an axe above his head and chasing his family around. An eerie trade wind blows on the waterways of the Bermuda Triangle. I think I heard a woman somewhere sobbing. The long hallway had pictures of the Pride of Aloha and its forbidden history, some time ago, before it was renamed and rechristened as Norwegian Sky, and it all seemed so strange.

You don’t have to look far to find a great deal of mythology when taking up a research subject of the triangle. Common assumptions have been made and mostly debunked in regards of shipwrecks and plane collisions by the Coast Guard and the National Hurricane Center data, though altogether in time we’ve learned that science and statistics does little to dissuade fascination and belief. Factually speaking there’s no correction to be made when a monger goes about detailing ship wrecks and missing planes whose parts have never been recovered, but in a matter of reasoning there is a thick line of dispute.

For all the textual evidence gathered on vessel records there is an outnumbering source of popular belief and reinterpretations of history for the purposes of booksellers and talking points. What we do know is that the sea is large, and with the account of many ships and anthropological knowledge the area is a destructive mismatch and deadly combination with human error, negligence, and our worst intentions. A great amount of responsibility is misused involving those lost at sea and the instances of recording these losses. The basic indicators of mystery are told with the USS Cyclops and Flight 19. Cyclops sank back in 1918 and the entire fleet of Flight 19 disappeared in 1945, either from electrical failures (and depending on who you talk to that can relate to magnetic compassing), storms, or lack of fuel. The mystery opposition doesn’t so much as give a reason to explain a phenomenon, then again that would ruin the purpose of it being a mystery. Can we out rule the theory of a kraken?

Aside from the list of opposing ideas on the legend, they are daunting tales on a subject of interest. For that purpose there I would digress into another occurrence that deflects from the displaced and petrified emotions from sitting at the empty bar of the former Pride of Aloha while it charters a suspicious triangle of sea.

Diego and I found ourselves aimlessly walking near the Virginia Beach oceanfront, smudging around in a local natural foods grocery, selling Edgar Cayce herbal drops, Cayce biographies, and also had an enclosed space for palm readings in relation to the psychic Association for Research and Enlightenment. Colleagues and surfers we’ve known for years have gone to the store and added the supplement into their diets, as irrational the reasons for doing so other than wanting to try everything on the market from jimson weeds to speeding amphetamines for writing music and wall bending mushrooms. I first came about Edgar Cayce the sleeping psychic after reading Kerouac’s account of Neal Cassady’s high practice of spiritualism. Rather than crushing a peyote button and going south to Mexico and Peru, the belief took himself somewhere else. Those who do have the interest have to be careful of mind splitting in their own search for enlightenment, whether that’s a fundamental religion or searching for a good picking. It’s not always made out to be as some desert experience at Joshua Tree. In fact if it’s on a store shelf and it takes you somewhere else it’s likely bottled from an envious poison that lives on the deadliest ferns in a dark forest, awaiting the first girth of skin and the moment when its victim slowly descends to lunacy and a shivering death.

I didn’t buy the Edgar Cayce herbicide drops, as I refer to them. But without spending money it did lead us to the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.), tucked away with two buildings, and a labyrinth on a hill at the north end of the beach. Inexplicably the nerve wracking jitters went up my spine as we drew closer to the private library atop of the spiral staircase. The Atlantic University has several classrooms for accredited meetings for ‘spiritual healing’ and psychic readings there, with large poster boards with bright pictures of skin deformities healing over night. The library is more of the same, with Cayce groups documenting his mental explorations leading him to descriptions of Atlantis, and the emergence of its old rock wall on the island of Bimini in the Bahamas. This isn’t a regular idea brought up in the Bermuda Triangle discussion, and I have to go figure that if isn’t A.R.E. writing about it, then my words are likely cause for bad press.

Leaving the bar was like leaving from our visit to the institute, that same creeping feeling looming over, so much closer with jabbing nails to our backs. “Would you all like to stay for the 30 minute movie on Edgar Cayce?” the front desk asked. “No, we’ve got things to do.”

We sat in the nosebleeds of an empty auditorium for a Latin band warming up in practice for their rendition of songs to be performed the next night, we were all alone. When we got up and left the music was far off and still playing. Dr. Bob was knocked out asleep, with an oxygen mask over his face and sleeping apparatus wired to the wall and figuratively speaking making it a tight rope walk over a Cambodian mine field in the dark. We began shouting over the doctor to see if he’d awake, or maybe just an eye flicker. Diego screamed “shut up!” to the noise from the hallway, then loudly switched on his headphones to Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” so we could all hear.

“They were in a filthy spot in Mexico, we could have been going there!” he shouted back the comparisons in writing he had seen so much from the Duluoz Legend and the song. All this talking and mix ups of drinks, myths, and religion makes for some sleep. “Mr. Tambourine Man” despite him not actually being sleepy in the song usually will do it, it’s good closure on a day as you’re closing your eyes. For the time being though it was “Desolation Row” because once recently Diego drifted off to sleep and had a dream that he was there, with eternity and the far escape from imminence, until he was uplifted and awaken by a drilling harmonica in the key of E.

And while “Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot are fighting in the captain’s tower”, as it goes, the flower bearers leave their chambers for the night, the captain scapes to his quarters, the waiters take down their final drink tab, there’s one last lament on the piano’s keys, dice rollers blow smoke at another, the drunkards, these foul swashbucklers, curse and banter they’re on a ship that’s damned, shaking their fists as they swing and miss…and all these souls asleep sailing on foggy moonlight waters, but I don’t have to worry about it all, I’m off to some place else.