Dhow

“The Goddess managed things for half a million years and then this upstart god comes along and says he can do better, so She decides to teach him a lesson, so She says, ‘Okay.’  So the god and men rebuild the world in their image, and human civilization has been two-steps forward, one step back of mounting tensions and violent explosions, mounting tensions and violent explosions, ever since. The last few years there’s been a spectacular flare of achievement with no concern for the health of the earth and there’s death and more death but soon– BOOM–comes the nuclear ejaculation!”

Otto Van Zandt stretched his mouth taut like it was made of rubber, desperately trying to appear interested in Mark Poznansky’s latest hippy-dippy diatribe. He willed the thin smile to stay in place as he blinked his eyes and nodded. He watched the tan and muscular younger man as the latter, his long sun-bleached blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail, continued polishing.

Poznansky paused and straightened, threw down his rag. He slapped his bare chest with one hand. “She’s beautiful, don’t you think?”

Van Zandt listened to the water of the lake slapping and slushing against the pilings of a nearby pier. He rose from his cross-legged respose, staggering a bit. He rubbed the small of his back. “How long until she’s done?”

“Huh? Oh….” Poznansky stepped back and tilted his head to the left and right as he lovingly inspected the exquisite Arabian-style Dhow he’d built by hand beside an upstate New York lake. “She’s almost ready; I have to rig her and test ‘er out….” He rubbed his belly with both palms. “I’m giving her life! She’s gonna take to the water and dance the swells. Not like those fiberglass Sailfish dingies….”

“I know, you’ve said the same thing a hundred times….”

Poznansky squinted suspiciously at the older man from New York City. “You’re my friend, right? You said you like listening to me talk. You said, you think I’m a philosopher!”

Van Zandt considered the man in front of the exquisite, nearly complete small sailboat to be a brain-damaged, idiot savant, stoner. “When I saw you in your own Dhow last year–sweeping over the water, your lateen sail stretched so taut and full of speed–I knew you were someone special. I’d never seen such a beautiful boat; you were the prefect picture of freedom, almost like you weren’t even human….”

Poznansky grinned then laughed. “Yeah, yeah, but man, you can’t get the freedom unless you’re free, you know? I mean, I agreed to make you a dancer because, you know, I feel for you.” He stepped right up to Van Zandt and clapped a tanned, varnish-stained hand on his shoulder. “You were this super tight-ass Wallstreet dude, and you know, we have this agreement. You remake yourself, prepare for the return of the Goddess….”

He forced the muscles of his cheeks to move, he showed shiny teeth. “Of course, Mark, I’m learning from you every day, man. I’m just excited to try out the new Dhow.”

“Not a ‘Dhow’ man, I mean, it’s based on that design, but it’s my own creation, you know?” He took a step back, and studied the other. He removed his hand. “I mean, what is that? A polo shirt? You wear the most expensive clothes you can find to this shore, to watch the birth of of your new baby?”

“I ….” He flicked off his shoulder where Poznansky’s hand had rested.

“No, I told you, you’re going to be free. That’s the price. No electrics, no toys from the Big City. You’re stripping down, man.”

Van Zandt huffed as a laugh started and died in his throat. “How free are you, Mark? Are you telling me you don’t have any ‘electrics’?”

“Nope! Nothing. Not a computer, not a television, not a phone, nothing. Like I told you, I live in a cabin in the Adirondacks with my wife and co-husband and we all live as free and natural as we can.” He started to unbutton his shorts.

“Uh, what?’

The shorts fell to the tops of his old sneakers and he stepped out of them. He wasn’t wearing any underwear. “Free, man, free! If you want your dancer, you’ll have to take everything off; it’s the only way you can sail her.”

Van Zandt felt the strange sensation of panic. “But, there are summer homes all around the lake,” he protested, stuttering. “People I know back in the city, important people!”

Poznansky turned, naked except for his shoes, and climbed back inside the nearly finished, sleek little sailboat that was handcrafted from the finest wood, sealed, painted and shining  like a piece of art.  He retrieved his cotton rag and resumed polishing. “Those are the terms.”

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Rivka Jacobs

Rivka Jacobs

Rivka Jacobs

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