Nijo 2

That’s not it, above … just a reminder of a failure or a cautionary tale.

I have to admit, the number of times I wanted to kill him, well I lost count. Not a single one of my peers would have put up with his arrogant demands. None. (Does that say something about me or them? I’m afraid to pursue that line of thought.)

Anyway, I kept believing he wanted me to fail. (How immature is that?!)

Meanwhile, some of my  cohort continued at uni (flies in amber) with the stress  of comparative folk dancing , womyn’s studies, and 1990’s pop music appreciation (the prof’s favorite.).

I looked at them and thought what I’d already gone through – and was still standing. that bastard was more clever than he looks!

And walked off that stage and he was there. Congratulations? You must be joking or don’t know him. Unsmiling, he held out a scrap of paper and a taxi voucher.  I accepted without a word and ended up at the marina,

I exited, the taxi departed and, I wondered , What now?

And a voice rang out, “Ms Jennifer?”

I turned and a man came toward me. “Follow me, please.” We went down a small ramp onto a floating walkway and along it. Then there was a smaller walkway to the left and we followed that.

Beside it was a boat, big, mahogany, long, sleek and (he handed me a set of keys) mine! “Welcome to Nijo 1. Good luck with your expedition.” I said something, I think,  and he left.

*

Well, that was then. My graduation present. Huh.

I vaguely knew there was an exploration craft being built; I never imagined it would be mine! I’d been on work boats, what passed for human habitation seemed almost like an afterthought.

So I walked the desk the first time thinking, How sybaritic.

Until I found my stateroom and went in. Neither too big nor too small. A custom, ergonomic workstation with sufficient storage. A bar fridge at the base of  the right half of the wardrobe.

He had put much thought into this … gift. It was certainly appreciated on our foray into the GPGP.

The thing is, that first trip humbled us. We dredged some, measured, brought back samples. But mainly, we mapped. The farther we went, the worse it was. Finally, we admitted we were playing out of our league.

What we need is, he said, “a big-ass work boat and a monster barge.”

And thus, Nijo 2 was born.

If time is money, he certainly proved it at the local shipyard; we were operational  before the year was out. And a shakedown cruise in the dead of winter proved that haste makes waste …

“We’ll wait for good weather and make our first test. My company, other fish to fry.”

A mild winter uncharacteristically crept away and an early Spring danced in. Our benefactor returned and we all watched every aspect of weather. All was optimum, what could go wrong?

Well. there were several flies in the ointment, “we came here last and ill-prepared but our hearts are in the ocean and we’re entitled to pic k the ideal spots first.”But the barometer was good, the skies clear,  and our purpose defined.

Two hours in, we called our own meteorolgist : “Any changes?”

“Everything developing as scheduled. Oh … wait … a Canadian notification. Let me confirm this and call you back.”

“O.K.”

Everyone gets a little nervous when anything goes random. But all we can do is wait.

Suddenly, the radiotelephone rings. “Yes?”

“Holy … the mother of all polar vortex has arrived, So far west, maybe a record … ”

“Cut to the chase! Are we in danger?”

“What? Of course not.  It’s an enormous single, so will drop frozen Hell on the U.S. midwest.””

“Good. Off … nothing to worry about, guys.”

Then the first blast of rain hit, so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think. And a wave of frigid air that tested the systems,

I thought I heard the radiotelephone but it was only a guess and I snatched the receiver anyway, only to hear, “About that last report … ”

“What the Hell is going on? We are got a slice of extreme weather.” Just then, the peal of the biggest temple gong in the universe.

:Mr. E smiled sadly. “That’d be the barge attacking the work boat. We’re next.”

I stared at him for a moment and then remembered the radiotelephone receiver in my hand. “Report!.”

” … I was tr … never mind, That monster polar vortex weakened and split in two.”

I cut in. “That’s good, isn’t it?”

“Well, no. See, the western one skittered across to Siberia and would be giving you all of its weather.”

And then the marine radio gifted us a Mayday. Our other workboat had managed to retrieve the small crew from the barge but the impact had fouled their rudder, they were dead in the water. Engine fine but no maneuverable capability.

“We’re coming to get you.”

“The rain is so heavy we have no idea where that barge is.”

“It doesn’t matter. We’ll do the best we can.”

“Thanks.”

I got back to the radiotelephone. “Any more good news?”

” … (whimper) There’s a supercell forming to the east of you … and another on the west.”

“We’re doing a rescue-and- tow and, by dog, we’ re all coming home. Book it!..

And we did. Nobody ever saw that barge again. And the non-profits? Never saw ’em again. I guess their hearts are with the ocean.

UgU

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