Voyage of the Colonel Darvish

A Day in the Life

There is a new student in your class today. Your early afternoon class is an
Advanced English class that borders on your language studies and thesis. Most
of your students are young adults who would in the past be considered gifted.
Not that they still aren’t gifted, just there is no use for overly book smart
people anymore. Most of the students in this class are in it to escape the
boredom of menial labor and light military work that is expected of everyone in
the area after age 18. The new student is not announced, nor have you been told
of her enrollment. The new student is a female, dark hair and skin, dressed
smartly in a women’s business coat over a blouse. Probably in her early 30s she
is fairly attractive and fixes her gaze on you as she opens an attache case
pulling out a spiral notebook and pen.

“Delores Gonzales” Delores she answers your question about who are you, “Heard your
class was interesting, been wasting my time doing all kinds of footwork research
myself when it sounds like you have already done what I am trying to learn, the
evolving language of this area.” You are slightly taken aback by her quoting
exactly what you are trying to teach here and working on. Over the next few
days Delores is the model student, she is always fixed upon your words, writing
copious amounts of notes and asking energizing questions in both English and

You are refreshed at someone who really wants to listen to your seminars, not
that the others don’t, just few of them are excited about it, and not as much as

Your daily routine consists of early morning logistics, making sure the boats
are properly crewed, moving replacements where they are needed and watching the
fleet set sail, wasting the day away, then meeting the returning fleet and
watching as the catch makes it into the right holding spots and no one is
skimming product (except you of course). As this day dawns and you arrive as
the crews are there are two well dressed Nikkeijin waiting for you on the dock.
The fleet’s crews scamper about them as they stand as if at attention, upon
seeing you they move in your direction.

As they close you recognize the bigger one of them as a Yasuda thug, someone who
has been used as muscle, you don’t recognize the smaller wiry one. “Masahiro,”
the small one calls out “Yasuda’s got a job for you” You reply and he states
“you see Yasuda, my uncle,” he emphasizes UNCLE and lets the word hang for a
second, “has been having trouble with Albert Satou, the boson on the Black Coy.” Black Coy
You knew all too well about Satou, often drunk pretty mean and a thorn in your
side. His daddy was higher up in the organisation so he was tough to “fire” He
made life for fishermen on his boats difficult, which you always felt as
un-productive. You believe in the the old “catch more flies with honey”
approach, Satou was definitely vinegar.

“Satou has gone too far the baka yarou, and really roughed up a crewman,
normally I wouldn’t care but he did it before the Coy brought in her catch, crew
had to work a man down and that just won’t fly.” Yasuda’s nephew rocked back on
his heals. “Your job today is to get on the Black Coy and ride her out, tell
the captain that yesterday’s catch was unacceptable, if he mentions anything
about it being Lee’s fault, you tell him Yasuda is unhappy no matter who’s fault
it is.”

You ride the boat out into the ocean, it will turn southward along the coast.
When you see the Mori Point Lighthouse you tell the captain to close to half a
mile from shore, when you are directly west of the light house you pitch Satou
over the side," let him swim to shore, he stabs a finger rudely at you, a
gesture you are not accustomed to seeing and bringing this little man onto your
‘dislike’ pile. “Another half mile up the coast is Pacifica State beach we’ll
send a launch out to get you. Don’t screw it up Chikushou” he turns sharply
followed by the muscle and you are left alone to decide what to do, already a
tough assignment as Satou is twice your size and you know he’s fond of bare
knuckle brawling and wrestling often putting up his own money against
competitors, he usually wins.

Your day consists of occasionally receiving orders from MilGov and heading to an
old restaurant (your office) on the edge of Foster City where the fleet is. It
is always a list of boats and names that you organise into full crews, putting
guys you know as good with guys you know as not so good, trying to keep the best
efficiency possible and posting assignments on a board at the enterence to the
docks. The list is for the week, but you know that there will be absentees,
some will return in a day or two, occasionally they never come back. There is
always a good pool of people waiting nearby, all saying they are great sailors,
you looking for signs of a real seaman, often carrying a length of rope with you
and asking perspective sailors to tie a bowline, or an anchor hitch or a clove.
Sometimes pulling out your sextant and asking them to take a reading, a funny
trick you like when it is overcast.

This day is no exception with several seamen missing but most noticeably the
Ron’s Tiki missing its first mate and a deckhand. You look to the pool of extra
men, and pick the ones you know. Hanging in the back is a man you’ve seen
before, a squat Pacific Islander whom you don’t know by name but you have seen
about the north end of the docks which some other paper pusher is assigned to
with you having the south end. You know this guy is a sailor, you feel it, no
gimmicks needed. you point in his direction….

A day has passed since you helped prep the catch. You hung around at the north
end of the docks hoping to find a ride on a boat but knowing that you were set
better than most and not in need of a job right away. The Milgov comptroller
was a Chinese named Ling Bai Weng. Weng assigned men to the boats on the north
end of the docks, someone else did the south end. You usually worked the north,
were all the Asian cultures and crews congregated, the south was primarily
Whites Blacks and Mexican crews. Weng took a few men for net throwers and told
them were to go, that was work you didn’t want and headed to the south end of
the dock, maybe something there.

Arriving at the south end of the docks the Milgov comptroller is a dark skinned
probably Mexican late 30s male who is shouting in a mix of Spanish and English.
He sees you over the crowd of others “Haga usted quiere trabajar” he yells
and points at you which you recognise as Spanish “Do you want work?” he repeats
himself assuming the same words in English. What the hell you think, this guy
sought me out through the rest of these people, why not a day on the water.

The man you’ve chosen is a Pacific Islander and you decide that he will
accompany you on the Ron’s Tiki as you’ve decided to take the mate’s spot.
“Come with me” you say and walk down to the Ron’s Tiki berth. You introduce
yourselves on the way. The Islanders name is Levi, you exchange some niceties
and arrive at the boat, a 60 foot fish trawler (see Photos-Common Boats-Fish

“Ahoy Ron!” Jose yells and a older white man sticks his head topped with a
battered captains hat out of the pilot house. “Jose, my compadre, come aboard,
what brings you here?” Captain Ron bellows loudly at Jose. “Your mate won’t
show up today so I’m taking his spot,” Jose replies. “Well Welcome aboard,”
Captain Ron answers, “Who’s your friend?” He extends a friendly hand to Levi.
Before Levi can answer Jose says “Captain Ronald Jorgenson this is Levi he’ll
supervise the fish crew.”

The day is uneventful as the Ron’s Tiki heads out to open water, drops its nets
as it slowly turns in a wide circle. Jose is either in the wheelhouse or at the
bow. Levi works along with the 3 other crewman playing out the nets until the
boat has turned a complete circle, ensnaring their quarry. The boat circles
become tighter as the nets are drawn together eventually pulled over the side
and the catch pulled from the nets and into the center hold. The nets are cast
again and the circle repeated as the sun sets you had back to the dock


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