Joseph is alone, on his journey, for most of the day now. You can call it alone. There is an abundance of flora et fauna surrounding him. There is weather. There is plenty to keep him busy.
He goes about his day, in a most aggressive of manners. He knows not that he is preparing for battle. He is simply practicing the activities that make men great. He does it for love. He does it because of the list he found on an outhouse floor in Astoria. He has started to mark his progress on the list:
Loves of Earthstory’s Greatest Men
- Map-Folding –Mastered
- Knots – In Progress
- Knife-Fighting – In Progress (He is no good with fists. 1-11 career. 10 by way of KO. 2KO’s in one fight lost in Nogales. His only win a sucker punch on the run.)
- Classic Literature – Good Base. Needs Work.
- Relationship-Failing – Mastered years ago.
- Dancing – Mastered.
- Charm – Not yet started. Hopefully this comes easy. He grows tired.
- Pastry Discernment – Bear Claw vs. Maple Bar. “The Great Debate” He will get this tomorrow at a small café in Waldport, for practice of course.
He figures he is at 65%. That got him through college. However, it won’t be enough for this epic, forthcoming battle. 65% is evisceration by crustacean. 65% is embarrassment, death. Curiously the man strives much harder at this list than he did at the Eller College of Management. Rest assured mom.
Knots. Today is Bowline day. At dawn he gets up. He makes coffee, French press, of course. He looks to his knot manual. Bowline. The bowline knot is popular amongst sailors. Yep, he utters. The knot creates a secure loop at the end of a rope without requiring a pass through. Understood. It begins with an underhand knot,….. He reads. He learns.
Taking rope that his Grandfather Bruce, a man who believes in rope, gave him, he begins. He ties the first few bowlines slowly, methodically. He is patient in his practice. His approach is timeless.
He draws, from his tool-box, a tarp. He ties a bowline in the first corner, slowly. It’s perfect. Beginner’s luck, he thinks. He undoes it. Again he ties the knot, quicker. He undoes it. This goes on until Bowline becomes muscle memory. He is a natural. All four corners of the tarp are tied with textbook bowlines. The other ends of the rope are tied to trees and the remnants of a Japanese internment corral, where he makes camp.
The tarp now hangs triumphant over camp, he has cover from the rain. Thanks bowline. This afternoon he will undo his morning’s work and redo it, to gain practice. Another iteration at evening, under the influence of alcohol. At night once more he will retie the tarp, pitch black, cold. Mastery.
Tomorrow, the clove hitch.
Knots. Another stepping-stone in becoming great. It won’t be long until he is ready, skills perfected for the fight of his life. The fight that will define him and leave his name in this world as a legacy. He knows not of this fight, he simply is working the list.
Walter the crab knows all too well how this plays out. Walter watches from the depths of the bay below the man’s camp. Joseph is a knot-tier now. Shit! Walter exclaims, which is barely understandable underwater. The world’s largest crustacean slams both of his Volkswagen-sized claws into the jagged ocean floor he calls home, breaking volcanic towers into bits. He knows the time is coming! He has a supreme confidence though, for he, himself, is no slouch.
Walter is widely considered the world’s best ship-capsizer, with 137 known solo capsizes to his name. He travels to Japan every year, where he holds the last 26 consecutive “Shark-Killer” awards both for quantity and style. He is the only crab, or beast for that matter, to successfully eat a 44 person, all-black church choir. He is responsible for the BP oil-well burst. He is republican. He is savage. He is the business.
There is a hesitation, however, in Walter with fighting his next rival. He knows it is inevitable, but something of this wild, red-haired man frightens him. He has deadened many foes, but never has he faced an antagonist with such a deplorable nature. Something in the way this man drinks cheap wine directly from the bottle and dances to Indie rock in his long underwear bottoms. Something about this man’s reluctance to cut his hair.
It is all too much at the moment. Walter must equip himself. He turns and leaps out from a massive underwater precipice over the depths, towards Mexico. He is headed there to get ½-ton custom brass knuckles fitted. His knows this redheaded devil has fallen to the metal knuckle before.
The story of THIS crab and THIS guy, is all happening at once.
Bowline. iPhone cord. Eyes Closed.
I am off to the beach, to catch both zzzzzzz’s and rays, Bro!