The Minnow was a sturdy old boat. She had spent many years fishing the waters of Hawaii. A 1964 Wheeler, she was 38 feet, six inches from stem to stern. Each of her twin Detroit diesel engines produced 230 horsepower. Together that gave the Minnow a top speed of 14 knots but she liked to cruise at twelve. This suited her skipper, Jonas just fine. He had bought her at auction and put in a lot of “sweat equity” into her tired old hull. That was four years ago and now she was docked at the Honolulu Marina. Her brand new paint job of white sparkled in the Hawaiian sun. The Minnow was Jonas’ pride and joy.
Jonas Grumby retired from the U.S. Navy after 26 years service. He retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer, but he was always a machinist at heart. Now at the age of 56 he was living his dream. He had made Hawaii his home and bought his boat. Finding work wherever he could he scrimped and saved and spent the weekends working on his boat. But that was the past. He was now the president and CEO of “Minnow Charter Service”. The Minnow would now pay her way. Jonas hired out for day trips around the islands. He’d take on ten or so passengers and show them the sites, regale them sea stories and of course, do a little fishing. Business was slow at first. But he was finally able to hire a “crew”. It was a crew of one to help on the boat, but Jonas felt lucky to have found him.
Gilligan was the crew. The First Mate as he likes to refer to himself as. He had met Jonas in a bar. Grumby was the Old Navy and Gilligan was the New Navy. Gilligan had been a Quartermaster for most of his time in the Navy. The ship’s navigator was an officer but the Quartermaster got to steer the ship. In his case it was the U.S.S. Robert A. Owens (DD-827), a destroyer. Built in 1946, she was a tired ship when Gilligan came aboard his first billet. He was there when she was decommissioned. He did get to steer the ship, but life in the Navy wasn’t what he had expected. It turned out that the Navy wasn’t an adventure, it was just a job. After the Owens, Gilligan was looking for adventure. A dislocated shoulder and compound fracture of his right arm in BUDS ended his chance at becoming a Navy SEAL. It also ended his Naval career. After the medical discharge he found that cold weather made his shoulder ache. As part of his discharge, he had received a lump sum payment . That let him buy a plane ticket to Hawaii with some left over to settle in.
Hawaii was sunny but it wasn’t cheap. Gilligan had spent his savings in the move and little he got from the VA for being disabled didn’t come close to paying the bills. He drifted from job to job. He had a job at Wal Mart but couldn’t stock fast enough. He tended bar for a while, but got fired for screwing the boss’ wife. He bussed tables and prayed for good tips that never showed up. He had been through three roommates.
Then he met Jonas.
He was drinking his woes away that night. Fate let Jonas take the stool next to him. The conversation started with the same bullshit.
“How long have you been in Hawaii?’
“How you long you planning to stay?”
“Want another drink?” Jonas was paying.
Jonas was half in the bag when he started his sea stories. Gilligan was just drunk enough to pay attention.
“What was you ship?”, Gilligan asked.
“The Oriskany”, Jonas slurred. “Finest ship in the fleet.”
“Oh yeah? I did time in the Navy too.”
“Did ja, now?” Jonas eyes lit up. “How long.”
“Figures. I took you for a Paperclip.” Jonas said, staring into his glass watching amber swirl around. PAPERCLIP. People-Against- People-Ever-Reenlisting Civilian-Life-Incentive-Program. A term used to show dissatisfaction with enlistment or unity amongst a brotherhood of bitter and disaffected sailors, specifically submariners. Often symbolized by the wearing of a paperclip on the uniform in varying levels of prominence to indicate the sailor’s level of disgruntlement. May also be burned into the skin.
“Fuck you, you don’t know. I wanted to stay in. They kicked me out”, Gilligan was getting pissed.
“Hey, I won’t ask and you don’t have to tell me. That’s a rule.” Jonas pointed out his now empty glass to the bartender.
“Fuck that too. I’m no butt pirate.” Now Gilligan was pissed. “I got out on a medical.”
“What happened? Sprain your tongue licking paper assholes?”
There followed a silent pause. Gilligan tried to follow the CNN news but the volume was turned down. The bartender brought Jonas his drink.
“Did you go to sea?” Jonas started up again.
“I was aboard the Robert Owens”, Gilligan replied, his eyes locked on the TV above the bar.
“The Owens!” Jonas’ eyes lit up again. “I was aboard the Owens. ’64-‘69”.
“Before my time, Grandpa.”
“Well, Sonny. That changes everything. We’re shipmates. What was your rate?”
“Quartermaster, second, if you need to know”, Gilligan turned from the TV to face Jonas. He was still pissed.
“Bar Keep! Bring my shipmate another round.” Jonas roared.
Gilligan accepted the drink. As usual, he was broke.
Six more rounds and they were buddies. Gilligan told his story about how he screwed up his arm. Jonas told stories about fucking Philippino hookers and why his wife left him for giving her the clap. In the end he was the “crew”. In exchange for helping him fix the boat, Jonas let Gilligan sleep aboard the Minnow. When they got charters, Gilligan would get a cut.
Gilligan woke up aboard the Minnow. At first he couldn’t remember how or why he got there. The “Skipper”, he thought. That’s what he called Jonas. He rummaged through the tiny galley and found coffee and a beat up Mr. Coffee maker. As he sipped his first cup, he started to feel human again. He had finished his second cigarette when Jonas came aboard.
“AHOY SHIPMATE!, Jonas bellowed.
It was to damned early for anyone to be that loud thought Gilligan. Apparently Jonas was none the worse for last night. Try as he might, Gilligan couldn’t remember leaving the bar. He did remember the deal he had struck with Jonas. Tonight he’d go to his last roommate’s apartment and try to get his box of stuff.
The balance of the morning was spent with Gilligan cleaning and organizing the Minnow. There was a small building on the wharf. It was little more than a shack and used to be a fishing business. It was now the corporate headquarters for Minnow Charter Service. Jonas spent most of the morning answering the phone and signing up tourists. By noon, there were two people signed up. Jonas went to lunch and Gilligan went to sleep. After the nap, Gilligan went to the shack. Jonas was just hanging up the phone.
“That’s five.” Jonas said.
“Five passengers. We’re putting to sea today.”
“I thought you said you needed ten?”, Gilligan asked.
“I said I like to have around ten, but I’ll take five. We leave the dock at 1400, should be back by 1700.”
At 50 bucks a head, Gilligan figured his share in his head. Back by five PM meant almost a 12 hour day. Minimum wage at Wal Mart started to look good again. He and Jonas then started to hump the bait from the freezer to the bait box on aboard the Minnow. Gilligan was glad to see that Jonas finally got off his ass and was working. Work came to an abrupt halt when both he and Jonas took note of the fine piece of ass walking up the wharf.
Ginger was killing time. She had come to Hawaii to do a movie. It wasn’t going to be a blockbuster and would go straight to VHS but it was work. She had a bit part as one of the victims in this latest slasher movie. She was hired for her hot little body, long legs and flashing red hair. Not her acting skills. Something or other had gone wrong and she’d gotten the call that they weren’t filming today or tomorrow. Whatever. It gave Ginger the excuse to lay on the beach and drink. Some guy buying her the booze asked her to go on a cruise. He’d meet her there at two. Ginger had expected a bigger boat and looked around nervously for her date. She saw a man walking towards her. It wasn’t her date. But damn, she thought he was fine.
The man with the surfer hair and weightlifter’s body was Roy Hinkley. Looks were deceiving for he was neither a surfer nor a weightlifter. A membership to a fitness club and a good barber made him look the part. Roy liked the look because co-eds fell for the look. As a professor at the University of Hawaii he had had a lot of co-eds fall for “The Look”. When Roy thought of “and had” he meant buns up kneeling on the bed, or the couch or the floor. His other passion was fishing. Minnow Charters wasn’t his favorite. It fact he hadn’t even heard of it. But his favorite was booked and the price was right. “So what the Hell”, he thought as he picked them out of the newspaper ad.
“Hi, I’m Roy”, he said walking up to the redhead in the jeans and bikini top that was barely doing its job.
“I’m Ginger”, she replied flatly. “I’m waiting for my date.”