The Radio fills the space inside my car. Talk radio keeps me awake on these early morning trips. It's only a short drive to the Ferry Landing. Early morning fog makes everything familiar seem strange and distorted. Someone on the radio asks, "What is your favorite color?" "Blue," I absentmindedly reply to the person that isn't even there. Up ahead I can see the parking lights of the cars in line through the fog. They are waiting for their daily chug across the river. The Ferry is much faster than taking the bridge. I know most of these commuters. We are fast friends, I even know their names. Mr. Brown Suit, Mrs. Skirt & Tennis Shoes, White Guy With Afro, Dude-Dude, it goes on and on. I wonder what they call me? Upriver a tug is pushing barges around. The Rope Kid is about to let off the workers returning home from the night shift. Yep, there he goes, taking down the rope so the cars can drive off. Some deterrent, don't think that rope would stop anyone that wanted to drive off the end of the Ferry. Our turn, I'm in line behind Mrs Skirt & Tennis Shoes. She's quick and so am I. Parked and ready to go, fog doesn't slow us down. It's an old dance and I know it well. Up the stairs to the Lounge. I notice something unusual about the tug upriver. I'll be able to see better from the front railing. The Ferry's engines start up and with a little bump and we are on our way. As I wind my way through my friends (the strangers with made up names), I stare hard upriver. I can make out the Tug and I can see the deck hands running frantically around. Too far to hear what they are saying. I supply the dialogue to their little drama. "OMG where did I put it?" "Over here it's over here." "No that's the anchor rope, I need the magic rope so I can climb my way up to the clouds." "It's over here, next to the treasure chest." Funny, how easy it is to keep myself amused. The Ferry is making good time in spite of the fog. I guess the Tug has already finished with the barge, I don't see it anywhere. Beneath me, looming out of the gloom is the rusted metallic corner of the runaway barge. It's rushing at the middle of the Ferry. I spoke it's name and summoned it like a Genie. In slow motion I turn and crane my neck up to the wheelhouse. The Captain is staring straight ahead at the Ferry Landing on the far side. Slowly I turn back towards the oncoming barge, a warning just behind my teeth. I never make it all the way around. I find myself on my side underneath a wooden bench. It caught me like I was a ground ball bouncing in left field. "Watch Out" finally jerks it's way out of my lips. But I suspect everyone already knows something bad just happened to us. Do you know what metal tearing sounds like? I do. I hear things hitting the water. I'm kidding my self, 'things' don't scream on the way down. It looks like some giant has karate chopped the Ferry right across the middle. Self preservation finally bobs to the surface of my mind, LIFE VESTS! Easy I know the answer to this one. Two benches away is the white wooden box that is crammed full of Life Vests. I brace myself as the deck continues to change it's horizon. And I make it to the box. Some are already gone, but there are a lot left. I have never seen anything as beautiful as these Life Vests. I hand a couple to two people nearby clutching at railings trying to keep their balance. More people down the slope of the deck need Life Vests. I slide Vest after Vest down to those people. I don't recognize any of them. Mr. & Mrs. About To Go Into The Water. I hope they make it. I put my Life Vest on, snap the buckles and cinch it tight. Yep, I love this damn Life Vest. I toss the last couple of Vests into the water in case someone needs them. Looking around I realize everyone has left, they are in the river. I hook my dress shoes into the "V" of the railing and jump. Cold! The river is so cold. It's OK, better than the alternative. Only the tip of the front and rear of the Ferry are still above water. You never know what's coming, you just do your best.
I was wrong.
It's not blue,
(little over a year ago Tiffany and I traveled to Chicago, I loved that trip and I love that town)