There’s an ignored old sailing man in his great-granddaughter’s house who’s now too tattered to conquer the seas, too frail to even master the stairs, shut in this brand new brick Colonial-style house in the middle of Kansas.
How he came here, passing through a series of exasperated “I’ve got too much going on already” and guilt-lying “We really don’t have the room,” is another ordinary tale of lives moving forward – the steps of the young leaving little in their wake – culminating in an eventual lipstick-caked, soft-hearted “okay” overcoming a gruff, beer-sodden “no.”
Now, so much after the fact, he spends his days sneaking into the too clean kitchen when everyone is gone and running the dishwasher, no matter what it contains, over and over again. He sits on the linoleum like a gray wounded octopus huddled against a rock, his ear pressed firmly against the brown metal front of the pulsating machine, listening.
His eyes flutter as the sound brings him again in contact with the water, the engine aboard riding the crests. As he sits his lips glisten with the slobber of reverie. His unfocused, cataract eyes dampen slightly around their puffy lids as the cycle ends. With twisted, liver-spotted hands, he starts the machine again, continuing this run until finally, at sunset, the man of the house with his tie slightly askew and tired from a day working on large problems enters the kitchen and yells.
“Do you know how much money you’re costing me old man?”
Thereupon the once proud captain crawls back to his room where he remains in the dark, tugging on his thick whiskers, waiting for the next crack of dawn and the chance to ride the waves again.