The Rockport Miracles-Part 4: Episode 19: “The Ballad of Derecho Dan” Continues

“…long before now, that river had been an open sewer. When it caught fire in 1969 the entire USA went ape. Do they think that was the first time it  caught fire? Shit, it was the 13th TIME! There is something to be said about a city that drinks from the same waters it craps in, I just haven’t got a name for it. No doubt some smart business guy will say it’s a good thing. If businessmen ever rule the earth, they’ll reduce us to serfdom within a generation and life will stink like never before.” (Excerpt dated 7/21/75 from Maynard Gridley’s “Manifesto with Cheese.”)

Little Dan found these and other assertions in the last testament of Maynard Gridley. The document was a rambling, sometimes incoherent declaration of principles and other things Maynard just didn't like about the world. He titled it, “Manifesto with Cheese.”

Two days earlier, Little Dan told Rowena that Maynard appeared to him in a dream and told him to use his boat for an unknown “mission.” Rowena’s faith in Maynard’s ability to come back and haunt someone was unshakeable. She directed the Three Joes to whisk Little Dan from his hiding place in Little Italy to the Cleveland Flats where Maynard’s boat was tied up. After locating it, Little Dan shook each of the Three Joes hands, said his goodbyes, and jumped onboard the vessel.

The boat was a 1959 Christ Craft 33’ Sports Cruiser aptly christened , “The Friggin’ A.”  The boat had been cleverly hidden astride an abandoned 19th century side-wheeler that some dreamer tried to turn into a floating night club. After the project went bust the old ship sat abandoned and rotting on the river for a nearly decade. Wedged in the shadow of the older boat and camouflaged by the usual river debris, “The Friggin’ A” could hide in plain sight.

Once Little Dan had stepped onto the boat he knew something was very wrong. The boat was sitting low in the water like it had been taking on water.  Little Dan popped open a hatch on the boat deck and tried to looked into the guts of the boat. He was surprised to find that the ship’s hold had been filled nearly to the hatch brim with a mysterious putty like material that had the words “C4 Explosive”” printed across it. He opened another hatch and, it too was full to the brim.

Then he opened up a large cupboard and found plenty more of the gray putty-like stuff jammed inside. Further exploration revealed the material had been jammed inside and around every nook and cranny on the boat. Next to the ship’s wheel was a metal cylinder that led from the deck straight down into the hold. The cylinder was capped with a picture of George Washington.

Little Dan took the cap off of the cylinder and inside it was a plain old alarm clock attached to 6 volt  lantern battery. That’s when Little Dan realized that he wasn’t on a boat. He was standing on a giant floating bomb.

It was all too much for Little Dan to fathom. He shook his fists in the air and wondered loudly when his luck would ever change. Dejected, Little Dan looked down at the powerful weapon under his feet and whispered, "Friggin' A Maynard!"

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 2:29 PM, 01.08.2020