Key West author Reef Perkins shares more of his hilarious book,
***A Short Legend***
(Click here for previous chapter)
For a few days Blu Yunger became a short-lived legend in Coconut Grove. At first, folks stood in line for hours to see his “Additional Member” and be regaled with a romantic story that always began, “Fakyah folks… she’s real, I was there long enough to know.” But the days passed and Blu, shrunken by loneliness, couldn’t keep the act together. Then one ball tucked up and went on strike, but Blu didn’t care. He was in another kind of love, the fervent love of that which you cannot possess.
Time, wind and neutrinos passed through Blu. He could not give up the good life, or at least the thought of the good life. He set to thinking about “It” again. It, the thing that happens and you don’t notice until later. It, the thing that changes everything. Blu hoped he wouldn’t miss It. He needed a plan that would make him famous. “I miss that dang fame, gol’ darnnit.” He cried in his sleep and often awoke to find himself twisted in the sheets from trying to bone fish in his dreams.
One afternoon a mighty thirst came upon Blu. “Lord, I’m dryer than a popcorn fart,” his mom used to say in Latin when they went to church. His thirsty mom was always first in line for the wine at the Communion rail. The old people learned to let her through without a fuss.
Blu was broke and stopped at a local pet shop, Miami Mice. He skipped past the sullen rodents and went to the back of the store where he shook all the bird cages. The commotion set off a squawking roar of domesticated fowl. The attendant rushed up the aisle while Blu slipped behind a stack of kitty litter bags. Craftily, he made his way toward the front door, stopping to steal some change out of a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals jar. He was thirsty. He snatched up a pamphlet for camouflage and soon wrapped it around a cold “Key Deer Beer” purchased from a nearby 18 store. Blu loved the math, 7-11 … duh! When the beer was gone, Blu read smeared words on the pamphlet that smelled like hamster litter. The pamphlet described the use of implanted micro-chips in dogs and cats. Put one on their ass and they can be tracked anywhere. He wished he’d implanted one on Fakyah’s ass. Blu missed her and wondered if he should help her somehow.
On his own, he had to start thinking. It hurt.
For a few days Blu moved in with a deaf, blind and mute older lady who lived near Miami Beach. The name on the mail box read, Mrs. Clover Greveland. Mrs. Greveland lived alone in a nice beachside cabana. She was awarded the house and some heavy cash when she divorced her husband, Bobby D. Greveland, some years before. Bobby D. spent his entire life trying to become famous in the country and western music world. Finally at age fifty, he made a lot of money with his # 2 country hit called, “Who’s going to suck my dick when you’re gone?” It didn’t sit well with Clover. She filed and, although she prevailed in court, Clover was ordered by Judge Winston Hummer to publically admit that the song did have a “Catchy refrain.” It may have soured her.
Blu followed Mrs. Greveland into her large wooden beach house one day after she stepped out to get the newspaper on her porch, the porch where he’d been sleeping. He was hungry. She didn’t seem to notice him. She didn’t speak or turn, even when Blu, like Baby Dionysius, passed a “gassy omen.” What do they call people who can’t smell? Blu wondered. He assumed the best and was pretty sure she didn’t know he was there. The rooms were large and colorful. He was very careful and very quiet and ate only left-over’s. He did his business out back and, most importantly, was gone before the care-giver arrived every day at noon.
On those lonely days, Blu walked to the beach, pushed a drunk off a bench and watched old and young folks alike walk their pets. The beach was a dog doo minefield. He always marveled at how much folks do love their stinky little critters. Everybody needs love, and food and every kind of hungry dog passed his bench. Most of them were edible, Blu noted, although he was not fond of beagle.
“If you ain’t had a buzzard,” Blu gumped, “you ain’t had shit!” He fondly remembered the two Hinckley’s augured in next to him at Mount Trashmore, Old One and Two. Them buzzards were like friends, Dang! An’ just like me, they caught a bad draft.
On this day Blu needed company. He needed a pet and glanced at a smelly drunk, face down, in the poo-pocked sand. A fat blue-bottle-blowfly landed on the inebriated one and, faster than a blur, Blu reached out and snatched it. He quickly pulled its wings off and watched the fly stagger around on the back of his hand. Blu could see the little stubs flailing at two-hundred flaps per second. The fly gave Blu a universally understood look with a thousand pissed off eyes.
The beach and its obnoxiously happy people did not make Blu feel any better. But, he had a pet. He put on his game face and headed back to Greveland’s. Still, during the walk home, he couldn’t help but wonder if the old lady would notice his new pet.
Blu approached the house. He was almost sure the old lady was deaf. Carefully, he opened the creaking door and stepped inside. Instantly a violent smack on the back of his hand transformed the fly into a dozen pieces.
“It ain’t enough I put up with your damn ass slinking around here all the time, but you ain’t bringing no goddamned fly into this house. That’s where I draws the line!” She brandished an old flyswatter and took another swing. Blu moved his hand and heard a whooshing sound. She missed but, she was quick, Blu noted.
Blu was stunned. “I thought you was blind and deaf and shit.”
“Do I look like I’m blind and deaf, you fuck-wad? I just tell people that so they’ll leave me the hell alone. Why do you think I let you stay? It’s cuz you don’t say nothing. Do you think I pick up that damned newspaper every day just to wipe my ass, you dill pickled Nimrod?”
“Nimrod? Ah…well…what about the nurse who comes?”
“She’s my sister and works for the county attorney, we got a thing going…she brings me dynamite reefer…don’t fuck it up!”
The fly was gone but Blu liked the old girl. She was spunky and reminded him of Fakyah…ah…Beth.
“ And, by the way, where is your freaking ear?”
Ms. Clover Greveland had been young once, maybe twice, and during those days she captured a large percentage of the penises she desired. However, as time passed Clover became increasingly reluctant to use the “P” word. Life was a little “closer to the bone” in many respects and she cut corners where she could.
Time had taken its toll on Clover. She lived alone, or had lived alone, until this dipstick Blu moved in. The adrenalin-packed action with the flyswatter had excited her and it was time again, she thought, for the “P” word to be employed. She always fell for guys who were dumber than her and this guy was a real prize. She’d just won the Numb Skull lottery, “…and I kin’ use a good roll in the hay,” she mumbled and headed for the kitchen to “freshen up.”
Blu crawled around on the floor recovering as many parts of his pet as possible. He spotted a bag of herb on a dining room chair near Clover’s purse. He got up, put the fly parts in an ashtray and sat at the dining room table, hoping to have lunch or at least fire off a primo bone. Clover Greveland came out of the kitchen. She was naked under her colorful polyester house dress. She jumped in front of Blu, planted her feet, pulled her dress up and ruffled her muff. “Super Sex!” she cried.
“I’ll take the soup,” Blu said.
Hooboy, I got me a real winner here! Clover thought. She returned to the kitchen and grabbed a condom out of the freezer and a bottle of Safflower oil from the cupboard. Blu saw her coming back. He grabbed the old lady’s wallet, her stash and bailed.
Blu caught a westbound Greyhound and headed for the Emerald Coast.
Twelve hours later, on Canibel Island, Blu awoke from a tequila-soaked dream. He arrived at the seashore the night before, where rainfall quickly ruined a beachside wedding celebration. Blu traded the damp bartender a couple of Clover’s primo buds for all the leftover Tequila drinks.
Now, in the early morning light, Blu’s face hurt. The last thing he remembered was eating hermit crabs at the high tide line, saying Beth thirty-nine times in a row and finishing the fifteenth Margarita. He was about to be in Margarita ill.
For awhile, he lay half awake and marveled at the natural world, so eternally temporary. He thought he saw Uranus in the morning sky. “Is that Uranus?” Blu mumbled and laughed at the impossibility of the statement.
But now, covered in sand, surrounded by little paper umbrellas and crumpled lime carcasses, Blu was awake and thirsty. He smelled the scent of a distant bush and started to get up. A strong hand held him down.
“Just take it easy son,” said an authoritative voice from above. Blu rubbed finely ground crustaceans from his eyes and looked up to find a National Park Service ranger standing above him, hand on his gun. “Looks’ like we got us a sit-u-ation here,” the ranger said pointing at Blu’s crotch with his trigger finger.
Am I back in Key West already? He felt a movement near his groined intersection and looked down to find a thirty-pound turtle nestled between his legs. The turtle pulled slowly and deliberately at the damp granules, its front flippers flopped as it burrowed under Blu’s ass, digging deeper by the second. Sand ridden snot vented into the atmosphere in front of Blu’s face.
“This here’s a gen-u-wine fertile sea turtle.” The ranger pointed at the turtle’s almost vertical shell, “Come to shore to lay her eggs on the planet, son, an…well… looks like she picked your crotch to do it in.”
Blu started to protest but the ranger, Officer Yasily Jercoff, according to his name tag, put his right hand on top of Blu’s head, again. He skillfully handed Blu a page torn out of the Federal Park regulation manual with his left hand. Highlighted in yellow, “No one, for any reason, shall willfully disturb the nesting grounds of the endangered sea turtle. Failure to observe this law may result in a fine of five thousand dollars and or imprisonment for a period not to exceed ten turtle years.”
Blu rounded up the last of his saliva, licked the page and stuck it on his forehead to keep the sun off his eyes. He stopped resisting and tried to be reasonable. We are all controlled by unreasonable people he thought; if it wasn’t for those folks fucking things up we wouldn’t need so many laws and rules. The thought evaporated. His thirst did not. He said so and within minutes a well- designed female ranger sporting a US Marine flat top hair cut brought him a bottle of chilled Evian and a breath mint. With a quick and graceless maneuver, Blu stuffed the mint in the turtle’s butt. In Blu’s opinion the turtle needed the mint more than he did. He was being held prisoner by a dang turtle! Blu drank the water. It helped.
Without warning, the vertical turtle squawked and vented the mint fifteen-feet into the air where it was snatched by a circling gull that instantly plummeted, ass first, into the calm sea. The bird did not come up; the mint floated away. Nature can be a meanie. Blu did not know what to do next. He had a limited repertoire of proven moves.
Blu Yunger remained half buried in flying sand and endured a subterranean infringement that might have irritated a weaker or less lonely man. His hangover passed and he got hungry. He said so and again, within minutes, the well apportioned ranger returned with a pizza. Dang! Blu thought.
“Mushrooms and olives,” she said as she leaned over and gave Blu a good view of her badge area.
“No onions?” Blu wise-cracked. In minutes he had onions and, as the sun began to set, the light began to dawn on Blu’s horizon. “I get it,” he whispered to the turtle’s butt. Blu gazed at the winsome sky. He found his favorite planet and named the burrowing turtle after it. He also contemplated the exact meaning of the Law and reviewed the legal wording carefully by re-reading the page, still pasted upside down on his forehead. It was one of his talents.
Blu concluded that anyone who disturbed Him would also disturb the Turtle and therefore be equally guilty under the law. They would be charged with being an accessory to… disturbing a butt nest. Hum?
“I need a haircut. If I sneeze from all the sand in my hair it might spook the turtle,” he told Tess, the shapely ranger. Tess ran to a nearby phone booth and dialed her barber. Jercoff told Blu that TV crews would be showing up the next day.
After resting his head in the lovely ranger’s lap for four hours, the shift changed and Blu sported a fresh US Marine style flat-top hair cut. He decided to take a rain check on Officer Jercoff’s proffered lap. He got to know the rangers pretty well as they ran back and forth serving his every demand. It was a strange fun and, as the sun blurped out of the sea like a fart in a bathtub, Blu admired his new finger and toenail polish, it was Sea Turtle Green.
After finding out about his possible TV appearance, Blu forked over some of Clover’s cash and had the local Lee Nails girls brought in during the night. The girls painted Blu’s digits while Tess’s gay barber named, Sosoon, cut his hair. Blu remembered the Lee Nail girls fondly, the way they excavated his toes and held tiny flashlights in their perfect white teeth. The girls laughed softly and with compassion but the beams of light remained perfectly still. Blu almost sprang a boner but didn’t want to get any more emotionally involved with the turtle than necessary. The laws of nature and National Geographic articles notwithstanding, Mama Turtle failed to lay her eggs the first night. She kept digging her nest and Blu suffered a major groin infringement when the turtle came up for air.
TV crews arrived early on the second day and set up their equipment. Blu was glad he spent the money and spiffed up! Blu was disappointed when he saw most of the cameras were focused on his crotch and the turtle therein. His sandy groin was on the Early Admission, a TV news show out of Miami. Blu held his breath when they manually zoomed in for a close up.
“Man gives birth to turtle, photos at eleven,” was the teaser.
The reporters never asked Blu for his name. But when they asked Jercoff the turtle’s name, the officer was momentarily silenced by the bright light of fame. Before Jercoff could bring himself to speak, Blu put both thumbs up and blurted, “Its URANUS!” Some looked up, some looked down. It was awkward.
Blu laughed to break the tension and tried to get his face in front of the camera but a pissed-off Jercoff held him by his short hairs with a small utility tool and threatened to pour sand in his mouth if he tried to speak again. Blu knew he was real close to famous and, he knew the definition of famous, “It’s how many people know your name.”
Blu tried to signal the TV crew with an SOS by passing wind at the required intervals. … — … … — … however, his signaling device was buried deep in the Gold Coast sand. The pulverized and unsympathetic crustaceans muffled the noise, but mama turtle began to stir.
“Don’t frack the turtles,” Jercoff counseled, using an old natural gas term that was unfamiliar to Blu, although natural gas was not.
A TV news helicopter suddenly hovered overhead, blowing shit everywhere. The female ranger instinctively plummeted face first into Blu’s crotch and frantically brushed sand over the nest. Blu lost focus and stared at the top of her brush-cut while trained professional, Y. Jercoff, pulled his gun and waved it at the helicopter. Jercoff accidently discharged two .45 rounds, one of which took out an endangered Sand Hill crane migrating in a southerly direction nearby.
Blu watched the wounded bird plummet to earth, desperately flapping one vertical wing. Two rangers rushed over with sharpened sticks while another started a fire. It had been a long night. They were hungry.
We are all cavemen of a different time, Blu thought and started daydreaming. I wonder, he wondered, if I think hard enough, can I make diamonds out of dreams…no…but maybe charcoal, so I can burn em’ again later. Blu lived for these moments of clarity.
Yunger was slowly buried up to his neck by the fertile turtle. The rangers could have, but didn’t, brush his face with a palm frond to keep him from suffocating on turtle moistened sand. They did, however, put flex-straws in his nostrils, like little snorkels. It was a kind gesture but didn’t do much to ease Blu’s discomfort. The problem was that there was one rule the rangers agreed with and therefore chose to obey, Do Not Disturb the Nest. Blu was part of the “nest.” The rangers got Blu on that one and milked it for all it was worth. Every time Blu threatened to get up and leave, his mouth was filled with sand and although he smiled, it became more difficult to remain reasonable.
Blu daydreamed and fondly remembered the fate of “Long John Silver” in the movie of the same name. In the film, Long John is buried up to his neck on the beach, as the revenge questing pirates wait for the tide to come in.
After twenty-two hours, “Long Blu Yunger” was barely visible to the camera or the clothing optional gawkers. The TV crews began to disband. Their opportunistic curiosity sapped rapidly when a turtle groupie named Shelly informed them, “Hel-like-lo! Like … ahh … it like takes like two like months for like the eggs to like, hatch like, Duh?” The youthful groupie shook her green hair and walked away, not surprised that the media, or anyone over sixteen, could be that, like, dumb. “That’s news to me!” a Miami Cherub reporter chirped. With those words he justified his existence and, with a weak grab at a persistent wedgie, he too moved away.
The day grew long. The younger rangers fired off a bone and checked each other for athlete’s foot. Most of the old ones nodded out, but a few held hands and oiled their weapons while the others went quietly blind as they stared at the sinking sun. Blu stewed, the turtle turtled.
The boned rangers were tired and talked quietly among themselves. The males made drawings of bird genitalia, with sticks, in the sand. The women dug holes in the beach with their toes and squatted to pee. It was, as Shelly the groupie put it, “Like, nature.”
Toward evening, one of the rangers posted a large yellow, NO TRESPASSING sign behind Blu’s head. The remaining rangers squatted, ass down, in the fetid sand. Soon, the evening sun approached the horizon and began her descent into the distant, wet blue, blanket.
Encircled by yellow police tape, Blu leaned back, spread his knees and longed for the time when there was nothing to forget. He watched the western sky for the heralded Green Flash, the moment when the setting sun rays pierce the surface of the water and give hope to modern man and tourists alike.
Unfortunately, the rangers stood in front of Blu during these miracle moments at the magic hour and the only miracle Blu saw was wet sand, and pieces of dead sponge, falling from the ranger’s olive drab butt cracks. He thought he saw Orion’s Sock in the western sky. It just wasn’t the same as Orion’s belt. Blu was tired of Nature’s dirty jokes.
Since he was not allowed a vote regarding his circumstance, Blu waited for the reptilian experience to pass. He wished he knew the Lamaze technique. Would he have to pay alimony? Would he learn how to swim and eat jelly fish? Dad? These and other pointless questions haunted Blu as he stared into the dark, sparkling void. Are stars just peep holes into the bright world beyond?
To keep his mind active, he said doily over and over until he lost count, at one-hundred-thirty-two, and fell asleep.
The next morning mama turtle was gone, back to the generous sea. Eighty-two tiny turtle eggs were left behind. Blu was alone, except for a small cadre of rangers who slept in tents nearby. Last night’s display of God’s random nature reminded him that the greatest forces on earth have no shape. Wind, light, water, sound, fire, fear, smell, thirst, hunger and love. He’d experienced them all, all but one.
Later in the morning, after the turtle eggs had been gathered and “moved to higher ground,” Blu noticed fires being built and frying pans emerge from knapsacks. He smelled Oleo! Several of the rangers noticed Blu’s familial interest and grabbed large, smelly driftwood sticks. As a tribe they approached Blu…and goose him from the nest. Ouch! The prodding was merciless and the rangers sent him on his way without even a howdy-do, a Park Service baseball cap or a certified Turtle Birther badge.
Blu felt soiled and used. He walked to a nearby car wash and followed a VW Beetle in. He was ashamed to let the swirling brushes beat him, but at least he was clean and enjoyed the blow-dry cycle, until the cops came. After a few succinct questions the officers took him to the Ranger Station where they discussed Blu’s case over Cafe con Leches. Four rum-laden con Leches later, the Park Service agents agreed to pay for Blu to undergo professional rehabilitation.
However kind the gesture, it didn’t help, because when Blu arrived at the Ranger Station’s Monetary Disbursement desk the funds were, quote, “Not available at this time.” Unquote. Blu was issued fifty dollars in food stamps and bussed to The Turtle Rescue Mission and Day Spa, in Key Larvae, for rehab. He was put in a ward with other turtles to be treated, counseled and prepared for eventual release back into the wild.
Turtle people sure are stuck in their ways, Blu thought on day one of his captivity.
During the admission process he talked to several stiff Turtologists regarding his emotional struggle. He talked about the pain of not knowing his offspring, the fruits of his loom. They may have been fried or, heaven forbid, scrambled. Those problems and his need for cash were discussed at length. The Turtologists got the cash part. The emotional aspect seemed to elude them. He didn’t bother pleading. Blu knew some people would protect their ignorance to the death.
Blu was tired and walked the halls of the turtle hospital like an old cowboy. “That danged turtle changed me almost forever, sure, it’s good to be famous, but two full days, buried ass first in wet sand with a hangover, was not what I had in mind,” he grumped. A morose loggerhead, recuperating in a wheel barrow after a sex change operation, vented its agreement.
Blu was angry, angry at the world and at himself.
After two days in captivity and sick unto death of sitting in a glass tank with two emotionally disturbed Kemp-Ridleys’, Blu borrowed a large Leatherback turtle shell from the display case. He lashed it on over his hospital smock, the one that wouldn’t stay closed in the back. With a mouthful of lettuce left over from dinner, Blu put on his best turtle face and, with grim determination, crept through the reception area and out the front door on his hands and knees. The staff pretended not to notice. For some deep and unexplained reason he wanted to dig a hole in the pea rock parking lot, but knew he had to keep moving.
Blu pawned the turtle shell in town, bought some clothes and a ticket on the shuttle bus to the Keys, the new and independent Gayhound Buzz Line. The bus line consisted of an old school bus painted pink with black letters. The advertising brochure on the side proclaimed it to be the “Queen of the Fleet-We Can Go Fast, But We Can’t Go Straight!” The Queen was idling in a ball of familiar-smelling smoke and almost ready to depart for Key West when Blu approached and had his ticket punched. The punched chad fluttered toward the ground and got stuck between Blu’s flip-flop shod toes. Blu ignored the imagery and boarded the Gayhound.
The colorful vehicle headed down the Keys toward Key West where water was a popular molecule. Blu liked molecules. They have polar ends and Blu was into polar now. “… nor sticking to the edge of a beaker, myopic voyeurs preceded the flame, mooning sun’s callous fingers, fumbling for God’s faded nostrils, they had failed Cartucci, again …” These words alone, spoken by a long dead, third grade science teacher were enough to encourage and comfort Blu, like lacing your fingers together, putting your elbows on your knees and your thumbs between your eyebrows.
Blu did just that on the way south. He had to turn sideways in his seat to accomplish it. The road was rough. They turned west. The road was still rough. It helped Blu focus.
Blu smelled French fries and fish foam in the air. He stuck his nose out an unsealed window crack. His nostrils inflated like a skydiver with a bad chute. A stink bug slammed into his front teeth and a no-see-um traveled up Blu’s left nostril at 58 MPH. Three miles-per-hour over the posted speed limit, Blu noted. The unlucky Ceratopogonidea augured in two inches from Blu’s brain and died in less than fertile ground. Blu snorted the bug out and onto the window.
The Gayhound gallantly pounded pavement across failing roads and broken bridges. Bald tires beat reggae rhythms on the snappy concrete cracks and, neglecting the deteriorating infrastructure; seagulls screeched like worn brakes and dive bombed for bugs in the shuttle’s wake. Blu was headed south, back to his island in the fun.
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About the Author
Captain Mark T. “Reef” Perkins is a marine surveyor with a colorful past. From commanding a 150-foot 300 DWT US Army diving ship off Vietnam to smuggling in the Caribbean, Reef Perkins has become a living legend. A graduate of both the US Army Engineer Officer Candidate School and the US Navy Salvage Officers School, he’s a man comfortable in or out of the water. Raised in rural Michigan, Reef now lives in Key West where he can get his feet wet. He is the author of the bestselling memoir, Sex, Salvage & Secrets.
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Screwed, Blu’d and Tattooed copyright © 2013 by Reef Perkins. Electronic compilation/ print edition copyright © 2013 by Whiz Bang LLC.
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