“You can have anything in this pile,” the contractor said, as he pointed to scraps sitting out by the curb. The builders were half- finished with the new home at the end of the next block from where Bud lived. He had his eye on those cuttings as they had grown into a pretty respectable inventory, and had asked if they were going to take them to the dump.
Britt, the head guy, noting Bud’s interest asked: “What are you going to use them for?” Bud quickly responded; “I’m building a boat, and I really need the plywood.”
This was the beginning of their man-boy relationship; for Britt remembered fondly his days of putting things together as a youngster. He was a source of continuing help as he realized he had a student on his hands. ….. and he was an eager listener.
Days went on in that back and forth exchange of ideas and efforts, and the boat;”Rough-and RedE” came into being. Finally, came the day when they called it “done” with the last coat of red paint and the name stenciled on the side with both of their initials at the bottom.
It was launching day for the 10 footer, flat bottomed masterpiece, and there was a small assembly of family and friends there at the pond. It was a busy day for Bud, as he learned to navigate that flat bottom in and out of the coves and rush- filled recesses.
This was the beginning of a process from pond, to lake, to River.. and who knows what beyond?
As Bud’s skills grew….so did his confidence; even so as to think,,,,,”Maybe?”
By that time Bud had put a year behind him and had his eye on a calm little cove on the ocean just out of Bergan City, where they often went on picnics and boarding, in the shallows. Britt had loaded their gear into the pickup. and Bud pleaded with him to add his boat….. “just in case”. On it went.
Mom had prepared sandwiches and waved them off…… on their day on the water, voicing her customary cautions.
And, a day it was; In and out on their boards, until the sea became so calm that there was little surf. Britt relaxed on the beach in the company of some friends..
It seemed to Bud, that that there could never be a better time to enjoy a little “trip at sea”. Sure of his safety, he tossed in his vest and the last ham sandwich to eat while he drifted about. Britt was having his fun….. he would have his.
He rowed out about 100 ft. and settled in for a bite to eat, and a Pepsi. He watched the gulls as they motored by in close formations, but then he noticed some dark cloud formations to the West. He knew what to do…..make for shore, and he began to row.
It soon became obvious that he was going nowhere as the currents were building….the shore seemed to be moving further away….. no it was Him!
After paddling for an hour (it seemed) he heard the ding-ding of a bell…..then saw a small metal tower off to the left. It then showed up directly in front of him. With one last effort he moved toward it; bit by bit, until one wave pushed him toward and into hard contact with it.
He grasped one of the metal uprights, as the boat was swept away out from under him.
This was it! he thought; Out deep in the ocean with barely a view of the shore appearing and then losing the boat in the movement of the frothy waves that washed up on his legs. He climbed higher on the frame and tied himself off with his belt.
Surely he would not make it through the night, was his last thought, as he closed his eyes. Within minutes he saw the light on the top of the buoy come on in brief flashes. The bell seemed to sound in unison with each blink.
Strangely, he visioned himself as if in church listening to voices raised in praise. He began to feel a calming Presence there with him.
A soft warm rain began signaling a change that introduced brief shafts of sunlight that would play upon the waters; now becoming quiet and reflective.
With this, his Spirit of Hope arose, only to feel a bump of something striking his perch…. then a flutter of wings, and a call of birds as if to join him there. And, one did…. with bread in his mouth extending it’s body as if to offer it to him. As he drew closer, it was obvious that it was crust from his sandwich.
Wait….. it was what he had discarded on the floor of his boat at lunchtime as he sat there prior to the storm. As he looked out and around, he could see the tip of something gently bobbing toward him, and it was scarlet red, speckled with small white objects.
He could not believe his eyes; It was RedE. bobbing nearby…… not 50 ft. from him and filled with seagulls.
Without hesitating, he jumped from the beacon and swam to his boat, the birds taking flight…..It was exactly as he left it, oars and all. Except for one thing; there was no Pepsi can; but there was an old pewter cup on the seat at the bow……..and, one remaining morsel of bread.
He wrapped these in a towel before setting off for shore, repeating the words; “This is my body…this is my blood” in cadence, as he rowed to shore and safety.
Britt was shaking as he reached to pull him into his arms, knowing this was not the time for reprimand. Bud pleaded…… “Please don’t tell mom; It is enough that three of us know.” Britt questioned: Who’s the third?
Bud just raised his arms to the sky in a tearful response.
‘The “One” who rescued me.”
The cup remains his only real treasure to this day…… He told is mom he found it on the beach…… but she wonders “Why it is always part of his prayer time?”
Oh well……… boys will be boys.
Some like Bud, thanks to Gods grace, will become men!