Thin Lizzy – Pandora
When Beth got the call about her dad being missing she was ¾ of the way through a bottle of very nice red wine. And she was sharing it with a very nice man. He was tall dark and handsome and as far as she could tell he was into her. He was also married. But the wife was out of town on important business. After months of coffees at work and quick flirtatious drinks after work, it was their first “official” date and things were going well. He’d picked the wine –something expensive from Walla Walla. The mood was intimate inside the cozy café. The phone had been buzzing in her purse on and off for around 5 minutes and she’d pretended neither she nor her date Matthew Holdsten could hear it. But the buzzing didn’t stop and Matthew had noticed. He kindly joked that either her house was on fire or she’d won the lottery. When she finally checked her phone and saw the call came from the Port Townsend Harbormaster she knew she had to take the call.
“Sorry Matt, this will be quick.”
“Hello?” she quietly answered the phone. She hadn’t even gotten up from the table worried her slightly tipsy state would be betrayed by wobbly legs. She’d had a cocktail before dinner, and another one before that to fortify her self for the date. The restaurant was a dark quiet place in the Seattle Pike Place Market, heavy on the red velvet and preferred for clandestine meetings. Beth was happy for flattering low-lights making her look sexier and more mature than she was. But now she worried she’d stumble over something having to navigate the cave like darkened room.
“Elizabeth Banks?” came the booming voice of Charlie Helmsworth the longest standing harbormaster in the Puget Sounds region. His voice was like a fog horn and cut through her pleasant buzz. She felt her date flinch at the noisy intrusion into their romantic dinner. She mouthed “sorry” to Matthew and pushed her chair back, realizing she needed to get the fog horn away from her date or the night would be ruined, if it wasn’t already ruined. Stepping out onto the wet sidewalk, Beth struggled to keep her skirt from blowing up in the sudden wind that swept through the market up off the sound. Charlie was going on about a non-return on slip 22, which Beth finally registered as meaning her dad had not come back in his boat to the marina. Apparently he’d been out on the 1st day of the prawn season and was expected back by 6pm, and now it was almost 6 hours later and they couldn’t bring him up on the radio or the cell and Charlie was beginning to worry. His first worry of course was for the boat. He’d financed the majority of the repairs it needed after her dad had rasped the hull on the shoal coming in to harbor while under the influence last spring. For all intents and purposes the boat belonged to Charlie even if it still bore Beth’s childhood nickname “Thin Lizzie.”
“So kid, I gotta, ask is he back on the sauce again?” Charlie boomed from across Penninsula.
“Oh jeeze Charlie. I don’t think so. I think it scared him straight when he almost lost the Thin Lizzie last spring.” But Beth wasn’t all too sure that her dad wasn’t back to drinking. It hadn’t stopped him 20 years ago when his wife left him for the sunnier climate and a “drier” husband in Tucson Arizona. And it hadn’t stopped him 3 years ago when he got a DUI driving home from a great day of crabbing off the Dungeness Spit. He’d always stop at his favorite bar the “Three Crabs” after a good day at the Spit and celebrate with a whiskey (or three and a beer). At age 15 Beth had been adept at driving her inebriated father home from the Three Crabs. So Beth really didn’t know whether her dad’s disappearance had something to do with his drinking, but in any case she was worried because more than anything else in the world, her dad loved his boat. And for him to risk being out alone in the dark, it didn’t seem to add up.
“Well I think we gotta call the Coast Guard in on this one.” Charlie sounded like he’d lost a bet in which calling the Coast Guard was the punishment.
“Yeah. O.K. Charlie. That seems like the best thing to do. I’m going to try to get on the next boat so I can come help find him. I’ll give you a call when I get to town. Keep me posted.” Hanging up the phone, Beth suddenly remembered she was without her car tonight having taken the bus to work, hoping to leverage her need for a ride into an overnight stay with Matthew. She even had her yoga pants and clean underwear in her large handbag. The toothbrush, sadly she’d forgotten.
Coming back inside with a gust of cold air, Beth felt tousled and significantly less drunk than she had before the call. Relieved that Matthew was still sitting at their table she sat down and reached across for his hand.
“Brrr…you’re freezing!” He rubbed his hands over hers.
“Matthew, something has come up…”
“Yeah I could tell from that sports announcers voice on the phone. “
“Remember how you said you’d always wanted to go to Port Townsend for a weekend getaway?” She paused for a moment. “Well, how about we hop on a boat now?”
“Like now.” Checking her watch, it was 11:45. “We can make the 12:10 if we get the check and you drive.”
He considered for a moment eyeing the remains of their dinner. “If we’re taking the next ferry, then we’d better finish this bottle!”
Beth hoped to hell her dad and his boat would be snug in the harbor by the time they got there, and that her date could proceed exactly as she had hoped it would: in a hotel, with a married man and a brand new toothbrush.