To Asleep with Saki by Sam Younghans

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By Sam Younghans - 1975

A man was washed overboard about ten mile out at sea. Fortunately, he was an excellent swimmer, in good health and very strong. He steadily made his way to shore by swimming, treading water, and floating. His sprit was high, and after two days of this method of gaining shore, a small boat appeared on the horizon, with a small sail and one man on board. The boat came alongside of the floating man, and he was helped into the boat. There was food and water aboard; enough for two men for nearly three months.

The man, who had been in the water, introduced himself as Fred, and the other man replied, “That’s nice, my name is George and this is my boat the “Good Spirit”. You are welcome to stay and use that half of the boat. Here is a fishing rod you may use to catch your food. I will give you water.”

George sat in the bow reading, fishing, and sunning while Fred did the rowing. In the beginning, George gave Fred water and a little food, but after that first day, he gave Fred only water and an occasional leftover. Fred was to gain his food by fishing. George didn’t want to go directly into shore; he wanted to go about twenty or thirty miles down the coast to an inlet where his yacht club was located. Fred had no choice, but to row down the coast.

As the days passed, Fred became weaker and weaker; he wasn’t catching many fish, and he was spending more time fishing than rowing so they were making very little progress down the coast. George, who was very comfortable reading and sunning in the bow, would throw Fred some food once in a while. It made George feel good. However, sometimes when Fred would catch a tasty fish, George would get hungry in the middle of the night and would eat all of Fred’s fish. After all, it was his boat and he was letting Fred use it, and his fishing rod. Meanwhile Fred became weaker and weaker.

Whenever George became bored, or tired of reading, he would talk to Fred. “A man your age should have his own boat, not be in the ocean without one. What is so difficult about having your own boat? I can’t understand how a man of your age can be in the water without one.” When Fred tried to explain that he was washed overboard from his own boat, and that, when he got to shore he would be able to regain his boat from the sea, if it was still afloat. George, more interested in George, would only half hear what Fred was saying.

Finally, after a number of days had passed, George looked up from his book; saw land and his yacht club pennant flying in the inlet. Fred was fishing for food. He was so weak that he could hardly lift the oars to row the boat. The small sail had been very little help. George didn’t like flying it because, then, he would have to stop reading in order to sail the boat. He left it up to Fred to row them ashore.

Suddenly George said, “Give me my fishing rod. I am tired of you using it all of the time. You should get your own rod. When there is a bite on the end of the line, I want to know that it is mine.” When Fred tried to explain; he was only using the rod to get food for strength to row, George would not listen.

After some time passed, George glared at Fred, and said, “Fred, you have been using my boat too long, I need my privacy. I can’t handle it any longer. You will have to leave. A man your age should have his own boat. You will only drag me down with you if you stay on any longer.”

Fred replied, “It is only a little bit father to land, then I will be out of your boat. Can’t you tolerate this situation long enough to reach land?”

“No, I can’t wait. Right now is what I am talking about; show me some concrete proof you will be out of my boat soon. You can’t!  Find a log or something. I know I could find something. You will just have to get out. Please don’t take it personal; we can still be friends. I have carried you long enough, you will have to get out of my boat, now.”

As Fred is slowly sinking into the sea, George says, “Don’t take it personal, it is just good business. A man your age should have his own boat."

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