Drew’s secret

Page 81… in a fiction series

Drew Becker had a secret.

Drew lived in Charlevoix all his life.  After spending a year away at college, he longed for the water and the boats that cruised there.  An only child, he went to New York University to honor the memory of his parents who died years ago.  But his passion for the charming “woodies”– the Hacker Crafts, Chris Crafts, and Garwoods– far exceeded his interest in classes and books.

Drew wasn’t sure whether his skill as a boat mechanic was passed down through the generations, but the locals swore it was so.  His fascination with his great grandfather, legendary boat mechanic Hank Becker, was a constant source of curiosity for Drew, and the town folk as well.  The old man spent his days and nights tinkering around the wooden boat house, the same place Drew spends his time today.

He was a bearded old curmudgeon with a grumpy disposition and a face like a worn ball mitt.  Not the marrying kind, Hank had girlfriends on every shore. He fathered a son, Drew’s grandfather, who he grew to know and adore.  Over time, the boy became an integral part of the Becker family tree.

When Hank learned of a career opportunity on the water, a sales job of sorts, he tuned up his Hacker Craft and embarked on a  new adventure.  The old man was also a bit of a drinker.  He was outraged at the passage of the 18th Amendment in the winter of 1920.  Rather than just complain about the injustice of Prohibition, he fought the new law in his own private way.

Hank already had the perfect boat.  The first Hackers were manufactured in 19o8 in the town of Lake George, New York.  With its revolutionary V-hull, low profile design, and an aircraft engine, the 26-footer was the ideal craft for speed and discretion.  That meant alot to Drew’s great grandfather as he ran cases of English gin, and French champagne down from Canada to Chicago, with a regular stop at Charlevoix.

There was a private late night ship that ran from Lake Charlevoix to Boyne City where Detroit politicians, wealthy businessmen, and their “dates”could enjoy a cocktail or two.  The Keuka was a 75-foot party barge that entertained from nightfall till dawn.  Never mind that Hank Becker cut the booze with water.  He was a businessman, after all, and every bootlegger did it.

On his late night runs, old Hank was a pro at running in the dark, in the fog, and with no port or starboard lights to make him visible to another craft.  He quickly learned the tricks of the trade, like how to use old motor oil to splash the hot manifolds.  With excessive heat, smoke rising above his boat could give away his location, and he was not interested in a career change or time in jail.  Hank liked being a rum runner, risks and all.

Ships that ran whiskey carried as much as $200,000 worth of liquor in a single run, but the breakneck speed and the smooth ride of the Hacker suited him fine.  The profits of a successful trip on a larger boat meant splitting the money among the captain and crew.  Hank, however, preferred to work alone and keep every penny for himself.  He did, and that’s where the secret comes in…

To be Continued…

*This story is based on some true events, however, has been fictionalized and all persons appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


© 2012, Shoes for an Imaginary Life. All rights reserved.

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22 Responses to Drew’s secret

  1. Jan says:

    I *love* stories like this! What a fascinating old character. Keep on writing, girl!

    • Linda says:

      I think old Hank is the last new character in the story. His role is short lived, but critical to the outcome.

  2. Linda, I don’t mean to be picky, but if Drew’s great grandfather was a bachelor, how did he become a great grandfather? Maybe that’s coming later in the story, but that question came to mind as I read this. Also, Drew’s great grandfather’s “profession” doesn’t seem like it was a secret, so now I’m wondering what Drew’s secret is. I suspect you are holding back on us. I hope the full scoop comes soon! Peace, Linda

    • Linda says:

      Holding back on you especially, Linda! Yes, there is another secret… a BIG SECRET coming up next. Good detective work on the family tree issue! I’m glad you pointed it out so I could get my mom innolved in the story. I asked her to please fix it. My thought was to fill in the gap with a bastard child who met his dad and filled an essential role in this story. But I think my mom probably did better than that!

      Hank was a scoundrel and a cheat, so my idea could fly! Seriously… thank you! Last page coming soon, so no peeking!

    • Jan says:

      I had the same question, Linda, but figured the next chapter might answer it. I am sooo curious to see how this is explained!

      • Linda says:

        The issue of the missing ancestry link is beautifully explained by my mom, above, a fellow English teacher. I simply put it in the tone of the story and jazzed it up a bit. Thank God for moms who have all the answers! : )

      • Bette says:

        Call me wind because I am abestuloly blown away.

  3. Christel Mattern says:

    Linda, I guess you could just take out that he was a bachelor and lived alone. You might have to make up something about a former wife and child . Good luck! Love, Mom

    • Linda says:

      Excellent work, Mom… I think I can work with that. I’m going to make him a creepy old man who had lots of girlfriends along the way, but only one cherished son he ever met. If this still isn’t right, please call me. After 10. You know I never sleep. Thanks! : )

      See the reply to my mom for details!

  4. Debbie says:

    While Larry is seeking God this month, I’m taking a stab at what he would like . . .
    “face like a worn ball mitt”! What a great unique descriptive phrase and great writing! Keep up the good work. Okay, I’m ready to turn the page . ..
    God bless you! I loved the story line in this one. Is this something that you knew about already or had to research? Wonderful job!
    love and hugs!

    • Linda says:

      Thanks for the kind words. Like Larry, I’ll be seeking God soon, too. In fact, for me it’s long overdue.

      I know the Great Lakes, old Hackers, and some of the clandestine boat traffic pretty well, but thanks to Wikipedia, I learned the finer points in a flash! And btw, the “old ball mitt” is my default phrase when I need something creepy in a hurry! ; )

  5. .endtransmission. says:

    Ohhhhh, I cannot WAIT to hear about the new secret!! This is a well written page.

    • Linda says:

      “We’re only as sick as our secrets” …The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. So who will bear the burden of the secret once it’s finally revealed? And besides, I thought Drew and Miranda didn’t keep secrets because they’re in love.

      Everyone wants them to be together, as the story will soon end. If it isn’t so, it will be heart breaking.

  6. Tod Hennen says:

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    . . . . . _ . . . . . . . . . _ _ _ _ . _

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  7. Larry Who says:

    Hmm! Drew’s family tree had a Joe Kennedy-like money making ancestor in it. Very interesting…and also interesting that Drew is not washed out of the story yet. Very interesting.

    I’m trotting ahead.

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