Page 36 in the series Before the Pirates Came*
Miranda’s boat hit the dock with a thud, the spring line pulling hard against the wind. The forecast was calling for snow after midnight, a nor’easter on its way down from Canada. Charlevoix, Michigan, summer’s glistening paradise, was preparing for a direct hit, and the boats at the Boat Basin were about to be buried. Someone on the dock was shouting her name and it sounded urgent.
“Unless you want to freeze to death, Miranda, you better get your butt out here and do your part.” Miranda’s dockmate, Luke, had a peaceful presence and a gentle way about him. “Just because you made it to the top of the flagpole doesn’t mean you get the day off or any special treatment. Nobody here cares that you’re a girl!” To herself she said, blah, blah. She tuned out Luke’s big mouth, freshened her lipstick, and climbed out into the cold. “And bring you tools!!”
Her dockmate, Greg, was normally the picture of propriety. But this morning he was lying face down on the dock by his sailboat, his arm reaching way underneath, cheeks bright red. Miranda ran to him, asked if he had tripped or fainted. He mumbled something under his breath, held out his free hand, and asked her to pass him the cutters. Before she could figure out what on earth they were up to, he asked her for three cable ties, two long and one short. And, to lie down on the dock, reach under the planks, and grab hold of the yellow electrical cord in his hand.
It was the closest she had ever gotten to Greg. He was so cute, and such a good cook. But this was not a date… this was a robbery! They were stealing electricity from the empty slips and running an extra 30 amps to their own. She was Greg’s accomplice!
Electricity is a complicated thing. On the one hand, the thick yellow cord carries 30/amps, 125 volts. On the other hand, there were things that drew a certain amount of power– like space heaters– that were taking on added importance as the temperature quickly dropped. Ron walked over to check their progress then launched into a detailed technical explanation of how electricity works:
“The electrical charge which flows into your boat…”
(Greg asked for more cable ties… )
“… an effective voltage of about 120 volts…”
(and now the pliers, oops, almost dropped them…)
“… and therefore, watts = volts x amps. It’s simple, really.”
This was for Miranda’s benefit and she nodded gratefully. But all she really cared about was being warm, not starving, and having good hair. If she could plug in her hot rollers without blowing a fuse before breakfast, even better.
Greg assured her, “Don’t think of it as stealing, Miranda. Think of it as survival.” It was his fifth winter at the Boat Basin. “We’re paying alot of money to dock here, so don’t give it another thought.” She handed him the cutters and passed him three more cable ties. She had never stolen anything, not even a candy bar as a kid growing up.
“Thou shalt not steal.” Exodus 20:15 (NIV)
Maybe it wasn’t really stealing, but what if it was? She knew what Mavis would say. She considered that for a moment as she unwound the 50′ cord that would run beneath her dock to a post 30′ away. Everyone else was doing it, but something didn’t feel right. She had already read the Ten Commandments. Miranda considered whether they still applied today.
*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.