April 28, 1300:
Crew morale is high. Captain Rachel is in good spirits and is resting while first mate Ingram and I become acquainted. The time has flown by since labour started at 0300; we arrived at the hospital a few hours later.
Captain Rachel made excellent work bringing first mate Ingram on board, which came as no surprise to me. When the doctor first visited us, she said the first mate would probably arrive around dinner. I bet her a sandwich we’d make berth by noon, so I was very pleased when Ingram arrived at 1130. As it stands, the doctor hasn’t paid up — a reminder to always get arrangements in writing when dealing with medical personnel.
One of the nurses asked if I could outfit the first mate with his knee-breeches and slops. Having experience changing nephew’s diapers, I assured her I could and set to work, quickly outfitting the new officer. I thought I had done a good job with this, the first task of my appointed fatherhood, but laughter from the nurses made me realize my training was incomplete: the diaper was on backwards.
What’s more (and to my chagrin as a newly graduated English master’s student), neat little labels that read “Front” and “Back” were plainly visible on the corresponding bow and stern of the breeches. My only reassurance in the error was that I would have another opportunity to get it right — many, many more opportunities.
May 2, 0220:
We’ve come home to our new life. I thought I knew what it meant to be tired: I was wrong. Exhaustion has become the very air I breathe, a cycle of existence that permeates every thought and action.
Captain Rachel, of course, is showing no signs of weakness, which is, after all, why she’s the captain, not me.
First mate Ingram has done very well but requires feeding every two hours to combat a borderline case of jaundice, the yellow-bellied landlubber that he is.
And yet — all he has to do is look at me and everything feels fine.
I fear I am losing my mind.
June 13, 0945:
Another mishap with first mate Ingram’s slop and knee-breeches. I’m getting the hang of clothing a smaller, wrigglier version of myself, though I’m still not as fast as Captain Rachel. Again, that’s why she’s the captain.
The first mate was fussy, and I correctly gauged that a change of breeches was needed.
Having wrestled his cute dinosaur onesie off, I removed his diaper and reached to grab my trusty pack of Huggies to swab the deck just as the first mate began screaming.
Startled, I turned back just in time to see a long, golden stream arching from where I had just removed the breeches towards the first mate’s face — right into his mouth.
It took several minutes to calm him down, which is understandable. I would’ve been pissed too.
July 21, 0800:
In order to properly manage cabin waste, Captain Rachel asked me to gather first mate Ingram’s soiled diapers before the garbage scow arrived. Dutifully I set to work, gathering each bathroom’s bag along the way.
As I approached the main diaper-disposal unit and began to unlatch the sealed lid, I heard a raspy voice that pierced to the very heart whisper, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”
Sweat trickled down the back of my neck, my outreached hand tingling ominously, but it was too late — the lid sprung open.
The moral decay and filth of 10,000 ages seemed to assault my soul. Eyes screwed shut, I hastily groped for the plastic bag before slamming shut the container and throwing the demon spawn into the garbage bin.
I can only hope that such evil is buried deep within the earth, lest an unsuspecting Pandora unleashes a host of woe upon mankind once more.
August 10, 1420:
We’ve travelled as a crew to Captain Rachel’s family cabin. A remote site nestled in the interior of the Cordilleras, the location is boat access only. Like the true shipman he is, first mate Ingram only cries on the boat when we cut the motor.
September 19, 2035:
Captain Rachel has established a bedtime routine for the first mate and me. First on the schedule: bathtime.
A near-blowout of the diaper delayed proceedings, though I was able to cut corners cleaning since the tub awaited. Feeling clever, I opted for temporary breeches to get first mate Ingram up the stairs without the risk of springing a leak — more specifically, of springing a leak on to me. The plan worked.
Pleased with my success, I stripped the first mate and began filling the bathroom ballast with warm water. While checking the temperature, I felt my pant leg start soaking up warm water.
Panicking, I began looking for a leak in the tub, fearing the bathroom would soon be flooded — only to discover that infamous golden stream from the first mate a foot away scoring a direct hit on my knee.
On the plus side, it’s good to know his aim is true. A marksman always comes in handy in a naval engagement.
October 28, 1637:
Today marks six months since the first mate came aboard. I can’t believe how fast time has sailed, and it feels as though Captain Rachel and I have always had him. All the other adventures on the seven seas pale in comparison with the last half year; I’m looking forward to our future expeditions.
With Halloween upon us, my immediate goal is to walk in the paths of my forefathers and steal candy from my kid’s trick-or-treat bag. Since first mate Ingram doesn’t have any teeth yet, I figured this year was optimal, since he can’t enjoy the loot anyway. Things may be different next time.
Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze