Paul - a fiction short story
Sam, Jenny and Paul - a Maine family
Jenny softly knocked on Paul's bedroom door, "Paul, Paul, " she called as she opened the door. "It"s time to get up. Dad's up and getting ready - he'll need your help loading the truck," she said a littler louder. She gently shook his shoulder, "Paul."
"Awww, Mom, I don't want to go out on the boat today! I hate lobsters - those smelly old things. I hate lobster fishing! - it's so early in the morning! I don't want to be a lobster fisherman - ever!" Paul pleaded with her.
"Paul," said Sam firmly as he walked by the bedroom, "you heard your Mom. Get up now - we're going out on the boat today. No more complaining!" he said brusquely.
"Okay, okay," said Paul and his gangly legs swung over the bed and onto the floor. He rubbed his eyes.
Jenny smiled at her handsome thirteen year old son. He had grown up so quickly and now was entering his teens. She couldn't believe she had a teenager in the house.
"Thanks, Mom," Paul smiled at her. "But, that doesn't make up for having to go out lobster fishing today," he said rolling his eyes.
"Well, if it makes you feel any better, I have loads of orders to fill at the co-op today, so I'll be as busy working as you and Dad," she said. "And, then, when you bring in today's catch, I'll have more work tomorrow!"
"Yea, right," he said smiling. "I'll be out in a minute - tell Dad I'll help him load the truck," said Paul.
"Good," said Jenny. She walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. Sam had just returned from the truck.
"Almost," said Jenny.
Thirteen years and several months had passed since Paul was born. Jenny remembered it distinctly. It was one of the happiest days of her life. So much had happened in the years since his birth. Sam had built the lobster business from just having local Maine customers to having customers from all over the world.
MacAllan Lobster Co-op was now an international business, mailing fresh lobsters overnight to hotels, restaurants and private clients all over the world via air flight. The MacAllan name in lobsters was known world-wide and Sam and Jenny had a sterling reputation for having the best, juiciest lobsters and always shipped, delivered and arriving on time.
They had become so successful that Jenny had started working in the business from the land end, first filling the orders, then getting into the public relations end of the business, and finally into sales. She had given up her news writing job at the local newspaper, the Boothbay Record, after only working there for three years, much to the disappointment of Bart, the owner, publisher and her editor.
And, her 'unfinished novel,' was just that - unfinished. Thirteen years working on the novel in her spare time and still it wasn't complete and ready as her spare time had become less and less over the years with the lobster business and raising Paul.
Sam had hired several local lobster fishermen to work for him and he had a fleet of five lobster boats now. Sam was the CEO of MacAllan Lobster Co-op and had the day to day running of the business and no longer did the daily lobster fishing. However, he was determined to turn Paul into a lobster fisherman just like him, his father, his grandfather, and great-grandfather had been.
Sam, Jenny and Paul had moved out of the small log cabin house they first had together when they were young, and now had built a huge 4,000 sq. ft. traditional Maine clapboard house sitting atop MacAllan Hill ( with land passed down from Sam's father and grandfather) overlooking Covet Cove.
Sam insisted on being in this big house and Jenny just clattered around in it - she felt it was way too large for them, with only just one child - Paul. The log cabin had been smaller and cozier and she sometimes missed the intimacy of a smaller home.
She and Sam had tried over the years for more children, but they just didn't come. They both would have liked several more children, but it wasn't meant to be. Adoption was not an option for Sam and so he threw all his time and energy into the lobster business and Jenny did all she could to help him.
"Hey, Mom, hey Dad," said Paul as he walked into the kitchen.
"Sit down, you two," said Jenny. "Everything is ready now," she smiled lovingly at both of her 'men.'
"I'll help you load the truck, Dad," said Paul.
"All ready done, Paul," said Sam as he clicked ff the computer and sat down at the table. "Lobster fishermen are early risers, son - 3:30 toi 4 am every morning - no lounging in bed taking a half-hour to an hour waking up. The truck's been done and loaded for the last twenty minutes."
"Uh, sorry, Dad," said Paul. "I'll do better next time."
"Hmmmm" was all Sam said.
"Well, we are all together for a fine breakfast this morning," said Jenny cheerfully. "Someone pass the orange juice?"
Paul gulped down his breakfast, cinnamon rolls included, as Jenny and Sam ate and discussed the forthcoming day. When Paul was done, he asked to be excused.
"I'll wait for you in the truck, Dad," said Paul, as he grabbed his raincoat and dashed out the door.
"Really Sam, you have to go a little easier on Paul," said Jenny now that Paul was outside. "He's only thirteen years old - that awkward pubescent teenage time."
"Jen, now is when lobster fishermen are taught and molded. Now is when they get started and are turned into men." said Sam seriously. This is when my father taught me lobster fishing. Now is when Paul begins to learn the lobster business - if he is ever to take over someday -"
"Sam," Jenny interrupted, "he doesn't like the lobster business - he doesn't like lobster fishing, let alone love it like you do," she said.
"You know as well as I do, Jen, to raise a hard-working, responsible son, he needs the experience of working in the family business and taking some pride in it - he's part of the family."
"I know, Sam, and I already told him that this morning - but Sam, you have to recognize the fact that his passions don't run in the area of lobster fishing. You know he's passionate about sailing. That's why every time you're looking for him, he's hanging out with Mack Laren, learning to sail. Look at all those sailboat models he's built and displays in his bedroom - not a lobster boat among them. Paul is stuck on sailing, not lobsters," said Jenny.
"I know, Jenny, but lobster fishing has been in the MacAllan family for generations - Paul has to learn to respect that and to respect lobster fishing," said Sam. "It's our livelihood - it's because of lobster fishing that Paul has all those sailboat models in his bedroom."
"Okay, Sam, but you're pushing your own son away and right towards Mack Laren. Can't you become a little interested in sailing - for Paul's sake?" asked Jenny.
"I don't have time for 'fru-fru sailing.' I have a business to run, important clients, and getting lobsters delivered overnight. I just don't have the time to sail," said Sam.
"Well, can you at least make lobster fishing a little fun today for Paul?" asked Jenny.
"Fun, oh my," said Sam as he put on his raincoat, kissed Jenny and went out the door to the truck.
Lobster fishing at sea
Sam and Paul drove in silence down to Covet Cove. Finally, Paul said, "Umm, Dad, - there's a sailing race across Boothbay Harbor this Sunday afternoon. And, I'm in it with Mack Laren. I'm, umm, helping him sail his boat in the race. Will you and Mom come to watch - to see me?
Sam cleared his throat. "Well, Paul. I'll check with your Mom and see what's on the calendar. I think I remember her mentioning a barbecue out at Ocean Point this Sunday afternoon - so, I don't know if we can or not."
"Oh, said Paul, "well, if you and Mom already have plans, that's okay. There will be other races. I don't have to got with you and Mom to the barbecue do I?"
"No, no," said Sam. "You can sail with Mack if you want to."
"Thanks," said Paul.
Sam pulled into the parking lot and parked the truck at MacAllan's Lobster Co-op. Paul helped Sam unload the truck and then Paul began loading lobster traps onto the boat. Sam went inside to check on a few orders. When he came out, he said, "Everything ready Paul? Everything on the boat?"
"Yea, Dad, we're ready," said Paul.
"Okay, son. You're at the wheel. Let's get started."
Paul started up the motor and started driving the boat out into open sea. This was the part Paul enjoyed the most - driving the boat out to sea and driving it back to the cove at the end of the day. The sea spray hit him a little in his face and the wind gently blew his hair straight back At least this part was a little close to sailing. He handled the steering wheel with ease. But, once out at their lobstering spot, Paul hated that part. Throwing the traps in, hauling them out. emptying the traps of lobsters, setting the buoys ....
Oh, no, thought Paul, I forgot to load the buoys on the boat. Dad's going to be so mad at me, thought Paul sadly. "Uh, Dad ..." but he didn't get to finish his sentence.
"Paul!" shouted Sam, "Turn around and go back - you forgot to load the buoys!"
"Sorry, Dad - you're right, I forgot," said Paul glumly.
"Paul, for goodness sake, you need to mentally check this stuff off before you leave the dock. What's the matter with you? Now, we've lost time - when will you ever learn to get it all together?" asked Sam.
Paul swiftly but carefully turned the boat around and headed back to the cove. When they got back, Paul loaded the buoys onto the boat, but his time Sam took the wheel, accelerated the boat and speedily drove out of the cove and back into open sea. Paul just went along for the ride. Neither one of them spoke to one another.
When they arrived at their fishing spot, Paul and Sam started hauling out the traps already in the water from the day before. They were big and cumbersome and Paul pulled out one trap to Sam's three. Paul's shoulder's ached, but the next part was even worse for him. They opened the traps and grabbed and threw the lobsters into bins. They were smelly and slimy and snapped and pinched Paul's hands and arms. Again, Paul emptied one trap to Sam's three. He could never keep up with his father.
"Son, you gotta work faster," said Sam.
"Sure, Dad," said Paul, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't keep up.
When they were finished, they grabbed the empty but baited traps and threw them into the ocean and then made sure the buoys were bobbing atop the water so they knew exactly where their traps were.
Then, they moved on to their next fishing area and did the same routine. Paul and Sam hardly talked as they worked. The only conversation was when Sam was either instructing Paul what to do or correcting one of Paul's mistakes. This continued all day.
By, 6 pm, Paul was exhausted and Sam was tired. Paul thought they had made a good haul that day, but Sam said it was just so-so. Sam drove the boat back to the cove.
When they reached the co-op, they had a few traps left to empty and all the lobster bins to haul off the boat. After that, they headed home.
When Paul and Sam arrived home, Jenny met them at the door.
"Hi Mom - I'm whooped," said Paul. "I don't want any dinner tonight. I just want to shower and crash," he said yawning.
"Sure," said Jenny,
"Oh, by the way, I'm sailing in a sailboat race with Mack on Sunday afternoon. I asked Dad if you guys would come and watch me - he said he thinks you guys have a barbecue to go to at Ocean Point. Can you check the calendar, Mom?"
"Certainly, Paul. We will certainly come if we can," she said smiling. "I'll talk to Dad," she said.
"Great! Thanks, Mom!" said Paul excitedly as he went up the stairs to his bedroom.
Sam walked in the door. "Hi, babe," he said to Jenny, stopping to kiss her, then taking off his raincoat.
"How did it go today?" Jenny asked.
"Oh, the usual - he forgot to load the buoys so we had to double back for them. Then he was quiet the rest of the day - didn't talk much, but we got everything accomplished we had to do," said Sam.
"What about you, Sam? Did you talk much to Paul?" asked Jenny.
"Jen, stop. We had work to do today. Lobster fishing is hard work - and we were hauling traps, throwing traps and lobsters around - there wasn't time for polite conversation. Geez, Jenny!" Sam said exasperated.
"Paul mentioned he's in a sailboat race with Mack on Sunday afternoon and he wants us to come - did he tell you?" asked Jenny,
"Yes, he did mention it to me, but don't we have that barbecue out at Ocean Point to go to Sunday afternoon?" asked Sam.
"Oh, Sam - what's more important - some barbecue we can go to any weekend or Paul's sailing and supporting your son? He tries to please you, - Sam, by going lobster fishing - can't you once go watch him sail?" asked Jenny.
"Jenny - I network at these barbecues. My clients are there and it's good business - I can pick up some more clients," said Sam.
"Sam, we have enough business - we can barely take care of the clients and fill the orders that we already have," said Jenny.
"Well, that's why it would be good for Paul to work with us and carry on the business," said Sam.
"For your information, the barbecue has been cancelled for Sunday afternoon. I think it's a death in the family or something," said Jenny. "Anyway, it's Windjammer Days this weekend - not a good time for a barbecue anyway."
"Oh, great," said Sam, "so I guess that means we're going to see Paul sail on Sunday afternoon?" asked Sam.
"Yes, we are, and we are going to enjoy it and be supportive of our son - he's the only child we have, Sam. Please don't push him away from us," said Jenny.
"I know he's our only child, Jenny. But, certainly not from lack of trying - we tried for more, Jen. We didn't or couldn't have them," said Sam not looking her in the eye.
"I know, Sam. It's no one's fault. But, we have a wonderful boy, Sam and he has his own interests and ideas and things he wants to accomplish in life. We have to be understanding and supportive of him. We can't expect him to be a carbon copy of you - he's his own person,
Sam. We have to let Paul be Paul."
"I know - you're right, Jen," conceded Sam. "I have just always dreamed of seeing MacAllan and Son Lobster Co-op, up on the building," said Sam. "And, I can't stand that Mack Laren - he thinks he's so smooth with those sailboats and his windjammer vacations and all the rich snobs he sailboats around the harbor," said Sam.
"Yes," said Jenny, "I know, you two have been competitors since high school. His wife, Kate, and I have always been friendly, Sam, and we have never understood why you two are rivals. Both of you are upstanding men and businessmen in Boothbay Harbor, just in different businesses. Please, let's not be rivals with them over Paul," said Jenny.
"Okay, Jen, Sunday afternoon - sailboat races - tell Paul we'll be there," said Sam.
"Why don't you tell him, Sam. "He'd love to hear it from you," said Jenny. Sam climbed the stairs to Paul's bedroom and knocked on the door.
"Hey, Paul - it's Dad, can I come in?"
"Sure, Dad," said Paul as he opened the door. "Come on in."
"Hey, buddy, I want to thank you for all your work today on the boat. I'm proud of you, and Mom and I are coming to your sailboat race on Sunday," said Sam.
"Oh, Dad, thanks - that's great!" said Paul as he hugged Sam. "Wait til you see Mack and me handle that sailboat - you're going to be surprised! We're good enough to win this race!" said Paul excitedly as Sam kissed him on the head, "I hope you win," said Sam. "Well, good night, son," said Sam. He closed the door and then headed back down to the kitchen, Jenny and supper.
Sunday couldn't come fast enough for Paul, and when it finally arrived, he was up at 6 am, laying out his clothes, blow-drying his hair, and wearing his brand new pair of boat shoes and really making himself look spiffy. Jenny was amused and Sam was quietly scowling behind his Sunday newspaper. When Paul was finally dressed and ready, the three of them went out for breakfast.
As Paul walked by to get in the car, Jenny caught a wiff of a scent on Paul. "Paul, are you wearing cologne?" asked Jenny. "You smell heavenly."
"Uh, yea, Mom," said Paul blushing a deep red.
"Good grief," said Sam, "Would you two get in the car?" he said shaking his head.
After breakfast, the three of then attended church on the hillside overlooking Boothbay Harbor and as the morning progressed, Jenny could see Paul's excitement rising. Finally, the three of them made their way downtown to Boothbay Harbor, where the crowds were forming to view the race - Windjammer Days at Boothbay Harbor was an annual sailing race and festivities. Sam and Jenny usually attended each year and Sam did his networking. This was the first year anyone in their family was actually in a race and the first time Sam and Jenny would just be spectators.
They dropped Paul off at Mack Laren's sailboat office by the water and stopped in to say hello.
"Hey, Sam MacAllan, good to see you, good to see you," said Mack Laren as he extended his hand to Sam.
"Hello, Mack and good afternoon," said Sam as he shook hands. "You remember Jenny."
"Of course, hello, Jen," Mack said.
"Hi Mack - I see you have a new sailor on board this afternoon," said Jenny.
"I can't thank you enough for allowing me to borrow your son, Paul. He has been great to work with - a quick study, that boy - he has really caught on to sailing," said Mack. With Kate and I having three girls, it's a treat to have a young man on board for a change," said Mack.
Paul just beamed.
"Yes, we're very proud of him," said Jenny, "and excited to see the race."
"Uh, yes we are," said Sam.
"And, I hear he helps you out lobster fishing, Sam and with your business. Fine young man," said Mack.
Suddenly Mack's wife, Kate and their three daughters approached. "Hi Jenny," said Kate, "glad to see you two made it for the race."
"Good afternoon, Kate and girls. No, we wouldn't miss it!" said Jenny.
Paul walked over and took the hand of one girls and walked over to Sam and Jenny, "Mackenzie, I'd like you to meet my Mom and Dad, Jenny and Sam MacAllan. Mom and Dad, I'd like you to meet Mackenzie Laren, a very good friend of mine," said Paul.
Jenny smiled and shook Mackenzie's hand. "Delighted to meet you Mackenzie."
Sam stood transfixed and just starring. Jenny subtly elbowed him, "Yes, nice to meet you, Mackenzie," said Sam. Everyone was beaming except Sam who was practically speechless.
"Paul and Mackenzie have become such good friends since Paul has been learning to sail and spending time with Mack. Mackenzie is our thirteen year old middle child," explained Kate.
"Uh, Mackenzie and I are going to take a little walk before the race," said Paul never letting go of her hand.
"Fine," said Sam, his eyes widening in surprise. When they walked away, they joined up with some friends their age and mingled and talked. Sam watched as Paul put his arm around Mackenzie's waist.
"I think Paul is really sweet on Mackenzie," said Kate. "He has been a real gentleman to her and they have been having so much fun on the weekends sailing with Mack and spending time on the boat," said Kate.
Sam cleared his throat, "Well, we need to get to our seats, Jen. We reserved a table outside on the patio at the Windjammer Inn to view the race."
"Would you and the girls join us for the race?" asked Jenny.
"We also reserved a table at the Windjammer - we have friends joining us, so I guess we'll see you on the patio" said Kate smiling.
When Sam and Jenny were seated at their table on the patio, Jenny said to Sam, "Well. I guess I understand Paul's great interest in sailing, now, don't you?"
"Yes, Paul's quite grown-up suddenly," said Sam.
"Who do Paul and Mackenzie remind you of?" asked Jenny teasingly.
Sam blushed, "How should I know?" he answered.
"Oh, Sam, come on now," laughed Jenny.
"All right, all right, they remind me of us - but we were older when we met Jenny - we were in high school. When, I was thirteen I was still playing baseball and chasing girls with worms and lobsters and . . ."
"I know, lobster fishing," said Jenny
"Geez, he acted so grown-up introducing her to us and everything," said Sam.
"It's a new world, Sam. I think he wanted us to meet Mackenzie as much as watch him sail," said Jenny.
"Geez, Jen, he's never even mentioned her to us," said Sam, "and then this big introduction to us today."
"Sam, thirteen year old boys are very tight-lipped. Remember when you were thirteen? Even at seventeen, it was a while before your parents even knew I existed," laughed Jenny.
"Yes, you're right. It seems you've been right alot lately," said Sam smiling as he put his arm around Jenny. He continued, "That Mackenzie sure is pretty - Good grief, I'm going to have to have 'the talk' with him," said Sam.
"You haven't had it already?" asked Jenny. "You may be too late - but that gives you something to talk about when you two are out lobster fishing," said Jenny.
"Ohhh," groaned Sam.
The sailboats were lining up, and Mack's boat was flying royal blue colors so it would be easy to see them on the water. Sam looked through his binoculars to the sailboat. "I can see Paul very well. He knows what he's doing out there," said Sam.
"Let me see," said Jenny taking the binoculars. There was Paul, his sandy blond hair waving in the wind as he hopped around the boat.
"Hello," said Kate waving as she, her three daughters and their friends sat down at the table on the patio.
"Good Luck!" said Jenny smiling and waving back. And then the sailboats were off. Sam watched through binoculars as he gave a play by play to Jenny as Paul hauled ropes and defely moved sails from one side of the boat to the other. Mack shouted orders as Paul opened and closed sails - Mack steered as Paul scrambled from one end of the boat to the other following Mack's precise orders. They were a well-oiled pair guiding the sailboat through the harbor and then out of sight into open sea waters.
They would be returning through the harbor for the finish line, but not for a while. Jenny watched as Kate and the girls yelled and urged them on. Mackenzie was yelling Paul's name and jumping up and down with excitement. When the boats were out of sight they all took a deep breath and relaxed.
"There's a dinner later tonight at the country club for the participants and the awarding of the prizes," said Kate. "Be sure to come," she called over.
"We, will," said Jenny. "Paul will love that."
"So will Mackenzie," said Kate winking.
"Mom!" said Mackenzie blushing.
Suddenly, Sam grabbed the binoculars - the sailboats were returning now. "Jen, they're first! They're coming in first! Oh, no, another boat pulled up beside them! They're neck and neck with another sailboat!"
Jenny stretched to see the boats as Sam wasn't giving up the binoculars now. "Oh, Sam, how thrilling for Paul!"
All the way in and across the harbor Mack and Paul were neck and neck with the boat flying red colors. Sam, Jenny, Kate and the girls were up on their feet screaming and yelling and jumping up and down for Mack and Paul. Both sailboats slipped over the finish line a dead finish. An announcement was made that it was a photo finish and it would be a few minutes to determine the winner.
Jenny and Sam were on pins and needles. Sam said, "Jenny, Paul was great - he never skipped a beat and really has some knowledge of sail boating. He knows how to handle a boat," said Sam.
"Well, of course, he's your son, dear. You tell me all the time how well he handles the lobster boats in the water. Apparently, he's learned a lot from you, too," said Jenny smiling.
Finally, the announcement came - the boat with the red colors had won first place, followed by Mack's boat with the royal blue colors. Both sets of sailors were heralded at the finish stand.
Sam, Jenny, Kate and the girls clapped, stood at attention and saluted for Mack and Paul. Afterwards, they all met up with Mack and Paul to congratulate them. Sam hugged Paul and shook his hand, "Son, you're quite a sailor - congratulations and I'm proud of you," said Sam. Paul was radiant and Jenny had tears in her eyes.
Mackenzie ran to Paul and kissed him on the cheek and he blushed and then the two of them hugged.
"Sam, Jenny - we have to get you two out on the sailboat - how about next weekend - you can watch Paul sail up close and personal," said Mack.
Jenny looked over at Sam, "You bet, Mack - I wouldn't miss sailing with my son for anything," gushed Sam. "Thanks for teaching him the ropes of sailing, Mack - he loves it!" Jenny hugged Sam and then Paul. Paul grabbed Mackenzie's hand and said, "We'll see you guys later . . ." and then they disappeard off into the crowd.
Sam took Jenny's hand in his and kissed her. "Sam, remember the Shakespeare class the four of us took when we were seniors in high school? 'All's well that ends well?'" she said teasingly.
Kate and Mack laughed and Mack said, "Let's go for a beer and a MacAllan lobster - I'm starved!"