In the beginning

Jean-Marc wore a particularly noticeable ring that he had picked up in his travels. It was extremely detailed, in gold and silver, that of a tall ship, fully rigged and under full sail, on what appeared to be black onyx. I asked him about it, and he said he had found it during one of his market forays into Addis. The person he bought it from couldn’t tell him a thing about it. I had never seen anything like it, and told him so. Jean-Marc said that he had looked for more of them, but had only seen the one. When I asked him to take it off so that I could look at it more closely, he refused. Obviously, it had some meaning to him, and I understood, to some extent why, given the intricacy of the design.

Digging the hole

When we ended up back at the head office hangar we all liked to get out on the floor and mingle with the maintenance people responsible for the well-being of the helicopters with which we entrusted our lives and the lives of our passengers. If the right crowd was around, we’d end up hitting the hotel just down the road for an evening well-spent until closing time, or the wee hours of the morning when the owner would keep the place open for us.

One of the guys that usually came along for the beer was young Bill, a lowly apprentice, who wasn’t known as the brightest bulb in the hangar, so to speak. He was a slow-moving, slow-talking man with a drawl that managed to irritate you if you spent too much time listening to him. Bill was married to a girl who didn’t take kindly to his nights out with the boys, and, after a night of debauchery, he would drag his sorry ass back into the shop on a Tuesday or a Wednesday or a Friday morning with a hang-dog look on his face and a ready story about what his wife had done to him this time upon his late and drunken arrival home.

Eventually, we all got fed up with Bill’s constant whining, and after one particularly long and winding nighttime trail of destruction spent at the various strip joints in the area, some of us pulled Bill outside and gave him a pep-talk before sending him on his way to be chastised by his bride one more time for being tardy in getting home to her waiting arms and sharp tongue.

Bill hadn’t show up at work for two days, so Larry, the owner of the company – in his own right not to be outdone as a drinking machine – called Bill’s wife to ask if he was sick. After hanging up the phone, Larry came out to tell us that Bill was in jail. A quick call to the precinct confirmed this, and after one of us went down to bail out Bill, he was back on the shop floor once again, with a story to tell about how he had ended up in the crowbar hotel.

It seems that our pep-talk a few nights previous had really cheered Bill up and put him in the proper frame of mind to hurry home and confront his bride. On arriving, he found his belongings out on the front porch and the door locked. Bill, not being the smartest fly over the cesspool, pounded on the door for a couple of minutes, and, just as his wife was unlocking it, he managed to kick the door down and both door and Bill landed on top of his bride. She didn’t take too kindly to this turn of events and consequently, when the police arrived, Bill was hauled off to jail.

Now you know how young Bill’s mind works – or doesn’t – as the case may be. Be that as it may, we all were somewhat chastened by the results of our advice-giving.

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