The Id and The Odyssey: Episode 119

Doing Something   

Rich drove back to Rockport. He wanted to see the family again. He wanted to express how badly he felt and to see if there was anything that could be done. As he drove it came to him how useless such sentiments were. He wondered, “Why sentiments are expressed, everyone knows full well that there is little that can be done. It makes only the one offering feel as though they are doing something positive and constructive, but in reality they don't want any more involvement other than to say an offer was made. How relived the one offering feels when the reply is that there is nothing that you can do.”
When Rich arrived at the burnt-out cabin only a few firefighters and onlooker were there. He asked a fireman where the family was. He said they headed back to Ohio five minutes ago.
“I must have passed by them on my way to Rockport,” Rich surmised. He turned around and headed back to Rockland in an effort the catch up with them.
Rich saw a station wagon with Ohio plates at a roadside souvenir shop near Rockland. Rich parked the Jeep and quickly hopped out. He went inside and saw the youngest boy, Rocky, looking at little license plate name tags on a display rack.
"Hey, Rocky," Rich said, "where's your dad?"
Rocky pointed him out to Rich. He walked his way through the shop and said, "Mr. Brinkman, Rich Larsen from the newspaper."
"Oh yeah, I remember," he said.
"I wondered if I could talk to you and your family?" Rich said.
"I don't think so," he said. "I think we're all talked out. We‘re going to grab a few souvenirs and head home. I‘d like for my family to put this whole thing behind them. I guess home is the best place to be. And I want to forget too"
"Please," Rich said smiling, "for just a minute."
He nodded and said, "Rocky, go find Dusty and your Mom and meet me at the car."
Leo Brinkman and Rich walked to the car together. "What do you want?"
"If it's all the same I'd like to get the entire family here first," Rich said.
They waited. Leo suspiciously sized Rich up.
"Where do you work, Leo?" Rich asked.
"I work in an auto stamping plant," Leo said. "I make bumpers for GM."
"Hard work?" Rich asked.
"Yep," Leo said.
"Your family really disappointed?" Rich said.
"What do you think?" Leo said. "We'll go back to Ohio and spend a day at Cedar Point."
"What did you have planned here?" Rich asked.
"Find a beach, sightsee, lighthouses, that kind of stuff," Leo said. "Go out to one of the islands by ferry, spend the day."
Loretta, Dusty, and Rocky walked out of the shop and up to Leo and Rich at the car.
"In case you don't remember I'm Rich Larsen. I interviewed you guys at the fire this morning. First of all I'm sorry. I really am."
They had blank looks on their faces as if to say ‘so what, what can you do about it?’
"What if I could offer you a really great vacation, would you stay?" Rich said.
They all moved uncomfortable except for Leo who stood like a statue.
"Look, I'm going to get in my Jeep and will you just take five minutes to follow me?"
The family looked at Leo and he stared at Rich.
"Well what do you say?" Rich said.
"Get in the car kids and let's follow him," Leo said unenthusiastically.
Rich drove to the marina and the Brinkman family followed.
Rich got out of the Jeep. "Come on follow me," Rich said walking down the dock. He stopped at the Sea Odyssey. Rich extended his arm. "There she is, the Sea Odyssey. It's yours for the next week and I'll be your captain. It sleeps four. That's perfect. We'll sail Penobscot Bay from morning till night. We'll look for whales. We'll explore islands. And if you want we can sail to Cape Cod or Nova Scotia. This will beat the pants off Cedar Point. Oh and there is just one little thing. It's absolutely free. It's one of those things when some one says is there anything I can do and you say nothing, but your really thinking of something. So what do you say?"
Rocky and Dusty said to their dad and mom, "Can we? Can we?"
Leo glanced at Loretta. She nodded slightly. "Sure," Leo said.
"Let's get unpacked," Rich said.
Rich gave Leo a quick tour of the boat and headed back to the paper. He walked into Sam's office. Sam looked up.
"I got two weeks vacation coming and I’m taking this week," Rich said. "That family from the fire, I'm taking them sailing. I talked them into staying here. They’re going to live on the boat."
"Sit down," Sam ordered.
"My mind is made up," Rich said.
"And I said sit," Sam said.
Rich thought, “Commanding me like a dog. Next comes the approval; the pat on the head for obedience.”
Rich sat and Sam opened his desk drawer and pulled out his essays. He laid them in front of Rich. Sam breathed deeply through his nose. "There are good writers and great writers. Anyone can become good. Few become exceptional and great. The real difference is passion. That passion comes from love, hate, anger, bitterness, joy, revenge, jealousy. It comes from down deep and it is so subtle. It is the difference between a dark rainy night and an evening damp and gloomy. It is the difference between very big and colossal. Good writing knows when it is too much and when it is too little. Passion knows how much and how little and how it feels." He looked at Rich and ran his fingers over the essays as if reading them in brail. "This is exceptional, not great exceptional. Greatness comes from years of exceptional writing." Sam smiled. "Well done."
Rich stood. "Thanks Sam."
"Have a nice vacation," Sam said.
Rich dropped by The Odyssey and told Leo that he’d see them early in the morning. He drove back to his apartment.

He laid in bed that night as the moon light crept into his room and shone across his face. “Sam is predictable. I believe he is sincere about the quality of my writing, but he does not compliment unless he expects something in return. He wants my loyalty and he thinks I live for his praise and flattery.”