Thursday, April 4, 2024

Cap’n, Cap’n (Part 1 of 2 Parts), Post #262

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Easter is behind us, spring is upon us, and as I write this, it’s overcast and chilly here in Albuquerque. Yesterday, we were blessed with a little snow, a bit of rain, and a tad of sunshine. What else could you ask?

 Today, we have the first installment of a new story where our protagonist believes he’s figured out who he is but finds things to challenge that conviction. This first installment gives us a peek into our protagonist’s life.

 * * * *


 Josh Bingley called from across the soccer field. “Cap’n, Cap’n! Wait up.”

I hated the name my folks gave me. Family lore said they’d both just finished reading Herman Melville’s Moby Dick when I arrived upon the scene, and so they pronounced me Ahab James Chaplain. For the life of me, I don’t know why. That crusty sea captain was certainly no hero, at least not to my mind. For years, I tried to get people to call me James or Jim, but the community unanimously settled on Ahab. My peers didn’t even bother with the name, they just called me Captain… or more commonly “Cap’n.”

Of course, that wasn’t all that was going south in my life. I’d noticed something lately. Something that convinced me I was more screwed up in the head than I’d originally thought. And that was bad enough before the revelation.

My schoolmate dashed across the street and joined me on the sidewalk.

“Yeah, Josh, wha’cha want?”

What he wanted was to walk home with me. We were next-door neighbors, and had been since grade school. I liked Josh but wished he’d cooperate and call me by my middle name.

As to Josh, himself, what not to like? Tall—couple of inches more than my five-nine—carried about the same as my one-seventy, and was shaped like an athlete.

Weird how some eighteen-year-olds looked like men, and others were still boys. Josh’s shoulders had already spread about as much as they ever would, leaving his back a Vee down to his waist. I was shaped okay, but I’d never match those shoulders and trim hips. Probably a little jealousy there.

He was bright, friendly, a good athlete—football, soccer, basketball, it didn’t matter—and had a great smile with a personality to match. So why did I get testy with him sometimes. That jealousy thing, probably.

He shortened his stride to match mine. “Good play this afternoon.”

He referenced a steal I’d made just before one of the opposing soccer players was about to score.


“You’re a good player.”


He glanced sideways at me. “But not a very good communicator. What’s the matter?”

I frowned. “In a mood.”

“You’re in them more often than not lately.

“Am I?”

“Getting to be a regular grouch.”

“Hump,” I said, reverting to type.

“So what’s up?”

I stopped dead in my tracks, forcing him to retrace his steps.

“Me,” I said, “except I’m not up, I’m down.”

A frown distorted his features. “Why? What happened?”

I glanced at him, tempted to share my problem. Uh-uh. Way too personal. I’d hid my real self all my adolescent life. Tell him, and he’d blab to everyone. Well, maybe not. He was pretty circumspect, but he sure wouldn’t look at me the same way anymore… if he looked at me at all. Naw.  I resumed walking; he tagged along.

“Life happened,” I snapped before reverting to my old beef. “Except nobody’ll call me Jim or James or anything except Ahab or Cap’n.”

“That’s what’s got you down? Okay, Jimbo, I’ll call you that now. Better?”

“Guess. Jim might be better.”

“How about Jimmy?”

“Makes me sound like a ten-year-old.”

“A ten-year-old or a mad sea captain, which will it be?”

“Jimbo’s fine, I guess.”

“Jimbo it is,” he said, and then gave me a smile. “Unless I forget. Which I will sometimes. But even if I say Ahab, I’m thinking Jimbo.”

The likeable schmuck knew how to get me out of a mood. I arrived home feeling better than when I’d left school.


The next morning, I ran smack dab into my problem when I saw Hal Barton in the hallway. He shouldn’t have even been at the school. He’d graduated last year and disappeared from my life when he went to college.

“What’re you doing here?” I blurted.

“Home for spring break and decided to check out the old digs. Good to see you, Cap’n. Look, why don’t I swing by after school. I’m going to the lake and thought you might wanna ride along.”

“I-I dunno.”

He beamed. Damn, he had a good face. Good smile. Good everything. “Sure you do. I’ll be waiting. You have soccer practice?”

I shook my head. “But I dunno If I’m free or not.”

He really turned loose a smile. “I’ll be in the parking lot just in case.”

My reaction to Hal put me in a mood again, and I managed to ruin the day for a lot of people. All too soon the last bell rang, and although I told myself I wasn’t going to do it, I wandered out to the parking lot with my heart in my throat. Then I got into Hal’s car—something else I swore I wasn’t gonna do—with blood pounding in my ears.

I dunno if he could see my nervousness or not, but he talked a blue streak all the way to the lake, telling me about college and how different it was with a guy living on his own, smothering me in the easy charm that got me out here at the lake the first time a year ago.

And when we arrived, as he’d done dozens of other times, he found a secluded area, parked, and turned to me with hunger in his eyes. As I’d done twenty times before, I found my trousers down around my feet with Hal’s warm hands exploring parts of me not very many people were familiar with.

When he had what he wanted from me, he pulled me to him to reciprocate. And although I swore to myself I wouldn’t… I did.

He drove home happy, and chattering up a storm, while I sat morose and wondering what the hell I was. Frankly, I was lower than I’d been earlier. Especially when I realized I’d really enjoyed the last half hour.

So why was I so blue?


What’s eating at the kid? It seems he had accepted who he was, so why is he so agitated about it now? We’ll find out next week.

 My new anthology, Huntinghawk,was released in February as an Ebook by JMS Books with the print version to follow soon. Hope you’ll give it a read.

 My contact information is provided below in case anyone wants to drop me a line:

Website and blog:



X: @markwildyr

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it! 

 See you later.



New posts first and third Thursday of the month at 6:00 a.m., US Mountain time.

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