Houseboat

This comes from a true story about a friend who got drunk one night and bought a houseboat on eBay.

Some things, thought John Roy Parnell III, were just inevitable. As a matter of fact, everything in his life since the day he broke his leg trying to roll out for a first down in the high school state quarterfinals had seemed to flow inexorably onwards like ten thousand pounds of molasses going up the side of a hill in January. It never went very fast, but it never quite stopped moving, either. And ever since he lay three yards short of the first down on his own 37-yard line clutching his ankle and crying like a little girl his life had oozed forward to this very point.

That’s what he was thinking on an alarmingly sunny Monday morning when he woke up on the rook of his houseboat surrounded by thirteen empty Pabst Blue Ribbon cans and one bottle of Jagermeister with two inches of brownish liquid and three cigarette butts sloshing around in the bottom. A groan from the lower deck of the houseboat reminded John Roy that he wasn’t alone, and he rolled over on his side to look down, disturbing the delicate balance of the beer cans and sending several of them rolling and clattering to the deck below. one or two landed with a softer thunk as opposed to the clang of their fellows, and John Roy figured those must have landed on Joe Don.

“Gawdammit John Roy, why you always gotta make such a ruckus?” came a screech from below to let him know that yes, indeed, Joe Don Burgess was on the deck below him, and yes, indeed he was awake. “I gotta pee,” mumbled Joe Don in a much quieter voice.

“Piss off the side a the boat, the shitter’s clogged up,” replied John Roy.

“What the hell happened to the shitter?” asked Joe Don.

“I can’t remember, but I think I remember puking in a t-shirt and puttin’ it in the shitter last night. And if I did, you better not piss on it. I might need that shirt later.”

“Alright, alright, I’ll piss off the side.” And Joe Don staggered to the rail of the boat to do just that, without ever quite opening his eyes. When he heard the wet splatter of piss on sun-baked Georgia clay instead of the splash of water on water, he opened his eyes and started to look around. “John Roy…”

“Yeah, Don?”

“Why ain’t your boat in the water?”

“Lake dried up. Drought, remember?”

“Yeah, but didn’t you just get this boat?”

“Yeah.”

“So why’d you buy a boat and put it in a dried-up lake?” Joe Don continued.

“Cause I needed a place to stay after Erlene kicked me out of the trailer park.”

“Oh, ok. But don’t that mean I’m pissing in your front yard?”

“Kinda, but since you’re pissin’ off the back of the boat, I reckon you’re pissin’ in my back yard, not the front yard. Lawn chairs is in the front yard.”

“Oh, ok. I don’t mind pissin’ in the back yard. But pissin’ in the front yard didn’t seem right, somehow. Know what I mean.”

“I reckon.” By this time John Roy had develop a pretty sizable need to piss himself, so he stood up, walked over to the edge of the rook, and started to piss. A golden stream powered by an evening’s worship of Milwaukee’s finest arced high over the side of the boat, and over the head of a very startled Joe Don, and splashed into the dusty red lake bed beside the boat.

“Gawdammit, John Roy, don’t you pee on me!”

“I ain’t gone pee on you, don’t get your panties in a twist,” replied John Roy as he began to write his name in the lake bed. He added his name to a litany of incomplete “John Roy”s in the dust, shook his pecker, and tucked it away in his shorts. Then he kicked the rest of the beer cans off the rook, tossed the Jager bottle in a 55-gallon fuel oil drum he used as a trash can and general place to light shit on fire, and started looking around the edge of the roof. After a few minutes, he laid down on his belly and looked over the edge as Joe Don.

“Don?”

“Yeah?”

“There ain’t no ladder.”

“There ain’t?”

“Nope.”

“How the fuck you get up there?”

“Fuck if I know?”

“How you gone get down?”

“Bring that mattress out there on the deck.”

“That don’t sound like such a good idea.”

“That’s why I didn’t tell you the whole thing. I don’t wanna think about it too much. Now bring me that mattress.”

“Alright.” Joe Don went into the cabin and dragged out a raggedy twin mattress. He laid it on the deck and looked back up at John Roy. “You want the box spring, too?”

“Nope,” said John Roy as he took a couple of running steps and belly-flopped from the roof of the houseboat down the ten feet onto the mattress, blowing up a huge cloud of dust, funky smells and a couple of oddly-shaped insects. He lay there face down for several long minutes without moving before he rolled over, looked up a Joe Don and said “Well, that sucked. Gimme a beer.”

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