Author: Marie

The Boat Is a Boat

The Boat Is a Boat

A tiny Florida beach town is rebuilding after a hurricane. Is it becoming a preserve of the rich?

“All right. You ready?”

It was a hot Friday. The first day of summer.

The man, a young and broad-shouldered man of about 40, leaned in to the two teenage girls, the oldest by a few years, who were sitting together on the grassy shoulder of the beach. He was pointing into the sea, where a sleek, silvery, 14-foot sailboat was being drawn along the water by four young men in faded blue jeans and caps.

“Are you ready, girls?” the man asked again, but this time leaning over to whisper into the younger sister’s ear. They both giggled when he was done, and the man nodded in thanks and continued.

The sun was bright. The kids were laughing. No one seemed to care that this man was only a few inches in height and wore no clothes.

“Are you ready, girls?”

The men pulled on their sun hats and tightened their moorings. The girls wore their swimsuits. “Yes, sir,” they said.

“That’s it. One more pull, girls, and you’re free to go.”

“Thank you, sir,” they said in unison.

And then the pull began.

“This is a pretty big boat,” said the man, who had not removed his shoes or his hat.

“Thank you, sir,” the two girls said again.

The man, who was by now thoroughly comfortable in his swimsuits, asked if they wanted to have some fun with the boat. They said, “No, sir,” in unison, and he leaned on the boat’s rail and smiled.

“Okay, then, girls,” he said, “one more pull and you’re free to go.” They looked at him with concern. “I’m not going to do anything. I’m just going to sit here for a couple of minutes.”

“Are you kidding me?”

“I’m not going to do anything,” he said again, and then he sat down on the bench and reached for the oars.

The girls looked at him apprehensively, and he smiled. “You

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