Science and Superstition

“You sure this is the only way to convince you?” Eli asked.

Zeke drew a cross over his heart. “I swear that without this test I will not go.”

“And you will accept the test results?” Eli settled the plastic ship onto the ramp.

“I figure if it floats so will bigger ones,” Zeke said and shrugged.

“Then let’s make sure we covered all of them.” Eli pulled out a clip board and drew out the pen. He uncapped the pen and stuck the cap on the other end.

“We are not breaking a bottle, offering wine, blood, or eggs to the body of water in question in return for letting the boat float.”

Zeke shook his head then tilted it quizzically. “People used to offer eggs to the sea?”

Eli shrugged. “It’s what the book said.” He checked off the first box. “No coin under the mast?”

“Nope.”

“Formerly named Stormy Lightning, now named Horrible Death by Drowning?”

Zeke took a thick black sharpie and drew a line through the name on the port bow and touched up the name on the starboard bow. “Yep.”

“No figurehead. Referred to as a he. Departing shore on a Friday?”

“Check. Check and check.”

“Red head? Barefooted, but otherwise clothed woman on board?”

Zeke took a redheaded Barbie wearing a purple lame ball gown and white wrap and sat her against the main mast. “Check. This isn’t your sister’s is it?”

Eli shook his head. “Got it at the thrift store on Saturday.”

“With red hair?”

“Clare got a henna set for her birthday. I used a few drops.”

Zeke looked skeptical. “Does dye count?”

“Close as we’re gonna get.”

“Okay, what next?” Zeke looked at Eli.

“Flowers, coffin, flag on the ladder, black bag, and an umbrella?”

“Daisy on the mast, plastic coffin in the hold, flag, bag, and pink parasol from mom’s pink drink,” Zeke responded promptly.

“Good.” Eli checked them off. “We’ve got bells to ring and a crystal glass to sound.” Eli handed Zeke an action figure wrapped in black with a plastic cross. “Put the priest on the ship.”

Zeke sat him in front, looking back at the comparatively enormous Barbie.

Eli checked off the last box with great satisfaction. “We’re ready. This ship has as much bad luck as we can load.”

Zeke picked up a few stones and stood back from the edge of the lake. “Ready.”

Eli put his clipboard down and walked to the back of their plastic toy ship, “Horrible Death by Drowning launching in three, two, one…”

Stones splashed into the lake from Zeke’s left hand and his right rang a bell as he whistled Dixie. Eli took the crystal goblet and ran a damp finger tip around the rim. Horrible Death by Drowning sailed serenely out into the lake. In no short order, a quizzical duck came by and capsized it sending the false priest and the barefoot Barbie into the lake.

Eli looked at Zeke in despair. “You’re never going to come sailing.”

Zeke studied the water, then he grinned. “Actually it didn’t sink.”

“What do you call that then?” Eli asked pointing at the bright red keel of Horrible Death by Drowning. The daisy had come free and floated nearby with the pink parasol.

“Death by sea monster.”

Eli considered pointing out that ducks lived on the lake, but then he’d never ever get his friend on the water. “Sea monsters are cool,” he ventured at last.

“Sea monsters are awesome,” Zeke corrected. “When’s your grandfather taking you out next?”

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