Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Bottled Voyage of Morgan Keaty, CPA (ret.)

But at the corner I stopped to take my last look at the crew of the Narcissus. They were swaying irresolute and noisy on the broad flagstones before the Mint. They were bound for the Black Horse, where men, in fur caps with brutal faces and in shirt sleeves, dispense out of varnished barrels the illusions of strength, mirth, happiness; the illusion of splendour and poetry of life, to the paid-off crews of southern-going ships. From afar I saw them discoursing, with jovial eyes and clumsy gestures, while the sea of life thundered into their ears ceaseless and unheeded. And swaying about there on the white stones, surrounded by the hurry and clamour of men, they appeared to be creatures of another kind—lost, alone, forgetful, and doomed; they were like castaways, like reckless and joyous castaways, like mad castaways making merry in the storm and upon an insecure ledge of a treacherous rock.
Joseph Conrad

Morgan Keaty retired as an accountant in 1999, after thirty five years with the City of Chicago. Morgan spent his days puttering around the classic Chicago bungalow at 106th & Claremont in Beverly that he purchased in 1965 for $35,000. Morgan and the beautiful Grace Keaty (nee Walsh) raised four daughters in that warm and lovely home.
The nest had been empty for some time, save the monthly family feasts following a Sunday Mass at St.Barnabas. Morgan and Grace delighted in their grandchildren and lavished love on the little ones.

Morgan also built ships in a bottle. He had a collection of over forty frigates, corvettes, galleons,clippers, timarans, barquentines, dhows and dinghys of all sizes and shapes on the mantles, tables, sideboards and in cases, curios and even the buffet. Grace boxed away many of the nautical themed ewers, at first with bridal good humor and eventually the direct and commanding efficiency of a Xanthippe.

The dignified accountant's virtues became grayed and dusty with his active manipulation of sails, mizzens, booms, gunwales, and poop decks. " Why don't you give the shipyard a rest, Morgie, there's no more space! For the love of God walk up to Keegans and have a beer with the Murphy Brothers like a retired gent had ought."

With as much dignity as he could muster the septuagenarian shipwright, put down his tweezers and cleared the hobby desk of tools and turned out the magnified light. He put on a windbreaker, grabbed six twenties from the top dresser drawer, kissed Grace on both cheeks and wandered west of 60643 to 60655 and at 6:37 PM into Keegan's Pub at 10618 S. Western.

In the warmth and welcome of this neighborhood watering hole Morgan reacquainted with friends of his youth and young manhood. He quaffed cool pints of Smithwick's and learned of grandchildren, games and God Awful villainies.

At 1:45 AM, the young bartender Joe announced last call and Morgan accepted. It was time to go and Morgan's sails were full!

Young Joe walked Morgan Keaty to the corner traffic light on 107th at Western and pointed the saturated gentlemen eastward. " Make a left on Claremont, Mr. Keaty, safe home!"

With careful gait, the shipman numbers cruncher, father of four, Catholic Forester, KC 3rd Degree, and pensioner navigated the stormy sidewalks and gamely grabbed the the nearest arboreal capstan to keep him aboard his concrete deck and out of a pitching sea of grass. The decks awash with briny foam? Well, yes they were. In this passage from hobbyist to aleman, Morgan Keaty had swallowed the brewers bounty and clung to the parkway trees as his ship of state seemed destined for Davy Jones' Locker.

A pattern of Blue and White light signalled the arrival of rescue.

" Hey, Dad, you have a load on," said the handsome African American blue-coat who appeared before the the befogged eyes of Morgan like James Wait aboard the goodship Narcissus of Conrad's novel The Children of the Sea: A Tale of the Forecastle, now bowdlerized for political correctness.

Human concern is Conrad's theme and Officer Newell helped the aging hobbyist to unburden himself of the tree. Officer George Newell of the 22nd District ( Morgan Park) asked of the besotted sailor, " Hey, where he are you going at this time of night?"

Morgan Keaty cleared his cobwebs and replied,"“I am going to a lecture about alcohol
abuse and the effects it has on the human body”.

Officer Newell then asked,“Really? Who is giving that lecture at this time of night?”

Morgan replied, “My wife Grace and it will be a dandy.”

Rescued from the storms on the sidewalk Officer Newell piloted Morgan Keaty in the safe harbor of Hurricane Grace.

Morgan Keaty is in drydock.

Huge Hat tip to Mike McQuade of California!

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