James R. Muri
Copyright 1998

I could have kept her.

I know that today. I knew it the last time I saw her. But things were just - oh, just not right for us at that time.

That's what I told myself then, when the opportunity was presented. Not right. Not yet. But I didn't really believe it. She waited patiently as I wrestled with the impossible temptation, content to let me decide things for myself, certain that my undiminished desire would overcome my good sense.

Now there's a laughable concept: Good sense. What the hell is that, anyway?  Was it good sense to allow her to slip away, to become someone else's sweet diversion? If so, why do I hold my head in pained remembrance? Why do I regret, these decades of days later, not tossing that disreputable good sense aside and claiming her for myself? Oh, I've learned the hard way to be wary of good sense!

I could have kept her.

I hadn't been looking for a long-term situation. But as I wandered the waterfront aimlessly, watching as others like myself indulged themselves with the pleasures offered there, the temptation to arrange a brief entertaining interlude began to appeal. Apparently my interest was obvious, because I was taken aside and offered, by her procurer, a number of lovely choices. Most of them flaunted and teased blatantly with their more lush lines and promises of vastly interesting adventures, but there was Calypso - serene, elegant and petite. Eye candy, irresistable.

I won't say it was love at first sight. That's nonsense. Right? She was to be just a rented diversion, an escape, a sweet guide to realms unvisited in more work-a-day realities. But there was an instant recognition of some type of magic between us.

I opened my wallet instantly.

It was supposed to be just business. Fifty dollars a day, and nights were not allowed. But for that low price many beautiful things were available: Exotic company, private hours,.and when the climate was just right, when we found ourselves finely tuned to each other, the pleasures -

I could have kept her.

I wonder who, these decades of days later, she's with now? I wonder who is enjoying her sleek lines, who came up with the requisite $3900 to claim her permanently. I wonder where she's berthed, whether a family takes her out on Commencement Bay for those summer, sunny days she loved best, whether young children still play and eat cookies down in her cozy cabin, whether a father still single-hands her close-hauled to weather so his giggling children can trail their fingers in the foaming water off her lee rail. Oh, I should have kept her.

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