Is ship-of-state adrift? Can ‘captain’ sail to safe waters?

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As our ship of state sails away from ill-advised foreign entanglements, her hull battered and holed, her crew war weary, bloodied and ill-paid, the captain scans the distant shore for safe harbor ­— a place to mend her wounds and bind up shattered sails.

Marines aloft in the crow’s nest and rigging cling to their muskets and pray, but the first mate is in mutinous rebellion below decks: sitting in waist-deep bilge water, he chairs endless committee meetings and bemoans our brave and steadfast captain’s failure to lead, calls the Marines and cabin boy “paid liars” and declares all are guilty before hearing any witnesses or reviewing any evidence.

Rats watch anxiously, ready to make their move to freedom.

A cadre of sharks circle the foundering vessel endlessly, waiting for a taste of blood in the water so they can signal all other like-minded creatures to the feast.

The captain has had the hatches battened down; there can be no escape from below, yet repeated offers to negotiate and settle differences have been scoffed at — even ridiculed as yet another clever trick by the “liar.”
Water rises, the ship makes slow progress in a gentle breeze and the captain smiles.

Whether to let her gently sink to salvageable depth and row to shore, or to hesitate until the inevitable takes place below decks, that is the captain’s dilemma now.

To be generous or to rid himself of these bothersome crew members, that is the question.

Accusations and threats rise from below like a morning fog in the hot sunlight of day.

They have made their decision, and he has made his as the ship of state glides into the center of the cove and drops the anchor.

The Star-Spangled Banner waves proudly from the tallest mast; the captain salutes it, steps into his gig and orders the coxswain to have the Marines row him to shore at Foggy Bottom.

There is so much to do, he thinks, and marches toward his destiny.       

B.J. Gillum