Selections from 'A Time For Peacocks' Copyright © 2005 Roger Burns

...from the chapter, 'Two Calamities'

I had gone down to the kitchen for what else, a cup of tea. I was naked as usual and stood
in front of the dishwasher waiting for the kettle to boil. The dishwasher was located directly
under the counter top that was opposite a large picture window, which allowed the whole
kitchen to be flooded with the glorious sunshine from a steamy Florida morning. We lived
in a condominium community where the grounds were open to all residents and as I waited
for the water to boil, I took a quick glance through the window just to make sure nobody
was there. I would be shocked if anyone saw me in my birthday suit.
Looking down on the counter top, I noticed a small glazed ceramic statuette of a young girl
in need of repair and next to it an unopened tube of ‘super glue’. Upon examination of the
small figurine, and being of the conscientious type, always predisposed to be of
assistance, I readily put forth a willing and uncompensated effort to reattach the broken
arm. Probably due to the fact it was early morning and I had not yet enjoyed my first cup of
holy tea, I admit I failed to use extra care in the procedure and unintentionally squeezed a
rather excessive quantity of the powerful adhesive from the tube causing it to drip onto the
counter. Being unable to clean the overflow of residue immediately due to the fact I was
busy applying pressure to the figurine with both hands, I resolved to attend to the spill
after I counted to sixty seconds. The manufacture of the glue claimed it would sick
anything immediately but I wanted to be sure, so I patiently counted, one... two... three...
etc, all the way to sixty and was rewarded with a super strong bond for the figurine.
Unfortunately, that was not the only strong bond that had occurred. I discovered to my
surprise and shortly thereafter, great anxiety, that I had bonded a choice part of my
anatomy to the handle of the dishwasher where the glue had dribbled down from the
counter top.
Upon first examination, I found myself in a state of total bewilderment. This simply could
not happen, not to anybody. As in a nightmare, my mind refused to accept the fact that a
strategic part of my physique was indeed stuck to the handle of the dishwasher. For a few
seconds a slight amusement washed over me and my predicament due to the conviction
that everything would be in order before too long because after all, I still had not yet had a
cup of tea!

...from the chapter, 'The Captain'

For a heart-stopping moment my feet slipped on the slick handrail and my fingers turned
white as I gripped the edge of the bulkhead with every ounce of strength I possessed. It
occurred to me this could be the event where I might be meeting God very soon.
The ship began to roll over portside, that was towards me, and crashing beneath, the
churning sea boiled angrily as if impatient for another victim. I waited for the correction
when the Dolphin would roll upright before I dared to jump. All I had to do was stay calm,
hold on, wait and then swing over the bulkhead to safety. The Dolphin’s bows slammed
into a beast of a wave and stinging spray from the ocean took my breath away as I was
saturated with what felt like a million gallons of cold salt water. I hung on coughing and
spluttering and when I filled my lungs with air, for some ludicrous reason I shouted out to
the wind and the waves …‘Batman!’ - I ignored Mr. Laurie’s reply of an uncalled for and
derogatory blaspheme. The ship continued to list further to port and I increased my grip,
desperately hanging on until she came upright and fell back to starboard when I would
then execute the swing and drop to the other side the only thing was, the ship decided to
have a little fun and kept listing!
“Dorn’t dae it!” Mr. Laurie called out through the fog as he too was having difficulty
clinging to the heaving deck.
“I’m just hanging on Pete” I gasped through the wind and spray.
“Can ye no’ ge back?” he shouted.
“No, it’s too steep.”
I said a prayer …a deep prayer – ‘Dear God – HELP!’
The angle became too steep to allow the jump back down to Mr. Laurie and all I could do
was grasp the wet steel with white knuckled fingers, which were already at the limit of their
grip. My heart was pumping like a piston in a ship’s engine and fear caused my blood to
freeze as the Dolphin relentlessly kept falling over to port. The ridiculous angle slowly
increased and it became almost impossible to maintain my grip. The more she listed the
more strength it took to hang on and the muscles and tendons in my fingers and arms
start to tremble. It felt like the ship was at 45 degrees and still she tilted. Another huge
wave crashed against the bows and I gasped for air as I was soaked from the enormous
spray. My fingers were now numb with cold and I began to lose my grip.
“She’s not going up!” I screamed as I felt my feet slipping from the handrail. I knew I would
not have the strength to hold on to the bulkhead with just my fingers. And as another huge
angry wave pounded the Dolphin, a furious spray washed upwards and my feet slipped
“Roger!” screamed Mr. Laurie.
“Pete!” I gasped as I realized I was going to fall.
My fingers slipped of the edge of the bulkhead and I fell towards the seething waves
A Time For Peacocks