Bill Todd -- Tim and Sharon
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 Chapter 25



     The room service meal arrived promptly, and, in the confusion, Enoch and Tim both tipped the waiter generously. No harm done there, but Tim did have the uneasy feeling that the man might have recognized Enoch. Still, they only intended to remain in seclusion for another day.

     They had just finished the quite good meal when Diana arrived with a bookish-looking young man whom Tim hadn’t seen before. Diana introduced him as one interested in ancient naval warfare, and added,  “I recall the other night that you wanted to use rowboats to re-enact pirate attacks on yachts.”

Tim responded quickly, “We weren’t really going to spear or behead yachtsmen. We were also thinking more of Vikings than Greek galleys. But the problem is much the same in all cases. How you attack a sailing vessel with one under oar power.”

A spirited discussion got under way, and, as Diana was leaving, the boy, Chris, asked Tim, “Were you going to practice in the bay here?”

“Yeah. Of course, we don’t have a big multi-oared rowboat yet, but we were practicing with kayaks.”

“This bay was probably more interesting before they dredged and re-arranged it.”

“I believe it had a much larger mouth and lots of twisty little channels between bits of low-lying land. But they wanted to make it more fun for jet skis.”

Chris replied, “It might have made a good lair for pirates in its old form.”

“For some reason, there doesn’t seem to have been much piracy here in the early days. The Spanish dons might have thought it ungentlemanly.”

“They seem usually to have been the victims of English pirates.”

“Yes. And people like Drake used sailing vessels, not the rowing craft that we’re interested in.”

“There may have been other rowboat pirates and freebooters beside the Vikings.”

“Sharon brought one to our attention, the Irish woman pirate, Grace O’Malley. That, of course, aroused the interest of the ladies in our group, and we were thinking of recreating something along those lines.”

“When did she flourish?”

“In the latter part of the sixteenth century. She knew the channels of her bay, one rather like this in its original form, and would retire into them after a raid. The authorities, trying to follow her, would run aground.”

“If her vessel was oar-powered and they had sailing vessels, they wouldn’t have been able to tack up narrow channels.”

“The illustrations in the book we have do show her to have an oar-powered craft with, at most, a small sail.”

“Was she eventually caught?”

“An English overlord in Ireland, a Sir Richard Bingham, was giving her trouble. However, Grace sailed to England and got an interview with Queen Elizabeth I. No one knows what transpired between the ladies, but the upshot was that Sir Richard was put in irons and recalled. Grace continued to pirate under the agreement not to take English ships. She seems to have died a natural death.”

“What tactics did she use?”  

“Hard to know. It’s awfully hard to catch a sailing vessel going full-tilt in a good breeze in open water with just oars or paddles. We’ve tried it. But it’s easy in narrow waters, or in a calm.”

“There are also good possibilities for ambush at night.”

Enoch broke in, “We were going to try some night action, but, with Tim in the cast, that’ll have to wait.”

“I’ve tried to program a simulation of certain rowing actions, but it’s hard to get an estimate of the speeds of the ships.”

Tim said, “The French Admiral Serre has studied the characteristics of the Greek galleys at Salamis. He thinks six miles an hour for very short distances. Perhaps two, or even less, for the most part.”

As he and Chris worked out some details, Tim was conscious of Enoch watching, looking fascinated. He didn’t think it was the content of their conversation as much as Chris himself. He was obviously a very smart boy, but also one in the middle of development, one who might go in a large variety of ways.

     Not surprisingly, Chris was more interested in computer simulations than in re-enactments with modern rowing craft. At one point, he said, “One thing I like about computer simulations is that they’re hardly ever flat wrong. If they don’t make correct predictions, you just change the parameters.”

“And you can go on fiddling with them forever without being refuted?”

They all laughed, and Chris allowed, “You can start over with an entirely different simulation that may work with less fiddling.”

That touched off Enoch. “You mean that truth is just that which requires less squeezing and shaping?”

“Or you might say that what is more probable is that which requires less squeezing and shaping.”

Tim suggested, “A model that has more parameters that you can alter will be more adaptable than one with fewer ones.”

Chris replied, “The model with more parameters is more like a sketch or outline. The less precise you are, the less likely you are to be proved wrong.  As with political speeches.”

     After Diana finally came to collect Chris, Enoch said to Tim. “There’s someone you all can educate. Also someone I can learn from.”

“Yes. A Jimmy in the making.”

“Of course, you’d like to see people develop in physical ways as well as mental ones, wouldn’t you?”

“Yeah, that’s been the idea all along.”

“Even with Jimmy?”

“He’s reasonably physical. He may not be a great athlete, but he’s fairly strong and agile.”

“Chris doesn’t look very strong.”

“Diana whispered to me that he gets bullied at school.”

“Sure. A physically undeveloped smart kid gets beaten up by the big dumb kids who know perfectly well who’s going to come out ahead in the long run.”

“Martial arts are partly designed for such people, but I hate to see self-defense being the whole focus of activity. As if there were no other reason to wrestle, box, or play judo.”

“You can tempt ninety eight pound weaklings into weight-lifting by telling them they’ll be able to beat up the bullies, but that’s pretty hokey. And usually false.”

“The martial arts clubs sell a lot of memberships to people who’re afraid of being beaten up.”

Enoch started laughing, and said, “I’d like to see a club that tells people they’ll still be beaten up, but in a way that they’ll find satisfying.”

“I’ve been told that there are masochism parlors in LA.”

“One might even see the NFL in those terms. You join it knowing you’ll be beaten up, you do get beaten up, and you retire crippled.”

“Anyway, we need something quite different for Chris.”

“How about just encouraging people like him to do what we do?”

“Now, we have to figure out what things I can do with a broken leg.”

     That night, Tim had trouble sleeping because of pain in his leg. Sharon left her cot to massage him, and finally, in whispers so as not to wake the others, tried to get him to take some pills. He whispered back, “I’ll do it if you get me a Diet-Pepsi or root beer to take them with.”

Sharon muttered a little, but zipped down the hall to the coke machine. As he popped the pills, Tim noticed whispering from the other bed. He made a few low volume barnyard noises, and Diana made them back at him. It was now four in the morning, and everyone ‘woke up.’ Enoch and Diana, having been mostly dressed as they tried to sleep, went to an all-night convenience store for a bottle of wine.  After their little party, they actually went to sleep shortly before dawn. They then got up for keeps when a maid busted in.

     Sharon was persuaded to call in sick for Enoch, who was missing a meeting. The trainer, Grasso, obviously didn’t believe her, and, from what Tim could overhear, Grasso even recognized Sharon’s voice. To Tim’s amusement, she then became very forceful before hanging up.  Enoch said, “They’ll want to fine me, but I’m good at arguing that kind of case.”

They figured that they still had another day of anonymity at the hotel, but decided to risk going to a little Greek restaurant run by Mexican gentlemen.

     They were on friendly terms with the proprietors, who pushed chairs and tables around to accommodate Tim. He had been practicing ordering in Spanish, and, as a joke, he ordered ‘un plato de iguana.’ That set off a small uproar. He hadn’t known that the consumption of iguana enhanced virility, and he was assured that, if they only had a big lizard to serve him, ‘all women would love him.’

     In fact, Tim felt better moving around than lying still. As he announced, “Now that I’m convinced that the leg isn’t swelling up against the cast, I feel pretty good.”

Sharon replied, “I hope not good enough to think about getting into a kayak.”

 “I’ve got a secret plan, the details of which will be revealed in due course.”

Bill Todd -- Tim and Sharon
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