Death by misadventure was the official cause. Nine point-three inches of rainfall can be expected in the Chihuahuan Desert annually. That same nine point-three inches of rainfall is also just enough to drown a collared lizard when its path leads to an open oil drum used to trap rainwater. Caspar found the unfortunate reptile at the bottom of the drum on his way to the ship where routine maintenance and a swabbing of the deck awaited. What made him look he’d never recall and how the lizard got there he’d never know. But there it was. floating on the surface, several feet from safety, still, silent, bloated, dead. Vibrant colors now dingy shades of pasty chalk. He poked the poor fellow with a stick forcing it below the surface. Held it there for a few seconds and then withdrew the stick allowing the lizard to bob freely back to the surface establishing it was quite dead.
What Caspar did recall with absolute certainty though, was the day of his discovery, for it was July 3rd his birthday; and only moments before he had heard about the death of a Brian Jones on the store radio, who coincidently, was found dead at the bottom of an outdoor pool on some farm in England and something or other to do with Winnie-the-Pooh. So on this celebratory day, Caspar wore a sort of weighted dread, a sense of his own destiny. Water, life-giving, life taking. Death by misadventure.
Complete with gangplank, metal anchor and magnificently carved steering wheel, the Osberg ship in all it’s glory captured the imagination of even the most uninspired of weary road warrior. Prow triumphantly bursting skyward, proudly navigating the shimmering golden sands of the endless wasteland, the full-scale replica portrayed an incredible vision of Viking craftsmanship and window into the shadow-side of Scandinavian dreams. Sails rippling with early morning zephyr, so realistic, it was easy to imagine the vessel crashing through bitter cold icy chop at some nautical pace on way to do battle in the Norwegian Sea.
Caspar’s father had spent months on this inspiration and countless hours carving the gripping-beast motifs that adorned the joins at bow and stern. Beasts grabbing at and grappling with mortal enemies, seen and unseen, in battle to save their souls. Bleached a shimmering chromatic white from a relentless sun the seventy foot long oak structure could accommodate up to thirty seamen on a series of benches running the length and breadth of the craft. It was this ship, the pride and joy of the curious little rest-stop slash diner slash road-side repair shop and gas station, that had been Caspar’s immediate destination. Destination temporarily forgotten however, given eight years of age, a short attention span and one very dead lizard.