Six bells. Mid watch. 3 A.M.
The ship is early. The bus is late. The captain and the man in the suit argue. Nothing better to do. Eventually the suit goes and sits on the hood of his Cadillac. The captain takes a swig of his “coffee.”
The bus arrives. The suit gets on and does his speech. The crew sets up the ramp to the huge door in the ship’s side.
The bus talk ends and the passengers, maps in hand, file out and up the ramp. Minutes later an army of green trucks drive out of the ship, down the ramp and through the pier gate. The suit returns to his car and naps.
No two trucks are the same. Some are brand new. Most aren’t. Some look like zombies should be driving them, or at least running over them. One is a beautifully restored 1950’s Divco milk truck. Each has a license plate from a different state. Except Wyoming, there are three Wyomings. All of them have the words “Acme World News” painted in yellow on the sides.
Two bells. Morning watch. 5 A.M.
The first trucks return. It takes almost an hour for all of them to complete their routes. They drive up the ramp into the ship, then the drivers return to the bus to collect their envelopes from the suit.
Four bells. Morning watch. 6 A.M.
The trucks are all back. The bus is gone. The ship is pulling out. Soon, people heading out to work all over the county will find a newspaper on their doorsteps. A foul paper full of lies and scandal. Most will throw it in the recycling bin without a glance. Others will read it and rage against the filth. An undiscerning few will read it and believe it. They will let the hate possess them. They will share it with their friends. “They couldn’t print it if it wasn’t true.”
The suit pulls up in his Cadillac and hands me my envelope. He drives away fast, escaping the unclean scene. I pull the gate shut and lock it. Feeling like a whore pulling up her panties.