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Cold weather dreams

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Vacation plans vanquish winter nightmare

The beach of clean white sand wanders along the shore leaving behind low islands of encrusted basalt. The meandering strip of ancient silicon abruptly ends at a black rock wall that becomes a giant serpent's back extending a hundred meters into the sea.

Feeding pelicans swoop and dive; gulls scream in perpetual protest. Crabs and sculpins in tide pools seem to flit for joy as the intense sun vaporizes the salt splash of the incoming tide. Sea lions carelessly bob and weave through the surf as they play with their food.

Far beyond the glittering promontory, a white patch seems to cover a small hole in the infinite blue sheet that emerges from the blue-green sea.

The sail slowly grows into an off-white cloak that flutters and bulges against the constant and unpredictable breeze as it drags along an antiquated craft.

A blur of oars juts from the vessel and slaps the sea. Thirty oars to starboard and 10 to port, the huge boat carves a constant circle in the sea as the befuddled sail alternately puffs up like a bully and slaps against the acquiescent mainmast.

The sun glistens off the backs of hundreds of bodies straining at oars and my attention is captured. I hear the rhythmic booming of a drum and angry voices drift to my ears. I begin to focus on the amazing scene emerging. "It's a 'slaver,'" I whisper to myself. "A galley powered by whip-driven slaves."

In my vision, human backs drip sweat and blood that splashes to the deck and intermingles as expanding rivulets snake their way to the gaps that lead to the fetid bilges. The stench is overpowering, like a Coliseum locker room in ancient Rome.

A hard and strong first mate cracks an evil bullwhip over the backs of the struggling vassals as he stomps away from me toward the bow. Now and again, the particularly sluggish feel a piece of their skin disappear from a shoulder or forearm. At the end of the aisle of men the cretin mate turns and continues his cruel trek in my direction. Suddenly, as he nears me, I wail a loud, howling scream of recognition. It's Motorhead!

When the shriek fades and I regain a facsimile of cognizance, I hear the pace of the drumming accelerate. I turn as the heartless, whip-wielding Motorhead turns and we simultaneously draw our attention to the sinewed drummer. Sweat streams from his arms and back as he beats the skin of an enormous beast stretched over a hot-tub sized drum. He looks up at me from his escalated cadence: It's Motorhead, again!

Without skipping a beat the drummer-Motorhead breaks the lock of my gaze and looks up toward the quarter-deck. My eyes follow.

A severe visage occupies the space before the ship's wheel. Covered in a long, dark sea coat and Captain Hook plumed hat, the pirate in charge leans on his peg leg and grips the rail with bloodless hands. As his gnarled face comes into focus, I realize: another Motorhead!

Overcome by fear, I turn and run for my life down the narrow planks that comprise the center walkway of the floating prison. I lose my footing and slide, feet-first down the bowling alley from hell. When I finally come to rest at the other end, floating hands reach out to help me up. The ghost hands pull me to my feet and when I turn to offer my thanks, I realize that the hands belong to hundreds of slave-Motorheads. I struggle for balance as I turn again to run and I feel a warm, gentle hand on the back of my neck. "I'm leaving for work now, you should get up."

I open my eyes to find Mrs. Motorhead beaming down at me. I smile for a few happy seconds and say, "You know what I need?"

"I'm sorry, but I have to go to work."

I was coming to, now. "I mean what you need, too? What we both need?"

Almost imperceptibly, her mood changed. "I don't have time. I really have to head for work right now."

"A vacation! That's what we need. I'm ready!" She melts under my pleading scrutiny.

"A vacation sounds fabulous. We'll talk about it later when I get home. You get to Motorheadquarters and be a good boy."

I whistle my way to work that fine day and immediately set to inspecting the family car. I check all the fluid levels. I check the tires and their pressure. I change the oil and oil filter. I check the air filter and spark plugs and then I make an appointment to have the front-end aligned and the tires rotated and balanced.

Yes, a vacation sounds fantastic and we are ready to head to warmer climes.

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