The Desert Is Just Another Ocean

By: Rip

Some people have a knack for finding strange things. Strange things always seem to find Zane Legends.

"This will never work."

"Aww, don't be like that partner! Ain't nothin' gonna work you keep on with that negatit...negavit...bleak outlook on thangs!"

Zane pulled his hat down around his ears, whether to block out the glaring midday sun or the glaringly stupid idea his friend just dumped on him he wasn't quite sure.

"Eustice, this is A DESERT. And not even the good, after supper kind!" He looked despairingly at the haphazard pile of scrap lumber and tattered cloth before him. Half a worm-eaten plank whizzed through the air as Eustice manically sorted through their 'supplies'.

"Exactly! I heard tell from ol' Spencer down at the inn, y'know, fore he got booted fer startin' that brawl, I heard him sayin' about how the ocean is pract'lly a big desert too, on accounting of how much it don't rain there, and it set me to thinkin', y'know, apart from how that was a whole buncha cowpats it was kus everyone knows it's all raging cyclones an' whirlpools an'..."

Eustice's rambling trailed off, though less because he was anywhere near close to stopping and more because Zane had decided to just walk away for a bit. It had been a whole two hours since breakfast and he wasn't willing to deal with this latest scheme on an empty stomach.

Zane wandered down to the General Store and hopped over the railing, intent on acquiring a packet of peanuts or three, and maybe a soda to wash it down besides. Folk had long since stopped asking why he didn't just walk up the two steps on the landing, mostly because such questions were usually reacted to with a sudden nervous sweating and gibbering.

"Afternoon, Zane." Greeted the shopkeeper.

"'Noon, Brody." Zane replied, attempting to make a beeline for the peanuts but getting waylaid by the pickle barrel on the way. Once he'd grabbed as much as he (and his funds) could manage, he dumped the load on the counter to be tallied up.

"So Eustice came by this mornin'." Brody mentioned casually. Zane shuffled his feet, and tried not to make eye contact.

"Yeah, what of it?" He mumbled. The shopkeeper took the opportunity to count three pickled eggs on the ledger instead of the two.

"Oh, nothin' unusual mind. Just seemed awfully excitable 'bout some new idea. Put in a hefty order for sealin' wax and iron nails. That'll be six dollars even." Zane counted out the bills and slapped them on the counter, too embarrassed to argue the discrepancy.

"Whatever it is, hope it goes better'n the cat groomin' fiasco!" Brody called out as Zane fled the store, not bothering to hide the laughter in his voice.

After his awkward encounter at the General Store Zane decided to stop at the inn for a drink or two, and didn't make it back to the dilapidated shack he shared with Eustice on the edge of town 'til nearly sunset. When he ventured 'round back, however, what he saw made him wish he'd just rented a room for the night.

"Zane!! You lazy git, c'mere and gimme a hand with this beam!" Eustice yelled out. Zane reluctantly wandered over and held the 'beam' in place while his partner secured it to the structure with nails clearly torn out of something else.

"Eusice, we're not really doin' this are we?"

"Darn tootin' we are! Y'know what they always say, novelty is the mother of invention, an' invention means income!"

"Eustice, it's necessity is the mother of..." Zane tried, but Eustice wasn't listening. His partner grabbed him around the shoulders and stood back, beaming at the work he'd accomplished.

"Jest imagine it, Zane. 'The USS Eustice; Hardened Peak's first, and only, desert cruise ship!"

Zane simply buried his face in his hands, desperately wishing that the next time he looked up he wouldn't see the haphazard frame of 'USS Eustice' looming in their backyard.

Genre: Western
Setting: On a ship
Character: Optimistic person