The 30’s had a lot of hard-working folks who just couldn’t find honest work, but then there were guys like me who avoided honest work completely. That’s why I moved to the coast, it’s the easiest place to live without really trying.

I’d been in town long enough to know who the strangers were, and one day this ship came in looking for crew, a guy I’d never seen before. Says he’s looking for two men, three nights, no questions asked. The pay is great so I get a friend, and no questions asked, we load the ship up around midnight and set sail before sunrise.

Right away I get into it with the boss. Won’t tell us where we’re going or what we’re carrying. Big heavy crates, no labels, doesn’t even say which end is up. I must’ve asked a dozen times what was in ’em, nothing. Could be dangerous, I tell him, allergies and all that, but he doesn’t care.

We sailed all night, then the next day, and after dinner he tells us he wants an overnight watch. Says he’s a heavy sleeper and doesn’t want any surprises. Me, I’m used to getting more than a full night’s sleep, and I tell him that, but it’s part of the job, he says, and if I can’t do the job, I can swim home. It’s a long way to shore.

My first watch, two in the morning, I decide there’s no way I’m going to stay another night out alone on deck. Just can’t work for this twit any more. So I check the lifeboats, make sure they’re working, make sure the lowering boom is quiet, and it is. Only fifteen feet down to the water. The boat’s got oars, blankets, rations. Should be good for a couple days.

My friend says the captain won’t sleep through that much racket. But he does.

And that morning before sunrise, the ship floated away earlier than planned, well before sunrise, leaving the lifeboat well behind. We docked at the first port we came to, and sold the ship and everything on it for a couple thousand dollars. Now that’s a lot of money back then, more than the boss promised, but not nearly as much as the ship was worth. Hell, the cargo alone might’ve been a hundred thousand, and I sure regret not checking what it was first. I figure it was whiskey, but who knows. Could’ve been anything.