I went over to Wicker’s because I’ve been thinking about putting up a little iron fencing around the family plot. Not anything fancy, just something about two feet high with pointed tips. I wanted to talk to Donnie about it because he is the welder and he’s the one would have to construct it. Wicker’s has a big iron gate and you have to get out of your car, open the gate, drive through –if you want to drop something off that you can’t carry from the street. I didn’t have anything to drop off so I parked on the street and went through the pedestrian gate.
The first thing you see when you drive up to Wicker’s is the yacht in the yard. It’s been there as long as I can remember tucked between the house and the shop. Everyone calls it the Germaine Yacht Club. It used to be known as Evangeline. That was Donnie’s mother. But then she disappeared and a little while later, Donnie painted over her name. Donnie and a couple of his buddies came up with the GYC when the old man died. Troy Johnson, Ike Avery, Brad and Jasper Bradford brought the coffin over from the funeral home and hoisted it up on the bow of the yacht. I was there at the wake when Donnie came out of the shop with a can of gasoline. He meant to make a funeral pyre out of his dad’s folly. Several of the men at the wake being firefighters were quick to point out that the whole damn neighborhood would be cremated right along with old man Wicker.
That summer after his dad died, Donnie welded a sign to the gate. It’s beautiful. Scrolling letters, ‘Germaine Yacht Club’, and if tumbleweeds weren’t stuck in the bars of the gate, and if the smell of juniper and sage weren’t so strong, and if the ocean or even a decent river were less than a hundred miles away, you might be taken in by that elegant iron lettering. Or if you are from somewhere east of Idaho, like Ohio, traveling through the wild west ready to drop and roll for any cowboy, you might imagine that the yacht, formerly known as Evangeline, was just resting in drydock waiting for the right shipmate to inspire a long intimate sea journey.
It’s possible that Donnie dreams of the sea, too. I’ve seen him down at the pub fishing for touristas. If he manages to get one hooked after baiting her with Doug Fir Lager, he asks her if she wants to see his yacht. After dark, with the only light being the Japanese lanterns he’s strung from mast to stern, some of these women have been drunk enough to think they are climbing aboard a functioning yacht. I’m not making this up. I hear them chattering on their cell phones in the early morning as they pass under my window on the way from Wicker’s to the bed & breakfast.
The sculpture garden is another thing altogether. It isn’t as obvious as the yacht. In fact it is hidden in the weeds on the half-acre behind the shop and you wouldn’t know it was there unless you went looking for it or you were looking for Donnie and stumbled across it. I don’t know if anyone besides Donnie and me have been back there or if anyone else who has seen it knew what they were looking at. I recognized it immediately. You see, I had been over to Joseph.