“Keep it stable, son, you got this,” a voice yelled over the sound of the loader.
“Steady as she goes, Orin,” the tugboat captain growled to his first mate. “Straight as an arrow into the slip.”
“One foot in front of the other,” one friend said to another, watching the activity at the docks below. “We’ll get through this somehow, together.”
“Don’t rock the boat, baby. (Rock the boat) Don’t rock the boat, baby…,” played softly on the car radio where the two friends sat.
“We got this,” the friend continued. “The trick is to move slowly, stay balanced, and plan our moves carefully.”
“Yeah, yeah, Derek, I get it,” the other man responded. “No sudden moves, no drawing attention to ourselves, no standing out…”
“Exactly!,” Derek agreed. “Look, Mark, I know it’s tough, but it’s better for everyone in the end.”
“But is it, Derek?,” Mark had to ask. “Do you really believe this swill you’re selling?!”
Mark’s tone took on a mocking quality. “One day at a time, Bro. Keep it simple, stupid. Slow and steady wins the race… every time!” Exasperated, Mark snapped. “Doesn’t seem like much of a race to me, man!”
“Due diligence, Mark,” Derek answered calmly. “It’s about integrity. We do our duty. We maintain the status quo. We stay safe, and protect our own… That’s how we survive.”
“But then nothing ever changes, Derek! Can’t you see that?! Day in and day out, always the same! Monotony in a nutshell, dude!… Or a vice grip,” he added under his breath.
“Order over chaos, Mark. That is the goal here. We only achieve that through stable, steady progress. Radical changes serve no one well…”
“But change is exactly what we need!,” Mark vented. “How long are we supposed to play this game? When do we get our chance to be free?!”
“Who knows?,” Derek whispered. “But freedom comes at a cost, and its price is simply too high today… Maybe tomorrow will be better.”
*** *** ***
Mark sat up suddenly, shaking, gulping in the hot summer air. A hand reached for him…
“You okay,?” Derek asked, his voice a welcome comfort in the darkness.
Shaking his head to clear the last of the sleep induced cobwebs from his brain, Mark lay back down to snuggle with his partner. “Yeah, I’m good. Just another nightmare is all.”
“Don’t let it get to you, baby,” Derek said calmly, pulling him close. “We’ll get through this somehow. Together.”
Mark steadied his breathing as he settled in more comfortably next to Derek. “Yeah, I know. We got this.”
Outside the sounds of the harbor played on, a common refrain in the predawn hours…
“Keep it stable, son… You got this…”