Call Me Inktomi

Call Me Inktomi – by Julie Whitefeather


[Author's note: This is a novel that was started some years ago and has been published using many settings, in many electronic forms.  Most notably parts of it have been published on, and most recently on the fiction site of one of our regular guests, R.W. Harper who owns  It's latest incarnation and newest setting is set below and will become a regular feature.]

“My ol’ gran’ used to say that hind sight is 20-20, said the old sailor taking another long pull on her meerschaum pipe.  Each of us be able to look back at our lives an’ see where we made a crucial decision…where, if we had turned right instead of left, things would have been completely different.”

The sailor inhaled sharply. Noting that there was no resulting smoke she glanced down into the bowl of the pipe with a look normally reserved for the accompaniment of such phrases as “what is that crawling up my arm.”  With a bit of contempt, she upended the pipe grabbing it by the long white step, now yellowed with smoke and age.  She tapped the rim of the pipe onto the now empty dish which held the remnants of what had been her dinner consisting of the meager fair offered by the small pub in which she and her dining companion now sat.  Reaching a weathered hand, as much worn from work as from age, into the pocket of her voluminous coat she quickly produced a leather pouch wrapped tightly with cords. In one swift movement she flipped open the pouch and dipped her pipe into the mixture.  With the stem of the pipe now grasped firmly between her teeth, she removed an old nail from the pouch and tamped down the tobacco firmly into the bowl.  Now the sailor produced a small stick from the pouch and lit the end of it with the candle set before her.  With practiced ease the makeshift match was used to carefully relight the pipe as it was moved in a circular motion above the refilled bowl, in an effort to light the tobacco evenly.

The was a long pause the old sailor inhaled deeply and slowly exhaled a stream of smoke with billowed like a storm cloud hanging above the table.


“WELL?” said the younger of the two sailors after awhile, a bit hesitant to interrupt the Boson at first, but now irritated enough to do so.

“Well what?” replied the older sailor, a bit upset at being pulled out of her smoke filled reverie by the Boson’s mate.

“Your grandmother, turning right instead of left, and all that?” was the irked reply.

“Oh yes, said the Boson, what if say instead of you or I turning left instead of right, an entire town, country or even the whole world had made a different choice than it might have when the crucial moment came.”

“How so?” replied the Boson’s mate, more patiently, now absorbed in the concept.

“What if things were different, say instead of sailing our cargo to the next port, we could fly there?” replied the old sailor quizzically.

“You mean like that DaVinci kid that mucks out the stables keeps yakking about? You know he actually built something he claimed could fly once; silly thing looked like a giant bat. He took it out to the lake and jumped off a cliff. If he had landed on the rocks instead of the water he would be dead right now.”

“See, said the Boson, that’s what I mean. What if you took that kid seriously? What if that…what was it…machine he kept talking about last year really worked?”

“A cart that works without a horse, you mean that one?”

“Yes, that’s the one, what if it really worked?”

“Yer’ daft,” said the Boson’s mate, now forcibly jerked out of his reverie by his superior’s nonsense.

“Well I’m jus’ sayin’ is all…”

“And what if pigs had wings, what if my dog could talk, and what if us goblins were all jus’ part of some great children’s tale I told my wee bairn at night whenever we came to our home port?”

“If goblins aren’t real, then neither am I, came a curt, but unlooked for, reply from outside the circle of conversation as the young goblin server took two mugs off her tray and set them before her favorite regulars. And if goblins aren’t real then neither are you two an’ there is no need for me to bring either of you another pint because neither of you exist either.”

With that all three laughed, and the server walked off wondering just what it was that her favorite customer had been smoking in that pipe of hers.

[posted by the webmaster for Julie Whitefeather]

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.