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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Tie (02/28/13)

TITLE: Turquoise Turtle
By Virgil Youngblood
~2nd Place


“Hey!” Carl yelled. The slender Vietnamese boy running down the sidewalk, shoelaces flapping, jerked his head around and stumbled, crashing into the trash can at the curb. Garbage spilled into the street.

Leaning forward Carl grasped the porch railing and pulled up from the wooden slat-back chair.

The boy struggled to his feet swiping detritus from his clothes. A spot of bright blood trickled from his nose coloring his chin. His dark liquid eyes screened a mixture of emotions: puzzlement, wariness, curiosity?

“Cum ‘eer” Carl beckoned, wriggling his fingers as he sat back down. When the boy approached he fished out a handkerchief, inspected it and tossed it to the kid. He looked about ten years old, maybe a little more but it was hard to tell. “It’s clean. You got a little blood fertilizing where your whiskers will be a growing. Use that towel over there to swipe off the trash, if you want to. What’s your name?”

“Boa.” The boy paused briefly, “My friends call me Peetee.” His dark eyes surveyed Carl and widened perceptibly when he saw Carl’s right leg was amputated beneath the knee. The partially completed cast net hanging from a hook on the ceiling did not escape his attention either.

“Peetee, I hollered ‘cause I feared you would step on your laces and bust your fanny. You were an accident waiting to happen. I guess I shouldn’t have distracted yuh. Didn’t anyone teach you how to keep those laces from coming undone?”

“No, sir. They always come loose.”

“Well, then, I’m gonna’ show you. Put a foot on this stool.” With a few deft touches Carl put a neat looking knot in the lace. “That’s called a Turquoise Turtle. It’s kind of a combination of a Square Knot and a Surgeon’s Knot. It won’t slip. You do the other shoe.”

Peetee had to be walked thorough it a time or two but he was a quick learner. “Did you make that funny name up Mr. …?

“It was named after a boutique where it was discovered” Carl replied. “Knots are important. Bad knots can cost you a leg. Most people are pretty ignorant of their usefulness.”

“My dad says I must learn to use them right on our shrimp boat. I know some of them.”

“I’ll tell you what, Peetee. After school, if your folks approve, I’ll show you how to tie ‘em good as a sailor. There are useful knots for holding everything from horses, to loads to wrapping packages, and decorative knots and knots to join lines and make things such as that net I’m working on.”

“Can you teach me how to make a Monkey’s Fist? Dad tried, but he doesn’t know how, either.”

“Piece of cake, mate. Just like that Ocean Braid Mat you’re parking on. Come back tomorrow, and I’ll have us something to work on.”

Peetee swiped his chin with the handkerchief and placed it on the table. “Thank you, Mister…”

“Call me Dutch – that’s what my shipmates did. I answer to ‘most anything.”

After Peetee left, jogging smoothly away with taut laces, Carl resumed working on the cast net, his hands working rhymetically on auto-pilot with his mind free floating.

Maybe Peetee will come back. He hoped so. He seemed a friendly bugger, and smart too. He might be a quick learner. But the real issue might be like a Gordian knot – unsolvable. Once tied, it couldn’t be untied. Alexander the Great’s claim to solving the problem was bunko. Anyone could cut the knot apart with a sword. I’ve done that, and know how the knot is made.

Carl knew Peetee’s family might not let the boy off the boat for anything but school. Tension was building in the community like a whistling tea pot with a fire under it. The way Carl saw it, the Vietnamese newcomers were trying to make a living same as everyone else. They were God’s children too, even if they looked different and ate foods you couldn’t recognize.

But something had to give, and soon.

The following afternoon Peetee came running full-tilt up the sidewalk and darted onto the porch. “Here Dutch, this is for you. Father said your Turquoise Turtle probably saved my skinny neck. He is honored that you will teach me” Peetee said, grinning broadly.

A True Lover’s Knot is what this community needs, Dutch thought, accepting the package of shrimps. Maybe one is in the making.

“Thanks, Peetee.” He picked up a fid. “Let’s splice rope.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Noel Mitaxa 03/08/13
My assessment could sound quite contradictory. As one who admires the simplicity and skill that accompany effective ropework, I was "knot interested!"
A very clever story woven around lessons in tying ropes and laces, with strong and believable characters.
Well done.
Cheryl Harrison03/08/13
First off, I learned a new word that I did "knot" know before I read your story ... "detritus". I had to look it up in the dictionary. I love new words.

Second, I enjoyed your story. Great descriptions. Thanks for writing.
Allison Egley 03/09/13
I like this.

A bit more of information about where the story was set would have helped... Was it in the US when Vietnamese first started immigrating, or somewhere else? Not crucial to the story, I suppose, but it may have made the tension felt by the MC's family a bit more real.

Great job with this. I had no idea any of these knots existed. Except the square knot. :)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/09/13
Oh what a delightful story. you took me to this fishing village. I'm sure I could almost smell it, your descriptions so grand. I enjoyed every single word.
Alicia Renkema03/09/13
I loved the dialogue you created between Carl and Peetee , it was so real and had me right there. I thought all of the lessons about the different kinds of knots were very interesting as well and told in a very entertaining way. I loved the moral at the end. The only problem I had with this story, and I am sure it was just me was at the very beginning I at first thought that Carol was Vietnamese and that he was the one who had tripped, it wasn't until the other character (Peetee) emerged and I re-read it a few times that I figured it all out. I am just slow, so I am sure your piece was punctuated correctly. I also really loved the different dialect in this piece, that is always a fun read for me, makes it nice and colorful. Blessings...
Judith Gayle Smith03/10/13
Oh I do like this! So colorful with characters, descriptive scenarios and knotty situations!
Bonnie Bowden 03/11/13
I learned a lot about knots from your story. The MC's were very memorable. I hope they reappear in another story.
Bea Edwards 03/12/13
You had me curious right from the get go with your unique title and introductory sentences.
Your story was creative and imaginative and not only a pleasure to read but motivated me to rekindle my desire to learn how to construct interesting knots. I downloaded a 3D app to my Kindle to guide me.
But alas you left me questioning the type of slipshod knot which was perhaps the cause of your MC's lose of limb.
Christina Banks 03/14/13
Thank you for this fascinating story of knots and the community that was falling apart. Congratulations on you 2nd place EC!
Alicia Renkema03/14/13
Congratulations on your win for this colorful, educational and lovely piece that teaches some important lessons of love to boot. Enjoy your day and bask in the glow!
C D Swanson 03/14/13
Congrats Virgil! God bless~
Vince Martella03/14/13
Congrats on your win. I missed this story the first time around. Very well written. Loved your characters.Blessings.
Danielle King 03/14/13
Congratulations Virgil. A truly delightful tale.
Linda Goergen03/14/13
Sorry Virgil, to be so long getting to reading this awesome story! My time is so consumed lately with caring for elderly parents, I don’t have the time to read and comment as I used to. Often do not even have time to present a story of my own. I miss it too and this is just an example of all the good stuff I am missing!

Congratulations on your win! This story was so deserving of the win! Like Cheryl, I too learned a new word "detritus", I too had to look it up…but that only but one of the ways your story was not only extremely entertaining but educational! I feel like I got an education on knots! I actually felt a bit jealous of Peetee, wishing I could be there myself watching Carl demonstrate the knots! This was so masterfully done, you also managed to “tie” it together with a theme of love, peace and understanding, wished for all mankind! KUDOS on this terrific story!
Bea Edwards 03/15/13
Way to Go! Congratulations on your win.
Judith Gayle Smith03/15/13
Congratulations! I so enjoy your articles . . .