clamored into the
mid-ships of the small, sleek scow. He stood stiff-legged once the
boat stopped bobbing.
said the ferryman. Trump dropped heavily onto the plank seat, grabbing
the gunwales. The ferryman swept the stern line off the cleat and stepped
lightly into the boat with one leg. He pushed off with the other leg and settled
in the stern, beginning a slow rhythmic paddling. Both men remained silent
as the boat glided away from the shore.
"How far away are
we going?" Trump asked.
"Not far," the
Ok, thanks, ah, what's
Charon." The boat moved steadily away from the shore and into a mist. Soon, the small boat was blanketed in fog. Charon kept rowing without
"How much time will
You'll be back in -- no
time." Charon's hesitation confused Trump.
"This stop was not
on the schedule. I was told this was an emergency. Nobody can tell me what
this was about? Don’t you know?”
"I am only a
ferryman," said Charon. I know the boat, the river --"
"This is a river?
It's still, like a lake."
Yes, a river," said
"Styx is the name
of the river."
Trump was unhappy. “This
is horrible,” he said. The plank seat was uncomfortable. The mist was settling
on his suit and tamping down his hair. "This is horrible," he repeated.
"No disrespect, ah--"
got to be a better ride."
"Only this boat
crosses the Styx, and I am the only boatman," said Charon.
“You make all the trips?
What if you aren't available?"
"Then there is no
"What if there's an
"Then, I am
As the boat emerged from
the bank of mist, Trump saw to his right another boat of the same type,
traveling past in the opposite direction.
"Charon, what is
that? It looks like this boat. The passenger looks like me, and the ferryman
looks like you. Hey!”
"That is not
another boat," said Charon. "It is the same boat, the same passenger
- you, and I am steering."
impossible," Trump said.
"No, it is as I
say. We are the same, but it is another day."
"When is that?"
tomorrow, I cannot tell."
"I don't remember
being here before."
"Neither do I. But
then tomorrow, I will not remember today."
"How do you
"Because I have no memory of yesterday."
The boat lurched to a
stop, as if it had run aground.
"My fee, sir," said the ferryman.
"Amex Platinum?" asked Trump.
The ferryman stuck a finger into his passenger's mouth and withdrew a coin. "This is sufficient," he said.
"We are here, sir.
Please step out of the boat." As Trump stepped out, he tumbled
forward and was submerged with only the heel of one shoe sticking out of the
water. He was able to poke his head above the surface.
"I'm caught. I
can't get out. Give me a hand."
Trump reached up, but Charon
paddled the boat away in a half-circle. "I'm sorry sir. I cannot
retrieve you. I must go."
"But you're the only
ferryman, and that’s the only boat. When will you return for me?"
"I cannot say, sir.
Perhaps tomorrow or yesterday. I must warn you, though, that the mud makes you
vulnerable. You will no longer be invincible. You
will be mortal, except for your heel." The ferryman paddled
away, leaving Trump stuck in the mud, with only his heel sticking out above the
surface of the water. He could not move in any direction, except to lift his head occasionally for air.
As he lay there, he saw the shapes of various creatures moving around in the dark water. They took many forms and sizes. He was able to see through the murk that they were creatures of all patterns: stripes, dots, irregular markings; of all colors, bright as well as dark, from black to white and all colors in between. The creatures lay still momentarily as an undertow rippled through the water. The creatures slowly stirred, closing in and circling the sunken figure.