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In Friday night excitement about work ending and weekend looming ahead to harness as I chose, I decided to stop by KVK. The spring night was warm. Three men fished and ate sizzling steaks (not fish!) right off a smoky grill, and told tall tales about shark and barracuda there when I inquired about their catch. Two other guys had started on a case of Budweiser and were starting to vent about a co-worker or supervisor. From the smell of BBQ, the beery voices that would vent til the beer was gone, and the warmth, I expected Saturday morning might bring an early summer.

As night fell, Pamir–a vessel that makes regular appearances in NY but whose name is rich in exotic associations–started backing out into KVK, outbound, remarkably silent given the a power plant the size of a small house, revealing not the tugs assisting it but two tugs collected at its bow: the larger Reinauer and the historic Cornell.

The Reinauer turned west and passed Weeks Marine’s Shelby pushing a crane barge eastbound toward Robbins Reef. From the Reef, any destination anywhere is possible on the sixth boro. Cornell lingered a little longer before going that way too, sounding a shrill whistle.

Tractor Ellen McAllister and unidentified partner turn eastbound, ready to assist Pamir . . . to ensure that the equally rosy dawn would find Pamir well out to sea, its crew–recalling the aromatic smoke of the BBQ –eager to regain their hearth fires, wherever they might be.

And I had people to support, something I could do better now that I’d stopped along the Kill on that spring evening before beginning my night work. I had miles to go … As I turned inland Staten Island the unexpected music in my head is the Bob Seger anthem about losing the awkward “lifetime” blues.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

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