My finger tips are blackened with frostbite and I am not sure how much time I have left to recount to you the tale of the horrors that have brought me here to this remote outpost on the edge of the arctic circle where surely death will take me as it has already taken the intrepid members of my party who so bravely sought to understand the great hidden terrors which now wish to see me dead. Or worse.
My tale begins at a waterfront tavern in the lower portion of New York City. It was the type of place frequented by the sailors and longshoremen who plied their trade of loading and unloading various merchant vessels in the myriad ports serving New York’s thriving economic backbone. Normally this sort of place was too coarse for a man of my learned stature, but I found something thrilling in the rough shod banter of these men, their saltiness, the way they embraced life and its mysteries without too much of preoccupation with propriety. I found the company stirring, if a little bawdy at times, but what could one expect from men who spent so much time working with their hands? As you often do with men from so many different places, strange tales would trickle into the tavern bouncing between the men. Many times the tales were of strange beasts at sea thought to have wreaked some havoc on a ship which narrowly escaped. Sometimes the tales were about tremendous storms that nearly blew intrepid captains off their courses, but which ended with the cargo being delivered safely to port. Still other tales were of ghosts and demons who haunted the waters, dragging unwitting sailors to a watery grave in the embrace of Poseidon.
One autumn day I was sitting in the tavern enjoying a pint of their house lager with a colleague, indeed I might call him a friend, when a sailor darkly came through the door and sat at a table in the corner without ordering a drink. My spirits were high with the briskness of the day and of the drink, and I made an offer to this man to provide him with a drink should he deign to entertain us with a tale of his times on the sea. My friend encouraged this notion with no amount of restraint, but we received only dour looks from the man whose only response was to pull down his hat’s brim and light his pipe. The barman then leant in and told us that the man came from uncertain stock and that we, being refined gentlemen and educated, should steer well clear of him.
Well, dear reader, you can no doubt imagine that this only encouraged us to hear this man out more. We purchased a glass of whiskey to endear ourselves with the man in the corner and joined him at his table. We placed the glass of whiskey in front of him and remained silent, for we both thought the best way to get him to talk to us was to wait him out.