Hi Wanda, it’s Connie. Yeah, I’m so-so. Thanks for asking. Are you still teaching American History? Great. Great.
Well, I won’t deny it. It’s been hard since he passed, not easy after being together 27 years. I can’t believe it either. You remember our wedding in 2023, don’t you? All these years later, I’m trying to find myself again. But you know me, I’m a survivor, taking it day by day. Yes, I’m in pretty good shape financially, despite squabbling with the kids over his estate. Better than most widows starting over, I suppose. But I feel I can tell you, Wanda, I’m not happy. I‘m like a zombie. You know what I mean? Empty inside without him.
I’ve been thinking. Maybe it’s time for me to get away for a while, maybe take a long trip. Be with new people.
Did you happen to see that ad a while back about what they called “a trip of a lifetime”? Well, I followed up on it, and girlfriend, I’m thinking of taking it. Sounds like just what I need.
But this cruise won’t be like anything I ever heard of. Maybe you have. It seems fabulous, but there are things I’m not sure about. There will be no announced destinations and no set return date. I’ll explain in a minute. And we can’t be only passengers, we must become part of the ship family.
Here is how it all began for me. After seeing the ad, I had a teleconference with The Captain. He said he believes every member of his family should live their own life aboard the new ship he’s building, called the NS Saudade. It will sail next spring, and it can go anywhere for as long as he wants. That’s because – and I’m the first to admit, don’t understand this stuff – it will have a ColdFusion nuclear engine, solar panels, a wind turbine, and electronic sails. It’ll be able to sail for years without refueling. Because it can make its own food and clothing and parts, it won’t need to come to port at all. He told me it will even have its own little winery and brewery.
The Captain’s name? Gee, Wanda, I don’t know yet. The lady on the teleconference just introduced him to me as The Captain.
Anyway, The Captain told me, that before he starts his selection process, all potential family members must attend an intensive 30-day evaluation. Because we’ll be together aboard the ship for so long, he wants us by ourselves someplace he‘s going to pick, away from the rest of the world, so he can see if we fit in together. Once we set sail, he can’t promise when we will return to port, any port.
So then I went to several live meetings, and Wanda, I must say everyone I met seem like good people, ready and willing to commit. We’ve been told folks from all over the world will join us. Everyone is trying hard to fit in. We all want to be a part of his family.
The Captain himself came and spoke at our last meeting. He’s quite charming. After his first mate described wonderful things they’re installing in the Saudade – including the largest computer ever put in a ship – The Captain said he has ordered the cruise director to send us something he called the family creed. We are to keep its contents secret. I guess it’ll contain some simple beliefs, and maybe some do’s and don’t’s while on the cruise. It shouldn’t be much, although he told us flat out, if anyone doesn’t believe in the creed, then let staff know right away. The non-believer will be removed from the list The Captain selects from to invite his chosen to the 30-day evaluation.
Because of the huge investment, he says my commitment to the family must be as great as its commitment to me. He told me personally he hopes I qualify. The ship, he says, will have everything I’ll need, and his family will provide anything I want. But he warned me, not everyone is right for the family, and the family is not right for everyone. The evaluation should show him which siblings fit into his one united family. Each of us must make a commitment to the family before they’re allowed to board, but he didn’t tell us yet what he’s going to ask from us.
What? No, I haven’t looked into the finances of his operations. I wouldn’t even know where to start. Would you? I mean, I’m no accountant. All I can do is see what I see. The meetings I’ve attended were in some pretty fine hotels, and the shipyard videos of Saudade were awesome.
The Captain whispered to me after the last meeting, that if I am chosen, as a special gift, he might let me board the ship and have a private look around, maybe even select my own room, although for security reasons, his staff may decide who will live where.
Listen, I know what you’re saying, Wanda. I would be giving him a lot of credit. It does require me to trust him. I won’t argue with you about that. It could be risky. It will cost me a lot of money and take a lot of time.
Yes, you’re right, it could be a scam. I hear you, girl. But despite all that, I don’t think so. The Captain seems so caring and his people so considerate that I’m already a believer. And so are most others from the meetings. I feel us forming a bond. And, Wanda, I will let you in on a little secret. I think The Captain has his eye on me.
What? Have I heard of who? No, who was Jim Jones?
Wow, what a story. Sounds crazy.
But I’m not worried. That was a long time ago. Couldn’t happen nowadays. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes, okay?
(Arnold White is a retired attorney living in Ohio. He may be reached at email@example.com.)