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Sign of the times…

Photo:  Ollie Baker-Jones



Polly Blue, Girl Reporter…Interview 2

“Excuse me,” called Polly, for the tenth time.  “EXCUSE ME!” she finally yelled, waving her arms.

“What?” growled the man.  “I’m not supposed to talk to anyone.”

“Why not?”


“That’s not an answer,” said Polly, staring at him.

“What do you want?”

“I want to interview you.  My name is Polly Blue and I’m a Girl Reporter.”

“No you’re not.”

“Yes, I am,” said Polly, her hands on her hips.

“If I talk to you will you go away?”

“Yes, but you aren’t being very friendly.”

“Friendly is not part of my job description,” said the man.  “I’m the Boatman.  I take dead people across the River Styx to the other side.  There’s no time to be friendly.”

“Don’t your passengers talk to you?”

“Why would they talk to me?”

“Don’t they have questions?”

“About what?”

“About where you’re taking them?”

“I think questions are for the living.”

“Don’t you have questions?”

“Yes, I have one question,” said the man.

“What is it?”

“When are you going away?”

“I suppose that depends on how fast you tell me what I want to know.”

“Living people aren’t supposed to be here.  This is a place for the dead.”

“Here,” said Polly, handing him a rubber ball.

“What’s this?”

“It’s a ball,” said Polly, in amazement.  “You do know what a ball is, don’t you?”

The man tried to bite into the pink rubber, to no avail.

“It’s NOT food,” said Polly, pulling on his arm.  “It’s a TOY.  It’s something to play with,” she said, taking the ball out of his hand and bouncing it.  “See, you can bounce it on the floor of your boat, you can throw it into the air, or you can throw it to someone else, and have them throw it back to you.”


“Uh, what?” ask Polly, giving the ball back to him.

“Dead people don’t play catch.”

“Well, maybe that’s because there wasn’t a ball around here until now.”

“What do you want to ask me?” sighed the man.

“How long have you been transporting people to the other side by boat.”


“That’s a long time,” said Polly, biting on her eraser.

“You have no idea.”

“Do you ever get time off?”


“That’s too bad.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Do you like your job?”

“It’s okay, I guess,” he grumbled.  “At least I’m on water.”

“Can’t you waterski around here?”


“What do you do besides ferry people across the river,” said Polly, taking copious notes.


“Don’t you  have any friends?”


“I’ll be your friend. We can play catch while we talk, if you like.”

“No, but thank you.”

“Why do the dead come here?  Where do they go after you drop them off?

“I don’t know the answer to either of those questions.”

“Not in your job description to know?”

“I guess not.”

“Are you bored?”

“Not really.”

“Is there ice cream here?”

“No.  The dead aren’t hungry.”

“Why not?”

“They have other things to think about.”

“You mean they’re thinking about being dead?”

“That’s exactly what I mean.”

“I guess I can understand that,” said Polly, tapping her pencil against her pad of paper. “Do dead people just disappear?”

“No one knows what happens to dead people.  No one.”

“But they’re everywhere, look around you.”


“Aren’t you curious?”

“Not really.  Maybe curiosity is for the living as well.”

“When I die, I’ll be a Girl Reporter for the Dead.”

“We don’t have newspapers.”

“I’ll start one.”

“If you do, I’ll read it.”

Polly brightened.  “Thank you very much.”

“I’d like something to read now and then.”

Polly dug around in her school backpack.  “I have this book,” she said.  “It’s about a horse. Walter Farley is a good author.  He knows horses.  You can have it because I can get another one.  Aren’t there any libraries around here?”

“No libraries.”

“What’s it like being dead?”

“It’s the opposite of being alive.”

“So, it’s hard to describe, right?” asked Polly, erasing a word and using a different one.


“It looks like people are backing up on the pier.  Are they waiting for you?”

“They are.”

“Maybe I should get going then.”

“It’s probably a good idea,” said the man, kindly.  “I enjoyed our chat and thank you for the ball and the book.”

“You’re welcome,” said Polly.  “I think I have enough information for a good article.”

“Glad to be of help.”

“Have a nice day,” said Polly, jumping to the shore.

“Until we meet again,” he sighed, shaking his head.  But Polly was too far away to hear him.



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