The lonely butterfly (part 1)
Posted on December 10, 2007
The lonely butterfly (Part 1)
(the muse of inspiration touches a writer’s weary soul in the strangest of places…)
I watched him, sadly.
It couldn’t be much fun for him. He was lost, obviously.
Out here was no place for a little blue-and-black butterfly. We were a hundred miles offshore, in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. On a long since de-activated oil platform. We had landed there an hour earlier by helicopter, with an inspection crew. The burly white helmeted inspectors were busying themselves with clipboards and cameras. Their task was to prepare for the long and arduous task of dismantling this ancient Behemoth. This relic of the oil rush of the mid seventies. It’s name, “Grand Isle 95 “, somehow mocked the tangled, heavily corroded mass of metal and pipes that greeted us. An eerie silence hung over this former hub of activity. The diesel generators, long since fallen silent, stood frozen in a former time of glory. Now they were rust colored, broken down, useless. Everywhere there were signs of the departure of the last working shift, so many years ago. An uncaring departure. Old tools left to the mercy of the elements. Drill bits, wrenches and sockets. Now corroded together. Welded together by the forces of wind driven salt spray. Defeated by time. Discarded, and now useless.
The galley had been another scene of some surrealism. A half eaten meal. Half drunken coffee cups. Cans of beans, bags of rice, containers with flour and sugar. All wrapped in a dark gloom. Instinctively, my hand had moved to the light switch, forgetting for a moment that no electricity had flowed there for more than a decade. I moved around carefully, without the benefit of any lights. The bunk rooms, where men had once slept the sleep of the exhausted after long, twelve hour shifts, were now the preserve of memories and ancient dreams. A hunting magazine, still open on page twenty-six. Featuring the delights of an old turkey shoot. With a picture of an unlucky long dead gobbler, hanging upside down, shown off to the camera by a proud huntsman. A book, some racy novel, face down, its pages stuck together with damp. Old toothbrushes, discarded plastic shavers, and dubious looking wash towels. A positively scary looking toilet, with a roll of toilet tissue still in its holder. And everywhere a vague musty smell, and a sense of disuse. There was almost a sense of loss. For once upon a time, this had been a hive of human activity. With glistening fresh paint, and humming, shiny machinery. Millions of dollars of oil had flowed through these peeling, flaky pipes.
Cleanliness and state-of-the-art technology had once made this Ghost Town a bright flag ship of technology. Where serious rig bosses enforced serious standards of maintenance.
But now…. all that was forgotten. All that remained was a restless memory. Something that had once been proud, and noble, and important. And that was now, broken, discarded, and written off. There was something futile about it. As if Man’s best efforts are no match for time and changing circumstances.
Having wandered around for a while, I climbed back up to the helideck, and stood there, leaning against an old railing. Surveying the scenery. The tangled mass of steel and pipes, containers and tanks, condensers and coils. I watched the inspectors below, carefully picking their way around corroded steps, and the occasional gaping hole in weary floors.
And it was then that the solitary butterfly had appeared. A bright blue-and-black butterfly, in search of butterfly heaven, bright flowers and fresh grass, and a gentle breeze, and a place to prepare for the next generation. In search perhaps of friends. Wondering where all the other butterflies had gone. I watched him, fluttering sadly around steel and rust, inspecting ancient yellowed plastic and old red fire bottles. I watched him as he fluttered around the inspectors, who took not the slightest notice of him. I watched him, ceaseless in his search, flutter down dark, gray sombre hallways. And return, discouraged, but determined in his quest. I admired him, for the purity of his mission, for his perseverance despite his dismal surroundings. There was something inspiring about that butterfly. The way he held true to his calling. The way he did not slump down in defeat. The way he continued his mission. Despite an uncaring, unfeeling, steely world of uncaring soulless beings.
I watched him for a long time. I hoped he would find his friends. Bright flowers, and green grass. And a gentle breeze, to help him as he went from flower to flower. I hoped he would complete his mission. I hoped, that, despite all the odds, he would contribute, meaningfully, to the next generation.
Poor little butterfly.
I knew exactly how he felt.
Last edited by Francis Meyrick on May 12, 2011, 11:31 am