Dockside in Casablanca

The Devil Is Dead, Part 1

“Finnegan, this is a seaport, it has the atmosphere of one. That being the case, I have some sort of ship here. We will fit it, if it needs fitting, and we will take a trip around the world immediately. I have often found that this clears the head. Will this not prove that I am eccentric?”

“No. It will prove only that you remember what you are about.”

We have remembered what we are about.

This is one of the many stories about why we travel:

I have a favorite book, mysterious and complicated. I read it first when I was thirteen. I delve into it at least once a year. And decades later it still draws intricate, new, haunting pictures. Ever more haunting as I know more and more about the true complexity of the world.

It is called The Devil Is Dead. The man who wrote it—if he was not of another species—was R.A. Lafferty.

Finnegan doubted also that the man was a millionaire. He was unshaven and shabby, and he had the shakes. A millionaire will sometimes have one or two of these disabilities, but seldom all three.

The millionaire—with all three disabilities—does have a ship in the Texas seaport in which they awaken. They do take a trip around the world.

Seaworthy was a man with much mysterious business in many little ports.

Why shouldn’t I take a trip around the world? Why shouldn’t I be a person with much mysterious business in many small ports?

For this trip we considered tracing the exact route of the novel. Down the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, around the bulge of South America, and across to Africa. We decided not to buy a boat and hire a crew (we are not millionaires). Instead we decided to pick up the story in Africa, where daggers are uncloaked.

Being dockside in Casablanca this week has gotten me back in the noir mood of the book.

The novel has an important scene in Tangier, a murder. We will be there next week. Will we find the grave of Don Lewis in the soft sand under the creepers?

Then it’s on to Sicily, and then to Naxos, where the devil—Or is he the Devil?—tries to regrow his lost stripes.

Care to read along? I have a copy in my backpack, and you can still buy this book, though copies are becoming more rare:

In the company of Seaworthy and the Devil,