Bartleby. Bartleby the Bother. Everyone – every single solitary person, each and every individual at one point in their lives knows a Bartleby. By the time I met him and his odd-shaped egg-dome, I had already known a few Bartlebys. I also bore my private shame that I had been a Bartleby to a few people. Should I describe what a Bartleby is? They come in many sizes and shapes; from large, to skinny, to stumpy, to colossal giants. Sometimes their accent and diction is thick with malice, sometimes their narrow shrill words cut easily like stilettos.
Pest. Bully. Bruiser. Thug. Annoyance. The words come flooding into the mind to describe the Bartleby's of the world. The words fail to convey the amount of time wasted in avoidance, the amount of time lost in futile plots. The words eviscerate the sleepless nights and the wasted retorts to public humiliations. If life was a comic book, the Bartleby's would always play the minor villains to one's Superhero; not quite worth the trouble to completely vanquish, but always ready to wreak mayhem on an unsuspecting metropolis.
On the small stage of the Hydra, my Bartleby had become my rival. I had started the feud innocently, with small jests, as was my way. It had progressed from snide words in the forecastle, to pranks and reprisals at nights. He had short-sheeted my bunk at inspection. I had woken him for his nightly watch with a bucket of sea-water. My treasured and well worn Padre hat was cast away and left to swim home. I calmly ran his pink bleached tight underwear up the standard on the mizzen. Other, courser methods were employed. Kidneys were bruised by mop-handles. Food was ruthlessly and barbarically over-seasoned.
Then, Bartleby marshaled his most demonic and effective weapon: rumor. My fear became common late-night watch fodder, as I was one of the last three people not to have climbed the main-mast. My artful and creative pranks were soon dragging and becoming less effective by the nanosecond. To the lay-crew members, they were beginning to look like the desperate skullduggery of a person with something to hide.
"You're going to have to climb the main-mast." The Cook noted philosophically as he watched me peel potatoes. I grunted and continued peeling. I had been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, a direct casual result of my flotilla of wrath. "And I have the plan for you, because we can't let that egg-head nob win here." Slowly, I raised my eyes and opened my ears fully.