The Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Jet Ski DOOM

The Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Jet Ski DOOM

This week’s blog was supposed to be about the importance of a good ending. Yeah, I think that’s what this was originally about. But then I got carried away with this almost mortal jet ski story and forgot most of the points I was planning to make.

What? I’m a professional, shut up.

So, endings.

Storytelling 101, perhaps even the very first thing I ever learned about writing, is that every story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end.

I’ve got a story to tell. A story within a story, actually. Fair warning: it doesn’t have an ending, and if you’re anything like me you will be infuriated by it. That’s why I’m here today – to infuriate you.

I mean, there's very very nearly a death by jet ski and I'm taking it.

It Started Light

Simone and I found ourselves in a local boozer on a Friday night. Friday beers are a tradition for us when we finish work at the same time, and it usually takes us to this pub. It’s been recently done up to add a bit of class to the area, with a damp, eclectic colour scheme and no two pieces of furniture that match, screens up alongside tiny booths built for two, old wood holding the place up above knackered staff and drunk clientele that never got the memo that the pub was upgrading.

We were sat in one of those cosy booths for two when two men approached us, a Dad and Son, so very in love with their day. Dad was a heavy guy in a nice shirt and a blazer, and he informed us that Son phoned him – entirely out of the blue – and asked if he wanted to go for a few beers that afternoon. It made his weekend. The son looked like Glasgow Ryan Gosling who never made it to Hollywood but instead took up a career in tough paper runs.

They hadn’t spent a lot of time together since the incident, Dad told us.

Son rolled his eyes, ‘Dad, please don’t.’

‘Naw, naw!’ Dad insisted. ‘They need to hear this story.’

We didn’t. We wanted our Friday beers and to go home for a takeaway. Sadly, the booth had us trapped. Dad and Son, both so-very past the peak of their evening, were here for the long haul.

Still Light

Dad’s eyes positively gleamed as he detailed the importance of Son’s job. He couldn’t be prouder of the career his son had carved out for himself as a… high-rolling… something or other.

I wasn’t really listening yet.

A few months back, about a week before the incident, Son phoned Dad and said that his wife – who, so Dad tells me with a little too much vigour, was stunning – had to pull out of a boat-themed gala his work had organised. He asked if his Dad wanted to go. Dad accepted with glee.

A week later, a few hours before the incident, they found themselves on a boat out on Loch Lomond. This was no ordinary boat, though. This thing was a few million pounds worth of boat. This was the type of boat that had a jet ski bay built into it. This is the type of boat bond villains and drug dealers kick about in for laughs. (God, I wish I could remember Son’s occupation) The party had a full staff of cocktail waiters pouring booze down the throats of the guests, and a special DJ brought in for the occasion. He was famous apparently. I didn’t ask. I still wasn’t really listening. But as we got closer to the incident I was starting to.

‘Dad… don’t- please stop talking…’ Son said, but this wasn’t some standard ‘oh my Dad’s so drunk, he should shut up.’ Son was genuinely harrowed by his Dad’s story, and he really didn’t want to hear it again. ‘Dad, c’mon.’

Regardless, Dad carried on.

But then it started to get dark

Up to a half-hour before the incident, Son was having a whale of a time. Dad, though, Dad was a bit out of his depths. Son had been lovely enough to bring his old man on a beautiful cruise around the Loch, but all the other employees brought wives, girlfriends or friends their own age. He felt alienated by his surroundings, he was sinking amongst them. He wanted to go home.

Son wouldn’t have that. He’d make sure his old man had a good time!

Dad laughed, nudging his boy, ‘s’that right, son? Determined to make me have a good time! Ha!’

‘Dad… enough?’ Son’s gin shook in his hand.

The Incident came upon them with a sentence, uttered by the Son to his ailing father standing alone on a boat, draining glass-by-glass of expensive free whisky like they were the last whisky’s he’d ever have. That sentence was: ‘Dad, let me take you out on one of the jet skis.’

Now I was listening. Bad ideas make the best stories, and this idea was fucking awful.

Son finished his gin and said he was going to get another.

Dad proceeded to explain that he strapped himself into a life jacket half his size. He staggered on the back of the jet-ski and Son revved it up. He asked Dad to hold tight, and he obeyed, of course. He knew how physics works, he understood. Jet ski goes forwards, man goes back. Hang on.

And he did hang on.

For a bit.

But this is where it got dark

‘I didn’t realise how fast it would go right away! I mean, the acceleration on these things was unreal!’

Hence the word jet, Dad, but whatever.

He held on for long enough that the boat shrunk behind them, dwarfed on a relatively murky Scottish pre-evening horizon. It rapidly became much too far away for Dad to swim.

Unfortunate because Dad then lost his grip and came belting off the back of the thing. He rolled over and over, tumbling across the surface like a pebble before splashing through it.

After the life jacket had done its job, Dad identified his son leaping from the now-stationary jet ski into the water and swimming fast-as-he-could to reclaim his old man. He said he screamed like Homer Simpson as he came off, which added a lovely bout of levity to a story that was becoming quickly awful.

Son returned to the table, disheartened that the story wasn’t over yet, and tried to get his Dad to finish his drink so they could leave, but Dad wasn’t done talking.

Son more or less pulled Dad back to the jet ski; he’s not a strong swimmer. He hauled him best he could back to the incredibly expensive piece of equipment. Did I mention the jet skis were expensive? I didn’t, did I? QUARTER MILLION. The fact the Son just leapt off of it to go back for his Dad was a financially risky play.

And this is where it got really dark

When they paddled back to the jet ski, a new problem arose. Dad couldn’t get back onto it. He didn’t have the strength, he was overweight, he was sore and very drunk. He couldn’t get back on the ridiculously expensive machinery for love nor money.

They said they tried until the cold of the Loch made them weak. They tried until their legs numbed. Until Son started to cry out of sheer frustration. Until there didn’t seem to be much other option than, well…

‘Son…’ Dad said, as the delicate flutes of My Heart Will Go On drifted in from somewhere beyond the Loch. ‘Listen… take care of yourself.’

The collective jaws of Simone and myself dropped. Dad spoke in solemn tones, explaining that he’d made peace, and he was quite happy to die there in the middle of the Loch.

Son, at this point, was desperate to stop the story, but Dad kept on (thank God).

‘Take care of yourself…’ he murmured as he gently pushed himself away from the jet ski, floating backwards. Somewhere, Celine started singing about what she sees and feels every night in her dreams (from what I hear, it’s you). ‘Just… take care of yourself.’ He thought he was floating away faster than he was. ‘Bye, Son.’ He bobbed mostly in the same spot. Waving. ‘Bye.’

But not on Son’s watch, no sir. He leapt back into the water and grabbed his Dad by the jacket, screaming at him that that was absolutely not an option. ‘DON’T BE A FUCKING IDIOT, DA.’

And then it just stayed dark

Eventually, they found a solution that was not a solution. There was a handle on the back of the ski and Dad thought he might be able to hang on to it and get dragged back to the boat. But his hands were too cold to hang on, he knew he would let go or lose his grip, just like he did before.

So, instead, he thought I’ll just get my hand stuck in it.

Celine was now assuring them that, regardless of the distance between them, whether it be near or far, her heart will go on.

They laughed the idea off. ‘It sounds ridiculous now, but it really was our only option at the time.’

Son finished off his second gin and said he was phoning a taxi. It had become apparent that Son was uncomfortable hearing a story about how he took his Dad out on a jet ski and forced him to face his mortality. I couldn’t blame him for wanting out, not really.

Dad forced his hand into the gap between the handle and the ski and then rotated his wrist so it wouldn’t come free no matter how fast they were going.

Son promised he would go slow and keep an eye on him, but he had to call out if he thought his hand was coming loose.

Dad said he would.

Son got back on the ski and took off at the slowest speed one of these quarter million jet skis could go.

It was not slow.

As the vehicle took off at a blistering pace, Celine and this love of hers decided to open the door, once more, even though he was actually in her heart, which would – apparently – go on.

The physics of a jet ski doesn’t lend itself to the gentlemen’s plan of action. I don’t find that shocking, do you?

When I imagine a jet ski ploughing through the water, I notice that the nose of the ski is up high and the back of it is low. So anything – say – attached to the rear of the ski might find itself immediately submerged in the water.


Celine assured Dad and Son that they’ll stay, forever this way, as Dad immediately started to drown.

Suddenly he needed to get his hand out of that handle, but he’d stuck it in too well. There didn’t seem to be anything he could do about it! His hand was very stuck, just as they’d planned.

He swallowed water. Mouthfuls of salty*, Scottish water, in torrents, collapsing down his throat.

He couldn’t get himself free. He couldn’t make it happen. For the second time in the space of an hour, he was sure he was about to die.

But apparently, his heart will go on.

And then.

The taxi showed up, and Son ushered his Dad out the door. It was lovely to meet us and all that, bye!

The doors of the pub slammed shut and left Simone and me there, in this beat-up old-man shop, dumbfounded. Teased, is what we were.

No ending.

It’s a genuine possibility that I was speaking to two very drunk ghosts here, but on the off-chance I wasn’t, I feel utterly cheated that I didn’t get to hear the end of that story. How the fuck did Dad survive? What happened? How are they still on the type of talking terms that would have them go out for day drinks?

It happened months ago. I’m still upset.

What do you think happened? Let’s write an ending together. Tell me on Twitter, Facebook or follow on Instagram or just write it down there in the comments.

If you missed last week’s September Round-up, here it is! I go places, I buy things.

Also, if you enjoyed this story – which (Celine Dion aside) is non-fiction by the way – then you should definitely check out some of my fiction! Grim is a funny little contemporary fantasy about the local grim reaper that’s awful at his job. It’s guaranteed to bang a smile on your face, and it’s free to read on the lending library or a casual £2.99 if you want it kept on your Kindle. Give it a bash, and let me know what you think!

Happy Friday!

It’s Gavin

*I’ve since been informed that Loch water is not salty. It’s actually drinkable. You got me, guys, I know nothing about the planet.

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