Bobby B – Swamp Vue

Late January 2007 – Arnault’s Bayou Boater – Find Your Paradise on the Water

“Swamp Vue?” Arnault the Third lifted his cap, scratched his head. “Enclosed you say?”

“Yes sir. Standard boat technology, Lexan canopies. Lighter than glass and stronger. What they use on astronaut visors. We can do little four-to-six-seaters for fishing and drinking, and up to twenty, twenty-two on the back-to-back tourist traps. We do those double pontoon like a lake party boat on a diet, with a Merc or Yamaha outboard. I’m not talkin’ little camper trailer houseboats. Plenty of people have little houseboats you can buy. Swamp Vues are swamp boats, enclosed.”

“I’ve seen some Florida boys put Jet Ski packs on swamp runners. Claim it’s a more modern approach.”

“Maybe for open water or bay runnin’, but you start sucking the swamp into a hole, hopin’ to push it out for forward motion? You have a recipe for failure. We smoked a few tryin’. You know what’s in the swamp?”

“I do. Best to be-ridian the Flo-ridians, I say. ” Arnault snorted, tossed a dogeared NADA used boat price guide to left edge of his desk where the wall stopped it. “Custom paint?”

“We have a woman can paint anything, any kind of way. She’s not the friendliest, or the best lookin’, and she don’t talk much. But she can paint. Bass boat glitter, NASCAR colors, you name it. Even portraits.”


“She projects pictures on whatever, sketches it out, fills them in.” Bobby fanned the photoshopped boat pictures. “One man wanted his wife off his be-hind for the boat, so he had her picture painted on the fan tail rudder of a custom two-seater prop drive.”

“I’ll be damned.” Arnault Three tapped a few of the pictures before he opened the back door of his office, lit a cigarette and motioned for Bobby to follow him out into the boat yard. “Just how long you been sellin’ boats, son? This is off-season for boat salesmen.”

“Weekends for a while. Pictures at boat shows, fish-offs. Everybody says you’re the boat dealer of all boat dealers, so I figured I’d come here first. Beat the Springtime boat salesman rush.”

“Beat it hard and large. Weekends?”

“I still go to school, week days.”

“School is a good thing. Education is a better one. You say these boats are your idea?”

“Yeah. Couldn’t build one by myself, but I could see ‘em sittin’ in the scrap yard. Found some people who know how, and we set up in an old machine shop. The sheet metal man came all the way from Kansas. Used to work for Cessna.”

“Well, if he could make ‘em fly, they oughta float. Tell me again why you did this?”

“Lots of people, when they think swamp, they streak their shorts like this girl I know, thinkin’ about snakes fallin’ out of trees. Or worryin’ about their kids ‘cause of gators doing things they only do on TV like jumpin’ in boats after babies and dogs. My Mawmaw wanted to see the swamp again before she died, but getting’ out in it would have killed her before she got to enjoy it. So there’s old people, wheelchair people, people who can’t handle the heat or the bugs. I asked around, seems everybody has an idea for who needs Swamp Vue. From the Girl Scouts to bootleggers.”

“Enclosed swamp skimmers and tour platforms. Never thought I’d see the day. You’re gonna give us a whole generation of swamp pussies, youngster. You can live with that?”

“I figure there’s way more curious swamp pussies out there than gator hunters, Mr. Arnault, and they all have credit cards.”

Arnault looked over his boat yard, seemed not to notice his cigarette had hit the filter and died.

“I’ll take two of the platforms for personal. We have a tour business up bayou west of Annadale. And looky here, Bobby, were doin’ business and all, you call me Third, like people who know me. Sounds like turd, and I’ll answer to either one, but I know the difference.”

“Yes sir. Is that Mr. Third, or –”

“Third. You call on the phone, you get my Jenny Craig poster girl daughter, say ‘Bobby B for Third’. I’ll pick up. You can put one of anything you can build in here on consignment, any time they’re ready. Take custom orders off ‘em, sell ‘em as is. They start movin’ we’ll work out some financing with you to keep ‘em on the lot.” He walked Bobby over the crushed shells to the big chain-link gates. “Craziest shit I ever saw, enclosed swamp boats. Call me when you got ‘em welded up. I’ll need to carry some folks down bayou and have a look, talk paint.”

“Would that be before, or after. On the Jenny Craig.”

“You gotta make the drive on a weekday for that one.” Arnault lit another cigarette, put a hand on Bobby’s shoulder. “Betcha a dollar it’ll be worth the trip.” He grinned, winked. “Either way, it’s education. Not school.”

May 2007 – Houma, LA

Carrie Louise looked over her shoulder, her feet wobbling in her heels, prom dress rustling with every step. “Goddammit, Bobby, why couldn’t you have driven a real car tonight?”

“You can stop walking. Junior’ll be along in a few.”

“In a tractor! A Goddam tractor! Last year we went to that noses-up-their-butt’s country club prom in Arizona…And this year I get halfway to my senior prom with a paisley tuxedo wearing excuse factory in a dead piece of shit boat car that same dumbass excuse factory thought was a good idea, and now we get carried the rest of the way in a tractor?”

“Hey, the tux is an eBay classic. And we’ll still be there on time.”

“And we’re still going to prom in a fucking tractor! You don’t see the problem with that?”

“Chauffer driven tractor, and it has an airconditioned cab. That’s where I got the idea from the scrap yard about the covered swamp boat business and the boat car for adverti –”

“Hoo-ray for Bobby fucking B, boy genius. I didn’t know spending a weekend with Aunt Liz setting up that boo-shit Swamp Vue business meant I had to be your first humongous prom night fail.”

“The boat car was just for show. It was running fine the other day, I don’t know why –”

“I don’t care ‘why’, and the ‘other day’ wasn’t prom. God Dammit, Bobby…” She saw the row of blinding lights on Junior’s tractor make the turn a quarter mile away. “I think I might hate you forever for this one. For. Ever.”

Published by

Phil Huston

One thought on “Bobby B – Swamp Vue”

  1. That’s my kind of suspense and silly… and having been raised on a homestead where, no shit, a family of 14 kids that lived about four miles from the church had rigged a hay wagon with seats, which was the going to church transportation pulled by a big Minneapolis Moline tractor. Some churchgoers still rode horses or had horse team pulled surreys and stuff, so this tractor rig, well, that was high class. The bonus was if it rained and the gumbo more than threatened, the tractor could always be counted on to get you and yours to the general store after mass, then back home without landing in a ditch or getting high-centered in a rut… Great story, Phil.


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