Title: Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer
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Genre: New Fiction
Word Count: 107270
Author Bio: At www.jimmeirose.com
Description: This novel is set aboard the fully-automated containership Dakota Maru, which is on a round-trip voyage from the Port of New York to Shanghai, China. The ship is capable of making the entire voyage without any humans on board, but International Law requires that, at least for now, a minimum of two crewmen must be on board for the entire trip, to handle any emergency which may occur. The two crewmen are: Skip, who has been at sea for much of his life, and has an intense case of terraphobia (fear of dry land). The second crewman is Noman, who is also a seasoned seaman with many such trips under his belt. His problem right now is that his wife, Phyllis, suffers from an intense case of tokaphobia (fear of childbirth) and is pregnant, with her due date being the day the Dakota Maru arrives in Shanghai. When she and Noman found that he was being assigned to the trip, which meant that Phyllis would be facing her increasing panic alone, he tried to get excused from the journey, but his request was turned down by the company managing the Dakota Maru.
This novel explores the inner, outer, past, and future lives thoughts and fears of these crewmen, as the voyage proceeds toward arrival in China.
There are two other players in the drama: Johnny Foster, a small-time mobster who tried to screw over a big crime boss, and was punished by being kidnapped, drugged, sealed in a shipping barrel, and loaded onto the Dakota Maru, condemned to slowly die of panic and suffocation sealed within the barrel with no hope of rescue.
Lastly: the title character, Father Dwyer. Father Dwyer is a defrocked priest in his late 60s, who is the star of a failed cooking TV series aimed at the crews of freighters worldwide. The show is composed of thousands of half-hour segments, which are played full blast 24/7 on a giant flat screen TV on the wall of the bridge of the Dakota Maru. Skip and Noman think from time to time during the voyage that they would like to switch the channel or shut off the TV, but it so happens that the only way the TV can be controlled is with its remote control device, and this device was thrown overboard several trips ago by an out-of-control crew member, and the company will not spend the money to invest in obtaining a replacement. Thus, because of this, and the fact that there are no exposed wires of any kind which could be cut or ripped out to silence the TV, and the set itself is “hardened” for this kind of industrial use, it cannot be destroyed to silence it either, Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer plays in the background of all the action on board the Dakota Maru.