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The Story Of the Diamond Boat

Updated: Apr 9

Stephen Burrows had everything a man could want. He'd inherited most of his money when his parents were killed in a plane crash just eleven miles south of where Buddy Holly's plane had gone down forty years prior. It was all over the national news at the time, and people started calling Cerro Gordo County, Iowa the "Bermuda Triangle of the American midwest".

His father had made his fortune in the skilled nursing industry, building an empire of nursing homes from Jacksonville, Florida to some town named after a pharmaceutical factory in south New Jersey. As his only son, Stephen was handed the properties the day he turned twenty-one. And he sold every single one them the day after. He would spend the next eighteen months in a penthouse suite on the Vegas strip, sleeping by day and gambling by night. And before he turned twenty-three, young Mr. Burrows had grown his inheritance into about seventeen billion dollars.

He spent the next ten years or so buying and flipping major commercial properties, and growing his wealth until he was one of the ten richest men on earth. He built an entertainment complex along the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville, and bulldozed it when his favorite Country & Western singer cancelled on a show. He bought a jet that had been coated in 24k gold just to park it in front of a steakhouse on Bleeker Street in New York City till the wheels went flat. A reporter from Chicago once claimed that Burrows had purchased a fully-functional orphanage, evicted its residents, and converted the building into a jam space for his favorite Prog-Rock band. And this went on for the better part of that decade.

Stephen Burrows had seen, owned, and done it all before ever hearing the story of The Old Man and the Sea. Truth be told, he'd only seen a couple of short scenes from the Anthony Quinn movie - one night when he was trying to buy an old theater in Hamburg. But that was enough to set his mind on the open sea, and Stephen set out in search of a boat worthy of the man who had everything.

When the press caught wind of this search, it dominated an entire weekend's news cycle. And by the following Monday, boat builders were lined up along 5th Avenue to pitch their talents to Mr. Burrows. One guy had a boat made entirely of glass. Everything on the craft was transparent, down to the engine. A firm from the west coast pitched him a golden yacht, but Stephen had been there and done that with jets, and he wasn't one for doing anything twice. About six hours into all this, a woman came in with Chinese take-out. She was talking about a boat she'd seen docked near Fisher's Island, Connecticut, built entirely of diamonds. Stephen Burrows dropped his Kung Pao chicken at his feet and stared at the woman. "I will give you $100,000 in cash if you take me to this boat right now" he said to her. An hour later, they were touching down in Groton.

He didn't have to leave the car. The boat was huge... more an ark than a boat, really. And just as the woman had said - it was built entirely of diamonds. Stephen had never seen anything like it. No one had. And before the driver could even put the car in park, Stephen had his checkbook out and his door open. No one knows exactly what he paid for it, but the previous owner bought an island after selling Burrows that boat. Within minutes, news crews were scattered along the coast like seagulls. Everybody wanted a glimpse of Stephen Burrows' amazing Diamond Boat, and he was more than happy to invite them onboard for a closer look. Once the crowd had subsided, Stephen stretched out on the bow, crumpled his jacket into a makeshift pillow, and slept there for the night. In the morning, he would set out on his greatest adventure: The Very Fit and Young Looking Middle-Aged Man and the Sea.

Stephen Burrows finished his first pot of coffee almost half an hour before the sun had fully risen. For the first time since his days in Vegas, he found himself excited. He would set out as soon as the rest of his luggage arrived, and he would circle the globe in his Diamond Boat. His assistant loaded the last of Mr. Burrows' things, shook his hand, and wished him "godspeed". The Diamond Boat shimmered in the sunlight of the horizon until it vanished into the endless blue of the sea.

Two days later, Stephen found himself in the center of a tropical storm. Waves pounded the ark, and more than once, it nearly capsized. He started throwing luggage overboard to lighten the vessel. As the last monster wave hit, Burrows gripped tightly to the helm and took a deep breath. He woke up atop what was left of the Diamond Boat, washed up on a small island in the middle of the Atlantic.

He dragged what he could of the diamonds up a steep hill, where he built a primitive lean-to from the gems and a downed tree. Then he lit a fire and fell asleep beside it. He woke the next morning to find one diamond had been pulled from the lean-to. There wasn't another living soul within 2,000 miles, but he was certain that one was missing. This went on each morning for what seemed like months; Stephen would wake up, inspect the lean-to, and always find one less diamond than the night before. Men like Burrows don't like losing things. Men like Burrows wake up everyday with more things, because their other things multiply as they sleep. And Burrows vowed not to sleep again until he had discovered what was happening to his diamonds. So he sat cross-legged by the fire that night, and waited silently for the unknown thief to show himself.

A few hours before sunrise, as the firelight bounced across the diamond lean-to, Stephen noticed a thin wave of black rippling across the dirt beside it. His eyes froze on the motion as he attempted to decipher what he was seeing. It looked like a serpent, but it's eyes glowed like the diamonds it was encircling. The eyes narrowed suddenly as the serpent pulled one stone from the lean-to, and swallowed it whole before disappearing into the tree line. This happened for three nights.

On the third night, when the serpent returned, Stephen Burrows leapt to his feet and struck it on the head with the heel of his shoe. He felt the crush of the skull as he put his full weight into it, and he felt the hot sting on his heel as soon as he lifted his foot. He was suddenly dizzy and his vision was blurring. Stephen collapsed beside the fire as his breathing slowed. The sun was coming up now, and there was smoke from a distant ship on the horizon. He looked slowly toward the serpent, and upward to what was left of the diamonds on the lean-to. The last thing he heard over his own labored breathing was the sound of a boat getting closer to the shore.

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