Editor’s note: The staff at the paper was at first reluctant and saddened to print this column about J.P. Devine’s tragic breakdown from the stress of the coronavirus, but his fans insisted we honor him. Here it is in JP’s own words as we received it this week.

J.P. Devine is all dressed for a trip, including a helmet that he took from Western Costume back in his Hollywood days. Photo courtesy of J.P. Devine

Good morning, everyone. J.P. here.

This is going to be so exciting. You can see how excited I am. I could hardly finish my bowl of Lucky Charms at breakfast.

I included a photo so that you can see how excited I am. I’m all dressed for the trip. The bush jacket I wanted for the trip is in the cleaners, so I’m wearing this one, short-sleeved, much cooler for the climate where I’m going. The pith helmet is one that I took from Western Costume back in my Hollywood days. I knew it would one day come in handy.

Yes, that’s a Teddy bear. I know it may seem strange to take a Teddy bear for a trip in the tropics, but I wouldn’t go anywhere without Samuel Beckett. Samuel actually speaks, but only to me in the late hours of the night.

She, who normally sleeps late, is up and dressed and smiling. It’s a strange smile, unlike her usual smiles. It looks forced, but I know she’s excited for me as well. I think she’s planning a surprise, because she was on the phone this morning whispering to someone. I only caught bits of it.

“No, he won’t be any trouble. Yes, he’s been taking his medications. I’ve doubled them since the really bad numbers came in this week. No. I take his word for it. Yes, he’s all packed — weapons? Why would he have weapons? Unless kitchen steak knives count as weapons. Yes, I’ll take them away.”

I suspect it was my friend Joe who wants to go rabbit hunting in the Allagash. He knows I don’t own a weapon. Maybe he’s planning to buy one for me. Didn’t she tell him I’m going on my expedition?

She spent all day yesterday packing my bag with tropical weight underwear we bought online from L.L.Bean: 20 pairs of shorts and 20 T-shirts. Gee, how long does she think I’m going to stay away?

She tells me that she will pack my light lunch for the train trip: tuna with tomato and lettuce, two cans of Pringles, a bag of M&Ms and a case of Fiji water. She’s really focused this morning. She keeps running into the bathroom to wipe her eyes, claims it’s an allergy. I know better. She’s just excited for me.

I still wish she could join me, but her knee won’t allow her to trek through the jungles we’ll encounter.

Oh, yes. About the trip. I know you’re eager to hear the details.

First, as I fear flying, I’ll be going by train from Portland to Boston, then changing trains to continue on down to Florida where the boat, the Pilar, will take me to Cuba where I’ll be met by my guide, Capt. Kurtz, and his small boat, the Nellie.

Mr. Marlow was going to take us down the Congo, but he was an early victim of coronavirus.

I’ve never met Capt. Kurtz, but I’m told that as long as I don’t upset him or look directly at him while speaking, things will go smoothly.

I had originally planned on a trip to the Congo, but I’m told they’re still locked down there, and it’s almost impossible to get a Cherry Dr Pepper anywhere. WikiLeaks says that Cherry Dr Pepper is popular in Cuba.

Then onto voyage down the Manaviche River, a dark body of water that I’m told is part of the Orinoco River basin. My doctor, Edmund, wanted to go with me to pursue his hobby of studying the mating habits of the bearded dragon iguana and the origins of the “Murder Hornets,” but he was too busy.

I will be sending back my columns to keep you posted.

Oh, there’s the big black car now that the tour company promised, and right on time. Oh, look. Two men in clean, white jackets. That’s class. She’s waving them up. I know she’ll miss the action.

OK, I’m ready. No, there’s no need to take both of my arms, I can walk fine. Say, can we stop at John’s Market to see if they have any Cherry Dr Pepper?


J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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