Being inspired, maybe – 56

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

It's not every day you expect to get shipwrecked. 

I was not very fond of boats, or ships, unless they were very large, like ocean liners, because the motion of the sea sometimes made me feel queasy.

But, Camille, an old friend who was going through what might be called a mid-life crisis had called and asked if I would go with her on a cruise.

I had visions of a very large ocean liner and readily agreed.  She needs something to get her out of the rut she was in.  Her only fault if she had one was her poor choice if men.

We arrived at the dock only to find what could be described as an ocean-going yacht, not too small, but apparently big enough to have eight staterooms and seventeen staff including a three-star Michelin chef.

It was the chef that convinced me to go.

We had smooth seas for several days, and the company was great.  The owner, just call me Richie, was a large convivial man who had made a fortune in foreign currency trading.  His wife, Annabelle, was half his age what I would call a trophy wife, who was just short of being what the Americans would call grass.

Annabelle was a plastic surgeons dream, and I didn't think there was anything original left.  She was, however, a perfect match for our host.

How Camilla knew him was never quite explained,  but I could feel there was something between them.

There were two other couples on the boat.

The first was the hosts brother, Aubrey, though to look at him you would never make the connection.  His girlfriend, Felicity, they were not married, was not the sort of woman I'd say was his type, and I suspect that had something to do with the fact he had just turned forty, that strange age for certain men.

I seemed to have missed that age and all it's imperfect ramifications.

After a day I realised that Annabelle and Felicity were   friends, and had been so before either had known their respective partners, which was fascinating in itself.

The other remaining couple, was his lawyer, a small, thin and weedy little man who was convivial enough, but looked to me to be more of a monster than a gentleman.

He and his wife, what I thought to be a mail order bride, constantly argued when out of sight, and traded thinly veiled insults the rest of the time.  She deserved better and had formed a friendship with Camille, much to her surprise.

As for the crew, from Captain down, they reminded me of pirates.

Then, on the evening of the third day at sea, in a sea that was beginning to roughen due to a passing storm we were going to skirt, or so the Captain said, the veneer of conviviality exploded.

Richie accused his brother of assaulting Annabelle, who was pouting, Felicity started screaming at Aubrey about his womanizing and the two men got into a scuffle that saw them being separated by the crew and escorted to their various staterooms.

The captain then said that we might be better off in our rooms as well until the storm passed.  It was, he said gravely, going to get worse before it got better.

It was hard to tell if he was referring to the bothers or the storm at that particular moment.  And, something else that worried me in that fleeting appearance, the fear in his eyes.

I didn't think a storm could do that, not to a seasoned sailor like him.  He could have been Blackbeard’s brother.

Fear justified.  Twelve hours later, caught broadside to a huge wave; that was the ignominious end of the MV Poseidon.  Its namesake had called it to the bottom of the ocean.

We had been on deck at the time, both Camille and I alternately wishing we'd stayed on dry land, and wishing we were dead rather than suffer the ravages of seasickness, a move that saved us from drowning.

That was the first of our good fortune.

However, being on deck only gave us a fighting chance of survival.  When the boat went down, we were thrown overboard but not far enough so as to avoid almost being sucked down in the vortex that the boat had created when it slipped below the surface. 

The second piece of good fortune came in having the large canister holding one of the life rafts just about land on our heads.  It was close enough for me to swim to and activate.  In the still rough seas and the darkness, it was no mean feat.

The third piece of good fortune; when the light finally broke, the dawn of what was going to be a sunny day with clear skies, we saw an island in the distance, not too large, but it had vegetation, so maybe we'd get lucky and make it to dry land.

There was only one event in the last 24 hours that caused me concern, aside from the fact we would be stranded in the middle of the ocean with no means of telling anyone where we were, was the recurring image of Richie strangling his brother in the water instead of trying to save him.

Why was this a concern?

When we were close enough to the island, I could see a man on the beach.  My first thought, we would not be alone.  Then I saw it was Richie, holding something in his hand, pointing.  I followed the direction and saw two more survivors.

Followed by two loud noises that just reached us.  Gunshots?

The two survivors fell to the ground, and Richie lowered the weapon, turned, and then realised another boat was coming.

© Charles Heath 2019


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