The Sweat of the Brow (52)

I check out of the guest-house. I take a pod to Euskadi. I take a cheap room and spend the day pacing it, corting up and down, making a plan.

Don’t arouse suspicion. Don’t get caught. Get back to Florida. All of the above.

The next morning I pod to Saragossa. I spend the day in the city, playing tourist, seeing sights. I spend the night in Deltebre and greet the dawn from a balcony, wild-looking vineyards sloping down to the sea. I throw down a few hundred for a berth on a yacht heading for Sweden. I stay with them as far as Malaga. Then it’s another pod to Algeciras. At Gibraltar I spend the morning in a cafe, sipping wine from Deltebre, biding my time.

There’s a plane for Madeira. I take a cabin with a bed. We skim the water, slow and wending, using deep sonar to look for whales to see. I close my eyes and watch them breach through the plane’s many cameras, the gentle hum of turboprops like the swelling of the sea.

I spend four days in Funchal drinking rainwater and smelling ocean. I tell anyone who asks that I’m on the last leg of a much-needed vacation. I look like I’m on my last legs. They believe me.

I go to the port. I wait for it to dock. A private sailboat, crossing the Atlantic in style. Its three hulls glide into a berth as the sails dip to the deck, fold themselves away.

I watch the passengers disembark. I follow them into town, into a restaurant, up to the roof, over to the bar. I strike up conversation, buy them drinks, sit and nod as they talk and laugh and smile.

I mention that I’m bound for Savannah. They say they’re for Charleston. I don’t say I knew that. I say, close enough.

They want to correct me. They want to say no. They don’t know how. Not to an old man.

I make it easy for them. I apologize for my presumption. Oh, not at all It’s just- I raise my hand. I’ll make myself useful. Cover their harbor fees. Fill their water tanks – and stock their bar.

They’re quite glad to have me. I thank them so much. I meet them at sunset. We sail for the sun.

By day they’re on deck. I join them enough that they don’t think me hiding. Then I hide. I

read and I ruminate. I eat and I sleep. I lose track of time. I stare at the sea.

I wake and see land. At first I think it’s Bermuda. But it crosses the horizon like a coming storm. I go on deck and the self-styled captain says we’ll be at anchor in two hours. Three thousand nautical miles. Good breezes. Five days.

We pull into Charleston. I thank them, say goodbye. I summon a pod and stand there till it comes to me. A bus comes and hooks me. I press home, and fall asleep.

I’m woken by a quiet alarm. I’m groggy, but I’m home. I take my luggage inside, drop it on the floor, fall into bed. I wake with dawn’s rosy fingers soft on my face. I don’t even sit up. I open a tap.

“Martin,” Katie says, “where the hell have you been?”

“Katie,” I say, “how come you never take me out anymore?”


~ by davekov on 7 September 2012.

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