Lost At Sea

Entry by: Jim bob

10th April 2015
Lost At Sea

'My nagging wife asked me to go out and catch our dinner,' said Willy.
We were sitting at The Fisherman s Rest out on the old harbour, finishing our supper.
'I'd been getting under her feet ever since work had slackened off,' he continued 'and she was beginning to get on my nerves too'.
Willy, or, Blind Willy as he was known to everyone, for obvious reasons, rested his hands together on the wooden bench we'd eaten at. To me, his eyes, didn't look blind instead, lively, and, he wore a wholesomeness which denied his age,that, must have been close to the millennium itself.
'What happened then,' I asked, noticing his hands shaking, as elderly peoples tend to.
' I took the little boat out, George' he said. 'Me and the dog, Romeo, took her out to catch some fish for supper. Anything to keep my wife happy. To be honest, it was good to get away from her. She'd been going on about the heat, and that always got to her. Mind you, the south pacific was a darn hot place, especially in the summer months. Getting on that water helped a bit, but not much, George, and not for long.'
He coughed several times, and took a swill from his stein, followed by a belch. I smiled at this, but Willy continued, oblivious to it.
' We rowed out to the deeper waters, Romeo dividing his time between swimming and the boat, but mostly in the water. I cast the net out, and to begin with, it wouldn’t seem to attract many fish, but, eventually things began to change.'
Willy took a deep breath, then drank again from his stein
'What breed was Romeo' I asked
'I've told you his breed, George' he replied, giving me the look of surprise, those blinded eyes seemingly, enlarging.
I knew he hadn't told me the breed, but I remained quiet, knowing his lapses in memory were intermittent. The arrival of the beers also helped to distract this issue. A cool breeze swept through the large room we were in, fewer patrons around now to enjoy this quiet evening on the chilly, Cornish coast, many moons away from the blazing coast of Blind Willy’s story, all those years ago.
' Tis good ale this, George' he said, forgetting my question, and hoping not forgetting what stage he'd got to.
'Where was I?' Before I had time to react. ' Oh yes, the fishing' He let out another belch, again heedless to it, but I grinned, this time inconspicuously, to prevent him asking me why I was.
' Your dad and me used to take this boat out, George' he continued. 'That was quite a few years before this, and we used to catch tons of the little buggers, tons. But I tell you, it was nothing compared to the catch we got the day Romeo and me went out. That much I do remember. We must have come across a school of them, or something. Man, it was mad!'
He smiled then, the sort of dreamy smile you see in old people,or, folks who'd seen and done a lot in this world.
' We were dragging net full upon net-full of them. Small fish, mostly mackerel, and sardines. Romeo yapped away as dogs do; leaping up and down, barking non-stop. He managed to eat a few of them too. Eventually though, I had to stop. I even chucked some of them back in, for the boat was starting to weigh down.'
A young waitress came over to our table to ask if we needed anything. I told her we were fine and she smiled then walked away.
' She sounded like she looked cute'. Am I right?' asked Willy, a devilish wide grin showing on his face.
'She sure was, Willy' I replied and turned around to double check again for myself.
'While we're on the subject of women, when are you going to get yourself a nice lady, George?
'I will I guess, in time.' I said ' Shall we move on with the subject of the story though?'
'What story is that, George?' and before I opened my mouth...
' Oh yes, the fishing trip, but, George, you’re in your fifties, time will run out for the ladies if you don’t hurry.'
It occurred to me he was right, but I was always a lover of the single life. I'd grown into it. But, right now I wanted to hear the rest.
'Your right, Willy,' I said, to agree with him, and hoping he would.
' Up to you, but every fella needs someone, George, every fella,' And he smiled again ' Right, the story then', he continued. I folded my arms, after taking a generous draught on my beer.
'All of a sudden I, remember feeling exhausted, I mean shattered, George. Must have been all the exertion, and excitement of the big catch. You see, George, this wasn’t no chore as it happened. Being a fisherman all me life, this was like a bus mans holiday, and so, I was reeling in the pleasure of it, and what with not having worked for sometime, it just took its toll. Not to mention the heat, which added to this. Fuck me, George, even Romeo, was laying down, his chest rising and falling quickly What with all those fish he'd eaten too, that were now flapping and jumping around. Anyway, I had to lay down too.'
He stopped and started to get up. 'Gotta pee, George.' he said. I smiled and pulled the table out for him, something I'd done several times this week on our nightly visits to The Fishermans Reef. He walked to the mens, the way an old man with twenty twenty vision did; confident gait, inconspicuous touching of the walls and furniture for guidance. I considered how much I’d enjoyed the stories he'd told me of the days with my dad during the war, and beyond. How their friendship had cemented through all the fighting and fun they'd endured. In some way, it comforted me to know there was a trickle of justice in the knowledge, that my father had had such wonderful companionship in his life, despite being cut short of his later years.
'Soon, I fell asleep,' he continued on his return.' And it must have been awhile too, because when I awoke, the sun had almost set. Even Romeo was asleep, I discovered. There was no sign of land, and this concerned me somewhat, George.'
'Didn't you have a radio, or something,' I asked.
'Dont be daft' he responded 'Radios were a rare thing in those days and, if they'd been available, I probably wouldn’t have bothered, as I only expected to catch a coupla fish in shallow water, and not some biblical haul.'
'So, what happened, Willy,' I asked, lighting a cigarette.
'Well,' he said. 'We were lost at sea, and darkness was closing in. There isn’t much we could do except wait. There were so few fishing trips at this time as well, so the chances of being spotted were slim.
Willy stopped and took a sip from his beer, and placed the stein carefully back down on the coaster.
' Dont think I've known quiet like it, George. Fear too. As the darkness approached in its gradual way, the feeling of isolation intensified. Romeo, I'm sure felt it too for he just looked at me, and whined. Then he'd take to chasing his tail, something he'd never done before. As evening turned to night ,the smell of decaying fish strengthened as humidity bared down on them. I remember a few lights did appear, once or twice on the edge of the horizon. They soon dimmed and disappeared though, killing any hope of rescue, for that’s what it had all of a sudden become, George. It became clear we were lost at sea! The darkness seemed to envelope us, and what with no torch, or light of any kind, it was complete blackness. The moon cast its whiteness across the water, however it wasn't enough to see anything. The sense of isolation was intense, George.'
'Phew,' I said 'Go on.' I finished, impatiently.
'Well, what I did next was really stupid,' he said. he finished the remainder of his beer.
'What was that, Willy, I asked stamping out my cigarette in the ash tray.
'Well,' he continued, 'because of the heat, mostly, the odour coming off the fish was almost suffocating. The stink was making me vomit. Quickly, with one hand, and using the other to block my nose, I began throwing them back in the water, one by one. It seemed to take ages, as they'd slip out of my grip for one thing, and, for another, I couldnt see the darn things, so had to feel about grasping them, trying not to drop them, which wasn't easy
'Whats stupid about that, Willy. I said, somewhat dismayed.
' Attracts the sea tiger, thats what it does,' he replied, folding his arms, emphasizing the seriousness of his comment
' Sea tigers' I asked, staring back
' Also known as tiger sharks, one of the most dangerous to us humans.'
'Oh Shit' I said
'Came out of nowhere,' he continued, ignoring my remark. It was several hours after I'd finally emptied the boat of the fish. There was this sudden explosion of water, like something had been detonated, then the thing flew rite out of the sea, and crashed on to the boat, causing sides of it to splinter and crack.'
'This really happened, Willy,' I asked, believing it did, yet still having to question something so fantastic in order to satisfy myself.
'And, the tail fin of the shark saw to it, that I would never see again.'he said ignoring my question.
Then, I was silent, and amazed, simultaneously.
'You ever heard the expression, in the nick of time, George?'
'Of course I have,' I answered
'Well, it was in the nick of time that a lifeboat came along. Turns out the wife had called for help, after noticing the boat had gone off the horizon earlier that day. They had the shark with one bullet, Romeo with the other. Too much pain for her to carry on, at least, so I was told.
'Sorry to hear that,' I said,which sounded petty, when you consider the life of a dog, and the seriously endangered one of a human being.
' Were you in hospital for long,' I added, feeling less awkward.'
'Four long months, George. Just about everything was broken.' he said. ' Lucky to be alive, and lucky to have a wife who really cared. She never got on my nerves again. Well, almost never.' He raised a smile.
'You should find yourself one, George' he concluded.
'One what,' I asked, deep in thought.
'A wife, what do you think?' he replied.
'She could save your life one day,'
We laughed together, but I knew he was serious. Maybe it was about time I was serious.
On my way home, it occurred to me that I never did find out what breed Romeo was.
But, did it matter?