Short Story: Exposure ~ An East Coast Harbor south of Cape Hatteras by LJ Frank

Exordium

Sitting in a stationary lotus position I’ve found to be a comforting illusion. The Earth spins like a gyroscope in the infinite void and the ground I stand, sit and lay on is in constant motion. Movement and existence possess a symbiotic and poly relationship. And uttering “Om” may lower the body’s blood pressure, but my thoughts are another matter. And the efficacy of positive thinking is a speculative process best suited when you have the inherited genetics or at least an available imagination. Still, whatever works to truly experience the moment in a positive fashion…well, it’s a situational challenge.

The Text-Messages

Are you available to boat sit? Respectfully, Seth & Elana.

Sure. When?

How soon can you get here?

5 hours.

Late afternoon?

4 to 5pm.

Thanks.

Welcome.

PS: Do you have a passport / a vaccination card?”

Yes. Something I should know?

Meet near marina entrance. Map attached.

Affirmative.

The Drive

I excel at boat sitting as I did when I was sailor. Particularly, when a boat is tethered to a dock.  Chance has been endearing accomplice in my life. And in the same breath was told I was born for the sea. And apart from aging and being weary of the un-pedagogical structures of academia, my participation in corporate capitalism has been minimalist, for true wealth have been my voyages in life.

With a navigational map outlined in my head I drove to the eastern resort coastal city. My friendly acquaintances and I were originally introduced through a boater’s grapevine.

Arrival

Pulling into the marina parking lot I mused that the determining factors in displaying wisdom are intangible.

Meanwhile, I spotted Seth standing between a building and a dock. We waved to each other as I grabbed my duffel bag and brief case containing a laptop computer and then locked my car. I removed my face mask briefly about 15 feet away and smiled. He did the same.

“Elana couldn’t make it. There’s the Patience.” Seth noted, pointing his finger to the sailboat. I silently acknowledged to myself that I was up for adoption upon eyeing the sleek two masted sailing vessel.

“We appreciate your flexibility.” He smiled.

“One of my appealing attributes.”

We toured the boat and spoke about expectations and length of time I was able to watch over the boat. I accepted the agreement and was a licensed temporary Captain. A short contract, included the amount of money to be exchanged for services rendered and a couple places for signatures. I signed the contract. Elana’s signature as the primary boat owner was already affixed to the agreement. He handed me a business envelope with a few bills inside. Seth, I learned was Elana’s attorney. Trust.

Exposure

I went down to the galley and made myself an appetizer of goat cheese, crackers and poured myself a glass of wine, returned to the deck with plate and glass in hand and breathed in the sea air.

“Hello.” A husky voice came from the dock. “May I come aboard?”

“Sure.”

“Good evening. I apologize for the late hour. I’m from the port authority and my brother-in-law owns the marina.”

“Congratulations.”

“Well… allow me to fill you in.”  He suggested that the boat upon which I was sitting was sold the week before. In fact, Elana has been in a court battle with a family member over ownership. The marina owners only concern was the overdue docking fee. If unpaid the boat would be “held hostage” so, to speak unless it was taken out to sea immediately,

“I’m just a temporary boat captain.”

“We know who you are. The authority has no problem with you. You see the boat’s past voyages to Honduras and Columbia were of concern. Supposedly the cargo was medical supplies. But I am not here officially. Nor am I going to check the cargo. It’s probably already been moved.”

“I could call the people who asked me to boat sit.”

“Elana and Seth? Let me put it another way. It’d be smart to be prepared to depart the marina at a moment’s notice. The boat could be anchored off the coast or perhaps somewhere south on the Intracoastal waterway and at this point who would be the wiser, while the ownership worked its way through the courts.”

“Decisions can be complicated.”

“I wish you the best.”

Departure

And just as the sun dipped below the horizon a woman appeared on deck. “I’m Elana in the flesh.”

“I noticed.”

“Start the motor.”

“What’s this about? I was just visited by…”

“I know. Untie the ropes and steer the Patience toward the Intracoastal. I probably don’t need this,” she stated as she put a pistol in her shoulder bag.

“No, not at all.”

“We’ll pick up some crew who will meet us along the way as we make our way down the coast. I’ll be your first mate.”

“Ok. May I ask?”

“What?”

Where are we headed.”

“South, towards the Keys.”

“I see.”

“Sight is a good thing to have as a Captain.”

“Thanks.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you.”