A Stowaway is Discovered! Me!
Current mood: A great burden has been lifted!
"Well boys, whatta think we should do with 'im"
"Toss 'im into the drink! Let the seagulls sort this one out."
The others didn't look so sure, but no one else had spoken up. I knew if I stayed quiet my fate might abandon me on the way to the bottom of the salty sea! Yet I could think of no words to plea my case, for only ten minutes earlier i was sleeping peaceful and calm, enclosed in soggy, coarse fishing nets.
"Maybe we ought to see what the captain thinks."
Yes! Ah hah! The captain! Bring him to me you foul-smelling urchins! Let’s hear from a stalwart man of command! Surely he would understand my plight and be able to find appropriate means for me to reciprocate my stay on his ship.
Captain McDonigan was closed up in his quarters, as I would learn many weeks later to be a common affair, but this warranted special attention so he was brought forth. He was a slender fellow and merely 5 feet tall, but carried with him a presence that kept the rowdy fisherman quietly respectful as he paced the deck in front of me, stroking the stubble of his chin.
“Well what need have we of you?”
“Well sir,” I spoke with a hint of arrogant pomp though my situation gave away the better of me. “I can bait the traps or keep them clean, I can cook and I can clean, make the beds and boil the tea. Give me a task, I’ll do it, you’ll see!”
“Our traps are baited,” the Captain bit back. “And O’Leary here keeps our stomachs full, the quarters are spotless and you don’t look like one to patch a hull. What else can you do?”
“I can sing”
“You can sing?”
“And this old accordion below deck will too, tonight, and every one after!”
Captain McDonigan furrowed his brow and thought it over, an odd response no doubt but I was out of ideas and knew naught the first thing about shrimping!
“I suppose we could use a break from some tasks, and the head needs to be cleaned and there’s always fish to be gutted.”
“He stays?” asked the burly one who had discovered me and had stood behind me the duration.
The Winters Carnival Comes Too Late Again.
If the carnival is no cure for a broken winter heart, at the very least it will shake some warmth into the crew; too many pre-dawns cracking ice from frozen nets while trying to keep all ten digits intact. They fan out and weld into the crowds like children, I stand back by the entrance with Captain McDonigan, who is smoking the yellowed butt of some cigarette he pulled from his shirt pocket.
“Maybe you should go have your fortune told, those gypsy girls can always cheer you up,” he suggests.
“I don’t much feel like it.” And I walk away.
In an unmarked door where the trails of wires come together I seek respite from the throngs of the deliberately happy and concerned mothers. The room is dry and warm and I shuffle down past unmarked crates and plastic wrapped shelves and pile my bitter bones on the top of an ugly blue trunk. Flittering a now useless gold ring between my fingertips, I stare at the jars behind the plastic drape in front of me. Stillborn sheep and pigs and deformed fetuses. Two-headed boy and an albino girl with blood red eyes reclining in their brine watching me as if waiting for me to speak.
“I tried everything I could,” I pleaded. “I tried what I thought was best. While keeping me safe from harm. It’s hard. It’s very hard and I just don’t have the resources to make it last.”
They returned their silence, doubting my honesty, doubting my emotions, doubting me.
“It’s not that I would sabotage something like that on purpose, I mean, look at me now. You think I enjoy this?”
But they do not budge nor avert their gaze and they know all the horrible things I said when they weren’t around. They won’t be played for fools.
I stand up to leave and can’t keep eye contact with the two of them.
“I’m sorry. I know I fucked it up, everything, but I’m too tired and too beaten to change it now so it will just have to stay in my throat and I’ll just have to learn to live with it, for however long that turns out to be.”
They don’t say anything as I walk away and they don’t forgive me.