The boat rocked violently back and forth, side to side, tipping with the current and against it. Marshal who was at the helm had his coat zipped up over his nose, and if his hat hadn’t blown away his face would have been completely covered. He couldn’t stand the cold, and when the ocean spray drenched him once more, he hollered for Zebb to come on deck.
Zebb was tall and thin with curly red hair. He was lucky his eyes were the pale blue they were, lest his beard would have overwhelmed his face and his looks would have been lost in the bush.
Marshal wiped his face with his arm, holding the helm as steady as he could and looked out ahead. He squinted and then widened his eyes.
There was Zebb, standing at the end of the pulpit.
“Crazy bastard,” Marshal yelled. “Get away from there! If you fall in I’m not coming after you!”
Zebb could barely hear Marshal over the wind and the waves, though Marshal was not one to go unheard. But he stood there, with the elements rushing toward him, smiling. He loved the cold. He loved the way it would wake his senses and leave him shivering. It was discipline for him to resist the chill, a welcomed challenge. But the wind was far too strong to resist, and rain was pouring, beating down like the sounds of heavy drums, echoing in his ears.
Zebb turned and walked back to the helm to join Marshal.
“What do you think you were doing up there?” Marshal yelled in his ear.
Zebb laughed his laugh, brushing him off as he grabbed the helm.
“It’s my turn,” he said, taking the wheel from Marshal, who waved him off and went below deck. He was tired and wet, a familiar combination.
His Vessel needed fixing. He wondered how long she would hold up and if it would be best to dock at the next port or continue toward the Hudson. Docking would have certainly been best, but Marshal did not want to extend the trip any longer.
He lay down on his cot.
There were people waiting for him at the edge of the bay, one person he had been apart from for far too long. A round, flushed face with gold stripes tangled in her ashy hair. Maybe she would be wearing that dress that cinched her waist in just so. The one with the little flowers on it that played peekaboo when caught by the wind. He thought about her as he drifted off.
The boat would not dock tomorrow.
Back on deck Zebb was trying to be careful about the night watch, thought it was easy for his mind to wander. Tonight, it was carrying him far away, through familiar woods. He recalled what it was like to lie in the grass, on a cool summer night. How delicately the green would brush against his cheek while the wind blew, tracing the stars in the sky with his fingers, looking for Orion’s Belt. It was a fantastic sort of bliss for him. Yet his last night spent camped beneath the stars was far less euphoric. His neck was sore and his throat seething with pain, and as the rain beat down on his tent, he shifted in his sleeping bag trying to stay warm.