"Welcome to the Cruise" said the ferryman as I boarded the ferry to Katiera Island. I was out on my own searching for New Friends Again since the girl I’d been seeing had told me that it was Ladies Night, for the fifth night in a row ! The ferryman read out the safety drill; without enthusiasm because, as he told us, "These Are the Laws - though I've never known a boat run into trouble on this crossing". The omens weren’t so good - the storm clouds were gathering and it looked like they would shortly Bring the Rain. I was lonely - a feeling that I feared would Stay with Me Till Dawn.
But then there was a girl's voice behind me and turning I saw a wonderful Southern Smiles. I caught her eye and she said "I’m Sukarita - what can I do For You ?".
As we chatted I feltThe Rise of Heart - perhaps I wouldn’t need to put out the Nightline after all.
The boat had reached Katiera Island.Living on the Coast had given me a good Understanding of the weather - I could see the Rain on the Hills on the mainland as I had predicted. It wouldn’t be long before the storm hit the island; the wind was picking up already.
To shelter from the elements we entered theChniatown restaurant. We ordered something to eat from the waitress, Molly but our luck was out. She told us “The Choices You've Made are all off.”
Sukarita said “Let’s go back to the mainland - I’ve got aSportscar so we can escape the storm.”
Fates Wheels seemed to be working against us; the waves were getting Higher and Higher and it was too rough for the ferry to return.
“We’ll get back across - Come Hell or Waters High; literally” I said, “Stay here and I’ll see what I can do.”
After much searching I found an old boatman who might be prepared to make the trip back.
“I could do it” he told me, “but The Flesh is Weak at the sight of that sea - but if you double my normal fee…”
“You got it” I said, and added “You are the Phoenix to save my day.”
I returned to Sukarita in the restaurant and told her the news; and the price.
“How much !” She cried “I’d have driven a harder bargain - why didn’t you call me out ?”
“You were the Place-holder in case we had to eat here after all” I answered - pointing to the queue of guests now waiting at the door.
We chatted as we waited for the boatman to ready his craft - the Green Jeannie.
“I live in the posh suburb” she told me, “I call it The City of Swimming Pools”.
“I know that area - where the locals put on their Blackfurs whenever they leave their mansions - even to visit the launderette.”
“But I’ve never been happy living there, or anywhere for that matter, you know I never know where my Heart is.”
The boatman interrupted us to say that the boat was all set.
From the moment we left the shelter of the harbour we knew that we’d made a mistake - the storm was at its height. “I’ve heard of shooting rapids” I told Sukarita, “But tonight we’re more likely toShoot the Moon!”
The boatman remained calm and to reassure us he said “I'm not a Loser - Heaven can wait for me until I’ve got you safely to the other side”. But I could see that the storm had hidden Beacon Hill - the navigational Information that he needed to steer us safely home.
“If you’re wrong then we won’t beLiggers at your Funeral” I thought - but I kept it to myself.
Suddenly a wave broke over the boat and we were awash withWater in Motion. My head banged against the side and I lost consciousness.
I dreamt that I was desperately seeking myLove on the Border between life and death; but that she was Late Again and I realised that Now there is no Love at all for me ever again.
I woke with a start and shouted to Sukarita “Don't let me Sleep - I might not wake up!”. But Sukarita wasn’t there - she was no longer on the boat and I wondered if I had in fact been dreaming.
FACE TO FACE with the
boatman; who was struggling to keep control of the boat.
PUSH PUSH PULL PULL,
the wind and the waves were fighting him all the way - but I was too blind
“Do you feel all right?” He asked.
“HOW DO I FEEL!” I shouted, I couldn’t help but SHOOT FROM THE HEART, “Where’s Sukarita!”
“Perhaps you need to accept that SHE DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, that the NIGHTHAWKS have taken her away to ANOTHER COUNTRY.”
No, I couldn’t accept it and stood up to face the bringer of the bad news.
“Don’t WALK DON’T WALK” he shouted - but at that moment the Green Jeannie crashed onto the rocks.
JEANNIE NO” the boatman cried - but it was too late as the hull split asunder.
FALLING into the open
arms of the deadly sea thinking
HOW SWEET IT IS to
lose my life so soon after losing my future love.
But my subconscious pulled me to my senses - “WHO DO YOU REALLY LOVE ?”
“Not YOU !” was my reply - but then I thought of a GIRL WITHOUT A NAME, a girl I’d yet to meet but with whom I could develop a LOVE LIKE FIRE. I decided that I did want to stay THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN.
I saw the boatman - twenty yards away and holding onto a plank from the hull - I struck out for it RACING AGAINST TIME to reach it before the ocean dragged me under. I just made it. I clung on - safe, if only until hypothermia struck!
The storm had lifted and the boatman turned to me to say that he could just make out the HARBOUR LIGHTS, “I’LL BE THE ONE to swim there and get help” he told me.
“DON’T GO” I said,
COME - the lifeboat, the coast-guard, the helicopter - even
International Rescue !”
“Not if they don’t know we’ve out here !”, and he added “LET ME BE THE PEARL that marks your change in fortune.” And with that he swam off to get help.
He only just made it and as soon as he had reported my predicament he collapsed with exhaustion. The lifeboat came to me, I was pulled from the water and returned to the harbour on the mainland.
We spent much effort TURNING STONES to find Sukarita but we found no trace - and more bad news followed - the old boatman who had swam to save my life never came to.
My brother and sister had been summoned to help me - but I found it hard to TAKE IT ALL in, and the SOUND OF MY SISTER’S TEARS didn’t help ! In truth I was gutted.
My brother, DOMINIQUE, tried his best. “Where has your spirit gone” he said, “You used to be one of the MODERN KILLERS, you’d RUN TO WIN whatever hurdles were put in your way. Come out with the lads this evening and we’ll cheer you up.”
“No” I said, “Your friends, ALL THEY CAN DO IS TALK about cars and girls. I need to be alone.”
“OK” he said, “But WE’LL GO DREAMING of you coming back to your senses.”
I was lonely - a feeling that I feared would
STAY WITH ME 'TILL
DAWN. “Deju vu” I thought - remembering what I was thinking
immediately before I met Sukarita. Pondering on this phase I remembered
that my French teacher Mr Bailey had told me that
ONE DAY I WILL LIVE IN
FRANCE. In fact he said that so often to encourage us to learn the
language that me and my friend
LIAM used to refer to
I was well gone by this point - drifting down the road, gesturing aimlessly with my right hand, pushing people aside with my LEFT HAND, TALKING to myself, GOD ONLY KNOWS how I didn’t end up under a car - and perhaps only God does know. I was saved by a impression of a figure in white standing in front of me, trying to get my attention. I focused my eyes and found that I was outside a church - facing the notice board where a poster proclaimed “JESUS WAS A CROSS MAKER”.
“I COULD FEEL YOU CALLING ME BACK” I said out loud “but why ? There’s nothing for me here anymore.”
I decided that there must have been a reason for my survival. I looked up and down the street to see where I was and what was happening. A short way away there was an open doorway. I walked towards it not knowing what to expect.
Suddenly a man ran out shouting “Keep out, OUTLAWS, I’m calling the cops !”.
He ran off towards the church. Without a moments hesitation I entered the open doorway.
Inside there was a Man and a Gun !
I was tempted to Fly straight out but I told myself to Keep Control. I can read Books of other peoples heroics at any time - but this was my opportunity. I didn’t feel frightened - at least not when I realised that the man was pointing the gun at himself not me !
“What’s going on” I asked him.
“Sara's Gone ” he replied, “and I cannot live without her”.
“Gone,” I asked, “Where to ?”
“Vivien , her pianist friend”, he replied, “She loves his hands, not to mention his fortune ! But she’s in a Wonderland because he’ll never lover her like I do.”
I decided that the best thing to do was to tell him my story - of crossing the sea on a Ship (a slight exaggeration), crashing into the rocks, losing Sukarita, and the old boatman Swimming to get help - but losing his own life in the process.
I then tried to calm him down by allowing him to talk about himself but to imagine his LIFE IN A BOTTLE being viewed from outside.
“When did you realise she was leaving ?” I asked him.
“This morning - I woke up from a BAD DREAM to see her packing her case.” And he went on “I shouted DON’T LET ME SLEEP if you are leaving”, (deju vu again I thought), “but I was SHOUTING AT THE BIG WALL that had grown up between us.”
“So the relationship had already gone wrong?” I suggested.
“Yes we had argued a lot recently” he agreed with me, “In fact I can put my finger on the moment that our relationship died. She had been chatting with Vivian at a party and afterwards I’d flipped and shouted at her that I NEVER LIKED THE WAY YOU LOOKED at other men.”
“But she was a JOAN OF ARC to me and I can’t live WITHOUT LOVE” he added.
I told him some more about our PARALLEL LIVES, how both of our loved ones had put us at our life’s peak but that our losses had brought each of us down from our TWO MOUNTAINS.
“All the time”, I said “We were UNDER THE ANGLES and we still are and there are things for each of us to do, for others, in this world.”
He understood what I was trying to say and without fuss he handed me the gun.
I felt that it was time to MOVE ON but as I left the house a Reliant Robin drew up alongside and a hand beckoned me to get inside. SWALLOWING my pride I did.
Inside I had the shock of my life - the driver was Sukarita.
"What's the matter - you look as if you are DANCING ON CHARCOAL" She said.
"I thought you were dead, and you abandoned me; and you said you had a sports car !" I said - pointing at the Reliant Robin's bonnet.
"This is a sports car." She said, "It's the FUEL INJECTION model. Now we're late - MOTHER wants to meet you tonight."
"You're taking me home to meet your mum ?" I exclaimed - the whole day suddenly brightening up.
"Not my mum you idiot - 'MOTHER' - the code name for the head of the Secret Service, THE GIRL I WANT TO BE I might add. I'm a SECRET AGENT in case you hadn't realised. She wants to interrogate us BOTH, ALONE about what happened earlier. I'll warn you now - he's a bit of a BULLY."
I realised that the sun had disappeared behind a LITTLE CLOUD and I felt a cold lump in my chest - THAT'S WHERE MY HEART USED TO BE.
I never did likeDAYS LIKE THESE. I was BREATHLESS as if there was a LION in the car with us.
“I don’t like the idea of theDRIVE you propose. Your ‘Mother’ sounds like a LITTLE DIVA. DO YOU think he’d only be satisfied when he’s had ALL OF ME ?”
“Well” she said, “you might take me to be some sort ofINDIAN GIVER. But I think that I could write you off as THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY”
“Thanks” I said, “turn around andDON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU for ONE MINUTE.”
She did and started to count “1 2 3...”.
Roderick Hoffman with additional words by Judie Tzuke.
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