Some of you, actually quite a lot of you, read my piece of flash fiction, The Captain a few months ago. It’s a stand alone piece with beginning, middle and end, but it also left open the possibility of continuation. So I thought it would be fun to add a chapter and see where that takes us. Then we’ll add another chapter and maybe we’ll end up with a bigger, better story. Maybe not, but worth a try. So, here’s chapter two:
Nathan was swimming. Sometimes he swam on his back, sometimes he swam breaststroke, most of the time he used a sort of sidestroke which seemed to provide the best progress for the effort. He was swimming southwest because that was where the nearest land lay. He knew this because the area was familiar to him, he’d consulted the chart several times a day on the boat, he knew which way was up; he could visualise the route to Cape Augusta, around twenty-five miles from where the Captain had tossed him overboard. This was the closest his route to Colon came to land but he was certain the Captain hadn’t been in benevolent mood when he’d tipped him over the guardrail. Nathan was supposed to die.
Years ago, Nathan had read a true account of how a single-handed sailor had fallen off his boat and had to swim for his life in the Straits of Florida before being picked up by a fishing boat. The guy had swum for maybe thirty-six hours and covered over forty miles. The snag was, he’d been carried by the Gulf Stream whereas Nathan had no such beneficial current to speed his progress. Still, he was a good swimmer and he’d keep going until he hit land or sank. Simple.
Night fell and he continued to swim. He’d fallen into a sort of coma in which he didn’t have to think, just take one stroke after the other, working like a metronome. It was essential he didn’t think because then he would panic. It was at night the big predators came out to hunt and he would surely look a tasty morsel crabbing along on the surface with his peculiar motion, like an injured turtle. A blank mind was the best defence against insanity and Nathan had allowed himself to fall into this state so that when his arm and then his head encountered a solid wall it took a few moments to realise he’d bumped into the side of a boat. A stationary boat. A fishing boat. Salvation.
Nathan stood on the quay at the tiny fishing port of Santa Maria. He wore only a tee shirt and a pair of shorts, he had nothing else, but he had survived. His saviours had given him food and water on board their boat and now, as the sun climbed into the eastern sky, Nathan had to decide on a plan. His Spanish was rudimentary and the fisherman had virtually no English but they’d managed to convey that they had summoned a local resident fluent in both languages and he assumed this to be the elderly lady walking towards him now.
“Good morning, I believe you’ve been swimming” she said, “I’m Teresa Tullo.”
Nathan shook her hand.
“Pleased to meet you, Teresa, I’m Nathan. Yes, I’ve been swimming. I fell off my boat a couple days ago and, luckily for me, these fine people picked me up. I’m hugely grateful, of course, but regret I have nothing to give them to demonstrate this. I have only the clothes I’m standing in.”
“I think we need to get you cleaned up, rested and fed before taking you to the authorities in the town. I imagine they’ll want to take you to the US Embassy in Bogotá. Don’t worry about rewarding the fishermen, they understand, they’re just pleased to have been able to save you.”
“I swear to God I’ll come back and thank them properly, but first I have to get back to the States. I have to find myself.”
Well, you can see where this is going. A revenge story, no doubt. Maybe. Feel free to toss out suggestions.
Here’s some more:
Although swimming isn’t the most expeditious of transport systems it had managed to get Nathan to the airport at Bogota before the Captain had even presented his credentials at the customs and immigration office in Panama. It would be at least three weeks before the Captain reached Nathan’s home port of San Diego. For Nathan it would be just a few hours. After a good night’s sleep in Teresa Tullo’s spare room Teresa had driven Nathan to the police station in the small town of Baquello and helped him to explain his predicament. From Baquello he’d gone by train to Bogota to seek help from the US Embassy, clear his “illegal” entry into Colombia and then fly home. Teresa had lent him the train fare and the US embassy his air fare and some spending money. Nathan realised just what a lucky man he was to have defied the Captain’s attempt to drown him and to have encountered such generous and helpful people who he would repay as soon as he could.
At the Embassy he’d persuaded the consular official attending his case to email a photograph of him and his teeth to a dentist near San Diego. The dentist was able to confirm the picture was, indeed, of a patient known to him as Nathan Redman and the two gold fillings on the left side of his lower mandible confirmed it. The embassy issued Nathan with a temporary travel permit and told him to get a new passport when he was back in the USA. By the time the Captain arrived in San Diego, Nathan would be himself again. Wouldn’t the Captain be surprised?
I think we’re working up to a gunfight at the OK corral, aren’t we?