The Captain, chapter two

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:

The Captain

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.