Final Words

by on May 30, 2023 :: 0 comments

photo "Ocean Fade" by Tyler Malone

“I’m taking the boat on a maiden voyage this afternoon,” Thomas announced.

“Honey, you only picked it up yesterday, shouldn’t a used boat be checked over before it’s taken out on the ocean?”

“Checked out, shmecked out. You’re just like your dad. It was fine before it was taken out of the water, it’s fine now.”

He looked over the top of Sarah’s blonde head at the three towheads sitting at the breakfast table, all dressed in pink. “I’ve never been able to do a thing right, according to your dad. I’m going to prove him wrong. The guy I bought the boat from gave me the coordinates of his hottest fishing spot and what time they hit the hottest. It’s a fair way out, but it’ll be worth it.”

She looked away. “What are the coordinates?”

“Nope, then it won’t be secret. You’ll tell your dad and he’ll look into it and pooh pooh it. I have my phone GPS to get us there. I have a Garmin in my backpack for backup. Now, how can your dad say I’m unprepared. Ha!

His wife looked at the floor. “Please stop saying those things. Papa loves us all. More than you know. He’s just very fussy about things.”

“Don’t hold supper; I’ll be back late.”

She watched from the window as Thomas took three tries to back out of the driveway. A tear streaked her cheek.

Papa was waiting by the road when Thomas pulled up.

“I got the boat, you got bait, Papa?”

“My girls call me Papa, how about you call me Clint?”

“Fine,” muttered Thomas.

“Speak up, I don’t have my hearing aids in on account of the water.”

“Yes, sir.”

•••

The silent drive ended at the public boat launch.

“You sure this thing is up for the ocean?” Clint asked.

“I was assured it was. I even have his secret fishing spot. We’re heading there.”

Clint stood expressionless as Thomas had the boat in the water after two tries. Bait and rods in hand, he walked down the ramp and silently looked the boat over. “Permission to come aboard?”

“Climb right in, Clint.”

Clint stepped into the boat, then held the boat next to the pier while Thomas parked the truck and trailer.

“Off we go,” Thomas said after he boarded.

•••

After twenty minutes, Clint asked, “Is the engine always this loud?”

“Dunno, maiden voyage. I thought we should do it together.”

Clint surveyed the boat. “Life jackets?”

Thomas pointed to a cubby on the port side of the boat.

Clint looked and turned back. “There’s only one.”

“You go and put it on, there are boat cushions in there that double as life jackets.”

Clint looked at Thomas. “No, they don’t, they are throwable cushions for a person wearing a life jacket.” Clint looked toward land and couldn’t see any.

Thomas clenched the steering wheel harder. “Look, I’m trying. Just enjoy fishing for today.”

An hour later, Clint spoke up. “Uh, how much farther is this secret fishing spot?”

“Maybe 10 minutes.”

“Looks like a storm is brewing. It’ll get dark early.”

The steering wheel was clenched harder.

Thomas slowed the boat down and declared, “This is the spot.”

“Do you have an AIS transponder? I don’t suppose you let Sarah know where you were going?”

“Christ, Clint, can’t you relax and have a good time?”

Clint bent over the bait bucket and said, “I take that as a double no.”

Thomas’s fists clenched without the steering wheel.

•••

After a couple hours of zero bites, Thomas said, “Sarah packed some sandwiches for us. Grab one.”

“I think I might. I could use a break from fishing.”

Thomas could feel Clint’s judgmental eyes studying him and he grabbed his rod tighter.

“Take a break and have a sandwich, Thomas. They’re good.”

Thomas sat down and chomped away.

“It’ll be dark soon and that storm looks like it is closing fast. We could call it a day.”

“No way. Bad luck on a maiden voyage. I’m going to catch something.”

Clint’s long sigh caught Thomas’s attention, not in a good way.

“I’ll just relax here,” Clint said.

“Suit yourself. I think I’ll move the boat a few hundred yards. We might have drifted away from the secret spot.”

Thomas started the motor, and it made an awful racket, then died.

“Wow, doesn’t sound good, does it.”

“She’ll be fine.”

“Let’s hope so. No one knows where to look for us.”

Thomas nearly ripped the steering wheel off.

Thirty seconds of cranking got the motor started. The racket was even worse. Thomas goosed the lever and the noise increased as the boat started moving.

The explosion blew Clint out of the boat and into the water, buoyed up by his lifejacket. Thomas was hanging onto a seat as the boat was rapidly sinking. Clint watched as the boat sank beneath Thomas.

Clint swam to Thomas.

“Oh my God! Oh my God!” cried Thomas.

“Thomas, stop thrashing so much.”

He did as he was told.

Clint unzipped the lifejacket and put it around Thomas.

“What the …”

“No one knows where we are, no one knows when to expect us to return, there is no AIS signal..,” Clint stated calmly.

“I know, I know.”

“There is only one life jacket between us. I put it on you.”

“What? Why?”

“Thomas, take care of my girls.”

Clint turned and swam away.

Thomas bobbed on the surface and watched Clint get smaller until he blended in with the setting sun.

editors note:

The love of a father is measured past his family: it’s when he sees the world could be a family worth saving. ~ Tyler Malone

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