Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Damsel in Distress: Winter 2004

Richard Diamond opened the chest to reveal a moth eaten coat he had been saving for the dreadful squall they seemed to be caught up in. The voyage had moved along safely thus far and all the crew were relived that the cargo had been safely stowed inside the hulk, so much so that they seemed to be squandering most of the food and drink on the way back.

On this day, it was if the ocean was coughing up phlegm in its’ distress, as thick foam breached the ship’s four corners, flying into blinking eyes and crossing the foredeck at unnatural speed. The weather drove the ship along so that it skipped through the waves in a fashion unlike a normal gravity hugging craft, lurching as it travelled quickly without course for calm or solace. Many windy gales were more like the roar that came from the bottom of the world than anything in the unassuming Mediterranean.

While it rushed, Richard watched as the speck denoting the mighty ‘el Maria aurora’ began to dominate the horizon, finding itself room to sit comfortably above the chaos below. The other ship seemed much more equipped for these onerous situations threatening catastrophic circumstance.

Richard felt strangely placid; the sky’s wicked pleasure would not work him up and he certainly had no time for his own ailing barge that now creaked demonstrably. He was no stranger to the complications suffered sometimes from the sea’s embrace and the other ship’s mastery increased his delight that he was not on friendly terms with its’ captain who he suspected as a crook.

Titan Casselle, who had adopted that name through the gambits surrounding both myth and legend, governed the Spanish vessel by chance rather than any real qualifications that could prove his worthiness to lead. He was a self made man and openly dared his crew to flout all his rules, without revealing the consequences or accounting that would be needed for such actions – the crew were an unhappy lot who were only marginally yet casually willing.

Titan would frequently pace the deck’s outskirts in a lazy manner and then candidly open a liquor bottle, guzzling the contents immediately showing no pretence to anything. Even when the rain was flushing down, he would not forgo his witch’s brew. Richard wondered what concoction was being consumed at this moment, as nature blustered around, shoving the boats with a decadent muster.

Coastal byways continued to lay in soft focus, as if complementing Richard’s present temperament. The captain explained the dangers that would occur if they were to run aground but Richard was hardly listening to his distress signals - he was making a fuss about their own chances to an uninterested witness. It irritated the captain no end to consider the Spanish sailing boat as supreme for it negotiated every peak and trough mapped by the ocean way with qualified ease. A rather ferocious wave made its way well over the bows, temporarily delaying the captain’s diatribe. Richard used this opportunity to find his way to the front to get a better view qualified to pander the sea’s panorama.

Titan was now conversing with someone on his ship but Richard could not make out this bearded newcomer who seemed to be very angry, roughly pushing as if his life depended on it. It was hard to make out in the mist but Richard felt sure that Titan’s predicament was unexpectedly desperate because just as he began to stand back, a gun was produced from the stranger’s bulky attire as if he was insisting upon a course of action detrimental to Titan’s immediate wishes. Both he and Titan began to spar. Their fighting acumen seemed limited, especially since Titan had drunk deeply that evening from everything available. He fumbled several times but the stranger spared him any direct physical pain but insisted on his gun being constantly aimed at the head.

To Richard’s astonishment, he watched as the mysterious man indicated to several other equally unfamiliar individuals to gather the tea boxes in order to jettison them over the side, as if to emphasise his quarrel. However, Titan now seemed unphased by the disturbance and even seemed to be quite jovial with the aggressor, even though his fortune was being systematically dispersed over the white powered waves. His enemy did not seem so amused by this turn in attitude and levered a silent punch straight towards his adversary’s double chin.

Richard’s head swam as the ship reeled over a particularly bad humped-backed surge in the swell and he steadied himself on the captain’s coat, who had appeared out of nowhere again to accost him with news about their impending doom and imminent salvation in heaven. But Richard was not rising to it, as he was ever-occurring preoccupied; nothing would overwhelm a ship he was on, so long as they avoided the land and kept away from the following ship – it was all so simple.

The captain was just in time to watch the goings on beyond in the Spanish clipper and observed the stranger swinging round to clout Titan neatly in the face, watching with formidable contempt the cut rudely adjusting itself on the mouth’s side just as the blood had began to run - Titan made no struggle. Meanwhile, other items that fitted below deck were tossed into the ocean in an effort to clear the ship completely. It would not be long before she was stripped bare without recourse to any merciful conduct. Other crewmembers were tied to masts and stared out by their guardians who refused to allow them cause to expect release - all this to the erratic upward and downward rhythms through the escalating sea storm surrounding the Spanish mainland.

“I’m not sure whether I should attempt to board and investigate” - Richard reiterated his intentions aloud showing just a hint of reverence, in case his captain should fear the smallest insubordination towards his decision-making.

“And I’m sure you are not getting on that boat to investigate”- rose above the din just as the sails from the stricken Maria Castile were pulled down and detached from their erstwhile elegant symmetry, now flailing, depriving a comforting functionality.

The sails were now spread about the chipped decking in distinct heaps away from the home masts to which they were used to hanging taught. Ropes were tangled up everywhere showing no directional managing or outstanding attachments in pursuit. And from the quarterdeck arose some flames heavily marshalled by the wind and in complete freedom to range above and below, engulfing the water conveyance, levelling her with ferocious intent. It had occurred to Richard that the other ship was suffering from a motiveless action that would only complete the calamitous suffering on board.

What had happened to Titan, no one could offer a clue as he was taken below through the reigning chaos and it was assumed he died in tandem with his carrying steed beneath the sea. Richard just stood and stared incredulous at the watery death and wondered what monstrous enactment had been reasoning this unmerciful action on board an ocean going clipper. His mind was still bent on going back to England and sorting out a heavy confusion that could not sort out at sea.

Mr captain was staring through his large telescope as if the stars would inform him what had happened on the stricken boat but they had been obscured by the unacceptable weather conditions. The once jaunty little fellow quickly fled the scene, disclaiming all profanities that had begun to dominate his lazy mouth just at the point the Spanish ship pitched under the swirling coverlets streaming in on the hull quite lucidly to fashion a burning edifice.

The emergency had happened on the Ms ‘Aurora’ but none had been recalled back to life, not even momentarily to bargain with the devil that would have been able perhaps spare their life if treated respectfully. Richard felt especially aggrieved about his captain’s reaction towards boarding the other boat, as he had categorically made no deliberate attempt at insubordination. Unjustly, from now on it was the captain’s intention to keep him under observation – he would not sanction any unauthorised movement from Diamond; growing paranoid each tractable hour Richard passed; noticing his sleeping preferences and nocturnal wanderings down wind from his own quarters every night occurring subsequently.

All in all, only the fishes knew the true extent of the matter beyond all hope on board the ‘Aurora’ as she sank beneath the ocean’s beam, into its’ open arms and dragged along the seabed gusting in the currents; to be washed by the waters from its’ sudden demise and at last enjoying the sanctity in release. The fishes would recognise the floating carcass that once bore someone’s soul, openly lost in this cool void – nature’s cathedral, far away from man’s delinquent sovereignty. And around the sea creatures swarmed in flocks assertively thrusting through the tea stained rivers fading into the landscape dominated by the immense and powerful Spanish naufragio.

Over and above the Galley doors were labelled tins that had been garnered from the Chinese merchants on the maiden voyage. They contained such stuff, which would harm the pulmonary system within any person who was determined to inhale ambitiously, and other materials existed which would bewitch through addiction and over usage. Richard suspected that the captain had already succumbed to such injurious inundations and that Titan was a willing disciple in tendering these goods to the far reaches of the world – after all, hadn’t the captain strode over to the ‘Aurora’ just before the storm claiming he needed a conference with the Spanish skipper? Of course, it was a distinct lie that this was the first time he set eyes on the ultra-modern exterior - as he had said at the time - they had weighed anchor together many times ago and exchanged visits disguised as courtesy to all outside investigations.

For Richard’s part he remained conscious that he was unfamiliar with the territory. How could he capitalise on his skipper’s greasy goings on if he knew nothing about the immediate area governed by the tidal forces? The country held no part for him and he grew uneasy that they still had some days before docking in Greenwich for the duration. It had been piping hot over the last few days and Richard had been growing drowsy and unaware in the real heat, suffering from extraneous nervous exhaustion but he invoked his metal, felling it unwise to encourage suspicion that there were vulnerabilities lying within him below the surface.

But it was his burning desire to expose these vulnerabilities that bit him to changing favouring disquieting impropriety. He was willing to talk about his difficult maladies but not in this hostile climate, so far away from silent intimacies, there could be no opening up or discussion regarding his pastoral situation. His personal loneliness through travelling current after current slid onwards and choked his pores like the substances stored on board and left him drifting the Spanish shores without any contact, save for a few obnoxious lines from the humdrum captain who didn’t even care.

Openly he knew nothing that such a pretty language could produce and that was exacerbated when Titan and his captain spoke Spanish secretly together in the typically frugal cabin space, such as the poor conditions they were all used to out there right in the moon’s stare. They both smoked until dawn and then froze as the wind set in – this became the last night before the Aurora’s abduction and flaming barrage, which came to pass before Richard’s discerning eye-sight.

He had picked out the key events but didn’t know any detail, while until he could grasp any local lingo; he was not going to make any surety in his progress towards working out the gamut of the problem. Meanwhile, the shadows would fall; his mental isolation gently immobilised his senses; mysterious urges plagued him so that he felt uncomfortable within his frame, or was this just his loneliness – he would not even understand it himself –not quite yet.

“You seem keen to challenge my authority”, said the captain.

“I just need to know what has happened in these waters”, Richard blindly stabbed, fully knowing there would be no reply to that, for the captain would not be quoted on anything he witnessed, especially his take on the demise that Ms Maria Aurora had suffered - he rarely allowed anyone below rank into the governing loop.

“Now if you will excuse me, I will attend to the steerage”, the jaunty old fellow then followed out, leaving Diamond a stone’s throw away from insisting the captain laid bare all his schemes precipitated with Titan the decedent Spaniard, or so he was perceived as such by all the ship’s staff.

Richard felt he needed to intervene into the intransigent profundities that were beyond the captain’s obtuse nature that now dominated the ship’s ultimate fate; the captain was promptly barking impossible orders around the stern at those who dwelt within the ship’s stomach, having dispelled themselves all over the wooden planking that sheltered their uncomfortable nightly slumber – they were servants tied to the vessel which would spit them out back onto the soil so personally beloved, although overridden with prejudice against their kind, making them akin to vermin and rats infesting from beyond the grave. It was a nervous situation to be sure – the captain dealt with their sort like dogs and they succumbed to him like dogs, always hungry but obedient to the natural pecking order of things.

Piecemeal Richard arranged together in his mind the events before coming on board ship. It was a hot day and the order of things was that he was to meet a significant lady in Covent Garden within a seedy-bold little café with nothing much going on save that whirling in both their minds, man and woman. Richard imagined he was some great legendary mariner such as Sindbad coming back to collect his lovely from the monster’s claw. Indeed, they were both turbulent with mutually admiring suggestions but no concrete evidence as to their love issued from their mouths and the parting with his imagined darling was rather wistful, wanting of rapture – and now he was all alone to ally his troubles with solace, rendering him hopeless to stand up to the captain’s insensitivities towards the Aurora’s national plight. Both parties on that day had masked their affection and now it grew to be a vast scourge that dominated Richard, who had never before warmed to an affair of love, but towards this particular lass on this particular day, he felt a never ending urge towards capturing her delight. It drove Richard’s mind insane that he never formed any lasting union with her, or kept any trinkets to serve his memory before his golden departure into the sun’s halo umbra. The heavens sang his praises each time he left her before but he had never said to her he would be back to praise her at some later time – he never thought out any final conclusion that would reach his satisfaction. It was a forlorn admittance that she would seek sanctuary in another closer friendship being mean with the time she gave to his fantasies. He knew she would too easily forget him afterwards as he roamed amongst open stars at night remembering her look, so he left her centre stage, going back to the sea’s embrace as he had always been doing everywhere he had been so far before – it was all a sin, an inversion, always back to the water’s plough. Why could he never leave off sailing away? It was never for pleasure did he voyage; more like self-indulgence did he seek this pastime?

“So how long are you going ”, she decided to go for the line completely.

“For some months or even longer”, came the thunderous answer coming involuntarily from Richard’s already deadened mouth, forming the sounds around the words so odious to his cause to settle away form her completely, having had enough uncertainty ascertaining her motives. Self-disqualification from romancing was always an option to him, as it seemed easy to run away from shaping problems that it caused, though the girl always came back for more of him after the correct time interval governed for property’s sake but he could read nothing into her interest.

It was a long week punching the air after their first kiss, but it had been a fragile embrace and not long lasting enough to be the definite faith people invested in each other when they first burst aflame in mutual worship – it was not enough. By now this token had become distant and did not seem to frame any lovers intimacy. He was not to approach the altar and would leave the country without his queen, fully excommunicated just to serve a rotten clipper captain delving amongst the furious sea, a junkie himself to solitude. Richard’s newer conviction was that he didn’t need anyone such as her to serve as kin but in the mid Mediterranean flow for it was all too late for any revoking action and self-banishment was his destiny in flight. He could not reverse his decisions, only in his mind could he turn the clocks back and regret his dismissal from her side.

“Well, have a happy time”, was all she could say and they would never do as the last uttered words he could remember that dropped like pearls from her full lips, all wavy, near-silent, quivering with amusement – yes, she had been amused by his predicament, just amused and nothing more.

Though, why was there question and doubt in his mind? Had she not befriended him quickly and disclosed to him all her secrets alphabetically unsoiled by public presentation, which nobody else could ever be in confidence and now, she quickly showed demonstrably that she didn’t care for him. He was an island of a man from now on – how was that to be cruel? But what if she did have deeper feelings for him above the normal applicable dutiful, amiability ready for exploration - had it not been up to him to grasp it when her intentions had been deliberately offered politely and sedately?

Richard, now a ship stray, stared glumly at his long tatty sea boots as the clipper continued to stride forth through the froth oblivious to the courageous lives on board that steered her through the wrathful passage. This steady preoccupation was now taking up his energies. In some strange way he blamed himself for loosing the girl and leaving her at the table in the cafe safe without a backward glance, striding away, confident that he didn’t need her or to see her again forever.

He had composed a letter to her in his mind that was never sent, “Dear Alice, as my feelings run deeper for you than is possible, that is why I am no longer able to see you without expressing these affections in person and thus with cowardly intent, force myself away from you for fear from the rest, your affectionate friend Dick Diamond”. Except that this letter could never be sent and existed in his head to comfort him in a wretchedly poor situation.

His desires remained unspoken and they became an obsession. So not being able to possess every calculated portion from her attractively skinny body, had warped his mind into a useless infatuation beyond even his mindful capabilities, sweeping him away quite casually towards a dreaming sustenance. He was unable to shield himself from immunity, such was the blight caused by the malady: An arching madness he resolutely dismissed as anything approaching permanent love for the madam in question, just a dream world consisting of suppositions, maybes and maybe-nots.

The man’s thinking was kept to the same quadrangle area along the deck each day, summoning his mind to establish why he had let the catastrophe on board the Spanish clipper go on so readily without plausible rescue attempt. Soon time became the watcher upon his sorrow.

He was sometimes waved from his rest by the mute from below who signalled him to rise so that he could clean the area that had been so dear for him in the wake of the crisis. It wouldn’t have mattered much, only Richard had lazed there silently for days and he was becoming to look like a stain on the woodwork. Frequently the snorting cleaner would work around him but now he really had a job to do. While Richard had been through mysterious sleep, he had developed nausea for what he had not done for the Aurora, just as the sunshine broke from beneath the cloud layers to shower the boat with radiant glowing dust uprising from the air stream – a sight that brought mercy from a hitherto godless extreme over the last week’s course.

His awakening was deathly and shooting up a gaze to the fresh sun that allowed the earth to spin by consent around and around without breaching contract. Richard stalked about deck in sympathy to find something further to steady his own relentless orbit. He had been allowed to lay there drunk for ages and no one had made actions to revive him from his stupor or even to address the man verbally. It was if it didn’t matter that a key worker could be allowed to drift away from his duties in such a manner. Richard felt that he had been dammed by the whole ship and had been condemned to enter into the contemplative universe that only a vagabond would seek.

“So you are awake then”! Said the captain after what had been abusive word parade streaming continuously, mutually offered.

“I’m singularly out of sorts”, came the reaction from Richard after the door was shoved closed behind them both. The captain shot another glance that meant more thunder.

“As from now, you will remain in here until I feel I can trust you; I believe you to be a spy working for that traitor Titan, who I believe has faked his own doom in order to survive secretly elsewhere. He plans a mischief against me”.

“The very idea is preposterous”, came with a widening of the eyes, “I do not know a word of Spanish if you please! How can I negotiate in such roguery sir”?

“Simply by suggestion, by a look perhaps”? an answered framed by a question.

“I have not been off this ship for six month hence. How can it possible for me to acknowledge something from Titan you didn’t know”?

The captain paused for thought and then began again to muster his argument.

“You mean to hoodwink me drabbly sir, and I’m not countenancing it”!

The captain broke off to achieve an exaggerated contortion with his facial muscles, which divulged his fury. It was if he had compositely broken his requisite temperament.

“You will stay here for the duration…. there is no sense in letting you loose about the ship causing havoc and reporting back everything that happens to the Spanish infidels. I’ll just shut you up in here until we port at Greenwich”.

It was clear to Diamond that the captain was hiding a dark secret and he guessed it wasn’t for such as him to know anything about it; it was time for him to curtail his maritime adventure and endure the captain’s censure. Out twisted a key from the captain’s pocket, which was held up to the light to inspect its eligibility to do its job well.

“I’ll lock you up leastways”, was the parting shot, and the only one the captain could resort to administer righteously.

“But I’ll shall have it out”, was the unheard reply under his breath solely into his neckerchief.

These games, Richard knew well by force of habit as they were often played amongst the mates but humour had lately run dry and he did not wish to be barricaded in a cell by this tyrant consorting with paranoia, still further away from the hub, whilst remaining silent. Besides, most times the Captain was not to be taken seriously in his capricious hyperactivity but to dally with his pride was always a maritime mistake. Unfortunately, Richard had piqued him when he questioned his judgement before the ailing Aurora and as she sunk the captain had decided to depose the lad from active duty in case of any reformation silencing his authority. Richard’s self inflicted drunken stupor gave him just the excuse he needed to lock him away for an extended period until the bolting guns would be heard from Greenwich dock once more.

Richard became a forgotten charade, a mere gesture, all played out as the skies darkened into night, the shade of day. As the mates circled around the prowl they were nervous, as there had been a let up in the wind that had left them with one days grace to breach the mainland. Survival and money were everyone’s chief concerns and the captain was not easy on his feet as they were still wasting time in the wash of Spain.

Night officially begun its’ iron domain that would not relent unless the fractured dawn could be encouraged enough to rampage the heavens. The ship heaved steady but below the decks there issued long coughs and spluttering noises from the tired sailor’s mouths; they couldn’t sleep though seldom stirred. Others kept watch over their destinies in the stars but switched their attentions to earthly matters dealt up in a dull clay pipe to smoke, mumbling a few obscenities just to reassure themselves through the night, gaining succour from their rasping voice addressing the moon unsheaved.

Splish, splash, splosh, and during early hours, while the few were now reposing soundly, one strong hand broached the ship’s side and one tall man cast himself over onto the deck surface, sprawling madly on the wet planking like a squirming sea animal in its’ death throes. He was enormous, not withstanding his bulbous underbelly, jiggling about horrendously as he rose up on all four limbs. Water gushed off defining his shape as a hulking marine beast but in actual fact this miraculously was a man desperate in his intentions.

Slish, slosh inside his boots as he urged himself along, then leaning silently to peek through a window. Ribbons of flushing water glided onto the floor from the boat sides to form small pools, so much so that he would slip and try to take hold, though not to fall suddenly. Shrugging darkness belied his coming: The man was not able to see through the dour gloom ahead because the deck area remained unlit, although his eyes shone out like two hollow beacons, suspended in mid air.
All the water in his eyes obscured his view but he tottered and swung with his hands to propel his heavy frame, swaying as he traipsed towards the steering helm gaining momentum gradually without fail, gaining inch by inch as he felt his way down the narrow side alley in slow progress. Then by swerving he gained access to an open door and barged into the Galley area where he knew he had items belonging to him but quite honestly had no knowledge if they were still kept there.

Once wiping off the last drops from his temple he crept under the table and peered at the boxes and utensils laid out obsessively neat. He recognised the boxes that he had dealt in unfair trade with the captain, as it was exclusively he who had carried out the shady deal. It wasn’t tea that fixed this particular transaction but the silvery mercury threads readily known as quicksilver by appearance. He knew it to be stored in the tins above the doorframe; luckily there was no one around to bar his access to the said items.

This skulking man remained a mystery, with his fists ready to pound anyone who gave action to his desperate wanderings. Just to look into the face would affirm the convictions that any doubter might oppose: a man that had endured arising hardship, though hell bent to carry out his bequest after death.

The tins came rattling down and he dragged them over to the door, not wishing to pause for stealth or to check his passage even casually. As he was in possession of his beloved objects, he felt to tarry would strike fatal to the cause. Mechanical eyes with energy and monstrous intentions scanned the way and he sped down wind towards the sailors, some were cavorting in order to reach out the way of his path – the sheer momentum would set to kill a straggler; his eyes forbade real reproach. The sailors felt a crazy terror as to challenge their jurisdiction over the living, recognising the figure rushing towards them to be the loping Titan from the late ‘Maria Aurora’.

Most called and called but their voices were spent on the winding breeze across ship.

Titan opened his tins and the silvery liquid swam out all over, covering a vast distance. With a spring he followed the wide sweep with fire from the oilcans that he knew were always stored next to his mercury tins. Hence the whole sidewalk was deeply engulfed in gliding flames, as several more cans of mercury fluid were dispensed around the inner gunnels to fester, fume and asphyxiate real men, up above and down below the decks. None could rise above the suffocating mixture as the tyrant had done his work exceedingly well.

Men cascaded overboard diving in teams, clutching their throats, not knowing where to wonder but seeking solidarity with the seas frozen embrace, it would act as a solid death. Frantically, the captain barked orders but nobody seemed to hold dominion, some still beating the air, gurgling with fire in their throats and diving from the conflagration that still needed to take hold around the ship.

With Titan still rampaging around and around, no one took notice when a second figure crawled over the beam and straggled the capstan with a heave and a cry; she was in pain, though it was not particular physical exertion that impeded her desperately. Catching the light she looked barbarous as if she was about to strangle someone for pleasure but it wasn’t for her pleasure, instead half crazy with the same tyrannical emotions that Richard ventured to sweat out from himself during the vicarious weeks after the tragic sinking, both seeking to douse the inflammation that so goaded them towards nowhere or the abyss: a love that refused to pass.

Drippy, drip and whomsoever would be watching would see that this woman was sparkling from the wetness uppermost on her shoulders and over her face. Not wholly slim but still her body kept faith with a clandestine benediction that remained uncovered. She had been born from the sea, ripped out from the nadir. She now wanted to face her champion, the person who had brought about her demise.

Titan was still enraged and filling up with fury. He pressurized the infernal fire by sticking everything flammable into the blazing extremes so that its energy could not be countermanded. As it travelled, it became a monstrous entity consuming the rigging, slicing its victims alive with unnameable gusto without compromise. Just then at last he saw that the captain was at last shaking a lifeboat loose as if to unhook it from its harbour with panic ringing in his ears and his life nearly forfeit.

“You English pigs are nothing special, you should have be our slaves when we had the chance”, was the gruffly utterance from Titan as he stormed up the aisle to transact a furious tide of abuse on his old chum who was lying surprised by the untimely resurrection, who immediately echoed his sentiment in plain language – their partnership had indeed run out abruptly. Their deeds cum crimes were finalised in this single suspended moment, one man built like a fortress and the other in his captain’s regalia like a military general deciding the standoff.

“Since Shanghai, you have been an idiot. I will not yield to you,” was the captain’s bitter argument; he hoped it would not be his last to cast his elemental resentment against his former ally,” See if we cannot settle this before the fire wipes us both out. Are you not angry because I am so?”

“I’m not interested anymore in your inclinations, I hear you speak on diplomatic terms but I’m not attentive – you have shown cowardly instincts and it shall be your punishment that I destroy your life with a quick clench of my fist”, he said, “if it was money we should have spoke but to quickly away after stealing my treasure would only deserve my wrath after friendship”. Titan spoke from bitterness, slightly entranced in resentment and regret adding his own spittle as opposed to the bitter waves gushing forth over the sides as if to indicate everyone’s common fate.

The howling was torturous and the old captain continued his preoccupation with freeing the small boat from its efficient shackles. Then like a jackal Titan pounced and tore at his hair whispering in his ear further nastiness. It was all that he could do to level his enemy after stealing away in the Indian Ocean with the fresh supply on board - The seeds from the red flower ready to use with faithful evocation, torn from the oriental garden originally intended for homeward custom but for these two desperate felons, an addiction they could nor shake off in imagination’s bluster. They had both made a deal to smuggle and make money; unfortunately the boredom ate away at them during the many months on board, poisoning them thoroughly beyond measured time.

It was the one that may be called blazingly attractive, in elegant guise, which the colourful female appeared within the storm and rancour. Just a silken mop on top and persevering eyes, almost challenging but beautiful now and again, tempted to shine momentarily to quell the darkness’ pleasure.

She reached out with both her limbs and took their hands respectively and began to shout above the din, her mouth shaping words that seemed reaped from both terror and shameless declamatory. The lady had walked the sea to find these men who had destroyed her so readily, being determined to bring them to justice quickly for tying her up in the living world as a figure-head to be shorn from her perch as the ‘Maria Aurora’, now long since sunk, stifled beneath the waves.

She indeed had drowned and had become the sea herself but her soul lived on to persuade the men that had lashed her up in their rigging just to die for their own messy conscriptions. One had been her lover; the other betrayed her to bargain with him; they had respectively been under the urge from the opium and she dealt a surprise with one blow, baring her teeth to withstand the pressure their bodies made while they broke in the waves.

Back in the safer English harbour, tall ship captains spoke candidly about the two boats suddenly destroyed around the deadly seas, around the Spanish coast – it was all circumstantial mystery. One survivor had remained in a shabby frock coat, calmly returning on a vessel requested to rescue the survivors. He was originally found in a small lifeboat with his dead captain stored on board, first spotted towards the shore clinging to the bobbing figurehead, a single remnant from the ‘Maria Aurora’ – a girl petrified in wood with defiant expression. The captain was already dead before he was laid belly up, posing for the heavens as if to beseech them to take him back.

Richard watched on with nonchalance, having lately gained a more balanced temperament although his better judgement had been dangerously challenged during that time abroad, governed by his infatuated desire for requited love that he did not get. She was nothing more at this moment than a memory – her spell had finally dispersed over the ocean forever to fix his remission.


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