A brief nocturne? Time enough for tea?
Steve Howe All’s A Chord
Part III: The House With No Windows
Povai Bay, Bora Bora, French Polynesia 24 December 1996
The French Clorox bottle lay at anchor in the southeast portion of the bay, a few hundred yards north of Bloody Mary’s, a popular watering hole on the main island named after a song of the same name from the musical South Pacific, and Henry Taggart was sitting in the cockpit updating his own personal logbook. He’d maintained this book since in junior high school, primarily to keep track of his sailing adventures but also as a kind of roaming diary, logging his life’s milestones along the routes of his journeys. The first time he’d talked to Doris Day, the first time he’d taken his dad’s Swan out by himself – on a date, for God’s sake – and yes, his first kiss that evening. All these big and not so big events were in this book – or series of books, because he’d filled four logbooks so far – and while he enjoyed keeping them up to date, he also enjoyed thumbing through them from time to time. Sometimes looking back was a good way to make out the road ahead.
He always filled in the usual information, the ship’s longitude and latitude, course and speed and water descriptions such as depth and other features like reefs or sandbars, but he also spent a fair amount of time painting a picture of his surroundings. He enjoyed writing about the people he sailed with, or at least he usually did, but on that score he was a little less sure this time out. Ted Sorensen was, if anything, a little meaner to people than his reputation suggested, yet his daughter was, if anything, the real mystery. She was weird, as in really strange. The first thing he’d noticed was her eyes; huge, dark brown and watery, heavy brows that somehow seemed to remind him of a silent movie stars eyes. They were gorgeous, sensuous eyes, all the more so because they took everything in. He watched her watching her boyfriend and her father’s girlfriend, the nymphomaniacal Dina Marlowe, and Taggart had found himself wondering how long it would take for Marlowe to make a move on William Taylor. The way she stared at the kid’s crotch was almost too much to endure; he’d wanted to laugh the first couple of times he saw that show but really didn’t want to rock that boat.
He’d gone along with Ted and William on Moorea with one of the location scouting crews, looking for just the right house to set the scene for a pivotal moment in the proposed shooting script. The house had to have a prescribed set of features, all clearly established in the original novel, but other more intangible elements had to be factored in, as well. Sun angles for establishing shots, especially sunsets. A needed rain scene had to have good views of the jagged peaks with clouds clearing the peaks. So the house had to have good porches. Ceiling fans a must. Then the fun part. Find the owners and hammer out a working arrangement. And Sorensen berated the kid incessantly, bullied him until it looked like the kid was about to break. Even the scouting crew noticed, and Taggart wondered why no one said anything. Was Ted just trying to run the kid off? William obviously wasn’t Jewish – was that the reason why? Or was Sorensen just a hard taskmaster? Or maybe that was just the movie biz…?
Taggart included all these observations in his log, sometimes drawing little pictures on the margins, almost cartoons that seemed to capture the essence of the moment, in this case little colored pencil pastiches he created on the fly. ‘Gaugin on a Clorox bottle,’ he scribbled under one drawing of the boat; ‘Love will find a way,’ he wrote under a doodle of Debra and William sitting up on the bow, their feet dangling on either side of the anchor rode.
They’d seemed lost up there, sitting side by side yet miles apart. Taggart looked at the kid – all hunched over and miserable because her old man was using him like a punching bag – and it all seemed so unfair. The kid had never been out of the States before and here he was in paradise and so bummed out he couldn’t even look around and see where he was. And yeah, she was an empath – but so what? The kid didn’t need an empath right now. He needed to get laid, get drunk, get a million miles away from Ted Sorensen, but she was smothering the kid with all her clinging empathy and she couldn’t see it. She couldn’t see that she was enabling her father’s continuing assaults, that his love and concern for her was keeping him from standing up to her old man.
So Taggart had just convinced Sorensen and the nymph to go ashore for dinner, and after he’d run them to the pier in front of Bloody Mary’s he’d gone back out to the Clorox bottle and given the kid a BIG fuckin’ Viagra and some Tylenol then gone for a swim.
When he swam back to the boat about an hour later, he found them sitting on the bow, talking hand in hand – again. He swam up to the bow and chatted with them, noticed her knees were seriously red and grinned, then asked if they wanted to join him for a swim.
The sun was about half a fist above the horizon but the water was warm, and Taggart held onto the anchor rode while the two went below to put on their swimsuits – and about that time he thought he felt a shadow passing underneath the boat so he slipped his mask back on and ducked his head under the water.
Nothing, just a few little reef fish and a ray skimming along the sandy bottom, then he heard Debra laughing and looked up in time to see her pushing William off the swim platform into the water, then diving in after him, almost landing on top of the kid. He swam aft, back to the stern, and he found them there – face to face with a large male orca.
Taggart got to William first and grabbed his arm, pulled him to the swim platform.
“Just be quiet,” Taggart sighed. “No sudden noise, okay?”
He swam back over to Deb – who seemed almost entranced by the male’s eye – and when he reached out to take her arm she shook herself free.
“Leave me alone,” she whispered.
“I can’t do that,” Taggart said.
“You have to leave now. I’ve been waiting for this.”
“What? What are you talking about…?”
“I’ve seen this happen, in my dreams – the last two nights.”
“I’ve seen a lot of shit in my dreams, Debra, but this ain’t no dream. That’s a killer whale, and they don’t call them that because of their friendly disposition, ya know?”
But then several female orcas appeared a few hundred yards away. Taggart counted five short dorsal fins and they were headed their way, and fast, and as they closed the distance the male moved between Debra and the boat, cutting her off – but when Taggart began to swim around the big male he shifted position to block him. When Taggart tried again the male swam over and nudged him to the stern, in effect pinning him there.
William leaned over and pulled Taggart up onto the platform and they watched in fascinated horror as the females surrounded Debra and began swimming in ever tightening circles around her, the churning water a kaleidoscope of frothy phosphorescence. Debra seemed caught inside a strange pulsing light, her arms overhead and her body slowly spinning in the vortex the females were generating.
The sun slipped beneath the horizon and slowly the sky filled with stars, and it was as if the baby forming inside the womb of this night was destined to make his way among this ever expanding field of stars. And now Debra drifted in open-armed embrace of the sea, dreaming the passing shadows of those who had traveled this way before.
© 2021-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | adrianleverkühnwrites.com all rights reserved, and as usual this is just a little bit of fiction, pure and simple.
Yes Love Will Find A Way