flash fiction by Rob Adams asm0dous
The waves tore at the rocks on the beach as the sound of water crashed over them. This particular part of the beach was already giving into the pounding water and slipping into the sea. Not surprisingly, it had only been eleven months since the Navy had set about rebuilding the break wall and just four months since they competed the additions. Erosion, polar caps melting - some blamed it on Global Warming and greenhouse gases- but those people just did not understand the sea like most sailors did. It was not some cosmic event or even a change in weather patterns that caused the land to be devoured by the sea. There was no astrological or astronomical event neither influenced by the lunar pull nor some make believe natal chart readings. It was much simpler than all of that. It came down to predator and prey, survival of the fittest, and some might say revenge.
If one looked close enough they could tell that the sea was hungry and the land was tired of fighting. This is how it was since the dawn of time and this is the way it would continue until the end of time. The sea was the omega to the land’s alpha and since life came from the sea it only makes sense that the sea would want that life back. Of course, tell that to people caught in hurricanes, tsunamis, water spouts, or the occasional rogue wave and they would call that person insensitive. But that is what the sea is insensitive of anything except her. The old buccaneer/sailor adage still holds true to this day that the sea was a cruel mistress.
Overhead sea gulls squawked their annoyance as the sailor continued his journey homeward. Shore leave they called it; more like forced retirement from all that he loved. John was a fifteenth generation seaman; hearty, adventurous, and down right cantankerous. He claimed to be descended from the pirate Edward Tech, better known as Blackbeard, but most people just laughed at his attempt at bravado. Then again, he could tie a square knot better than most able bodied seamen and knew a darn sight better than most boatswains did about how to navigate rough waters. He had all but memorized Robert’s History of Piracy and Buccaneers and knew most sailors shanties, dirges, and canticles by heart. Yes, the sea called to John and he embraced her going so far as to making her his only permanent mistress.
Ahead he saw his destination, a little brown one story building on the Nantucket boardwalk. This is where the Andrea Gail had sailed from those many years ago before she too returned to the sea and it was where John had decided he would sign on to another ship. Lobster season was over but tuna season had just started and John could already feel the call of his demanding mistress. Tonight, however, he was going to get good and drunk and enjoy the local hospitality for what it was.
He opened the door, the sounds and smells of the barroom quickly overpowering him, and approached the main counter where a gaunt man stood cleaning glasses. The man looked very out of place in the tavern of fishermen; clean shaven, close cropped hair, and a perfect smile – not even a tooth was dislodged from a rogue boom. This guy was no sailor. John cleared his throat and smacked down a fifty on the table “Give me the usual Mark.”
Though the smoke he could make out who he came to see, Lora sitting pretty as she could considering the fact that she was already five months pregnant. John turned towards the lady and nodded. “Hey sailor!” her voice reminded John of the seagulls outside. “Hello, Lora where’s Frank?” “Frank? That no good son of a seadog! I was hoping you might know. If you see him tell him that his wife’s pregnant and his kid will be born with or without him.” John took his drink and chugged it, slamming it with a satisfying plunk on the bar. “Bring me the pitcher Mark.”
He then turned back to Lora “Well, if you happen to see him tonight tell him I am interested in his offer. I already miss being out there.” Lora chuckled “I tell you John, one of these days you have to find yourself a girl.” “I already have.” John stated matter-of-factly “and she’s a hell of a lot meaner than even you can be.” Mark, setting the picture of amber on the table laughed “Is that even possible?” He ducked just missing the mug that Lora lobbed his way as it smashed into twenty pieces on the wall beyond.
“Oh Come on honey, those things are expensive.” A rather portly man entered the bar area wearing fisherman’s slops, a thick beard, and smelling of fish. He walked directly up to Lora and kissed her. “Hey there good looking! Miss me?” Lora tried to feign annoyance, but it was clear by the twinkle in her eyes that she had indeed missed her husband. “It’s about time you got here!” She jumped up off the chair and embraced him. John, altogether knowing where this was going walked over to the lovebirds. “Um Frank, I’ll take that job you had on your ship.” John pushed up, gently moving his wife to the side so he could speak with John “Alright John, it’s yours. Be there first thing in the morning.”
John walked back to the bar and sat on the stool and immediately gulped down the remainder of the pitcher. “Another one Mark, it looks like shore leave is only going to be tonight for me.”
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