Hi Folks. Don't take this one too seriously. It's just fun. Thanks to Mikothebaby for her usual excellence in editing. Just sit back with a tall, cool glass of whatever and let's take a trip.
As we strolled along the dock holding hands, I looked at my wife Natalie. Despite the fact that we were approaching fifty, she was still as beautiful to me as ever. I guess we needed to do more things together to re-kindle the flames of love into a roaring fire again, but the embers were still alive.
I looked back at the parking lot to assure myself that my other great love, my 2013 Mustang Boss 302 was still okay. Then I grabbed Natalie's hand and we started walking along the docks.
Besides the other strollers, there were plenty of people on the docks. There were games of chance to play, different types of food to sample and lots of performers. I saw jugglers, stilt walkers, singers, musicians, clowns and even a mime. I hate mimes.
We hadn't made any concrete plans or a schedule. The point was just to spend a day together and rediscover whatever we'd lost. I didn't think that we'd lost anything. Maybe I saw it as a case where over time our hot burning romance had simply cooled to a level of heat that we'd be able to maintain for a longer period of time.
It's almost as if Natalie thought that we were still supposed to be constantly smooching on each other like when we first met. We'd been together for a long time now and we were no longer young and fresh. It didn't mean that I loved her any less or that I was less attracted to her. In fact, I probably loved her more.
Over the years we'd become more important to each other. We'd become more a part of each other's lives. It would be far more difficult for me to walk away from her now than it would have been shortly after we met.
My viewpoint about the whole thing was different than hers. She seemed to think that we had lost the passion in our relationship. I was sure that we'd only lost the desperation and the uncertainty.
I took Natalie's hand and pulled her closer to the water as the mime approached us. "Take that Marcel", I thought, with an evil grin on my face. Apparently he was a better mime than I thought though because he was able to convey exactly how pissed off he was about being snubbed, solely through the expression on his face.
"Ooh, let's go for the lake tour," giggled Natalie. "It looks interesting."
I looked at the boat with a mixture of skepticism and outright scorn. The boat just didn't seem to be all that seaworthy.
"Come on Rob, it'll be fun," cajoled Natalie, sounding more like the young woman I'd fallen in love with than she had in years.
I looked at the boat again. This time I looked at the two man crew. The captain looked like a former athlete who'd gone soft. He still had all of the bulk he'd had before, but he hadn't retained the definition or hardness of his muscles.
He tipped his hat and smiled at us. The longish, greasy hair and yellow toothed smile reminded me more of a biker's mom than it inspired me with any degree of nautical prowess.
The only person I could think of who made me less inclined to feel safe was his crewman. The guy was a one-man screw up squad. Even as he walked up the gangplank to stand by the captain who was standing by the safety rail on the deck, he tripped over seemingly nothing and almost fell overboard.
And the boat itself? It was called the Guppy? It looked like it had to be left over from the war ... the Revolutionary war. There was no way I was getting on that boat.
"Come on Rob," she said. "I need my big strong husband to protect me from the dangers of the sea."
"Don't worry, sir," said the captain. "It's only a quick tour of some of the interesting places around the great lakes. We show you some of the coolest hidden islands and some of the most famous wrecks in history."
"Do you show the area where the Edmund Fiztgerald went down?" I asked.
"Are you high?" he asked. "I've been sailing these waters since I was about 12 and I'm still scared of that area." He looked at me like there was something wrong with me. I noticed that Natalie was looking at me like I'd done something wrong too.
I was about to just grab her hand and go home, when the crewman stepped in. "What I like is all of the mysterious islands in the lakes," he said. "Some of them are uncharted and some of them are haunted. In fact, there's one of them that people say an Indian chief lives on, that boats can't get anywhere near because of the high winds and crazy waves. We could probably sail past there."
"But wouldn't we be in danger of sinking?" I said. "This boat doesn't seem to be very seaworthy."
"Nah," said the captain. "That island is only dangerous in November. In the summertime like now, it's perfectly safe. But give it a few months and that place is like hell on earth. There are winds so strong they'll strip the paint off of your hull. I've heard about rogue waves that come out of nowhere that are fifty feet tall and move like watery freight trains."
"Wow, have you ever seen one of them?" I asked. Once again he glared at me like I was an escaped moron.
"If I had, I wouldn't be here talking to you now," he said.
Again I noticed that my wife appeared to be siding with this lard-assed, tuna smelling boat jockey.
"The rumor is that the Indian guy ... I mean Native American guy is some type of Shaman and he's in love with the spirit of the great lakes. I've heard of weird, purple lightning and other worldly screams coming from there in the fall. Some people say that those conditions are what wrecked the Fitzgerald. I've also heard that the storm followed the boat from that island to its final resting place. So we might not go near where the Fitz went down, but maybe going near the island is the next best thing."
I nodded my head and paid for the tour. I figured that if I had to spend the next three hours with my turncoat wife, I may as well be doing something interesting.
I looked at the passengers that were already aboard and saw what could best be described as a truly motley crew.
There was a group of four women in their mid-twenties who'd already begun the expected whispering and giggling. Two of them were reasonably nice looking, if average. The other two also fit the expected stereotypes. One was the tall, well built, blond goddess type who needed to check her lipstick every seventeen seconds. I imagined that the real reason for her to pull out her compact and turn away from everyone that often was because she was using the mirror to look around and make sure that everyone could see her.
The last member of their party was the fat girl of course. And while not comically obese, she was rather stouter than all of her friends and she obviously worried about it. She wore slacks instead of shorts and a long sleeved blouse to cover her thicker arms. But, of course, in the grand old tradition of her kind, the blouse was low cut enough that it highlighted the assets that she was the most proud of.
Seated somewhere near the chattering women was a guy. That's the only way I could describe him. He was just a normal guy. If I wasn't already me, I'd have thought that he was. Like me, he was in his mid to late forties. He was average sized and built neither skinny nor fat. His hair, like mine, was brown and had yet to succumb to either baldness or graying. In short, he was just a guy.
In the area close to the guy was another woman. She was a very light completed black woman. She seemed to be alone. She was very attractive and probably could have been very beautiful if she'd bothered with makeup or any of that stuff. Her hair which was long and thick and silky was pulled away from her face and tied into a very severe bun. Her clothes were very loosely fitting and did nothing to either add to or take away from her body. I couldn't really make out the contours of her shape either. I could tell from her arms and hands though that she was relatively thin.
Across from her but clearly not with her were two nerdy type guys. They were both small with huge glasses and were locked in a discussion about something that sounded like schoolwork.
The captain and his first mate started getting the boat ready to leave the dock. Just as they started to untie the lines holding the boat to the dock, two more guys appeared.
They each handed the captain some bills and then stepped on board the boat. They looked around and then settled in somewhere near the women. They were both bigger guys and both relatively young. One of them walked around looking as if he thought he ruled the world with the other as his sidekick. It almost seemed as if the second guy was paid to agree to everything the big blond guy said.
I did notice that Natalie seemed to take a particular interest in the two latest arrivals far more than anyone else on board. I got up and went and sat on the other side of the boat. A few moments later she came and sat near me.
"Nat, maybe you should go back to where you were sitting," I said.
"Why, Rob?" she asked.
"I'm beginning to see your point," I said. "Maybe we have drifted apart over the years. I guess I never saw it. I always thought that everything between us was fine. I guess I thought that we still loved each other and though we'd gotten older we were still the same people."
"But we are the same people," she said. "Maybe we've made a few mistakes. Maybe we've put things in front of our marriage and we need to get back to what's important. That's what today was about. We just need to spend more time together and rediscover what it was that we fell in love with. We need to put the past behind us and step into the future together. I think that we've grown apart a little bit, but not so severely that we're not the same people."
I looked at her and she seemed to be sincere. She seemed to be pleading for this, but I just didn't understand any of it.
"Well, if we're different," I began. "Maybe we should do what Steve and Edie did."
"Rob, we don't need that," she said. "Our case is nothing like theirs. And I don't know if you still speak to Steve, but Edith is miserable. All of the crap that she's gone through has aged her before her time and she's never happy anymore."
"We just need to get to know the people that we've become over the years," she said. She hugged me and rubbed her hand on my cheek the way she used to do when we were first dating. I let out a gasp as I realized that it had been years since she'd done that. It's surprising how much little gestures like that can mean.
"There was something that I wanted us to talk about today," she said. "But perhaps with the mood we're in it should wait. Let's just have a good time and see if the captain and his "Scary Great Lakes Tour," can entertain us."
"We may as well talk about whatever it is," I said. "I'm really not in the mood for any bullshit. I'll take my bad news straight."
"Rob, it's not something ... When too people have been together for a long time they experience life at different rates sometimes and..."
"What you're saying is that we've grown apart like you've been hinting about all fucking morning," I snapped. "And to make a long story short, you're bored with us so you want a divorce. And since the kids are both out of the house and off to college, this seems like a good time."
She looked at me with absolute horror in her eyes.
"Rob, why the hell would you think that I want that?" she asked. "You need to know that more than anything else I want us to be together." she grabbed my hands in hers and looked into my eyes.
"Rob, we've done our duty to society. We raised two great kids. Sure we've both made some mistakes, but you're still the man I want to spend the rest of my life with and..."
"I can't tell," I said. "What kind of woman repeatedly takes another man's side over her husband? I'm not sure I want to be married to that kind of woman."
"What are you talk ... Rob, you aren't jealous of the Captain are you?" she laughed and squeezed my hand even tighter.
"Rob, I was about to tell you that we've raised our kids, our mortgage is manageable and we've done it before we even turned fifty. We're riding the gravy train and headed for the home stretch, but I think we see things differently. I think you want for us to continue saving money and you intend to keep slaving away at your job for another eighteen years until you're ready to retire at sixty five."
"That's what normal people do," I said. She cut me off with a look.
"That's why normal people die or get too old to really do anything with their lives," she snapped. "Today is the beginning for us, Rob. It's not the end. This isn't me telling you that I want a divorce. This is me telling you that I want us to get to know each other all over again. I want you to cut back on your hours and start using some of that vacation time you've got coming to you. I want us to take trips and go camping and visit every little oddity we hear of. I want you to make me remember exactly why all of my girlfriends think you're so special and so cute. I want us to spend the rest of our lives falling in love all over again."
Before I could answer her, there was a blast of both vibration and engine noise as the good ship Guppy pulled away from the dock. The movement of the boat wasn't as smooth as you'd expect, but both the captain and his mate seemed to be used to it. As we moved further and further away from shore, safety and my Mustang, I got used to the erratic nature of the boat.
"It's not a car," I told myself. So I shouldn't expect it to feel like a car.
Lake Superior is huge. In terms of surface area it is the world's largest fresh water lake. It is also the world largest "true" lake. The only lake that is larger is the Caspian Sea which isn't really a lake. It's a sea; but since it is completely surrounded by land, it narrowly meets the definition of a lake.
"The lake is so large that if we got lost it would take them days or weeks to find us. The lake covers more than thirty six thousand square miles. That is a lot of area to search," the Captain said. He droned on about how the lake touched three separate states and a different country.
"But don't be afraid folks," he said as he grinned. "I know this lake, as well as I know my own bathtub."
That brought a laugh from most of the passengers including Natalie, but it didn't do much for me. Two separate thoughts went through me. The first was that the Captain had a pretty foul fishy smell about him. His first mate didn't have it. So perhaps the Captain didn't know his bathtub that well. The second thought was that perhaps the lake WAS the Captain's bathtub. It would explain why he smelled like a damned fish.
True to his word, for the at least the first hour and a little bit more we headed in one direction away from where we'd started. I did notice several minor course changes based on the relative position of the sun but the more we drove, the more the Captain's tales of the Great Lakes drew me in.
Several times during our excursion, I did notice that the first mate, Gill, looked at the sky. As I've mentioned, the passage of the Guppy through the water had never been smooth but about eighty minutes out, I noticed an extreme increase in both the choppiness of the water and the roughness of the Guppy's movements.
When we first started out, the sun was high in the sky and there were few clouds. During the trip, the sun had gone behind the clouds several times and with the heat of day we were glad of the respite from the sun's baking rays. But now, the entire sky was full of dark angry clouds. I realized that Gill had seen those clouds a long way out and they had been what he'd been watching.
"I hate to cut our tour short," said the Captain. "But we're very close to a certain mysterious island that I warned some of you about. These waters that approach that island are known for being unpredictable. And even though we don't have that island in site, Superior seems to be in a frenzy. I probably shouldn't have spoken about that island out loud."
At first, I thought he was just ramping up the drama, to cover up his ineptitude. What kind of sailor doesn't watch the weather? Even Gill, who I was sure wasn't wrapped too tightly, had noticed the clouds.
But even as the Captain spoke, lightning crashed, very near the boat. Huge raindrops started to drop into the water all of a sudden and all of the passengers abandoned the deck for the cramped areas of the crew quarters below deck.
The weather began to increase and the small boat was thrown around. I had to hand it to the Captain and Gill. They were bravely doing their jobs and it was them more than anything else that kept that boat from going under. Wait ... I should rephrase that.
Perhaps it would be better or at least clearer if I said, "The weather started getting rough. The tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow ... I mean the Guppy would be lost.
Looking at the frightened and angry faces of the passengers around me, I could tell that we were all regretting getting on the Guppy.
I heard several people say the same things that I had. They voiced the same fears. The boat hadn't looked as if it was in the best condition and the Captain smelled like fish. Gill appeared to be a moron at best. And now our lives were in their hands.
"I'm going to sue," said one of the women.
"Who are you going to sue?" asked the man I'd described as just a guy. "The Captain is probably the boat's owner and from the looks of things the boat is all he has. If the boat goes down what are you going to get? Maybe you'll get the ownership of a sunken, worthless boat?"
"Yeah, then they'll charge you with all kinds of fines for cleaning it up to prevent damage to the lake's ecosystem and all of that kind of crap," said one of the nerds.
The nerd next to him didn't say a word. He just turned green and ran over to the small sink in the galley area. He immediately emptied the contents of his stomach and did so very loudly.
He may have been the only one to vomit, but he wasn't the only one who wasn't enjoying the voyage. As the boat rose and fell and crashed into the waves, we all screamed and begged for the trip to be over.
"Are we anywhere near that island you told us about?" I asked, scared shitless.
"No," said the Captain. "That island is at least a half hour from us."
Over the next few minutes, the passage of time and my senses all seemed to go haywire. I'd looked at my watch and though it seemed like hours had passed, it was more like 5 minutes. The normal up and down motion that the boat took as it passed through the water was gone. The boat now moved in every direction and orientation and seemingly randomly.
The boat's bow was often pointing straight up and other times it pointed straight down and at an angle. We were thrown about the cabin and against walls with what seemed to be some type of malicious external intent.
Natalie held onto me for dear life and I did everything I could to reassure her that we'd be fine. We weren't having as much of a conversation as we were randomly spewing groups of words. We'd bounce off of a wall and I'd say, "Wow! That was a big one." Then we'd slide to the floor and I'd scream, "They're keeping us moving forward."
I tried to keep up a brave front. I did it more for her benefit than for my own. I did notice that a lot of the men were letting it all hang out though. The big muscular guy was screaming like a little girl. I couldn't hold it against him though. He was young and he realized that he and that all of us might die.
Letting it all out was healthy. The nerds were screaming too. The women were screaming almost as loudly as the muscular guy. Then I noticed two things, the first was that the guy who looked like me was doing exactly what I was. He was looking for the best and strongest places on the boat to hold onto and positioning himself so that each time the boat moved he improved the safety of his location.
The single woman was doing the same thing. That astounded me more than anything else. After that I was too shocked to notice anything as the boat crashed into something that felt extremely solid and a huge ripping sound blocked out everything else.
I looked at the wall across from me and saw a huge gaping hole in the side and there was water pouring in through it.
"We have to get out of here," I shouted. "Come on, back up on deck. With a hole that big in her side this boat is going down." As soon as I said it, the muscular guy pushed his way past the women and jerked the door open and ran up onto the deck. I helped one of the plain women to her feet and the fat woman as well. Then I got Natalie up and onto the deck.
The captain hadn't insisted that we wear life jackets, so I started looking to see where they were stored.
"What do we do now?" the muscular guy asked me. He looked frightened.
"I'm trying to find the life jackets, in case we have to go into the water," I said.
"Yeah, me too," he said. He started opening cabinets. The Captain and Gill were busy trying to find something to patch the hole in the ship and also trying to connect with anyone on the ships radio to relay our position and request aid.
I pulled out my cell phone and noticed that there was no signal. The rain had let up but the high winds were still buffeting the boat around like a cork in a bathtub. When you added to that the fact that the boat had a very distinct list, I think we were all a little afraid.
One of the women found the life jackets. "I found them," she yelled. The muscular guy quickly made his way over to her, pushed her to the side and then grabbed a life jacket. He quickly put it on and then started handing them out to everyone else.
It was about that time that the boat struck something really hard. The impact was so great that we were all knocked off of our feet. I saw the captain literally leave his feet and land badly on his upper back and shoulders. There was a sickening crack sound as he landed and then remained still.
We all grabbed onto something to hold onto. Natalie grabbed me and sat by me whimpering for a few long scary moments. During that time we noticed that the boat had stopped moving. I crawled over to the captain and called Gill. I felt around on the captain's neck until I was sure that he had no pulse. I looked at Gill then and shook my head.
"The Captain's dead isn't he?" whined the muscular guy. I nodded.
"Oh this is just great," he whined. "How the hell do we get home now?"
I looked around and noticed that the boat was actually aground. I climbed over the side and noticed that we were on a fairly large land mass that we'd somehow run into during the storm. The others also got off of the boat and followed me. We were on a fairly large beach.
"Gill, do you think there's any chance that we could patch up the hole in the side of the boat?" I asked. He just looked at me.
"Why the hell are you asking him?" asked the muscular guy.
"Well, because he's the Captain now. So he's in charge. We need to make a plan and figure out how the hell we're going to get off of this island or signal the authorities to let them know that we're here," I said.
"We don't need to do any of that, Grandpa," he said. "Everything is automatic now. As soon as the company notices that they're out of communication with one of their boats they'll track us down. All we have to do is to sit back and wait. And to tell you the truth, I wouldn't trust a word that this moron has to say. He and his buddy almost got us killed. Some Captain that guy was."
I ignored him and started to walk around the beach. As I got away from the group I noticed that I was being followed. I turned to see Gill, the guy, and the pretty black woman all following me.
The guy who was just a guy caught up to me. "Are you scouting the island?" he asked. I nodded.
"We need to know what's here just in case the rescue that steroid guy talked about doesn't come. I know this is stupid, but there wasn't supposed to be a storm this afternoon. There is supposed to be one this evening and another tomorrow afternoon," I said.
"George Ignikowski," he said holding out his hand.
"Robert Sinclair," I said. "George, I think we'll cover more ground if we split up into two teams. Gill and I'll go East, you go West with this lady. Does your watch still work?"
"Yeah," he said.
"Let's meet back on the beach in an hour. We probably don't have more than three or four hours before the sun goes down. The storm will probably start by then if it hasn't already. We're looking for a cave or any type of natural formation that would make shelter easier to build in a short amount of time."
He nodded and we left. As Gill and I moved around the Island he seemed to come out of his shock.
"How do you know that this way is east?" He asked.
"The sun sets in the west," I said. He nodded.
"You learned that from some kind of survival training right?" he asked.
"Nope, I watched a lot of cowboy movies when I was a kid," I smiled. We saw a few natural rock formations that might work but we'd need some supplies to make them livable. We spotted lots of thin yet strong trees and several larger trees that we could cut or break long slender branches from.
From talking to Gill I got a pretty good idea of what supplies and tools were available aboard the boat. So after an hour I had a pretty good idea of what we needed to do to make it through the storm in relative comfort.
I sent Gill back to the boat with a list of things to grab and bring back. I headed back to the beach to explain what we'd found and the plan. Unless George came up with a better site, we'd go with what I had. Time was short so we needed to do something quickly.
I had only been gone for about an hour. And maybe it was pure luck that I picked the route that I took back. That area was a little bit more woodsy that the rest of the area. I later discovered that they'd decided on the safety in numbers strategy. So whenever someone needed to go to the bathroom two people had gone.
All of the women had gone in two's. Unfortunately, or perhaps by design when Natalie went there were no women available, so she'd gone with him.
I heard them talking as I approached them. I wasn't trying to walk quietly until I heard her voice. "But aren't you married?" he asked her.
"This is nothing new," she said. "I've been broadening my horizons for a couple of years now. A friend of mine got caught, so I decided to quit, but maybe this isn't the right time for me to do it." Then I heard a slurping sound that I recognized all too easily.
I also heard the sound of a guy moaning. I knew what was going on and I knew what I'd heard but somehow it wasn't enough. I crept closer and saw my forty plus year old wife's head bobbing up and down in his lap. Then she straightened up suddenly. I almost thought that she'd heard me. But she looked off in the direction they'd come in. I saw her looking towards the beach and checking to make sure that everyone was there.
"Why'd you stop?" he asked.
"We're just getting started," she said. She reached down and pulled her panties down and bent forward. In a few minutes he was grunting away behind her.
"Just remember those younger girls are prettier," she said. "But they won't do everything that I will. And since you're in charge, I'll be expecting you to make sure that I'm okay and that I get out of this okay. As long as you do that, I'll give you as much as you want."
"But what about your husband," he grunted.
"What he doesn't know won't hurt him," she said. "You can always give him something to do to make him feel important. Like send him off scouting or something."
I guess I should have been shocked. But once she talked about how she'd been cheating on me for years, everything had fallen into place. I understood the reason that she'd suddenly decided that we needed to discover each other again and it all made sense.
She'd been screwing around with Edie and when Edie had gotten caught, Natalie hadn't. She'd seen how Edie had ended up. And she didn't want that to happen to her, so she'd run the whole renewing the romance bit on me.
The thing that hurt, even more than the betrayal, was the fact that she'd done it so coldly. She hadn't given a single thought to me. Being a practical man, I put it behind me. Broken heart or not, there was still a storm coming in.
I backed away from the woods and approached the beach from a different angle. As I came towards the beach, I saw George and the woman he'd gone with coming from the other side.
We met in the center and George shook his head. "We found a small cave," he said but it's nowhere near large enough for all of us. The woman yanked his sleeve. "Oh yeah we did find some berry trees. Some of them are ripe. I saw a bunch of squirrels too.
"Okay, Gill and I found a natural rock outcropping that'll do for tonight. We can use some of the tarps that Gill says they had on board and some rope. We'll need to make some kind of frame to strengthen the tarp and use as walls to prevent the storm from blowing it away though and we'll need to get started on that pretty soon so I..."
"We're not doing any of that," said a voice from behind me. "While you guys were gone off on your little hunting expedition we had an election. This is still the United States after all. And I'm in charge." I noticed that the two nerds and the idiot's friend were nodding their heads in agreement. So were the other four women.
"So we don't get to vote?" asked George.
"It wouldn't have mattered," said the muscular guy. "There are only four of you. There were nine people here. Anyway I've decided that if the rescue mission doesn't come by tonight, which I'm sure it will. We'll just sleep on the boat. Why should we waste time, energy or effort trying to build something when we have the boat?"
George and I both shrugged our shoulders and headed off towards the location I'd picked.
"Hey," screamed the muscular guy. "Where are you going?"
"There's a storm coming," I said. "We don't have the time to waste on you."
"But I'm in charge," he said.
"We didn't vote for you. So you're not in charge of us," said George.
"What about your wife?" yelled the guy. "She's with us. Don't you want to try to convince her to go with you or try to fight for her?"
"You already said it," I said. "She's with YOU." I looked right into Natalie's eyes and she gasped. "I only fight for things that I think are worth it."
"But Rob," whined Natalie.
George, the quiet woman and I started off away from the beach. As we left the chunky woman ran towards us.
"Dana, where are you going?" asked one of the other women.
"Look Peggy, I already know how this movie ends," said Dana. "Four guys, five women and I'm the fat girl. I'll take my chances with the other side. And to tell you the truth, they seem to have a plan and they have reasons for it ... I hope."
Once we got to the area I'd found before, we all introduced ourselves. The chunky girl was Dana. The quiet one was Ella. Ella was miraculous. She didn't talk much because she didn't like explaining her accent. She was a mutt as she called herself. Her father had been half black and half Latino. Her mother was an Irishwoman who lived in England. Ella had grown up in London and had the accent. She was a librarian and very proud of it.
George, like me, was an engineer. The difference was that he was mechanical and I was manufacturing. I gave him my idea for how to fortify the site.
The place I'd picked was the side of a relatively steep hill. On one side of the hill there was a vertical notch formed. It was like a "V" rotated onto its side. The idea was to build a fairly large lean-to that would take advantage of the sheer wall against its back and blend in with the slope of the hill. As a bonus there were several large rocks and fallen trees that we could place in front of it as we settled in to further protect the front from the winds. Since the tarps were water proof, I wasn't nearly as worried about the rain as I was about the wind.
Gill arrived shortly after that and we filled him in. The tarps were larger than I'd expected and thicker. We filled him in and I sent him back out on another trip. George decided to start building. Dana and I went in search of the limbs we'd need to lash together to form the walls and Ella went back to gather as many of the berries she'd seen before as she could and anything else she could find that was edible.
As Dana and I looked for the right sized limbs, we talked and I kept an eye out for smaller pieces of dry wood. I expected that it might get cold during the night and I'd asked Gill to bring a couple of things I'd seen on the boat that might be useful for building a fire.
Ella came back with more than enough berries for the five of us. I crooked my finger at her and she smiled and came towards me.
I handed her a fishing pole. "What am I to use for bait?" she asked. The precisely clipped syllables of her words were magical.
"What did you say?" I asked. She smiled and repeated her question. I pretended I didn't hear her again. Dana came over and told me that George had enough poles for the two layers of the wall that we needed.
"Is it a color thing?" asked Ella.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I asked you the same question two or three times and you couldn't hear me," she said. "But when Dana came over you heard her immediately and answered her question and sent her off."
"Sorry," I said. "And it's not a color thing. Shit your skin is probably lighter than mine is."
"Is it a cultural thing then?" she asked, looking at me as if she was really disappointed.
"Ella, it's a stupid thing," I said. "And I'm sorry."
"You think I'm stupid," she gasped. "I'll have you know, my good man..." That was when I burst out laughing.
"Ella, I never said that you were stupid," I laughed. "I meant that I was." She calmed down and looked at me.
"I highly doubt that you're stupid," she said. "And since we're all following your plan, if I'm wrong, we're all going to suffer."
"Ella, I kept having you repeat things because I love hearing you talk," I said. "Your accent, your tone of voice, even the phrases you use are just magical. I could listen to you talk forever." Both of us turned red and we walked away.
"Ella," I yelled as she picked up the pole. "There are all kinds of worms on the ground near some of the muddy areas. Try some of those and also some of your berries as bait.
A few minutes later she came over and grabbed my hand and pulled me over to a puddle. "Put that on my hook," she said, pointing to a large fat worm.
George had started pounding the long spars into the side of the hill if you looked from a distance you almost couldn't tell they were there because he had come very close to the exact angle of the hill. The next step would be to lay the tarp on top of them followed by another layer of spars to protect the tarp from being blown away by the high winds.
I got Gill to take the large flat metal disk he'd brought from the boat and place it in the center of the large lean too. I put a lot of crumpled paper and kindling and the pieces of dry wood I'd gathered in it. A few carefully arranged metal skewers above it and we had both heat and a stove.
On Gill's last trip back he brought a few bottles of water and three cans of soda. The clouds had begun to fill the sky. It took all of us together to push the large rock and the split stump in front of the wall. With some of the smaller pieces of tarp we made blankets. We also had life jackets that we stretched out and piled to serve as mattresses. The final piece came together as Ella marched up carrying three nice sized fish.
"These are all I caught," she said.
"I got 'em," said George. "I'll fillet them."
"I got Gill to take that first one off of the hook for me," said Ella proudly.
I noticed that the other two fish were still attached to lines on the poles. Ella gravitated towards me after George had relieved her of both fish and poles.
"I'll just eat berries," she said. "I'm just not a sushi girl."
"Well not a sushi girl," I said. "What do you make of that?" I pointed towards my impromptu stove.
"I dunno, what is it?" she asked.
"That's where we're going to cook the fish you caught," I smiled at her.
"Clever boy," she smiled back. "I might have to eat some of that after all."
"Ella, we really don't know how long we'll be here. We're not going to be able to survive and keep our strength up on just berries and greens. So whenever there's any sort of protein available, I want you to eat it. Whether it's fish or squirrel or whatever we find, even if it tastes like fried shit, you eat it, okay?"
She nodded. "Rob?" she called. I turned and looked at her.
"I was just wondering," she said in her musical voice. "What exactly does fried shit taste like?"
We both erupted in laughter and soon everyone came over to find out what was so funny. Before we could explain it to them, we felt the first rain drops. We went inside of our hastily built structure. We left the flap behind the rocks open but slid the log as close as possible. After a few tries, I lit the fire using my lighter. The small fire and the open flap provide some light. I took a skewer and put Ella's fish that George had filleted over the open fire. I very slowly turned them every few moments. The smell of the cooking fish was tantalizing.
As we waited for the fish to cook, we took turns telling the others more about ourselves. Dana was full of questions.
"I feel good," she said. "Considering the circumstances, I feel very good. But why didn't we want to ride out the storm in the boat with the others?"
"Because the boat is sitting very precariously on that same spar of rock that split her hull," I said. "It's not stable. Once the winds start and the tide comes in either one of them may lift the boat off of that rock," I said.
"You mean they might sail away without us?" she asked.
"I mean they might sail straight to the bottom of the lake," I said.
"The lake is over a thousand feet deep in some spots," said Gill.
"But, what about your wife?" asked Ella.
"I'm pretty sure she can swim," I said.
Nothing but silence and the crackling of the small flames filled the tent as everyone looked away from me out of embarrassment.