With his course set again to skirt 50 miles bearing southeast off the coast of South America the two dolphins returned as if to give their approval. Another 6 to 8 days of sailing lay ahead.
On the second day from his decision not to enter the Cunani River Rich checked his location and calculated the course placed The Odyssey about 135 miles east of the entrance to the Amazon.
The torrid temperatures beat down relentlessly. Processing a thought caused perspiration to bead on the forehead. The pilothouse roof shielded the sun and the windows were let down to allow air to move across the cockpit. The dolphins leaped away for deeper cooler waters.
For five days straight sun baked The Odyssey. Rich always thought his most pressing discomfort might be the cold. It seemed as if nature had turned its back on him; he occasionally caught the glimmer of hopeful cooling near the horizon’s edge, but it seemed to avoid him.
Monotony of the mind seemed not to foreclose on him. If not reading he wrote along with an occasional game of chess with himself. And there was never a passive moment that The Odyssey could not have been given attention.
“She sails so beautifully,” Rich though. “I wonder if Sam knew what he gave away. Perhaps beyond his political and philosophical leanings a charitable heart beat. Yet, its condition of attachment called for my loyalty. His giving was not without selfish purpose, for he is willing to seek me to the ends of the earth, for what? To do me good, I think not.”
“Make no mistake, this is a flight of survival,” he surmised in his mind.
“Among the many lessons Salty taught, keep a neat and tight ship,” Rich said to himself. “If an emergency happens ya want to know where everthin’ is and ya don’t want to be stumblin’ over your shoes when you’re tryin’ to find the fire extinguisher. You’re a seaman not a farmer. If ya don’t scrape and clean a plate ya probably won’t scrape and clean your hull or deck.”
Rich kept the cabin and deck clean and uncluttered.
All the advices Salty preached swallowed the time and humdrum; they served as a pleasure and not a chore.
Often Rich sat at the chart table familiarizing himself with what lay ahead and contemplating possibilities. It was during such a session the fourth day from the mouth of Cunani River he detected a small archipelago named Fernando de Noronha.
“It’s out of the way,” Rich thought. “Perhaps so far out of the way and unnoticed I can relax awhile. How many people can say they’ve been to the Cunani River? How many people can say they’ve been to Fernando de Noronha? I’ve never heard of either until this trip.”
Rich charted a course at 120 degrees. Instead of sailing around the northeast districts of Brazil he charted a direct line to Fernando de Noronha. He calculated about 850 miles of ocean lay before him.
“Six to eight days,” Rich said.
After a couple days the temperature moderated and life became more pleasant.
It was about 200 miles from Fernando de Noronha two dolphins appeared again. As to whether they were the same that had swam by before or not, if you’ve seen one dolphin you’ve seen them all. Nevertheless Rich spoke to them as if old friends.
“I know, I know, I changed my mind. And you never have?” Rich said.
“I have a complete thought process and reason for what I do. What do you do? You swim and eat. It takes ingenuity to be me and to go beyond the shores where I was conceived. Okay, not mine alone, people before me had to think things up and pass them on. We have books. What I can’t stuff in my head I read in a book. It’s very complicated. I must have lost you already.”
“What’s that you say? Well, we look at stuff and see how it’s made and copy it. In time we improve it. Necessity is the mother of invention. I bet you never heard that one.”
“We just have a yearning to know more, do better, explore, and a whole lot of other things you wouldn’t understand if I drew you a picture.”
“What’s a picture? Well, it’s something we see and make a copy of it for others to see.”
“I can’t draw a picture.”
“No, I won’t even try, you will laugh.”
“Hold on, you two, and don’t run away.”
Rich sprung to his feet and dropped the sails. The Odyssey came to a halt and bobbed quietly. He went below and brought a mirror from the head.
Rich whistled. “Hey, you two, come aft and I’ll show you something. Come on.”
The two dolphins swam close to the transom and bobbed their heads above water. Rich held the mirror in front of each.
“That’s an image. That is you. Some people can draw that. Wait right here.”
Rich hurried back to the cabin and brought back a tablet. He sketched two crude dolphins and showed the drawing to them.”
“Okay, you two, I knew you would laugh. Did you laugh when I sung and danced for you? When my back was turned did you say hurtful things? Did you tell your friends? Is that why you’ve returned?”
“Aw, I’m sorry for going on like that. I’m far too sensitive. We’re friends. I know you really mean nothing by it. You’ve really provided some needed company. I think you both know that. Hey, I got a joke; A dolphin walks into a bar and buys a drink. He looks down at the end of a bar and sees this gorgeous blond dolphin, slinky dress and everything. So he tells the bartender to get her a drink. She gets the drink and smiles. You know what I mean. Yeah, right, that kind of smile. So he slides on down a couple stools and says, hey doll ya got some nice fins – get it doll fins, dolphins. Okay, it needs some work. I’m doing this on the fly.”
Rich reached into a bucket where he kept a half dozen small fish he intended to use for bait. He tossed one to each dolphin. “I know it’s not much. It’s just at token of my profound appreciation for all you do for the planet – and might I add hours of conversation and entertainment.”
Rich reached out and petted each one. “You two are alright in my book. That’s a thing with a whole bunch of symbols that describes pictures.”
Rich wrote dolphin on the tablet and showed it to them. “Every time I see this I’ll think of you two. I know, it’s complicated, but that’s the world I live in. And it all makes sense – well some of the time.”
Something suddenly came over the dolphins. They submerged just below the surface.
“What’s wrong? Do you sense danger? I do.”
Rich grabbed the binoculars from near the helm and scanned to waters. There was nothing. He returned to the transom. The dolphins emerged and made a chirping sound.
“I got it, you’re in danger. Is it a shark? I’ll do what I can, but this is not my battleground. I’m like a fish out of water. It’s a joke. I know this is not a time to joke, but it eases the tension.”
Rich removed the AK 47 from beneath the bench. He released the safety, pulled the slide, and walked carefully to the transom and sat.
“This is a rifle. I don’t have time to explain why they were invented. Somewhere in the explanation reason will fail. If you two were just to maneuver the shark to the surface I’ll do the rest.”
One dolphin sped away. Rich watched the direction in which it scurried without blinking an eye. A fin appeared and moved about in a serpentine manner. Rich held the rifle tight against his shoulder. Over the sights he watched and watched. The fin headed to the left, disappeared. Suddenly from below the surface the dolphin launched and immediately from six feet away the shark sprung. At the apex of the shark’s leap Rich pulled the trigger and volleyed five rounds.
It was quiet, as if a shot had never occurred.
“I hope I saved you’re partner.”
From beneath the other dolphin appeared.
“That’s kind of one of the reasons these things were invented. But it’s complicated beyond that.”
“Well, all this excitement has made this guy hungry. If you don’t mind I’m going to have some eggs and bacon. The smell will drive you crazy or make you long for places you’ve been.”
Rich hoisted the sails and continued towards Fernando de Noronha. It was the last of his bacon and eggs.
After eating the meal Rich cleaned up and stepped back on deck. The two dolphins swam alongside.
“I hope they have bacon it Fernando de Noronha. You wouldn’t know that would you? Now there’s a complicated thought pattern for those just learning English.”