The Dennis Decision
They sailed into the rising sun. Five miles out Rich reefed the sails.
“My god!” Dennis said. “This water is ugly. It reminds me of muddy river water.”
“I suppose that’s why they call it a river rather than a gulf,” Rich said. “Rio de la Plata.”
“Let’s put up the pilothouse,” Rich said. “I have a responsibility to keep my passengers dry and clean.”
He erected the pilothouse with Dennis’s help to avoid the heavy spray. An action not taken in most situations; he wanted to keep Dennis dry and make certain the sailing trip proved comfortable and pleasantly memorable.
They sailed on under the protection of the pilothouse. And mid morning Dennis slipped below.
A couple hours later he appeared in the companionway. “I see you have some spam down here, how ‘bout if I fix us something to eat?”
“Fried crispy,” Rich said.
“Sandwich?” Dennis said.
“Sure,” Rich said. “Mayo and mustard.”
The wind held and the waters continued choppy as they ate on deck under the cover of the pilothouse.
“I hope you don’t mind,” Dennis said, “but I took the liberty of reading your work.”
“I know it’s raw,” Rich said, “but it was something to occupy my time. I thought I’d like to write fiction, like you. It’s a beginning.”
“It’s a good beginning,” Dennis said. “I’m not a good critic, but I know when something is good. Those stories are good. An editor might make some suggestions, but as a writer, reading them I think they are good.”
“Thanks, Dennis,” Rich said. “Coming from you that means more than anything.”
“What would you think if when we got to Montevideo we have these copied and I take them with me back to New York?” Dennis said.
“Sure,” Rich said, “but why?”
“I’d like to show them to a couple friends,” Dennis said. “I’ll show them to my agent and ask for an opinion. He owes me a favor or two. He may be able to suggest a literary journal who might be interested.”
“You think so?” Rich said.
“Yeah,” Dennis said. “Don’t expect to get paid. My first year of writing fiction, I spent more on postage than I got for my writing. My first half dozen stories were free and one day I got paid for one. Peggy and I were just seeing each other then. We went out for pizza and a ride on the Staten Island ferry.”
“Funny how it’s the little things that bring us the most joy,” Rich said.
“That’s when I asked Peggy to marry me,” Dennis said. “I was on a roll, so I thought I’d extend my lucky streak.”
“It was good wasn’t it?” Rich said.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be that happy again,” Dennis said.
“Maybe not,” Rich said, “but you will be happy. I remember my first kiss. I laid awake all night thinking about it. It took me a month to get the smile off my face. I’ve had better ones since, but that was the one that made me happiest.”
“Good advice, my friend,” Dennis said. “I’ll never forget this trip, it means more than I can express.”
“Something told me I should invite you here,” Rich said.
“The truth is, Rich, all those plans Peggy and I had about the future is the truth,” Dennis said, “but I had no plans on carrying any of them out once she was gone.”
“What do you mean?” Rich said.
“Let’s say, you called and I decided to change my plans,” Dennis said. “Let’s leave it at that.”
There was a long silence. It lasted for several minutes.
“I want you to go with me,” Rich said. “I can’t leave a friend at a time like this.”
“Rich, ole friend,” Dennis said. “When you sail to Australia look me up in Canberra. we’ll have a great time together. I won’t let you down. Okay?”
“Sure,” Rich said. “Besides we’d probably drown at sea anyway.”
“That’s the spirit,” Dennis smiled. “You have to look at the bright side of things.”