Soon the dark enveloped the sea. A desperate fear and loneliness surrounded the Beyond. It tossed in a sea of darkness with only instincts and chance to rely upon. The only situation to compare it with, they were in presently. Rich prayed for skill and favorable seas.
Tommy emerged from the cabin about the same time a beacon from a light house sliced through the sheets of rain.
“How ya doing, Tommy?” Rich said.
“I slept fine,” Tommy said. “How far we got?”
“I see the beacon from a lighthouse,” Rich said.
“It’s still hours away isn’t it?” Tommy said.
“If the weather was clear, but we have rain,” Rich said. “We’ll be hearing the buoys before long. We can read them and get to calmer waters.
A half hour later they sailed into the channel that led to Puerto San Julian. The anchor was dropped in the calmer waters. The winds continued more violently than at sea.
“Tommy,” Rich said. “Can you keep an eye on things for a while. I’m going to get some sleep. Flash the light toward shore every ten or fifteen minutes. If we drift too close wake me.”
“Sure, cuz,” Tommy said. “get some sleep. I’ll watch things.”
Rich slept, while Tommy played solitaire by the glow of the panel lights.
After two hours Rich emerged from the cabin into the pilothouse.
“How we doing?” Rich said.
“Things are fine,” Tommy said, “but the wind is driving me crazy.”
“The boat drag the anchor any?” Rich said.
“No,” Tommy said. “I checked about 15 minutes ago, we’re about the same distance from shore.”
“We’ll stay here until the weather clears,” Rich said, “and we’ll pull into port for a couple days, how does that sound.”
“Sounds good to me,” Tommy said.
It was mid morning and it still rained lightly, but steady. Rich started the engine and found a dock in Puerto San Julian. Tommy grabbed the bow line and hopped onto the dock and secured it. Rich secured the stern.
They stood on the dock in the rain wearing rain gear looking toward the town.
“I don’t know about you,” Tommy said, “but I’d like to have a breakfast on a table with food that’s not moving. There has to be a cafe close by.”
Rich and Tommy walked along a gravel street beside the waterfront.
“It’s cold and miserable,” Tommy said, “and this place is dead. I wonder where everybody is at?”
“What’s today?” Rich said.
“Sunday,” Tommy said, “that’s gotta be it.”
“I’m going to head back to the boat,” Rich said.
“If ya don’t mind,” Tommy said, “I’m gonna walk around and stretch my legs a bit. I’ll take in the lay of the land and maybe I can find a place we can eat breakfast tomorrow.”
Rich walked back to the boat and prepared breakfast.
He pulled out charts of the Strait of Magellan and studied them carefully.
“This is not meant to be a test of my seamanship,” Rich thought. “I just want to get to the Pacific as fast as I can. There are no heroics or ego involved. I will use the engine every time the wind is bad and the weather is foul. I wonder if extra gas can be stowed somehow? All I have is a 30 gallon tank. That sounds like a lot. Maybe I should buy a couple five gallon cans and fill them. It’s best to be safe.”
“Zeke, after I drop Tommy off at Rio Gallegos we can be at the Strait in a day. From here to Rio Gallegos in two days. It will be cold, my friend, colder than we are now. Are you up for it? I know that a long time ago in Rio, you never thought you signed up for this. Anytime you want to leave you can, just let me know anyway you can.”
Rich turned on his stool to face Zeke. “What do you think of Tommy, Zeke? Something is bothering me.”
“What am it trying to say? There is something strange. I can’t put my finger on it. It’s like the seas we just came out; things at first are calm, the calmness hides the rage. The moment I said those words about the sea, something struck me about Tommy. There is something about his story that doesn’t add up. I hope I am wrong. I will go on the assumption, I am wrong, but I will be alert. He’s like a closed curtain. Do you know what I mean?”
“My proof is this?” Rich said. “He said he’s never been on a boat, but doesn’t get seasick and sleeps like a baby during a storm. And I know a story and I know truth. His story seems like a story. He tells it like a story. He is detached. No friends, but he’s friendly. He’s been here for 10 years and no family. That’s peculiar. I think I would know by now if he is homosexual. What’s that?”
“You don’t want to know,” Rich said. “But anyway, let me know what you think.”
Zeke jumped from the bench and moved close to Rich. He laid his head on Rich’s lap.
“You are so true,” Rich said and stroked Zeke’s head.