The Sailor's Stories

1005 Chapter Five – The Sailor’s Awakening.

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I woke up early the next morning, my sleep had been…, restless and unfulfilling. Conflicting emotions from the day warring with each other running through my mind. I had tossed and turned all night, it didn’t help that the salon couch was incredibly uncomfortable, though not the worst place I have slept. Even my early morning swim had done little to affect my mood. After towelling off I sat on the bow of the boat, looking out over the horizon, watching the sun come up. God I loved those moments, when the world is at peace, the warmth of the new sun sliding slowly over your body. The only problem of course is those moments, in the silence of your surroundings, gives you too much time to think.

Last night had not been as pleasant as I had hoped, to be honest that was all me. Oh don’t get me wrong I put on a brave face, showing my winning smile, I just wasn’t feeling it. The memories of Mark were just too…, fresh, too strong. We’d had a nice meal of steak and salad, with some pleasant conversation. It was one of those conversations where people said a lot, but said nothing. Later in the evening after a second pie, that the boys knew nothing about, we all sat together watching a movie on the plasma. About half way through the boys started to drift off, so I shuffled them to the double cabin in the front of the boat. Reggie and I had stayed up a little longer, but we too were pretty tired and soon sought out our own lodgings for the evening. I had given Reggie the master cabin in the stern, so that she would be comfortable, I took the couch in the main salon.

My sleep was troubled because of the events of the day, not to mention my memories, deep down I did know that. I had read the report on Marks’s death, so I knew how it had happened. Remembering him must have triggered something in my subconscious, as the event started to play over and over in my dreams. The really scary part was that every time, I didn’t just see the dream, I was part of it. Part of it, but not a participant, I was powerless to alter the events.  That’s not all though, as every rendition played, Mark got younger and younger, until the last time before I woke up…, in horror I watched as the boy I loved at 15 was brutally mowed down. I saw the bullet in slow motion, as it tore through the air then ripped through his body. The sound of the sickening smack of metal into flesh, the sudden realisation of pain and death on his sweet young face. It wasn’t until I clutched him in my arms, that I realised the boy he was trying to save was Dale. I had never noticed him before, so I couldn’t say if he had always been there. I think that’s what woke me really, the stark unreality of it.

I lay there for over an hour trying and failing to get back to sleep. I just couldn’t shake the image of the boy Mark dragging Dale through the dirt. What the fuck does that even mean? I just couldn’t understand why this was happening, of all times, why now? I mean, it probably had something to do with the way I feel for Mark, coupled with the way Dale is feeling. Still I was drawing a complete blank, I had had enough, so I got up for a swim to clear my head. The water was still icy cold this early in the summer, especially at 0430! I drove myself hard, harder than I ever did at home…, it just didn’t help.

I must have sat there for hours. The sun was well and truly up, the heat it radiated was nice. It wasn’t long before I heard my boys, running and screaming, they leapt over the side into the cool water of the cove. There is something just truly magical about the squeals and laughter of boys at play. It made me remember the trips my family had made to this cove, and the water sports that Mark and I had gotten up to. I was lost in thought again as I marvelled at how much the boys were growing up.

Sometime in the last year…, I forget when, they had had a growth spurt. They had certainly shot up; they were now just over five foot, almost as tall as me even. Anyone could see that they were healthy, with those developing abs, and perfect complexions. Not to mention those winning smiles that just oozed charm. They both needed haircuts though. I knew it was not my choice, but I couldn’t help mentioning it every so often. I smelt something delicious under my nose…

“I thought you could use this after the night you had…”

Reggie, actually Regina Lipscomb but she had always been Reggie to me, had always been intuitive and even quite sneaky at times. She had been my mother’s best friend since my parents had moved into the house I now shared with the boys. Let’s face it, she was sort of a mother to me as well, I always had a second home with her whenever my parents had to go somewhere, even just for the night. I loved Reggie dearly, and I knew she loved us as well…

“Thanks Reggie you’re a life saver…, what did you mean, by the way?”

“Don’t give me that Cameran! I could hear you last night. I’m amazed the boys didn’t.”

“Ha! Not likely the way they sleep.., what did you hear?”

“Not much at first…, I could hear you moaning as you tossed and turned…, then you screamed out the name Mark. It took everything I had not to come to you.”

“Maybe you should have, I certainly had a rough night. Why didn’t you?”

“I don’t know…, it’s been several years but…, it seemed all too familiar, if that makes any sense?”

Reggie’s husband had also been in the navy, an officer like me, though I didn’t know what he did. I knew what she was getting at however….

“I know what you are thinking I have those sometimes as well, but…, never this strong. No, it wasn’t that, last night it was Mark…, my Mark…”

“Aww honey…”

She wrapped her arms around me, and I felt more warmth in that hug than any sun could ever provide. I had always felt safe there, not as much as my own mom and dad, but still secure. I really wanted to just break down; I wanted to tell her everything that had happened these last couple of days. I knew that she and Dale had been talking when we got home yesterday, but I didn’t know how much she knew. I did know however, that it was not my place to tell her, so I just sat there in those arms.

“You really loved him didn’t you?”

Holy shit! What the hell did she mean by that?

“More than you know….,”

Was all I was able to get out before a wall of cool water attacked us from behind, followed closely by mischievous giggles and two boys jumping over us into the cove,  buckets lying discarded behind them….

“Oh Jesus…, sorry about that…” I said to her embarrassed, as she burst out laughing…, I had always enjoyed that laugh, and was soon doing it myself. I turned to the boys…, “Right you little punks, you’re in for it now!”

I winked at Reggie, and dived off the side. As you can imagine I was a strong swimmer, when I dived I went deep. As I surfaced I was in the perfect position behind Dale, he didn’t see the dunk coming. Before I knew it though Corey was on me, somehow in my excitement he had gotten round behind me. I knew how to handle this one, and went with the dunk carrying him down with me, once under water it was easy to shake him off.  We both surfaced a few feet from each other, laughing and giggling, it was great fun! We spent some time playing in the water; it was like we were all kids again. We only got out when Reggie called us in for lunch.

Lunch was pleasant, good food and better company. We discussed staying out another night, but none of us had brought anything extra to wear, and we were about out of supplies. That was the clincher really, so we decided to head back. The weather was beautiful and the sailing easy, though I took it slow. Corey was sunning himself on the bow, and I could see Reggie and Dale chatting in the salon. All things considered I really was quite lucky. As the sun started to go down, it grew cooler. Feeling it Corey got up, put on his hoodie and came over to sit with me in the fly bridge. He sat there for a while, just looking out over the water. At one point he looked like he wanted to say something, but it seemed nothing would come out…

“What’s on your mind champ?” He was still keeping quiet though now he was looking at me, kinda confused…, “Dude what is it?” I was getting a little concerned.

“…I…, um…, who’s Mark?”

Oh shit!

“Why do you ask bud?”

I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this conversation, but at the least I should try and give an abridged version…, if it came to that…

“I got up last night to get a drink.., when I came out, you were all sweaty and moaning. You just kept saying ‘Mark NO!’ I tried to hold your hand…, like you used to do for me, but you pulled away so I just went back to bed.”

“I’m sorry little guy, I didn’t know you were there…, Mark is…, he was…, an old friend.”

“Was…?”

“He died a few years ago, I guess I am not quite over it, we were pretty close.”

“Was he a soldier like you?”

”Hey! I’m no ‘Groundpounder’ I should wash your mouth out for using foul language like that!” I could barely suppress my grin, so he knew I wasn’t serious, “But yes…, he was a soldier.”

‘I don’t understand.”

“What don’t you understand?”

“You know…, why anyone would volunteer to go off and die. Sometimes I get scared, I think you might have to go away again, and then…, and then, you won’t come back.” He said, as a small sob escaped, and a tear started to trickle down his face.

“I know…, I worry about it sometimes myself. The reality is that, that’s my job and if I have to go I will. I don’t want to…, but I will.”

“But why? What’s so important about it that you’d have to go…, I mean I know what your job was…, I’ve looked it up on the internet…, I just don’t know why you’d want to do it.”

“Look Corey I know, alright…, I know you’re scared. Trust me I didn’t do it because I like the thrill of it…, if that’s what you’re thinking…. I did it because I was trained to do it, because my country asked me to do things that only those like me know how to do.”

I thought that he deserved a better explanation so I forged on…

“We all have our talents…, and that was mine, I guess. After 9/11 I wanted a little payback, so I allowed Doug to talk me into it. When I finished the training though, I felt differently. I thought…, well, I guess I thought I could make a difference.”

“And now?”

“I don’t know, I’ve saved lives, that I do know, but the world hasn’t changed very much. I looked at all the young boys going off to fight, and I just couldn’t sit back and let them go alone…. I have done some things I’m not proud of…, but I think I’ve done some good as well…., or at least I hope I have…”

“Have you killed people?”

I looked across at his eyes then, they were almost pleading, but there was also fear there. I was on shaky ground, I knew it and I could feel it starting to give way…

“Are you sure you want the answer to that?”

“I don’t think I do now…, but I think I got it anyway.”

I put my arm out and he climbed onto the seat and snuggled up next to me, the tears had really started in earnest and he was shaking but soon calmed. I held him tight as I said…

“The only answer I think I can give you…, is that I did what I had to do, to get my team home safe. They did what they had to do, to make my job easier.”

“I think I understand now…, maybe. So how did you and Mark know each other then, if he was in the Army?”

“We grew up together, he used to live in the house down the street, Teddy’s house. He moved away for a while, but we reconnected at about your age.”

“Oh…, how did he die?”

That hit me, like a ton of bricks…, like I said I wasn’t ready for this conversation…,

“I will tell you bud, I promise but, it’s hard at the moment. And I want to wait until the right time, and when you’re both together. Can we leave it at that for the moment?”

“Sure uncle Cam…. Hey, can I drive for a while?”

“Sure kid…, Corey has the Conn.” I chuckled as I left the helm.

Corey was an excellent helmsman, so I had no worries there. After a little while, I left him to it, and went in for a drink. Reggie and Dale both looked up at me as I entered, as if I had walked in on something. When they both smiled I let it go, I didn’t want to intrude so I went back to the master cabin and laid down for a little while. It was closing on dark as we pulled up to the dock a couple of hours later. We had only just beaten the night. Taking over the helm I slipped slowly up to the pier, while Corey dropped the fenders and jumped onto the pier to tie off the lines. He then turned to run up to the house…

“Not so fast young man!” said Reggie, standing on the deck with an armful of the things we needed to take back. “Help an old woman carry these up to the house.”

“Aww Reggie you’re not old.”

He said that with that winning smile, I could almost see Reggie blush a little, and I almost managed to stifle a giggle. That is until Reggie snapped her head around and glared at me…, but she couldn’t hold the stare and we were soon both laughing out loud. While those two made their way up to the house, I felt a small arm slide around my waist. I looked down as I slipped my own arm around his shoulders. Looking into Dale’s eyes I could see he had been crying recently, a look of concern made its way onto my face…

“It’s not what you think Uncle Cam…, Reggie and I had a talk.”

“You told her?”

“Yeah, she was really good about it too. She told me it was going to be ok, then she talked about this boy she knew who was about the same age as me. She didn’t tell me who, but she said that you may have known him.”

“Ah…”

“I think everything’s gonna be fine…, I haven’t felt this good in so long.”

It took another ten minutes or so to fasten the covers on the boat, but with Dale’s help we made short work of it. Once done we picked up the last of the supplies and headed back up to the house, I could see lights on and it felt warm and welcoming.

Old habits die very hard, and as we walked, I had that creeping feeling up the back of my spine…, the one you get when you think you’re being watched. In my line of work though, you learn pretty quickly to listen to those feelings…, as my instincts kicked in, I took a subtle look around. He was standing against a tree, he can’t have been there long, or I would have noticed him sooner…, Carl Sommers. I knew who he was, as I’d seen him at the odd school function, and of course the boy’s baseball games. What the hell is he doing here? I thought, going instantly on the alert for any hint of trouble.

He’d been looking at us the whole way, and with my instant and deadly change of posture, he was scared, that much was obvious from the way he was standing, but the dieing light made it hard to read his face. Showing more courage than I thought at the time, that I could ever give him credit for, as we got closer, he moved towards us…

“Stay…” I sad to Dale putting my hand up behind me, moving forward I addressed our visitor, “Can I help with you with something Carl…, it is Carl right…, Carl Sommers?”

“Ah no sir…, I mean yes sir…, I mean…, I came to talk to Dale, if that’s all right?”

“I know what happened yesterday Carl, and I won’t be far away, I’m sure I don’t need to spell out what that means.”

“No sir, I promise I just want to talk…, I did something I shouldn’t have. I just wanted to apologise.”

“Well Dale, it’s up to you…, I’ll be in the house if you need me.” I said, as I walked off.

Stepping into the house I was worried, so I watched from them from the kitchen window. I couldn’t hear what the boys were saying, but the body language spoke volumes. Dale was defiant at first, standing in a defensive posture, hands at the ready. Carl was almost pleading, hands raised as if in defeat. After about five minutes Dale’s stance changed, softened, while Carl’s got more confident. What ever he was saying it seemed to be working. It was times like these that I wished I had mics in the back yard.

Look now they’re hugging…., WHAT!

Yes they were hugging, and Dale was smiling. I couldn’t see Carl’s face, but I was pretty sure he was happy. What the hell did I miss there? I was still in shock when I heard the door click shut behind me. I turned around and saw Dale for the first time all over again. His smile was contagious, as I felt the confusion of the previous moment drain from my body…

“Can we talk?” He said.

I was in awe of this apparent change in him. Gone was that scared little boy from yesterday…, now in front of me was a fine young man…, again I couldn’t help but wonder just what the hell I had missed in those last few minutes.

“Always…, take a seat, you want something to drink, I just made a pot of tea.”

I had spent some time with some British forces a while back and had developed the taste for it. English Breakfast a particular favourite. I must have still looked a little concerned as I put the teapot down on the table…

“Sure…, it’s all right Uncle Cam, he didn’t want to hurt me. He wanted to tell me how sorry he was about the way he acted in gym, and how he made me feel…, that he…, over reacted. That he knew it was something I couldn’t control and that it sometimes happens to him as well.”

“So what did you say?”

“I told him the truth…”

“You what? Are you sure that was the right thing to do?”

“I am now…, you should have seen his face Uncle Cam, it was like a light bulb went on! I couldn’t believe it…, he said that he’d had the same feelings…, and when I told him I had a crush on him…, he hugged me! … I couldn’t believe it, I thought he was going to hit me, but instead he hugged me…, then he…, he kissed me.”

His sweet face blushed an instant red, and I couldn’t believe my ears….,

“So…, what now?”

“I don’t know…, I know I like him, and I am pretty sure he likes me…, I don’t think we are going to be going out or anything, at least not yet…. I want to get to know him better though.”

“Well…, if that’s what you want…, then why don’t you invite him over for dinner tomorrow? He can come over early and you can spend some time with him in the afternoon.”

“For real?”

“Yeah…, when have I ever said something I don’t mean about something this important…, I want my boys to be happy…, did you get his number?”

“Oh shit…, no…, I was so excited…, I guess I forgot!”

“Jesus Dale! You’re certainly no Casanova…, yet…” I said unable to stifle my laughter, but when his look shot daggers my way, “Don’t be like that, we can look in the phonebook.”

Written by bigct/Octavius

November 9, 2009 at 08:37

3 Responses

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  1. Sweet. Very nice story so far. What’s that old saying; “the truth shall set you free”

    Dawngreeter

    November 10, 2009 at 01:27

  2. Well now…are we sticking with reality here? From the initial reaction ot this kid Carl during the wrestling event to now he uo and kisses Dale and says he also has those feelings?? Maybe it is more than coincidence, but jees it makes it look like everyone is going gay here. I don’t know, maybe you are telling a true story, but it sure makes it tough to swallow right now. Sorry.
    –carlitos

    carlitos

    August 22, 2010 at 15:27

  3. Right on @Dawngreeter and Carlitos ur reading a story about Gay people what do you expect! 99.and 94/100 to be hetero a Gay boy at that age will scream in denial to protect his image in front of others so many adults do it too

    Beach

    May 4, 2012 at 12:40


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