«Never work with people you can’t trust. That’s what my father used to say.» said the barman behind the counter, while whipping a beer jug, with a white cloth. «He wasn’t wrong you know.»
He was an exceptionally large man, with a big double chin and a round silhouette that although threatening in its size it was resembling the appearance of a big baby, earning the trust of whoever might have taken his place among the main counter. Right across him, there were two men, sitting on stools, as their backs were completely turned off from the main area as if they were unwilling to pay any attention to anybody else. The barman continued.
«Nobody has ever won anything from Meyer and if you ask me, nobody will ever will.» He leaned forward with his hand over the counter, allowing his two shoulder blades to raise up and unite like the wings of a bird. «If I were you I would just drop the deal dead off and try my luck with something else, kid.»
«Actually there was one guy that tricked Meyer once.» said the man on the left. «He even managed to get away for quite a while.»
He twisted over his cigarette packet and glanced over the other two guys who got stunt by his remark. He put a faint smile over his face as he pulled out one of his cigarettes with a little knock of his hand.
«The guy was working in one of his casinos as a table dealer for a few years. Nobody had suspected anything of him or had anything bad to say about his behavior. But this bastard was gathering chips every time he got his chance to do so. For a casino, one chip loss doesn’t mean anything but put all of it together over a period of time, and you can come up with a loss of up to a few million.» He glanced at the two men sequentially who seemed to be absorbed by his story.
«Of course casino people are not unsuspecting. They are experienced business-men that know a thing or two about the night and how people’s minds work. They took each one of their stuff and analyzed his behavior for a while, they knew it had to be an inside job so they had all the time in the world to figure it out. They checked the security stuff, the finance managers, the cleaning ladies, and they got nothing. Months passed and all they could show for it was a big hole in the budget with no explanation. Till one guy suddenly noticed something one day.» He paused as he took a sip from his cigar.
«One of the dealers seemed to have the shirt cuffs quite relaxed on his hand pretty much all the time. They thought this was just his way of treating the shirts or that maybe he had fat hands. But then they spotted him outside the casino one day and noticed that his normal clothes had no issue at all. It didn’t take a long time to make the connection.» the wrinkles in his forehead deepened as he shook his head.
«This mother fucker was slipping chips inside his shirt without anyone noticing anything. He was working in the place for two full years.»
«And so what happened to him,» asked the barman. «Did they put him in jail?»
«Meyer never puts people in jail. They need to give the example and that sort of thing.» he nodded as the barman reciprocated. «Nobody saw anything of him ever again,» he said with a little shrug.
«Well, he had it coming if you ask me,» replied the barman. «Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.»
All three men seemed to be immersed in their conversation that continued with strong laughs and beer cans that got emptied and refilled as if by magic. All except Mavin, that was sitting on the right with a rather secretly distant attitude as if he would rather be left alone. He was skinny and strangely handsome with hair flying like needles in front of his face, eyes round, wide apart as if he used to be a deer that somehow turned into a human being by a weird experiment. And his skin was flushed, blotched with a faint red hue that was as if he had stood over the sun the whole day and burned under the glazing rays of a summer day.
The barman had grown used to him as he would take his standard place over the right-side corner, spending his evening sometimes alone, and sometimes together with random customers that would take the seats across the counter next to him where they would start over the course of the night as strangers and end up long-held friends with no secrets to hide, within a few hours.
With a smooth swing, he passed another round of drinks as the man on the left continued.
«So Mavin, are you still doing the auto-mechanic stuff down with Billy. How are things going with that?»
Mavin shook his head sluggishly as he siped from his drink
«No, not anymore» he replied. «I’m afraid it didn’t work out after all»
The other two men laughed as he kept a straight face over his drink.
«It didn’t work out?» he chuckled.
«Of course it didn’t these places can be really tough to work sometimes,» said the barman.
The man on the left nodded and turned his attention back to Mavin.
«And what is it in for you now, boy, do you have anything in mind?»
Mavin stalled. «No, not really,»
He kept a straight face as he took another sip from his drink.
«Not very talkative now is he?» replied the man to the barman. «Well, you know what I think of this Steve. I think this guy has something up his sleeve but doesn’t want to share it with us.»
The two men continued laughing while Mavin kept his strict attitude paying no attention to it.
«What is it you are planning to do, rob a bank or something there boy?» asked the man on the left as he raised up from his chair.
He leaned over the counter and spoke to the barman with a husky voice.
«OK, Mr. Mavin, doesn’t like this conversation very much. So I guess we shall stop like the good gentlemen that we are. Am I Right?»
He took out some money from his wallet and left them over the counter somewhat dismissively as if throwing his last chips in a game he lost and made his way towards the door, keeping a sinister smile on a joke that only half of his face participated in. Mavin kept his head down and continued spinning his glass that was now empty of any liquid, while a sudden thrust got him down to the ground as the man that was about to leave took hold of him from the back and pushed him down in a way that made everyone in the bar turn around and watch.
Mavin fell on the ground with full force, hitting the back of his head to the wall as the man approached him again and stood on top of him.
«Now you listen to me here boy and you listen good. I don’t know what you think you are doing messing up with the big league and bitting on more than you can handle but you got your hands on some money that don’t belong to you and I think,» he tapped on his watch twice, «you are running out of time here.»
«I can pay back everything,» pleaded Mavin «I promise»
The man took out one of his cigarettes again and lighted up as he took a slow long sip making a sound that resembled a snake.
«I don’t want to doubt what you are saying or anything but unless you got the money already,» he paused shaking his head, «the chances of paying 50.000 grand are quite minimal here, don’t you think?»
«I can get everything by tomorrow,» he replied, «I got it all covered up already. I only need one more day»
«I hope you do Mavin, for your own good,» He tingled the ashes from his cigarette forcefully on the ground and pointed his finger back at him. «You know what happens if you don’t. And I may like you just fine, but when it comes to these things..business is business,» he said and with a swift move he stood up on his feet.
«Tomorrow is the day Mavin. Come find me at Bill’s Bar at 5 o’clock. If you don’t..» he raised his cigarette and with a little swing of his hand he thrust it upon Mavin who was still lying on the ground, before leaving with a stylish chuckle. And it was the fast hand movements over his shirt that raised a number of red-lighted ashes above Mavin as if there was a raining fire on top of him.
Along the stone path walks of Bellflower Park, there were thick Platanus trees that their old patchy skin was carved out, leaving white blotches that were revealing their old nature. The sky had greyed-out in a uniform way as if he decided to replace his colors, and it was only the green grass among the stones that gave some sort of aliveness to the area.
Mavin probed his hands in his yellow raincoat as he lingered around the corner of the park, with an old sack over his shoulder that he had hooked below his thumb. His oversized brown boots were stumbling awkwardly over the wet grass with their red pimples in the middle, and his face would take an acquisitive expression as he would glance back and forth between his feet and the road as if checking whether he is been watched by someone.
Within a few minutes a middle-aged man, whose bulky, tired eyes matched greatly with his bulky outfit, approached him directly from the street and stopped abruptly in front of him as he made a slight upward nod with his head.
«I thought you were out of town»
«Apparently not,» replied Mavin.
«You don’t seem very well. Jesus, what happened to you?»
«Nothing to worry about. It was just an accident,» said Mavin as he cleaned the spilled blood from the side of his forehead.
«This doesn’t seem like an accident,» replied the man but Mavin ignored the comment.
«You mentioned you needed a lift. What happened?»
«Nothing happened. I just need to get out of here.»
«Anywhere,» he replied making the man startle.
«Oh Mavin,», he shook his head. «I’m afraid you got to me at the wrong time. There are no short runs these days and we are leaving for Chile tomorrow morning.»
«Chile sounds good to me,» replied Mavin calmly.
«Is it really that serious?»
The man remained stunt but Mavin ignored his question once again.
«Hey look, this is cargo shipping, and it is going to take 10 full days for us to get there. Are you sure you want to do this?» he asked.
Mavin nodded condescendingly with a slight drop of his eyes.
«If that’s what you want then fine, but expect no easy ride there. You are going to have to work alongside us and help with anything the ship might needs. Otherwise, I cannot justify it to the rest of the crew.»
«You got it, Jeff. I’ll do whatever it takes» replied Mavin.
«Case closed then. The ship is leaving at 6 o’clock in the morning, but you need to be in the port at five. Got it?»
Mavin nodded and the two men greeted each other as they branched out to their separate ways. The dusk light had darkened even more in the meantime and it was only shadows that appeared in place of everything like the town switched out into their ghost dressing for the night.
There was a strange quality in the water of the port that made it look rather thick and fatty. It was like oil had mingled in with the sea waters and made them soft and pixelated as they expanded over the horizon like a veil that you could grasp with your hand if you decided to put the effort into it. The container terminal was like an amalgamation of huge lego pieces that were extending over the sea in a land that was there just for them. Big colorful containers were stacked one on top of the other and the immense orange gantry-cranes seemed like huge robot-spiders that were sitting above the cargos fixing their nests.
The ships would extend for almost 1000 ft, most of which was occupied by vast deck areas filled with the containers while leaving only a small part at the back for the accommodation and the bridge which would stand like a white tower for the main control center.
Mavin and Jeff met at the forefront of the ship as they got through some of the details that Jeff was particularly keen to elaborate in a fastidious and hasty manner that he exclaimed all with one big breath without moving any of his facial muscles.
«In the ship, there are approximately 20 people. There is the captain, 4 officers, 3 engineers, 8 deck members, 3 cooks, and some of the general personnel. At all times and no matter what you either speak to me or the steward of the ship who can help you with everything you need.» He raised his hand and quizzed Mavin’s shoulder as if trying to tell him something rather important.
«Now I need you to understand. I had to put my name on the line to take on a passenger at the last moment like this. You will need to work on two four hour shifts every day and follow the rules as every other member of the ship does. Whatever they tell you, you have to obey and you need to be very careful of your behavior at all times. Got it?»
«A cargo ship can be a very tough thing to deal with. We have to guard against the weather, the sea, and our minds as well,» he said knocking with his finger on his temple. «Plus, the rust alone gives enough work to drive us mad every time,»
He tapped on his shoulder twice before putting a little smile.
«Welcome on board buddy. Catch you inside?»
He bowed on his grey ivy cap and marched on towards the net staircases that were extending from the ship through a small side door that seemed mostly like an accidental hole.
Mavin stood a while back and observed the large crane that loaded the last containers as if it had a mind of its own. The ship extended beyond him with its massive size that made all the people working across it look unimportant and small like ants that work within an underground nest that grows big enough to occupy a character of its own. The lighting of the sun on the other side of the hemisphere was diming upwards on the far end of the black veil that brought on this twilight dusk that whitened the base of the horizon.
The loud horn made its way with a rugged tone that silenced everything with an ominous demand. Mavin took a long breath, letting the sudden breeze wither his hair away, and marched on onto the ship as it fluctuated gently into the soft rhythm of the sea.
Throughout the outer corridors of the ship, and along the bumpy surfaces of the staircases with their minimal design, hanging through the walls like yellow clip-hangers, every area seemed to be painted recently and had the signs of a well-preserved and relatively new ship. Mavin walked past the numerous pipes and the awkward wrinkled steps that felt as if you could slip through them in a moment’s notice and entered the internal areas of the vessel that contained the main parts of the ship where he would spend most of his time in.
The glistening aisles of the inner halls were like tunnels that would repeat the same pattern along their whole length. Its gentle brown color would be intercepted steadily every few meters by the white doors that seemed like they were small cubicles and would stumble upon another wall once you opened any of them.
Mavin followed along with Matt and Ben, two crew members that introduce him to some of the main areas of the ship and helped him with some basic instructions. They were both very polite and friendly wearing their blue boiler suits with the grey stripes along with their bodies that seemed like additional stitches.
Matt was a middle-age man, with a clean shaved face and short cut hair, that had passed most of the last 20 years over the sea. His eyes had the unique look of someone that was experienced enough to not be easily surprised by anything and be withdrawn from any pretenses people used in the outer world at the same time.
«There are people sleeping in these rooms during every hour of the day,» he exclaimed with a husky voice as they continued their walk into the infinite cubicle that was tapering to narrow lines the further away you looked. «You need to be careful not to make any noise even when you are here at broad daylight.»
He continued moving in the front with his bulky body, which seemed inflexible and compacted like a brick while Ben and Mavin were following along right beside him.
Ben, on the contrary to Matt, was much younger and different in shape with a lanky, bulging trunk, a short chin strap that stood awkwardly on its own, and a vapid expression that had left no urge or desire of its own.
Matt started slowing down before the end of the corridor and unlocked the last door, opening it up with the keys still hanging on the lock as he turned towards Mavin with a cautionary look.
«Here is your cabin. It has everything you might need through your journey coming up with lockers, a fridge, a desk, and pretty much anything else. But,» he pointed up with his finger, «right here you are going to have a head helmet and a safety vest that you are going to have to wear every time you decide to visit the deck. This is part of the rules and applys to everyone equally. Is that clear?» he asked as he placed both of the stuff back in the hooks of the internal walls.
Mavin nodded and the two men left after inviting him to accompany them later on for breakfast in the restaurant. The ship offered 3 meals per day and from what they said they were always meant to stand for some good quality food.
Mavin entered the cabin which was modest but accomodating at the same time and dashed his bag off in the corner. In front of him stood two single-size beds in the two opposite sides of the room, with a redwood color that resembled a tone that had no clear distinction. The matte blue couch was located in between them, right before a petite mini coffee table and beneath two rectangular windows that their fogginess made them as bright as the clouds.
On the right side, the little brown table had fluid wooden fingerprints all over it like a piece from the sea that had been crystallized and turned into furniture. The room offered everything a man would need, yet something felt suffocating in it as if it was a container of its own.
Mavin bounced over the bed feeling the density of the mattress as he leaned backwards and lied there, staring at the ceiling in a peculiar languor. The third horn had already made its way and it wasn’t long till the ship began its long-term journey with its slow, patient rhythm. Mavin setup his alarm and turned sideways in his bed as his face came straight up against a blaze, brownish wall. He felt his lungs blurt out as he closed his eyes and let the sea take him away with its lullaby song.
The breakfast lounge had the same lean simplicity that was to be found in every other area of the ship. Mavin stood in one of the hectic wooden chairs of the restaurant, as he allowed the pitching buzz of the chatter pass through him like a vibration in the air. The room was cramped with three large circular tables that were almost full with people having their ravishing breakfast and seemed to be more like a lunch appetizer or a dessert than the skittish breakfast people had usually in towns.
He sat right next to Jeff who seemed particularly lively while sharing his early morning quest to find his missing helmet and joined the table as he familiarized himself with the rest.
The unlimited bouffe and various choices in the table made the ceremony resemble more of a little fest that was radically different than the black coffee Mavin used to have instead in the last years.
They stayed there for a while as the ship departed further away from the land that was barely visible as a blur shape on top of the sea until Jeff took Mavin to the deck where he could help the crew with their work. He got to spend most of the day brushing and painting the bulks of the million different surfaces on the top lane, as the wind kept his raving frenzy and the distances felt so enlarged across the horizon.
Mavin kept crafting the rust that was eating upon the unlimited metal, like fighting against the urge of the ocean to capitalize the ship and take it down on its depths to have it on its own. And even though he warked furiously for what seemed like infinity, his progress took only a small portion of that leviathan that seemed to be endless across its length.
As the day progressed and he returned to his cabin he thought about the insurmountable loneliness that exists in the sea and he pondered on how much he had missed this soothing comfort of no stimulus.
By the end of the night and as most of the crew had taken the road to their lullaby beds, Mavin and four other men still hanged around in one of the spherical tables of the restaurant as they kept the night warm with wine and long-past stories. Most of the men were officers and engineers like Jeff who was sitting right across from Mavin and they all seemed very keen to share the amazing adventures they had gathered over the years.
Ethan, a man with the characteristic style of his long grey beard and the pipe in his hand, raised his glass up with a proud and intense stretch that spilled some of his red wine and gave a toast.
«As is written by our great predecessors that sailed among the vast seas and fought against the sea-monsters so many years ago, this is the first day of the voyage and so this toast belongs..to the sea!»
«To the sea!» joined everyone else around the table, and as Mavin leaned forward to clink his glass with the man next to him that was rather absorbed and immerse into the sweet melody of the late-night vibe, everyone rushed in to stop him with terrible angst that caused Mavin to startle.
«We never clink glasses on the ship,» exclaimed Jeff. «It’s bad luck.»
«Clinking your glass may anger the Gods of winds,» endorsed Axel with wide-open eyes that seized his whole face. Axel was the youngest of the officers and one with the lowest degree in the whole crew that seemed to always be overly attentive to everybody else.
Ethan throbbed his glass over the table bringing a rattling silence all around.
«You fool, it’s not about the Gods of wind,» he exclaimed with strong potency. «Clinking glasses disturbs the souls of the dead sailors. Pay no attention to this man my dear Mavin, obviously, he has a lot to learn before he can be trusted with anything.»
The man sitting next to Mavin was called Adam and he was evidently an oversized man with red sun-burnt skin and a big curly beard that bushed around his chin. He nodded slightly and then added,
«Ships have been wrecked like little sticks for not following this rule. If you stay long enough in the sea you are gonna learn to respect it.»
Ethan sipped from his glass and continued.
«The spirits of those that die in the sea never really leave. They swing along the oceans and scatter around for a long time before they find the peace they are looking for. If you annoy them, you may bring their wrath upon your head.»
«And that’s why you should never whistle or disturb the seagulls» appended Axel shaking his head.
«Shut up, you idiot!» demanded Ethan and turned to Mavin. «You will learn my friend that the sea has its own rules that are very different from the land. Gods have set their own standards for those that happen to cross their turfs and they will punish severely those who are not worthy.»
He took another sip emptying out his glass all the way and rushed down his hand bumping the table once again gaining the attention of the whole table.
«When Captain Calabran rushed his 300-meter cargo-ship right over the rocks in broad daylight, who was it that forced his hand?» asked Ethan pompously.
«It was the sailor’s spirits for his crew was singing haughtily under their masts, insulting the deads and bringing vengeance upon them,» replied adam sturdily.
«And when Barney’s ship was sunk under the enormous waves that tripped and dragged them into the darkest depths of the black seas, after fighting with the storms for two weeks, what was the cause of this disaster then?»
«But their disrespect to the sea birds of course. They killed an albatross across their trip,» replied Adam again.
«It wasn’t the Albatros from what I know. People say there was a Jonah among the crew members. That was the real reason,» exclaimed Jeff as he glanced at everyone around the table.
«Having a Jonah among the crew is not a funny thing» he said turning to Mavin. «If there is anyone blasphemous among the people, the ship is destined to be wrecked before they reach their destination.»
Mavin remained silent as he continued to listen patiently to the vivid stories of the men. They were all passionate and definite about their beliefs and they seemed to take the subject seriously enough to not allow any violation of their long-standing rules on the ship.
Ethan fixated his eyes over to Mavin and continued.
«The sea can be extremely tough for those who bypass its rules but also quite kind and gracious to those who deserve it. Every single person in this ship has been welcomed here after having their good share of troubles in the land. They paid enough of their duty out in the open before finding a second home here, but the sea was generous enough to offer them a warm bed and some good wine. Ain’t I right?»
The men raised their glasses in the air and howled as they burst into laughter. Then Adam said,
«I was in debt out in my family for more than I can remember. My father wanted to make an investment and open a little corner shop selling tools and little accessories. He got a good chunk of money from the bank and built everything from scratch making sure he chooses the best out of everything.» he chuckled. «He had the best cushions, the best brand brochures, the best advertisement. The shop did well at the beginning but then the big guns came into town and opened their place in the same neighborhood taking all the customers away within a few days. In the end, my father vanished from the face of the earth, leaving me and my family in huge debt.»
He glanced back to Ethan with a somewhat tearful expression and then turn to Mavin again. «If it wasn’t for the word of the officer Ethan Saunders, I would never have convinced the bank to accept a long term arrangement.»
Adam turned again over to Ethan and they nodded to each other.
«I spent every month’s salary over the ship in gathering it all up and paying them back. But pay your debts and your work won’t go in vain. For that, I can attest,»
He raised his glass in a voiceless toast and then Ethan continued.
«And Axel over here was abandoned in an orphanage by his parents when he was only a baby. He got into trouble since a young age when he got stealing and doing various little infringements,» he said as Axel lowered his eyes. «But we accepted him on our ship, the same way we would accept any other troubled soul and the sea was kind enough to open up a different path for him,»
«It was,» verified Axel, «and I’m only blessed to have found this place,»
He raised his glass in sequence and down his wine as he brought his hand with force as his predecessors.
«You can see everybody in this deck has his own story. And has gone through his own trouble before settling down his ways over the board. So what is your story my child?» he asked compassionately. «What brings you down here to us?»
Jeff looked alerted over Mavin who remained tranquil in his position and spoke in a serious manner.
«I was an auto-mechanic for a long time,» he replied. «As a matter of fact, I was working in the same garage since I was 15 years old. Same job, every day for all these years,»
«Ay, that’s a tough job for all I can tell,» said Ethan, «And what happened then, boy? What got you out of it?»
Mavin swirled his glass of wine once as he glanced around the table where everyone was focused on him now. He took his time as he stared against Ethan who stood still and finally gave a little nod after a few seconds that felt more like minutes.
«A few months ago my mother got severely ill. She had heart failure and she needed to be in the hospital and go through a number of surgeries. They accepted her in the beginning and treated her till one day they came back and asked $60000 to keep it going.» He leaned back in his chair.
«I got the money and paid the whole amount but unfortunately, there are people asking for their dues back. There was nothing left for me but to fleet out temporarily till I find a way to sum them up and bring them back to them,»
«You did what you had to do, child. Don’t sweat on it.» He drunk one more of his wine, banked it down to the table, and stood up revealing his silhouette which was much smaller than what his voice would indicate.
«In this ship, you are always welcomed, and I will make sure that you have everything you need.»
He nodded, greeted with his hand like a military man and runoff.
The rest of the night followed the sweet taste of the wine as the four men continued their wassail. Mavin seemed to be particularly keen to learn about the stories of the other two men as they elaborated on their journeys and past lives before changing their course to the sea. Adam was much more vivid as he described his first journey that lasted almost three months and Axel was becoming progressively unrestrained as time passed especially after Ethan left.
As the men left, Mavin and Jeff continued together towards the glistening corridors where Jeff seemed to be rather skeptical about something.
«Mavin,» he said as they paused their walk. «You should know that people in ships are very superstitious about things. They take their rules very seriously and it would be a mistake to dismiss any of them.»
Jeff had a rather worried look on his face that made Mavin uncomfortable as he rushed to explain himself.
«Of course, I would never do that. It seems to be part of the culture and that’s reason enough to be respectful,»
«I don’t think you understand,» Jeff continued cutting out the smile on Mavin’s face. «These people take lies very seriously. They consider them insulting to the dead sailors and if things get rough they could get quite upset for the wrong reasons.»
Mavin folded his hands as he took a deep breath. His flushing skin matched the color of his lips as it got particularly reddish after the dining.
«Why are you saying this? I would never do anything to insult their beliefs ever.»
«The story about your mother?» noted Jeff with apparent sarcasm. «Taking money to save her from heart failure? The Hollywood narration of the lonesome hero that did everything he could to help others while facing the cruelty of society? What is this, you think these people are stupid?» asked Jeff with a progressive rise in his tone of voice that passed over the usual limits of sound in the ship.
Mavin shushed him as he pointed to lower his voice with his hands.
«You are going to wake up the others,» he said as he glanced back and forth across the corridor. «What did you expect me to say, I lost them on a bet? I had to come up with something plausible.»
«And you think the story about your mother was plausible. What if they run a check on you? These people probably did their research before accepting to take you onboard».
«What? Why would they do that?»
Jeff frowned as he looked at him poignantly.
«They are not stupid Mavin, I told you.» he exhaled. «Hey look, you don’t have anything to worry, right now, but I need to bring you back on track». He paused. «Were you really in debt for 60.000 by the way?» he asked bewildered.
Mavin shrugged indifferently. «Well, actually it was more like 100k,»
«Oh for Gods shake Mavin,» Jeff cocked his hands around his waist as his voiced pass the permittable limit once again.
«Sh, just keep quiet,» whispered Mavin. «You’re going to wake everybody up.»
«100.000k?» yelled again Jeff in a whisper. «Was it in the casino again? I thought you were done with it all»
«Anyway, just make sure you don’t let anyone know about this business of yours or you are going to wake up their superstitions again. As long as you and I are the only people to know we are safe,»
He tapped him on the shoulder and they greeted each other as they got into their separate ways to their cabins. Jeff with a vigorous, fast-paced, and Mavin with a slow and somewhat reticent one, and by the way he got back into his bed with the reddish sheets, he found that he had lost his appetite for sleep.
The next day, started with the same buzz as the day before, with people exerting the same vital energy in the restaurant as always, but Mavin found that he was still quite dizzy from last day’s booze.
He sat sluggishly in his usual place and gave a little nod to Jeff and Adam who were sitting right next to him on the left side of the table. In a way it was as if they picked it up this morning at the same point they left it yesterday and once more he found solace in the sheer repetitive sequence of life in the boat.
He raised his colorless mug and tasted some of the bitterness of his black coffee as he realized that although the scene was the same, the mood was radically different and Adam was elaborating on something with a serious tone of voice that made everyone else on the table listen to him meticulously.
«They now think it might pass in Colima, 200 miles outside the land. If that happens in 2 days as we expect it to, then we might pass right through the worst of it before we realize it.»
«But how can’t they predict this? Usually, they can tell in advance» exclaimed Axel.
«It was a weird natural occurrence they said. Nobody could have foreseen it, and now Captain will have to make a decision of whether we should move ahead or take the safe route and moor the ship till this is all over.»
«Mason would never risk something like that. I think he will get us all over to the first shore where we can wait with women and booze for the situation to settle». He laughed in a preposterous manner that was cut abruptly by the quick reprimand of Jeff.
«Axel! This is serious God damn it. We are moving millions of worth of containers and I doubt he can take such a decision so lightly. Especially given the customers we are having.»
«I guess the best thing would be to just wait and see where this thing is going before jumping to any conclusions» added Jeff which had a strangely soothing effect over the men at the table.
Mavin, who was still puzzled about the incident skirted.
«What is going on? Is there any issue with the ship?»
«I wish it was,» replied Jeff. «This bulk of metal could withstand anything really without batting an eye. Unfortunately, there are outside forces that create the problem in this case.»
«It’s a cyclone,» added Axel. «It appeared out of nowhere and there is a chance it might collide with our route in a couple of days. Chances are small but the Captain will have to make a decision of whether we try to bypass it or we stay out of it and lose a couple of days of sailing.»
«It is a big one as well.» continued Adam. «They say it’s about 1000 miles long which makes the point of how severe it is.»
«I think that’s enough speculation for one day. Why don’t we drop the subject and we move on with our day,» exclaimed Jeff as he raised from his chair cutting off the discussion. And within minutes the men dispersed into the separate paths of their intricate jobs along with their schedule.
The rest of the day continued with a strenuous rhythm as the weather seemed to be darker and the hob in the back end stern of the ship seemed fruitless the more time Mavin spent on it. The whole area behind the main vessel seemed to be abandoned for a long time leaving signs of its deterioration all around.
Adam who was guiding Mavin over his work on the ship seemed quite diligent about the work which seemed quite opposite to the attitude he was showing over the table.
“We need to clean out the whole row in the back by night, kid.” he snarled with his cigar over his mouth. “We have no time to waste”.
Mavin would observe the prolonged huge rusty pipes extending around him like huge snakes that were frozen out of their nest, and he would despair on the amount of work something like this would entail.
But he kept his focus anyway and continued rubbing till the palms of his hands got blotches on them and the nerves were so overcharged to leave a constant tremble out of his hand.
They finished the work just before the light got completely vanished from the horizon and at the end of the night, there was once again the usual group of people gathered at the table as they struck their fists over the table and took their tense expressions while sharing their stories.
“You should be there with us when the whales were fighting against our seiner,” exclaimed Ethan raising his chin up proudly. “25 meters, beasts that could shatter your ship into pieces just to have their fun with it.”
He glanced downwards as he let the past memories rise up to him again and continued keeping the same posture.
“Everybody thinks about whales and they are talking about how kind and sweet animals they are when they knock the ball out of their tamer’s head. But they have never seen what they can do or how they are really like out in the open. Down to the most distant seas that they have nothing else to think of you other than the fact that you intrude their space.”
He raised his eyes again.
“They would gather some time two or three of them and they would trail together with the boat, heating us from the side, bumping the ship in order to turn it around. Oh I’m telling you boy the sea can be tough sometimes and I don’t even know how we got away with it,”
“We had the sailor’s spirits with us, buddy. That’s how we escaped it,” consented Adam.
“Whales can get troublesome when they want to,” added Matt. “But getting through a God Dam hurricane while sailing in the unknown can resemble a scenario from hell if you get there at the wrong moment,”
Matt was the ship cadet had something very austere about his attitude. His face seemed to be drawn down and apathetic and gave the impression that he was never keen to smile or do anything remotely joyful.
“It happened to me while I was sailing over the East Indies, where I would swear the sea just wanted to gulp us and burry as alive. Waves would raise 10 times the size of the boat and the whole ship seemed like a dam dry log within it. We were lucky to get out of this alive and that was the last time I ever passed there,”
Mavin nodded and gave a quick chuckle as he shook his head smiling.
“I wish there was something half exciting as this to happen in the land but I’m afraid things out there are much more predictable.”
“Oh come on Mavin there has to be something,” exclaimed Adams.
“Yes Mavin, share something that happened to you in the past. There must be some risky situation you got yourself into,” agreed Axel putting even more pressure on Mavin.
Mavin glanced a little bit around him as he pressured his lips and twisted his glass of wine. He grinned, he looked down, he checked silently with Jeff who was staring at him motionless, and finally spoke as he gave a little shrug in the beginning.
“Well, there was a time back in the day that me and my pals were working over a gas station to make some pocket money for our summer. We shouldn’t be more than 15 at the time but we were determined to make enough money to be able to go camping and we were ready to do some hard work for it.”
The people around the table kept listening to him with full devotion as Mavin seemed fervent about the whole incident.
“The boss was quite a dickhead, I mean this guy would simply kill us in work, he would make us do all the tough stuff, spending hours on end making repairments and doing his job while giving us very little in return and many times even hitting us. So one day we decided to teach him a lesson, we stood around him and we started punching and kicking him, it was all the three of us and he was on his own and we run off after taking some bucks out of the caching machine that seemed to make the cut for our trip,” he paused as he chuckled.
“You should see this guy’s face, he never saw it coming for three kids half his size,” he said as he continued laughing. “He even got so scared that he never bothered any of us about what happened. What can I say he got what he deserved.”
His laughter started dissipating as he glanced at the people around the table who all seemed to stare at him quite seriously.
“What? Did I say anything wrong?” he asked looking at Jeff.
“This is not a story of virtue, kid” replied Ethan scoldingly, “this is an act of cowardice.”
Mavin startled as he glazed the people around him and replied with a mumble.
«This guy was an exploiter. He would overload us with work for mere crumbs and take advantage of everyone as long as he would think he could get away with it.»
«Bullshit» uttered Ethan categorically.
«He was not a decent man or anyone who deserved respect for that matter,» continued Mavin who paid no attention to the comment. «he never paid us on time and he would give us trouble all the time just for his amusement.»
He glanced around him once again as all people stood in an unresponsive expression.
«You don’t believe me? This guy was a prick, I’m telling you,»
«This guy was a simple businessman, trying to make a living the best way he could,» replied Ethan cutting him out. «You kids know nothing about what it takes to make a living on your own nowadays. All I can tell is that he did nothing more than give you a chance to make some money decently and you took it and turn it against him.»
The high pressure of his anger had manifested all over his face that was reddened and distorted with a hateful grimace.
«You turned back and bit the man that helped you. There is nothing more dishonorable than that.»
He raised up and scolded him with his look as he departed from his table leaving a strange awkwardness behind him. One by one the men followed along and left the table letting their disappointment shine through their unforgiving faces. In the end, there was only Jeff who stood right across him and his eyes were asking for something that his mouth could not articulate.
«I think they just got the wrong idea. It really wasn’t that bad,» exclaimed Mavin with a soft voice.
«Mavin, I told you before ships have their own rules they go by. You need to understand this is not the environment you were used to for so long.» He raised up and passed near him as he tapped over his shoulder.
«Just try to level with them a little bit more next time alright? If you make an effort to realize where they are coming from they will reach out to understand where you are coming from as well.»
He nodded and left the room as well as Mavin stood there for a while, as he pointlessly twirled over his lighter that seemed to be unwilling to stand still. Later on, he took a walk in the outer passageway as he glanced over the candle warm light falling gently over the ripples of the darkened sea and felt the calm rhythm of the ship as it made all his thoughts vanish as if by magic.
He stood over the railings with his elbows as he glazed over the unknown as a strange figure made its appearance in the level above him and took a similar posture a little bit further. She was a woman that he had never seen so far and her beautiful feminine curves, as they shaped over the dim light made him hook his eyes on her ceaselessly. He waited there till she left a few minutes later and laying over his bed with a jittery insomnia, he found that he could not take his mind away from the woman.
From the moment Mavin got out of his Cabin the next morning there was general turbulence over the ship with people rushing through the corridors excessively anxious. They all seemed to be displeased and rather worried although none of them talked much or said anything to explain the situation.
Mavin reached out into the main lounge where Jeff was standing together with Adams discontented. Mavin approached them as they scrutinized over a large diagram they were holding and Adams pointed his finger over an imaginary route.
«Nobody seems to be in a good mood today,» he exclaimed with a rather flabby attitude. «Is there something off?»
Jeff and Adams glanced at each other momentarily as Jeff turned towards him with a serious attitude.
«The cyclone made a turn last night and changed its course in a way that it might collide with our path. If it continues down like this and we get anywhere near it we might get in trouble quite fast.»
«Is there a chance to detour then or just stand by for a while till it dissipates?»
«We can try to evade the situation and move east towards south Mexico but nothing says that this is going to make things easier or that we are going to be able to avoid the cyclone anyhow. We may end up right towards it again and make things worse.»
«This thing just keeps changing its course and doing a de route may have a huge cost» added Adams. «The only thing we can do for the moment is to keep our course and examine how it moves on through the day. But be cautious because we might have some turmoil in the following days,»
Mavin followed along with his usual work as he worked on the back deck of the ship with the grey clouds looming over his head. Something in the distress of the long waves and the myriad ripples that wrinkled the sea had a bleak foreshadow as the wind kept whistling like a bad omen. Within a few hours, the waves continued growing and a storm made its way leading everyone in the crew to abandon their post on the deck and move inside.
Mavin and Adams stood inside the door with their waterproof customs, that bulged awkwardly around their torso. Mavin’s head was still covered with a scarf that was fully soaked, dripping on the ground as he unfolded it around his neck. They took their glasses and helmets off and they only moved a little bit before they met Matt who informed them about the new plans.
«They want to divert towards the Colima port which is only a few hours away but it seems like the cyclone got ahead of us already if we make a move towards the land it might turn worse at the end.»
«Colima?» exhaled Adams as he swung over his wet hair. «I thought the best plan was for us to move behind.»
«And lose another couple of days? I doubt they would go for that so easily,» he exclaimed. «Right now they are considering to circumvent the whole thing from the other side and go into the deeper sea zone just to get through it,»
«That sounds even more dangerous to me. Do we really have the time to make such a maneuver?»
«I don’t know man,» shrugged Mat indifferently. «But that’s what I’ve heard about it anyway,» he said as he gave a little nod and left the two men staring at each other bewildered.
The day ahead moved slowly with minutes to be dragging and Mavin having no way to pass his time. He remained mostly in his cabin where he iterated some of the old books he could find somewhat interesting from the ship library.
The storm in the meantime had grown strong enough to be really apparent to the ship that was swinging back and forth abruptly as things would fall from desks and the icy rain would hit over the glass of the window like little pebbles.
Mavin took the road towards the main lounge where he took a seat next to Jeff at the round table together with the rest of the crew. It seemed that although the ship was dancing like a branch amidst the ocean people hadn’t lost their courage and went about their business as usual.
«The captain just made the decision to it and thus there is no turning back now,» yelled Matt.
«And if the seas decide to swamp us like warms into the whirlpool, then so be it. I had my good share of laughter over this dumpster they call life. And if the Gods decide it is my time to go then I’m happy it is with you and not with someone else.» said Adams as he raised his glass of wine and drunk together with the rest.
Talking more silently and with the tone of voice that could only be heard between the two of them Mavin turned over to Jeff.
«Did the captain made up his mind?»
«Apparently he did. We are moving east trying to evade the cyclone from the right side. We do expect turbulence over the next two days but the captain knows best and he is the only man who can make this decision.»
«Well, I hope he knows what he is doing,» replied Mavin.
«He does. He is in constant communication with the service center that informs him about the route of the cyclone every hour. Plus he is standing right above us so he can see things more clearly.» he said as he pointed with his finger up.
Mavin nodded. Thought about it for a second and then replied.
«Interesting. Actually, I noticed a female figure over the top floor yesterday. Is she part of the crew?»
«You must be talking about Sophia. The captain’s wife» responded Jeff with a mild smile. «You may get the chance to meet her actually at some point. She is a very fine woman.»
«Sure,» replied Mavin. «That would be lovely».
The night continued along with the crew drinking along the night as if it was the last night of their lives. And the ship kept swinging along as if it was accompanying along with the rhythm of the song that the sailors were singing.
Ethan who made his way later in the night joined with the rest of the crew but when the time came he made a comment that took Mavin by surprise.
«May God forgive me for all my sins if this is going to be the last trip. Alas, I know well that I have lived a decent and honest life that I never hurt anyone. At least no one who didn’t deserve it.» the table burst out laughing. «But if I was to ever chose between the toughest hardships over the sea and stealing from people or messing with the casinos, I would always choose the first path again and again.»
«Amen,» declared Adams as they all raised their glasses and drunk once again. And Mavin glanced over at Jeff who seemed particularly conscious of his response and raised his eyebrows in a little shrug.
«What was that, did you tell them anything?» he whispered to him with a teetering mouth.
«Sea-men are very particular,» replied Jeff. «There is not much you can do about it.»
«But how did they learned about it? It seems to me if I remember correctly that you and I are the only people who know about this. If I didn’t say anything which I’m pretty sure I didn’t then that leaves just one person for it doesn’t it?»
«What, you think it was me?» he shook over his head. «Ethan always runs his checks over the men he takes on board, probably it didn’t take long to ask some questions and learn the whole story.»
«Run checks? Why would he do that?»
Jeff shrugged ignoring the question as the ship continued its bumpy road ahead and the song of the crew resonated strongly to the whole room. And as Mavin left and returned back to his cabin a bit later he once again found it hard to close his eyes for the rest of the night.
As the next day began, Mavin came up with the new directions to help Matt clean some parts of the bridge which was on the top floor of the vessel. Matt who was one of the top officers on the ship would spend his time there many times with the captain as he would help him pass on his orders.
The captain was a relatively young man that had a big red beard that would blend in smoothly with his reddish hair. Not very tall but with a proud attitude and a strong voice that would reverberate across the room as if he was using speakers.
«Let me see here,» he said the moment he met Mavin. «Strong hands, good body posture, healthy physic. I could use a man like you on the ship.»
«That would be an honor sir,» replied Mavin, «but honestly I am not sure If I would be able to withstand the pressure.»
He began mopping the floor around the multifacet panel that was constituting the floor. Right in front of him across the big glass window, the vast sea was extending beyond the long deck where the distant lengths would vanish under a thin line over the horizon. The board resembled the control panel of a space shift that had myriad buttons and handles all over it.
Just before he finished his work and before he was about to leave, the woman made its appearance through the door as she greeted the captain and sat right next to him. She was a vigorous woman with big round blue eyes and a red ribbon tied around her black hair. Her white pale skin would come in contrast with her colorful clothes and her hand would lie out soft and fragile as she leaned over the panel desk.
«Honey I don’t know if you have met him yet but we have a new member with us on this trip,» exclaimed the captain. «He is a fine young man let me introduce you to him.»
He called on Mavin who was still hanging in the back end corner and as he approached them he put out a big smile that carved his big thick cheeks.
«This is Mavin,» he said as the woman extended her hand. «He is a friend of Jeff’s and he is riding along with us all the way to Chile.»
The woman greeted him and introduced herself with the name «Stella» as Mavin stared a little bit longer over the wet light red crayon over her lips.
«Your figure is quite familiar to me, so I know you from somewhere?» she asked.
«Well, I don’t think so mam. I don’t travel that much really.»
«Maybe it’s not from a ship. Where were you living before?»
«I was living over at Staten Island. Working as a car mechanic mam,»
«Car mechanic. Of course, that’s how I know you.» Her face lightened up like a bulb. «I used to bring my car to you every time I would get into an accident.»
She turned around to speak to her husband.
«Do you remember honey? This is the guy I was telling you about.»
Mavin nodded and finally remembered how she had turned up a few years back in a draining floral outfit for her damaged car. She used to be much different back then, with a blonde set of hair and under the influence of the accident she had gone through.
Mavin greeted them and returned back to his cabin where he lied down into his bed and finally managed to get some sleep.
In the afternoon Mavin met again with Matt who continued the set of work for the floor below. The storm had grown quite intense already with the ship having regular stirrings as it fluctuated up and down, plummeting with the down before gazing at the sky in sheer terror. It felt as if it was riding the course of giant waves that could barely pass without turning upside down.
«Here, take this mop and make sure you have this whole floor wept out clean before evening. It hasn’t been cleaned for a while so it’s going to take some time.»
He leaned over the wall as he stretched out his hand on it as he supported his whole body twisting his feet as if it was a butter twist cookie.
«So you seem to know Stella quite well?» he asked making Mavin startle.
«Lucky occurrence I guess,» he replied. «She happened to be a customer at the car store I was working on a couple of times.»
«Right, right,» muttered Matt. «It’s a good thing she didn’t meet you in one of those casinos you used to hang out at. That wouldn’t work out very well for the ‘hard-working car-mechanic’ sort of guy, would it?»
Mavin cocked his hands over his waist as he approached him a couple of steps.
«What are you talking about here? What casinos?»
«Oh come on, don’t act like you don’t understand. You know what I’m talking about.» he leaned his head over to his left side as if taking a better look. «You remember the 100.000 debt you have after playing on for more than you could bite? You know you are quite a popular guy out there, people would love to get some information about your whereabouts given the chance.»
«You don’t know what you’re talking about,» replied Mavin angrily as he clenched his fists.
«I don’t? Oh excuse me cause I thought otherwise.» he smiled. «Let me try again. What about a woman called ‘Elisabeth Turner’ then? Rumors has it that you took away a good bunch of her money to cover your insatiable lust for lucky games». He raised his eyebrows as he continued.
«And then you took some more money from your parents, you smuggled around on other people. Do you want me to continue?»
Mavin moved a step forward with a heavy breath as his face grimaced in an angry expression.
«Oh yeah, go on. Why don’t you punch me there, boy? Let’s see how that is going to turn out for you.» he challenged him as he stared down on him.
Mavin took a step back and turned on the side.
«That’s what I thought. Now move on with your work because it’s getting quite late already. You don’t want to stay up all night working now do you?» he asked as he walked right past him with a snarl as he made his way out.
By the evening and as Mavin finished up with his work, he walked all the across the other side of the floor where Jeff’s cabin was located. The ground felt somewhat teetering and unstable as the night’s winds reeled the ship in and he leaned towards on his right side as he made his way through them.
He knocked over his door that Jeff opened wearing a white shirt and a robe looking quite perplexed.
«They already know,» he uttered immediately. «Matt fuckin confronted me about it.»
Jeff glanced across the two sides of the corridor and he gestured to enter. The room was quite messy and unordered with stuff and clothes cluttering the space and Jeff cleaned up a chair for him.
«What happened?» asked Jeff worried.
«I told you what happened. Matt told me everything. These people have been researching my past. They don’t know only about my debt, but what I did with my money, where I got it from and God knows what else.» he shook his head in disbelief. «Why would they do something like that?»
Jeff shook his head as he leaned over his knees.
«I told you already people in the ship can be very superstitious.»
«They had no right to do that,» replied Mavin. «What I do with my life is none of their business. Digging about my past? I only wanted a simple ride, and we all agreed on this from the get-go. Didn’t we?»
«We did,» confirmed Jeff as he raised from his chair. «But the point here is that rules in a ship are completely different.»
He approached towards Mavin as his voice took a softer tone.
«I mean look at these people, they spend their whole life over the ship, far away from big cities and the lights, and they end up in a boat amidst the ocean without knowing whether they will find themselves waking up the next day or not. Anything could happen over a simple trip, anything. A misfunction, a crash, a cyclone? And it would snap them out of their lives for good within a few minutes’ time.»
He took the chair next to Mavin as he sat down close to him.
«Look, all I’m trying to say here is that opposing them, for the time being, would only add more fuel to the fire. There is no need for that.»
«What else can I do? It seems I’ve been running out of choices.»
«I’ll tell you what,» he said as he took on a considerate expression on his face. «I think I have an idea about this. These are people that are highly religious, they are exposed daily to the natural elements and they have grown this strong predisposition on not being misjudged from Gods for their actions.»
He raised up again as he started pacing along with the room ruminatively.
«What they are really after is not to search over a particular person that happened to be here in the ship with them, but to make sure they won’t upset the souls of the dead sailors into drowning them.»
He raised his hand pointing upwards with his finger.
«So maybe the best step forward is not to avoid them but to soothe them that this is a past forgotten era of yours that has closed for good and you have set out to a new path.»
«Jeff that seems all a little bit too overstretched,» scolded Mavin disheartened.
«No, no, listen» Jeff interrupted him again.
«If we find a way for you to just come clean about the whole thing, you would have nothing to worry about. Tonight. While at the table make sure you take the seat near the corner. It’s where Ethan likes to place himself as well, so you can have a chance to talk to him about it and set a better ground to understand you.»
Mavin kept staring at Jeff with his hands folded.
«Persuade Ethan that you have made a turn and then all the rest will follow along. That far I can assure you,» he ended and Mavin took the advice somewhat reluctantly as he marched out of the cabin having been somewhat puzzled and bewildered by it. Struck with his own thoughts he returned back to his cabin just to get a small break before dinner.
As the night came and the time for the last meal of the day made its way, Mavin attended the restaurant having some casual time from early on, as he observed the cooks shifting maniacally along their posts and listened to the clatter of the knives against the grilling surfaces surpassing the room with their explosive cry.
There were three cooks in the ship and they were all females, experienced craftsmen that could feed a whole army of sailors amidst the worst of their hunger and please all of them at once.
Anne, the oldest of the three and the chief cook was a middle-aged Philipino woman who seemed to have lost her ability to be angry with anything. Mavin stood aside in the panel as he observed the smooth moves of her hands as they manipulated the ingredients like clay, smashing out the magnificent raw scents of the material mixing up with each other as the cooking oil was blastering on her side like a boiling fire that was ready to destroy everything that was put inside it.
«It always eludes me how you can manage through so much work at once, without a sweat» exclaimed Mavin as he shook mildly his head with a grin on his face.
Anne glanced at him behind her white doctor suit as she continued spinning over the mash of meat and vegetables that were blazing over the black bitumen.
«If there is one thing you learn in a ship is this.» she said, «You can’t let things get to you, my dear, no matter what. If you are to survive this ‘shithole’,» she enunciated with her mouth without a voice, «you need to develop a thick skin.»
She shook the pan on her right side as she pointed to Mavin with her turning spatula.
«That and also you have to appreciate the little things. A good meal, some good chat, a beautiful sunny day, you know what I mean?» she asked as she nodded her head. «This is what can let you get by without losing your mind around here..»
Her smile was genuine and unrestrained and her voice had a soothing effect as Mavin got submerged by it as if it was some kind of spell. He kept watching her for a while as she continued her work before the rest of the crew started gathering on the venue and they all took their seats with the usual exacerbated roar.
Mavin took the seat at the end corner of the room right next to Ethan as Matt and Jeff made their way with a buzzing murmur. Ethan held his pipe out filling it meticulously with the tobacco as he gave a few consecutive quick bursts of air that managed to generate a strange mist around him. He seemed particularly disengaged this evening and maybe somewhat fatigued as his face distorted with a sore expression.
«It seems like the bad weather is retreating finally,» exclaimed Mavin with an appeasing tone. «Maybe we can find some peace with that issue at last.»
«Oh, I wouldn’t rush to any conclusions there boy. We managed to bypass the damn cyclone alright but it changed its course again today and now it seems to be right behind us. It is as if it is chasing us around in every step we take.»
«Maybe it is a sign that Gods don’t like someone on the ship,» said Matt who directed his eyes over to Mavin as he took his seat over the table. «And if that’s the case, the bad weather won’t stop till we get rid of him from the ship for good.»
«There is no need to have this discussion,» exclaimed Ethan.
«You have no idea what you are talking about,» added Mavin immediately. «You think that because you learned a thing or two about me it gives you the right to judge me for who I am now. Maybe it is time to learn that people can change with time and who they were a few years back can be totally different from who they are now.»
«Oh is it?» asked Matt sarcastically. «I think you have too much of a nerve to say that after everything you’ve done out there»,
«Matt that’s enough,» yelled Ethan as he pointed sharply over him.
«No, no, that’s fine, no need to stop him,» responded Mavin with a challenging smile on his face. «I think it’s better if we just clear this issue once and for all.»
His eyes seemed to be nailed over at Matt who sat back on his chair waiting for his response.
«This is your ship and you set the rules to it so you have the right to know.» He swept the wine from his mouth as he continued.
«What I told you about me was a lie. My mother never had a heart attack and I didn’t take the money for her. That was never the case.»
Matt burst a little laugh but Mavin ignored it.
«What happened, in reality, was that I did go through a period where all I could live for was the casino. I would gamble incessantly without realizing what I was doing or how severe was my situation. But I was an addict and I managed to get through it. The whole thing left me with a debt of a few thousands but I plan to pay everything back and I won’t stop till I come clean out of it.»
He glanced around the three men consecutively as he continued.
«So this is the story, I know I did some bad things back then and put people in debt that didn’t worth it, but I made some mistakes that I’m willing to fix.»
He waited for someone to say something but all three men seemed to avoid it.
«So?» he asked with a little shrug.
«You little damhead you think that will exhilarate you from everything you’ve done don’t you?» asked Matt as his body seemed particularly still. «Can you believe this guy? he stole money from all the innocent people he could find. He robbed them and manipulated them for his little hobby and now he thinks that a little ‘I’m sorry’ speech is going to fix everything as by magic. Well, guess what pal, it doesn’t work this way. Your actions were blasphemous and that means that someone up there won’t quit until he marks you off his list.»
He turned to Ethan who kept his head down the whole time. «I’m telling you this guy is a Jonah and he is gonna bring the whole ship down if we don’t do anything about it.»
Ethan asked him to calm down again but the situation got out of hand as Axel joined the conversation from the table next to them, and aggregated the pressure as he took his side with Matt.
«If the spirits don’t approve of him then we are dragging ourselves down for putting him under our protection,» exclaimed Axel who seemed particularly passionate about it.
And so did the rest of the man at the table who kept their aggressive stare over Mavin who got out of the room just in time to not be attacked by them. And as he and Jeff paced vigilantly out with a sense of horror, they could hear the angry outcries of the crew members as the venue seemed to be possessed by some insurmountable anger.
From the moment the door of the cabin closed and the two men got inside under the stagnant air of the little cubicle-room, Jeff’s face took a menacing look and he pushed Mavin, thrusting him over the bed with an abrupt move.
«Are you crazy? What the hell were you thinking to say all those things on the table» he uttered.
«Wait a minute I thought we both agreed this would be the best move given the circumstances. If I remember correctly it was you who had this brilliant idea of talking to them and trying to level with whatever ideas they were having.»
Mavin leaned forwards over the bed as he sat on the side of it with his hands over his knees. Mavin who was still standing kept swirling in front of him.
«What I told you was to speak to Ethan alone. Not to challenge everyone in the whole God damn restaurant.»
«I didn’t have a choice. The guy just jumped on me from the moment I opened my mouth. What did you expect me to do?»
Mavin remained silent. There was some minor tremor on his hand as it shaped a little shell in front of his mouth and his eyes darted back and forth as if he was in the middle of deep thinking. The glass on top of the table shifted and the ship took a deep angle making Jeff lean backwards on his feet to stabilize himself.
Both men took a look outside at each side of the windows observing the white railings flactuating in front of the black canvas.
«It doesn’t look very good» said Mavin in a much softer tone of voice.
«No, it doesn’t. I think it would be wise to be very careful about what you are doing from now on. Don’t go outside unless you are with me or some person of trust. And don’t talk to anyone if you don’t know what they are after.»
He glanced outside the window again.
«This is only going to add more distrust I’m afraid. No room for mistakes from now on,» he said as he nodded at him with a penetrating look.
Another hour passed as the two men remained in the cabin mostly reticent in their own thoughts as an unexpected knock came from the door. Jeff fearing the worst, propelled Mavin back as he approached the door cautiously, leaning over its surface with his ear touching softly as if it was the most fragile thing in the world.
«Mavin! Jeff! Are you in there?» the voice asked. «It’s me, Ben.»
Jeff unlocked the door carefully and with the minimum of movements he slid oped gradually, as he stuck his head out.
«Are you alone?» he asked.
«It’s just me boss,» replied Ben keeping his hat in front of his belly, «just need to talk to you. The captain learned about the incident and requested both you and Mavin up to the bridge. He wants to talk to you together with the rest of the guys.»
«He learned about it already?»
The man shrugged.
«OK, OK, we’ll be there in a minute». He turned back to Mavin. «Buckle up kid. Time for the big guns to come to the rescue,» he snarled with a little grin.
The red lights of the room would loom over the board like a bad omen. Red buttons and screens would stand prominent like self-illuminated fishes in the sea, leaving the rest of the bridge fainted in the background, lost within the mist of negligence.
The moment Mavin and Jeff entered in, the captain was wandering before the board with his hands behind his back and a frowning expression as his thick red eyebrows mingled. In the bench, glued in the back end of the wall, the figures of Ethan, Adams, and Matt took shape as they waited patiently for the captain to speak.
«Captain?» asked Jeff solemnly.
«Please, take a seat» declared the captain pointing to the seats next to the bench.
Jeff and Mavin glanced at it somewhat reluctantly observing the rest of the crew who seemed to be indifferent to their presence and moved on.
«I guess you gentlemen are well aware for the purpose I gathered you all here tonight.» exclaimed the captain with a subtle bounce of his feet.
«There is another clash taking place within the borders of this ship. And I’m afraid it has nothing to do with the external forces we are dealing with for the last few days.»
He continued his walk as the rest of the men remained silent.
«Ethan, how long is it that we work together now?» he asked.
«Aye, it’s been more than two decades my captain. And I have been lucky enough to have been under your good judgment for so long.»
«Right,» The captain nodded. «Two decades. And within this time, was there any time at all that I have neglect your well-being in any way, or forgotten about any of the crew members?»
«Aye, sir!» he prompted. «There was never such a case. No matter what circumstances we got through we always found the way to get through it,»
«Right, right» he nodded again. «As of now and as you are all well aware, we are dealing with one of the worse cyclones we have ever encountered in our history. I’ve been in calls with the control center twice every hour. Studying the route of it and trying to find a way to make our trip putting your safety above everything else. I’ve been speaking with analysts, meteorologists, examining satellite images just to get the chance to get through this safely without anyone losing his job» . His voice was becoming progressively stronger.
«And this is how you pay me back? By fighting like little children who have nothing better to do with their day?»
He glanced at each and every person on the bench individually as they kept their stooped position.
«And you Ethan were part of all this and you didn’t do anything to stop it?» he asked.
«Aye, I couldn’t sir. Things just escalated too quickly for me to be able to intervene.»
«Sir if I may speak,» exclaimed Mavin as he raised his hand. «This has all been my fault. They guys had nothing to do with it really, I just said some things that I shouldn’t, and that was noone else’s mistake but mine.»
Captain scrutinized Mavin as he stared at him with his folding hands. The tightness of them around his chest seemed as if his lungs were suffocating as they visibly fluctuated up and down.
«You, my friend are the last person I would blame for this,» he said as all men raised their heads to face him. «I think the person we should be looking at in this case is a different one.» He paused. «Matt? do you have anything to say on this?»
«I do sir and my position remains the same as I have described already. This is a blasphemous person and unless we make sure he gets off-board our torture is not going to stop till we either drown or the ship is throttled down to the depths of the sea.»
«So you are saying,» replied the captain, «that every time we encounter a storm or a cyclone it is because there is someone blasphemous?»
«In some cases that is true sir yes.»
«Can I remind you how many times we have been through this kind of incident while having none other onboard but us?»
«It wasn’t the same sir,» replied Matt.
«It wasn’t the same? How so? How can you really tell the difference between the two?»
Matt startled. He glanced down, then back at the captain, at Mavin, then back at the captain, and cleared his throat.
«It’s the signs sir, this cyclone is too persistent it feels irrational to be a natural occurrence.»
«You mean to say that this is the only storm that has lasted for more than a couple of days the whole time you have been around here?» persisted the captain.
«No, no sir» stuttered Matt. «But this just seems different than the usual.»
The captain leaned towards at him as he let his eyes widen in their whole capacity.
«Could it be my dear Matt, that you just imagined that this man is responsible for what we are going through and you decided to punish him even though he is completely innocent?».
He stood up again. «I think I’ve heard enough. Officer, from now on you are going to be watched very closely. If I hear anything strange about your actions or behavior towards anyone in this ship, I’m going to make sure you will never set your foot in another ship ever again. Is that clear?» he shouted.
«Yes sir, absolutely,» murmured Matt silently.
«Good now stand up and get the hell out of here, cause I’m warning you. This is the very last time I show such patience». He walked back onto his board again, letting the men get on in their way.
The hard knock on the maple came stifled yet resounding enough to wake Mavin up from his deep sleep. The left side of his face was reddened and wrinkled as he raised from the pillow squinting over the door. He twisted, raised up in his black shorts and shirt, and took a deep breath before opening the door.
«Mavin,» exclaimed Jeff as he swarmed in without paying any attention to him. «I have some great news. You won’t have to bother with the guys anymore at work. For the next few days you will just be helping out with the internal cleaning and that’s about it. We keep it down, do our work till we reach the destination and we can finally rest for good. Sounds good?» he asked.
Mavin took a lion yawn as he ducked his feet back to the bed again and sat as he rubbed his eyes.
«I guess, it’s good enough,» he exclaimed with a hoarse voice.
«Good enough? That’s great,» he uttered. «These are not people you want to rub it off with for too long if you know what I mean.» He walked back to the door as he leaned over the side. «Anyway, I thought I might let you in on it since we can let the rest bump off with their business. Catch you inside the lounge in a few?»
He asked as he greeted and left the cabin. Mavin slumped back into his bedand stood there staring at the ceiling. His hands felt limp and feeble as he let them loom aimlessly on his sides. He stalled in his room for a while doing nothing in particular and stormed out of the room with his eyes somewhat swollen and narrowed.
The day followed a normal rhythm as Mavin and Jeff had their breakfast and followed along with their work. Jeff who was an experienced engineer was working at the lowest level of the ship where the engine was lying, while Mavin helped clean some of the inner corridors of the ship.
The swing of the movement had grown stronger and there were occurrences where Mavin had to lean abruptly towards one wall or the other to keep his balance. The ship was dangling back and forth like a pendulum and the constant swivel brought vertigo to him who had to struggle after a while.
He took a little ball and dropped it to the ground as he observed its motion accelerating and smashing towards one wall before changing course and pumping on the other. This way I can at least anticipate the pivot he thought with a smile on his face.
He continued sweeping the floor for a while as Ben suddenly appeared from the end of the corridor and rushed towards him with a concerned look on his face. His lanky attitude together with the sluggishness of his movement was totally opposite to his hasty attitude and Mavin staggered in watching him going through his struggle.
«There is a fire,» he exclaimed with an exasperated voice. «There is a fire in the containers», and a raucous, earsplitting bell, ringed over the corridors that made Mavins’s face distorted in pain.
«We need to get out now,» continued Ben as he grabbed him by the arm and pushed him to follow him. They run out of the vessel and swirled around the outer staircase as they reached the level of the deck.
Mavin staggered the moment he gazed over the spectacle. The fires had swarmed the front-end part of the deck and swayed over the containers as the wind blew frantically towards them. The orange inferno was wavering on its demand and a dark cloud had shaped right above it as if the fire was falling right from it.
The crew members were holding a number of water pumps, as they were shooting it over the ever-growing fire with sheer pressure. Yet compared to the size of the opponent, it was mostly fruitless and it seemed as if the fire was swallowing it unbothered and was feeding on it to continue down to its destructive path.
The men rushed towards the crew members and helped them take the fire out. It took a couple of hours for the whole operation to finish and then the whole afternoon, trying to understand where it came from and making sure there were no other outbreaks.
«There are certain substances,» declared the captain as he gathered all the crew members, «that can be easily ignited within a container. Among them are chemicals and electronics. Unfortunately for us, it happened to carry one such container that had enough batteries in it to create this reaction.»
A murmur sounded among the audience.
«As of now we have taken all the necessary actions to verify there are no subsidue fires going, and we have notified office of the incident.»
He thanked all the members for their amazing coordination and skills for putting it down so fast and assured them that the trip would continue taking extra precautions to end it smoothly.
The members hugged and shook hands with each other in a display of unity and solidarity. Yet Mavin still got a glance of Matt who was staring at him aggressively across the room and even though he wanted to put the whole thing behind him and find some commonplace with him, he turned on his side and continued the conversation with his group.
The next morning the weather had taken its toll and was bad enough to restrict everyone from getting out of the vessel. The wind was so strong that the ship would sail slanted over for a few seconds and it was difficult to even move without falling. The speed of the ship had fallen to half its normal speed around 10 knots, and there was a general fear that they might need to turn around to bypass the danger.
«It’s rather pointless if you ask me,» uttered Ben standing relaxed back in his seat. «They say if the conditions don’t get better by the morning we’ll have to reroute again and probably anchor in the first port we find which means we’ll lose a few more days.»
«We didn’tanticipate this cyclone to get so dangerous. We have it on our back for the last few days and it seems to be impossible to really tell where it is heading,» replied Jeff with his deep resonant voice. «If I was to choose between the cargo and my life I would probably choose the second one,» he exclaimed as they burst a little laugh.
Mavin stood up from the table and headed towards the toilets. He got out of the room, walked down the stairs, and took a turn as he entered the main hall of the floor. Just before he reached the door he met Matt as he was walking in the opposite direction who seemed to be milder.
«Mavin, I was actually looking for you,» he said catching Mavin by surprise.
«Sure, what’s up?»
«Hey listen, I don’t want you to get this the wrong way..» he said somewhat reluctantly, «I know I’ve been kind of tough on you the last days, but it wasn’t really my intention. Conditions in the ship are quite tough and sometimes we get a bit extra cautious for no real reason.»
Mavin’s face brightened.
«Don’t mention it, Pal. It’s all good» he said.
Matt took a step closer.
«I would really appreciate it if we would just leave the issue behind and try to forget what happened. What’s the point in keeping a grudge after all. We are all in the same ship aren’t we?» he snarled.
Mavin reassured him that everything was OK and they shook hands as a commemoration of their new relationship but as he continued towards his path he heard a loud strike coming from behind him and a shed of darkness fell around him as his body fell down to the ground with a sheer knock.
A suffocated thrust makes its way as Mavin shatters his hands from behind his back. The rope around his wrists is tight enough to hurt him every time he tries to move. Around his mouth, a grey tape is covering his mouth making him unable to pronounce anything more than mere murmurs. His breathing grows harsher as he glances around the room trying to understand where he is.
It’s a small storage room, with pale white walls and thick pipes passing around its roof as they plummet towards the ground and hide behind a pile of old boxes. This room seems to be desolate and abandoned in some corner of the ship that nobody cared to visit much. The stifled stirring of the ship resembles the far end side of a long spike which felt as if he was lying somewhere in the lowest part of the ship.
«Hello? Is anyone there?» he yelled as his voice vibrated around him. «Hello?»
He tried his best to reach somehow someone with his voice but he gave up after a while. He knew quite well that the ship offered a natural way to drown any attempt of sound to expand beyond a few meters and it was quite obvious that since he could listen to nothing externally he was probably far away enough for it to go in vain.
He remained in his position for a few hours. There was no way to tell what time of the day it was or who was behind all this except Matt whom he remembered quite well as the last person before his fall. He growled when suddenly a key noise struggled to make its way within the door lock. He could listen quite vividly as the metal collided together as the passage restricted its progress when a loud ‘clack’ resounded the door slid slowly revealing a shadow figure that marched towards him.
The figure moved steadily till it reached a point where Mavin could discern its characteristics. He stopped down in front of him silently and with a blunt shift, he removed the tape from Mavin’s mouth as he contorted in pain.
«Ouch! Couldn’t you do that a little bit slower?» Mavin asked.
The figure smiled in content.
«I wasn’t expecting you to be part of this,» he exclaimed.
«Sorry to disappoint you,» he said.
«Why are you doing this? Why am I here?»
Axel raised his hands.
«Oh easy there now. You don’t want to burden yourself with so many questions.»
«You will never get away with this. People will find you and punish you for this,» he exclaimed as Axel shrugged indifferently.
«I wouldn’t be so sure about that,» appended Adams as he appeared from the door.
«You see, nobody really knows you are here except us.» he glanced around the room. «This room is far away enough from everyone that nobody would ever think to look in here unless he knew what he was looking for,» he ducked down aside Axel, «and from what I know there are not that many people that would really care enough to look after you in the first place now are there?»
His sarcastic remark took Mavin by surprise who grinned his mouth in disgust.
«What are you getting out of this? We would reach our destination in a few days anyway and part our own ways. Why didn’t you let things be as they were and get done with it all?»
«Let things be..» repeated Adams. «Funny how these people think they can find an easy solution out of everything.»
He glanced back to Axel on his right as they burst a little laugh and turned back at him.
«You boy got us in enough trouble already and you’re still blind enough to not be able to see it,»
«What trouble? What are you talking about? I was only trying to make my pass on the ship and get on with my life. You were the ones that started the whole thing,»
«Your life has been blasphemous boy. Maybe the land is tolerant enough to indulge you with the sort of living but here things are quite different.» He raised his finger poignantly. «One person can bring a whole ship down with him if his actions are wrongful enough and the sea spirits are much less forgiving of such mistakes.»
«Your sinister life has brought upon us all the misfortunes one could imagine and the sequence would not stop if we wouldn’t do something about it.»
Mavin’s face distorted in ambiguity.
«What are you talking about? What do I have to do with the cyclone or whatever weather phenomenon might occur in the sea? This is just a natural phenomenon can’t you see?»
«It is a sign from Gods that your rusty soul is not welcome here. If you don’t want to face the truth that’s fine, but we cannot risk the lives of so many people in the crew.»
He stood up as he glanced around him.
«This is the place you are going to stay till we reach our destination and hopefully this will be good enough to appease the spirits to show mercy on us. If you ask me you are lucky we didn’t throw you away to the sharks already.»
«People will learn about this. You will never get away with it.»
«And you think they will believe they will take the word of a thief that got away with stealing people left and right over us?» he chuckled. «Good luck with that».
He walked towards the door where he turned temporarily back and nodded at the two men.
«Axel will help you with everything you might need. But I’m telling you boy I hope this works for your good. Or the fishes out there will get a nice meal tomorrow to cover their appetite.»
He said as he broke out of the room.
The lack of air in the room was asphyxiating. Drowning Mavin in a peculiar haze and irrigating him with its potency. His mouth was freed from the tape which allowed his breath to be somewhat easier, and his hands were freed from the rope that was tangling his wrists but his waist was still bound on the big white pump with a long heavy chain that was restricting his movements to only a few meters radius.
The steel around his belly was thick and rugged and no matter what Mavin did he could not slip out from it or break it in any way. He could only walk for a couple of meters before the chain stretch enough to contain him as if he was a restrained dog shove in a shelter to protect everybody else.
Every few hours Axel would check in with him and pass him with some minimum food and water he would get for him. And although he would always try to level with him in some way it was always in vain as Axel would find a way to mock his attempts.
«Do you see this little yellow fog in between the closed window? Do you know what this is?» he would ask pointing in the upper part of the wall where a window was shut down before a thick glass.
«It’s the sun.» he would sigh with a husky voice and an expression of craziness in his eyes. «It got out from the moment you got in here actually. Do you think this is a coincidence?» he tapped on his shoulder as he left the room leaving Mavin staring at the little window.
He glanced on the floor, then up, he hummed as his mind filled with a number of thoughts at once till a question appeared within him that demanded his full attention. «Could this be true? Could I be the reason for going through all this?». He darted the thought as he let himself plunge on himself with his hands limp over his body as he leaned over to the ground.
The hours passed harder and harder and it was only a few slim breaks in the seclusion, as Axel would visit every now and then to check on him.
Another 2 days passed and Mavin was lying down to the ground with signs of visible exhaustion. His hair would lay in front of his face wet and his skin seemed thinner as the bones of his cheeks protruded outwards as if there was an outright displacement.
The door opened and steps started approaching him, although he didn’t react in any way. The figure sat in front of him and shattered his shoulder trying to stir him up.
«Mavin, Mavin.» said the voice. «You need to wake up. Mavin..»
Mavin skirted. He opened his eyes as he leaned upwards in surprise. «Sophia?»
«Quick, you need to get out of here as soon as you can. We are only half a day away from the land so maybe you can escape there,»
Her affectionate, wishful attitude exhibited through her warm voice as she touched Mavin’s hands.
«It’s very dangerous for you to stay here. The guys might decide to turn against you to avoid any trouble. Do you understand?» she asked.
Mavin remained strangely nonchalant in response to her vivid state. He stared at her as if lost and he raised his back up as he sat up straight.
«I can’t,» he said. «I’m locked».
He pointed at the chain tied around his waist.
«I managed to get the key from Axel. I replaced it with a fake one but I’m not sure how long it’s going to take for him to take notice».
She pulled out the key and tried to insert it toward the lock below his navel but Mavin held her hands softly preventing her from doing it.
«What are you doing?» she asked. «You need to get out now. Don’t you get it?»
Mavin shook his head, taking a sad expression, and exhaled as he darted his eyes away from her.
«What’s the matter?» asked Sophia concerned.
«I don’t think I should do it,» he replied.
«What? What do you mean?»
«I just can’t. I’m sorry. I just can’t» he said with s slight shrug.
Sophia stirred. She stood down to the ground cross-legged as she bent one knee below the other and asked him again.
«Mavin, what’s the matter. Please tell me what is going on. I’m only here to help you.»
Mavin took a big breath.
«Well,» he began. «the problem is that I’ve been running away from everything my whole life. Every time I was in trouble, I would turn my back and get as far as I could. Never looking back. It wouldn’t matter if it was my fault if it was someone’s else.». He paused as he raised his eyes to look at her.
«I can’t be doing this anymore. I need to face it at last.» he shrugged as his voice drowned in his mouth.
«Mavin listen to me,» said Sophia. «whatever you are going through right now, is completely normal. You’ve been locked up in here for three days. Your mind is playing tricks on you.»
Mavin tried to intervene as he shook his head but Sophia didn’t allow him.
«Just listen to me. You’ve been through a lot. You don’t deserve this you are a good person.» she said, «I know you are.»
She glanced at the door as she turned back to him again.
«Listen, I can’t be here any longer. I’m going to leave this key here with you and I want you to take this chance and leave this place. Go out and make a new start Mavin,» she said as she grabbed his hands, «you own it to yourself.»
And the woman left leaving Mavin staring at the keys down on the floor.
A couple of hours pass and the door opens abruptly as Axel steps furiously inside the room. He observes Mavin half unconscious over the pipe and exhales in relief.
«Good you are still here,» he said as he approached slowly. «I was scared someone would get here before me and take care of you without letting anyone know.»
He ducked down in front of him.
«Now that wouldn’t be nice there would it?» he asked as he put the blade below his chin. «To take all the pleasure for himself.»
Mavin remained motionless with steady empty eyes directed towards nowhere in particular as Axel raised up again.
«You see we did it!» he exclaimed. «We are almost there, we should reach port within 3 to 4 hours. Only that unfortunately you won’t be able to depart this ship pal. I’m afraid your journey,» he took out his blade again stirring it around his chest, «is about to end somewhere here,»
He raised the blade up with a sheer expression as he looked down on him ready to smash his head with it, but before he got the chance to fulfill the maneuver, Mavin took out his right hand from his back, and with a slick thrust he granted him a blow as he inserted the broken glass in his hand right over his belly. His hand sogged with blood as it runs over his wrist and the knife from Axel’s hand fell into the ground resounding a metallic sound.
Axel dropped with full force as Mavin stood up. And taking the knife in his hand he marched out of the room as he locked the door behind him.
He placed the knife behind his back and sidled carefully along the corridors and reached the stairs as he walked toward the accommodation floor. He wriggled beyond the main hall and reached the lounge as he picked from the two square windows on the doors.
There were a few officers in one side blaring with their piercing laughter. Matt and Ben were standing at the far end of the room and on the right…Mavin choked as he observed the two men having their lunch together in a seemingly good mood. Adams and Jeff seemed to be immersed into an intricate conversation.
Mavin darted. He turned back and left as the thoughts filled his mind about what he just saw.
A few minutes past and the men left the lounge to continue with the rest of their day. Some of them took out the road to their posts and some towards their accommodations. Jeff who had already finished on the first shift, followed along the road to his cabin as he parted from Adams who dashed towards the staircases.
He scratched his head, smiled in reminiscence of something, and walked casually in the inner parts of the ship. He entered his room and threw his jacket over the chair as sat down on his bed and opened the TV. He opened a soda, had a sip, and stared blatantly at the TV before a knock came from the door.
«Who is it Damn it?» he yelled as he threw the remote control over the coffee desk. «Nobody can get some chill time around here anymore».
He raised and opened slightly the door as he glanced outwards when a sudden thrust bumped the door hitting him in the head.
«Missed me, pal?» asked the voice as he delivered a striking blow over his head leaving him unconscious over the ground.
Jeff woke up with his hands tied behind his chair as he glanced at Mavin in front of him who was sitting flaccid over the bed holding the knife in his one hand while drinking some wine with the other.
«That’s some good stuff,» exclaimed Mavin. «They should give more of this to people around here if you ask me,»
«Mavin, thank God you are alive. What happened to you? They guys just said you vanished completely out of the ship. We looked everywhere for you but nothing came out of it.»
Mavin stood calm letting him finish as he had another sip.
«Why have you tied me here? I’m on your side remember, I was the one to help you. Let me loose,»
His face distorted as Mavin took his time before responding.
«You really think you are going to get away with it so easily? I’ll tell you what, tell me the truth,» he said extending his knife towards him, «and I might let you live. Continue with your bullshit story and things might not turn very well for you after all. So what is it gonna be?»
He raised his eyebrows as he waited for Jeff’s response. His face seemed particularly calm and beside the high intensity, his body still felt limp in its movements as if it lacked some of its will-power.
«Mavin, you got the wrong idea here I promise you. Whatever got into your mind you are on the wrong path. I had nothing to do with it, that’s the truth,»
«Right,» exclaimed Mavin as he raised from his seat and approached Jeff over the chair. «and is that the reason I just saw you in the lounge together with Adams being so close together? because you had nothing to do with it?» he asked with a husky voice.
«Why do you mention Adams? Why do you think he is responsible for it? I don’t even know what happened to you for this,» he yelled.
«You don’t know what happened to me? I was locked up in the fucking basement for three full days, that’s what happened to me. Three full days.» he shouted. «And there was no one there to save me or help me out of it.» he leaned down on him.
«But I guess you had written me out already didn’t you?» he whispered. «You thought I was done, I was a problem of the past and yet, pff, here I am. Appeared out of nowhere coming back to get you.»
He swirled behind him as he appeared from the other side.
«So why don’t you start speaking pal, because you only have around 5 minutes at your disposal, before I leave this place. And I’m not gonna leave unless I got what I want, you better get that right,» he exclaimed as Jeff leaned back his head in indignation.
«Man, I told you already I know nothing about it. I just happened to have lunch with Adams today after a long time, it was just a coincidence.»
«You know what I think. I think you need to cut the shit. I know you knew all about it. Stop hiding damn it.»
He took another turn as he walked behind him.
«So here is what we are gonna do pal.» He unleashed his right hand as he extended over the table. «We are going to cut one finger at a time till you decide to speak. How about that?»
He raised the knife as he was about to thrush it in front of him as Jeff intervened at the last moment.
«No wait, wait, OK I admit it, I knew it. Stop. I knew all about it since the beginning» he uttered with a cringe on his face.
«Who else was inside this operation?»
«I’m not sure I only heard it from Adams, how am I supposed to know,»
Adams raised his knife again,
«OK, OK it was Adams together with Matt that came with the idea but probably more should know about it,»
«Was Ethan part of it as well?»
Jeff nodded reluctantly.
«Why did you do it?» he asked with a placid face.
«Why we did it? Don’t you get it? These guys are superstitious. I told you about it. They got the idea in their minds that you are responsible for the cyclone and there was nothing to turn their minds around. I pleaded on them to not go on with it but they would listen to any of it,»
Mavin raised from his seat and started approaching him.
«What are you doing? I couldn’t do anything to help you, I promise. It was only a matter of holding you there till we reach land and then we were about to let you leave. Mavin, stop» he shouted but the cuts of the blades penetrated the white skin around his neck painting his clothes and the ground with the thickness of the red blood.
Mavin got out of the cabin with red smudges around his clothes. He followed the corridor carefully till he reached the door and immersed into the warmth of the sun that was blazing the ship with his intense touch. It was a long time since he last got the feeling of it and the sudden change of environment made him close his eyes temporarily.
He glanced down to the sea at the white foam around the metal of the ship, which should be around 10 meters. Then he glanced behind him as there seemed to be no one around at the moment. Only the woman stood at the top level, leaning towards the railings with her elbows, as the wind was blowing her hair in a deranged tempo. She touched them gently as she pressed them behind her ear while looking at him. Mavin stared back as her figure carved into his mind with its triumphant might. He gave her a slight nod, turned back, and jumped over the tumultuous sea as he started swimming away.
3 months later
The curvy figure of the white mountains in the background stands as a constant reminder of the small size of the city below. Their proud stance creates a feeling of reverence as their points are lost in the midst of the sky. The whole city is surrounded by vast forests that melt into a uniformed green scenery. There are only a few people that walk in the humble streets as they pass below the grey, wooden rooftops.
Under the green umbrella that encompasses the two full tables, filled with vegetables and crops, stands an old couple where the man occupies the main seat before the desk.
«This is not enough,» says the woman as she muddles some of the products. «We need more of it. Aye! Go get some,»
The man grins.
«Just leave me alone. I’ve got it taken care of,» he growls.
«Move on,» persists the woman, «You need to bring more, I tell you.» She picks her bag and bumps him with it on the feet.
The man straightens his face as he looks up on her.
«Damn it, woman. Told you already. I’ve sent the man already to get some.»
The man exhales.
«The gringo is pulling out some. Just stop it, why don’t you let me take care of things»
The man continues to mumble, as his words dance around with the voice of the woman twirling around with each other in a combined symphony. A little far away a man stand above the green plants in the fields wearing a blue hat in his head, pulling out some of the crops. He stands for a second as he sweeps the sweat out of his forehead. He glances around absorbing the amount of work that stands in front of him seeming endless in the line it extends to. He exhales but he pulls out a little smile as he continues his work.0