Dave opens his
eyes and grins. Louisa laughs with delight. We are all going home happy.
Weather no better. Coles calls: "This will certainly clear things."
SUNDAY, MAY 25
It is raining eels and flounders. Coles calls. I say first, "This is going
to clear things." He says, "It really makes no sense to go." I
remember that the big contour chair in Sir Victor's living room is electrically
vibrated. I climb in, punch the button. "This will make it or break
it," I tell Louisa. It seems to do some good. I let it rock until my
eyeballs shake. Then I go upstairs, get in the tub and turn on the whirlpool
jet. Kneaded and pounded, muscle cramps surrender. A thousand blessings on Sir
Victor, great host of Nassau, Gadget King of the Empire!
the Big Seven. Gray clouds still scuttling, but bigger patches of sky between.
I still hold down my back-bracing corner of bunk; Dave still makes for wet
floor linoleum. Louisa dubs him Horizontal Dave. A half mile out sun suddenly
bangs out. Dave revives, goes out to fix cameras on sunlit deck. Coles and Art
rig tanks and regulators. We drop anchor in 30 feet of reef water. A heavy
curtain of haze drops over the sky.
for that sun before we go down in our lungs," Coles says. Art looks happy;
he hates the heavy scuba gear. He is essentially a free diver.
flounder can outswim a guy in a lung," he says, "and anyway it's
usually against the law to shoot 'em in a scuba."
We decide to
snorkel above Art and watch him spear fish, so we move into 60 feet of water.
The big ones seldom swim closer than 30 feet of the surface. We all go over
quietly. Fish, according to Art, take umbrage at splashy divers.
Art settles his
mask over his face, rim touching lips. He says he "just sucks the water
out" if his mask fills. He carries his homemade Hawaiian sling in the palm
of his left hand, spear lying straight against javelinlike thrust of his thick
smooth arm. He swims on the surface, looking for quarry below. When he spots
something, he swiftly upends and goes down as solidly and silently as a
foundering ship. I watch him go down, down where blond hair, bronzed skin, blue
mask and flippers all green-out in the depths. Art can kill from 30 feet. He
draws sling and aims in one movement, an archer with an invisible bow. Steel
shaft speeds, a lightning flash in the gloom, comes to shuddering rest in
quivering flank of his finny target. ("I always try to hit 'em in the
backbone, just back of the head.")
If the dive has
been deep—over 70 feet, say—Art does not go immediately after the quivering
spear on bottom. He lifts his chin and, with powerful flipper thrusts, comes
vertically up, sucks in a lung-bursting air load, upends again and swims back
down straight to the victim impaled on his spear. If the fish is big—to Art
that means over 50 pounds—his diving buddy may come down and give him a hand in