semicircular glow had formed on the horizon. The sun came up like a spark in
the center. I watched sunsets with a slight feeling of horror, sunrises with an
overzealous hope. The sun rose to dry the clothes. We would go on living.
sounds of the sea faded as the breeze dropped, and the sun was reflected in a
long gold stripe on a calm Gulf of California. This was what the sea had been
like nine days ago when we put out of Puertocitos on the east coast of Baja
California with a picnic lunch and a gallon of water. We had trailered the Lazy
down from Los Angeles on a fishing vacation. The day was pleasant. We caught a
few fish, and on the way back to the tiny village, the gears went out in our
outboard motor five miles from shore. We dropped the anchor. It caught as the
last of the 150-foot anchor line uncoiled, and we prayed it would hold until
another boat passed by to tow us to shore. None came. The Lazy clung
tenaciously to the bottom till nighttime, when the glassy sea raised its back
like an angry animal, and the storm, pulling up the anchor, set us adrift.
Fish. Large ones,
swimming peacefully around the boat.
"Your turn at
He dug through
the gear. Only one other day had been calm enough to attempt fishing. I thought
of the day trips that Bill and I had taken last year with Bud. Did Bud know we
were missing? Did anyone? Surely someone in Puertocitos would have realized we
hadn't come back. But why the hell weren't they looking for us?
Bill knotted a
feather lure to the line. Maybe today we'd have some luck. Distilled water and
moist fish. What a feast! I watched him cast. There was no spectacular strike
in the first 30 seconds.
I blinked against
the smoke. I was proud of the still, had confidence in it. And the sea anchor
I'd built seemed to hold the boat steadier in a storm than the one we'd lost. I
tensed, remembering the hell of that night. Wave after wave had crashed over
the Lazy's side as we bailed in the darkness and worked frantically with
half-numb fingers, knocking the bottom out of an open wooden box, attaching
lines to the corners of the open top, nailing a grain bag around the bottom. I
would never again question impulse. Two weeks before, I had impulsively brought
the bag on the fishing trip simply because I liked its feel between my
fingers—it was made of woven plastic strips, not burlap. I doubted I would ever
know greater relief than when Bill tossed that makeshift sea anchor over and
the Lazy swung around slowly, facing the next wave bow on.
I dipped the rag.
If I had confidence in the sea anchor and still, was confident that we would
survive, was I also confident that I would set foot in my home again? I thought
of Joanne, remembering her as she had been two weeks ago. Did she know I was
want it," Bill said, peering into the water, reeling in.