I wrapped my arms
around him. What would the neighbors say?
We stayed in the
bow until it was fully light, then pulled the dinghy after us into the cockpit.
Baja stood out even closer than I'd thought. The storm was finally pushing us
in the right direction. Maybe today.
We struggled to
lash the dinghy to the bow, struggled to bail. I tied my shirt on a fishing
rod, and it added its flapping to the sounds of the sea. We'd be crazy to run
the still. We would have to face another day of clinging to the boat.
In the early
afternoon I was seated half in the shade of the floorboard shelter. The sun
shone aqua through the top of a wave. Bill's voice was crisp and close.
quickly I would be with Helen."
I said nothing.
It would be easy for Bill to succumb to a logical time to die. Sixty years.
Over the hump. Helen's death so fresh. I looked at his filthy face, the stubble
of a beard. Had he ever worn anything but brown Bermudas and a once-blue shirt?
They hung on him. What would he look like now in a business suit? Great. But
Bill and business suits didn't really get along. Bill, get yourself back to
land, I thought. Bake all the bread and grow all the vegetables you want.
The closest land
seemed to be a peninsula, but it would be hours before we approached it. I
crawled under to the wet lumpy luxury of all four cushions, hoping to doze. On
land a man could sleep stretched out in perfect stillness. By a fire maybe, or
covered with leaves to stay warm. There probably wasn't a decent leaf within a
hundred miles. I dozed.
"I think the
peninsula's an island," Bill said.
I struggled back
into the cockpit and looked through the glasses. The darker mass was separated
from the mainland, and we were drifting quickly toward it.
"We can row
when we get close," Bill said.