Friday, February 12, 2010

JUMPING SHIP

Standing at the railings smoking with the fresh smell of whisky on his breath and looking out at the port was like having a knife stabbed into his back, he hadn't been home for twenty two years. It was a cold night, cold outside and cold inside, in spite of the couple of shots of whisky he had taken before going on deck. The ship had been in port for two days now waiting to be unloaded with it's forty foot containers but they were on hold, the weather had slowed things down in the port to slow motion and everything was running behind time. He was uneasy and getting more disturbed in his mind the longer they were in port, he wanted to go to sea and the sooner the better. Things here had not changed much here in all of these years, in fact the dock was the same dock he stood on twenty two years ago. He was feeling more sick and disturbed inside the head the longer they stayed in port, crazy thoughts were taking over and memories running inside his mind like a badly made film that he has seen far too many times.              

Flicking his cigarette over board watching it disappear into the darkness he turned quickly to move down below when he heard the captain's voice calling him, 'Luciferro, I want a word with you on the bridge'. The captain was an old 'sea dog', one of those captains that would go down with his ship. He was now standing beside the captain and in spite of being on the bridge out of the cold, he was still shivering, 'Luciferro we know each other for a long time now, what fifteen years now'. Luciferro moves from one foot to another, short of doing an Irish Jig on the spot in his steel toed boots trying to keep warm and looking to port-side answers , ' yes captain'. 'This is your home port is it not', the captain now looking at his face knowing and knowing the answers to his intended questions but decided to back off and changed the subject. Luciferro looking lost in thought did not answer the captain, there was no answer, but the captain took no offence by it, they all knew Luciferro kept to himself in the engine rooms and had not much to say to anybody at the best of times. Took his meals on his own and would watch a football game in the evenings with his mates but never got excited like them over a game, he was not a 'team player' in life, he was a loner and liked it that way. The captain respected Luciferro, good at his job and made no trouble for him, if all the crew were like him he would say  'he would be the captain of a ghost ship'. Nobody knew his real name, 'Luciferro' was a 'nick name' given to him many years ago because he liked to work in the engine rooms of the ships. He took pride in his 'nick name' and would think about it with a smile on his face. The engine rooms were hot and noisy, maybe just like hell, and all that metal around him, well , he felt he was in control of a powerful beast moving across the seas. He was well named. 

Luciferro went to his cabin with the excuse to the captain he was not feeling well. The captain was uneasy with his feelings but let it go ...... for now. When a man spends twenty two years at sea, speaks of no family and keeps to himself you tend to give him wide 'berth', as they would say at sea. Six in the morning and Luciferro was not to be found, he did not turn up for breakfast and his bunk was not slept in, he was not in the engine room. The captain's 'feelings' were becoming a reality, Luciferro had 'jumped ship', and they had started to unload and going to sea in three days time, weather permitting. He could not wait for Luciferro if he did not turn up, jumping ship was an offence, but he decided not to write it up in the log, he will give Luciferro time and the benefit of the doubt, and besides he had his 'feelings', as to where Luciferro might be going.

Luciferro was on the road now well out of the port. He was making his way home, if there was anything left of it and the mother that rejected him while he was still in her womb ..... if she was still alive. He wanted to know did she still feel the same way about him and could a mother really reject her own flesh and blood. She had her own problems too, never married in life, he ran off to sea when she told him she was pregnant with his child. She would take to the bed for days on end with fits of depression and leave the boy to defend for himself. It all became too much for him when she would stand over him and beat him black and blue in the corner for no reason at all, but the 'reason' was because he was born, he had put an end to her life and the plans she had for it. She tried to abort him but was not brave enough to do it, to much guilt was already killing her, but she did it in her mind and did a good job of it too. He was born with the deep rooted feelings that stayed with him till this day.

Luciferro was standing on the other side of the street, cold in mind, body and spirit and lighting up again. The front door of the house was the same colour blue though it could well do with a new coat of paint and the bad memories came back to him, that 'knife' was turning in his back now. In a daze, he could hear his knocking on the door, his legs were weak and his heartbeat was racing far to fast, he felt he was going to get sick. He so much wanted to walk away but his legs would not carry him, he wanted to be back in his engine room with it's smell of diesel and the noise, he wanted to be anywhere but here. After what seemed eternity he was moving away from the door when it opened, 'yes' said the woman standing there in her house coat. Luciferro turned slowly but the words would not come out, she stood looking at him as lost as he was and was about to close the door when he said chocking from inside, 'why, why'? .....  Searching her mind looking for some recognition of the man standing at her door and then she asked, 'are you Luciferro'? 

He was in total shock when he found himself sitting in the small kitchen smelling of fish from last nights cooking, whisky in hand and the woman sitting opposite looking a lot older for her years, smoking. The old clock was still in it's same place on the wall with it's brass pendulum swinging from left to right, it was the only thing he was sure of doing anything within the next second, not even his brain could react that fast now. No words were spoken between them for some time, he was trying hard to get his thoughts  together, when he asked, 'how come you know my name'? .... she looked at him with the tears welling up in her eyes, stubbing out her cigarette and reaching for another for the sake of doing something ....
'the captain on your ship ..... he's your father'     

Why should it be that the three most difficult admissions are ......
'I am sorry',  'I was wrong',  'I love you'

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1 comment:

Margaret & George said...

Wow that was really good you have a knack for writing