Tale Of The Sea Muse (cont.)
Erin was sitting up, holding a tin cup of fresh water just outside of her lips, the hot sun tried to find its way to her as the Sea Muse gently rolled with the calm water, “And you, Love?” How bad?”
“I’m sure Neptune’s testicle exploding from my head is obvious,“ one can always feel their own wry smile, no matter the pain, “a cut inside my cheek, and a very rotten ankle. Other than that, I am fine.”
I could tell she was torn between laughter and gasping in concern, but she made her choice very quickly, “Lover, how rotten is that ankle?”
“Bad enough to need attention as soon as we make Charles Town- if not sooner,” turning a grimace into a sardonic grin, I continued, “Care to kiss it back to health?”
After taking a sip of water, Erin said, “I will do way more than that my love, provided you can stand it,” then putting the cup down and taking my hand, Erin looked deep in my eyes and went on, “Seriously, I need to look at that ankle.”
“Not until you are in calm waters— that was quite a blow to your coconut — what good is one of us without the other?”
“Captain Wolf!” her mock anger made me laugh a painful laugh, “I protest!”
“Do I smell a mutiny?” My brows furrowed.
“Maybe. But not until I feel less woozy,” a soft, passionate smile danced on her face, “Then, THEN, I’ll have my way with you AND that bum ankle.”
“Are you threatening the legend that- with the help of a guppy – wiped out an entire pirate navy?”
“I have secret weapons that will bring that legend to his knees,” then her hand went to her head as she laid back, “And the Muse? How did she fare? I see you had to lash the wheel before you came down here.”
“Well, the Main is gone…”
“I couldn’t help but notice, Captain,” pointing to her head, “I have a souvenir from her abrupt exit.”
“We both do. And when she turned violently, the yoke for the sailing assist must have ripped free of its brackets- the rods are a tangled ball of the worst yeoman’s knots you have ever seen.”
“Is the manual system still intact?”
“Some of it is, I have the usable portions rigged. Thank Neptune- the aft sails have some form of assist.”
“The solar panels?”
“Trashed. I unhooked the batteries and motors- everything below deck got tossed, but other than that, looks to be in good shape. Our treasure chest is in one piece.”
“God,” a look of relief fell across her face, “I am glad for that. Food and water?”
“That was a whale of a storm, Abram. We could have fared a lot less.”
“The most violent I have seen on the seas- all of them,” taking her hand, “And you, my love, you— at the helm. Incredible. I would have done worse.”
Her palm graced the side of my face, “Abram, you taught me everything, and then there’s the Muse. From the first moment my bare feet lit on her deck, I felt intimate with her. I knew every rusty nail, every wormholed plank. My toes felt her soul in crevices and salt worn grain; my palms felt her heart beat through the ropes; she told me stories, Abram, her voice was the billowing sails,” one joyful tear slid down Erin’s cheek,”The Muse opened up to me, she covered me- she wanted me to be her Lover,” Erin looked at me with a gentle smile,” And I accepted.”
I leaned in and kissed Erin’s forehead, “She is a special woman.”
“Are you in love with her, Abram? Because I won’t share- and you’ll have to make a choice if you are,” Erin giggled and buried her face in my chest.
“The Sea Muse and I have a very special relationship that goes beyond love. It’s physical, spiritual, and passionately symbiotic on a very complex level.”
“You- Captain Abram Wolf -are hem hawing.”
I laughed, then answered with a gentle, rasping whisper, “Erin Bryant, in all my years, I didn’t know what love was until I met you. You are the one that Olympus has fated to me- you are the tip of Eros’ arrow. You, are my destiny.”
She touched the tip of my nose with a delicate finger, “you, my eloquent dancer, will give me a straight answer sooner or later,” her hand went to my shoulder and she gently pushed me back, “But right now, you get some rest. That ankle will only get worse if you stay on it. It looks like you have the Muse on a steady course, so she can do without your hands for a while.”
“What about you, Lover? Your head can’t be feeling shipshape, or even scuttled shipshape.”
“I need to get up and move about— give Mr. Sun a shot at burning off some of the pain,” kissing me on the forehead and then looking in my eyes with a whisper, “Lover’s orders, and you know there is no greater mortal authority than that.”
My heart argued refusal, but the throbbing ache from stem to stern won the debate, “First sign of any trouble and you best be waking me, Missy.”
“Aye Aye, Captain.”
No sooner than she disappeared from the forward deck,my eyes closed and I went into a warm sleep fueled by exhaustion and pain.
I woke up sweating, panting, trembling, the realization that half my pants leg was cut away, the broken ankle was uncovered, and to her soft kiss. She was knelt beside me as I gripped her upper arm— the pain from the break was worse.
Her hand brushed the wet hair back from my face as I tried to sit up, “Abram, I have to set that ankle. Do you know what that means?”
Almost grunting in pain, “A shit pot more hurt than I am being hit with now, but it will be quick.”
“Yes. I take it you have had a bone set before?”
“Right arm. Herman did it.” Herman and I had just made a delivery when the buyers wanted to steal their money back- a trade risk -by sending three thugs, one of which was a giant, to the Bottlefish. In the skirmish, the giant backhanded me, sending me flying across the deck and crashing against the helm. My arm was fractured.
We ended up with the money as well as sending the broken, bleeding, bruised thugs back to the buyers with the message that they had made their last buy, and the wise move would be to drop out of sight. Herman and I were putting a bounty on their heads- and in that community, no bounty ever went unpaid.
The setting of the broken arm required a pint of good rum- the ankle was a lot worse.
“Drink this quickly,” handing me a tin cup.
Downing the cup— wincing in a successful effort to keep the rum in my gullet, I handed her the cup, “Are sure you need to set it? And have you ever set a bone before?”
She dipped the cup in the cask, handed it to me and smiled, “Quickly.”
The second cup went down smoother than the first. Just as I was going to ask her again, she answered as she too the empty cup from my hand, “I’m not a fan of rum drinking during an emergency at sea, so yeah- I think this ankle is bad enough to need an immediate setting,” smiling as she dipped the cup into the rum again before she handed it back to me, “And- no, I have not.”
After that answer, I didn’t need to be prodded by another ‘quickly’- I couldn’t drain the third cup fast enough. I felt my speech slur before I spoke, “I hope you’re shhhhhtrong enush ztu shet it.”
Erin took the cup, let it drop into the cask and leaned close to my face, “I think you’re ready, Lover. Are you ready?”
“Bite down on this,” handing me a leather strap before she swung her leg over— straddling my leg, her back to me.
I bit down instinctively when I felt the searing pain of her hands on my foot and ankle. Just after she bore her weight on my leg, my eyes clenched shut, reacting to the orange and yellow that was quickly consuming my existence, when the intense colors reached my head, they flared brightly to red, and then gave way to a mercurial darkness.
The last thing I remembered was my scream echoing through my soul.
Still admiring the splint and brace she fashioned from cloth, leather, and staves from the same barrel my original splint came from, I mused, “It certainly wouldn’t have been pirates. A handful of poems and sketches thrown into a small, almost new locker would be worthless. Pirates would have thrown us overboard and taken the Muse in tow.”
Erin had pulled the chairs to the forward deck, prepared a bowl of fresh fruit, and we were watching the sun close the day against a sudden blue sky painted with broad strokes of peach, indigo, and wisps of gray bottomed white streamers.
“It is strange,” Erin handed me a slice of pineapple, “Someone had to come aboard and take those pieces of our treasure and leave. Nothing else seems to be missing.”
I reached across, grabbed her hand, and looked at her, “Maybe we’ll solve the mystery, maybe we won’t, but we have most of the treasure, our relative good health and a sea worthy Muse.”
Gripping my hand, “And then there’s the mystery of your dream.”
After passing out from the pain of Erin setting my ankle, I fell into a rum induced, deep sleep that was filled with a vivid vision of huge herds of cows being guided by men on horses through desolate looking lands. Every man was adorned with a tall, round hat that was attached to a wide brim, colorful shirt, leg coverings made from what looked like cow hide, stiff leather boots— and a handgun.
“Did you and Herman ever deliver guns to men like that?”
“Not only did we not ever sell guns for personal protection, I have never known there to be men like those…cowboys? Maybe?” In my dream, those men certainly looked confident, focused, and well equipped to handle the cattle. The guns were probably for protection against wild animals and thieves.
“Do you think they exist somewhere? Maybe the interior of North America?”
“I have been across North America and there is no reason for herds of cattle that large. Every rancher rises just enough for himself and the local community. And guns for personal use there are just as illegal as they are everywhere else in the world.”
Just as the sun waved goodbye for the day, I wondered where in the world the visions for that dream came from, and then mused aloud, “Mysteries indeed.”
Keep tabs on the adventures of the Sea Muse, Abram Wolf, and Erin Bryant by bookmarking the link to the series, Tale Of The Sea Muse.