“If not for writing and my books,” Rich thought, “I would not have lasted halfway down the coast of South America. One must learn to be lonely. He must find a way. I’m not sure it has been achieved by me.” He smiled, “No man is an island, but islands exist to show it is possible. We are all islands just waiting for inhabitants.”
“We need time to think and bathe in solitude. That is perhaps what cleanses the soul. Sometimes we have to find our own ocean to sail. If not on the seas, for sure in our mind. Not drifting, but sailing or thinking with purpose.”
Rich wrote a story that night about a man marooned at sea in a raft. When a rescue boat came along he asked only to be taken to an uninhabited island. The man had led a life of selfishness, hurting others. He wanted to hurt no one again.
When he finished, he read it. It seemed so strange because it was as if he was reading it for the first time. “Someone else wrote this,” he said. “Some of these things I have never expressed, heard, or felt.”
“It is no wonder writers turn to drink,” Rich murmured. He looked at the cabinet door where the whiskey was stored. “The only way to remain, master of your vessel, is to resist the Devil. That’s where he is; in uncontrolled thoughts and deeds. I’ll not go the way of my father. He should have gone to sea for a while. It may have cleansed him.”
“Is the story about me or my father?” Rich thought, “Or both?”
Rich got up and poured a shot into a tin cup. He climbed to the cockpit where the darkness hung thick and the sea was like an orchestra tuning behind a curtain.
He brought the cup to his mouth and let the whiskey warm his lips and then flung it overboard.
He flipped on the light above the compass. The heading held steady. Rich returned to the cabin. The sea gently rocked him to sleep. The orchestra behind the darkness played an old familiar lullaby, and he slept soundly.
The next morning Rich awoke before the sun appeared. He waited for it. And there shone its glory, but not really; it is God’s.
“Perhaps whiskey can cleanse a wound, but it cannot cleanse a soul,” Rich smiled. “On the other hand, coffee…”
On the 10th day Rich took a reading. Then he started looking through the binoculars for Samoa.
One thing that passed through his mind; locate a CIA field office and check-in. It had been over a year since he first came in contact with Clyde Acres in Grenada. “What a terrible assignment that would be, CIA field agent, Samoa. Maybe I could convince them that I’m still worthy bait for White, Smithson, and their cohorts and I need money to sail Polynesia for the next 20 years. I wonder if they offer a retirement for guys like me? I should unionize. Moles, snitches, and spies have to think about the future too.”