The light blue velvet waters of the Fiji Islands rippled smoothly and endlessly. The choppy uncertain seas were distant memories as well as future realities.
Rich sailed south. It seemed the time to do so, just as instinct governs the migration of birds. In his possession, a bag of pearls he promised to deliver. The good they could possibly bring certainly outweighed a young man’s fancy for South Sea adventures. “There is a world beyond me,” Rich thought. “Its importance far grander than any multiplier I could imagine.”
Rich took a reading from the sextant. He allowed The Odyssey to sail free and climbed below to plot a course. After charting, he murmured, “1300 miles to Auckland, 10 to 12 days.”
Rich climbed back up the companionway and at the helm set a course at 192 degrees. He relaxed in the cockpit and cast his eyes and thoughts aft, toward what remained of the Koro Seas. “Is it possible for me to return? I think once you leave a place it is forever gone. You can never return to what was. Your absence has already altered the flow and rhythm of life. Once a stream is interrupted it can never again become the same stream. Wolfe was right on many levels; not only can’t you go home again, but you can never return to anyplace again. It will never be the same. In the absence, the imagination creates a narrative that fits your idealism and once you return, difficulty arises when trying to reconcile reality with your own selfish yearnings.”
Leaving completely the Koro Sea the winds picked up and the seas tossed turbulently, but certainly nowhere near what was experienced on earlier legs of his trek.
“It has been nearly a year and a half from Rockland; Sam White and Dave Smithson are bleak memories. I’m not even certain I can recall their faces, but for certainty, I could pick them out of a crowd. If I should see them it would immediately thrust me back into the state they left me. Sometimes going home is not the best thing. However, if I should see them again it is likely they will be more in fear of me than I am of them, but not if they should outnumber me. I am reasonably sure my life is now free of them. It will be only of my choosing if they should appear in my life. There is, though, one ominous thing that prevails over me; it benefits the CIA for them to remain on the hunt for me. Will they, in some corrupt way, sweeten things so they will be on my trail again?”
“There is a reality I must deal with; beyond loyalty of yourself, everything is suspect. Other loyalties can be successfully challenged. What if somehow Dennis is compromised; will he turn on me? Could he be brought back in among them? Could the love for Peggy be rekindled to the point where she could convince Dennis to give me over? I have to live with the reality that it is possible.”
“Auckland will be safe. Perhaps when visiting Australia I should just not see Dennis.” Rich laughed to himself. “The world is out to get you. Did you hear about the annual Paranoia Convention? Nobody showed up.”