An Old Friend Visits, Episode 100, Odysseys in Paradise

Rich awoke before daybreak. He brewed a pot of coffee and sat at the chart desk amid a pale cabin light. He calculated the distance to Sydney. “About another 3800 miles to Sydney,” Rich murmured. “Maine to LA and then some. New Zealand is a little past halfway. I should contact Tim and let him know Ramona and Jean have been reunited. Not Auckland though, I may be wanted there. I’ll find someplace less popular.”

Rich sailed from Raivavae while the high peaks were still a mere shadowy outline against a deep gray sky.

As the sun made its full debut, The Odyssey dashed strongly against a moderate sea. Waves splashed over the bow. Flying fish landed on the foredeck and quickly washed away. Rich relaxed on the bench in the cockpit with his hands laced behind his head. A pod of whales sprouted geysers on the starboard a quarter mile away. Porpoises playfully bounded within casting distance on the port side.

The sky grayed and Rich covered his chest and shoulders with a jacket. Sleep easily arrived.

Suddenly someone appeared sitting on the bench across from him

“Don!” Rich said and sat up. “Welcome aboard. What are you doing here?”

“I had something to tell you,” Don said.

“Fire away,” Rich said.

“Funny you should say, fire away,” Don said, “I just enlisted.”

“In what,” Rich said, “Luxemburg Navy?”

“I’m going into the Army,” Don said.

“Why?” Rich said as if it were unimaginable.

“I got my draft notice and decided to enlist instead,” Don said. “That way I get to pick…”

Rich interrupted. “You get to pick what you will be when you get killed.”

“No,” Don said, “it’s not like that. I choose something that they don’t have in Vietnam.”

“Let’s see,” Rich said, “outer-space refueling station attendant; they say that’s the future. What about the Army band. Didn’t you play the symbols? Those guys never go to war, but they’re in plenty of clashes—get it clashes?”

“You’re making fun of me,” Don said. “You do that a lot.”

“I’m sorry, Don,” Rich said. “I’d hate to see you go off to war.”

“Yeah,” Don said angrily, “where were you when you made plans to take off. I was your best friend and you said nothing and it turns out you used me as part of your deception. How do you explain that, ole buddy?”

“You’re right,” Rich said, “it was the wrong thing to do.”

“And look at all the crap you’ve gotten yourself into and you worry about me getting killed. What are you afraid of, I’ll make something of my life?” Don said. “Anybody can run away, it takes a man to stand up and take it. You are weak beyond belief. You run away the first sign of trouble.”

“Let me tell you what I’ve gone through,” Rich said bitterly.

“Put it in a book,” Don said.

“But, Don,” Rich pleaded.

“Hey, Richie boy, lighten up,” Don said. “I had you going, didn’t I?”

“You son of a gun, you did it again,” Rich said.

“You are so easy,” Don said.

“Thanks for the visit,” Rich said.

“Yeah,” Don said, “me too. Now I got to go walk on water.”

Don stepped off the side of the boat.

“Don! No!” Rich screamed.

“It’s a dream, ole Richie, I can do anything your imagination wants,” Don smiled. “Crap, if you want to, drown me; I don’t care.”

“One thing for sure,” Rich said, “You won’t drown in the Luxemburg Navy—they have no navy, get it, they’re landlocked.”

Rich awoke with a grin. A light rain spattered the waters alongside, and the whales and porpoises had gone elsewhere. He stepped below for a sourdough biscuit and a coffee. “The sea is not so lonely after all,” he muttered.

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