Sunday, July 9, 2140 hours
Luke Haggerty squeezed
into the tiny bathroom and pulled the door shut behind him.
Not the bathroom,
he reminded himself. The head. Luke knew he'd been sentenced to this boat
for the next month. What he didn't know was that it was going to be a
never-ending vocabulary lesson. Not walls bulkheads. Not beds
berths. The kitchen was a galley; a room was a cabin. And who cared?
Sudden pounding on
the door-was it still called a door?
"What are you
doing in there?" growled the voice of Mr. Radford, the Phoenix's
first mate. "Writing an opera? Let's go, Archie!"
Luke reached for
his belt and bashed his elbow against the small sink. This bathroom
head was a shoe box! "Ow!"
More pounding. "You
"My name is
Even as he said it,
he knew it was a waste of breath. All the way from the Guam airport to
the marina, Radford had leaned on the horn and cursed out Archie the truck
driver, Archie the cop, Archie the pedestrian, Archie the cyclist, and
even Archie the priest.
By pressing himself
into the corner and resting his left hip against the sink, Luke managed
to finish up in the head. He hesitated. The flusher was some kind of pump.
Instructions were scribbled on a plastic-coated card tacked to the wall-bulkhead:
open valve, pump three times, close valve, pump three times, duck.
Duck? Why duck?
Wham! He smacked
his head on the low doorway on the way out.
head," grunted the mate, not at all better late than never. "Did
you remember to close the valve?"
Luke nodded. "What's
the big deal?"
"The head flushes
with seawater. Last thing you want to do on a boat is let the sea on board.
That's a one-way ticket to the bottom."
Luke felt queasy.
Ever since he'd learned he was coming here, his uneasy dreams had been
a catalog of all the ways to die at sea hurricanes, tidal waves,
giant sharks, and collisions with supertankers, just to name a few. Now
he had to add toilets to his list of things to worry about.
he sighed. "Where's my cabin?"
Radford brayed a
laugh. "You're standing in it, Archie."
"But this is
just the uh " His voice trailed off. He had been about
to say, "The hallway outside the bathroom." But in the dim light,
he could make out four narrow bunk beds bunk berths? two
on either end, and two mini-dressers all built right into the bulkhead.
"These are your
repeated Luke. "As in a quarter of a room?"
a luxury liner." Mr. Radford shrugged. "Archie, meet Archie.
Lights out at 2200." He heaved himself up the companionway out onto
Luke cast his eyes
around. A tousled head of sandy hair poked out from one of the upper bunks.
"What time is it?" Sleepy eyes peered down over rounded, heavily
Luke replied. "I think that's a quarter to twenty-two."
The boy groaned and
yawned at the same time. "My system is totally messed up. I was on
planes for twenty-one hours to get here."
"Tell me about
it," said Luke, beginning to fill a narrow drawer with the contents
of his duffel bag. "Why Guam?"
to be just us and the ocean," replied the other boy. "No ports,
no nothing. The brochure said we probably won't even see another boat
for the whole month." He sounded mournful, like it was a death sentence.
Luke applied a hip-check
to the overstuffed drawer. "Nobody showed me any brochure."
The boy was surprised. "How'd you end up here?"
The horrible movie
replayed itself in Luke's head as it had so many times before. The crack
of the judge's gavel; that single word: guilty; his mother's tears. And
later, in the judge's chambers: "I'm reluctant to sentence a thirteen-year-old
to Williston, especially on a first offense. There's one other possibility.
It's a program called CNC Charting a New Course. . . ."
Luke cast his roommate
a strange smile. "I'm a convicted felon." He held out his hand.
The boy's eyes widened. "I'm only here because I fight with my sister.
I'm Will," he added, shaking hands. "Will Greenfield."
your sister?" Luke raised an eyebrow. "So your parents had to
put an ocean between you?"
in the girls' cabin next door. I guarantee you'll hate her. I should have
been an only child."
Luke laughed shortly.
"I am an only child. It
doesn't help. If you don't have any brothers and sisters, your parents
are on your case extra."
The lights flashed
once and winked out. Except for the dim glow from the porthole, the cabin
was in total darkness.
"Well, I guess
I've decided to go to sleep," Luke said sarcastically. He established
himself on the lower bed bunk berth! on the opposite
side of the room. Uncomfortably, he curled up in the coolest spot he could
For a few minutes,
the only sound that could be heard was the creaking of the mooring lines
and the soft lapping of water against the hull. Then "What
felony?" Will asked.
Luke laughed without
humor. "Not murder, if that's what you're worried about." But
even as he said it, the voice of the prosecutor was ringing in his ears:
"Felony possession of a firearm."
coaxed Will. "I told you why I'm here. What was it? Breaking and
entering? Vandalism? I know, assault!"
my next felony," yawned Luke, "if I ever get my hands on the
kid who put that gun in my locker."