by Andrew Foote
"Do either of you mind if I spend the night at Mother's house? I don't get that many opportunities to come to Penzance so I thought it might be nice."
Cathy looked as if one of us might object so I took the lead.
"No, you go ahead. It'll give Aruno and I time to get to know each other better."
"Sam…… sorry but I'm finding it difficult to call you by your native name - do you have any objections?"
"None at all. I know our Mother would appreciate seeing you. She never said as much but I know she missed you."
"Yes, well I missed her too, so as we're not going anywhere very soon, I'll nip off.
See you guys in the morning then?"
"Take some oilskins with you, you know where I keep them. The weather's going to be none too pleasant."
"Got them already! She yelled as she hurried off, "See you tomorrow unless I drown before-hand!"
"So what do you want to do now? Are you hungry?"
"Do you have any fish we could eat?"
"This is Cornwall…… we have fish!"
"Then I'm hungry but I wouldn't know how to cook it.
If we were on the sands, then that's another matter but on your ship? I think you should do it."
"Alright but you watch how it's done so another time when we're out, you can chef for us, agreed?"
"Yes. I agree Captain."
"By the way.
This isn't a ship, it's a boat – a big boat I'll admit but a boat none-the-less, plus I'm not a Captain…… even my Father never aspired to those giddy heights!"
"But maybe one day you might?"
"I've often wondered about what I might do?
I've done with school but my Mum needs help running the pub, especially with the cellar and stuff so I'll most probably stick around and take over the running of the place once she decides to retire but, I have to be eighteen to do that. School holidays are just around the corner and while we don't get mobbed by tourists, there are loads of holiday lets so come the time, we open every day and that means lots of extra work."
"Maybe I could help you?"
"We'd appreciate any help we could get but don't expect a massive paycheque, we run the place for the village, not for profit so money is tight."
"I have no need of money. It has no value for me. What I need is companionship and support…… maybe even love but I'm old enough to know that isn't going to happen soon although…… I'm still young enough to dream."
The storm arrived just as Aruno had predicted although it blew itself out after around forty-eight hours.
It had cleared the air and so we made preparations to head out and the journey back to Tresgillith.
Cathy had stayed with her Mum for the duration leaving Aruno and I to talk and the more I listened to him, the more attracted to him I became.
He had an enchanting manner – not brash or cocksure, but his comments and conversation were well ordered and thoughtful and that had me wondering just how much he was life-aware but my conclusion was…… he undoubtedly knew just as much as me, if not more.
I'd offered him the use of Cathy's cabin – one of only three on the boat, the first being mine, then hers then the crew quarters that slept four people however he asked if he could sling a hammock in mine. He needed company plus he didn't like the idea of bunks.
Actually, I could understand his thinking because during the storm and not attached to a floating pontoon which meant mooring lines had to be loose to accommodate the changing tides, we got shoved around rather a lot which made sleep difficult, whereas he was stationary - it was the boat that was on the move, not him.
I tried it but fell onto the floor at every attempt.
He told me I needed to practice!
Day two of the storm and we needed to charge batteries so lesson number one for him.
On the bridge – yes it was a bridge rather than a wheelhouse – it could cope with four people leaving plenty of space to move around but anyhow, I showed Aruno how to start the generator – no problems there but then he asked me how to start the engine – then the complexity of the switchboards, the hydraulic take-offs for the winch-gear and so the list goes on.
By the end of the afternoon, I judged he was more than capable even though he'd not made any notes.
He was one bright boy and the fact that I found it hard to take my eyes off him got me thinking.
One habit that I did find very distracting was his reluctance to wear much clothing. He never went around naked - thank the Lord – but so long as it was passably warm, his attire comprised of one item which I can only describe as a loin cloth.
From what I could see, which was quite a lot, the front kept him decent in as much as this bit of cloth had a sort of pouch to keep his bits from falling out but the rear? A thong is the best I can come up with and please God, it wasn't helping my seriously confused head.
I would catch him looking at me sometimes. Not directly but with his sideways pose but then, realising I'd clocked him, he'd smile at me and I'd melt inside and I'd not known him for more than two days?
At the age of seventeen, shouldn't I know myself?
I look at the sky at night and know that what I see most likely no longer exists and I can accept that so why do I have a fear of the here and now?
I'm getting erections, the first ones I've had since suffering the annoyance of puberty…… what is that all about?"
The problem is?
I'm enjoying them!
Perhaps I'm not asexual after all.
"Penzance Harbour? This is Papa-Zulu Eleven-eight-six.
We are preparing to leave port, over?"
"Papa-Zulu eleven-eight six. You're free to leave whenever you're ready.
There are big seas out there Simeon, please be aware of that but we'll keep you on radar until you pass Solomon Point.
This is Penzance Harbour wishing you a safe and uneventful voyage. Out."
"This isn't going to be what I'd call a fun-run so please, no wandering around on deck, understood?"
This was normal on board. Regulations dictate that the skipper must alert his crew to all possible dangers or subsequent insurance claims wouldn't be considered.
Cathy had been out with me time out of number so she wasn't my problem, she knew the procedure well enough but Sam? I desperately wanted him to stay out of harm's way.
I was really attracted to him.
As things turned out, he stuck to me like a limpet. He wanted to understand everything about everything and even when I needed to take a leak, I honestly believe he would've come with me barring the fact I offered him the wheel, the chance to take the helm.
At one point I left Aruno on the bridge and joined Cathy in the galley where she was brewing coffee.
She appeared apprehensive.
"Is everything alright?"
"I think so but I can't help worrying about Sam."
"In what way? I realise that he's a way to go but he seems to be enjoying himself?"
"Yes he is and therein lies the problem.
These last couple of days he's been kept busy – your boat, getting to know you and everything…… I mean, he's not had the time to feel homesick but what'll happen when he does have the time to brood Simeon?
He grew up in a manner that made him self-reliant, he was given free-reign to do whatever he wanted and to be an adult in his own right but here?
Life, even for us is regimented and let's be honest, even we live in a very relaxed environment don't we but even so, he can't be allowed to go chasing around and doing whatever jungle bunnies get up to, he'll have to learn about what discipline is expected over here like for instance, that loin cloth thingy – that'll have to go for openers. Surely wearing something like that has to be like an arrestable offence?
So far I've managed to persuade him to stick to shorts when he's out but just as soon as his feet hit the deck of your boat, POW! Loin cloth time."
"I've offered him some work at the pub, then there's this boat plus he mentioned canoeing. I'll take him out and about so he can explore the area, maybe even get him behind the wheel of the Landrover then with luck, he'll be too preoccupied to miss his old life as he gradually acclimatises to his new one."
"I do hope you're right. Just be gentle with him, please don't hurt him?"
"Hurt him? Why on earth would I want to hurt him Cath? Anyway, I get the impression he'd be more than a match for me!"
"Not physically hurt him, I was thinking more along the lines of emotionally.
He's…… very fond of you, you know?"
"Wanna know something?
I'm very fond of him as well."
So far as possible, I stayed close to the coastline so Aruno would have some idea about the terrain and where he would be spending his time but he was more interested in the dolphins that were playing hide and seek alongside us.
"What are those fish called?"
"They're dolphins and technically they're not fish but mammals. They're very intelligent and if you get lucky, they sometimes come up to you when you're swimming."
"Not dangerous then?"
"Definitely not. They're very playful in fact I read somewhere that they're believed to be the only species of mammal that play just for the fun of it whereas most, probably all others have a different reason like attracting a mate or hunting for food."
"Have you ever swum with them?"
"A couple of times. It's a very special experience."
"I want to swim with them!"
"Not here and not now, the sea's too rough but once we get a calm day, we can try and persuade them to come closer inshore, then you can try."
"So is it safe to swim in these waters?"
"For the most part but it's as well to understand the tides.
Sometimes we can get tides that are very high then go very low, and on the beginning of a low tide, you could get pulled out to sea but then when the tide comes back in, they're fun because you're safe and if the surf's up? Even more fun."
"Yesterday you talked of riptides. I didn't understand but I didn't want you to think I was stupid."
"I know you're not stupid. – You have to be very clever to survive in your life back in your village. Me? I'd probably get killed pretty quickly but here, I know things, things that keep me alive which you might not understand so ask me anything and at any time.
Riptides are caused by a combination of the natural flow of the sea together with the tide and wind direction.
Close inshore, there isn't normally a problem but they can be fierce around headlands.
They cause undertows that can suck you under and keep you from surfacing for miles. You don't have to be Einstein to know what that means?"
"Yep, and it isn't the way I plan to die!"
"You plan how you die in England?"
"No sorry. That was meant to be funny."
"Death is not funny, especially your death.
I feel the need to get closer to you – not just to understand but…… I find you…… very attractive."
"Aruno I…… "
"I needed to tell you.
Untruths are wicked, lies return to bite you like a viper.
I am sorry if I have offended you."
If that didn't cut me to the quick, the look he gave me, well it almost had me in tears.
He uses his eyes in a way that sort of mesmerises you.
He turns sideways on then turns his head and allows his eyes to do the rest – one eyebrow very slightly raised then together with his face – normally full of bright smiles – is now serious, as if begging for an answer.
"You…… you haven't, like…… offended me. I'm just…… lost for words……"
He put a finger to my lips then replied, "Then no words are necessary.
Sometimes it is as well to read someone.
I've watched you, noticing how you look at me and I can tell.
Back at home – in my village and beyond -, we can look into the eye of a wild boar and we can understand if it is going to attack.
We do not kill for sport, only to eat so if the beast is feeling lazy, we walk away but if it is hungry or angry then it is kill or be killed.
The same is true with people.
A smile of friendship isn't done with the mouth, it is done with the eyes – the window you look through into a person's soul so I look at your eyes, and what I see tells me of a boy – a boy frightened of his feelings but one who realises he needs to accept those feelings or die inside.
Accept those feelings. Please don't die inside?"
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