by Andrew Foote
I walked through to the bar and noticing Aruno was nowhere to be seen, I sat down at the piano, studied at the keyboard and my mind drifted back in time.
Many years ago before my Fathers untimely death, Repellent hosted an open weekend and Mum and I drove to Devonport, my first ever visit to Dads ship.
We had stayed on board Saturday night and on Sunday morning we attended a service which took place, not in the chapel but out on deck.
We have never been a religious family but that isn't to say we didn't have a faith; we did but not one that tied itself to any particular church so I guess that made us spiritual rather than God fearing.
During that service, one hymn was sung that did resonate with me. Now whether it was the words that touched me or the tune, I can't remember; I was only ten after all, but I have never forgotten it either.
We rest on thee, our shield and our defender.
We rest on thee and in thy name we go.
Strong in thy faith, safe in thy keeping tender.
We rest on thee and in thy name we go.
Strong in thy faith, safe in thy keeping tender.
We rest on thee and in thy name we go.
I placed my hands on the keyboard, played the tune, the aria from Jean Sibelius' Finlandia, thought about those words and my dam burst. Not a gentle weep like earlier that day, oh no, this was a full-blown cry and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
At some point I was aware of Aruno cuddling me from behind, his head on my back as I let it all out. He didn't say a word, he just held me, comforting me in his embrace. That simple, caring gesture gave me strength and I knew that moment Cathy had talked about had come so I sniffed back my tears then turned and took him in my arms.
"What is upsetting you Mimi-cu? Have I done something wrong?"
"No, no. You've done nothing wrong. It's me, I'm frightened."
"Frightened of what? There is nothing here to frighten you?"
"Not here but in here. What is in my head, what is in my heart. I love you – more than that, I'm in love with you. I've never felt this way before and I don't know how to deal with it.
Aruno I'm so very sorry!"
"Please don't be sorry? I think that those are the most beautiful words I've ever heard. You are my Mimi-cu."
"What does that mean?"
"In my village we are allowed to choose a name for a very special person in our life and for you, I chose Mimi-cu."
"Mimi means boy and Cu means…… God. You are my Boy-God. I love you. I have loved you since before I even met you so now? No more crying or otherwise you will spoil the happiest day of my life. Let us have a drink and then you play some happy music!"
We celebrated and straying outside of my comfort zone, I uncorked a bottle of Prosecco and as a result, we were both rather drunk by the time we went up to bed.
We lay there, entwined in each other's arms and even though it was obvious we were both very aroused, going further than that, especially what with both of us being three sheets to the wind didn't seem right. Sex was inevitable, I knew that but I wanted it to be a very special event rather than a drunken fumble in the dark. We both had a steep learning curve ahead and one we'd journey together.
Aruno woke me a six o'clock with coffee and kisses then told me he was preparing breakfast for us on the beach – Sprats which he insisted I try. Well he hasn't died so I suppose I must – try them, but at least he spared me the sight of them being skewered onto sticks, I took a swim instead.
They were nice actually. The skins fell from the flesh and then a bit like eating corn on the cobb, you just pared the meat from the bones using your teeth then tossed the remains to the waiting gulls. Maybe something to put on the Specials board but then again……
Back at the Nelson we took turns showering then set about the task of clearing up after the previous evening's session.
Cathy arrived at eleven and when I went through to the kitchen she and Aruno were deep in conversation but on seeing me, she turned and grinned.
"So congratulations, Mimi-cu!"
"Cut it out Cath. It's bad enough Aruno calling me that without you jumping on the bandwagon."
She held her fingers in front of her eyes like a photographer trying to decide the best angle. "It's no good, I still can't see it. You're cute-looking – actually you're very handsome but a living, breathing deity?
Oh well, I guess if Sam sees you like that, I'll just have to run with the tide!
How are you holding up?"
"Good. You were right, but I was falling apart last night after you left but now, all that's left to do is break the news to Mum and that mightn't go down too well."
"How so? She's pretty open minded?"
"I know. She's already as good as accused me of being gay so that's not the issue but Aruno's age may well be."
"So don't go saying anything!"
"I think I'm going to have to. Aruno and I have just exchanged vows of love for each other so I can't and won't allow him to walk away as soon as Mum gets back. I want to be with him and he wants to be with me."
"Compromise then. On the days that the pub is open, he stays here with you then when it's shut, he comes back to mine. You can always see each other during the day and if you need some alone-time together, there's always Conqueror?"
"I suppose, but it still doesn't sit right with me. I can't stand deception."
"Alright, but what if she goes off on one? She'll probably put a blanket ban on you seeing each other.
The way I see it, you're not being deceitful by not telling her you love him, just cautious. If I fell in love, I wouldn't necessarily go telling Mum or Dad straight away? I'd wait until I was 100% sure and even then, given that these things are very personal, I'd let it ride. They'd probably guess, body language can be a dead give-away but I don't have to tell them?"
"Yes alright. Point taken but changing the subject slightly? How do you see Aruno and me?"
"So many metaphors spring to mind Simeon. Two worlds colliding, a meeting of destinies, something inevitable?
This is right and do you want to know why?
Ever since Sam could read and write, we've been exchanging letters. I used to send him photos of people I knew and what we did together. Places I'd visited, this village, the list goes on but I sent loads of photos of you and I together and he asked if we would marry.
Well I didn't know back then, we were kids like eleven or twelve so I told him that you were very special to me and things but marriage wasn't on our agenda.
He told me that if I didn't marry you, then he would!
He loved you, even then he saw something he liked and that something was you."
"So you don't have any misgivings?"
"Nope. Like I said, you were always going to be together but there is one thing that sort of bothers me?"
"You do realise that one day he'll return to his village don't you?"
"You think so?"
"I know so and this is where it gets difficult.
When that time comes, would you go with him?"
I thought for a moment but in fact it didn't take me long to realise that I wouldn't hesitate. "Go with him. Definitely go with him. I'd be like a fish out of water there but I love him Cath, I really do!"
"And do you know something else?
I'd most likely tag along for the ride!"
There's something about being happy that's infectious, even some of our normally grumpy old customers seemed to latch on to our moods.
At one point I relieved Cathy from the kitchen – it isn't nice being cooped up in the heat but I could hear laughing and banter coming from the bar and I don't know why but I wanted to cry again. I didn't, but even if I had, those would've been tears of joy.
We had a good lunchtime so we shut up shop for the day come three o'clock, cashed up and sat around talking.
Aruno picked up on something that had slipped my mind.
"Engines Mimi-cu. Three days and no engine starts. Do you want me to go to your boat?"
I thought for a moment before turning to Cath.
"Do you have plans for the rest of the day Cathy?"
"No, nothing pressing. Why do you ask?"
"Why don't we all go, maybe take her out for a while. I don't know about you but I could use the break?"
"Well it is a beautiful day…… seems such a shame to waste it so if you can give me say, ten minutes to grab my bikini from home? Let's get out of here."
Cathy chased off followed by Aruno. I guessed they had things to talk over, things that perhaps were on a personal level and not for my ears.
I went upstairs and changed into a pair of swimming shorts, an elderly tee shirt and deck shoes.
I waited outside after I locked up. A busy weekend over and time to relax and talk things through.
They reappeared twenty minutes later with Aruno carrying a large plastic water container and Cathy, a rucksack.
"What are those for?"
"Fresh lemonade. I've been busy 'cos I managed to persuade old man Bristow over at Port Isaac to give me his use-by-out-date lemons.
This stuff is the best, I promise you.
I've got a pile of sandwiches and salad stuff, poached Mackerel and some cold baked John Dory, so enough for us to be piggy when we get hungry but I forgot bread."
"No matter. I'll get some from our shop.
You get yourselves down to the inflatable and I'll see you there. You have no idea just how much I'm looking forward to this!"
Half an hour later and with everything and everybody on board Conqueror, we attached the inflatable to the davits and hoisted it aboard. Aruno had the engine, generator and compressor running so we made a start on stowing away our picnic then once the old Stork was warm, we let go our moorings and headed out.
Cathy was right. A beautiful afternoon really didn't do justice to it.
On the Cornish Peninsular, we either get wonderful weather or it's dire, but today was perfect with a mill-pond sea and virtually no breeze…… and hot! Just perfect conditions."
I took a coarse South-South-West along the coast towards where I thought might be a good place to throw a drag and chill out, the remains of an abandoned village but with a deep anchorage, clear and sheltered from the elements.
Cathy came up from the accommodation and sat down in the only remaining seat then looked at the control consul.
"Shouldn't you have your VHF and plotter running Simeon?"
"Technically yeah, but we're only out on a jolly and so I clean forgot.
I'll see to it."
"Well you never know…… thanks, it'll make me feel better!"
We made it safely, not that there should be any problems but then we set about organising our picnic.
Here was a beach, sandy, quiet and out of the way so we decided to eat off the boat. We used the inflatable to transfer the supplies, but as we set about choosing position, Cath remembered she'd left the ice on the galley counter so she took the inflatable to retrieve it but minutes passed and with no sign of her, I began to worry even though she is good around boats, competent, trustworthy and ultimately reliable but all manner of things can happen at sea……
I shielded my eyes from the sun and saw our inflatable tied up alongside Conqueror but squinting, I noticed Cath standing on the bridge and it looked as if she was talking to someone but then she opened the door and started to wave at us frantically but not a wave of acknowledgement, a wave of panic.
I took Aruno's arm.
"Get back to the boat and I mean right now…… hurry!"
"But Mimi-cu. What about the food?"
"Stuff the food! Move it! Get a shift on!"
We took to the water and swam for what seemed like a lifetime then on reaching the boat, Cath pulled us on board.
"What's going on?"
"A Mayday call. Signals weak but…… oh God Simeon? It's Dad's boat!"
"Alright. Calm down. Loads of boats will've heard it so let's listen."
'Mayday, mayday, mayday. This is Papa-Zulu Four five nine, M.V. Marion S. Call Two Hotel Uniform Lima Six. MMSI 943–953–238. We have struck a submerged object and are taking on water. Our Port generator has failed and we're going to shut down our main engine to minimise further damage to our Starboard unit. Batteries are flooded and radio output has been reduced to one watt. We require immediate assistance. Over."
I hit the button.
"Papa-Zulu four five nine, this is Papa-Zulu One one eight six. Your position please. Over."
He read off his latitude and longitude.
"Papa-Zulu four five nine. We are fifteen miles due east of you. We are responding. Please dual-watch channel sixteen and ten. Keep me updated. Papa-Zulu one one eight six listening."
Next I told Aruno to start our engine and Cathy to winch up our drag then radioed Penzance.
"We have it Simeon but you are closest. Rescue is involved with a pleasure boat incident and all other traffic are either too large, or too far out to render assistance. Sorry pal, it's down to you. Penzance Harbour out."
My hands were visibly shaking. I had never been involved in a rescue before let alone one that left me on my Jack, and not only that? To come to the aid of another boat from Tresgillith?
"Let's get the hell out of here.
Cathy? Blankets, hot coffee, the medical kit and pronto.
Aruno? Take the helm and stick to our current compass heading while I look out some power leads and stuff. If you get a radio message, tell Cath to come get me but you stay put, okay?"
"Thanks! A good thing we came out, but I'm sorry about the picnic."
I went below and sorted out a suitably strong towline then found a seventy-five Amp power cable and using cable-ties, secured them together and took them up on the deck in a neat coil.
I checked with Aruno – everything fine so I went back down to find our submersible pump but this animal was massive and it took both Cath and me to get it as far as the elevator.
I went back up to the bridge and a very welcome mug of tea, sat myself down next to Aruno and watched the screens then radioed in.
"Papa-Zulu four five nine? This is Papa-Zulu one one eight six. Your status please. Over."
"From Papa-Zulu four five nine. Starboard generator just about holding its own but the damage is such that the pumps aren't able to keep up with the intake of water meaning if that generator goes tits-up, best estimate gives us two hours before we have to take to the rafts. Over."
"From Papa-Zulu one one eight six. We have visual contact so here's how it works.
I'll bring across a tow together with a three phase patch lead and submersible pump. Have a crew member standing by to take them on board, attach the tow and set the pump running. That should buy time enough for us to get you back to Tresgillith. Over."
"From Papa-Zulu four five nine. Not Tresgillith. Newquay. Over."
" NEWQUAY?? Not on your life! I'll give you one other option and that's Penzance. Tresgillith or Penzance. Your call. Over."
There was a momentary pause then,
"From Papa-Zulu four five nine. Very well. Tresgillith. Over."
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