A brisk breeze pushed through the hatchway, cooling her sunburned cheeks. Saltwater lapped at the hull. A mariner’s lullaby. She smiled, pondering her perfect life. No people. No stress. Just the occasional storm, and sojourns to the mainland for provisions. Just as her tired eyes closed, violent knocking and shouting erupted on her starboard side…

(Stories need only touch on this topic in some way to qualify.)


She’s lying on white, sun-soaked fiberglass and floating on a velvet sea. No movement, just peace. The only sound is the lazy creak of the boat as it rocks up and down on miniature waves. Her face is painted with red streaks that burn a little, yes, but she knows they’ll brown, yes indeed they will, it’s all part of a delicate metamorphosis. Peel back dead, crispy layers of wrinkled skin and reach the glossy layer beneath, still moist with the oils of youth.

She wonders if there has ever been a peace so perfect. Maybe in paintings, she thinks, but nowhere else.

She thinks: Where am I supposed to be, again? Right. The Caribbean.

Sometimes there are storms but even those are gentle–light shows more than anything. Light shows on the horizon for her to watch while she sips Tequila from a straw in a glass with one of those umbrella things you see in movies.

She thinks: What is the friggin’ hold up?

The only thing she has to worry about is the occasional docking to resupply, which actually she enjoys. Dock excursions are her chance to walk around in sunflower bikinis, flashing painted toes and flaunting oil-lacquered milky legs for all the rugged seaport men to hoot and holler at. Because she is young and gorgeous. And has no worries. And wears her carefree disposition like a little girl’s dimple.

Afterward, before she leaves port, she gets to sit for a while to watch those men, their muscles screaming through taut skin as they hoist pulleys and do … other stuff that seamen–no pun intended–do.

Out of nowhere, the guttural, spurting sound of a boat motor ruptures the gentle silence. She is not excited. Not even a little bit. Okay, maybe a little, but more than that she is angry at whomever is ruining her peace. The loud noise gets closer and the moment she flips to her belly and removes her sunglasses to give the perpetrator a piece of her mind her boat is jolted violently. Tequila spills and runs in a urine-yellow stream into the water off port side.

Leaping to her feet, she yells, “What is the meaning of this?” It’s a good line, she thinks, authentically angry sounding, sure to intimidate. Everything is quiet again. She sees a little rubber dingy floating lazily on the starboard side of her yacht. No passenger. Now she is afraid. There is no land in sight in any direction. Her heart beats in her chest like a fist on a door.

“Hello?” she calls, into the wind. Waves are licking the side of the boat, she can hear the lapping. Nothing else.

“Hello?” She moves from the bow toward the stern, an excited weakness in her knees.

A man suddenly climbs onto the yacht, landing heavily in rubber boots that look too big for his feet. They have little strap handles like garden wear. She rolls her eyes.

Assessing the man’s angry image makes her quake as if from cold. He has on all black. On his head a bandana is folded tightly and the open flaps of his leather vest reveal a muscled chest with a thick coat of brown fur. A strong breeze presses his baggy pantaloons against his legs and limns their strong shape. His hands are tarantulas ready to bite.

He speaks in a low growl. “You will obey me,” he says. “Do what I say and we won’t have problems.”

She is scared, yes, terrified is what she is, but also she feels a tingle in a forlorn place.

“What do you want from me?”

“Everything,” he says. “I want everything you have.”

“Everything?” she asks coyly.

In his eyes burn a blue intensity like a stovetop flame. He approaches. She cannot help but admire the practiced grace of his steps. This is an agile man, she thinks. She can’t fight him. She is powerless.

“Everything. Where is your wallet? And I want the keys to the boat. And your phone.”

“What will I do? There’s no one around for miles.”

“Do I look like I care?”

“Are you a …”

“Pirate, yes.”

His lips slide over like a hurled spear. A hard smirk. A hard smirk for a hard–

She notices at the level of his groin the soft black cloth of his trousers protruding like a happy obelisk. He notices the fix of her eyes and stares down also and then back up and instead of snarling at her and telling her how dare she regard his manhood with those appraising eyes he begins to laugh.

He says: “I could hang a hat on that thing.”

“You took the Viagra too soon, didn’t you? How soon, Earl?”

“About fifteen minutes ago.”

“Five minutes. I said five minutes. And what took you so long? And what the hell kind of boots are those?”

They both laugh. In the distance, the paper white sand of the Florida Keys gleams in sunlight.

“For heaven’s sake,” she says, laughing. “You ruined it, Earl.”

“Eileen, I’m not good at this sorta stuff.” He unwinds the bandana.

“We’re not spring chickens anymore. This was gonna spice things up.”

“Well,” Earl says, “I may not be a pirate but I still got a sword for you if you’re up for it.”

“What a romantic you are.”

“I love you, Eileen.”

She sighs then chuckles at the wrinkled old fart in front of her. What a smile, he has.

“I love you too, Earl.”