“cookin’ with the captain”

(Captain James Cook’s ship the HMS Endeavour off the coast of New Holland, by Samuel Atkins c. 1794; as researchers with the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project announce on 20160504 they are “nearly sure” they’ve found the Endeavour — sold and renamed the Lord Sandwich in 1775, then used as a troop transport until being scuttled by the British in 1778 during the American Revolutionary War, and now lying on the bottom of Newport Harbor.)

Captain Angel — aka Angel LaDuke, 32, a bi-colored h. sapes, reed-thin girl with dreadlocks falling past the light, creamed coffee of her shoulders, and hot pink of her bikini halter top — is swinging plastic bins full of food and other resupplies, from the dock at Pirate’s Bay on the northwest coast of Guadeloupe, onto the deck of Hasty Pudding, her 42′ Beneteau sloop.

“That it, girl?” Wide Size Charlemagne asks, grinning. “You need me come aboard, help you wash the laundry?”

“Uh-huh,” Angel says, glancing up as she shifts the final bin. “Like that would happen on a day when Hell was not beginning another Ice Age.”

“Just askin’.”

“And just sayin’, no way no day.” She straightens up. “But thanks, Wide Size, for wheeling out the cart. And say hi to your moms?”

“Sure thing, Angel on a boat. Drive safe.” Then he turns and pulls the four-wheeled cart back up the dock toward Fixies, the only store for “Groceries and Other Nauticals” on this part of the island.

Angel takes a breath turning toward the water, where she’ll anchor until tomorrow when the Hansens from Detroit are scheduled to arrive — a couple pushing 40 with two teenage daughters, who have booked her and the boat for a ten-day cruise through the northern Lesser Ants, ending up at Charlotte Amalie where they’ll fly back home.

She has run the winter charter business for five years by herself, since her dad died and left her the boat and cottage a half mile up the dusty road that snakes along the shore from Fixies. Which was both a change for her, and nothing really different, as she’d grown up helping on her father’s boats since she was six, then doing more after her mom left for London with “The Groomer.” Though her return to Guadeloupe from Berkeley, after six years and a Master’s in “post-romantic poets,” did take some readjustment.

“What the fuck?” she asked her father on the first day back. “You still have dial-up?”

“Works fine for email,” he replied. “What else is the Interwebs about, if not communication?”

“That, and everything else.”

“Like what else?” he asked.

“Like ‘life’? Imagine that you’re living in a room with a sturdy door. And suddenly the door is opened and you walk out and there’s this whole, other world outside the door that you now have access to?”

“Uh-huh,” he said. “So it’s like sailing on a boat, then? You leave a shore you’ve come to know and go someplace else, and see things that are both similar and different from what you’ve come to know. Which you can also do by just leaving home and going for a walk. Or opening a book. Or changing channels on tv. Or tinkering with how to fix the fuel pump on a boat, with something from the catch-all boxes in the shed?”

“I guess.”

“So same thing, then, just different –”

“– ways of following the link-link in your head,” she said, finishing the thought.

“Uh-huh,” he said. ‘Link-link’ is good. You get that from the web?”

“Yes. Some people think the real reason that we built the Internet, is just to help us better visualize what’s going on inside our heads.”

“The story in a story. Like James Cook’s voyage of discovery, where he plants the British flag on what is now Australia?

“Yes,” she answered. “As part of a larger voyage of individual discovery, with Cook sailing around the outer surface of an enormous sphere, on which we, the h. sapes home boys, have learned to do a step-back look that, from a place outside ourselves, sees an infinity of indie points that move through 3-D space and time.”

“So what was going on inside your head in Berkeley, then, is still going on on Guadeloupe. Which would be the welcome home inside a welcome home, from the head you never left.

“Wel-come home, An-gel!” he added, grinning wide, with a high-pitched, sing-song voice, his hands and fingers splayed out on both sides of his head as it bobbed from side to side, in a clownish, mirror image of her “talking” head. And Angel cracked up large at 24, like she had at seven, at the spontaneous unexpected in her father’s humble, indie song-and-dance.

20160505 01:26 (750 words)
▸ KT Tunstall performing
“Push That Knot Away” from “Tiger Suit” 2010
“The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley and Mike Campbell, from Henley’s album “Building the Perfect Beast” 1984
“On Melancholy Hill” by Damon Albarn of Gorillaz from their album “Plastic Beach” 2010

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