Dave, everybody called him Shark Boy and Aura were headed back down the coral path to the dinghy when suddenly Dave stopped. “A penny for your thoughts, Sweet Prince,” said Aura. Dave blushed when he realized what she had said, but he remained silent as they continued down the path to the beach.
They waded out to the dinghy, hopped in and Aura started the motor while Dave unhooked the painter from a tree branch. Dave motioned Aura toward a reef that runs parallel to Lovango while he pulled on his flippers, readied his spear guns and rinsed the salt from his goggles. Aura backed off the throttle when she reached the reef and Dave stuck his face under the water’s surface and watched below until he saw what he was looking for—a big grouper.
“Game on,” exclaimed Dave, as he sat up and rolled backwards into the water and before long he nailed the grouper. The grouper bolted taking Dave’s spear and line with it, but soon after, Dave emerged from a cloud of blood with his spear and with the grouper impaled on it. Dave left the fish and his spear in the water until he was back in the dinghy and then he hoisted it over the gunwale and inside the dinghy—the grouper was longer than the dinghy was wide. Without comment Aura throttled up the outboard motor and they were headed for the boat shack. Dave separated the lobster’s heads from their tails and tossed the heads, less two tentacles, over the side and de-veined the tails by inserting one of tentacles into the vent at the back of the lobster’s tail and then removing it—intestinal track and all.
Just before they reached the dock Dave told Aura what he was thinking when she made her “Penny for your thoughts,” remark.
Dave said, “When I looked at that narrow channel back there between Sandy Spit and Lovango a thought crossed my mind. That Megalodon has to pass through that channel on his way around Lovango—it would be perfect place to ambush him. The longer that monster lives the more people he’s going to eat because he’s developed an appetite for human flesh—he’s the reason so many local fishermen have gone missing but he must pass through that narrow channel that we were looking at today.”
“Oh Dave,” exclaimed Aura. “Wouldn’t a Megalodon be on the protected species list?”
“Nope,” emphasized Dave. “Because according to the scientists Megalodon’s are extinct. But what it’s coming down to is him, or me, one of us must go, and it’s going to be him!”
When they arrived at the public dock Dave slung the big grouper over his shoulder and Aura carried the lobster tails as they hiked up the hill to the boat shack.
Dan had a rather sad look on his face while he hung the huge copper kettle over the fire pit and began to fill it with water. Dave’s Dad, Big Jesse and Ryan were talking and laughing amongst themselves when Dave interrupted them and introduced Aura. They warmly welcomed her and then Dave asked, “What’s up with Dan? He looks like his dog died.” Big Jesse clued them in: Dan’s here because of a love gone wrong back on Long Island and after being exiled for 25 years his lost love contacted him by email. That caused his spirits to soar, but after a month of torrid email exchanges, she dumped him again.” He keeps re-playing that same stupid song: “Sweet Dreams and flying machines and pieces on the ground, Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end and I’ve seen lonely days when I could not find a friend but I always thought I’d see you, one more time again.” He ought to man up, snorted Jesse, “Around here we live by the three S’s, no sniffling, no snitching and no sympathy parties. He should be re-playing “Love Stinks,” instead of that whiny song!”
“Give the guy a break,” said Ryan when Darleen dumped you, you looked the same way. “Well, she never…I dumped her,” insisted Jesse.” Dave’s Dad changed the subject to head off the bad language and woman bashing that was certain to follow. “When it comes to affairs of the heart and emotional issues,” remarked the captain, “There’s usually three sides to it, his, hers and the truth.”
“How long have you lived here, Aura?” asked the Captain.
“All my life,” exclaimed Aura. “My mother worked for Robert Oppenheimer and after he died she worked for my father whose job it was to keep an eye on Robert because of the nuclear secrets he possessed. I live here during the summer months and attend a private school on the east coast during the school year. I was born on the other end of the island and spent most of my time there in isolation because my dad feared that I might be abducted and held for leverage on him, or ransom, but now that my mother and father have both died, I’m not certain where I’ll live.”
“I understand,” said the Captain. “And I heard via the coconut telegraph that you are one of the best one design racer’s in the country.”
Aura blushed and modestly admitted that, yes, she was a member of the U.S. Sailing team but to say that she was the best racer in the country was over-stating matters. Aura hesitated because she was choosing her words carefully. She then added that she was late getting back to school this semester, but after her mother’s funeral was over she would be leaving for school. “Dave’s mother is helping me through this terrible ordeal. She’s been such a big help and I don’t know what I would’ve done without her. I will never forget her kindness, compassion and understanding. My father, of course, died last year in Afghanistan, after security guards at his base neglected to thoroughly search an informant who was also a double agent and a suicide bomber–it was a fatal mistake that ended his life and some other lives too.”
“I’m so sorry,” said the Captain. “But please know how grateful we are for career officers like your dad—he sacrificed his life so the rest of us might live in peace—there is no greater valor than that.”
“Yes,” said Aura. “And some of those who died with him were women—they had families too. Even though Dad never married my mother, he legally adopted me and made arrangements for my education, health insurance, and left me his Social Security and retirement benefits. He loved me and I loved him and there’s no replacing him, or my mother. She loved me too and I her. I often wished that my Dad had married my mother but that was between them. I was very fortunate to have two parents who loved me-I sorely miss them.”
“Are you coming to our fish boil tonight?” asked the Captain.
“Yes,” confirmed Aura. “Jini thought it would be a grand idea and she said besides getting my mind off of grievous matters, it would give me a chance to meet some of the other sailers around here.”
“I heard,” Aura said, “that you, Dave and Ryan are among the best sailers in the Southern Ocean Racing Conference.”
The Captain said, “Now that is overstating matters”—they all laughed.
“Well, Dad,” said Dave. “We have to get Mom’s dinghy back to her so we’ll see you tonight.”
The Captain handed Dave some cash and said, “Don’t forget to fill your mother’s tanks and thank her for letting us use her dinghy and, of course, the two of you, to harvest the fish and lobsters for tonight’s feast…and by the way son, is the Monk and his entourage coming tonight?”
“Yes, him and the girls are bringing heavy cream, butter, fresh baked bread and cheeses.”
Dave and Aura were walking towards the dock when Dave bolted and took off at his top speed. He jumped in front of Aura, but by the time they reached the dock Aura was running right next to him. He was surprised because no girl had ever before matched his speed and then he learned that she was a track star too who excelled at the 100, 220 and 440 yard dash.
Dave removed the painter from its dock cleat, filled the tanks at the gas dock and they were on their way to the Dream Weaver. After they returned to the Weaver, Aura realized that she had nothing to wear for the party without going back to her house, but Jini had already covered that base; her and Aura was the same waist size except Aura was taller so Jini laid out some of her own clothes, a sheer, black sarong and a pair of leather Italian sandals.
“Try those on,” suggested Jini. After Aura changed clothes and reappeared she looked magnificent.
“Aura, honey, you look ravishing. I can’t wait to see the look on the men’s faces tonight when they see you coming.”
Dave wanted to compliment Aura too, but her beauty was such that she left him speechless. Dave went forward to the “V” berth and changed his clothes too. He found a loose snow-white, hand-woven shirt that his grandmother sent him from Italy, and it had brown bone buttons with an intricate weave around its sleeves and collar. He pulled on some loose black pants and leather sandals. Aura and Dave were totally tanned from the tropical sun. While they stood next to each other on the Weaver’s teak wood deck, Jini took their picture. He was as handsome as she was elegant and it was plain to see that they were love struck. Cupid had done his work and not even a great geographic distance could separate them now. Yes indeed, the Gypsy sister’s star chart and crystal ball were correct again.
Love and romance was in the air for them and it was oozing from every pore of their beings.
To be continued…