Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Pink Lady by Sara Jacobelli

Young Kelly becomes captain of her father's fishing boat when it is hijacked in Sara Jacobelli's flash.

Her father stepped onto the boat, just as she had seen him do hundreds of times before. This time was different - a man had a gun stuck into her father's ribs. Kelly didn't know the man. He was about the same age as her father, forty, forty two. He was dark and lean, rough looking. Her dad ordered her to untie the boat and launch it and she did, moving woodenly, uncertainly. She felt the electricity in the air that signaled a far off storm.

As Kelly piloted the Pink Lady out to sea, the strange man searched her dad's coat pockets, tossing his knife and cell phone into the water. He tied her father's wrists and ankles with rope, shoved him onto the bench. The man picked up the knife Kelly used for gutting salmon and tossed that into the water. Stupid, thought Kelly. A knife can save your life on a boat.

"Put your life jacket on, honey," her dad said. It seemed funny, almost, him telling her what to do as if this was a normal day. "Good job steering the Lady," he added. She sensed his pride in her skills. She used to be terrified of driving the boat, scared she would hit something. Now she felt a sense of ease at the ship's wheel, a sense of power. The kids at school might make fun of her, but she knew deep down inside they were jealous, too. Jealous that she learned how to handle a boat when she was six years old.

"Where are we going?" Kelly asked, not sure if she should direct her question to her father or to the bad guy, whoever he was. He looked kind of like Johnny Depp, only with scars on his face and a frown. She wondered if he was a pirate. A sense of unreality came over her, a feeling of time slowing down. This is like a movie. Nothing like this ever happens in Fort Bragg.

"Sky's gettin' dark, it's lookin' bad out there," her father said.

The bad guy ignored him.

"Just tell me what you want, is it money? I don't have a lot of money, but I'll try -" Her father's voice sounded weak. He looked tired. Kelly was surprised that he just seemed to give up.

"You can't steal our boat," she said. "Hey, you, Johnny Depp, I'm talking to you."

Kelly surprised herself with her bravery. "My dad and me, we live on this boat. Plus we take people charter fishing. This is our home, and our jobs too." She maneuvered through some rough waves, thinking This is an adventure. I am the girl Emily, in A High Wind in Jamaica.

The bad guy looked at Kelly. "I need the boat. And I need someone to drive the boat." His voice was deep, and for the first time, Kelly detected a slight accent. Spanish? Italian? She wasn't sure.

A rat-a-tat-tat voice on the marine radio rattled off weather conditions.

"Told you it's getting rough." Her dad shifted on the bench, unable to move his hands or feet. For the first time, Kelly felt sorry for him. I am the captain now.

The Johnny Depp guy picked up a heavy lead filled pipe. "What's this for?"

"It's a fish killer," her father said. "For clubbing fish in the head that won't die."

The bad guy smashed the radio with the pipe, then tossed it overboard.

Kelly shook her head. "That radio could save our lives if we get in trouble out there."

He looked at Kelly, appraising her with a nod of his head. "How old are you?"

"Sixteen."

"Shit. Sixteen. My mother was married with kids at sixteen."

Kelly ignored him and looked out to sea. Some days she loved it, being on the open water. Some days she hated it, the cramped living quarters, the fish smell, her father's lectures. Some days all she wanted was to leave Fort Bragg, a boring fishing and lumber town. She dreamed of those faraway lands on the other side of the water. She just wanted to get in the boat and keep going, to Tahiti or Australia or Timbuktu. No more carting around rich tourists who didn't know how to fish, who couldn't even bait their own hooks or clean their own fish. No more of dad's rules. He wouldn't even let her have a boyfriend. No more girls at school making fun of her with their high pitched shrill laughter that echoed down the hallways between classes.

The bad guy came up behind her, draped his arm around her shoulder. He whispered into her ear. "Why not? All I need is the boat, and someone to drive the boat." He touched her hair gently.

For a minute she saw herself as he must see her. Young. Smooth skinned. Shiny haired. Pretty.

He pointed the gun at her father. "We get rid of him, no?"

Her dad looked at his boots. She was grateful that he didn't beg.

"Sure." Kelly steered the boat farther and farther out to sea. "Sure. Why not?"

For the first time, she tasted freedom in the salt air.

3 comments:

  1. that ending was unexpected! taste of freedom. great story!

    Michael Mccarthy

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  2. Oh wow, didn't see that coming. Hmm, I wonder how many girls would give their father up for a Johnny Depp lookalike and chance to travel the world and be free.

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  3. Poor dad. He should've begged!

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