Today I’m looking to transition from my new material into the original story, connecting at the point of Harry’s confession to Oscar. From there I expect to follow the same basic plot, though with the usual trimming and enhancements as I go.
So this first section today will be my bridge into what was written before. I’ll be describing the sailors’ floundering in the waves as they lose complete control of their boats. Let’s see how it goes.
Oscar reached for his mic to bark out new instructions but out of the corner of his eye he saw that Harry’s boat was careening down the back of the wave on a collision course for his own! So he clutched the wheel and throttle instead, frantically maneuvering to get out of the way. He nearly managed to clear a path, but the two boats still scraped their sides alongside of one another. Harry’s boat kept descending down, while Oscar’s lingered in place, and soon the line snapped taut between them again, spinning Oscar’s boat around in a circle.
“Come on!” Oscar snarled, desperately fighting to get control of the situation. But they were at the low point between waves, and the next one was already bearing down on them. They were anything but prepared to ride through it. Oscar’s own boat was sideways to the oncoming wall, and Harry’s boat was swaying back and forth unpredictably.
Oscar’s hands fumbled back and forth over the controls, but there were too many competing forces at play to account for them all. Each turn or acceleration just seemed to add to the chaos. He had worn his nerves all the way down, and he couldn’t keep doing this any longer.
The heaving wave was upon them now, and Oscar gave up trying to find a clever maneuver through it. He just held onto the helm, held onto it dear life. The wave hit, and all became utter chaos. The rolling torrent poured into the wheelhouse and slammed against Oscar. His feet slid on the wet floor, and his clenched fists twitched left and right as he fought to maintain his balance. His eyes roved right and left as he tried to get his bearings, tried to make sense of the wind and the wave and his vessel. But his mind failed to register these things anymore. It had had enough trying to be clever. All was a pure cacophony, and he felt as if this was his first time standing at the wheel, absolutely clueless in what to do.
Yet for all his confusion, there was at least one thing that remained perfectly clear and certain to him. And it was doom. A doom that was so wide and so vast that it crowded out any other comprehension from his mind. At long last, after years of threatening to do so, it had come for him.
Well I’ve certainly ramped up the sense of mortal peril with this last section! I wanted to have Oscar fighting for his life for as long as he could, but finally collapsing as the burden of dragging Harry’s weight overcomes him. Of course this isn’t merely physical, it is all a type for the unsaid truth between these two men about the death of Oscar’s child.
And now, at long last, here is where we reconnect with my original writing. I’m going to have to adjust a few things in this piece for it to fit in with the tone of what I’ve just written, though. I need Oscar to seem broken, not hostile. Let’s see how it goes.
“Oscar…” Harry’s soft voice spoke over the radio. “We’re going to both die if we keep up like this. But I’ll bet you still have enough fuel to get around the cape…if you weren’t towing me that is.”
“But I am towing you Harry.”
“Oscar I knew it would be you who came for me. I just knew it would be. The sea knows I’ve done wrong by you…and it’s brought you here to make things right between us.”
“Harry, please stop. I don’t want—”
“I lied to you Oscar.”
The next wave yawned twice as wide as any previous. Oscar let go of the mic, fastening both hands to the wheel and braced for impact.
Harry continued. “I told you that when I took your son out sailing he forgot to tie down his safety line in that storm. But James was too bright for that. He secured one for himself and for me. He did it just as soon as he knew we were in real trouble.”
The boats tilted upwards for the approach into the wave, like ants trying to scale a mountain. The wave’s broad slope created a wide surface for the wind to roar haphazardly down, shoving the nose of the boats erratically to right and left.
Still Harry went on. “That hour we dashed around the boat like mad, trying to tie everything down. I went up to the stern and he went aft. The boat just kept reeling from side-to-side, and each time seemed like the one that would finally throw us in the drink.”
A mighty crack sounded as one of the lines on Oscar’s boat snapped. He wasn’t sure which one it was and he didn’t check to see.
“Each wave swamped us, half drowned us! I was praying and cursing with all the breath I had left. I made my way back to the mainmast and kept throwing knots on and off at every turn. Trying to pull out the slack and tighten them better.”
Oscar’s boat broke through the crest, but rolled far to its side. He flung his arms our for balance as he slid down the water-hill sideways.
“Then the next wave washed over us, the biggest one yet. It was a froth. I couldn’t see. It seemed like an eternity, but finally it washed away. I was facing towards the rear of the boat and…and I saw nothing. Just nothing. James… wasn’t there.”
Oscar’s boat hit bottom and a tide of water swept into the cabin. Oscar slipped and fell to his knees. He gripped the wheel only by his fingertips, trying to hold his way through the wave unseeing.
And with that we’re back into charted territory! I like the handoff I came up with, and I’m anxious to reach the end so that I can review the whole thing all over again. Hopefully just a couple more weeks to get to that.