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|Chapter 5: The Chandlery|
When Atlantis returned to Fort Pierce, Julie asked, “Anything lined up for next weekend?”
Trevor shook his head. He didn’t volunteer that he planned to take Atlantis out alone that weekend, for his annual visit to what he thought of as his mother’s grave. “Nope, no charters until the following week.”
On his way home, Trevor stopped by his insurance agent’s office, and took care of his single largest expense; Atlantis’s yearly insurance premium. Paying it in full garnered him a small discount but it was painful nonetheless.
“Trev, you’re an idiot,” Lisa said, as she dogged his steps down the dock.
Trevor stopped and turned, “Look, it’s kinda strange I know, but it fits.”
Lisa shook her head. “So the best explanation you can think of is a paranormal one? Well, it sure as hell fits in one way; you’ve never even been on speaking terms with normal.”
Trevor rolled his eyes in exasperation and resumed his walk towards the Atlantis. “Can we have this conversation aboard instead of in front of everybody?”
Glancing around the dock, Lisa counted three fishermen. “Yeah, it’s so damn crowded here. Whatever.”
Lisa brooded in silence until they reached Atlantis’s salon. As soon as they were inside, she said, “Okay, explain it to me again.”
Trevor put his schoolbooks on the nav desk, tossed Lisa a coke and grabbed one for himself before sitting down on a built-in sofa. “My Mom disappeared twenty miles northeast of Bimini. That’s in the Bermuda Triangle. Come on, you’ve heard of it; it’s also called the Devil’s Triangle, because so many ships and planes have vanished there.”
Lisa rolled her eyes. “Yeah, you can’t grow up in Florida without hearing about it, so I have, including from you, duh... but aren’t the places you take charters to usually in the Triangle?”
Trevor shrugged and then nodded.
“Okay, so, has anything weird ever happened to you out there?”
Trevor sighed. “Not really... Well, sorta... Coming back from east of Nassau one time, my magnetic compass started to get really screwy. The GPS was unaffected but my compass was swinging all over the place.”
Lisa nodded. “Yeah, ever heard of iron, Trev? Pass over an area rich in iron and a compass goes nuts. That’s it? That’s all you’ve got?”
Trevor looked at the window, not really seeing it, as his mind’s eye tried to imagine what had happened to his mother. “Nothing else makes any sense. That weather report you dug up for the day she disappeared clinches it; it was calm, swells under two feet, and the wind was from the northwest at six knots. It’s rougher than that in a damn bathtub. Even a rogue wave in those conditions would be four to five feet, hardly even noticeable, and sure as hell no danger.”
“What the hell is a rogue wave?” Lisa asked.
“Ocean swells and waves are kinda like ripples in a pond. They travel one after the other, pretty much evenly spaced. But that’s with just one set. If you’ve got multiple sources, like both a near and a distant storm, the sets can overlap, giving you, for a few seconds, one wave on top of another. They can be double or more the size and power of the waves before and after. They’re rare but they’re real. What they don’t do is explain what happened to the Ares. Even if you triple the swell report, that’s a ten-footer. I’ve been in ten-foot seas in Atlantis; they can do damage if you’re not careful, but no way in hell could a ten foot wave sink her. Hell, the Ares couldn’t sink any more than Atlantis could; unlike monohulls, catamarans don’t have ballast –because they don’t need it. I could blow holes in both of Atlantis’s hulls and she’d only sink to the wing at most. So, even if a monster rogue wave hit Ares, why wasn’t the wreckage found? It couldn’t all sink,” Trevor said.
“Okay, Trev, but as you keep telling me, it’s a fucking big ocean out there. Maybe they just didn’t see the wreckage. Also, what about that pet fear of yours; a collision? What if your mom was belowdecks and there was a big freighter or tanker on a collision course? A big ship could hit her and not even notice. Then there wouldn’t be much left.”
Trevor glanced at his own radar display, even though he was in port with the set off. “Maybe, but they found nothing, Lisa. No debris, nothing. So, it got me to thinking about similar no-trace disappearances, and that got me reading about the Triangle.”
Lisa sighed, and then, in a rare soft and kind voice, she said, “You’re grasping at straws, Trev. She’s gone, no matter what or how. Lots of small planes and ships have gone down without a trace. Like you say, it’s a big ocean. They probably just didn’t find any wreckage; that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any. No matter what happened, she’s dead.”
Trevor looked around and after a few moments silence said, “I know... It just... eats at me, especially now Dad and I aren’t getting along like we used to.”
Lisa gave her friend a gentle smile, and then reached out to muss his long blond hair, something no one else in his life could get away with. “Come on, Trev. You can’t just mope around thinking about this. Hey, there’s a really hot guy who sits in front of me in my science class, maybe I can fix you up with him, his name’s Simon Carstairs–”
Trevor laughed hard, just as Lisa had known he would. “Yeah, I know him, remember? He’s on my swim team and he’s one of the few people I’m out to. You better do your homework on people before setting them up; he’s straight, Lisa.”
“Details, details. It’s not like you’re getting any anyways, so I figured you might as well date a straight guy.” Lisa grinned, happy to see a smile back on Trevor’s face. She knew that Simon was straight and that Trevor knew him well enough to know that, which was why she’d picked him to lighten Trevor’s mood.
Trevor laughed and snorted. “Would you please stay out of my sex life?”
Nodding, Lisa replied in a condescending tone, “That’s kind of like telling me to stay out of Santa Claus’s workshop. I can’t very well be in something that doesn’t actually exist, now can I? In your case it’s a celibacy life, not a sex life....”
“Lisa...” Trevor growled, hoping that she’d let the subject drop.
“Look, okay, I’ll lay off on you about the dating but it’s almost summer break. Even after the hours you spend looking after this tub, you’ll still have time for a real life and to have some fun. Come on, when was the last time you went surfing?”
Surfing... with that word, Trevor knew that Lisa had a point. “It’s been a month I guess, and you’re right, I miss it. I just haven’t had time.”
Lisa smiled, pleased to be making headway. “So wax up your board and go surfing, right now.”
Trevor smiled and shook his head. “Three problems there, Lisa. One: it’s not summer break until next week. Two: I have to scrub out the bathrooms on Atlantis. I hate that job and want it over with. Three: there aren’t any waves right now, it’s a millpond out there... Four: I’ve got to help Dad clean out and inventory the chandlery... and five: I can’t count.”
Lisa laughed, hard. “Remind me to stop getting your help with my math homework. Okay, I can’t do much about the waves, and you’re on your own when it comes to cleaning out the bathrooms, but I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll help out at the chandlery but in return, you have to get out and have some fun. You’ve got four surfboards and Joel and I would like to learn to surf. Take us out with you.”
Trevor was pleased on many levels to hear Lisa’s words. “So you haven’t dumped him, huh? Good, he’s a great guy. So are things going okay?”
Lisa began to fidget. “You’ll probably find out anyway so I might as well tell you. I talked to him, so I guess you could say I took your advice and things have been getting a lot better since. But so help me, if you say I told you so, I’ll–”
Trevor raised his hands in surrender. “I won’t say it, I promise... but I’m glad things are looking up for you two.”
Lisa glanced at her watch. “Speaking of... I have to meet him in fifteen minutes. Have fun scrubbing this tub’s bathrooms,” she said, knowing that Trevor would never pass up a chance to correct her nautical terminology.
“Atlantis is not a tub,” Trevor said, for the millionth time, and then added, “And on a boat, bathrooms are called heads.”
“Which makes them the only head you’ve been getting lately,” Lisa shot back with a wicked grin. Before Trevor could explode, she asked, “So, when do you want to do the stuff at the chandlery?”
With an exasperated snort, Trevor replied, “It’s closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and Wednesday is our first day of summer break. Dad’s going to be off on one of those weekly trade show things in Miami again, so I thought I’d surprise him and have it all done when he gets back. Maybe that’ll make him happy and he’ll...”
In a voice barely above a whisper, Lisa said, “I know, Trev. Maybe it’ll help. Look, I’ve gotta run, but I’ll be at the chandlery at nine on Wednesday. I’ll drag Joel along too so we can get done faster, but then... if the waves are running we’re all going surfing Thursday, right?”
“Count on it,” Trevor replied with a smile. Then, he added, “Just do me a favor... If Joel’s around, ease up on the cracks about my lack of a sex life, okay?” Trevor made sure to give Lisa his best lost-puppy expression.
“Spoilsport... He knows you’re gay so what’s the big deal?” Trevor didn’t let up on the puppy-dog eyes, so Lisa gave in and, as she turned to leave, she said, “Okay, fair enough.”
Trevor remained sitting for a couple of minutes after Lisa left, just thinking and enjoying the quiet. Then, with a resigned sigh, he stood up, tugged off his shirt, and gathered his cleaning supplies as he began his most-despised task, which he expected to take no more than four hours of hard work. He was lucky that day; it took him fifteen minutes less than he’d expected.
On Tuesday morning, Trevor was at home, getting ready for his last day of school, when he heard a chair clatter on the kitchen tiles, a sure sign that his father was up.
Bounding down the stairs and entering the kitchen, Trevor saw his father at the breakfast table, eating a bowl of cornflakes. Glancing towards the door, he saw his father’s overnight bag and said, “I hope the trade show goes okay.”
Dirk didn’t meet his son’s eyes, turning to glance at the packed bag instead. “Thanks Trev. There are some TV dinners in the freezer and some cash in my sock drawer if you need it. Look, school’s out after today, right? Why don’t you make some time to have some fun, like a normal teenager on summer break? Schedule it in, like you do for maintenance work on the Atlantis.”
Trevor nodded and sat down, wondering why his father wouldn’t look him in the eye. “Lisa read me the riot act on that yesterday so I’ve already promised to have some fun.”
Dirk took a final bite of his cornflakes and replied, “Right about now I should be warning you not to have any parties while I’m gone and nagging you to get some work done. Instead, I’m worried you’ll spend every minute working. You’re seventeen in two weeks, Trevor, enjoy being young while you can. However, if you want some work, remember that I still need your help next week at the chandlery, for cleanup and inventory.”
Nodding innocently, Trevor replied, “Count on it.” He began to smile. Except for his father’s evasive eyes, Trevor thought their old rapport was returning.
“I guess I better hit the road. I have my cell with me, so call if you need anything and have a good time, okay?” Dirk asked, giving his son a hesitant smile but avoiding meeting his eyes.
The concern Dirk was showing helped further lift Trevor’s mood, evoking a genuine smile. As Dirk stood up, Trevor stood too and picked up the overnight bag, intending to carry it out to the car.
Dirk took one step out the door and then stopped, turning to say, “Let me have my bag, Trev. You really shouldn’t be parading around on the street in your boxers.”
Trevor grinned and nodded, handing his father the overnight bag. “Nobody would care, but okay.” Trevor stood in the doorway and watched his father toss the bag into the big gold sedan’s trunk.
Dirk closed the trunk, and walked down the driveway, raising his hand to wave goodbye to his son as he tugged open the driver’s side door.
Feeling happy that things seemed to be returning to normal, at least in some ways, Trevor let his sense of humor emerge and shouted, in a mock stern voice, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
Dirk’s head snapped around and for the first time that morning, he looked his son in the eyes. He hesitated, his mouth opening, but then, without a word or further gesture, he climbed into his car and drove away.
“That went well,” Trevor muttered to himself as he watched the big Chrysler rapidly receding down the street.
Ten minutes later, Dirk wheeled the car onto Interstate 95, heading north, the signs for Miami rapidly receding in his rearview mirror.
After school ended, Trevor headed for the marina, intending to get some work done and then spend the night on Atlantis. His father probably wouldn’t have let him, he knew, but rationalized that it just made sense to do so; the chandlery was only a few hundred yards from Atlantis. Trevor’s real reason was that he liked spending the night on his boat.
The next morning, Trevor slept in until seven thirty and then raced around, pulling on his jogging shorts and shoes and then grabbing a sandwich from the galley. After locking up, he leaped to the dock and broke into a sprint, the beginning of a four-mile run.
When Trevor returned from his run, he was sweating hard, and after taking a much needed shower, he pulled on boardies and a T-shirt before heading for the chandlery.
He arrived ten minutes early, but not early enough. As he slipped his key into the back door’s lock, he heard a voice from the parking lot. “What took you so long?”
Trevor pushed the door open and turned to smile at Lisa. “It’s not nine yet.”
With a laugh, Lisa followed Trevor inside. “Okay, let’s get to work. Joel should be here any minute. Oh, by the way, you’re buying us all lunch.”
Trevor flicked on the store’s fluorescent overhead lights, and as they flickered to life, he walked towards the front counter. “That’s fair. Okay, first things first; I’ve got to put up a closed-for-inventory sign, or people will see the lights on and think we’re open in spite of the closed sign.”
A quick scrawl with a felt-tip pen on notepaper took care of the sign, which he taped to the window.
Lisa began looking around with a bemused look on her face. “Damn, I keep forgetting how much specialized equipment tubs like yours need. I guess it’s true what they say; a boat is a wood-lined hole in the water, into which you must constantly pour money.”
Trevor crossed his arms and smirked at Lisa. “You’re here to work, not make fun of me.”
Lisa shrugged. “I’ve always believed in mixing business with pleasure.” Before Trevor could reply, Lisa tapped at a locked glass case. “What’s this stuff?”
“The brightly colored plastic things with antennas are EPIRBs: emergency position-indicating radio beacons. When activated, they use satellites to report your position. Some of those are portables, some are category ones which mount to the side of a boat and deploy automatically if it sinks. Atlantis has two: a portable and a category one, attached to the top of the cockpit awning. The things that look like cell phones are satellite phones. I have one for Atlantis, but Dad makes me keep it in here except when I’m on a charter, because I made a few phone calls with it once and it cost a mint. The other stuff is mainly for navigation: GPS units, electronic charts, that kind of stuff. They’re locked up because they’re all very expensive.”
“What are the things with brass, mirrors, and eyepieces?” Lisa asked, remembering exactly what they were, because Trevor had explained them to her on one of her prior visits to the chandlery.
“Sextants. That’s what sailors used for navigation before radio or satellites. You can use them to get angles on the sun and stars, then you use tables and an accurate watch to work out your position. I have one on Atlantis and know how to use it, just in case the electronic stuff conks out,” Trevor replied, as he surveyed the shelves, his mind focusing on his task.
“So, there’s a sextant on Atlantis, huh? I guess I was wrong then,” Lisa said in a casual tone.
“Wrong about what?” Trevor asked absently, as he dug out the inventory sheets.
Lisa grinned when Trevor responded as she’d hoped, and replied, “The fact that there’s a sextant on Atlantis means there actually is something having to do with the letters s-e-x on that tub.”
Trevor’s head whipped around to glare at Lisa, who was smiling innocently, but before he could say a word, Lisa flicked her thumb at the window and said, “Look who’s here.”
Trevor turned to look out the window, seeing a familiar profile. “I guess he didn’t see that the lights are on,” he said with a grin. Trevor glared at Lisa, “Remember, lay off my sex life,” and without waiting for Lisa to reply, Trevor unbolted the store’s glass front door, stuck his head out, and yelled, “We’re already inside, Joel.”
Joel snapped his head around and smiled. “Hi Trev,” he said, as he jogged to the door.
Trevor high-fived his friend and stood aside as he entered the store. Trevor had known Joel since junior high and in many ways looking at Joel was a little like looking in a mirror. Both five foot eleven, with the same swimmer’s build and long golden-blond hair. Joel had the same classic ‘surfer look’ as Trevor, even though Joel didn’t know how to surf. They’d become close enough friends that Joel was one of the few people Trevor was out to. Remembering that fact, Trevor smiled to himself, ‘I didn’t have much choice; he thought Lisa and I were a couple.’
Trevor handed out clipboards to his friends, keeping one for himself. “Okay, I thought we could start with the inventory. With three of us, we should be finished by lunchtime. The inventory sheet has a box for each item. Write down the tag number from the shelf, the description from the tag, and then the number of items. Like this,” He walked over to the closest shelf, “Item number 104986, zinc anti-corrosion plates, small, seven.”
“I think we can do that. Where do we start?” Lisa asked.
Trevor pointed at the store’s back wall. “We’ve got three merchandise walls and four aisles. I’ll take the walls; you guys take the two aisles closest to the door. Just make sure you don’t skip anything. If something has a tag but there aren’t any, don’t skip it, just put zero for the quantity.”
After watching Joel and Lisa get to work, Trevor headed for the rear wall, which held wooden fittings and supplies. It was a little disorganized so he neatened it up as he worked. After a few minutes, the three teens fell into a light banter as they worked, and Trevor was thankful that Lisa kept her promise to leave the subject of his sex life, or lack thereof, alone in front of Joel.
“Hey, Trev, these things don’t seem to have any number on them. What are they?” Joel called out from the far side of the store.
“What do they look like?” Trevor shouted back.
“Like something you lost a hell of a long time ago,” Joel replied, and then as Trevor came walking over to see, he said, “Your mind.”
“Like you’ve ever been sane,” Trevor replied with a laugh.
“He’s got you there, Joel,” Lisa said with a chuckle. “Trevor lost his mind but you’ve always been crazy. Of course, I find crazy to be hot, so I’m not complaining.”
Joel looked at Lisa and smiled, his blue eyes sparkling.
By lunchtime, the public areas of the store were done, and Trevor gathered up the inventory sheets. “I’ll cross-check these against the computer later.”
Joel looked a little puzzled. “If you’ve got a computer record, why do you need a manual inventory?”
“Shoplifters, mainly. This tells us how much they steal and from where. It’s usually not too bad but it’s enough to run us short of stock sometimes, if we don’t correct the master inventory,” Trevor replied.
“So what’s next?” Joel asked.
“Lunch; I’m hungry and Trev is buying,” Lisa announced.
Trevor grinned. “Yeah, lunch is on me, and thanks for the help, guys. After lunch, I have to do the stockroom and then clean the place up. You guys don’t need to stick around if you don’t want to; it’s not fun work.”
“And inventorying was supposed to be fun?” Lisa said with a snort. Then, she turned to Joel and said, “We’ve got to get Trevor out of here by tonight, because he’s teaching us how to surf tomorrow. I checked the surf report; there’ll be some waves, small but good enough, I think.” She turned back to face Trevor. “Isn’t that right, Trev?”
“Yeah, surfing tomorrow. I’ve got a place picked out, about ten miles downcoast from the inlet. We could stay overnight onboard, head out at dawn, and then paddle in.”
“Atlantis,” Joel said with a grin. “That beats driving any day.”
“It’s not like you haven’t been out on Trevor’s tub before,” Lisa said, and then nodded. “I’ll have to think of an excuse to give my Dad, but it sounds like fun. I’ll go home for dinner and tell him that my friend Cindy is having a sleepover. That’s my usual excuse when I sneak into Joel’s room. I think my Dad suspects but doesn’t want to know.”
“What about you?” Trevor asked Joel.
Joel shrugged. “I’ll just tell my folks I’m staying on Atlantis. As long as I call and let ‘em know where I’ll be, my parents are usually fine if it’s not a school night. I just wish I didn’t have to go home, because if they see me in person they’ll pepper me with questions to make sure I won’t be drinking. Give ‘em a few minutes and they would probably guess that a charter boat might have alcohol aboard. Speaking of... do you have beer or should I try to score some?”
Trevor nodded. “I’ve got beer. Your favorite, Heinekens, plus Coronas. If you don’t want to get questioned, why don’t you just give ‘em a quick phone call instead of going home?”
Joel shrugged. “I guess that’d be better but I don’t have any clothes in my car, and after working here all day I’ll reek.”
“Badly,” Lisa agreed, and held her nose.
“Thanks,” Joel grumbled.
Trevor laughed. “You can shower onboard and I’ll lend you some clothes or just run yours through the washer-dryer, your choice. That way, no third degree.”
By way of reply, Joel snapped open his cell phone and dialed his house. After waiting for the answering machine to pick up, he said, “Mom, Dad, I’ll be with Trevor on the Atlantis. We’re going surfing in the morning. See you tomorrow.” Joel hung up and grinned, “There, that’s that.”
“We’re set. Okay, how about pizza for lunch?” Trevor asked, picking up the store phone.
After lunch, the three friends organized and cleaned the chandlery and then the storeroom. By the time they were done, it was almost five o’clock.
Trevor put the last of the cleaning supplies away and then looked at two file boxes full of old tax records. “I’m tempted to throw these out, I think you only need to keep ‘em a few years, but Dad would probably flip. We need the room in here though, they were just taking up shelf space, so... I’ll load ‘em in my car and stuff ‘em in the attic at home next time I’m there. Other than that, we’re done and the place looks great. Thanks guys.”
Lisa glanced at her watch. “I’ll head home and meet you two at the tub when I can. Don’t get too drunk before I get there, because I want to party too. See ya later.”
“Bye Lisa,” Joel said, and watched her leave via the back door.
Trevor checked the front of the store, made sure the door was locked, and then removed the sign he’s taped to the glass, crumpling it up and tossing it in the trash as he said, “That’ll do it. Where are you parked?”
Joel followed Trevor to the rear of the store as he answered, “Right next to you.”
“You’ll be fine there,” Trevor said, and flicked off the lights. Then he picked up one of the file boxes and asked, “Do me a favor and grab the other one, will ya?”
Joel picked up the box and after a pause while Trevor locked up, they walked to Trevor’s car.
© 2009 C James
Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"
Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions.
Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice.
Thanks also to Talonrider and MikeL for beta reading.
A big Thank You to RedA for Beta reading and advice, and to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice.
Any remaining errors are mine alone.