A man chooses his way out. What better way than fighting pirates?
|Punta Mala is known for its strong winds, and its strong currents, and most definitely, its horrendous weather. They say the storms in that region can pop up anywhere and everywhere, and the worst part is, they come out of nowhere. You don’t want to go near Punta Mala, Jack was told repeatedly. And if you do go, make sure you’re never caught on a lee shore!
Jack Granger had been sailing north up the Pacific coast of Panama for three days now and figured he’d arrive there early tomorrow morning. He wasn’t worried about Punta Mala, or its winds, or the currents, or bad weather. He wasn’t worried that he had absolutely no idea what a lee shore was. No, there were other worries Jack had on his mind. The recent report of pirates in the area near Punta Mala was one. Three vessels had been attacked in the last eighteen days. Two men had been killed, shot in the head execution style. One woman raped. Jack was concerned that with his luck, the pirates would all be gone by the time he got there.
Jack Granger was a goin’ huntin'. For pirates. He was going to kill as many as he could. And he was going to die doing it.
The night dragged on for Jack. He’d always felt sailing was a strange way of going about the business of getting somewhere. It was slow. It was often nauseating. When you weren’t too cold you were too hot. And you were always wet.
Janet had loved sailing. His wife had been an east coast preppy who grew up in yacht clubs. She used to tell of winning Beer Can Races when she was a kid— whatever the hell those were. This sailing shit was her thing. Not Jack’s. Before her brain tumor slid into high gear she’d tell him how much she missed sailing. “We’ll do it again soon,” they both said. Soon as you’re better. Soon as you’re well. . .
That didn’t happen. Janet died a slow chemo-riddled death. Now Jack was up to bat. It was his turn. He’d turned down offers of chemotherapy and aggressive surgical procedures three months ago. No. “Not for me,” Jack had said. He told himself that yes, he had pancreatic cancer, but he was not going to die from it. Blowing his brains out came to mind, but then he got a far better idea. "Whatever happed to old Jack Granger?" they would ask. "Jack Granger? The son-of-a-bitch died fighting pirates!"
How better to be remembered than that? Jack chuckled at the thought. But he better hurry up! The pain was getting worse by the day, and he was now shooting himself with morphine twice a day.
But not today. No morphine today. Today, Jack Granger needed his wits about him.
He looked at his watch. “Oh four hundred on the nose,” he announced out loud. “I’ll be there in maybe two hours.” Show Time! In the Nam they would all take salt tablets before a fight. Jack smiled at the memory though he didn’t find it amusing in the slightest. He did feel the rise in heart-rate. He remembered the jungle, how the adrenalin would kick in at the sound of a twig crunching in the darkness.
Jack had never liked the feeling of being scared shitless back then. He found he enjoyed it immensely now as he sat below in the darkness of the cabin at the rear of his boat. The stern Janet would have called it. He poked his head up out of the over-head sliding window and could not remember what Janet had called this window. A hatch? Yeah. Maybe a hatch. He had a good view of the cockpit. All the lights were on up there.
He was an easy target.
He watched the green blip on the radar screen. It was blinking on and off and on and off and heading directly for him. The approaching boat the blip represented was now a half-mile out and coming at speed. Jack tried to slow his breathing. The chills were back. The cold sweats. He had his twelve gauge pump-shotgun on his right laying flat on the bed where he was kneeling. To his left were two rum bottles filled with gasoline, complete with torn bedsheets for fuses. A good old fashioned Molotov cocktail explosion will cause some excitement on any boat.
Jack ran it through his mind. They would come silently by panga with the engines off. Come along side. Probably tie up. Jack flicked his Bic lighter to make sure it worked. It did. He pumped his shotgun once and set it back beside him.
Only then did he hear the faraway sound of an engine in the darkness. He lifted his head and saw nothing but the half-moon low in the purple-black sky. He looked away, not wanting to ruin his night-vision. He listened. He heard the sounds of a small boat nearing. It was right out there now. Still its engine was running. He saw a face peering up over the railing of his boat and he ducked down. He picked up a rum bottle with his left hand and tried to get his lighter going with his left. Once, twice, three times he flicked it, now the fucker wasn’t working! There! He lighted the gasoline soaked fuse and a flame erupted above the bottle. He stood, brought his head up out of the hatch. The flaming bottle in his right still down low out of sight.
“Hey, meester. You want fresh fish? We got fresh fish!”
The kid looked twelve years old.
“No, son. I don’t need any fish,” Jack said. He felt the flame searing his wrist and quickly threw the bottle overboard on the opposite side of the boat. When he turned back, the kid and the panga were heading quickly away.
Well, he thought, maybe tomorrow.