Friday, November 11, 2011

The Deep Blue Drink

Inspired by co-writing flash fiction with Frank Conrad Waggoner, Google+ style. This is just my part of the story...

"Bartender? Another please," called the woman, tapping the martini glass in front of her. She was listening to the tale being told by the Captain who sat near her husband of twenty+ years. For some reason, the story made her shiver, reminding her of the recent nights she had wrestled her husband awake from a nightmare that left him sweaty and exhausted and unable to return to sleep.

He had refused to speak of whatever it was he dreamed. She tried several times to coax it out of him, hoping that if he could talk it through then it wouldn't happen again, or perhaps his horror would lessen the next time the nightmare occurred. But he stayed up late to avoid coming to bed with her, and she would find him on the couch in the morning, barely able to keep his eyes open. His behavior was changing, and she knew it was for lack of sleep. She dared not go to the doc at the Air Force base, but it scared her that he refused all her offers of help.

She turned back to listen to the Captain, who was talking about sonar signals and pulling out some photos they had taken using specialized deep water cameras. One of the Science Officers from the ship speculated that the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami had disturbed various creatures up from the deep of the Mariana Trench. When the pictures landed on the table, her husband suddenly jumped up from his chair and hurried off to the men's bathroom.

"Too many beers," he muttered over his shoulder.

She watched his back disappear behind the men's door, then she turned to the photos on the table. They looked grainy and out of focus, but as the crew sifted through them and listened to their Captain speak, she saw that one was clear enough to make out an odd, white image that looked like a spiny lobster. Or, crab maybe. The image seemed harmless enough to her, and certainly the Captain was mistaken when he described its measurements. Bigger than the ship? The tales these navy boys tell, she thought to herself, crazier than those told by her husband and his fly boys.

The bartender finally arrived with a fresh, frosty glass filled with the deep blue drink she preferred over all others. In fact, she refused anything else ever since discovering this delectable cocktail. Her husband had mixed the Blue Star one evening after he'd returned from visiting one of Guam's native tribes. Chamorros, he called them, explaining how they cultivated the fruit he squeezed into a tumbler. He followed the juice with more than a smidgen of gin and blue curaçao, past the ginger and sugar-laced rim. It was like drinking gourmet candy, with just enough sour to keep her from guzzling it down like a sailor.

She thought it pure, good luck that this bartender knew how to mix the concoction, even though it had taken several visits and a gift of the fruit before her husband convinced the guy to make it. When the bartender stopped at her chair, he hesitated for a noticeably long time, and it was only by her reaching up to his tray that he took his eyes away from the table. He turned quickly around and walked off, taking the full glass with him and leaving the empty behind

"Wait a sec!" she called after him, but the bartender slammed the tray on the counter and her drink spilled onto the floor. He was pulling off his apron and rushing down the back hallway when her husband returned to the table. Not bothering to sit, he grabbed her arm and pulled her up.

"We gotta go," he said. He nodded to the Navy Captain and crew, pushed a few bills on the table and then rushed her out of the bar. She tried to pull away, but he hustled her forward, towards their car.

"Frank?" She was shaking as she got in the passenger's side. Her husband didn't answer, just hunkered into the driver's seat, shoved the key in and turned on the ignition. He quickly put the car in gear and drove out of the parking lot at a dangerous speed. She noticed that he sped past the turnoff that would have led to their house.

"Frank," she whispered, "What's happening? Where are we going?" When he didn't answer, she put her hand on his arm. He was sweating as badly as if he'd just woken from the nightmare, and he jumped at her touch.

"Safe," he mumbled, "you have to be safe." They drove through the dark, on an unfamiliar road, for what seemed a very long time. He finally slowed and turned onto a dirt path that led to the coast. He stopped the car when they reached the end, then pulled her out and started walking.

"We have to find the makåhna. She'll be able to hide you in the trees."

"The what?" She backed away from him, frightened. Even so, she didn't dare run away. She had no idea where they were, or how to get back home. She thought of using her cell phone to call a friend, but it was late, and service would be spotty this far from town. She calmed a bit when she realized, with what little he said, he was afraid for her and trying to protect her.

He stumbled on something in the dark.

"We're almost there," he whispered. "This is the first pillar on the trail to the Taotao mo'na. We have to pray. We have to pray at each one of these and leave something, a gift, before we can go to the next."

He pulled her close and placed her hands on the stone. It wasn't as cool as she thought it would be. In fact it was unexpectedly warm, and in the moonlight she could just make out an etching that reminded her of something she'd recently seen.

<word count: 999>

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Once again you leave me wanting more story!