Dead in the Water

Dead in the Water by Nancy Holder Read Free Book Online

Book: Dead in the Water by Nancy Holder Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nancy Holder
right?”
    “Yes,” Ruth murmured, and took a gulp from her cup. She felt woozy, out of kilter. Maybe she needed to lie down.
    A momentary flash of another, larger bottle swallowing up the real
Morris
shot through her mind. They were imprisoned inside, blithely drinking dishwater, totally unaware …
    She took a deep breath. The image vanished. Swallowing, she let the soapy tea dribble down her throat.
    And thought of her husband.
    And wished—oh, how she wished!—that he were there.

2
The Rime

    April 7, 1797
,
in the shipping lanes of the Owhyhee route
    A shroud lay in a launch; blood—both caked and fresh—splattered on the canvas that whipped with the wind and the waves. Sodden and weighted from the hail of rain, the slaps of whitewater, green. Like echoes in a tube, thunder and curses hounded the bier as it clung to the tops of the ocean mountains, hovering there, poised for the deluge, the capsize.
    Within the shroud, Thomas Reade, captain of the
Royal Grace
, thrashed with fury. His blood-soaked hands clenched into claws that kneaded the canvas, searching for the seams. Blackness, blackness and the filthy wet of an old, worn sheet. His nails ripped from their roots as he struggled to find the opening, frenzied, raging, shouting. The very raindrops sizzled with his rage, and he cursed his treacherous shipmates and promised them:
    I’ll not die, you weaklings, you fish! I’ll have you for my belly timber. I’ll have you for slaves
.
    You think you’ve murdered me. But I’ve prayed, prayed to the sea, and she’ll not desert me. I’ve sacrificed to her—given her our little brother, our best—ah, me boyo
!
    And she loves me
.
    Ay, and she’ll save me
.
    And I’ll be back, a thousand times a thousand, to pay you back for this. For them that sails the seas, I’ll come. And they’ll wish they’d never even thought of living, because I’ll drag them down to the bottom of the sea
.
    I’ll drag them down, this I swear
.
    A thousand times a thousand
.
    Six hundred miles from the Owhyee Islands, on the rough Pacific sea.

3
The Sea
According
to Cha-cha

    “
 ‘Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide, wide sea!’ 

    John Fielder leaned over the taffrail with his arms spread, the rosy wind blowing his hair. Droplets of water clung to his glasses. Donna didn’t know what the hell he was reciting, but the
Morris
was alone, alone-alone-alone, a lot, lot alone, on the water. It was almost sundown, and there was just the ocean, the boat, and the darkening sky. Nothing else, for miles and miles and miles. It was very unnerving.
    John turned around and smiled at Donna, Ruth, and Ramon. “That’s from ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.’ ”
    “Cheerful,” Donna drawled. Her sundress whipped around her thighs and she smoothed it down; noticed that he noticed, didn’t mind.
    He looked at her. “Do you know it?”
    She shook her head, a bit embarrassed. He was a doctor,for God’s sake, probably went to school until he was thirty, and her claim to higher education was a couple of business classes (typing and dictation) at Mesa Junior College. She still couldn’t type; she’d been in a panic then, completely freaked out and unable to learn anything. Well, it had been a shock, sailing into the Country Cafe, their restaurant, for the twelve thousandth time, only to discover that her mother was putting it up for sale and moving to Albuquerque to be with Aunt Leslie.
Yeah, Mom, and thanks a shitpile; I stick around and sling hash for you while the boys go off to have lives, and now I’m thirty and you’re splitting on me
?
    Didn’t even give her part of the proceeds. Loaded up a U-Haul, gave her a kiss, and now she sent Christmas cards and cheap turquoise jewelry. Typing courses, fuck.
    Thank God for the silver-haired police officer—Marcellis, still walked a beat in El Cajon—who suggested the police academy. Well, they sure as hell didn’t teach poetry there. If the Rhyme of the Whatever

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