“Hey,” he said, “I finally figured out where I know you from, you were the band leader on the boat, right?”
“Yeah,” I responded with a weak smile.
“How do you like that job? Being out at sea all the time must be tough,” he said as if we were sharing a long ride in an elevator or on a bus. It would have been annoying in that setting too, but not so wildly inappropriate.
“Do you really think now is the best time?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, sorry,” he said, looking over his shoulder to see the last little bit of the ship slip below the surface.
We bobbed up and down in silence for only a few seconds, then, while scanning the surroundings, devoid of life rafts, nor any other people clinging to wreckage, he said, “This is just swell,” with no small amount of sarcasm in his voice. When I didn’t respond, he asked “Think anyone else survived?”
With a sigh, I looked around as well, there didn’t seem to be anyone else. This man and I had been on the deck smoking at nearly three in the morning when the the ship jolted, maybe an explosion, maybe it hit something, but we were thrown from the deck. Everyone that tried to get off while it was going down, I presumed, had been sucked down with the ship. Smoking had saved our lives. I couldn’t wait to tell my fourth grade teacher, Mrs Brisby, if she was still alive herself.
I was, of course, assuming that I was to live long enough to leave the sea. That wasn’t too outlandish, though. I could see lights twinkling on the distant shore. If all else failed we could paddle for land, and help was probably on the way anyway.
“I hope it doesn’t rain,” the man said.
I looked at him, raising my eyebrow in the faint moonlight.
“I’d hate to get wet,” he said, chuckling, “that would just WRECK my plans.”
I sighed loudly, then changed the subject, “I’m thinking we could start paddling for shore, or wait to see if rescue comes, what do you think?”
“Oh, either one WOULD work,” he said grinning.
“Get it? WOOD work,” he said pointing at the large piece of wood keeping us afloat.
I contemplating drowning myself.
“You SEE, this never would have happened on dry land.”
I stared at him silently.
“See, SEA?? Eh?” When I didn’t respond again he asked, “What’s wrong?”
“All my friends just died, I’m not really in a joking mood,” I stated, shocked that it even needed to saying.
“oh, yeah, my whole family was on that boat, so…” he said, looking down at the wood in front of him, for a moment I saw that he might just be trying to cover his pain with humor, that otherwise he might not be able to cope. It made me sorry for him, I longed to take back my harsh tone- but then he finished, “So, you could say we’re in the same BOAT!” he cackled, and I couldn’t handle it any more.
“That, I presume is when you beat the man to death?” the judge interjected.
“Yes, your honour,” I said.
“… and you had no idea there was a rescue boat right behind you?”
“No, your honour, I was blinded by my rage,” I said looking at my feet, knowing just how ridiculous the statement sounded even as I said it.
“Well, I’d have to say that’s reasonable,” said the judge.
I was shocked, “Does that mean, your honour, that the law will forgive me?”
The judge glanced to the jury and replied, “Beats me!”
Nobody called for order as the judge and jury burst into a raucous fit of laughter.