The moored vessel rocked gently alongside the little pier, the ripples in the placid water reflecting flashes of sunlight along the white hull to rival the gleaming brass fittings. The fat man gazed at it with satisfaction. Already he peopled the empty deck with a couple of lithe bronze bodies. One, conjured up from last month’s centrefold, provocatively toyed with the clasp of her bikini top. The other body was his, the pasty flesh miraculously tanned, his hair black again and profusely curling. He reached out his hand to aid the model, and…
The man sighed and ran his palm over his balding scalp. He stepped gingerly onto the rock solid deck from the safety of the pier. As always, his imagination pictured raging seas, and his flimsy craft hostage to the storm. He grasped the stay of the tiny radio mast and blinked up at a cloudless sky. No sign of foul weather today. Reassured, he sat in the small bucket seat his buttocks clasped snugly, too snugly. He unhooked his yachting cap from the wheel and placed it on his head. It was heavy with gold braid. “Aye Aye Cap’n” he murmured.
He ran through his safety drill, the ritual conscientiously observed. He tapped his barometer, inspected the thermometer, switched on the radio, silent but for the crackle of static, and mentally rehearsed his message Mayday! Mayday! He looked at the compass, unswervingly South, always South. Nothing but sea between him and Antarctica.
The drill completed, his fat neck bulged as he turned his head to look at a sundeck empty of bimbos, even imaginary ones. What else? Ah yes, the flag. He prised himself out of his seat and rummaged in the locker, the Flag Locker he corrected himself. The thick fingers were surprisingly deft as they secured the flag to a halyard. Next was his Commodore’s pennant,, rich with gold, white and blue, but it hung limply in the still air. He had thought of buying a set of real signal flags but he would need a taller mast, and besides who could remember which signal was which, especially in an emergency. No, better to stick more modern methods.
Reminded, he quickly checked the other locker for flares and signal rockets. Just once he would love to set one off,, but he had never had a true emergency and unjustified use was prohibited. He packed them carefully away and looked upwards at a seagull spiralling ever higher on a thermal.
The seagull looked down on Sunnybay Lakes Estate, on the neat new houses, each with its little jetty and tethered boat. It watched the strange human packing away his flags, hanging his hat on the wheel and going back into the house. It had never seen him go to sea.
© 1995 H.St.V.Beechey
The End