The Last Bender, Chapter 53
The deck of the ship rose and fell against the glittering blue and jasper waves. Helen and Linda sat on reclining wooden chairs across from Evalyn and me. Captain Beldam’s face was shaded by the visor of his hat. He was smiling. We were coming into view of Champa and he was explaining, again, the situation.
“I cannot put you ashore on the south coast. You understand you will have to climb into the mountains? There’s a guide who will meet you. There are steps, carved into the cliffs. She can take you up into the mountains. After that, you’ll be met by a local commander.”
“But you’re going to marry us first, right?” I asked.
“I brought the book. Come on. You can see my country.” He turned to the rail.
“Oh my god, look at that,” Evalyn said.
As the island, at first a smudge and then a lump, was growing into an enormous black volcano in the middle of the ocean.
“I thought we were gonna fight in some place nice,” Helen said. “That don’t look nice.”
“The other side is quite beautiful. Like every picture you have seen. Unfortunately, Inanian forces helped a sadistic little shit to take over the Cham military. That’s where they are. We got the rocky side. Your gonna have to fight your way in.”
Evalyn hoisted a glass of champagne. “As long as there are no decapitations.” Linda laughed weakly and coughed. She looked thin and tired, but the sun had given her color and her smile was back.
“O.K.,” Captain Beldam bellowed out. “Stand up here by the rail.”
Dolphins swam alongside the boat. Flying fish zipped across the waves. There was a wind, but the sun was high and bright. I took Evalyn’s hand and Linda took Helen’s.
“Do you, Helen, take Linda to be your wife?”
“I do,” she said.
“And do you, Linda, take Helen to be your wife?”
“Do you, Jack, take Evalyn to be your wife?”
“And do you, Evalyn, take Jack to be your husband?”
“Then by the rights and prerogatives traditional to captains of sea worthy vessels, I pronounce you all married.”
Then Linda and Helen kissed and Evalyn and I kissed. He poured champagne all around. Linda held up her glass. “To Champa.”
We clinked glasses and watched the waves crash into the stone cliffs of the coastline. You could smell gun smoke on the breeze.
The End (9/15/2009)