A Drowning

byadrianhayter©

She walked straight down the middle of the long pier, ignoring the yells of the fat man running behind her. The girl was winning the race when another figure stepped in front of her.

"Sorry Missy but I can not let you go," he said, "The fat man will fire me for sure." He lowered his eyes, looking down at his bare feet, adding, "¿usted entiende que no es nada personal?" Standing in the middle of the walkway, arms crossed legs spread apart, he was not going to let her escape. Washing and polishing the gringo's boats was the best job he'd had.

The girl never broke her stride, only said, "Sure Manuel, it's nothing personal." With that she grabbed the collars of his worn shirt, and brought her knee up into his groin with more force than her slight build should have allowed. Maintaining her grip on his shirt, she pulled him forward, off balance, then pushed his rigid body off the pier. She hesitated only long enough to see his head bob to the surface.

"You damn bitch," the fat man screamed behind her, as he steadied his bulk against a piling, gulping in the humid air. "You owe me," he yelled again.

Walking faster now, she turned her head just enough to acknowledge the man's pleas, shouting, "I paid you, you SOB, we're even." The fat man's head slumped, sweat from his forehead, dripping on the wooden planks.

Along with owning the docks, the fat man was the loan shark to every fisherman and gringo boat bum down on his luck. Everybody owed the fat man something, so she knew it wouldn't be long before his buddies showed. She had paid him for the repairs, much more than they were worth, but he had always wanted more. The girl glanced across the tiny cove; she saw a group of men, wildly pointing at her, as they boarded a small trawler. One man was throwing off the tender lines when a couple of puffs from the diesel stack told her they were getting underway. "Shit," she thought, "I've got to move my ass." With another hundred yards to her moored cat, the young woman kicked into a sprint. If the fat man had finished the promised work, she might have a chance to escape. She knew that with the tide out, it would be impossible for the trawler to cross the sandbar, with much speed anyway. On the other hand, her catamaran could handle as little as eighteen inches under the twin hulls, and was very fast; the girl might still make it out. She leaped the last eight feet off the rotted planks, landing hard in the cockpit, and began tearing off the mainsail ties. As the big sail fell loose, the girl cranked the winch with all her strength, hiking the bellowing Dacron taut. The cat leaped forward in the fifteen-knot wind when the mooring lines brought it to a stop.

This is where I enter the story. I was one of those boat bums down on his luck, working off a never-ending debt to the fat man. I'd reached this broken down Mexican harbor three-month earlier with a blown head gasket and a crippled ketch. Several years of gales, thunderstorms, and disrepair had the old girl leaking so badly that I had to bale her hour by hour. With nothing else to do, on the evening high tide, I sailed the ketch onto the beach, laid her on her side, and went looking for help. That's when I met the fat man. Over a few beers, he convinced me he could get the parts for the diesel, all I had to do in return was work off the debt in his yard. Since I was good around boats and money was tight, his plan was my only option. As the weeks past, I realized the fat man was not anxious for my departure. The parts always seemed to be just a few more days away.

After two months of working in the dank holes of countless fishing trawlers, I had the inevitable face to face one evening. "Pardon me, Don Marujjo, would you know when my boat parts will arrive?" I asked, showing the respect he demanded from all his underlings.

The fat man turned, faced me, trying to place my face with my debt, and finally answered, "Ah Senõr, you know, these things take time. I was sure they would be on the bus today-maybe tomorrow." He stiffened when I didn't nod then added, "You know you cost me a lot of money. There's the room, the food, all the beer, yet I've been very generous to you."

Without a clear idea of how to extradite myself, I rushed on, "Senõr, I live in the back of the tool shed; the shrimpers and trawlers give me their culls; what little I drink is earned from sweeping the bar." My rage building, I blurted out, "You pay me nothing, and I doubt the parts are ever coming."

Ignoring my outburst, the fat man looked up, squinting in the glare of the sun, and questioned, "When do you have time to sweep the bar? You're supposed to be working for me. If you have that much time on your hands, maybe you're not working hard enough. How do you expect me to buy expensive parts for your boat when you slack off?" Then he added, "Maybe you need to get back to work before I forget my generosity. Finish the work on that girl's catamaran."

I was below, hooking up a wiring harness on the cat's engine when I heard a thud, then frantic movements above. The boat started to accelerate, then came to an abrupt halt. The sudden impact sent me sprawling over the motor, striking my head against the bulkhead. "What the hell is going on?" I yelled, feeling the knot on my forehead growing.

The girl heard the commotion below but had other things on her mind. The lines were straining at the cleats, taut from the pressure of the wind in the sail. She leaped to the stern, cut the mooring, then scrambled forward to server the bow line. As the last threads of the nylon rope parted, the cat leaped forward, again knocking the man onto his back. The girl kicked the wheel over enough to clear the piers, then started wincing the large foresail. The Ginny caught the wind, and the cat accelerated. The woman looked over at where she thought the trawler would be and was surprised to find it past the shoal, making steady progress to cut off her escape. To save her lead, she recklessly wove through the anchor rode where a dozen shrimp boats were sitting, barely missing their buoys, and ignoring the curses the fishermen yelled.

The trawler had reached the cut, and was turning to block the entrance when the two boats met. The large boat's crew was sure she would turn to avoid the collision, after all, she was only a little gringo girl. They stared in disbelief when the woman slammed the wheel over at the last possible moment, brought in the mainsail tight to the wind, forcing the cat's starboard hull out of the water. The catamaran's cables were shrieking from the strain as the two boats closed for the inevitable collision. Then the aluminum skin of the sailboat's hull, now four feet above the water, screeched and tore along the side of the trawler's rigging as they flew by at eighteen knots. Then it was over. The twin-hulled craft settled back on its keels, passed through the breakwater, and out into the immunity of the Gulf.

Picking myself up from the floor, I examined the bleeding cut on my knee. I had no idea who was in charge of this ride but I was bruised, sore, and very mad. Placing both hands on the edge of the hatch, I lifted myself above the cabin, demanding, "What the hell is going on?" to no one in particular until I looked back, seeing her.

She stood with both hands on the wheel, her small knuckles white from the pressure. The wind was blowing her sun-bleached hair, the strands partially covering the side of her face. I knew who she was; everyone at the docks knew. She was the only woman around who could make the fat man stop eating and look. I had been too shy, I could not even nod, but I had always watched her as she passed.

She turned her head, facing into the wind, allowing the flat curls to blow clear of her eyes, then said, "What are you doing on my boat? You've got five seconds to jump or I'll throw you over."

I looked into her face long enough to know she was deadly serious, then looked past her shoulder at the rapidly receding headland. "I don't know if you're some nut case or what, but I'm the guy who was fixing your boat. Anyway, I'm not much of a long distance swimmer. I'm not going anyplace," I simply explained.

To hold the course, the girl slowly looped a line around the wheel, and looked at me. "I hope for your sake, you're a fast learner," she said. With that, she moved around the wheel, heading directly toward me. Her anger telegraphed her every move. I watched her eyes, and when she was within distance, she turned, and kicked where my head had been. I caught her foot with both hands, twisted her leg around, forcing her face to the deck. She screamed from the pain. Ignoring her yells, I knelt on her back and forced her arms above her head. She cried out, "Stop, you're hurting me!" I paused when I recognize I was on autopilot, operating on instinct only. I had never hurt a woman in my life; here I was, on top of this girl, prepared to stop her regardless.

I raised my knee to relieve the pressure from her back, quickly released her arms, blurting out, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you... It's just... I'm serious about the swimming. I'd drown if I had to make the shore from here."

She lay still for a moment, and then turned over, her tangled hair twisting behind. She looked into my face but telegraphed nothing as her fist hit my throat with blinding speed. I was blacking out, waves of nausea causing me to choke. The girl crawled from under my paralyzed form, grabbed my arms, and started to drag me to the railing. As she pulled me forward, she screamed, "You piece of shit, I know you're one of the fat man's flunkies. I'm not going back there! I'm not going to be one of his whores!"

She released my arms, began to roll me under the rail netting, then hesitated. Laying on the edge, gulping for breath, I squinted at the green foam sliding by the hull when my free hand touched the winch handle. I clutched the eight-pound piece of steel, ready to swing blindly at her head with what strength remained. Then, she pulled my limp frame back into the cockpit. Her long legs collapsed as she fell into a heap at the base of the wheel pedestal, sobbing uncontrollably.

With a huge effort, I raised myself onto an elbow, watching the shaking figure. "For what's it's worth, I'm nobody's flunky," I gasped. "I got into the same mess you did, broken boat, little money... 'Course, my plans didn't include drowning anyone on the way out," I said.

Between her sobs, the beginning of a faint smile appeared on her lips. She looked up at my face. I saw her desperate need for trust. She finally raised herself and sat with her back against the pedestal, knees to her chin, arms tightly twined around her legs, and asked, "Are you alright?" Her tear-streaked face couldn't conceal the stark beauty.

"Sure, I'm fine," I answered. In twelve years of mixing it up in every kind of backwater, no one had laid me out like that. She didn't need to know.

"Good," she said, as she turned to the immediate duties at hand. "Then jump down in the starboard hull to check for water. We both may be swimming if I holed her." She swung to her feet, brought in the small tri-sail sheet, getting the last knot of speed out of the cat, never doubting whether I was following her command.

With the boat running this fast, close to the wind, in a three-foot chop, my passage across the hull was dangerous. I thought for an instant, 'Maybe she's still trying to buck me off.' I looked back to see her standing tall, gazing straight ahead, scanning the horizon for her own demons. I didn't seem to be one of those demons, at the moment anyway. Her long hair again covered the side of her face, concealing her eyes from my stare. The top buttons on her blouse had torn in our brief struggle. The outline of a firm breast was clearly visible. She had her chance to toss me; something had stopped her. I shook my head, and then ducked through the hatch to survey the damage. The hull's aluminum skin showed signs of the heavy impact but was still holding tight.

Raising my head, I shouted, "She's dry," then struggled back into the cockpit. "You have a couple of good dings in her, though. Where'd you learn to drive?"

With only a slight frown, she said, "I had some uninvited company earlier. I didn't feel like taking guest right then." As I steadied myself with one hand on the back cable, a large quarter-beam wave hit the boat. I quickly placed my other hand on her shoulder to keep from being thrown across the deck. I could feel the firmness of her muscles through the thin cotton. I was momentarily afraid that, like some wild untamed creature, she would jump away from my grasp but she accepted my touch, continuing to stare at the horizon. The strong currents of air moved her hair back and forth across my arm.

I watched her as I always had, from behind. The auburn strands were bleached from the elements to a soft golden tan. The wind exposed the back of her neck, and when the wind had mercy, the locks flowed along her back, ending at the dimples of her waist. Dimples gave way to an almost girlish bottom, but devoid of anything but muscles. To compensate for the constant movement of the boat she captained, her slender legs were spread, always in motion, shifting with her hips to remain rock steady. There was an overpowering need to raise my hand to her slender neck, caress her throat, but my hand remained fixed to her shoulder.

"Listen," she finally said, "I need to get down the coast quickly, but there's a little village called San Carlos about seventy miles south. There's a weekly bus service there heading north that will get you back to the harbor. I'm sorry for bringing you into this." Turning to face me, she said, "It's all I can do, for now." Her eyes searched mine for some kind of understanding.

I quickly turned my head away, looking for anything on the horizon, anything to avoid those sharp green eyes. "It's not like you kidnapped me," I confessed. "This is probably for the best. There's not much need for me to go back. I've known for some time now that I would never see my boat seaworthy again. Somehow or another, the fat man will believe I helped you escape. Problem is, I can't just run around Mexico without documents. If I can hitch a ride with you to Mazatlan, I can find an American Consular there who may issue a new passport." I said.

Turning forward, she said, "I can get you to Mazatlan. It'll be good to have some help on the night passages." Her slim fingers massaged the bruise on her neck, the bruise I had caused. "Now get some sleep, you'll need to relieve me at 0300. Take the quarter bunk," she instructed, then added, laughing, "That is, if you can put up with the nut case?" Even before my head hit the cushions, I was asleep.

I awoke from some noise, disturbed, disorientated, and with a sliver of the moon shining through the starboard port. I rubbed my neck, and then remembered what had happened. The boat was in calm water, slowly swinging at anchor, which didn't make sense. When I crashed earlier, the cat was starting a fast night passage in four-foot breakers, taking a beating for every foot she made. In the pale light, I looked over at the bulkhead chronometer. It showed a little past 0300. Climbing through the hatch, I saw a figure on the stern swim platform.

"Care to take a swim?" she asked. The soft light of the moon, just rising from the water, displayed her naked form. She had grasped the boom, as high as she could reach, stretching her full length, her firm breasts uplifted in the night air. Through years of cruising, she exhibited little of the conventional modesty familiar to polite places. I knew she was comfortable, clothed or not. Moreover, her body was not remarkable in any classical sense; the skin had been toughened by the hot tropical winds, and numerous small scares, from mishaps aboard, showed clearly on her limbs. Two things stirred me as I gazed at her form, though: The slenderness of her waist stressed the curvature of the lush moist mound, demanding investigation-exploration; and finally, there was the bottomless depth of her eyes. In the daylight, they sparkled green, indifferent to the sun; but now, in the weak moonlight, the color had gone, only to be replaced with an abyss of mystery.

Confused, I stuttered, "What about my 0300 watch and.... Where are we?" My head continued to need reason, but a warm glow had started in my groin, as I watched her body sway from the movement of the boat.

"I was exhausted and it didn't look like I would ever wake you," she said, "I've been in this little cove before. The shrimpers use it to anchor, sleeping during the day but there is nobody here tonight. We're about twenty miles south of San Carlos," She added, asking again, "Now, how about that swim?"

"Sure, I could use a swim, my neck is still sore from this afternoon," I answered. With my unintentional slip, she laughed, then dove cleanly off the platform into the warm gulf. The water luminesced around her skin as she broke through the surface, then she was gone. I removed my shorts and shirt, waiting for her to appear again. After what seemed too long, a doubt arose that she might have dived into a shallow area and be in trouble. I first hesitated, then jumped over the railing, feet together, and sank straight to the bottom. As soon as my foot touched the soft sand, I kicked, trying to break the surface quickly. I felt her arms circling my chest, her breasts pressing tightly into my back; our bodies rose together, her mouth close to my ear.

Surfacing, she took a long breath, giggled softly, and said, "You weren't kidding about not being a swimmer. How can you be a blue water sailor who can't swim?" she asked. She continued to hold me tightly; she was treading water for both of us.

"I can swim, I just tend to sink more than most; maybe it has something to do with buoyancy," I said. "Besides, I thought you were drowning, you didn't come up for a long time."

Her lips just touched my ear, she whispered, "Oh, that's sweet, you were trying to save me. Nevertheless, buoyancy has nothing to do with it, love; you just need to relax. Let me show you." She then moved her hands to my back, slowly lifting me closer to the surface. "Now, lay your head back and..." She stopped in mid sentence as my hardened cock broke the surface. "My God, that thing would sink anybody," she laughed. "Maybe both of us would be safer on the boat." Grabbing my hand, she swam toward the bow of the cat where the trampoline was closest to the water. Clutching the edge of the netting, she swung herself up. "Here, give me your hand, I'll help you." She said.

For someone so slim, I was amazed at her seemingly effortless strength. I had one leg up and started to lift myself out of the water when she seized my hip and rolled me over, the soft netting cradling my back. There was only a quiet moment as I looked into her face, seeing the demanding hunger. Then she was on top of me, crushing my mouth with her lips, forcing my hands back onto the netting, her hips grinding into my body. She brought her legs up, knelt on her knees, crushing her mound into my cock. I forced her hands from mine, grasped her hips, guiding her over the head of my cock. When the head had just touched the sweet wet area between her lips, I drove my hips upward, pulling her down hard. She screamed but I continued pumping cruelly, forcing myself deeper. Her fingernails were clawing at my chest, her breathing coming in gulps, when she stiffened, a low moan coming from the back of her throat. Her head collapsed onto the netting, her mouth pressing against my throat. I could feel her heart pounding on my chest; hear her short sweet gasps of breath

. After some time, she whispered, "Did you cum, love?"

I remained still, enjoying the feel of my engorged cock in her. I was relishing the weight of her hips on my abdomen, feeling her chest rising and falling over me. "Not yet," I answered.

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