I rest my hand on the rope testing the tension. After twenty-four months at sea I can read the feel of the wind through the ropes.

Reaching up I wipe spray out my beard as I look up at the sail. One corner is sagging a little. I give the windless a half turn and see it tighten.

Satisfied I go back to my seat by the transom. I sit listening to the hiss of the sea along the hull as I sip at my beer. The salt taste on the can from cooling it in the sea compliments the flavor.

I watch the last light of the sun as it sinks below the horizon. It's beautiful how the sky is every color you can imagine and some you might not.

I know Kim would have loved to have seen the waters of the Pacific drinking the sun. A part of me wants to delude myself and say I can feel her beside me.

But no. I'm alone.

Like I've been for more than two years. I take a long pull on my beer. A brand made in Hawaii it tastes gritty towards the last. I toss the can with the dregs into the wake of the 'Aurora'.

I blink away tears. Two years, two days. It feels the same; always will I figure.

Looking at the first stars I check my position. Close enough.

Debating another beer, or dinner... hunger wins.

Getting up my bare feet grip the deck boards securely. Long gone are the days of replacing expensive deck shoes. Way too many days since I first pulled the 'Aurora' out the harbor in Boston. I'd felt lucky to have gotten to Bermuda alive.

Seven months island hopping through the Gulf had taught me the ship and how to sail her. Then I got adventurous. I took a hop across the pond.

Ireland, Scotland, England, across the channel then down past a dozen ports in Europe. Never staying, but a day, or so in each. Then I was off the coast of North Africa.

A coin toss sent me south but I debated flipping it again. I could feel the pull of my Spartan ancestry pulling me towards the Mediterranean and then the Aegean.

I sailed down past where Bart Roberts met his end. I raised a glass of Rum to the tea teetotaler memory as I sailed past. The current and winds then took me west across the south Atlantic. I watched the Faulkin islands slip past. I remember watching the news about the war there when I was in my teens.

By this time I was so cocky, hell I was the king of the sea! Greatest sailor to pull canvas since my namesake John Paul Jones dropped his last anchor!

The Horn taught me my place.

Humbled I repaired in Argentina and waited out the storm season in harbor. I finally sailed around the Horn in flat calm with the sea like glass. I was still a nervous wreck.

Around Galapagos and up the coast I began to feel a pull for the deeper waters to the west.

I turned the bow of the 'Aurora' toward the Big empty after resupplying well in Peru. The weeks sailing the long open waters to Hawaii. When you can't see the land no matter how long you look and only your memories remind you it even exists you have time to think. You can find out a lot about yourself.

Like that you will piss yourself when a humpback whale gives the bottom of your boat a hard tap in the middle of the night. He was probably just curious.

I fire up the hot plate and get a pan of oil heating up. I unwrap the fillet. I caught a red snapper this morning. He hits the oil with a nice sizzle. The frying fish smell soon fills the cabin.

As I cook I think back to all the meals she made me years ago. I couldn't boil water back then without burning it. I season the fish with a pinch of this and that. Spices I've gathered in my travels.

When the fish is done I switch off the hot plate and hit the button on the microwave. Going out on deck I pull in the rope and strip another beer off the plastic loops. It's ice cold from its journey through the sea.

Wish I could tell Kim about the time when a shark bit off three of my beer. She would have laughed to have seen my face when I pulled in that severed line. She would have said I was contributing to the delinquency of a fish.

The snapper is flaky, and tastes of salt and oil, It goes well with the rice I microwaved. As I eat I do a mental check of my stores.

There area a lot of islands ahead. I'll need to resupply, but the need isn't great yet. There are hundreds of places ahead that will do for what I need. The marshal islands, Philippines, hell even Japan, and New Zealand. Almost any direction I chose has islands.

Whipping oil and salt off the plate with a piece of bread I debate my course.

North, south? Either way something new to see.

North would take me up the coast of Russia, around into the Bering Sea. Stop at maybe St. Paul, or Kodiak to resupply before the trip down the Canadian coast.

California? Didn't really want to go back to the U.S. Hawaii was so crowded. I've had my fill of people for the moment.

South? A lot of places down that way I haven't seen. Australia, then maybe over to India. Maybe I could go down the side of Africa to Madagascar. Round the Cape of Good Hope!

Maybe I should flip a coin. Not that it really maters I wont be staying long in any one port.

I decide not to decide. Always a good choice.

Pushing away my empty plate I pick my book up from where I left it last night. Peter Benchley's 'Jaws'.

Kim would have laugh herself sick to see me reading this out here on the ocean. The first time I read it I didn't even want to go near the freshwater lake near our house, let alone the beach.

Gone through quite a few books out here on the sea. It's a good place to read. My favorite by far is Patrick O ' Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels. I've actually managed to go to several of the places he mentions in the books. Some are very different. Some haven't changed a bit.

My eyes get heavy as I read. Leaning into the cushions I settle in for a nap. My sea anchors are out, my lights are on, and I furled down the sail so only a bit of canvas is catching the wind. Like many a night I drift off to sleep sitting up on the bench seat. My head rolls with the sway of the ship. It's almost like sleeping in a rocking chair.

My bladder wakes me around midnight. I get up and go piss away the beers I drank earlier. The yellow stream disappears into the dark water without even a splash.

I shiver a bit and settle in on the seat at the transom. I open the lid of the box beside the transom and take out the leather pouch. The glowing coal of my pipe is soon blazing in the dark. I blow a puff of vanilla cavindish smoke into the night air. Leaning back I look past my sail and mast to the dark night sky and the bright stars. I feel pity for the people in their cities who never see the sky like this. After a bit I see a shooting star, then another.

Soon the sky is alive with them. After awhile though they start to make me feel sad. Even the beautiful stars seem to be dying.

I shiver again.

Getting up I head back down into the cabin. I curl up into my bunk, and try to go back to sleep.

No luck.

After twenty minutes I give up trying and sigh. I reach down into my shorts and pull out my cock. I start to pull and squeeze on myself.

My mind travels back into my past hunting through the women I've been with and the ones I wanted but didn't get.

Sharon, the middle aged neighbor who taught a young teen boy so much one summer.

Michel the girl I dated through collage.

I shake my head and sigh as Kim fills my thoughts despite myself.

My cock finally starts to get hard as I remember flashes of our time together. Almost like a highlight reel of our sex life.

I moan as I pull on my cock as hard as I can.

"Oh Kim, oh my beautiful Kim."

My moans soon fill the cabin and drift out into the night. They are familiar sounds in this boat. I don't see any reason to be quiet out in the middle of the Pacific. As my breathing quickens I grab the cloth from the shelf beside the bed. I lay it under my pumping hand.

I cum crying out my late wife's name to the waves. My eyes are full of tears even as I wipe the head of my cock clean and fold up the cloth. It goes back on the shelf. Probably need it a few nights from now.

Sleep comes for me quickly now but my dreams are of Kim.

The anchors hit the flat water sending ripples out. I see Islanders on the beach. Some are looking out at me. A few wave.

Long gone are the days when hundred of canoes full of half-naked women would pile out to meet any arriving ship. Damn.

Going to the back of the 'Aurora' I pull in the leader rope attached to my small boat. It rides in my wake most of the times, though a huge effort can get it up onto the front of the boat and lashed down if weather looks bad.

I grab a small travel bag from down in the cabin and my pipe from the box by the transom seat. Pulling the boat in tight I climb down my ladder rungs and balance as she rocks. In the early days I tasted a lot of seawater doing this little trick.

Using an oar I push off the side of my ship and settling the oars into the locks start pulling for shore. I have a small outboard motor in the supply cabin but I haven't used it in forever. Like the big diesel engine on the 'Aurora' it's been ignored unless absolutely needed. Sails and muscle have taken me half way around the world.

As I near the shore I see a dark skinned man in shorts wade out. I ship my oars and step out into the knee-deep surf. Together we pull up the little boat. Never have gotten around to naming it. Debated calling it the Kathrin after the ship in the Cary grant movie Father Goose, or maybe the Jenny after Forest Gump.

I thank the man. He grins back at me and tries to talk to me in english. I listen politely not understanding half of what he's saying. His accent is horrible. I look up and see a jeep pull up and two official looking people get out.

"Welcome to Kiribati. Your passport please?" one of them asks me with a smile in near perfect english. The other just watches me, his hand on his belt not far from an old service revolver.

O great I've found the Barney Fife of the Pacific.

I give Sheriff Andy my passport. He asks my purpose in being here.

'Just want to restock some supplies and site see for a day." I tell him as I take back my passport.

He directs me to a near by group of building as the best place to get supplies, then hands me a tourist brochure from his back pocket.

"Have a wonderful time." Sheriff Andy tells me with his grin.

Barney gives me a hostile nod and follows his partner back to the jeep.

As they pull away I look over to the guy who helped me pull by boat up. He jerks a thumb towards the departing jeep then makes a gesture like he's jacking off.

I chuckle.

He grins a gap-toothed smile at me.

A little broken english latter and he's loading about fifty pounds of smoked fish into the boat and settles down to watch it for me. It's amazing what a few American dollars can get you in the right places.

I head over to the cluster of old metal shipping containers and corrugated metal that's being used as buildings. I've seen this same sort of place in many lands. Take a shipping container cut the sides off it and you have a roofed over metal building with steel awnings that can be locked up tight and survive a hurricane. Although here in the pacific I think they call them typhoons. Thank the Japanese for that bit of confusion.

Moving into the crowded little building I do some quick shopping. It doesn't take me long to find what I need. I keep hunting for the special things that I take from each place. Things that give the place a memory in my mind.

Three guys carry the stuff to my boat for me. A quick trip back to the ship to unload and then I'm back. This time I have my camera around my neck. I have a huge box full of undeveloped film that someday I will get turned into pictures.


Walking around I snap a few photos of memorials built to honor those who died fighting here back in WWII. A British colony the place only became independent a little while back. You can still see the influence of the english. A Polynesian with a Manchester United football shirt is a prime example. Though the newspaper box with the London Times newspaper is a bit of a surprise. Looking at the date it's yesterdays. Impressive.

I soon have a small gaggle of little brown children following me around laughing. I know in some places you have to be careful of these. Only the IRS are better thieves.

They direct me to a place to sit down and eat. Open air tables covered in sunshades with a kitchen area inside a more, or less permanent building. It's owned by their family apparently. I watch with a smile as they are all given pieces of peppermint and sent back out to bring in more tourists.

A lovely young woman comes over to me and gives me a delightful smile.

"Welcome sir. I'm Tamara, I'll be your waitress." She smiles at me apparently pleased at having gotten that much out without and slip-ups. I grin back at her.

"Coke to drink, and other than that you chose."

She looks at me for a bit then goes to get something I hope will be good. I watch her as she walks away. She really is beautiful. Maybe twenty...ish? Dark hair, skin the color of wildflower honey.

She comes back with a glass-bottled coke that drips cold water. Strange you can't seem to get these anywhere in the U.S. but they are all around the world. She pulls a paper towel off a roll and folds it under my bottle. Nice both napkin and coaster. A slightly potbellied man comes to the table carrying a tray. She takes a platter and sits it in front of me.

British fish and chips wrapped in news print. I smile up at her and mouth thank you. She grins back at me.

The man notices the exchange from a few tables away where he's' serving the other platters from his tray. The look he gives me isn't very friendly. I ignore him and concentrate on my food. I do see him grab her by the arm as she passes him on the way back into the kitchen.

When she comes back out to see to the other guests I notice a bruise on her arm. I bit of dark on the already brown skin.

My thought focus inward to all the places I've seen where people are either nice or even outright brutal to each other.

"Can I get you something else sir?"

I look up at Tamara then down at my food. I have eaten every crumb without tasting it. I notice my coke is nearly gone.

"Another one of these if you please Tamara." She smiles that I remembered her name. With a nod she goes off to the back. I see the man looking over at me again from the other side of the restaurant. Fed up with him my eyes lock on his and I give him a cold stare. After a moment he looks away.

Looking down I find myself reading the salt and oil saturated newsprint on my table. Just as I'm getting into a story it's lifted away and my new coke is placed in front of me. I look up at Tamara round face. Her eyes framed with that dark hair really capture my attention this time. I can see why the man would be jealous. I smile at her and give a slight nod towards my drink.

"Thank you."

"Your welcome sir." She says giving a nod back. Then her eyes light up with a look of laughter.

Sitting there sipping my drink really tasting this one. I'm startled as she walks past me she places a newspaper in front of me on the table. It's the London times I saw earlier; no sorry this is day before yesterdays. I think. I smile at her, more of a grin really. She nods her head back with a similar grin.

Leafing through the paper I see what's been going on in the world. I check the business section and see that my former company is still struggling to recover from the loss of its CEO and founder. Me. The stock isn't as low as the last time I checked though so maybe it's starting to recover. Not that I really care much anymore. The company had been my dream, sailing the world had been Kim's. We gave up her dream to pursue mine. When she pass I returned the favor.

I check a few places where I still have stock but I know My investor can watch that sort of thing better than I. So long as I can still pull out a grand from any national bank whenever I have a need I don't care what he does. He can buy stock in hamsters for all I care.

The antics of the British royal family or english soccer are of little interest to me, but I read them with a near hunger anyway. I reach for my coke only to find the bottle empty. Tamara's hand brushes mine as she tapes the top of the bottle with a finger. I look up towards her face but my eyes stop at her breast for a second or so. When my eyes reach hers she's giving me a grin. Caught. With her skin I can't tell if she's blushing but for some reason I think maybe she is. She shakes a finger at me.

"Naughty Boy." She says with a south London accent to her voice. I grin at her like the boy she's called me. "Another Coke?"

"Yes if you have a restroom, no if you don't."

"Restroom?" she asks puzzled.

I wrack my sun-baked memory for a few seconds.

"A loo?"

She gives a giggle and nods her head. She points to the side of the restaurant.

Getting up I leave my paper on the table to hold my spot and walk around to the side. I find a small-enclosed alcove with toilet seats on a bench like shelf. Opening the lid I look down into a half oil drum. I see a bag with shredded coconut husks sitting near by. The place actually has very little smell. I make quick use of it non-the less.

As I step through the bright colored curtain I see the short pot bellied man waiting for me. For a second he looks like he might try something but then realizes I tower over him. Also a year at the mast has me made of mahogany. I stare down at him without saying a word till he moves out of my way. I watch my six as I walk past him.

Tamara is at my table with my third coke. I stop by the table, but don't sit back down. I fold up my paper and take the cold glass bottle from her. Our fingers touch for a second. She looks up at me smiling.

I fish an American five-dollar bill from my pocket and hand it to her. It's far and beyond the bill, but I catch her hand as she turns to go.

"You... keep the change, my dear." I tell her as I tuck my paper up under my arm while juggling a sweaty coke bottle.

She gives my hand a quick squeeze and grins at me.

"Thank you sir." The south London accent is back.

I smile and walk off towards some taller buildings I see in the distance. They have the made of marble look that the British tried to cover the world in a century ago.

I stop and turn to look back at the little café. She's watching me. On impulse I lift my camera and snap a shot of her. She smiles for the photo.

The man scowls in the background.

Shaking my head I walk away. I know that if I had a house he would be by tonight to throw rocks at the windows.

I have got to get out of Mayberry.

I spend the rest of the day doing the tourist thing. The place is proud of it's British past unlike some places I've been where they threw the English into the harbor along with the Tea.

I sit in a small park watching sea gulls squabble with pidgins over bread crumbs other people at tossing to them. For a bit I think of how much Kim would have laughed to see pidgins on a pacific island. Then my thoughts drift away from her to the lovely young lady I met earlier. Tamara. That causes a grin of it's own. Kim would have been teasing me about her all day long if she had been here.

If she had been here...

I get up and take my tired feet towards the harbor. The sky is falling and I've decided to sail with the tide. The sea is calling with a lovers longing for me.

My little boat is sill under the watchful eye of my first friend here. He tries to tell me something, but his accent is still horrendous. I just grin and nod till he smiles at me. He gives me a hand getting the boat off the beach. I stopped for more supplies on my way back. I don't feel like stopping again for awhile.

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