The sun was giving birth to a new day when the breeze transformed into a blow from the east, a rare and magnificent gift from the gods of the seas. Aura took the helm and started the diesel while Dave scrambled forward to hoist the anchor. The new engine and propeller began to overtake the gulf current and Dave watched the anchors scope decrease until it went straight down. He put a quick wrap on the bow cleat and used the boat’s forward momentum to pop the anchor loose. He held the anchor line in one hand and removed it from the cleat with the other hand as he fed it down through the deck–soon after, he had the anchor on deck and secured. He could tell by the bubbles passing along the hull that they were making good headway. Aura unrolled the headsail, let out the sheet line and they were running before the wind. If the wind held steady, they would be in Key West, FL before afternoon.
Dave asked Aura, “Do you want me to take the helm?” She shook her head no and he went below. Soon after, Enzo reappeared and sat next to her in the cockpit. She knew he was about to spring one of his surprises on her.
Enzo fished a diamond ring out of his pocket and said, “When I told my aunt that I was going to ask you to marry me she gave me this ring and said it belonged to her grandmother. Will you marry me?” Aura was shocked into silence, so shocked that she could neither accept, nor decline his offer. The silence was ended when she realized the headsail was about to jibe—a beginner’s mistake, or one caused by a sudden wind shift and she wasn’t sure which, but she quickly adjusted the helm and checked her heading.
She was embarrassed and frustrated at once, but Enzo’s sudden proposal annoyed her. At last she blurted out, “I’m only 16 years old and that’s too young to be engaged!”
Dave wasn’t totally depressed, but it was evident that he was disappointed.
“How old do you have to be?” asked Enzo.
“At least until I’m in college,” answered Aura.
“Are you going to Havana with us?” asked Enzo.
“I thought we already settled that, so long as our government has a trade embargo against Cuba, I won’t go there and if I were you, I wouldn’t either because you might end up on a list that you don’t want to be on,” insisted Aura.
“Well,” said Dave, “My Dad’s going there and I’m going with him.” After a brief silence Aura said, “The One Design racing season is starting on Long Island Sound, so I’ll be taking a shuttle flight to Miami tomorrow and then to JFK. I’ll stay with friends the rest of the summer at the Hampton’s, but I’ll keep in touch, I promise.”
Enzo put the ring back in his pocket and said nothing for the rest of their journey. When they arrived at Key West, they dropped anchor near the mangroves within sight of Duval Street. They took the dinghy ashore and the captain got a hotel room at the end of Duval Street. But Aura said she’d prefer to stay on the boat. The Captain’s cell phone rang and it was Big Jesse, he was over Key Largo, FL and would soon be at the Key West Airport and could they meet him there—he was in a hurry. Neither the Captain nor Enzo use credit cards and since you can’t rent a car without one they gave Aura cash and asked her to rent them a car–she was miffed. Aura and Enzo’s relationship was going from bad to worse.
After Aura rented the car, they dropped her off at the dinghy and drove to the airport to meet Jesse. They exchanged the necklace for Jesse’s loot and it was the first time he saw the necklace up close.
“Lord have amercy,” exclaimed Jesse. “This will bring the tourists into the museum, especially since the Queen of Spain once wore it. There will be a line all the way around the court house square from the time we open until it closes–at $5 a head.”
Jesse changed the subject brought the Captain up to speed on “The Clean Coal Environmental Company,” but Enzo walked away before he finished his story.
“What’s wrong with Enzo?” asked Jesse.
“He’s in love,” commented the Captain. “Aura turned him down when he proposed to her and he’s taking it pretty hard.”
“I should have known,” exclaimed Jesse. The French have a saying: Cherchez la femme (Shurr’ shay la fam) “Look for the woman.” Enzo has money, why does he need a woman? His money will buy him everything he needs, airplanes, yachts, fast cars, politicians, generals and beauty queens but, of course, as my lawyer said, “If it flies, floats or, makes love it’s cheaper to rent than own.”
“All of that might be so,” remarked the Captain. “But money can’t buy you love.”
“Hogwash,” insisted Jesse, “the horizontal lobbyists I hire for political persuasion are always falling in love with me.”
“I wonder,” mused the Captain. “How long they’d be around if the nose candy and money ran out?”
“I’ve got to get going,” said Jesse, “I’m hosting a reception for the governor tonight and I have to pick the girls up before the party.”
“I have to get busy myself,” said the Captain. “We got a split sheave to fix on the masthead before we can leave for Havana. How are you fixed for cigars?”
“Pick me up a suit case full of the big ones,” insisted Jesse. “The big wheels I rub elbows with go through them faster than I can get them.”
“I smile,” quipped the Captain, “whenever I think of what little dogs do to big wheels.”
“So do I!” grinned Jesse. “But God bless their little hearts, without them, I’d have to work for a living.”
The Captain said goodbye to Jesse and by then Enzo was back from his walk.
“Pop, women are a mystery to me,” Enzo said dejectedly.
“Son,” assured the Captain, “they’re a mystery to me too. There are two schools of thought about women, but unfortunately both of them are wrong. Ever since men stopped hitting women over the head with a club and dragging them around by their hair they’ve lost all respect for men.”
Early the next morning Aura called their room and asked Enzo if he would take her to the airport. Enzo hurried to meet her and they drove to the airport.
“It seems,” said Enzo, “we’re always saying good bye.”
“Yes,” said Aura, “perhaps, it’s better that way.”
“Not for me,” said Enzo sadly. Aura’s shuttle flight was on the tarmac and so they kissed goodbye and Enzo watched until she boarded her flight–would he ever see her again?
Back at the hotel the Captain was just getting around and was checking the hotel directory for a good place to eat breakfast.
“Pop, maybe we should find a doctor,” said Enzo.
His Dad stopped, looked over his glasses and asked Enzo if he was sick.
“No, but there was a Viagra ad on TV last night that said if you had more than four erections you should call your doctor–I’ve had one for two days ever since Aura showed up,” remarked Enzo.
“I see,” said the Captain. “Not to worry though, now that she’s gone that should fix your problem.” “My problem is the opposite of yours, it takes me four hours to get one and then it’s like trying to shoot pool with a rope.”
“That’s not what your girlfriend said!” laughed Enzo. “She said you were a stud muffin—the best she ever had.”
“She’s lying,” said the Captain. “But I’ll take it.”
They enjoyed a good belly laugh and the Captain suggested they should get started ASAP on the sheave so they could set sail for Havana. We’re in hurricane season now and we still have a long way to go before we get back home. We’ll be lucky if we don’t get our afts kicked. To be continued…