Harmony in a Box – 03-02

Determined to make my way to the steering room I cling and grab anything to get to the upper deck. My eyes grow large as I ascend. Through the windows I see ocean swells 20 meters high; like massive watery headstones, searching for their next victims.

Captain Wiggin’s forehead is wrinkled with concentration. Seeing me from the corner of his eye he shouts, “Seems Neptune is trying to claim another soul. This gale brewed up from the Northeast. A bad omen. How’re the others?”

“Don’t know for sure, I haven’t seen Taylor at all,” I yell as a large wave rolls across the deck.

“The Angelica taken on some water, but she’s a dry boat. Aye, that she is.” Wiggins says, mainly to himself.

“Look!” I shout, pointing ahead through the darkness, hope rising briefly in my chest only to be ripped away. “It’s gone. For a moment I thought I saw lights of a boat or town off in the distance.”

We were not granted a second look. A hailstone smashes through the window into a large rack of electronic gear. Frantically the Captain grabs a curly corded microphone from the emergency radio. Clicking a button on the side of the mike and turning knobs he begins repeating a Mayday message, but to no avail. “Radio’s out,” groans Captain Wiggins. “Get below and brace yourself – its going be rough.” Just then a wave crashes into the boat and we both are tossed to one side. The Captain, slammed into the wall, grimaces in pain, but shrugs it off and grips the wheel tightly, stagger stepping his feet as an additional brace against the ferocity of the storm. He stares with fierce intensity into the gloom of night, the sky sliced by lightning every few seconds casting an eerie light. I return below joining the others including Taylor. All were now sitting around the galley table with their lifejackets on.

I yell to be heard. “We are in a bad storm. The radio is out. It’d be a good idea to brace yourselves against the table.”

Virginia directs my attention to a lifejacket for me, motioning me to put it on, which I am happy to do. The endless roar of the ocean and the deafening sound of hailstones against the boat make conversation impossible. We all take turns drinking from a bottle of rum being passed around.

We bobbed and heaved through the ocean’s awful torment, knowing that at any minute our lives could be snatched from us, without even a plea for mercy. Jitters predicted our fate many times throughout the night. We held hands for strength and reassurance. I was surprised by everyone’s relative composure throughout this unforgiving event. We were tossed about like a mechanical bull, diving and pitching, defying gravitational norms. This turbulence was accented by bouts of sea sickness that all had succumbed to. The occurrence was so regular no one left the table. I don’t know if I fell asleep or passed out from exhaustion or the rum, but I was brought to by Jitters voice, “We’re sinking.”

Harmony in a Box – 03-01

Harmony in a Box Chapter 2, Part 5

Awoken by a sudden jolt I felt I like I was being smeared against the wall like a helpless insect. Cupboard doors sprang open, articles in the cabin slammed into the wall. I shielded my head with my arms as protection from scattering debris. Pressed against my bunk and wall, I wonder what the hell is going on. Did we hit an iceberg, another boat? The roar of breaking surf was deafening as it subsided into the groans of twisting steel. Loud screams and moans come from within the darkness of the cabin.

“Stay below! Brace yourselves! The wrath of Neptune is upon us!” bellows Captain Wiggins.

I lay there attempting to shake the cobwebs out. Suddenly there was a tremendous roar that penetrated any thought, swallowing the screams and moans of the others. I tried to sit up but was catapulted to the starboard side and tossed to the floor. Again I shielded myself from the oncoming debris. Anything not battened down was now flung across the cabin. I felt a trickle of water at my feet. Every sense I knew was being challenged in this situation of chaos.

“She’s taking on water!” Snippets of conversation could be heard coming from the upper deck, “For God’s sake’s man, turn on the bilge pumps, Lenny boy!”

I could feel the wind vibrating the side of our boat like a stretched canvas. With a sudden jolt the boat, which had been listing heavily starboard, shifted back into a prone position. It was like it had been dropped from a great height, plunking heavily into the ocean waters. Usually taking pride in remaining calm under pressure I suddenly was unsure of myself and my very existence. I wanted to hide from this dance with the Devil and wake up miraculously in my mother’s arms, protecting me from harm. Struggling to my feet I stagger to the cabin door. In the hall I find Virginia taking an inventory on her own condition.

“You okay?” I say reaching out to steady her.

“Yes, and you?’’ she asks. I nod to her, reassuring my well being

“My God what’s happening to us?” Virginia asks with panicked concern.

Before I can respond, we hear a muffled voice from an adjacent cabin. “Anyone there? Help me!”

Using the walls for balance, Virginia and I follow the sound of Jitters voice. We find him pinned to the floor by a mattress and his suitcase.

“We’re going down, I feel water for Christ sake.” Jitters’ panicked voice echoes in my head, saying aloud the very thoughts in my mind. “Where’s the Captain? Christ almighty – what’s happening!”

“I’m getting some lifejackets.” Virginia says and leaves to find some.

“What are we going to do?” Jitters’ insistent tone was verging on panic.

Suddenly the boat tossed forward, rolling nose heavy on a breaking wave. A bang, like a sledge hammer on steel pierced the air. Another bang and then another.

“Hail!” hollers Captain Wiggins. ”The size of golf balls.”

Harmony in a Box – 02-05

Harmony in a Box, Chapter 2 – Part 4

We better damn well see some whales in the morning.” Herb blurted.

“I just hope we make it off this condemned rust bucket alive,” said Neville.

Miss Bliss looked into her glass of wine, swirling it round, she stated wistfully, “I would love to see an iceberg radiating colors like a Lawren Harris painting.”

“He’s my favorite of the Group of Seven,” I replied, feeling a compulsion to respond to someone who had some knowledge of the arts.

“Yes, I love his work,” replied Miss Bliss, “but Tom Thomson had the quintessential essence, the integrity of the Canadian vision of landscape for the others to follow. Those striking, harsh, rebellious brush stokes were so foreign to Canadian canvases until Thomson.”

“Possibly,” I responded, really just testing the waters of debate, “but isn’t their brushwork technique just a rip-off from van Gogh?”

“That’s preposterous, I wish I was at home right now and I’d get my art books,” Miss Bliss retorted feeling somewhat stimulated at the topic but not knowing enough about the comparison to continue without reference.

“The Group of Seven did a lot for Canadian landscape and art,” I said, proffering a time of peace rather than hammering a point. “I’d love to have one of Harris’s iceberg pictures on my wall.”

“What about that picture with three stripes the government bought a few years ago?” asked Herb. “I’ve seen kids do better art and we paid two million dollars for it.”

“Heck, I’ll paint four stripes and sell it for a million.” Neville added which gave him and Herb something to clink their drinks together at, like celebrating a triumphant rhetorical statement that was foolproof.

“I rather like Barnett Newman’s ”Voice of Fire”, but I know it’s not for everyone’s pallet. “ I replied, sort of getting the last word in, not going down in defeat, just lying low. Taking in a deep breath and stretching I knew I was done for the evening and politely excused myself. It was well after midnight and I wanted to be up early in the morning to take in as much of the sightseeing adventure as possible.

After a quick wash in the tiny lavatory I laid on one of the bunks. The boat was gently, hypnotically rolling to the rhythm of the ocean. “See you at seven bells, last one up swabs the deck, mateys,” I heard someone say in the distance. The background was a constant drone of vibration. Drowsily I listened as everyone made their way to bed.


Harmony in a Box – 02-04

“Are you alright, old boy? “ Neville asked, as he walked towards where I stood at the bow. “This boat should be condemned; I think we have a converted fish trawler.”

“Probably,” I nodded.

Neville continued, “I mean the poor bastards, their main industry was fishing and the government tells them they can’t fish. Christ! Newfoundland was discovered because of fish. Everyone knows Columbus bought the map to America from a Newfie fisherman. Generations of fisherman and now you can’t fish. Newfoundlanders got to go to Ontario to get a fishing licence.”

I slowly nodded in agreement. “Doesn’t seem to mean much out here, kind of trivial, meaningless.”

“Hey, come back to me cowboy!” Neville smiled as he put his arm around my shoulders. “Just remember, Monday morning we are on a flight to Ottawa – show time is 8:00 pm. That’s if this piece of recycled K-car can get us back.”

Out of nowhere a gust of cold air embraced us, the frigid air cutting through us like a laser.

“That’s it. I’m in the cabin with the others.” Trying to shake off the cold, Neville walked away holding onto a railing, for the ocean was getting choppy.

I stood there a few more minutes, wet eyed from the cold. Time to go, I thought. Everyone was sitting at a large booth style table in the galley.

“Finally come to join us, pick your poison the bar is well stocked.” Herb sounded like he was well on his way.

I got myself a drink and joined the others. As I put my glass down I noticed the liquid forming sonar-like waves, ripples like sound waves were emanating outward from the center of the glass. Engine vibration I assumed.

Harmony in a Box – 02-03

I turned as the sound of footsteps on metal broke the introductions. Ascending to the deck through what appeared to be an open hole near the front of the boat, a crewman joined us from the engine room.

“Ready to weigh anchor, Captain.” said the crewman, his eyes swept over us and looked out to the horizon beyond. A solid man about six feet tall, he had thick forearms and strong shoulders evident despite the weatherproof hoodie he wore. The crewman, like the Captain had that weathered, wind burned appearance of someone at home on the ocean.

“This is Len Waites,” introduced Captain Wiggins. Len nodded at us and collectively we responded as one, greeting him with hello.

“Call me Len.” He beckoned us into the galley of the boat. “Follow me and I’ll show you to the bunks, one for the gents, one for the lady.” He led us below deck to two cabins, each held several bunk beds that seemed to crisscross the room. “The Angelica can sleep 10 if she needs to. She’s a beauty, a 60 foot Bonner, as ocean-going vessel if ever there was one. She’s been holding her own for 15 years now. Solid as a rock.” Len gave us a quick tour, indicating where we travelers could find the “head” or lavatory, and around the galley where we could help ourselves to food and drinks.

After the orientation, I immediately returned to the deck. The boat was launched as the Captain and crewman worked hand in hand robotically coiling ropes and maneuvering the sixty foot Angelica out of its mooring. Faster than I expected, the small seaport of Logy Bay and all humanity faded into tiny specks of vibrating lights.

There was something about the ocean air blowing in my face. I opened my nostrils and filled my lungs, breathed in this magic elixir of air, freedom and vastness. Already a crazed feeling of excitement was swelling inside of me. I was amazed, intoxicated with this notion of ocean, air, and sky. I looked into the moon, not full but very bright. As I looked the moon’s light began to pulsate, then the sky. A very high sound was resonating in my head. The ocean was rolling back and forth, the sky pulsating. The ringing in my mind was everywhere getting louder incorporating every sound; the light and sound vibrating together, struggling to make a celestial chord.