Chapter Nine- Bakiya Takahashi And Anri Sail The High Seas
[Author’s Note: “The Royal Crown of Okinawa (A Bakiya Takahashi Adventure)” continues in this next installment. Anri grows up while Bakiya ponders life with Captain Thompson.]
Anri came into the dining hall as the enormous cuckoo clock on the wall rang out. She looked now all of her 15 years. Bakiya, too, was transformed, a quick, close shave and a spare black suit from Robert saw to that.
“Welcome my honored guests,” A chubby, white-capped chef said.
Bakiya and Anri failed to notice the rotund cook’s enormous girth. They were too enthralled by their lunchtime surroundings. The dining room was grand.
The quality of the art about the room was equaled by the fancy china on the table. Anri had never experienced such luxury, Bakiya long ago. The chef stepped forward towards the hungry pair.
“My famished gentleman and pretty lass, today I have prepared Mr. Thompson’s favorite dish — fresh, grilled tuna from the sea.”
“That’s ‘Captain Thompson.’”
“Sorry, sir, er, Captain Thompson.”
The chef returned to his galley. Robert rushed to pull out his master’s head chair. He poured a copious amount of lukewarm rum into a glass.
“Welcome to me ship. What do you think?”
“She’s amazing, Mr — , ah, Captain Thompson, sir,” Bakiya said, correcting for his host’s more desired title. “It’s amazing to be sure. The food smells most divine.”
“Thank you, my galley chef, Trevor, is as good with a fish as he is quick with a sword. Right, Trevor?”
The chef stopped mid-swipe with his knife. He put the metal blade into the air and stabbed imaginary enemies. Trevor knew how to keep on the right side of his Captain’s good graces.
“Aye, aye Captain. And always ready for more.”
Captain Thompson nodded with a little smile. Trevor returned to whisking eggs in a bowl with chunks of cured ham and cheese. He added a burst of flames to his deep fry pan with a dash of oil to the delight of everyone.
“This is a special moment. But my long life has shown me one day leads swiftly to the next and finally to the last. Each moment is to be valued, precious commodities without a doubt,” Captain Thompson said.
“Cheers!” Bakiya said as he took a drink for the first time in ages.
“Here, here! Well put, Captain Thompson,” Robert said, knowing well his master ran the ship.
“Are you ready to feast, my guests?” Captain Thompson said. “I’m sorry to be late.”
Anri rubbed her empty stomach. “The best food,” said Anri, “is for one who learns to wait.”
“So true, my child, there is no doubt, ‘Patience is a virtue,’” said Captain Thompson. “It takes some folks a lifetime to learn. You must be most proud of her.”
“Indeed, I am,” Bakiya said.
“Her mother must be too,” Captain Thompson said.
Anri lowered her head and shook it with a sadness that was beyond words. She picked up a napkin and dabbed a teardrop from her rosy cheek. This left Captain Thompson and the other people in the room confused.
“Dear Miss, I didn’t mean to offend you,” Captain Thompson said. “I assumed your mother must be proud of you.”
“I’m sure she’s fine. Her mother is — ” Bakiya said.
Anri raised her head.
“I wouldn’t know,” Anri said. “My mother was all too happy to give me away. To a complete stranger no less.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. I truly am,” Captain Thompson said.
“So what if she did?” said Bakiya. “There is no other you in this world. There’s no doubt you are my daughter. A child I would never trade.”
A happy smile sprang to Anri’s face.
“I’m most honored to be your daughter.”
There was a quick pat of the pretty yellow bow on her head. Anri looked up, and there stood Bakiya, a man who no doubt was her father. He smiled warmly as the pair embraced. After that, the lunchtime meal was full of laughter. The cuisine of succulent tuna, fried shrimp, and crispy Crème Brulee was a secondary thought.
The voyage continued as the afternoon came to a close. Anri returned to her room for a rest. Bakiya made his way up to the deck. He had never liked sailing as a boy. But one wonderful thing about the sea for him was its active aquatic life.
Bakiya watched as schools of large yellow fish raced the ship. They bounced against the stern perilously in its wake. A pair of grey dolphins leaped from the pristine blue-green sea in unison as if they were a happy couple. Bakiya’s mind turned to love of his own as his thoughts drifted into the abyss of the rhythmic waves.
“Saki-san, Saki-san!” Bakiya mumbled. “Is the destination worth the journey, a person worth the pain?”
“It is my friend, a human, love, worth the sacrifice,” Captain Thompson said.
“Captain Thompson, You startled me.”
Bakiya stepped back from the side railing of the ship. He looked once more at the sea, and he shook his head until it appeared as if it would fall off.
“My boy, Okinawa, I promise you, is worth the wait. A land of opportunity and adventure.”
“And love? Is it a place to find romance?”
It was Captain Thompson’s turn to shake his head like a jester’s stuffed puppet. Bakiya sensed a shift in the man’s demeanor. The bravado of a wild-eyed pirate was replaced by the gentleness of a sage father.
“I knew such a thing in Okinawa, yes indeed. I’ve fought across the seas, gained and buried a dozen treasures, but adored one eternal love.”
“And where is she?”
“Forever lost to the sea and to me.”
Captain Thompson’s former rock-hard-looking expression returned upon his face. He pulled a cork from a full barrel and poured a drink for two. The men sat upon the deck for hours not as Captain and passenger, but like a father and a son. Bakiya thought he had pried too much into the old man’s business. But that was not the case.
“You see, these now calm waters, they got rough. And the gods can be most unforgiving. A rich banker and his lovely young wife set out to see the world. But only one of them came back.”
Bakiya had questions to be sure. This crazy old pirate was a banker. Certainly, that would explain the ship. Captain Thompson filled his wooden cup once more, and he tossed his black leather boots behind him.
“I see. She must have been something.”
“Yes, to be sure she was. Jane was nothing short of a goddess.”
“I’m sure she was.”
“My lovely Jane, my lovely Jane,” Captain Thompson wailed.
After yet one more drink of his rum it was once more “My lovely Jane, my lovely Jane,” and Bakiya saw Captain Thompson pass out cold right there on that wet, slippery deck.
It being late, Bakiya knew not what to do, but he got up and walked as well as his drunk legs and feet allowed. He bumped into the grey, metal railing a time or two, nearly overtaken by the crashing waves. Thankfully, the gods chose not to wash his soul away.
Soon there came a large storm of pounding rain and huge hail, with the loudest thunder his ears had ever heard. Bakiya made it back to his room and fell face-first into his bed, drenched clothes and all.
Captain Thompson remained unaware of the storm. Until he awoke and discovered that he was in the middle of the sea floating upon an old deck chair. The dire straits of his dilemma sent the once fearless pirate into a state of panic.
“Help! I’m drowning in the sea for the love of God.”
Captain Thompson’s cries for aid reached the sharp ears of only one. Uta was sleeping by an open porthole. The little parrot shook the sleep from his head. As more desperate cries for assistance came from Captain Thompson, Uta hopped, skipped, and flew into Bakiya’s room.”
“Help! I’m drowning in the sea for the love of God,” Uta said, in a pitch-perfect imitation of Captain Thompson’s voice.
Bakiya leaped from his warm bed. He ran to the deck and peered over the railing. Captain Thompson hung on to the deck chair as a familiar, ominous-looking grey fin emerged from the water. The fin bumped and bobbed against the deck chair but did no more. A thick rope came down and Captain Thompson was soon up on board the ship.
“Thank you, Bakiya.”
“Praise not me, but this clever, chatty, little bird.”
Captain Thompson hugged the blathering parrot as the ship sailed on to Okinawa. The ship, its hardy crew, and two passengers moved with the winds and waves for four months and a week. During the time, they saw no ships, the vastness of the sea was great indeed.
Bakiya was most happy the day the ship came sailing near a smattering of beautiful tropical islands. Oh, how he wished to feel the hot sand between his long, bare toes. A hint of sunlight broke through the billowy white and grey clouds that hovered eerily above the great ship.
This moment of serenity gave everyone hope of reaching Okinawa unscathed. Alas, the good fortune was short-lived. A wicked wind from the West and black, evil-looking storm clouds appeared on the horizon.
“Hurricane’s a-comin’!” Robert shouted from the bird’s nest sitting high upon the mast.
A large island came into view in the East. It was near, but the water was rough, and landing in this big ship would be difficult even in the best of weather. The violent storm was moving closer. A choice was made.
“Drop anchor,” Captain Thompson said. “Abandon ship!”
“Aye, aye, Captain,” Robert said.
“Get your bags and grab your girl,” Captain Thompson said.
“Why? What’s wrong?” Bakiya asked.
“No time, into the rowboats and to Okinawa, we go!” Captain Thompson shouted.
“Father, help me, please!” Anri screamed as she fell from the ship.
“Dear Saki-san, give me strength,” Bakiya cried.