Chapter Ten- Bakiya Takahashi And Anri Arrive At Okinawa

[Author’s Note: “The Royal Crown of Okinawa (A Bakiya Takahashi Adventure)” continues in this next installment. Bakiya and Anri finally reach their destination, but it is not a soft landing.]

“Don’t worry, I’ve got her, Bakiya, Row! We need everyone to grab an oar if we are going to make it,” Robert shouted.

Bakiya, Captain Thompson, the galley cook Trevor and two young crewmen did as they were told. Robert slapped an old-looking lifejacket on Anri. It was a tattered mess of broken straps and an orange and white cloth covering. Robert tossed the remaining equipment to the rest of the passengers and crew.

“Here, put these on. It’s going to get rough.”

Everyone did as they were ordered, save for one young crewman who was too busy rowing. The rowboat ran towards the shore of Okinawa with the land in sight. There was a small hope that they might outrace the hurricane rushing towards the island. But that moment was soon lost.

“Ship’s comin’ apart,” Captain Thompson said as he watched his beautiful wanna-be pirate ship being lost to the sea. “‘Fraid this rowboat is next.”

There was no escape from the vicious wind and high waves. The two young crewmen paddled for all they were worth. But the waves got bigger.

“Samuel!” The second young crewman screamed.

“Man overboard!” Bakiya shouted.

“No time, Sammy’s on his own. Keep rowing,” Captain Thompson ordered.

The young crewman struggled for a moment. He bobbed three times but was seen no more. The rowboat and its frightened passengers went on towards the island.

“Which way do we go?” Anri asked.

“I don’t know that it matters, keep rowing and stay close,” Bakiya said.

Anri slid towards the remaining young crewmen. She took the lost crewman’s oar in her hands. Her eyes were red and swollen from the salty seawater and rain that pelted her in the face. Captain Thompson looked upon his once sea-worthy pirate ship as it broke in half.

Bulldog.”

In reality, The Bulldog was a mid-sized American-built ship, about 115 tons, and was originally in the private fleet of a European princess. She was perfect, based on her luxurious interior. One now sinking into the depths of the dark sea.

The rowboat veered left and slammed into a jagged rock. The impact drove a craggy shard into the side of the vessel. It came an inch from impaling poor Robert. He avoided the sharpest edges of the boat’s wooden shrapnel, but he got a whack on his head for good measure.

“Grab a bucket. We are taking on water,” Robert said.

“There’s two left. What do we do?” Anri asked.

“Hands if you have to.”

Bakiya and Robert took turns bailing with rusty-covered metal buckets. Anri did her best to help. The sea she splashed out with her wrinkled fingers. The water rushed through the growing hole three times as fast as she could push it out.

“What about the hole?” Anri asked.

“Don’t know, up to the captain,” Robert said.

Bakiya wondered about the slim odds the damaged ship had of making it to the shore. Five worn out souls fighting for their lives as the storm intensified. He figured them to be at least a mile from the shore. Bakiya prayed and hoped as he reached out for his once benevolent goddess and paramour.

“Saki-san, please. Let this crew live.”

The wind calmed to a whisper, the torrent to heavy rain. The seawater’s wrath subsided as Okinawa came into clear view.

“Bakiya, focus! We aren’t out of this yet. Row! We’re still taking on too much water,” Robert said.

The weather-beaten rowboat did its mothership proud. Still, the hole grew and the vessel sank further. It would not survive in one piece to see the shore.

“Have to swim for it. Everyone out,” Captain Thompson ordered.

“I don’t think I can make it that far,” Anri said.

“Me neither. But there’s no choice. We have to try,” Bakiya said.

Captain Thompson saw the pair’s despondence. He sympathized with them — his soul was tired of the watery fight — but press on, he knew they must. That is if they were to live.

“We’ve come so far. We’re not going to die today. Swim!” Captain Thompson ordered.

“Let’s do this!” Bakiya and Anri shouted.

Captain Thompson praised Bakiya and Anri for their restored enthusiasm. Everyone swam until they hit wet, sandy land. It was a lucky escape. The hurricane intensified as the young crewman reached the beach.

“Samuel!” The young crewman cried.

“I’m sorry, Marcus. I truly am. I know how you looked up to your brother. He was one of the best mates I’ve had on that ship. He’ll be missed,” Captain Thompson said.

“We must go out and find him. He might still be — ” Marcus cried.

“Alive. Yes, there’s always a chance. Let’s get out there,” Anri said.

Captain Thompson wiped his grey, scraggly beard and dried off his gold-rimmed monocle. He pushed the frame snuggly into the red indented mark on the right side of his crooked, little nose. Captain Thompson coughed and wheezed as he purged the last of the saltwater from his throat and ears.

“Son, it took a miracle the likes of which this old seadog has never seen to save us. Alas, even the great god of the sea could not bring your brother back. I’m sorry.”

“No, I won’t forget this Captain Thompson. I blame you for my beloved brother’s death. I pray to the gods to curse you until the day you die.”

“Please, Marcus, I know you are upset, but Captain Thompson did his best. We are alive. Be thankful for that,” Robert said.

The rain oddly dissipated on the sandy beach. It was nothing more than a sprinkle. The ocean waves raged on as the hurricane swirled.

“‘We’? Robert. There is no ‘we.’ Mr. Thompson let my beloved brother drown. Worthless cooky, old bat.”

“Boy, hold your tongue that is your Captain,” Trevor said.

“Now you talk, fry boy? It’s like you weren’t even on the rowboat.”

Trevor shrunk in shame. There was no doubt he had not helped as the crew while the passengers fought for their lives.

“You see these hands? I am a genius in the kitchen. One does not sully such delicate things with heavy manual labor. Hard work is for common people. I’d rather die.”

“You almost did,” Robert said.

“There is nothing wrong with working hard. One does what one has to in life.”

Bakiya found it strange that he was defending the tenants of his former small-town life. He had loathed his days of slinging ramen on those dirty streets. Yet Bakiya showed up every morning and did the work until his Dear Saki-san gave him an out to Okinawa.

“That’s right. ‘Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying,’” Anri said.

“This ain’t Sunday school, sister. Save the pithy Bible verses for your ice cream socials. Your God doesn’t run my life,” Trevor said.

“‘I can’t understand lazy people. We don’t speak the same language. I don’t want to understand you,’” Bakiya said.

“I’m not lazy. And life is not a game,” Trevor said.

“Lazy,” Bakiya said.

“I am not.”

“You are.”

“No, I am selectively motivated for your information.”

“‘Selectively motivated’ for what? Money? Fame? Or yourself?”

“All of the above. It’s not a crime to look out for number one. At the end of the day, that’s all anyone really has in life. Me. Myself. And I. You know? Life isn’t a multiple choice exam.”

“Perhaps. But it is lonely. Isn’t it?” Anri asked.

“‘Lonely’? My bed was full of beautiful and exotic women every night in my hometown.”

“And your heart?”

“What of it? Surely, you don’t mean ‘love’?”

“Yeah. Everyone wants to find true love. Right?”

“Not me. Such feelings exist in great prose not reality.”

“That must be slow torture. I feel sorry for you. And nobody writes great short stories these days,” Bakiya said.

“What can I say? Life is crap and then you die. No doubt the devil owns my sorry excuse for a soul. Earth is my heaven.”

“And your hell is an empty heart.”

“Who are you to judge me?”

“But where did Marcus go?” Anri asked.

Amid Trevor’s tantrum, Marcus ran off. A single set of wet footprints started up towards a larger-looking area of green. Then they vanished.

“Now where do you suppose that boy went?” Captain Thompson asked.

Craig is a #writer, #editor, #betareader & #blogger. 2000+ #blog posts & seven #ebooks including #shortstories “The Tempo of Tempura” and “Carl Crapper.”