OLAF – Farewell Statement
Considering nine shipwrecks came before me I can’t complain. I was hoping for fair winds and following seas the rest of the way but the wind finally came around and I steamed right into it.
I’ll keep her brief. I’ve had a hell of a time. I wasn’t sure in the beginning if anyone would be interested in anything I had to say. But I won’t go sentimental on you, not yet at least. No point saying goodbye when hello is around the corner. Since I didn’t kill someone off like I was supposed to in my last writing, I thought I’d use the parting post for that. It’s not the ending I wanted, but the vote forces it upon me.
See you out in the bluewater.
Ron shut his eyes and went back in time four decades. In that moment, he was no longer with Annikki in the tuna stand. He was with Olga. The old unruly impulses of youthful love rose up within him. He felt as alive as he could remember. But for fear he’d lose track of the present and make a blunder, like place his lips on the neck before him, he opened his eyes.
That’s when he saw the pair. Big ones, running deep together, just ahead of Annikki and Ron. Tuna have to be up at about two feet below the surface to make a wake. With the polarized sunglasses, Ron was able to spot them through the surface glare where they were running side-by-side, six feet under.
“Get out of the stand!” he said, swinging around and pressing himself against the side of the belly rail. “Come on, go! Go!” He experienced a brief pang of regret at his sharp tone, at not offering her the sunglasses so she could see the fish for herself, but his fishing instincts immediately thwarted the remorse. It was too late anyway. He would explain afterwards, when they had one of the fish on deck. The tuna would spook any moment.
Ron leaned up into the belly rail and lined up his shot. He glanced back at Annikki, who was clutching the guy wires, scuttling back along the tuna stand towards the trunk. “Stay away from the throwing line!” But in Annikki’s confusion and excitement, his words didn’t register.
The pair of fish were right under him. He threw at the one on the right. Normally from that distance he would have easily hit it where he was aiming, in the center and top of its body. But the kahlua and his nerves over Annikki’s safety threw off his aim. Instead the dart drove in by its tail and came out the other side.
Ron spun towards Ransu. “Hit the button!” he yelled. “Hit the button!”
Ransu pressed the shocker, but because the dart had passed through the fish, most of the electricity dispersed into the water. Had Ron harpooned the fish where he should have, the charge would have snapped its vertebrae.
The toggled tuna raced off. The snaphooks, which clipped the throwing line to the guy wire, popped off in rapid volley. “Hit the goddam button!” Ron hollered at Ransu. “Goddam you, hit it! Hold down on that little black button!” The machine gunning of the throwing line snapping out of the clips coupled with Ron’s shouting scared Annikki. She stumbled backwards into the basket where the pot warp attached to the throwing line was coiled. The basket overturned, spilling the line across the trunk. Ron, who was already halfway down the tuna stand, began running towards Annikki. “Watch your feet!”
The speared fish was now traveling at over 50 miles an hour. Within seconds fifteen fathoms of throwing line had gone out. In panic at the line whizzing out around her and trying to get out of the way, Annikki stumbled into one of the tangles of the overturned basket near the first pollyball.
Ron had just stepped onto the trunk when the pollyball whipped out towards the stern, looping around Annikki’s ankle and tripping her up. It happened so fast, she didn’t even cry out. Her body bounced off the trunk by the windshield and went over with the heap of spilled warp.
Ron’s vision sharpened and a buzzing exploded in his ears. Ransu was screaming from the tower, but to Ron it sounded like it was coming from afar. He grabbed the section of warp that hadn’t gone out yet and whipped three turns and a half hitch around the mooring bit. Annikki must have been 40 or 50 feet underwater. He could barely control his shaking hands. He hoped the harpoon would rip out from the fish, but because the fish was buttonholed by the dart, it only checked the tuna’s flight.
Ten seconds later, Ron was running the warp through the hauler, cursing and choking. Ransu was still in the tower, in a state of shock, his fingernail white from pressing down on the shocker.
Ron began hauling the line up. By now Annikki had been underwater for close to a minute. He was getting close to the pollyball when a huge tangle of warp came over the block and jammed between the hauler and the fair lead. It was the spilled warp from the bucket that had gone over with Annikki. The hauler squealed and beads of water sprung from the taut warp that slanted out of the water as the tuna fought.
Annikki would be dead by the time Ron untangled the mess in the hauler, if she hadn’t drowned already. Desperate, he looked over the wash rail into the water. And right there, six feet under, was Annikki’s foot. A small cloud of blood drifted up from where the rope had chafed her ankle. Her limp body hung upside down, motionless in the flat calm. Ron doubted he’d be able to cut through the throwing wire but there were no other options. He snatched the knife from the dashboard and dove in.
He was wrong. In seconds the knife sliced through the line, freeing the wounded fish from the hauler. But in his disorientation underwater, he cut the line that was between her ankle and the hauler instead of her ankle and the fish. Several loops had tangled around her foot so that even with a loose end the tension was enough to keep the warp locked around her ankle.
His other arm was wrapped around her knees when the knife sliced through, freeing the wounded fish from the hauler. He released the knife, hugged his free arm around Annikki’s legs, and holding her tightly began kicking for the surface.
As he felt the two of them being carried down through the water, Ron realized what had happened. He tried yanking Annikki free as the tuna sped deeper towards black water with the two of them in tow. Unless the tuna stopped, which it wasn’t going to do anytime soon, it was impossible to free the warp. Ears popping, swallowing water, he hung on. He didn’t let go.