“Trying (People)”

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5.

“Trying (People)”

“So when I’m gone, make sure the headstone reads ‘He did it for Us’ ” – De La Soul

“You know this is horribly illegal; don’t you, Dear?”

“Too Late to Back Out Now!” He shouted as the speedboat careened ever deeper into the heart of the Mexican Gulf, skipping across the stone grey swell. Lightning crashed overhead and rain slapped the glass windshield in thick sheets. Their aim was the spire in the foreground, a thin structure towering above Them, disappearing into the clouds and rising up out of the sea. “Full Speed Ahead!”

He shouted to Her as He stripped His clothes and crouched near naked in the bottom of the boat, stepping each of His legs through the loops of a black harness; “Remember: try to drop me Port-side! That way I can make it on to the platform.”

He looked quite funny as He strapped the black-belted harness to His shoulders, wearing nothing but tight compression shorts at His hips and rubber flippers on His feet. She smiled but quickly regained Her composure: “I’ll run circles until We can Rendezvous!” She shouted as She turned over Her shoulder back to the tower in the distance, torqueing the throttle to full tilt.

“No doubt! I’ll be counting on you.” He winced at His own words.

“Don’t worry — I’ll be there for You: don’t ever forget that.”

She winced as a thick sheet of rain slapped the windshield of the boat. Another thunderclap crashed overhead as They plowed onward to the thin wire structure jutting up to the dark sky before them – a real-life elevator to space.

He crouched, hunched and shivering. The harness was now secure — thin black straps lassoed His legs and shoulders. The oxygen tank weighed heavily on His back, shielding Him from blasts of rain and ocean spray. His knuckles were blue from gripping the rails of the ship, but His eyes remained fixed on the brewing storm between Them and the tower in the distance.

He felt the swell growing in the floorboards beneath Their feet. The craft was not made for the far deep, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t take Them there: He was surprised They had made it this far, but the dual prop propellers at the stern seemed sturdy enough — the craft rip-roared across ashen-grey waters, each skip becoming less frequent and more violent with every wave and revolution. The water slapped hard against the hull of the soft machine — He knew it was only a matter of time before the whole thing went belly-up and sunk, victim to the deep.

They were roughly one hundred and fifty yards from the metal square at the base of the tower, a small platform bobbing in and out of sight, abandoned, all alone in the middle of the gulf. “Get me a bit closer, but be sure not to run Us aground!”

“I’m not sure how far out the support struts go – I’ll have to ball-park it!” She eased the throttle back and the boat came to a standstill. A heavy wave crashed onto the bow, planting the ship deep enough to nearly capsize it — She froze at the helm:

“Don’t worry about it – Go grab Him!”

The light came back to Her eyes, and tears started to well in the corners.

“Take the helm, Dear –“ She stood and shuffled to the rear of the ship. She lifted the egg from a pile of soaked towels and rags – it couldn’t have weighed more than 27 lbs., with black straps woven in place around the top and bottom of the white capsule. She cradled it in Her arm, cupping Her left hand against the glass on the front. She whispered to bright eyes behind the windowpane — “Never forget; I will always Love You –“ the bright eyes stared back at Her, wide, dumbfounded – the Child watched lips dance below red-swollen eyelids as rain pattered against the glass, but He couldn’t hear a thing.

She handed the egg to its Father – He held it against His stomach with His left hand, steering around the platform in wide circles with His right. She strapped the egg to His harness.

He looked up from the wheel and down to His chest; “Is He on there tight?”

She synched the straps tight against His body. “Yeah, He’s good — Are you sure you can make it?” She was shaking – it was too late to back out now.

He smirked as He reached down to His compression shorts, pulling a black pair of Speedo’s from the pouch at His crotch. He fixed them to His eyes and wrapped the straps around the back of His skull; “Oh, I’ll make it there.”

She cracked a smile and laughed before She could catch Herself. Her eyes swelled with tears, instantly mad at Him – She hated it when He saw Her cry. He pulled Her in close: “Just pull Us in a bit closer and drop me off — top-side!”

She circled Them around to the back-side of the platform. They were about thirty yards from the square as the boat came to a rest — They watched as ever-larger waves rose, fell, crashed, and seeped through the threaded cross-wires on the deck.

“Come On; Kiss me, Kate.”

She planted a big wet one His cheek – He was already so soaked and so numb that He shouldn’t have felt it, if not for the warmth behind Her lips.

“Give Him a Kiss Goodbye for Me, too!” She stepped away and plopped into the drivers’ seat. Her eyes nervously skimmed the skies and sea — “I’ll run circles until you get the box lifted!”

He stepped over the side of the of the boat with both flippers; “Don’t worry about me! Just get out of here!” He put His hand over His chest in pantomime – He ripped His heart out, brought it to His lips, pulled a pin with His teeth and lobbed it onto the deck – it landed as a live grenade, still beating in a pool of blood at Her feet:

“I’ll always love you Gorgeous – no matter what.”
He lifts the breathing tube to His lips and bites down on the mouthpiece, dropping backwards from the boat and sinking into the swell as the water falls beneath Him, vertigo under-tow pulling Man and Son deep into the sea.

The tide lifted Them to the surface once more – He felt dry air blowing through His fingers just before His head broke through the water. He inhaled deep and kicked His feet, throwing His arms around the wide sides of the egg in long, awkward strokes. He rose to the top of a wave as it plowed forth, crowning as it crashed onto the platform.

His side scraped across the jagged wires of the metallic floor — He felt a dull pain and a warm sting as He came to a rest on the woven metal and the water sifted through the wire beneath Him, draining down into the limitless ocean below. He scrambled to His feet and latched on to a support beam before another wave came crashing onto the small island, threatening to pry Him from the strut and flush Him out to sea. The water receded once more – His eyes darted to the platform’s central box as He held fast, wrapped around a tower with a ragged satellite dish attached to the beam high above His head, waiting as the water receded once more.

He ran to the center of the shifting platform and dove inside the wire cage.  Another wave rushed in behind Him – the swell rose, lifting His legs up and around the top of the cage, but He held fast, His fingers latched on to the back wall of wire. The water fell once more and He came back to rest on the bottom of the wire box as He scrambled to fit inside. The cage could not have been bigger than a lobster trap, and the thin wire mesh along the walls seemed far from adequate for space travel. He pulled both legs inside the box and gripped the ceiling wall above Him — He clamped down on His mouthpiece as another swell swept over the platform.

The wave plowed past Him to the abyss beyond. He waited until He heard the water sifting through the wire floor before letting go of the cage in front of Him and bringing His hands down, loosening the black straps around His mid-section. He fumbled His arms through the loops at His shoulders then back up to the ceiling as another wave rolled into the platform – it passed and He settled with His left hand gripping the bar and His right clutching the egg at its straps.

The waves plowed on. He stripped the last of the harness from His body and pressed the egg and air canisters into the floor with His chest, working the black straps around the support beams along the wire floor. He heard the roar of another wave coming in behind Him. He scrambled out of the cage, latching the cage behind.

The storm was more violent than ever. His hands gripped the door tighter as the wave slammed into Him, slamming His body across the front of the cage. He watched the egg as the rolling swell pressed His face into the wire mesh; a small white light sunk with the platform– He watched a stream of bubbles weave their way up through the roof of the cage and cracked a smile.

He found Himself resting on the floor of the platform once again. He fixed His sight to the gap in the clouds above; a small hole in the churning grey blanket. The hole drifted closer and closer to the vertical wires of the elevator, its rigging suspended deep past the zenith’s horizon. The eye of the storm.

A control panel was planted next to the crate — He stuck Himself to the small pillar like a barnacle. It could not have been larger than a children’s water fountain and there was a rotary dial built on to the slanted roof of the box. In the center of the dial was a large red button, glowing dim with a red LED that burned on through the rain like the last ember in a fire-pit suffocating on a storm night.

He punched the red button with the palm of His left hand and whirred around, looking over His shoulder at the crate behind Him:

it didn’t budge. He punched the button again – there was no response.

He glanced up to catch sight of a large wave brewing in the immediate horizon. The waves were striking less frequently now.  Shit. He scrambled His right hand to the rotary dial: 1– & punch! Shit.    3 — & Punch!   Shit! 7 – 7 Punch!! SHIT!!

The oncoming wave towered over the platform – it couldn’t have been more than 30 yards away, or less than 30 feet tall.

— Please; God —

“Nine!” He punched the button, ducking around the other side of the small pillar. The crate shot strait up with a single pneumatic pulse, as if drawn gravitationally up through eye in the sky and into the space-base beyond.

He dropped to his side, streamlined behind the pillar, and grasped the iron bar with both hands. He winced and looked down to His left – a watery trail of blood drained out of a deep vertical gash ran along His abdomen. It still stung with every fresh blast of salt-water. He looked up to the monstrous rolling wave – it was here. He gripped the hold with all His strength as the wave rolled through the platform — the raging current consumed His body until He was fully enveloped by a swell that threatened to tear His soul to tatters.

His feet finally began to drift to rest on the platform. The water sifted through the wires and receded into the ocean once more. He hopped to His feet, standing tall to scan horizon for any sign of the boat – He thought he heard a small off-board motor roaring at full throttle to His left, then to His front, then His right, and behind Him again. He was standing with His ears pricked up, listening intently to nothing the rain and sound of the swell around Him when He finally realized that He was all alone. He stared deep into the towering swell before tucking His body behind the podium once more, bracing for impact:

The wave hammered the platform, nearing its crest as it collided with the platform, submerging the small island entirely and driving Him deep into the wire floor. He felt the pressure build and fade as the wave rolled across His body — Icy hands grabbed at at the back of His neck and pressed Him into the wire before loosening, rolling over his lower half, and blazing by into the water beyond.

All of a sudden, the platform became very still.

The eye of the storm had already passed by — the clouds had filled in again and the skies were darker than ever. He stood up from behind the pillar and gazed to the titanic wall of water approaching at His 12 o’clock. It couldn’t have been less than 40 feet tall, and it was no further than 50 yards from Him. It was steadily reaching its full potential and nearly at its crest — the peak of its swell. He knew there would be no way to stay with the platform beneath His feet.

He sprung up, His flippers slapping against the wire floor as He made His way to the front of the platform. The wave barreled towards Him —Thirty Yards. He pulled His goggle straps tighter, bouncing Himself awake in the rain and the spray. He shouted into the grey expanse as His flippers shifted around His feet: “FUCK IT!” – He ripped them off and threw them into the ocean.

He bent over at the waist and gripped the edge of the metal platform, hanging the tips of his toes over the crease in the wire. He took a deep breath in.

He swung His arms, bringing them together in front of His body as His feet left the platform, tightening His core to an arc and diving headfirst into the gulf.

The salt-water stung His flank as it seeped into His wound and threatened to pull Him down to the ocean floor as the tide sunk further and further beneath the wave. 21 feet: He kicked His feet together and swung both arms out of the water in unison, bringing His head to the surface for one final breath before both hands came to a peak above His crown as He submerged once more – ducking His head under the water into the heart of the wave; the tide and the swell.

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