Caribbean Ocean, near The Virgin Islands
Kurt couldn't help thinking that the words "storm-tossed sea" were so much better in the pages of a book than they were in real life. In a book it sounded romantic, but in reality it was freezing cold, violent, and terrifying. Kurt was wearing a life-jacket and holding on to the railing in his cabin with all of his might, wondering how much longer he would have before the wind and sea ripped this boat into shreds and he would be left alone in the cold Caribbean water.
Standing there, holding the thin chromed rail, Kurt thought of his father. Burt was lying in a hospital bed back in the town of Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Kurt was on his way back to the smaller island, St. John, to retrieve their luggage from the hotel where they had been staying. Kurt wondered what would happen if he was swept overboard in this storm. What would his dad do without him? He was all his dad had. He closed his eyes and said a hasty prayer to his mother. He really did not believe in God any more, but tragedy tends to make believers of the most ardent atheists.
"Abandon ship!" he heard above his head and he panicked. He could swim, but swimming in a school swimming pool in Lima, Ohio was very different from trying to keep his head above water in a Caribbean hurricane. Still, he was now knee-deep in the cabin and more water was pouring in by the minute. He took a deep breath, made sure the life jacket was strapped on correctly, and made his way up the steps to the deck. He could smell the rain, but there was something else – more of an ozone scent and it frightened Kurt to his bones as lightning struck the main mast and the thunder shook everything in heaven and Earth. Kurt cowered in the hatchway, but the water was rising and he knew he had to get on deck or be drowned in the small cabin. He liked his chances on deck a little better and started climbing the ladder.
The skipper was standing at the helm, giving shouted directions to his crew. All of the sailors were doing their jobs: winding some sort of winch that moved the sails, tying ropes and fastening them around the cleats on the deck, letting down one of the two lifeboats that had hung from the sides of the ship. One sailor spotted Kurt and grabbed him around the waist, tugging him along as they fought the wind that was screaming around them, struggling to put one foot in front of the other as wave after wave of water cascaded across the teak deck of the LILA MAE.
"Get that boy into a lifeboat, Russell, and then go find our other passenger. I knew better than to take on passengers..." the skipper yelled, but whatever he was going to say was lost in the wind. Russell did as he was told and literally tossed Kurt into the small craft as it was being lowered to the surface of the raging sea. The wind seemed to catch the small boat and it swayed precariously as it made it's descent, finally slipping into the water. If the wind was wicked, the sea was a whirlwind whipped up by the devil himself. The craft slammed into the side of the ship, shuddering but holding together, and Kurt looked up to see the name of the little sailboat: "LILA MAE" in glossy red letters highlighted by gold paint as it danced above his head.
Just as he saw the crew at the edge of the boat, trying to throw bundles to him, Kurt heard a few of the duffel bags fall to the bottom of the lifeboat. He looked up to try and catch the next bundle when he heard a huge crack, louder than the storm around him, and he saw a mast falling over the side of the ship. He felt a burst of pain, as if his very head had exploded, and the storm around him receded into darkness.
Five weeks earlier
Kurt was making his father some soup for his lunch. His father was asleep on the sofa in the den and Kurt had pulled the crocheted afghan up over his shoulder an hour ago so he could nap until lunch. Making the soup according to the recipe he'd found in a cookbook for post-heart attack diet, Kurt just knew his dad would be grouchy when he tasted it. He wasn't allowed very much salt and the salt substitute didn't have the flavor Burt was used to.
Kurt made Avgolemono, which was a delicious Greek soup with rice, chicken broth, and lemons. He'd read that lemons would make the lack of salt more palatable. He sure hoped so because he hated to see his dad unhappy and eating was one of Burt's favorite things to do.
Kurt set up the trays in front of the sofa, bringing in napkins, some iced tea with sugar substitute and lots of ice, and some flatbread that was heart-friendly. He hoped it would suffice, his dad had been so glad to be home that Kurt didn't want him to regret it. He ladled the thick soup into two bowls, sprinkled on just a bit of feta cheese for flavor, and placed them on the trays. There were grapes for dessert.
"Dad? Dad, are you hungry? I made a new kind of soup," Kurt coaxed. Burt sat up, blinking away the sleep from his eyes and smiling when he saw his son. They were everything to each other and Burt thanked God that he was able to survive the heart attack and come home to Kurt. He never wanted to see hurt in Kurt's eyes like he saw when he awoke from the coma three weeks ago. He hated the new physical therapy and even more the new diet he had to eat, but he was determined to do everything the doctor told him to do. He was not going to die and leave Kurt an orphan.
"Yeah, Kiddo, I could eat. What do we have here now? I don't think we've had this before. Is it a new recipe?" Burt did his best to smile at Kurt. He didn't really want to eat at all, and certainly not some new tasteless crap that Kurt had found in that cookbook he bought last week, but he could put on a good face for his beloved son if it meant Kurt would smile.
Burt sat up slowly to avoid one of those dizzy headaches he tended to get if he moved too fast. He took the napkin, tucked it into his flannel shirt, and took a sip of the caffeine-free herbal tea Kurt had made for him. It wasn't bad, it kind of tasted like flowers and lemons, maybe some cinnamon? Whatever, it was good because it was ice cold and Burt was thirsty. He was always thirsty lately.
"Can I help you, Dad? Did you sleep okay?" Kurt asked with that tearful look on his face that Burt would give a year's salary to remove permanently. It was heart wrenching to see Kurt so broken. He hadn't had that look on his face since his mom died ten years before. It took so many years to get Kurt to a place where he would be weeks without that devastated look, and now it was back. Burt took a deep breath and ladled a spoonful of the soup into his mouth.
"Hey, Kiddo, this is great. What kind is it?" Burt asked, reveling in the smile on his son's face.
"It's a Greek soup, Avgolemono. It's chicken soup thickened with rice and lemon for flavor. I'm so glad you like it, Dad," Kurt gushed. They sat and ate, Burt finishing two full bowls before he wiped his mouth and sat back.
"That was delicious, we can have that again, right? I didn't even miss the salt too much. Thank you, Kurt," Burt said, closing his eyes again. Kurt shifted so his dad could move his feet back up on the sofa to lie down.
"Get a little more sleep, Dad. I'm just going do the wash-up in the kitchen. When I'm done, we can go for a short walk, okay?" Kurt asked and smiled when Burt nodded his head. He wanted to get out of the house so badly.
Burt's Doctor's Office, two weeks later
"I think your son's right, Burt. A vacation would be just the ticket. Find a nice sun-drenched beach somewhere and go for a fortnight. You're fine to travel as long as you take your medicine on time, follow the physical therapy, and stay in a place that has medical care if you need it," the doctor told Burt. Kurt was grinning. He had already spoken to the doctor and told him of the plans he had of taking his father away from Lima to forget all the stress of coming home from the hospital.
Burt sat and worried about his shop, convinced that it would go under if he wasn't there to watch it every day. Kurt had called his Uncle Frank who had come to take over for a few months until Burt was back on his feet. Everything was doing fine, but Burt was still worried. Kurt could see his father letting the stress add to his depression and he was determined to get Burt out of there for a few weeks.
He had brought this up to Uncle Frank, who was very happy to arrange for a vacation for Burt and Kurt to take in the Virgin Islands, all expenses paid. His Aunt Rose worked for a travel agency and it was set up for the first week in July. Kurt could hardly wait. They were to fly into Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas and then take a ferry to St John where they were booked into a beach-side hotel. They didn't require passports because this part of the Virgin Islands were US possessions. It sounded like paradise to Burt who had never been anywhere on vacation that he hadn't driven to in his car. When Kurt was little, he and Elizabeth took their son to the Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls, Disneyland in Anaheim, and a lot of camping trips in Ohio. It was time to reinstate the summer vacations and Kurt agreed.
"Dad, no flannel shirts. No, not even one. The temperature will be eighty degrees or more and you would cook in a flannel shirt. Now, Aunt Rose is coming to take you shopping for a more appropriate wardrobe for an island vacation," Kurt put his foot down.
He would live to regret sending his dad with his aunt. They came home loaded with bags and packages which Kurt took to his father's room to hang up. A startled scream came from the room and brought his aunt, uncle, and father running.
"What? What happened?" Rose asked as she ran down the hall, Burt walking a little slower but catching up. There was Kurt, his eyes wide as he looked over the array of shirts and Bermuda shorts strewn across the bed.
"Ah, Dad...Bermuda shorts? I've only seen these colors in golf pants. And are you planning on wearing them with...Hawaiian print shirts? Dad..." Kurt said in mock horror. He knew it was his own fault for letting them go by themselves and he had nobody to blame but himself. He sighed.
"Did you get new shoes, too? Maybe some boat shoes or top-siders?" Kurt asked, though he knew that was probably asking too much. Burt proudly opened another bag with a shoe box inside. In the box he lifted out a pair of Birkenstocks. "Yeah, I got these for the beach. Somewhere here is a bag of great socks. Colors for each outfit, Kurt. We're gonna look great together," Burt crowed, so proud of himself.
"Ah, okay, Dad. Ah, maybe I'll go get a few more items and we can pack tonight. The plane leaves early tomorrow morning." Kurt left the room, his head swimming. He would have to find a way to tone down those bright shirts..and socks with Birkenstocks? Well, there was no way to fix that...
In the end, Kurt was able to exchange about half of the brightly colored shirts and shorts for less colorful items: Navy blue shorts, chino slacks in khaki, and a few other things although he was unable to get Burt to part with a single Hawaiian shirt. Kurt gave in. If his dad was happy wearing the Don Ho look, Kurt would smile and go along with it.
St John, U.S. Virgin Islands ~ July First
The day they landed started out with a walk on the beach, breakfast of fresh fruit and some homemade pastries that were allowed on Burt's diet. They found wonderful fish at a nearby restaurant for lunch and took a short bus ride around part of St Thomas before they would leave to their hotel on St John.
Most days were spent walking on the beach, swimming, and beach combing. Kurt stayed under the umbrella or indoors, not wanting his fair skin to burn or freckle. He took after his mother's Irish roots with his thick chestnut hair and fair skin that did not tan. Burt, however, got a golden baked tan in spite of the sunscreen Kurt plastered all over him.
It was on a day that they had planned to just walk through the small town near their hotel, soaking up some of the local culture before the last two days of the trip when disaster struck. First the weather turned nasty. It wasn't unheard of for a storm to hit the islands in July, but it was far from usual. Kurt had argued with his dad about just staying in the hotel and resting all day and Burt won, claiming he felt fine and with the breezes a little cooler, it was a good day to explore the market.
About half an hour into the walk, Burt sat down for the fifth time.
"Dad, let's head back to the hotel. You don't look well and I'm starting to worry," Kurt mentioned.
"Oh, I'm okay, just tired. Let me sit here for a few minutes and then we'll start walking again. Can you get me some...ah...fruit juice or something?" Burt asked.
"Sure, Dad. I'd be happy to. Just rest here and I'll be right back," Kurt assured him. He stepped away and saw a couple he had spoken to last night at the hotel. Rebecca and Milo were from Vermont and Kurt liked them. He walked over and asked a favor.
"My dad isn't feeling very well. I'm going to get him some fruit juice and I wondered if you could kind of stay near him while I go? I"ll only be gone a few minutes, but I don't want him to know I have someone babysitting him, you know?" Kurt asked.
The couple were glad to help and strolled among the adjacent shops while Kurt ran to the juice stall down the road and got his dad some fresh squeezed orange-passionfriut juice. He hurried back and sat with his dad while he drank it. Rebecca and Milo came by then and sat down, saying hello to Burt. They all talked for a few minutes but Burt was looking worse. Kurt was worried when Milo reached out just in time to keep Burt from falling off of the bench. He was pale and shaky and told Kurt his left arm hurt.
"You stay here with your dad, I'm going to call for help. Rebecca will stay here with you," Milo said and rushed off down the road. It seemed like hours to Kurt, but it was actually just a few minutes before the ambulance was there.
It was just a whirlwind of colors, voices, and a helicopter ride back to the hospital on St Thomas. Burt was finally in an exam room and had wires and tubes all over him once again in what seemed to Kurt like a nightmare - so similar to that horrible day at the hospital in Lima.
Kurt was so afraid that this time he would indeed lose his dad. He began to sweat, then it was getting harder to breathe and his stomach was upset.
"Dad, don't worry. I won't leave you, just stay calm and you're going to be fine," Kurt tried to tell his father, clutching Burt's hand so tightly his knuckles were white. A nurse came over and explained to Kurt that they had to take his father to have a test done, that he would be right back and Kurt could stay in the room to wait. With a nod of his head, Kurt sat down in the chair. He tried to tell himself that everything would be fine, that his father was just having...a spell or something.
All that kept running through Kurt's mind were the days spent wondering if he was going to be an orphan. His chest hurt, but maybe it was from trying so hard to breathe. He shook his head to clear it, but he couldn't think straight with his chest hurting so badly. By the time he had thought to call someone, he was on the floor. His head hurt and he couldn't get a lungful of air, so he was panting little shallow breaths. He closed his eyes, wondering if this was the end.
"The patient is in Xray right now," Kurt heard a nurse say and he lifted his hand to get her attention, but she walked by the room. He closed his eyes again, thinking of nothing but the crushing pain in his chest. Was this how his father was feeling now?
"Hey, what's this? I thought you said the patient was in X-ray. He's down on the floor...and where's the gurney?" Kurt heard a voice say and then there were arms around him, and a scurry of feet. He could feel several sets of hands lifting him to a bed, but he was curled around himself, knees to chest to try and stand the pain. A warm hand was holding his arm still as someone was touching a finger to his wrist. He could hear several voices in the room, but wasn't able to understand what they were saying. The lights were suddenly turned off and the room became quiet. Finally through the fog Kurt heard a quiet voice.
"Kurt? Kurt, can you hear me? I know you're afraid, but you are okay. You are having a panic attack. Your dad is doing okay, we are evaluating him but we don't think he had a heart attack. Listen to me," the quiet voice said and warm arms came around him, holding him as the voice told him he was going to be okay. He was able to take a tiny breath, but the chest pain was bad and he could not relax.
"Kurt, we're going to put an IV in your arm. Try to be still and relax as much as possible. I will hold you, you won't be alone," the voice said and someone – the warm voiced man - was running his fingers through Kurt's hair and humming to him. He still couldn't open his eyes, but he allowed his arm to be taken and felt a sharp prick.
"Now we're going to give you medication to make you feel more relaxed, Kurt. Don't worry if you feel sleepy, that's just the medicine working," the voice told him and he took in a huge breath and started to struggle against them. He couldn't fall asleep, his father needed him.
"Kurt. Stop struggling. I won't give you the medicine if you are afraid. Can you tell me what's wrong?"
"I...I...can't go to sleep. Dad will need me," he managed to get out before his throat felt too tight to speak.
"You don't have to go to sleep, it will make you sleepy, but you can stay awake if you want to. Okay, can I give it to you?" the voice asked. Kurt nodded. Then he felt a warmth flow up his arm. It stung a tiny bit, but the warmth was going all over his body and the pain in his chest was easing. He still hadn't opened his eyes and now he really was sleepy.
"Kurt, your dad is going to be all right. Just relax and you can see him as soon as you feel better. I promise, he'll be okay," the voice told him.
"Don't let go..." Kurt asked.
"I won't. Just relax and you'll be okay," the voice said, "I'll be here for you. I promise I won't leave..." The man was holding him close and stroking his hair, just like his mother used to, and Kurt was glad the man was there. That was the last thing Kurt remembered. He dreamed that the reassuring voice and warm arms were keeping him safe.
Waking up, Kurt saw that he was still in the cubicle, but he was on the gurney with an IV in his arm and his dad was sitting in the chair beside his bed, in a hospital gown and robe, an IV attached to his arm.
"Hi, kiddo. How are you feeling?" Burt asked, looking a little pale.
"I'm...I guess I'm fine. What happened, and why are you there and I'm here?"
"I had a little flutter in my heart. You had a panic attack. I am fine for now, but I have to stay here for a few days, then I need to get home and see my cardiologist. I'm afraid our vacation is going to end a little early, kid. I'm sorry," Burt said, holding Kurt's hand.
"I don't care about the vacation. I care about you, Dad," Kurt said, looking intently at his father's face.
The nurse came in and looked at Kurt's IV.
"The doctor said we can take this out, Kurt. You gave us a bit of a scare. I'm so happy you're doing fine now, though. He says you can go as soon as your dad signs you out," she told them before removing the IV and taping it.
"Well, your father is very lucky, young man. Because of your quick response, we were able to get him the right drugs in the right amount of time and avoided a full-blown heart attack. We want to keep him for observation, but I think you can take him home by the end of the week. I've been in touch with his cardiologist in Lima and we agree he needs to return home. Can you arrange that or would you like for us to find someone to help with that?" the nurse asked.
Kurt sat still for a few minutes, trying to think clearly when a knock came on the door. At his call to enter, Milo peeked around the door. "Can I come in?"
"Please. Dad is doing okay, it wasn't a full heart attack, and your quick thinking saved his life. I owe you everything," Kurt said, so relieved to see him.
"Oh, no, Kurt. We were glad to help," Milo blushed.
Kurt told him the rest of what the doctor said and they were joined by Rebecca who offered to call the airlines and arrange for transport to get Burt home. The couple basically took over all the details so Kurt could stay with his dad.
Several hours later, Rebecca and Milo came back to Burt's hospital room where Kurt had fallen asleep, his head cradled in his arms on the side of Burt's bed. He was exhausted, but there was nowhere for him to go. His hotel room with everything they brought with them was on St John and they were on St Thomas.
"Kurt? Hey, we got your plane tickets changed. Because of your medical insurance you bought with your ticket, you can have a registered nurse fly with you just as a precaution when you fly back to Ohio. Now, do you think you can go back to St John to get your luggage and get it back here? You can stay here with your dad until they release him or you are welcome to stay at our house, its just outside Charlotte Amalie and we have extra rooms," Rebecca told Kurt, putting a maternal arm around his shoulders. He looked so small and afraid sitting next to his father's bedside.
"Yes, of course. I'll go get the luggage in the morning," he said, holding tightly to his father's hand, "and I'll stay with you if it isn't any trouble. Thank you."
The next morning found Burt in good spirits and feeling much better. He told Kurt to go ahead and get the luggage and they could be home by noon the next day. Kurt smiled and gave his father a kiss on the top of his shiny bald head.
"And Kurt? Don't leave behind a single one of my new Hawaiian shirts. Okay, buddy?" Burt smirked, knowing how much Kurt hated the brightly colored monstrosities. Kurt giggled and promised.
Down by the docks, Kurt ran into an older man who had been pointed out to him. Kurt was having some trouble finding a way to get to St John. Most of the commercial ferries and charters were not going to venture out because of the weather, but he heard that even if nobody else would venture forth, this captain would. He managed to get a place on the boat, the LILA MAE named after the man's daughter. He didn't often allow passengers, but when he heard Kurt's story he agreed to take him.
It was beginning to rain when Kurt got on board and he went down to the skipper's cabin where Capt. Grumby told him he could sit during the short voyage to St John. He had dozed off, tired from staying up most of the night with his father and awoke to the hurricane-force winds.
Now Kurt was holding on to the sides of the small lifeboat, ankle deep in cold sea water, but it was from the waves crashing and not from a leak as far as he could tell. The sailors had thrown some duffel bags and things overboard into the lifeboat, but the rope was uncoiling and Kurt didn't have any gloves to hold on to it. He knew better than to try and hold it with his bare hands, so he just held on to the side of the boat until the sickening sound of wooden debris collided with his skull and then he was out.
Kurt woke up, not knowing how long he had been out – a few minutes, a few hours? The LILA MAE was gone, or at least he couldn't see her in the driving rain, although the visibility was about three feet, so who knew? He tried to see what exactly his condition was, but it was hard to think with the pain in his head and his vision was very blurry. He held his hand to the throbbing place and pulled his hand back to find a lot of blood, it was gone in a few seconds from the rain scouring his skin. He hunkered down as far as possible in the boat, shivering.
Time had gone by and he was so tired, beyond exhausted trying to hold on to the sides of the boat. Kurt hung on doggedly so he would stay with the craft. It might be the only way he would stay afloat. He had no idea if these waters contained anything dangerous: sharks, rays, or anything venomous. That was just too much to think about, so he tried to think of what the smartest thing to do might be. He decided to tie the boat to his leg in case he fell off when he was sleeping. There was a medium sized hemp rope in the bottom of the boat, coiled up and one end tied tightly to a ring in the bow of the boat. He took the other end and tied it securely to his ankle. There, if he was swept overboard he might be able to recover his only means to be safe here.
The hours ticked by when Kurt suddenly heard something. At first, he thought it was just the ocean, screaming back at the wind. It's wasn't that hollow sound, though, it's more like a person's voice. He listened harder, closing his eyes to concentrate. It is definitely a voice and he turned this way and that to find the source. After a few minutes he saw a chunk of wood off in the distance. Kurt tried to focus his eyes, but he couldn't see much except that it was dark out, but not quite night. Sitting in the boat he could still hear the calls for help and they sounded as if they were coming nearer. He found the oars in the side of the boat and dipped them in the water, rowing towards the person as his cries for help sounded louder.
Closer to the target, Kurt could dimly see the outline of a man struggling to stay with the wood, his hands and arms shaking. It wasn't big enough to climb on, so the man was using it as a sort of float device. He wasn't wearing a life jacket and he sounded as if he were on his last thin shred of hope as he sank once more under the unforgiving water.
Kurt was close enough and he thought the wind has calm enough to risk slipping into the water to try and get this man aboard. He came closer and shouted out for the man to let go, but the man called back telling Kurt he couldn't swim.
Kurt got as close as possible and jumped into the water after checking that the rope connecting him to the boat was still tied to his ankle. He didn't want to be separated from his only means of survival in the ocean. Kurt expected it to be cold, but the sudden plunge left him in mild shock and he couldn't move. He went all the way under for a moment, but bobbed back up and took a huge breath. He got his bearings and stroked over to the man in the water, prying his frozen hands from the board he'd been clinging to. The man immediately tried to hold onto Kurt, but Kurt had taken water rescue at summer camp years ago and dodged the man's arms.
"Just go limp. I'll catch you if you will stop struggling and fighting the water, go limp!" Kurt shouted, anger fueling his legs as he tread water. The man finally did as Kurt instructed and went limp – from wanting to follow instructions or if he was unconscious Kurt didn't know. He kicked out away from the man and came back behind him. He grabbed him by the upper arm, barely able to get his hand around the buff bicep, so he dug in his fingernails and held on like a bulldog.
"Here, hold on to the side of the boat, but don't tip her too far or she'll fill with water and sink. Can you do that?" Kurt shouted above the slapping sound of the water on the boat.
The man didn't answer, but he nodded his head and Kurt slung himself back into the boat, gasping for air. He saw the hands slipping away from their grip on the edge and got to the starboard side just as the man lost his hold. Kurt lunged forward, grabbing the man's collar and hoisting him halfway into the boat, then taking a massive breath and dragging the rest of him on board. He fell to the bottom of the boat in a pile and lay still.
Kurt straightened him out as best as he could in the dim light so he was on his back, head in Kurt's lap so he didn't go under the water standing in the bottom of the boat. He leaned over to feel if the man was breathing and when he determined he had a pulse Kurt began bailing out the boat. There must have been an eclipse today because although the sky was still filled with dark threatening clouds, it was warm and must be daytime.
It was several hours before Kurt was so sleepy he couldn't bail any more, so he said a prayer to his mother and closed his eyes, slumping against the unconscious man. They drifted for a long time, the wind and current pushing the little boat wherever the elements took it. Kurt awoke much later...maybe hours, maybe days...when the bottom of the small lifeboat scraped her hull on a sandbar.
"Hey, wake up, we're on land," he heard and turned towards the voice. It seemed familiar to him, but he couldn't place it. Maybe it was one of the crew of the boat?
"Whoa...we really are. We must have drifted a long ways, it was a full moon when we left port, but I don't see the moon at all. Oh, it must just be clouds hiding the moon because I don't see the stars, either," Kurt said.
"What do you mean?" the voice of the man asked.
"It must be really overcast. Do you know what the date is? There should be at least a hint of the moon," Kurt said.
"Ah, there isn't any moon. It's more like ten in the morning," the man said, waving his hand in front of Kurt's face. He drove his fingers towards Kurt's eyes, narrowly missing them, but Kurt didn't flinch for a second.
"I don't know how to tell you this, but I think something has happened to you. Did you have eye problems before?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" Kurt asked, beginning to get scared.
"I mean, could you see before?"
"Before what? Of course I can see. What are you talking about?" Kurt asked, getting irritated.
The man was silent.
Kurt sat still, then put his own hand in front of his face. He waved it around, squinting towards the place that felt hotter and suddenly realizing he was looking at the sun. No, still nothing at all. He let his head drop, feeling the edges of the boat and leaning on it. Tears came, but he just let them fall, stinging his eyes. If he could see to find the man in the water and save him, how could his blindness be caused by the blow he sustained to his head?
"Hey, we'll just find help and I'll get you back home. Where do you live?"
"In Lima, Ohio. I was here on vacation with my dad, but he's in the hospital in Charlotte Amalie. I was going back to get our luggage from the hotel on St John when the storm hit," he said, moving his hands along the side of the boat. He was too afraid to do anything else.
"Thank you for saving my life out there, it was a very risky thing to do. Now maybe I can help you because this little atoll doesn't look like it's a busy port of call. I don't see a flicker of life anywhere and I can see almost the entire island from here," the man said. He looked at Kurt again, realizing where he'd seen him before.
Kurt looked up but couldn't see the man in front of him.
"Kurt?" the man said.
"Yeah...how do you know my name?" Kurt asked, confused.
"You told me," he said, but failed to mention it was yesterday when he saw him in the ER with his father.
Kurt shook his head a little, but that made his headache worse and he quit.
"What's your name?" Kurt asked.