The Drunken Sailors
It was a calm night. The sea lapped gently against the hull of the Venture, a light breeze whispered around the vessel, and every star could be seen in the clear night sky. Captain Englehorn had long since left the wheel; the Venture was a good ship, she'd be all right by herself for now. Besides, there was a crate of alcohol on the table craving his attention.
Hayes had started sooner and was already more than half way through a bottle by the time Englehorn joined him. The Captain couldn't help but smile as he eased off the bottle cap, took a swig of the amber-coloured liquid, and sighed deeply. Hayes raised his bottle.
"Here's to a good voyage," he said.
"And to getting Denham off the ship as soon as we can," Englehorn added, before they both tipped their heads back and took long drinks from their bottles.
"This is good stuff," Hayes said, grinning. Englehorn didn't need to reply, he simply nodded.
"Mr Hayes?" They both glanced up as Jimmy appeared. "I sorted out those ropes on deck like you asked me."
Jimmy watched the American uncertainly for a moment.
"Good night then," he said as if asking permission. He hesitated briefly but made to go back down the stairs.
"Jimmy, come back." The youth reappeared slowly. Hayes held out a bottle. "You want to try some?"
He took hold of the bottle, staring at it in fear and wonder. "Isn't this stuff really bad?" he asked, looking up at Hayes.
"Try some and see."
He appeared reluctant, but, taking a deep breath, tipped his head back and took a long swig. He swallowed slowly and smacked his lips, grinning widely.
The older men watched him expectantly.
"Well?" Englehorn asked.
"It's not so bad," Jimmy said. Hayes and Englehorn exchanged grins.
"Take a seat, then," the Captain said, pulling out a chair, "And join us for the evening."
Jimmy looked delighted. "Aye, Captain!" he said brightly, dropping into the seat offered. However, the conversation that followed was not nearly as interesting as he had hoped. Hayes and Englehorn talked quietly about the voyage, about the recent turn south west and what the crew thought of it, how much further the Venture could go on the fuel she was carrying, and whether she needed a repaint soon.
"Skipper," Jimmy began, finally getting restless. "When do we come into the next port?"
"Who knows?" was the reply he got. "We've got to find Denham's island first, if the damn thing even exists."
"Do they want to make a film there? And do we have to wait for them?"
"But isn't it dangerous for Miss Darrow?"
Hayes and Englehorn grinned at him.
"You've taken a liking to her, haven't you?" Hayes asked.
Jimmy blushed. "She's very pretty… But so what if I have?"
"It's funny, that's what."
"There's nothing funny about it!" The boy appeared offended and upset.
Hayes ignored him, but sighed deeply, taking a swig out of his bottle. "Do you remember, Englehorn, when women used to want us?"
Englehorn laughed. "That was a long time ago."
"It wasn't so long!" Hayes insisted, grinning. "We're not that old. Well I'm not."
"Thanks, and when was the last time you were with a woman?"
The first mate had to think for a moment to answer the Captain's question. "Four, no,five years ago. She was that waitress from Brazil, remember?"
Jimmy stared at Mr Hayes in amazement, enthralled by what he heard. He'd never seen Hayes like this before, and he'd never heard him talk about his past.
"What about you?" Hayes asked the Captain. Englehorn didn't answer at first. "Wasn't it that English one? You remember, surely. Small, pretty, talked real posh… What was her name again? Katherine…Katie…"
"Kate," Englehorn said simply. "Kate Dashwood."
"What was she like?" Jimmy asked. "I've never met an English girl before."
"Think yourself lucky," Hayes muttered.
"Why is that?"
"They're all hoity-toity, they think they're better than you."
"That's because they are," Englehorn told him. "It's called class."
Hayes laughed at his captain. "If she had class, then what was she doing fooling around with you?"
"Good evening, Captain."
"Soup again, Kate?"
The nineteen-year-old shot him a mischievous smirk. "What were you expecting, caviar?"
Englehorn met Kate Dashwood for the first time in Southampton Dock, England. Her accent showed, however, that it was not her usual scene. On the contrary, her Queen's English suggested more of a London upbringing. She claimed to be a good cook, and needed to get out of the country quickly, no questions asked. She'd spent all of five minutes begging him for a place on his ship; he'd spent all of five minutes admiring her figure. Needless to say, he had given her a spare cabin, as well as a job with Lumpy in the galley.
"After all, it's hardly as if I had a wide range of ingredients to choose from." Englehorn grinned at her and accepted his bowl obediently.
He couldn't remember ever eating so slowly. Waiting for the crew to finish was a monotonous experience, but he knew it would be worth it. Kate always did the washing up. Lumpy was up on deck with Hayes; Englehorn had seen to it personally that he was out of the way. He didn't need to say anything for Kate to know he was there, only looked at her. She seemed to feel his gaze.
"What do you say, Captain?" she asked. "Minestrone tomorrow, perhaps?"
Dropping his bowl into the sink, he leaned towards her and kissed her gently. It was nothing special or romantic: no declarations of love or passionate embraces. Englehorn's hands were deep in his pockets; hers didn't leave the dirty dishwater. He could taste chocolate in her mouth, proper English chocolate, sweet and creamy. The taste suited her perfectly, he thought. Slowly, they separated.
Englehorn grinned. "Minestrone will do just fine."
Two weeks later, she was sharing his cabin.
"And how exactly do you know we were fooling around?"
"Because I walked in on you, remember? Fooling around is the only way to describe what I saw without making Jimmy blush."
Both Englehorn and Hayes laughed at this, and Jimmy couldn't help but join in. He watched the Captain and his first mate in wonder, he'd never heard them speak like this before. He glanced briefly at the half-empty bottle in his hand and wondered if that was the cause. Hayes was just starting his third and Englehorn his second.
"That was three years ago," the Captain said.
Hayes let out a low whistle. "That long ago?"
"And God knows what she does for a living nowadays."
They sat in silence briefly. Jimmy broke it.
"Is this strong, this stuff?" he asked, holding up the bottle in his hand.
"Strong enough to give you a pretty bad headache in the morning," the American told him. "But what the hell, enjoy it while it lasts."
"Besides," Englehorn added, "It's not like we'll be offering you any next time."
"Yeah," Hayes agreed, "Far too strong, and too good, for the likes of you."
Jimmy put down his bottle on the table. "That's ok," he said quietly. "I think I'll go to bed now." He could already feel a headache coming on, and he planned to be able to get out of bed in the morning. If what he'd seen of crew members' hangovers was anything to go by, Hayes and the Captain would not.
"You've left half a bottle there," Englehorn said, but Jimmy was already gone. He looked up and caught Hayes' eye. They both sat forward to grasp it and managed to do so within milliseconds of one another.
"Arm wrestle?" Hayes suggested.
Englehorn cast his blue eyes over the bulging muscles of the first mate and grinned.
"Noughts and crosses, perhaps?"
A/N: Hope you liked this! I had a sudden burst of inspiration while watching friends drink- a very funny sight. Thanks for reading, and please leave me a review!
the green lama