. helium lost .
Author's Notes: For my English IA, I chose to do creative writing on Gatsby and elaborate on his relationship with Dan Cody, which was only briefly touched upon in the novel. Seeing how the presentation was to be fifteen minutes maximum, and seeing how I had two scenes that went way over the limit, I decided to cut this one out and do the other one ("excess"). Anyway, here's my attempt at paying homage to the great Fitzgerald and exploring the unsaid years between Gatsby and Cody. :)
The tips of the grass that lined the shores of Lake Superior had already begun to yellow when the then-James Gatz met Dan Cody. The air was electric with the intense silence that precedes storms, and the darkening sky dulled his golden hair to a dirty yellowish shine.
James Gatz, with his hands in his torn pockets, walked along the shores of the bay as the rumbling clouds gathered overhead, blocking out the sun that had earlier been beating down on him incessantly and making beads of sweat drip into his eyes. The air filled his nose with the sweet smell of wetness. A cool breeze swept through the grass, rustling it and filling the air with the sound of a dozen voiceless beings whispering.
It was at that moment that he first saw the yacht. At first, he had mistaken it for another white wave against the green water, but as he leaned forward, looking out into the distance, he could see that it was indeed a yacht. As the sky darkened, the lights inside the yacht began to individually flicker on, one yellow speck against another. He looked up again just as the first spots of rain began to fall down upon the earth.
He furrowed his brow, then made his way to the nearest dock. The mud squelched up between his toes as the rain gradually began to pick up speed. By the time he had reached the soaked, splintered wood of the dock, the rain had already fallen into a regular cadence. He glanced around and saw no one, then frowned as he looked out again at the yacht, which was beginning to rock more dangerously than before.
All men are adventurers—fools. They believe that they can brave the odds, that they can always emerge as a hero. It never crosses their mind that their fragile lives could end right there, in the clutches of Mother Nature, whom they so often ignore. So it was that James Gatz, fancying himself a hero, untied the rowboat from the dock and pushed off from the shore to warn the captain of this mysterious yacht, whom he believed to be a fool.
His oars cut through the rolling green waves, which tossed his boat to and fro. He grit his teeth and shook his head, getting the damp strands of hair out of his eyes. The rain, luckily, was still gentle—despite the fact that the breezes were beginning to pick up. Within a few moments, he was before the yacht, the big, hulking mass of polished, white metal. He stood, half awe-struck and half-terrified, then planted his feet firmly into the planks of the boat and cupped his hands around his mouth.
"Hello!" he shouted, then waited as his eyes traveled over to the gold lettering on the side of the boat: The Tuomolee. A few seconds later, a face appeared over the railing. The rain was spattering off the back of his head, forming a halo of mist around him.
"Hello down there, lad!" replied the man cheerfully, with a short wave of his hand. "What brings you here?"
"There's a storm coming, sir!" he replied, shouting over the breeze. "It's best if you get out of the water, as storms around these parts can get fairly vicious!"
The man brushed off his words with a wave of his hand. "Nothing to worry about, boy! A little water never hurt anybody."
James opened his mouth to reply, but a crack of lightning and the ominous rumble of thunder interrupted him. The boat began to shake more wildly beneath him. The man held onto the railing of the yacht as it swayed, buoyed by the capricious hand of the lake. James could faintly hear from the inside of the yacht the sound of glasses clinking, and he could only begin to imagine what treasures the yacht held within.
"It's best if we go ashore now, sir!" James shouted, but he never knew whether or not the words reached the man. For, at that instant, a particularly strong gale of wind blew—as if Mother Nature herself were sighing over the foolishness of the men who had so eagerly gone to defy her. With that breeze came a palm of water that slammed into the side of the yacht, jolting it and sending the man in the yacht tumbling over the edge. James watched as this man fell—almost in a graceful arc, as if a pair of billowing wings were slowing his descent. He was shaken back to his senses, however, with the sound of his body smacking against the water.
James looked up at the yacht—this cradle of wealth—and back at the water. Funny how such opulence couldn't hold back this man… But without another thought, James took in a deep breath and dove into the choppy waters toward the spot from which the white waves were still emanating. He opened his eyes once he was under the water and, ignoring the sting, scouted for the body of the man.
Moments later—perhaps it had been an hour; perhaps it had been ten minutes—James was back aboard his rickety rowboat, with the soggy body of the man lying beside him. He had read about lifesaving procedures once, for every gentleman needs to know how to save a drowning person's life. He gritted his teeth, put his palms together, then pressed firmly against the man's chest, eliciting a cough and a sputter. Within moments, the man was sitting up, pounding a fist against his chest as a spray of water forced its way out of his mouth.
"Are you all right, sir?" James said, and the gray man looked up, his eyes meeting those of James with a strange gratitude that James had never seen in anyone's eyes before.
"Yes," the man said after a pause, then coughed again. Concerned, James helped the man sit up. With a couple deep breaths, the man was back to normal, as if nothing at all had happened. He turned back to look at James, who smiled, relieved. And as he smiled, the rain began to lessen as the winds began to die down.
"And what brings a young boy like you out to the shores of a lake during a storm, eh?" inquired the man as he wiped his brow. A cough escaped from his lips again as James continued to smile his patient, embracing smile.
"Fishing for salmon and digging for clams, sir," he replied. "My summer job." He grimaced. "It doesn't pay very well, but it was all I could get."
The man laughed. "Sir, sir, sir. Always with the formalities. Enough—My name is Dan Cody."
James raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Dan Cody? If I remember correctly, you were in the newspaper last week, correct?"
Dan shrugged it off. "Perhaps. I don't keep up with the news very much." He clapped a hand on James' shoulder. "And why are you keeping up this job? Supporting your parents?"
James grimaced again—as if the thought disgusted him—and shook his head. "No. It's just a start, but I'm planning on making enough money to buy a beautiful house by the beach." His eyes began to light up as he loosened up and began firing off his plans. "I've already imagined it all—fifteen rooms, at least. And each one will be filled with beautiful furniture, all matched perfectly. Golden davenports and glass tables. And I'll have a library, filled with hundreds of books."
Dan Cody laughed. "Quite the ambitious one, aren't you?"
James grinned awkwardly, trying to mask his sheepishness. "I just don't want to live on a farm for the rest of my life. That's all."
"And your name, lad?" inquired Dan Cody, raising a hand to shield his eyes from the sun that was peeking out from behind the parting clouds.
James blinked away the shards of rain that lingered on his eyelashes, then opened his mouth to reply. But, as he looked up at the treasure trove that was Dan Cody's yacht, his mind filled itself with images of wealth and opulence, of nightly parties filled with wild carousing and music, of rooms filled with glittering, useless decorations, the words caught themselves in his throat—as if a balloon had inflated itself there and was preventing them from escaping. For he knew that the name that he had been about to give wasn't his real name. Before this man who likely held his fate, James turned his back on his past, packed up everything he knew about this country life and pushed it aside. That beautiful smile returned to his face, and his lips parted again as he spoke softly, his voice laced with gold:
Author's Notes: Seeing how there's been minimal editing, any mistakes you see or any concrit you'd like to give is always greatly welcomed :)