is a fictional story which contains scenes depicting sexual acts. All the
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It wasn't long after Cye
headed below decks that Ben joined me in the wheelhouse. He'd gone down to
make sure that Ben and Justin didn't drink all of the coffee,
The weather wasn't
getting any better, rain was lashing against the windows of the wheelhouse
and the boat was rocking from side to side, but I seemed to be managing all
right for my first stint as pilot. I was pretty happy with myself, and I
guess that Cye must have thought the same, seeing as he had left me alone at
the helm of his pride and joy.
`Just keep `er pointed
into the waves boy, and we'll be fine,' he said as he slid the
wheelhouse door open and then shut behind him, leaving me there on my
So far things had gone
fairly well, apart from a couple of times when the old engines gave a few
coughs and splutters and then that one wave that had nearly sent us
sprawling across the floor. That was really what had sent Cye downstairs to
check on the other guys, leaving me all alone at the wheel and terrified
that I would stuff something up, so I was quite startled just a few minutes
later when the door opened once more and I turned to see Ben entering the
`Hey mate,' I said to
him. `That was a quick cup of coffee.'
`Didn't have any,'
He stood in front of me
leaning against the dash and looking out into the wild morning, but said
nothing more. He seemed somehow distant, as if his thoughts were elsewhere.
I asked him if he was all right, but he didn't answer me, so I let him be,
being now quite used to his rather frequent mood swings.
A few minutes later the
door opened once more and Justin joined us.
`How you doing Matt?'
he asked me. `The boss reckoned you could do with a cuppa.'
`Thanks,' I replied.
`That'd go down well.'
`I'll take over if you
like. You head down to the galley.'
`Yeah. Get going,' he
I handed the wheel over to
Justin, glancing at Ben as I did so. He was no longer looking out over the
sea that stretched before us. Instead, he was staring at Justin, although
this time it wasn't that dreamy look that I had seen so often in recent
months. It was something quite different.
I slid the door open and
stepped out onto the deck, then shut it behind me, and Ben didn't look at
me once as I left the wheelhouse. He was still too busy looking at Justin.
The strange thing was, there was something in his eyes that seemed out of
place. I couldn't quite tell what it was at first, but as I headed down
the stairs toward the galley it finally dawned on me.
He was looking scared. It
looked like fear that I could see in his eyes. For a moment I stopped,
thinking about going back to make sure he was all right but in the end I
decided that I was better off just leaving things alone. He was old enough,
and big enough and ugly enough to fight his own battles I reckoned.
When I reached the galley
I found that Cye had already made the coffees for us, handing me a steaming
mug of his favourite murky brown liquid almost as soon as I had come through
`Everything all right up
on deck?' he asked me as he thrust the mug into my hand.
`Yeah... I think so,'
I answered, rather tentatively, still a little bewildered about what it was
that I thought I had seen on Ben's face.
`That's good then. I
reckon they'll sort `emselves out,' Cye replied, before taking a sip
from his mug.
From his remark I figured
that Cye must have also known something was up between Justin and Ben, so I
left it at that, turning my attention to the mug of coffee and wrapping both
of my cold hands around the mug trying to let some of it's warmth spread
through me also. Cye didn't need to do anything like that though. It
looked like he was used to the cold.
We both sat down at the
galley table, a well-worn wooden affair bolted securely to the floor, and
looked at each other across the tops of our mugs, saying nothing and
enjoying our quiet time.
It looked as if Cye had
given the table a fresh coat of paint once, about twenty years ago at a
guess, but it hadn't had a whole lot of loving since then. Much like the
rest of the boat really.
I remembered that when Ben
and I first started with Cye we had both been a little unsure about what we
were letting ourselves in for, or whether or not we would even come back
from that first trip out to sea, but as the weeks have passed we have both
found ourselves growing more and more fond of the old tub and thinking about
her in the same way that Justin and Cye do.
When I think about it,
I'm still amazed at how my life has changed in the past couple of years,
first with Luke and I discovering each other in the way that we did, and
then our moving down here to start our own lives. If anyone had have said to
me a year ago that not only would I be working on a fishing boat, but I
would also be getting a heap of first hand mechanical experience by getting
my hands dirty working on its' temperamental old diesel engines, I would
have told them that they were crazy. And yet, here I am, sitting across the
table from a crusty old skipper that looks like he has just stepped straight
out of the pages of `Moby Dick', sipping black coffee that you could
stand a spoon upright in, and loving every minute of it.
Life certainly can be
funny, can't it? Sure, it might have it's up and downs – and right now
I would say that things were definitely more up than down – but everything
somehow always seems to work out, one way or another.
I don't know how long we
sat there, lost in our thoughts, but our reverie was eventually shattered
with a blast from the horns coming from almost directly above us.
`Ahhhh . . . good. We
must be near to the island then,' Cye remarked as he pushed his chair out
from the table and got to his feet.
`How far out are we
then?' I asked, while doing the same.
`'Bout forty miles,
give or take a few.'
We put our mugs in the
sink and I followed Cye back up onto the deck, where we were greeted by
weather that seemed even worse than it had been earlier. Strong winds and
driving rain seemed to be lashing us from every direction, but even in my
short career at sea I have seen worse, so I wasn't too worried.
I followed Cye forward
along the deck and we soon made it to the wheelhouse, where we found Ben at
the helm, under Justin's watchful eye. He was looking a little nervous,
but managing all right nonetheless.
`Looks like you're
doing good there, lad,' Cye bellowed above the sound of the engines and
the wind and the rain. `Just keep her pointin' this way and we'll be
By the look on Ben's
face I wasn't sure if he was reassured by those words or not, but Cye and
Justin both seemed happy enough with what was happening, so who was I to
argue. Thankfully, whatever it was that had appeared to be between Justin
and Ben earlier now seemed to have disappeared and things were back to
normal, but I made a note to ask Ben about it later on anyhow; assuming of
course that he would tell me.
`We're gettin' close
then?' Cye asked Justin as he peered out into the rain, with the
windscreen wipers slapping back and forth, doing their best to let us see
where we were going.
`Yeah. When I blew the
horn we had caught a glimpse of the island then.'
`And no sign of any
`Not a one,' Justin
answered, giving Cye a wink as he did so.
If there was one thing
that we had learned in the short space of time that we had been working with
Cye and Justin, it was that things were quite competitive amongst the owners
of the boats in the local fishing fleet. Sure, they would help each other
out when it was needed, but with things being so tight, with the cost of
fuel and anchorage, and the taxes that they had to pay, quite a few of the
operators, Cye included, often struggled to make ends meet.
It wasn't surprising
then, to see that Cye was happy about there not being any other boats in the
We powered on into the
storm for a few more minutes, with Cye looking anxiously ahead for any sign
of the island, amidst the clouds and driving rain, but finding no joy. Then,
almost as if by some magical force, the rain stopped and we found ourselves
in clear air. Above us hung a heavy bank of dark cloud, looking threatening
as it rolled and swirled on the winds, while directly before us stood Kings
Island, a dense green peak that rose up from the sea pyramid-like and bathed
in a single shaft of sunlight that somehow pierced the clouds.
`Wow...,' Ben cooed as
he slid the door open and stepped out of the wheelhouse into the icy morning
sea air. When he reached the bow of the boat he turned around and called
back; `What an unreal place.'
Cye and Justin laughed at
him but I went out and joined him, gulping in great lung fulls of air and
suddenly feeling very much alive.
Ben was right of course.
The island looked totally unreal. Like something out of a Boys Own Adventure
Annual or Lord of the Flies maybe. Either way, it certainly got the
imagination going. Well, mine at least.
`C'mon you pair,' we
soon heard Justin call. `It's time we did some work.'
Reluctantly Ben and I
returned to the wheelhouse.
`Does anyone live
there?' Ben asked.
Cye just shook his head.
`It's under the control the National Parks. The only people allowed on
there are the rangers. They bring university students out here sometimes as
well, and of course other folks like tourists and fisherman drop in
unannounced from time to time,' he said, adding a wink and a grin to the
end of his sentence.
`So people do visit
there sometimes?' I asked.
chuckled. `They have been known to shelter there, but I didn't tell you
`No, of course not,' I
answered, with a weekend escape plan already being formed in my head.
I was still gazing at the
peak when Cye headed out onto the deck and leant out over the railing a few
minutes later, peering down into the dark waters as if he were trying to
spot the fish we were chasing.
`All right then boys,
that'll be enough sight-seeing for now,' he said as he came back into
the wheelhouse rubbing his hands together as if he were trying to warm
himself. `This here is as good a place as any to drop some nets and see
what we can dredge up from these bountiful waters.'
`You don't think
we're too close to the island?' Justin asked him.
`Nah, lad. I have a
feeling about this. We've got the whole island to ourselves and I reckon
there's a mountain of fish off these shelves... just waiting for us to
take `em home.'
`Whatever you say
boss,' Justin replied, then tugging at my sleeve added, `C'mon Matt,
let's get this show on the road.'
I followed him out onto
the deck and toward the stern with Ben close on my heels to where the
massive nets were rolled up, waiting to be thrown into the churning seas.
We all knew our jobs well,
and while Justin manned the motors that would unwind the nets, Ben and I
untied them and swung the massive boom that would guide them as they were
released out over the side of the boat.
I unhooked a large orange
float and secured it to the end of the nets with a lengthy cable, then threw
it overboard. We watched as it floated out behind us, bobbing up and down in
the choppy seas while dragging the cable out with it, then as it reached the
end of its tether Justin released the nets and started to let them unwind.
We had to help the nets a
little as they unrolled, with Ben and I on either side of them, just helping
to unfurl them and let them spread out as they disappeared into the water.
The orange float soon became little more than a distant dot on the surface,
then as more and more of the nets rolled out we could hear the change in the
old boats' engines as the added drag made them start to labour.
Cye opened up the throttle
a little more and The Wanderer surged forward with renewed vigour. I could
feel her power vibrating beneath the deck, sending a shiver right through
me, yet despite her age and her unpredictable temperament there was no other
boat in the fishing fleet that I would rather be aboard.
This whole experience, I
have to say, of working on this boat for these past few months, even though
it was basically only a labouring job, has given me a real sense of purpose
and direction. Something that I think I've really been in need of.
I glanced across at Ben,
dripping wet from the sea spray and with his damp hair plastered to his
forehead. He looked up and caught me staring at him, flashed me a smile and
gave me a thumbs-up sign.
He was enjoying this just
as much as I was, and even though we'd had our differences since we had
all moved into the house together, I was glad that not only had he finally
found something he enjoyed and a place where he could fit in, but that the
two of us had found some common ground.
With the nets now in the
water and spreading themselves out behind us, it was time for a short break
– but only until we were ready to haul them back in again filled with the
bounty of the seas. Ben motioned toward the steps that led down into the
hull and headed in their direction, with Justin and me following closely. We
all headed for the galley with thoughts of coffee once again on our minds.
While we waited for the
water to boil I decided it was time for a pee break so I left Ben and Justin
in the galley and went off in search of the head, not giving any thought to
leaving them alone together.
With the deck rolling
beneath me I made my way to the head, where I did what I had to do, then returned
to the galley a short while later only to find Ben and Justin sitting at
opposite ends of the small table busily ignoring each other. It was now
obvious that something between them wasn't quite right but I didn't
think that it was my place to interfere.
The best option I thought
would be to ask Ben what was going on the first chance I could get him
alone. He might tell me to butt-out, but the way I figured it was that if
something was going on between them that could effect us all, then someone
should at least try and nip it in the bud before things got out of hand.
Just a few minutes later
we heard The Wanderer starting to cough and splutter as she started to
struggle in the rough seas, not helped by the added weight in the nets of
what we were hoping would be a healthy catch. Cye eased back on the throttle
and we immediately felt the old boat slow. Justin was on his feet in an
instant and heading for the galley door, with Ben and me both making a move
to follow as well.
I quickly realised that
this was the perfect time to ask Ben what was going on, so before either of
us had managed to make it to the doorway I grabbed him by the arm and
stopped him for a moment.
`Hey, listen,' I said
to him once Justin was out of ear-shot. `Is something going on between you
two, or what?'
`Wh-what do you mean?'
he stammered, suddenly looking quite pale.
`It's all right mate,
it doesn't worry me one way or the other, it's just that you pair have
been puss-footing around each other all bloody morning. What happened? Did
Justin put the hard word on you or something?'
For a moment he said
nothing. He simply stood there watching the doorway that Justin had
`Well . . . no, not
exactly,' he finally answered, accompanied by a rather sheepish grin.
It took me a moment, but I
finally realised his meaning.
`You've got to be
joking. Right?' I asked him, but the wink said it all. `What did he
say?' I asked, still not quite believing what I was hearing.
`He said no,' Ben
replied. `Can you believe it? I thought all that every gay guy wanted was
to get any piece of arse he could lay their hands on.'
`No Ben, not all of
them,' I answered. `It doesn't quite work like that. We're not all
total sluts you know!'
`Is that what you think
I am?' he asked.
`No mate. I think
you're just a horny teenager who hasn't yet figured out what he wants in
life,' I answered.
He simply grinned back at
`So I'm not too far
off the truth then?'
`Maybe. Maybe not,' he
`Jesus, Ben. I'm never
going to figure you out.'
`I hope not,' he said,
and then he was gone.
I followed him along the
corridor, up the stairs and out onto the decks.
`C'mon you pair, get a
move on. Give Jay a hand with the nets will you?' Cye called out to us as
soon as we stuck our heads outside.
`Sure thing, Skipper,'
I called back to him.
By the time we reached him
Justin had already started the motor to reel in the nets, and it wasn't
long after that when they emerged from the ocean. Streams of water were
running from nets that were bulging at the seams, alive with shimmering,
silvery bodies twisting and turning and writhing in their nylon prison.
As Justin swung the huge
boom inwards Ben and I opened the hatches covering the hold. The net soon
sailed over the railing, stopping directly over the hold, and Justin
expertly dropped the catch inside.
`Woo-hoo,' I heard Cye
call out from the wheelhouse when he stuck his head outside to check on the
catch we had brought up from the ocean's depths. `That'll keep the
Fisherman's Co-Op happy... and not to mention my bank manager as well.'
`Screw the bank
manager!' Justin called out to him. `Just don't you forget our cut.'
With a laugh Cye waved him
away, then disappeared back inside the wheelhouse, leaving the three of us
chuckling to ourselves about our eccentric employer. Like a well-oiled
machine we quickly clicked into gear readying the ship for another run.
Soon the first net was
packed and we readied another to drop out into the wild seas. Right after
the catch was stowed securely into the holds and the refrigeration system
was working it was onto cleaning down the decks.
We all knew our jobs and
we were becoming good at them. We had become a team.
`You boys ready for
another run yet?' Cye bellowed from the wheelhouse doorway.
`Yeah,' Justin called
back to him. `Let's go!'
With a wave Cye
disappeared inside once more and opened the engines up, giving a slight
splutter before they cut in.
That wasn't unusual for
the old tub. She could be a temperamental old beast when she wanted to be.
What was unusual though was the cough they gave out next, followed by a loud
bang, a shot of dark smoke from the exhaust, and then... nothing.
`What the fuck was
that?' Ben shouted.
Justin and I glanced at
each other. We knew it didn't sound good.
As the three of us rushed
forward toward the bow Cye popped out of the wheelhouse scratching his head.
`Nice place to be
stranded, eh, boys?' he remarked in his usual laconic manner, pointing at
the island a few miles off.
`That's not funny Cye,'
`C'mon Matt. You and
me better take a look, eh?' Cye said as he passed us, giving Ben a wink as
he did so.
`Yeah, sure,' I
I followed him back to the
stern where between us we opened the hatch that covered the diesel engines,
only to be greeted by a cloud of smoke billowing out of the hull.
`Shit!' I said out
loud. `This ain't gonna be pretty.'
`You can fix it, can't
you?' Ben asked me just a bit anxiously.
`Yeah. With a snap of
his fingers,' Justin answered him, rather tersely demonstrating. `And
while he's at it he might be able to find a cure for the common cold or
rid the world of hunger.'
`Wise ass!' Ben
`Well, what do you
expect? They won't even know what's wrong with it until they get down in
I saw the realization of
that fact dawn on Ben's face quickly, his open mouth quickly shutting even
before he could say what it was that he was thinking. He crossed his arms in
front of himself and then started chewing on the nails on his left hand,
looking like a churlish little boy who had just been scolded by his mother.
Cye started down the
ladder into the engine bay and I followed him, both of us waving smoke away
after reaching the bottom as we felt our way around.
`It'll clear in a few
minutes,' Cye said to me.
`Yeah. I just hope we
don't suffocate in the mean time.'
I looked up and could see
the concerned faces of Ben and Justin peering in at us.
`Can you see
anything?' Justin asked.
`Not yet,' I replied,
before turning my attention back to the problem at hand.
As promised, the smoke
cleared in a few minutes and we could at least see where we were going, but
it didn't seem to do us much good as outwardly we couldn't really see
anything wrong with the engine. We poked and prodded for a little while,
then scratched our heads, before Cye eventually said that he was stumped, so
we had best start looking inside in the engine.
I knew what that meant.
Pulling the motor down with minimal tools and on a rolling sea that was
showing no signs of levelling out. Not something that I was looking forward
`You going to put out a
distress call then?' I asked him. `Just in case we can't get her going
`We'll leave it for a
bit,' he answered, after thinking for a moment. `We don't want to let
everyone else know that there's plenty of good fishing out here. We might
want to come back tomorrow.'
`Or we could still be
here tomorrow,' I added.
The look on his face told
me all I needed to know. That we would still be here tomorrow was a distinct
To be continued . . . . . .
EDited by Ed
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