“I thought you quit smoking.”
“Your mother thinks so too.”
He carefully packed the tobacco into the bowl and placed the box back under the seat. We walked down the driveway and around the tall shrubbery before he pulled the lighter from his pocket and took a draw from the Jack Black blend.
“Aaahhhh.” He smiled at me.
After a few more houses, I stopped and looked at a home on the north side of the street, a stately two-story brick home with large white columns and ivy growing on the west end. Dad just stood and waited for my explanation.
“I used to know a girl who lived there,” I confessed.
“I know. She’s married now and has four kids.”
“Damn! Four kids?”
“Yeah. Her oldest boy sort of looks like you.”
Chapter one. Louis first meets Riki in the Bahamas
She told me that her family was from Ukraine and they were chartering the catamaran with another family from Portugal.
“The boat is really crowded, and there is no escaping the constant talking and arguing,” she said. “Do you have this whole boat to yourself?”
“Yes. But I own this boat. I paid it off years ago.”
“What do you do for a living?”
“Different things? Mostly I am a painter!”
“Like walls and houses?”
I laughed. “Hell no! Although I’ve done that too! I do paintings of things and places and sell them to the tourists.”
Once away from shore, I kicked on the chart plotter and located the salt pond. I locked my manual autopilot onto the course and checked it for the first half hour against the chart plotter. With everything in order, I turned off all the electronics except the running lights and the VHF. My batteries were old, and I used them conservatively.
I had an old radar detector from the eighties that chirped like crazy if it got hit by any ship radar for several miles. I got it from someone’s trash for free. I plugged it into the twelve-volt outlet.
I brought a pillow and blanket from below deck and put on my vest and tether. I wrapped the blanket around my body and lay down on the cockpit cushions. I dropped my face into the big feather pillow, and I could still smell Riki’s perfume.
“I’ll be so happy when my memory fades,” I said to the sailboat.