1 | 2 |
3 | 4 |
5 | 6 |
7 | 8 |
9 | 10 |
Johnny," Anton said. And Johnny stepped onto the bridge and stood
by the engine telegraph. Anton went out on the wing. "Stop the engine,"
he said loudly. Johnny rang up "stop." The bell clanged in the engine
room. The engine stopped. Defiance kept moving slowly forward to
the stern of the Mary D. "Bring the wheel over and back her down
slow!" Anton said. Johnny rang up "slow astern" and spun the wheel
hard left. The boat vibrated, her forward motion stopped, and she
began to back down. The water swirled under her bow. "Stop the engine!"
Anton ordered. Johnny and the chief carried out the motions, and
Defiance slowly came to rest against the pilings.
the men began tying up the boat. Anton stood silently on the bridge
wing watching the crew and stealing glances toward Pete's car. Louisa
sat alone in the front seat.
looping the bow line over the dock cleat, looked up and caught Anton's
eye. He nodded toward the car. Anton hesitated, wiped his face with
his hands, then descended the bridge ladder. His knees gave way
and he had to grip the handrails. His mouth was dry. Shuffling by
the crew without seeing them, he went aft to the opening in the
rail and stepped onto the dock. It was solid and ungiving beneath
him. He swayed toward the car with his head hanging down on his
chest and his right hand gripping his left upper arm. Anton stopped,
his gaze fixed on his wife.
stared at him as she opened the door and pulled herself out. She
was dressed in a simple, gray coat and brown slacks. Her dark hair
was pulled into a bun. Her clean, shiny face was blank, and she
looked at Anton with searching eyes.
took a single step toward her and stopped again. He opened his mouth
to speak, but instead of words, there rose up, from deep inside,
an overpowering cry. He could not hold it back and it frightened
reached for Louisa. Tears filled her eyes as she acknowledged the
truth. She shook her head and opened her arms for him. They clung
to each other, he filled with great wracking sobs, she holding him
and crying softly, "No! No!"
the dark morning hours, Defiance lay slack at her lines. The auxiliary
engine murmured steadily, and the galley lights reflected through
the storm window leaving a shimmering patch on the water. Inside,
Johnny and the chief talked over the repairs and supplies needed
for the next trip.