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hours! You're only two hours out? What happened? Did you call the
coast guard? Over." There was a long pause. "Anton, you pickin'
me up? How bad is Tony hurt? Over."
pressed the back of his hand to his mouth. Finally he put the mike
to his face and pushed the button. "He's gone. Tony's dead. We had
was silence from the other end. Static buzzed and grew louder. "Oh,
God, no, Anton!" The radio hummed and squealed. Then, again, Pete's
voice. "What should I do? Over."
voice trembled. "Bring Louisa down to the dock. Just tell her Tony's
been hurt, OK?"
else, Anton?" Pete asked.
an ambulance there when we tie up. I've got to go now." Anton turned
off the radio, staggered forward and threw himself into the chair.
He dug his nails into the back of his hand and began to rock. Spray
dashed against the windows and covered the bridge house. Anton gripped
his lower belly and bent forward. He began to breathe through his
mouth, taking short, deep gasps.
a few moments he glanced at the radar. The east end of Catalina
had begun to fill the left side of the screen, and the sea was down.
Ahead was a blip, about three miles off. Anton went out onto the
bridge wing to investigate. The air was cold and bracing. The target
on the radar was a tanker. She was loaded and low in the water.
She disappeared in the heavy seas, then reappeared with her great
starboard light beckoning bright and clear. She steamed silently
down the channel between the mainland and Catalina, where the east-end
cliffs stood out against the night, close at hand. The ship looked
so unreal and small to Anton. It was hard to believe there was anyone
aboard her. Maybe the damn thing don't have a crew, he thought.
Maybe, at this moment, we're the only people at sea. Anton started
to smile, but then thought of Tony and his bowels cramped.