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Winter 1997

Defiance

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"That's bullshit," Johnny said. "He don't need to fix that compressor now, in the middle of the night. We'll be in in a couple of hours."

"Leave him, Johnny," Augie said. "Leave him."

Johnny poured himself more coffee. "Christ," he said. "The chief is acting crazy and pissed off. Anton is a stone man. His son gets killed, and there ain't a word out of him. He just keeps going like this was a regular trip."

Augie looked hurt. "You know, Anton steady pushed that boy to learn the boat and learn fishing. Tony knows almost " Augie stopped and began to cry softly.

"Hey, Augie, remember the time Tony and me put those ball bearings under the drawer in your bunk?" Slavko said to distract him.

Augie nodded.

"I think it was the time we were on the hook at Cedros Island." Slavko looked at Johnny for confirmation.

"Yeah, right, we were riding the tail end of that hurricane," he said.

"That's it!" Slavko continued, turning to Raul. "Anyway, Augie was down here in the galley, so we slipped them ball bearings in under his bunk."

"I got even with you guys," Augie interrupted, a slight smile on his face.

"Let me finish," laughed Slavko. "So Augie went to bed and it took, what, maybe 10 minutes, and we hear them bearings rolling around under the bunk, from one end to the other. Every time the boat rolled, they'd take off. Then we hear Augie start to cuss. He's banging things around the room looking for the noise. Next thing, he goes stomping up to the bridge and back to Anton's room, 'cause it's right above his head and he thinks that's where the noise is coming from. So now he gets Anton up, and they start looking around together. Hell, they had the whole crew up before Johnny finally pulled the drawer out completely, and there they were!" Slavko and the others were laughing now even Johnny was smiling. But it was forced laughter. Although Augie smiled and wiped his face, he just couldn't mix it up.

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