Amazing Grace

Short term Weather forecast for Investigator Strait, the familiar radio  news-weather bulletin cracked the night darkness. 

Six am, Jeff pressed the alarm OFF switch, checked the fishing/weather conditions and cricket score,  pulled the sheet and blankets tighter around him, stretched his legs. 

 Rose stood, she had sat on the oak dining chair, in front of the fire since waking at 3am for her medication. The woollen blanket, once Jeff’s father’s, pooled at her feet.  She walked to the spare room,  pulled on woollen tights, Levis, black vest, long sleeved tee shirt and hand knitted jumper,  entered Jeff’s bedroom cave, heavy, with the detritus of unwashed male, (a sprinkle of flatulence),  kissed his forehead, asked if he wanted tea now and left him to dress.   

As she opened the curtains, Jeff half croaked, half spoke, 

“Just checked the BOM.  Look’s like the bloody wind has picked up.”

Rose considered the calm of pre dawn against the hustle, bustle and noise of reality.  

Jeff tossed wood on the fire, and stamped his steel caps loudly to extinguish an escapee fire spark.Rose had been Jeff’s deckhand for just two years. At first it did seem amusing that she, a 54 year old, ex-Special Needs teacher of 30 years experience, could step up and do the tasks required but this was initially out of sheer necessity and then became something akin to how she felt when lost in creating the colours, textures, layers of her paintings.

Using a kilometre long rope with 250 baited, stainless steel hooks they caught mostly gummy shark.   A 24 foot fishing vessel had room only for the Skipper and one deckhand.  On those days when shark were plentiful, the ice boxes overflowed with the headless, shark carcasses, and the deck of the boat resembled levels 7 to 9 of Dante’s inferno (if sharks had a hell), Rose had little time to ruminate.

 When asked where they went, Jeff merely answered,

 “Out wide.” 

This was the Southern Ocean where the precipitous gorges of a massive canyon system finally bottom out onto what scientists call ‘The abyssal plain’. Each gorge large enough to swallow America’s Grand Canyon whole. It is not known what lives there, though slices of soil samples have offered up some secrets of Australia’s climate over 250000 years.

The winds picked up faster than had been anticipated and Rose was finding it difficult to follow and drive the course through the oncoming wind and swell.  Finally, Jeff made the momentous decision to cut the line.  

He turned the boat, headed to the buoys which indicated the origin point of the longline.  As they reeled in the line, the  body emerged, bloodless.  Not a sea creature, a human male who had met his end violently but was then stamped with the brand of the ORB, a tattoo on the corpse’s ankle, just like the others. 

Rose knew the ominous warning, as every local did.

Published by Jules

Person with Parkinsons I am. I paint, I write, I live the best life I can.

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