Stories From the Crow's Nest (8 of 10)
He tried to show us he was still our comrade, but we knew he had seen
the Devil and maybe even shared a drink with him at some point. His
only advice for us was from a sea chantey by the name of “The British Tars,” he had sung just about everyday for close to three years. “Never leave your happy home to sail the raging sea,” he’d tell us. I had always believed in what he said.
And look where I am.
I was beginning to understand what my dear old friend meant. I wished that someday I’d see him again and I could finally talk to him like old times, for we had gone through the same trials of the open sea. But that would never happen, for he had gone down in the icy swells of Cape Horn. I knew he wasn’t just talking about the battles he had seen and the storms, but also the days there was no wind or heavy fog and you could sense the demonic specters of the deep trying to hold you back. The insanity.
More of my crewmates had entered the forecastle since my mind began wandering and they patted my back and gave me nicknames like “Killer,” and “Chopper.” They praised what I had done in the heat of battle. I drank what was left of my grog and headed to the main deck to get some fresh air and spark my pipe.
I puffed on my pipe, the rich vanilla-like smell of the tobacco flew out to sea and disappeared. I felt different. I killed humans today. Part of me was proud; not many people kill people. I was battle hardened, I was a tough son of a bitch, I was no longer green, but salty like the waters I watched. The sun carefully sunk below the horizon as if it were trying not to break. A cool breeze picked up and made my hair stand on end. I had killed today.