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Wandering Souls-5

October 1, 2013

     It was a small boat, maybe fourteen feet long with an outrigger on a wide, flat sea.  They sat, facing each other under a canopy of matting; the sun sat low on the sea so brightly that the water and sky mirrored each other: silver and ivory with flashes of gold, slashes of turquoise.
     “Did you ever see the Gulf of Siam?” she said.
     There was a slight, slow swell coming from the boat’s starboard quarter, the boat and the two of them rising and dropping gently with it.  Though the matting bled light freely, under the canopy shadow lay deep enough to make the lady’s face, as she sat with her back to the light, impossible to see and Dewey, squinting and shading his eyes said, “No Maam.  I never did.”
     “It looks much like this.”  Dewey saw a flicker of light centering the dark arc of the lady’s face, realized she was smiling.  “Actually, it looks exactly like this.”
     “Is this it?  The Gulf of Siam?”
     “No.  This is a memory.  Do you like the water?”
     “Not that much.”
     “I always did.  Since I was a little girl I’ve loved the sea.”
     “We are of the ocean you know.  We begin our lives in our mother’s inland sea.  It runs in our veins.  Blood is just salt water.  You should go to the sea sometime.  We’re really strangers on the land.”
     “Yes Maam.”
     “It’s comforting, knowing where you come from, where you really belong.”
     “I can see how it would be,” Dewey said.
     Then one swell caught the boat and turned it until the sun was so bright in Dewey’s face he was blinded and his ears began to wail and the man shouting in his face, a masked man with a green cap, was, Dewey finally realized, calling his name, shouting at him nose to nose so that Dewey, among the beeping, croaking alarms and alerts from medical electronics, felt the man’s words on his face in addition to hearing them.
     “Dewey, talk to me Dewey!”
     A woman said, “His eyes are open.”
     “I can see that Susie, thank you!  Dewey! Time to wake up now!  Wake up!”
     “Is she here?”
     “Who? Is who here?”
     Dewey tried to sit up, look for the lady, the sea, but he found he couldn’t lift himself, not even a little and at the same time understood that the lady wouldn’t be here, not in this harsh and ringing room full of shouting men and barking electronics.  He knew he’d have to look for her elsewhere.  Dewey looked up into the eyes above him, said, “Quit shouting at me.”
     “Welcome back.”  The man pulled his face away and began talking to someone, Dewey guessed it was Susie, but Dewey was
already tired of this place and went to sleep.  A high, shrieking whine filled Dewey’s head and he heard the man, one last time, saying, “Dewey!  Goddam it!”


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