*A True Sailboat Haunting Told in Multiple Splashes*
PART II – Dust & Rainbows
“No, no—there are depths, depths! The more I go over it, the more I see in it, and the more I see in it, the more I fear. I don’t know what I don’t see—what I don’t fear!”–Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
I am still sticky with the bewilderment one experiences when they are of this world, but realize they have been pricked by those that are not. And I can say now, with both delight and dread, that there is indeed, a flooded feeling that overcomes and leaves the heart hemmed in hallow when they first encounter a ghost.
My story begins on the third night aboard my sailboat, Juniper. I bought her in 2017, in the last month of fall. That month carried with it cold winds and sinking air. I could feel the chill of the season with equal measure, in both my bones and lungs, particularly after the sun set and sometimes even after it rose.
Prior to me, Juniper floated empty in San Diego, for ten years, maybe more. She was built in 1984 – glassed and screwed and sung together- by a shipyard in Taiwan. I am her third owner, the one before me was diseased and died, wrapped inside the warm tones of Juniper’s spruce and teak interior- there are less golden places that one could leave this earth from.
I found the pills and urinal that soothed his inevitable departure beneath the bathroom sink. I felt no pity as I tossed them out and reflected on the fact that nobody buys a boat without the dream of one day sailing away – north, south, east, west, it doesn’t matter- as long as they are going and going with the wind. And I knew the old owner died still dreaming that dream before the wind carried him the direction of heaven. I knew it because I spent those first few days aboard shaking all the dust off of that dream and blowing air back into it.
Despite the dust, nothing seemed unusual and I could see sign of nothing else- neither the living nor the dead. Small rainbows fell from the deck prisms like gumdrops, and they carried with them the potential for all things sublime. But in the gloom of what was to become, I realized that perhaps that’s what enchantment does, it blinds you to the possibility of anything that is in opposition to what it is you want to see. Blinds you real bad, makes you all vulnerable and whatnot, until you’re just a daisy in the palms of the wicked.
That third night aboard, was a Wednesday and I sank into the V-berth around 11 pm all dirty and fatigued, like a forest of felled trees and fallen leaves. The pistol shrimp crackled beneath the boat and fired their bullets made of bubbles into the dark water. My mind was of a delicate strength, the way that all minds are in the midst of transformation. A part of me bobbed here and another part of me bobbed there, as slumber wrapped me in her heavy fog and up and away I lolled. No dream came to me- no Singapore nights, no pink elephants in jade jungles, no crowns of lavender, no flying boats, no serpents, no mermaids blowing kisses behind stained glass.
I can’t say with any certainty how long sleep held me in its tendrils before it happened, nor how long it all lasted- it could have been a day, it could have been a thousand years. I’ll never know. What the apparitions wanted or how they found me is another mystery.
I remember crashing back to consciousness due to a pounding thud above the v-berth. My mind was awake, but my body would not budge. I could hear people breathing and I could feel them watching me from above. I kept trying to move, but movement didn’t come. My body was stuck deep inside the glacier of sleep.
Two voices fell out of the sky and onto me like thunder. They sounded- metallic, wicked, masculine. Nothing particular about their timbre tasted like the dearly departed, though departed they were.
“Is she in there?” One phantom said.
“Yea, Let’s get her.” The other phantom said.