Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 7

We learn some important background.
For those of you who only just arrived, a bit of background: This is a work of fiction. In particular, it is the novel that hit me in the middle of October, when I should have been working on planning for my NaNo novel, and insisted on being written immediately – I would have loved to wait until November to use it as my NaNo project. But it wouldn’t wait, so I counted it as a warm-up to NaNo, and now I’m serializing it here.
The story so far: Our heroine, Sarah, has discovered that the people she sails with are not merely skilled sailors but also wizards, and she, too, has magical talents, which the evil Others want to eliminate. The wizards have appointed ladies’ man Pierre to guard her.
Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 7
After we got the dishes washed and the kitchenette tidied up, we got my beat-up, 20-year-old Toyota out of the basement parking garage to go to the grocery store. “Next time, let’s go in my car,” Pierre said as he settled gingerly on the sprung springs of the passenger seat. “I can’t go around with ripped pants all of the time.”
At the store, in addition to the basic foodstuffs on my shopping list, we got skim milk and diet sodas for Pierre, a can of upholstery shampoo, and a promising-looking bottle of Australian cabernet that was on sale. We returned to the apartment to put the groceries away, and then we headed down to the marina. It was still raining, too wet for sailing to be at all pleasant, but we both had maintenance to do on our boats; Pierre wanted to make adjustments to the mast, while I needed to replace a frayed jib halyard. At the ramp leading down to the marina, we met Runyon.
“I saw you all out there racing yesterday,” he commented. “Boy, did you look good. Sarah, you looked like you were born on the water.”
“Man, I tell you what,” Pierre said, “she’s hot. She beat me every time, like she was reading my mind. I just couldn’t get ahead. Or sometimes I got ahead, but never for long. She just ripped me apart all over the bay, upwind, downwind, reaching, and she just never wore down. By the end of the day, I was the one making stupid tired mistakes, not her.”
“We missed you at the tavern last night,” Runyon said. “Did you two have a night out on the town?”
“Nah,” Pierre answered. “We stayed in and had macaroni and cheese.”
“Macaroni and cheese.” Runyon shook his head in disbelief. “Did you misplace your four-star restaurant menu file?”
“Hey, sometimes I go for home cooking! Just not at my home. And you gotta taste Sarah’s mac and cheese to believe it …”
“She’s getting to you, man. To hear you talk, you’re not into oysters and filet mignon any more.”
“Hey, guys, knock it off,” I broke in. “Let’s get our boat work done, and then we can have lunch at the tavern.”
“Sounds good to me,” Runyon said. “I’ll see you there.”
At the tavern, we were the only regulars. It was midweek, so people who had jobs wouldn’t have time to come down to the bay. I was on spring break, Runyon was retired, and Pierre … well. … It occurred to me that I didn’t really know what Pierre did with his days. Judging from his apartment, there was clearly a source of money somewhere. But I’d never heard of him working for a living, and he certainly spent a lot of time in and around boats. For that matter, I knew very little about him at all, especially for someone who was sharing my apartment. Well, at least finding out more should be easy, given Pierre’s volubility. “I just realized I don’t know you all that well. Tell me something about yourself,” I asked him as we sat down at our table.
“Married twice, widowed once, divorced once, one daughter I haven’t seen in so long I barely remember her. I don’t even know where she is; my second wife took her away and disappeared. Bachelor of science in sports training from a major Eastern university, where I was on the sailing team. A few years later, I was on the Olympic sailing team, and I would have been in the Olympics, but that was the year Jimmy Carter declared we weren’t going because the Soviets wouldn’t get out of Afghanistan. I spent a lot of time as an assistant trainer or trainer for a whole lot of athletic programs all over the place, not just sailing – there’s not all that many sailing programs to work for – but a whole lot of minor sports. I like pretty, witty women, candlelight dinners, moonlight walks on the beach, progressive jazz, and reggae. Oh, and of course, sailing.”
“I’m sorry about your daughter. You must miss her.”
“After my wife left with her, I took up karate. That helped me to keep from losing it mentally. It’s good for finding a focus.”
“How did you end up with, uh, this group?”
“After the divorce, I kept getting fired from job after job. I didn’t really need the money; I’d inherited a lot from Dora – that was my first wife. But it really hurt my ego. I kept moving and moving, and each time, there was a little voice in my head that kept saying, seek the sea, seek the sea. It got louder and louder, and finally, I quit looking for athletic trainer jobs and came here. The voice stopped, and after just a few days on the water, I knew this was where I wanted to stay, so I bought that condo. I got to know the gang at the tavern, and after a few years, they brought me into the cave. My karate training came in handy during spelling school, because I already had some of the discipline that was needed. I’ve now been a wizard of the water for several years.”
“Spelling school?”
“Well, that’s what I called it. It really doesn’t have a name, but it’s a training program where you learn how to control and use your talents, how to watch out for the Others, things like that. It’s your next step.”
“Not only that,” Runyon added, “but the sooner you get into it the better. Now that we’ve brought you into our circle, the Others are going to be aware of your existence very soon. We have to get you into training so you will be able to defend yourself before they can get a clear focus on you. I suspect they’re already getting closer.”
“I think so too,” Pierre said. “I had this dream last night, a feeling of something very, very bad coming very, very close.”
I remembered my own awakening this morning with the after-feeling of a nightmare, and the troubled sleep Pierre was having before the coffee woke him up. “Are you sure that’s what it is? Don’t people have nightmares all the time? Maybe my macaroni and cheese was a bit too rich.”
“No,” Runyon said. “Pierre’s trained, so he knows the difference. And I’ve been having my own premonitions. You’re in danger.”
“I can’t just drop my studies. It’s my senior year; I’m almost finished. Let me complete my degree and graduate, and then I can come to your spelling school.”
“That may be too late,” Runyon said. “Time is most decidedly of the essence.”
“I still have to think about it. I can’t just drop everything just because of some convincing hocus-pocus. Although … well … I’m having trouble admitting it, I never thought I’d say anything like this, um, I could kinda get used to the idea of having Pierre as a guardian angel.”
Pierre smiled. “Ahhh-HA! My irresistible charm is, finally, taking effect.”
“That may be a problem,” Runyon said. “Sarah, you need to know that, as long as you aren’t in the formal training program, you’re in danger. There are things Pierre can’t protect you from, so if his presence is giving you a false sense of security, you’re in even worse danger. I could order Pierre to stop guarding you –”
“I still wouldn’t give up my studies.”
“I wouldn’t obey!”
“ … but as you two have just now confirmed, all I’d be doing is putting you in greater danger. But at some point, unless you do come into the program, none of us will be able to protect you any more.”
“Hey,” Pierre said, “we’re stuck for now. How about we drop the subject for the time being, and I’ll work my charms to persuade her later?”
Runyon made a smile that looked more like a grimace. “Pierre, you amaze me –”
“Why, thank you, man.”
“ – with how big your ego is, considering how small you are!” We all burst out laughing, but there was still a stiff tension underlying the laughter.


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