27 July 2011

Seattle University

A smattering of dark birds hovered over the Clipper.  Persephone Evelyn Bumbaugh pointed at one.
"Is that a...?"
"Red tailed hawk."
"No, no.  Right there."
"That's an American Bald Eagle.  Their populations are slowly recovering in the San Juans."
Her eyes followed it from one end of the ship to the other.  She caught the pilots up in the bridge smiling at her.  She returned a wave and a shake of the hips.
The chilly wind whipped Persephone's hair into her face.  She flipped it away and turned to Taylor, her dogsled-musher-turned-tour-guide and newest acquaintance.
"An American Bald Eagle in Canada?  A tourist, eh?  Just like me."
"Friday Harbor is actually still in Washington State."
Persephone pointed to a village ahead on the shore.
"Is that it?"
"No, we've got a ways to go."
The ferry lurched to starboard.  Taylor caught himself on the railing, with Persephone sandwiched in between.
He asked, "You're in a hurry now or something?"
Persephone pushed her way out of his arms.
"Just getting antsy.  How are the dogs?  I bet they're getting antsy too.  The kennel is deck five, right?"  She turned and weaved through other passengers toward the cabin stairwell.
"What?  Hey...hey, you know that wasn't me?  The wind and weather here can get - "
The iron door thunked shut with a cold finality.
" - unpredictable."


Taylor found Persephone kneeling down by the kennel.  She was petting his sled dogs through the chain link fencing.
She smiled.  "Yeah, forgot I don't have the key."
Taylor tossed it to her.  One by one, the dogs sprang out.  Persephone started to clip on the leashes.  Taylor bent over to help.
"You know that was the boat, right?"
Persephone waved him off.  "What?  Oh, yeah.  Yeah, don't worry about it.  Let's get these dogs some air."
They all made their way through the cabin, where most of the passengers had come in out of the cold.
Persephone pushed on the door to the deck.  It didn't budge.
"This one's locked."
"Can't be.  We just used it a minute ago."
Taylor hefted his shoulders into it.  It slowly swung outward.  He turned his back to the door and pushed his arms against the door frame.  At the halfway point the wind caught it.  It slammed open against the whitewashed wall.
"Whoa!  Muscle man!"
"No, that was the wind again.  Unfortunately."
The six huskies piled outside.  It took them a second to gain their footing on the metal deck, slick now with rain and seawater.  They playfully nipped at each other, tangling themselves up in the process.
"Come on, dogs.  Settle down."  He squatted down to unclip the leashes and straighten them out.
Persephone looked out to the sky.  Through the rain, the island village she could see earlier is now just a few lights.
"Taylor, I'm not liking this."
"It's your basic storm in the Sound.  I know you've been in worse.  While standing on a windmill of all places."
"I'm serious.  It's giving me a - "
The sky exploded with a flash.

k k k k KRBOOM oom oommm

Yelps go up from the deck.  The dogs scamper off.  Taylor is left with a wad of wet leashes in his hands.
"Hounds!!" yells Taylor.
The intercom bing-bongs and crackles to life.
"Attention all passengers.  The captain has advised the crew of incoming severe weather.  Please make your way to the main deck."
"So maybe you're right.  Persephone, get inside.  I'll get the dogs."
"You gonna find six dogs all by yourself?  We can't even see the top of the bridge!"
Taylor looked around.  Yep.
"Okay.  Check in the lifeboats, under benches, anywhere dark or dry."
He handed her three leashes.  The soaked duo split up - Persephone around to starboard, Taylor remained on port.  He could see through the foggy plexiglass into the cabin.  Staff were busy assembling the passengers.  He got a better porthole view when the ferry rolled again, slamming his front into a door.  When the ship righted itself, he fell back.  He landed hard on his tailbone and the back of his head.  It knocked the perpetual squint off his face for a moment.  He spit out through his semi-maintained scruff.
Two white dogs came out from under a tarp.  They trotted out to Taylor and licked his face and head.
"Oof.  Castor and Tofi, good dogs.  Even when you run away, you stay together.  Stay with me now, okay?
Taylor continued checking under each lifeboat tarp.  Five boats in, he spied a pair of sharp blue eyes looking out.  Taylor reached in and awkwardly hauled out a gray husky, who shook off water when Taylor put him down.
"Pierre, come on.  We need to get inside."
Persephone rounded the bend.  One hand on the rail, one pulling a large dog.
"I think I found Moose."
"No way, you wouldn't be able to drag Moose.  That's Senator Ted Stevens, see the black on the end of the tail.  He's the only one you could find?"
"That's all."
"Still missing Moose and Charlotte then."
Another lightning bolt cracked overhead.

k k k KRBOOM

Taylor and Persephone held fast to the leashes this time.
He said, "We gotta get them back in the kennel.  Here's the keys.  I have to keep looking!"
Persephone pulled Castor, Tofi, Pierre, and Senator Ted Stevens inside.
Taylor double-checked Persephone's side of the ship.

You just couldn't help it.  You chat up some mystery blonde you'll never see again and it gets you two lost dogs.

Chat up someone potentially amazing.  She takes so many international trips that Singapore is ho-hum!

Yet here you are, a Vancouver Islander, a NORTHERN Vancouver Islander, thinking you have a shot at anything more than one day with her.

Of COURSE you do, you run a self-made business, own a nice place in beautiful land, and care for a pack of dogs, that shows responsibility.

She doesn't know and she wouldn't CARE.  She used you for a free sled ride and is here for a stopover from a flight.  A STOPOVER.

One of many to come, she said.  She made a point to mention.  She hinted.

She HINTS not one damn thing.  Now where are those dogs??  She just HAD to let them out.  They're YOUR dogs.  YOU know when they need to -

The door slammed open.  Persephone stumbled out.
"Any luck?"
"No!  Why did you have to let them out again?  They were fine in the kennel!"
"You were the one that said they hated being locked up.  I thought I was doing them right."
"Obviously not!"
Taylor glared at her through the sheets of rain.  She quickly crushed her impulse to back down.
"I'm sorry!  I was trying to take care of them like you do!"
"Like I do?  You just met them!  You just met ME!  You can't take care of them like I do.  NO ONE can take care of them like I do!"
Persephone's heart jumped.  She couldn't be sure, but Taylor's face seemed wetter.
"Hey, let's stay calm.  We can find Moose and Charlotte.  We definitely know they're on the deck.  Let's stick together this time."
Taylor said nothing.  He led the way.
He saw two tails sticking out of a covered raft crate near the far bow of the ship.  The section was guarded with an iron handrail, yellow nylon cord and a CREW ONLY sign.
Taylor ducked under it.
Persephone asked, "What are you doing??"
"I see my dogs.  I can hold Moose.  I need your help with Charlotte."  He walked off.
"Ohhhh my.  Oh my.  Oh my."  She crept under the rope and up to the raft crate.
Taylor pulled out Charlotte easily and handed her to Persephone.  As he worked on extracting Moose, Persephone looked off to port side.  The fog had cleared a little bit.  It allowed her to see a large swell approaching the ferry.  It was growing in size as it neared.  Her heart jumped again.  Taylor heaved Moose over his back.  Persephone shook Taylor's shoulder.
"Taylor?  Hey Taylor, we need to get inside."
He glimpsed the wave, now massive, and stopped.  The four of them were halfway between the crate and the roped-off entrance.
"We won't make it back in.  Get back to the crate and get in.  NOW."
The ship was already tilting to the right.  Persephone could only slip in place on the deck and struggled to get back on her feet.  Taylor fell on the same spot on his tailbone.  All four of them started sliding to the starboard edge.
"Grab the handrail!  Grab the handrail!"
At this point, though, they were moving too fast.  They may as well have tried to catch a wet baseball bat midswing.

No grip.

 All bruise.

  Handful of husky hair.

   Forty feet down.

    Noseful of Puget Sound.

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