Starboard – Chapter 4

It is a hot Saturday afternoon in July when Insomnia man steps into a hot shower. Typically, on hellish days like these, he prefers the refreshing feel of a cold shower after his workout, but today, his mind needed to escape for a moment. Standing in the center of the shower, he feels how the hot beads of water pelt the back of his neck and wrap around his mountain like trapezoids. His terracotta skin, particularly sensitive to touch, feels how the beads of water gradually lose temperature as they stream through the plateaus and canyons on his body. Standing there, his mind to wander unrestraint, but his upcoming voyage, washes over all other thoughts, with the rhythmic frequency of ocean tides erasing footprints on the sand. Eventually his head hangs low, and his eyes become fixated on the shower drain, observing the water droplets as they fall of his chin only to join the water that swirls around the pitch-black hole in between the green tendrils rising from the tops of his feet.

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Thud, Thud, Thud. “Hey Pablo, are you done in there?! I gotta take a shower too!” Like the siren of a lighthouse advising vessels of land ahead through the fog, the reverberating voice snaps Pablo out of his daze. With both hands he scrubs his face with the water then tosses his dark brown hair wavy hair back.

– “Alright, alright! I’ll be out in a minute.” Pablo calmly answers back. Pivoting the silver shower lever to the off position, he stands in the middle of the shower and listens as the water, changes in pitch, while it swirls down the drain. With the last of the water gone, he opens the glass shower door, and reaches for a towel to lightly dab himself dry, only leaving behind a thin veil of water on him. Carefully, he steps out of the shower and onto a beige shower rug, which provides some friction against the aqua blue hexagonal tile. Fanning his toes open, the strands of rug capture the water droplets caught between them, while stalagmites reach up to capture the moisture underneath the cavernous sole. Once semi dry, he walks over to the counter, between him and the steamed mirror is a bottle of baby oil which he squirts onto his chest, legs and arms before rubbing it in and dabbing dry. His obscured silhouette glistening in the mirror as the light coming in from the frosted window highlights his naked body. Upon finishing, he uses the towel to wipe the steam off the mirror at eye level. His amber eyes lock onto themselves, as he loosely wraps the towel around his hips.

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Thud, thud, thud. “You done in there?!” the voice asks.

– “Yea, I’m done.” Pablo responds as he breaks contact with the mirror and reaches towards the door handle to open. Across the threshold is a young man with hazel eyes and thick long brown eyebrows that serve as a parasols to his big eyes. Light purple rings enshroud the sockets of his eyes against the beige tone of his diamond face. With an elbow on the frame and hand shaking his freshly faded, short cropped chestnut hair he stares back at Pablo and snickers back.

– “Took you long enough.” He says, through the light blond stubble on his hollowed cheeks.

– “Whaaatttt. C’mon now, you don’t need that much time, it won’t take more than a second for you to shave off that peach fuzz you call a beard” Pablo retorts.  Crossing the bathroom sill, he lightly strikes the young man against the shoulder causing him to stumble back a bit.

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– “Thaaat’s it!” The young man exclaims, as he raises his hands reaching behind his back. “You wanna go, ooold man?!” Pulling his arms forward, his loose-fitting white undershirt, begins to rise revealing a midriff that looks like it was carved from marble. At 6’2” the young man is taller than Pablo by four inches and is in peak athletic condition.

– “Baaah!” Pablo scoffs, brushing him off with a hand gesture. “You are going to need to settle, all the way the fuck down, pendejo!” deepening his voice.  “I’m sure your balls have not even dropped yet for you to have this much bravado.” Pablo, with hand extended outward in front of him, bobs it slightly up and down, as if he were manually gauging the weight of a cantaloupe, he then proceeds, “You honestly think you can take your old man on and win?” Tightening the towel around his waist, Pablo’s stance changes, his feet widen past his hips, with one leg anchoring back while the other comes forward towards the young man, causing the three heads of the quads to peaks through slit of the towel curtain. Pablo slightly lowers his shoulders causing the core to tighten, the silver hairs on his abdomen, roll in together like sea foam over a pebble beach.

– “The senior captain of the wrestling team is always ready for a challenge!” The young man proudly proclaims, light pounding on the left pec, the shirt settles back down below his waist.

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– “Captain?” Pablo’s own machismo quickly recedes “You made captain?” continues in a more inquisitive and prouder tone.

– “Yeah. I challenged the, now former captain, Ben, for the spot on the last day of summer training camp.

– “Ben? Ben? Ben?” Pablo looks down at the wooden floor while trying to recall the name. “Ben? As in, Arthur and Patty’s kid, the one who got into a D2 school for wrestling?” Pablo asks.

– “Yeah. That’s the one.” the young man responds

– “That’s my boy!” without thinking, Pablo steps his back leg towards the young man and wraps his arms around him. “Nice work, Connor!” he says, patting him lightly on the back.

– “Thaaanks.” Connor responds softly as he cringes from the hug.

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Feeling how Connor’s body recoils within his embrace, Pablo moves one of his hands to Connor’s shoulder and steps back. “I’m super proud of you, mijo!” he says, gently squeezing the shoulder. Letting go of Connor, Pablo walks towards to the master bedroom and continues talking, “Aside from making Captain for the wrestling team how’s school, life?” slightly raising his voice as the distance between Pablo and Connor increase. “Since you were off at camp while I’ve been docked, I didn’t get much of a chance to see you.”

– “Yeah I know, it’s been good, there was a minor quake a couple weeks back that rattled everyone at camp though.” Connor responds, “How long will you be home?” he ask cautiously.

-“You felt that too huh. I felt it here as well, news report said it was a 3.2 quake.” Pablo says while rummaging through master closet. “Not much longer, we leave tomorrow.”

-“For how long?”

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-“It’s a short trip this time, if all goes well, we are looking at 3-4 weeks and only about 150 nautical miles out to sea.” He says as he steps out of the closet, with an olive-green jumper in hand.

“Oh…” The lighthouse’s sirens wails in opposite direction to the vessel and goes unheard as it begins to drift back out to sea. “Well, I’ve made plans to celebrate with friends my new role in the wrestling team by cooking out later tonight” Conner continues, as he steps into the master bedroom. “Maybe you can make that famous arrachera with the chimichurri sauce of yours” The lighthouse sirens pitch picks up again, in hopes of attracting the vessel to shore.

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“That’s awesome! I’ll try to get out of the pre-departure meeting sooner today, just buy the skirt-steak and I’ll make it when I get back” he says, while sliding on the leg portion of the olive jumper underneath the towel. Once the jumper is at waist level, he tosses the damp towel away into a hamper, and lets the top portions suspend down around the waist. His dense peppered bush peaks out briefly from behind the unzipped jumper before being powdered and tussled around for a bit. Zipping up the rest the jumper, he stops midway up the chest, bringing focus to the ravine nestled between his chest. Standing before the mirror in the master bedroom, he adjusts the collar and brushes off some lint covering the embroidery on the tag of his upper left chest. Looking into the mirror he glances at longhand embroidery that reads, Castillo, underneath it, in bold, diver and engineer.


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