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Excerpt

Beyond the Sea

Paul Lynch

March 16, 2020 
The following is from Paul Lynch's Beyond the Sea. Lynch is the author of the novels Red Sky in Morning; The Black Snow, which won France’s Prix Libr’a Nous for Best Foreign Novel, and Grace, which won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award, and was a finalist for both the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction and the Saroyan International Prize. He lives in Dublin.

It is not a dream of storm weather that follows Bolivar into the town, but words overheard last night, perhaps in Gabriela’s bar, that give him the feeling now of a dream. He thinks, it might have been the chatter of Alexis or José Luis – who knows, they are such troublemakers. And yet this feeling of dream persists. It is the feeling of a world once known, but forgotten, asking from over the sea.

His sandalled feet follow the road over the crumbling bridge. Past the empty beachside cabanas. Past where the nesting sea turtles scallop the beach. His eyes seeking out beyond the lagoon but his sight is drawn towards the shore.An oilcan lies washed up and surrounding it a glittering of dead popocha fish. He fixes his baseball cap and walks onto the beach.

He thinks, it is just a dozen or so, but still. Even the beggars won’t touch them.There is a sickness in the rivers that no one will ever explain.

He studies the indigo dawn for trouble. He studies the clouds and the wind.That the ocean has a hue is a lie among men. He cannot remember who said this. For the sea contains all colour and in that way everything is within it.This might be true, who knows what you hear.

The plastic white seats at Rosa’s café lean like drunk sleepers to their tables. He slaps at a net full of beach balls hanging from the palapa roof. Damnit, he says. Angel is not waiting. He kicks a seat past the beach screen and the back of the seat cracks when he sits. His hands rest on the spill of his gut as he studies them. Such hands are too big, perhaps, and he has often thought this. A forearm for a wrist. A thigh for an arm. Shoulders for a neck. But what else do you expect for a fisherman?

He turns his head and shouts, Rosa!

From here he can see the panga boat he thinks of as his own, alone and high up on the beach.The white hull with Camille painted in turquoise. Angel is not there either. He can see the ghosts of two men, his earlier self and Angel last night and how they sat in that panga, moon-drawn effigies of fishermen drinking beer amidst the bodiless shouting and the gaunt light thrown by the bars on the strip.

He calls again for Rosa, can hear that crazy Alexander at his singing, the old man’s voice a glass-bright tremolo. He leans until he can see him on a cooling box of some undetermined long-ago colour. The flashing of nails as he repairs sea-worn nets. Each day Bolivar tries not to listen, yet still he listens, for such songs evoke in him feelings he cannot explain. Sometimes a feeling like guilt. Sometimes a feeling of being alive long ago, as though he had lived the life of another, and what are you supposed to make of such a thing?

Loose sand rolls across the matting. He puts a finger to his nose and gouts snot. Rosa!

It is the Virgin of Guadalupe on her high shelf who watches Bolivar as though he were an apparition gliding through the hanging beads of the door. There is Rosa asleep on a hammock, she is always asleep. He reaches for the remote control and turns the TV on to a game from the night before.

Rosa! he says. Have you seen Angel?

The woman stirs with a vexed sound. With pendulous feet she swings out of the hammock and stands in the half-light tying up her hair. Just her eyes he can see as if they can draw what there is of the light towards them. He blinks at her twice and an old part of his mind thinks of her as some witch in the dark until she rolls up the screen and her body finds its expression. His eyes following the light as it falls upon her loose-shirted abdomen, upon her glossed hands and thighs. His eyes prizing her the way a man prizes a woman.

Has Angel not turned up yet, Rosa?

That box of limes, Bolivar. Did you bring them? I asked you last night.

He is either here or not here. I have just a few limes to take with me on the boat.

How Rosa seems to sigh in everything she does. Her body is sadness bending to the fridge. She pulls from it two beer bottles, the movement of hinging upward is a weariness that does not belong to a woman as young as this. She uncaps both bottles without looking, rests a stare upon some faraway thought out past the lagoon.

Bolivar holds her with a look as he takes a long drink. A goal sounds on the TV and he leans for a moment out the beaded door, returns wiping his mouth with his wrist.

You will not believe it, he says. Remember that great fish kill last year? I just saw some popocha washed up dead on the beach.

Rosa studies him a moment.

She says, some man came round here looking for you last night.

What man?

I don’t know. He said he was going to cut off your ears.

It is him.

Who?

I have done something stupid. But I will fix it quick.

He watches the way her right eye pinches when she drinks. Watches this cool brick room where she lives.A hammock and two palm-wood chairs and a humming box refrigerator. The trace odour of sweat. Her clothes hung upon nails.

He reaches out to touch her wrist but Rosa pulls back, the words passing unthought out his mouth.

Some day, Rosa, you should marry me. I am only a fisherman, it is true. But I will pay off your TV. Maybe even buy you a jeep. I will buy you some furniture for your clothes. I’ll give you all the limes you want.

Rosa stares at his sun-browned feet, the taped plastic sandals, the plump spread toes.The big toe on his left foot missing a toenail.

Bolivar turns his foot inward as she looks at him.

She sighs. I have so much to do, Bolivar. Those limes. I have to go.

They listen to Alexander laughing to himself.

Bolivar turns towards the door and the old man begins again to sing.

That fool, he says. Whoever knows what nonsense he sings.

Rosa says, those songs are sung to the bones of the dead.

Bolivar pulls at a piece of wall plaster.

This place is falling apart, Rosa. One of these days the wind and the sea will carry you away.

Rosa shrugs. I do not think today will be the day.

*

Arturo! Bossman! Bolivar steps into Arturo’s office with its front facing onto the beach. He takes a long inhale. The freshening breeze carries within it the faint rot of the sea. He shouts again and fixes his cap. A two-way radio crackles then fades into faraway static.Arturo is where he always is, he thinks. Asleep in his room with that woman or watching TV or maybe he is at Gabriela’s already having a drink, grouching about who is shortening his pockets.

He walks into the back yard and sees Little Arturo sitting on the steps.The boy a direct image of the father or what he may once have been.The heavy-browed face that is a sign of the man to come.

Where is the bossman? I need him quick.

The boy’s eyes rest vacantly upon Bolivar. He shrugs and continues to thumb at a phone.

Is he in or not?

Above them a door opens and a head appears with hair askew.Arturo moves barefoot down the cement stairway and meets Bolivar with a flat-faced look. Bolivar studies him.Arturo is wearing the same grey vest and red shorts he wears every day. For sure, he sleeps in his clothes, those clothes have become skin.

Arturo says, come here, Porky, I want to show you something.

Bolivar follows Arturo and stands before a peacock-toned 4×4 jeep. Arturo points a finger at it.

Look at this, Porky. Tell me, who would do such a thing?

Bolivar follows the man’s finger and hunches down. He runs his hand along a scratch keyed deep into the paintwork. What travels into his skin is a feeling of guilt and yet he is sure he did not do this. He searches his mind and meets a feeling it was Angel. He stands up and sighs, fixes his cap, pulls at the waistband of his shorts.

Looks to me like some drunk, maybe. Or just some kid.There are lots of kids causing trouble. Tell me, Arturo, bossman, have you seen Angel? He has not showed up.

Arturo turns upon Bolivar with an examining look. Then he closes his eyes and when they open again they rest mournfully on the jeep.

I cannot believe it, Porky. Nothing in this world stays new. I thought you had gone out yesterday. You should be coming back in today. Why didn’t you go out with the others?

Ring him.

Ring who?

Angel.

What for?

I need to go out but how can I go without Angel? I do not fish with anybody else.

Arturo exhales deeply and turns towards the sea’s ashen hue. Then he turns and stares at the man before him.

Listen to me, Bolivar. There is a storm coming from the north-east. The bulletin is out. Look at the beach. Most of the boats are pulled up. The rest are coming back in.

That is not true, Arturo. I watched three boats go out. Memo’s boat and two others.

Yes. Memo is crazy like you, Porky.

Ring Angel.

Look, Bolivar. Nobody is sending you out.

Ring him.

Why?

Bolivar winces, begins to pull at an ear.

Look, I need to make some money quick.

Why don’t you ring him?

Bolivar shrugs. My phone is dead. It is broken. I have no credit. That last woman took it when she ran off. Look, I am only a fisherman.

Arturo pulls a phone from his back pocket and squints as he dials. He stares at the jeep then shakes his head and hangs up, dials another number.

Hey, Skinny, I have Porky here with a spare hand down his pants. Have you seen Angel? His phone is dead. Go knock at his door.

Bolivar watches the man on the phone, watches the image of the man as expressed in the jeep’s burnish.

The man become shimmer, a reflection of will that is the devouring soul within him. He watches Arturo’s face, how of late it has begun to deepen in colour as if exhibiting some shade of stagnating blood, the blood pitching towards some final dark colour. The flesh is coming loose over the bones, he thinks. It is happening as you watch.

Arturo’s eyes are lost in a stare as he listens, his eyes seeing not directly the beach nor the lagoon but beyond, past the surfers and shrimp fishermen, past the hazed and unmet horizon.

Arturo nods and hangs up.

Angel is not at home, Porky.

Maybe he is sick or dead or something. You need to find me somebody quick. And make sure they are good. I will find you somebody, Porky. But why can’t you go out like everyone else?You come here and I give you a cabin and you used to fish but now you drink the days away instead. You believe in nothing. You care about nothing other than yourself.

How is this true?

Prove to me it isn’t true.

Listen,Arturo, bossman. What difference does it make when I go out, if it is this time or that? OK, so I did not go out at sunrise today like the others. But I do what I like. I know all the best places. I go out farther than anyone else.They go out thirty miles, forty.They are like children. I go out a hundred miles if I have to. I go to the reaches of the earth. I have no limit.

Porky.There is a storm coming that is really going to blow.

Bolivar studies the sky.

It looks fine to me.

*

Bolivar straightens up from the boat to see Arturo stepping towards him with a long-haired youth. He hurries them along with his eyes then looks to the sea. He leans out and pulls into the boat a refuse sack full of ice. From the verge of his sight he studies the youth. It is in the youth’s slack walk, he thinks. In those loose arms and wrists.That stooped build. He is an insect from the mangroves, for sure.

He leans out of the boat and spits onto the beach.

As they near the boat Bolivar stares directly at the youth until the youth lowers his gaze.

Then Bolivar turns to Arturo. What is this? he says.

He picks up the sack and pours the ice into a cooling box six foot long that rests in the centre of the boat.

This is your new shipmate, Porky. Say hello, Hector.

Bolivar steps around the cooler and stands in the stern facing Arturo.

Find me somebody else, bossman. This kid knows nothing about fishing.

He turns and watches the youth’s collapsing expression, the stumbling tongue, how fright alights the eyes and channels the limbs until the youth stands with his hands unsure.

Bolivar balls the empty sack and throws it onto the beach.

Arturo says, go easy, Porky. Hector here has plenty of experience. Isn’t that right, Hector?

He puts a hand upon the boy’s arm and squeezes. Hector’s tongue struggles to life.

I— I worked the lagoon on Papa’s boat last year. I worked the motor. Back and forth along— Look. I couldn’t care less.

Arturo jerks Hector’s arm.

Hector says, OK. How much is he paying?

Arturo nods at the boy and smiles.

His father is a cousin of Ernesto who fishes with my brother. I found him just now on the beach. You can give him a loan of some gloves, or whatever.

Bolivar pretends to consider this for a moment but he is studying instead the jungled hill behind the town. He has never really noticed it. How it sits like a great wave woven to stillness by nature. He considers this thought and finds it strange, imagines lying in bed with Rosa. Imagines having her inside the cooler, there is enough room for two in there though it would be a squeeze. But for the smell of fish it would be the best lay ever.

Bolivar folds his arms and stares at the youth.

He says, fishing the lagoon is not fishing.

Hector shrugs and shakes free of Arturo’s grip and makes as though to walk off.

He says, I have other things to do.

Bolivar studies the sea where gulls whirl upon two approaching boats. He looks down and sees his two ears sliced off and lying on the sand. He turns to Arturo who has taken hold of the youth by the elbow.

OK, bossman, he says. Just this once. I have to leave quick. I’ll pay him thirty.

Arturo says, forty, Porky, forty.

Bolivar bends and takes two empty petrol containers and bundles them into Hector’s arms.

He says, take these to the bossman’s tank and fill them. Then bring six more.

Arturo says, hey Porky, I met Daniel Paz just now. He says something happened between you two last night.

Between who?

You and Angel.

What do you mean?

He said something happened.

Nothing happened.

Something.

Nope. We drank in Rosa’s and then in Gabriela’s and then we drank in the boat and then I went home and maybe he kept drinking. Whoever knows with him.

So where is he?

He went to his mother’s, Arturo. He forgot. He was arrested again for taking his whistle out in front of that policewoman and asking her to blow it. How do I know, Arturo? I am only a fisherman.

*

He walks with gloved hands staring at his feet. Down the strip road beneath the palm trees.The sound of a revving truck reaching obscurely into his thoughts. A known figure forms before him, utters some greeting and steps past. It is Daniel Paz, but Bolivar does not look up. He is thinking about the man who is looking for him. He thinks about his ears. He takes a look up over the treetops and out past the lagoon. It might be true there is a storm coming, he thinks. But it does not look like much.

*

Bolivar walks towards the panga carrying two buckets of sardine bait. His gaze locked upon Hector. The way the youth leans against the boat chatting into the phone, one hand loose, the small mouth laughing.

Bolivar thinks, he is still some kind of insect, for sure.

Hector watches for a moment then ends the call, begins to clear his throat.

Listen, Bolivar. I cannot go out. Daniel Paz said it is going to storm.

Bolivar laughs. What are you talking about?

Hector laughs but the laugh stops short under the eyes. Then his mouth tightens. He pulls the hair out of his eyes, meets Bolivar with a direct look, his body straightening out of its slack expression.

Bolivar lifts his hands from his hips and folds his arms so that he stands before the youth bulked and implacable. Hector’s jaw tightens a moment then falls loose. He goes to speak but his eyes drop from Bolivar’s face, his gaze travelling to meet a faded name-tattoo on Bolivar’s forearm, then a beggar bending with a stick far up on the beach. When he speaks he is staring at the ground.

Look, he says. I cannot go even if I wanted to. I have a game later. I promised my girl I would meet her.

Bolivar loosens his arms. He slides his left foot out of his sandal, bends and rubs sand off the base of his foot, puts the sandal back on. He sees Hector noticing the nailless toe. He takes a step closer, looks at Hector’s ears.

What did I say I would pay you?

Forty.

I will give you sixty.

Hector’s mouth opens and his tongue moves but no sound comes out. His hands go into his pockets. He pulls out his phone. He half-turns and pretends to thumb at it.

Then he says, you are crazy, Bolivar.

Tell me, Hector, what is a storm? It is a little windy, that is all. The sea gets a little choppy. Real fishermen are used to this type of thing. I have not yet met a storm that is the boss of me. We will go straight out and come straight back in again. No trouble. Look at this boat. It is the best boat here out of all the others. I talked to the bossman. He listens to the radio. He says, whatever this is, it will blow itself out pretty quick. It is nothing to be afraid of.

Hector’s eyes swivel towards somebody walking up the beach.

Bolivar turns to see Daniel Paz and Arturo, the bossman’s gaze fixed upon him. Paz laughing at some joke.

Bolivar takes a step towards Hector.

Look, he says. I will give you half my share.That is the deal I have with Angel. You cannot do better than that.

Hector’s sight falls upon the two men then falls upon the boat, travels across the sea to where the daylight hangs in a flattening colour.

Bolivar watches the gaze go slack, the shoulders soften, how the hands sit restless in the pockets.

Bolivar whispers, half.

Arturo shouts, Porky!

Bolivar turns and quickly speaks.

Nothing to see here, bossman. When we get back we will party like wild animals for days. Isn’t that right, Hector?

Arturo stops and studies the boat. He looks out upon the sea.Then he studies Hector and smiles.

That guy you told me about, Porky.The one who can get rid of industrial waste. My brother knows a guy with a tank of spoiled molasses he needs to get rid of.

*

He becomes his hands and eyes and hands and eyes become the sea. The boat cutting a path through folding ocean. He has motored the panga between shore and lagoon. Past shorebirds staved upon sandbars.Turned then directly into the wind.A low haze of sea-made light. He pulls a pre-rolled joint and a yellow lighter from his pocket. As he exhales he thinks of Rosa. Next time you will bring limes for sure.

Watching the water’s endless heave that has no place of origin. Watching as Hector leans upon the gunwale trim, the youth spitting into the wind, the spittle rushing like an insect. Bolivar begins to feel it under his skin, an itching here and there that is a deepening dislike of the youth. Only now does Bolivar see what is printed on the back of the boy’s sweater – a skull and crossbones.

He thinks, Arturo is having a laugh, for sure.

Bolivar stares at Hector’s thin attempt at a goatee beard. Then he lets out a pirate’s roar.

Hector turns around with a puzzled look, meets the toothy disarray of Bolivar’s nut-brown grin.

*

At fourteen miles on the GPS he passes two shore-bound boats. Knows one of them for Ovidio’s boat, a stripe of yellow upon white. The way Ovidio stands with his foot upon the gunwale, his finger and thumb loosening a whistle. Then Ovidio shouts two blurry words but Bolivar stares straight ahead as though he has not seen them. Hector half-stands and waves until Bolivar picks up a sardine from the bait bucket and throws it at him.

*

He motors the boat blinking against fine spray. One eye upon the GPS, a thumb wiping the screen. It is this that he seeks. Farther ocean.The taste of salt on the lips.Time receding as the hair-fine shore falls away. He tries to read the sea but his gaze keeps meeting Hector. How the youth grips the gunwale while searching on his phone for a signal. When Hector asks how far left to go, Bolivar cups a hand to his ear and shrugs. He watches the youth turn away. Watches the wind pulling at the ponytail, the hair blowing this way and that, Hector tying it back into place. Bolivar takes off his baseball cap and puts on a woollen hat, hangs the cap on a hook under the seat.

When Hector turns and asks a second time, Bolivar stares at him and shrugs. It is then he sees in Hector’s eyes a flashing look of anger. Bolivar turns away but holds up two tobacco-stained fingers.

Two hours more, he says.

It is quarter past five when Bolivar stops the motor. The world falls into a vast quiet. Just the sound of the sea carrying the breeze on its back. He rests an elbow on his left knee and shakes the stiffness out of his tiller hand. Then he curls his fingers around a joint.

Hector turns with an expectant look.

Bolivar sucks upon the joint and pulls from under his seat a pair of grey rubber gloves. He throws them at Hector and releases a cloud of smoke.

Hector stares at his hands loose in the gloves.

The sun falling beyond the sea.

Bolivar says, now we begin.

*

Caves of dying light in the sky. Each man dissolves into the gloom as they finish baiting the hooks. Hector feeding the unhurried line hand over fist as Bolivar reverses the panga. He watches the bleach-bottle floats become dim jellyfish. He watches for the last moment of light as it meets the dark, narrows his eyes and tries to see it. He has a bet with Angel about this, some day yet I will see it, for sure, the exact moment it happens. He imagines it making a sound – a gasp or a pop. He cuts the motor and listens to the world as though met with sudden loneliness.

*

Bolivar flicks a butt over the trim, looks up to see the full moon obscured behind clouds. He reaches for the battery lamp and flicks it on.Then he fixes a plastic headlamp over his woollen hat. Without a word they eat some bread and cooked liver and onions. Bolivar sprinkling a pinch of seawater on his food.

He studies Hector by lamplight. How the youth slumps over his bowl taking small bites.The mouth hanging slightly open.The jaw born short under the mouth. He leans closer for a better look, thinks he has not really noticed this.The long face and the short jaw and how this seems to give the face an agape look.

Hector leans across to free a smoke from the roll of Bolivar’s hat.

Bolivar leans back, says, you have to ask first.

Hector says, can I have a smoke, please, Porky?

Bolivar frowns and leans forward.

What did you say?

Hector says, please, can I have a smoke?

That is not what you said.

Bolivar blinds the youth with the lamp, watches the eyes puzzle, the light of an uncertain thought passing across the face.

Hector says, that is what I said.

You called me a name.

Hector swallows and studies his feet. He digs the toe of his shoe into the hull. Finally he looks at Bolivar.

Isn’t that what Arturo calls you? Porky?

Bolivar fixes upon Hector a withering look that goes unseen in the dark. Hector pulls at his hands then reaches slowly into his pocket.

He says, do you like chocolate?

I have never yet met a person who does not like chocolate. It is the one thing everybody can agree on.

Do you want some?

No.

Bolivar switches off the battery lamp and the world falls into a limitless dark. He listens to the meshings of the wind and the sea, thinks he can hear Hector chewing. The tongue squirming the chocolate into paste against the teeth, the short jaw working.

He thinks, damnit, Angel would have brought beer.

A short while later, Hector says, it’s just over a month to Christmas.

He begins to talk about the football last night, about who will win the game tomorrow, about this girl he is seeing, Lucrezia. How he spends all his money on her yet is not sure whether he likes her or not – one of her eyes is not right, it is her left eye, no, it is her right. You do not know if she is looking at you or not.

Bolivar sucks a joint to life and passes it to Hector.

He rolls another for himself.

He listens to Hector shifting about the seat.

Then, finally, he says, this is where they go.

Hector says, who?

The runners for the cartels.

Hector’s voice returns pinched. Out here?

For sure. Keep the lights off just in case.

How do you know?

These are their waters. One night close by here on the GPS, Angel swore he heard a boat being shot up. Heavy weapons.This might be true or not true but I was asleep, I didn’t hear anything.Victor Ortiz was out here with Pablo T one night last April when they heard screams and shouting. Let me tell you what happened.They cut their lights and sat and listened.That is definitely the sound of a boat in trouble,Victor Ortiz said. Don’t go to them, Pablo T said, I have a wife and children. But Ortiz gunned the motor and began in their direction in a zigzag motion. Pablo T beaming a strong light. His light fell upon a boat. Then Pablo T quickly turned off the lamp.They watched that boat in the dark and both said later they were struck with the same feeling, that the boat they were looking at was empty and that they were being watched by a third boat hidden in the dark, a boat with no lights yet full of men in hoods or balaclavas with heavy weapons trained on them.Then PabloT said a prayer and he turned on the lamp and trained it on the first boat.What they saw was an empty fishing vessel.The hull sprayed with bullets and not a soul upon it. After that, both Victor Ortiz and Pablo T said they would not come out this far again. Maybe what they heard were ghosts. Or maybe what they heard was the sound of people being fed to the sharks. That much is probably true. What do you think, Hector? Do you believe in ghosts?

Bolivar stretches out across the seat and pulls the cap over his eyes.

*

In a skim of sleep he hears it. The maddened wind. Tunnelling out of dark to reach another dark more true than dream. He rolls the cap from his eyes, looks to where the moon should be.The sea is twisting the wrong way.

This is unreal, he thinks. I cannot believe it. It has come in the flick of an eye.

He tries to see the illumined dial of his watch.There is a roar and then a crash as a wave strikes the boat.The water transmitting sudden cold into the bones. Bolivar bends out of the blow wiping brine from his eyes.

Hector screams awake.

A quickness now of things, Bolivar a liquid black towards the bow. The boat riding the dark swells. He passes Hector who has come to be on hands and knees and he roars at the youth to bail. Hector not real now but an imagined thing cowering in the boat which is also the unimagined thing – Bolivar aware for an instant of this thought as it passes through his mind, his body moving without thinking.

Without gloves he is upon the sea-cold line, fire in his hands as he hauls it. Behind him Hector is shrieking. Bolivar roars over his shoulder at the youth to bail, sees instead Hector taking hold of the battery lamp and shining it at the sky.

A world come howling from a dream.

*

Salt stings his eyes. I am blind, Bolivar thinks. Then he flicks on the headlamp, a steeple of light in the dark. Hand over fist he pulls in the line, hitches it to the two-headed bitt, the boat pitching downward as he gaffs a shark in the mouth and hauls it.Then he unhooks the shark and sees by lamplight into the shark’s eye, is met with a fleeting unintelligible feeling of some other world. He clubs the shark on the head and throws it into the cooler.

It is miracle work and yet he moves with a feeling that something is within reach, a defined edge of his being. Already he has landed and unhooked four big fish, the line laden, the bait has done its work.Whispering to himself about Hector who is cowering in the stern, screaming and refusing to bail.

He thinks, you knew it the moment you saw him. It was in his walk, in the way he stood, in that short little jaw of his.

He becomes aware of water touching his ankles. He turns towards Hector and shouts for him to bail but his voice is flung the wrong way. He hitches the line and walks down the boat, grabs the bailing bucket, ropes it to the underseat.

The hissing salt-spray.

Hector’s shouts thrown into whisper.

Dear God, please, I don’t want to die.

The sound of the wind funnelling through dark space.

*

How an hour becomes a life. Some distant part of Bolivar’s mind speaks but he does not listen. He is busy doing the work of two men, bailing the boat and hauling the line, gaffing fish after fish, throwing them into the cooler. Soon the cooler is half-full with tuna and a few sharks.

For sure, he thinks, this is the best place yet. Just another hour or so and there will be light.

He meets the blow of each wave while Hector can be heard sobbing. Now and then the youth begins to bail but stops when hit by a wave.

It is a simple matter, Bolivar thinks. Staying alive. Doing what you are supposed to do without question. This boy is a fool, he will not listen.

He thinks, this will make for some tale back home. He will never live this down on the strip.

It is then that Bolivar turns and roars.

Come on, we are going to do this.

__________________________________

Excerpted from Beyond the Sea by Paul Lynch. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright © 2019 by Paul Lynch. All rights reserved.




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