Castaways - Tide's Turning
Thanks Mitzi for all your help.
No 4 in the Series and follows Castaways - Mutineers
“Hey, Larabee…What ya doin’ up here?” Buck puffed as he scrambled over the rock ledge. “Nice.” He stretched out the word in appreciation as he glanced around.
“Buck,” Chris responded curiously.
Wilmington flopped down on the patch of grass and gazed out to sea. It was the perfect spot, he agreed, to be watching for a possible rescue. Perfect place to escape, to reflect. “See anything?”
“Yeah.” The silence stretched amicably between the old friends. Chris took off his baseball cap, wiped his forehead and replaced it. The humidity was a bitch, but the view was unparalleled. “Ya think I’m wrong?” Wrong to keep looking for rescue, wrong for hoping? Was he wrong for pressing the others constantly to share the watch, to man the signal fires in case they needed lighting quickly?
Wilmington took a moment to reply. He knew what Chris was talking about, that was why he was here. “Maybe…everyone is finding it just as hard to adjust.” One would expect island life to be one of ease and relaxation, but in the three months since the shipwreck they’d found leisure to be a very sparse commodity. And he was tired. They all were.
Chris sighed and nodded. He’d expected as much. “I’m not cut out for this…”
“Yer doing fine, Chris. Everyone agrees.” None of the others had stepped forward to take up leadership and Chris seemed to be the obvious choice. He took on the role with gusto…perhaps a little too enthusiastically, if the others were to be believed, as Chris had each day planned out for them all. And they were full days, so chock-full they fell asleep at night in an exhausted state. But Chris led by example, so he had to be equally exhausted.
Larabee snorted, and a hoarse laugh exploded from his mouth. “Cut the crap, Buck. Even Nathan has lost hope of getting off this island.”
“He’s scared,” Buck confided.
“Of what? Not me?”
“Nah,” he shook his head slightly. “Nate’s scared one of us’ll get hurt real bad and he won’t have the equipment or supplies to help us.”
Chris sighed, realising that he wasn’t the only one on the island having these thoughts. “He’s done alright so far.”
“Yeah, but you imagine how he’s gonna feel if he can’t save us. Especially if it’s something that could be easily treated in a clinic, but not out here.” Chris opened his mouth to respond, but Buck cut him off. “You’ve got Vin out scouring the island and mapping it inch by inch, and JD and Ezra doing nothing but water runs, in between taking their turns on the signal fire and lookouts.” Buck held up his hand to ward off Larabee’s words. “I agree, these things need to be done. And the guys agree too, but they also need to take a break, do something different for a change.”
“What are you suggesting? That I send Ezra off hunting for our food? Does he even know how to cast a line? We’d starve…then there wouldn’t be a problem…or anyone to rescue.”
“He might surprise you,” Buck mumbled softly. “Chris…I wouldn’t mind exploring the island; there are plenty of caves that are calling my name and Josiah hardly ever leaves camp; he’s always cooking…”
“That’s what cooks do, Buck.”
“Yeah, but he also knows most of the names of the parrots on the island…just by their calls and I know JD’s been at him to do some bird watching…He’s also keen to see how his carpentry skills stack up…Something about making a bed.”
Chris wondered how he’d missed all these signs; most of these men he’d know for years - they were his friends. He should have seen the signs. He should have paid more attention. They’d been letting him know in subtle ways, but he’d missed it. His friends were short and irritable, when they bothered to talk to him. They were rude and uncooperative and constantly questioned his judgement. They made his task of managing their existence laborious. Chris was at the stage where he was questioning himself; he didn’t need it coming from them as well. “So what’s Vin want to do?” Obviously Buck had been talking with the other castaways.
Buck shrugged. “Figure Vin’s in his element at the moment. But it’s starting to wear on him…could be, he could use some company. Reckon Nathan’s been itching to go with him.”
“So you want to take over? Is that why you’re here?”
“Hell NO! I don’t want your job.”
“This is all such a goddamned mess!”
“But we’re surviving. And you’ve got it all under control - just need to pull back on the throttle a smidge every now and again. And ya need to remember - ain’t any of this your fault. Us getting stranded on this island was a freak of nature…we could be here for months…or even years, but that’s not got anything to do with you. We’ve got signal fires ready to be lit,” he glanced further up the rock formation at the high stack of timber, “and we’ve got them on all prominent points of the island. If there are ever any ships out there, they’ll see us for sure.”
“That’s if we see them first.”
“Don’t be so hard on them, Chris. They all want to be rescued. I reckon we’re all feeling a might tired and discouraged. We need to spend some time fixing up our camp…making it more…homey,” he added with a grin.
“Yeah…ya know living in a cave isn’t real comfortable.”
Chris stared out to sea. “You saying we should give up on being rescued? That we shouldn’t post a lookout?”
“No way! I already told ya, Chris…you going deaf now? I’m all for going back to civilisation. There are plenty of ladies that are gonna be mighty disappointed I haven’t had the chance to meet up with them yet,” the ladies’ man smirked, the grin widening with Chris rolling his eyes. “We need to cut back on the surveillance and share out the chores so nobody gets bored. We need to learn how to live together, how to function and cooperate as a team.”
“What do you suggest?”
Wilmington stood and dusted off his cut-off jeans. “We take one day at a time, pard.” He pushed the brim of Larabee’s cap down over his face and laughed. “See you back at camp.”
Chris pursed his lips while straightening the cap. Damn if the man wasn’t right. He sat forward and watched Buck clamber down the side of the cliff face; it was a moderately hard climb from the ground up, but going down was more difficult. He relaxed significantly when his friend reached the ground. Chris had plenty to consider before he followed Buck down. And he had all afternoon. Reckon it was time to Buck’s suggestions into play. Chris was afflicted with a small twinge of guilt as he lay down on his back and closed his eyes. A short nap seemed to be beckoning him. He’d figure out what to do later - what to say to make it right.
Thanks for Reading...Please let me know if you enjoyed it.
Castaway Stories Index
Next : Adrift