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Mary danced a little in front of me. Eyes were derelict in purpose of what she did, of course being off-cast was the end of it. She didn’t dance for me. That man next to her, the strapping fellow, brined, never without a dram for her madam. I was sitting , that was my advantage. I was on the street – the disadvantage.
“Corelly, silly lad!” That was Marvin, mispronouncing my moniker. Off the tongue, the name shares an ear with “story”.
Anyway, Mary. I liked her shoes. No, that’s a lie – I liked her ankles. I wish it weren’t a sin to kiss an ankle. It’s not a sin – but I’d be damned if I dared.
Anyway, someone called for Corelly. Corelly stood up. Corelly loved the ankles he once viewed, but the face……could not compare. The face was beautiful, but the ankles were his. I wondered where I was.
From the briny deep, he said “A lad he is, but I’ve never seen him jest. What do you talk of?”
Marvin was taller than me, thinner than me, stupider than me. But he had advantage.
“Yer right. Silly should have been left behind for stupid.” Corelly was hurt. I’m glad he’s here to bear the brunt.
Mary to the contrary said “Enough with the lad. A mind for the masses, he has, and a reader he is. Taught me my favorite text.” Revelations, according to Matthew. What an idiot.
How did Correlly end up on the ground? I move the minutes back……Correlly walks with his fellow chaps, the briny one, Marvin, and the quiet one named Lewis. Like in Lewis and Clark. Correlly felt the lightness of spirits, and down, down he went. Correlly didn’t bother to get up.
The Briny One says “Well, sailors t’warnt meant for steady ground. When we drink, we toast to our salty cousins!” A pity we can’t drink our cousins.
Lewis broke his vow: “The Cap’n will be wanting us soon.”
The Man from the Deep replied “That’s a silly statement. We set off at morn.”
Lewis said “We should head back to port.” I agree, I mean, I was on the ground.
But Marvin said “I wasn’t finished drinking yet.”
Lewis: “Well, I am, and I’m Third Officer, and I have responsibility.”
Marvin: “Yeah, responsibility over us, ya mean.”
Lewis : “Exactly, which why I suggest you head back. You’d be no good hung over.”
Marvin found himself in a favorable position: “You know nothing of sailors.”
Lewis found himself in a favorable position: “And I don’t really care to know.” This is what happens when you educate your superiors.
The Briny One didn’t like where this was going. He had Mary to think of. So he was quick to remark “Lewis I could never live without. He’s kept us about our wits just when wit was needed, and that I’ve always found immensely appreciative. Marvin is a man of salt, just like we all are, and he’s tuned to sodium more than a well-formed thought. We’ll be all right, Tertes. We’re sailors, not ordinary men.” To Mary, an arm that became a hook and pulled in close: “Isn’t that right Mary?” Mary nodded amorously. I wished she hadn’t.
Lewis never raised or lowered his demeanor. We say this is because he’s from Nebraska, but I’ve met many Nebraskans, and never were they like him. Maybe it was because third was so close to first.
Lewis replied from his plateau: “As you say. See you at morn.” And off he went with regal posture. Third is close to first.
Marvin just loved his gait: “I can’t stand the man. But fact is, I could never stand the Third Officer. They all need the experience they think they all ready have.”
Mary said, “I like Lewis. Intelligent men make the world it is.” I’d really like to believe that. I would.
Marvin sourly said, “They make fools of us, that’s what they do.”
Suddenly Correlly said “That’s because we are fools. Fools do what intelligent men tell them to. That’s how it is.”
Marvin: “Then what does a fool do to stop his foolishness.”
Correlly thought for a moment. “They stop following.”
Marvin smiled broadly and clapped my back: “And that’s why I love you, Correlly.” I thought of Mary’s ankles.

The Briny started to move, Mary in close location. And we followed. Correlly followed. I was curious, so I followed. Something about finding another tavern. Mary hummed a tune that she liked. She liked it so much, that she shook free from the Briny One and started her little dance. The Briny One watched with fascination and she led us through the intimate streets. Marvin hated being led by a woman. I couldn’t bring myself to hate anything about her.
Mary made a few elaborate gestures, then bowed in front of a tavern. Two wooden angels clanked their tankards above us as we walked in. I found it to be no different than the place we left, save for the inebriated angels. I like inebriated angels; they feel closer to me than the sober ones.
Ah, another difference: as we entered, the drunken crowd roared “Mary!” The Briny One was surprised. Marvin soured even more. I-
The Barman yelled “Mary, love, how are you?” To which she replied “Happy as a madam can be with sailors.”
The Barman laid out three beers, cold as the bottom of the sea (too cold for me), and said “Mary’s friends drink for free, but mind you just once.” I liked being Mary’s friend.
I braved the temperature of the lager. It was a better beer than the ancient tavern. I smiled at Mary, fueled by the contentment of the beer. She smiled back at me. I can smile quite well. Correlly has a problem with the gesture, so I have to help him. “Now, Corelly, move your mouth like so-“ What am I doing? What am I doing to Correlly? Would he be proud of such an act? The Briny One looked at Correlly. Now Correlly’s angry at me, what am I, a blithering idiot? Correlly and I, we are cowards. Victims of circumstance. And what not.
Someone yelled from the tavern. “Give us a dance, Mary!”
The Briny One, annoyed, irritated, yelled back “She’ll do no such thing. That was her past.”
Mary replied “What do mean? It’s my present as well. It’s my present to all of you!” She proclaimed. “Charlie, play something, anything that’s grand!”
I could not see Charlie, but amidst the masculine roars, music appeared, well, sounds from a piano. The crowd loved the little tune, and started to give words to the melody…….

Oh Gina, mia Filipina
Gina, from a Spanish Sea
Gina, who was a Ballerina
Find me a ditty,
That ditty that would make
Me your Ballerina,
Gina, mia Filipina

And so on. I think they made up some parts of it as they went along, so I cannot claim this to be proper verse. But it was enough to make Mary dance. But it was a different dance then before. I’ve never seen her move like this. Arms outstretched, her limbs like silk in the wind, sharp gestures to entice, waves to set boundaries. Like something from a Gypsy’s mind, but would never dare.
I wanted to lie to myself. I wanted to say that she belonged to Briny. Or perhaps she had a beau hidden away in some lavish castle, and today was her day to escape. And I did lie to myself – there was a chance that I could have her. But it wasn’t the right lie. I loved Mary. I and ever other drunk bastard in the tavern. The siren’s song, I mean dance. Oh, whatever they say.
I left that damn tavern. Up went my legs, leaving a warming half-filled glass, and off I went. Out, out into the city night air. I moved into the direction of the ship. That was woman enough for me. I spend most of my life on her, I and every other man who works to keep her happy. I was not meant for any other. Briny was built to be looked at. And knows that is his position. And Briny gets Mary. I don’t ever want to see a woman dance again. I don’t ever want to hear that godforsaken song. Oh, Gina.
A sailor spends his time traveling the world, that’s true. But that world is made up of seas, the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean….That was our world. The world of men (and women), we glimpsed at. We had far more important things to do. We carried the food, and silk, the cloth the runs the world.
And the world just ran us out to sea.
I try to listen for others who speak English. They all sounded like Mediterranean to me. Olive-skinned tunes. I could be black, but the doctor says that scurvy is a terrible disease, so I eat my lemons just like anyone else. Lemons, mind you. I don’t want to be confused with a Limey.
As I amused myself among the intimate streets, a Mediterranean screamed something in front of my face. A thought in my head – I have my knife, and the strength in me to swing it, but what would be success? And who would come to my aid? They were all Mediterranean.
Turned out he was shouting to a fellow leaning out of a second story window. The elevated man shouted back at the grounded fellow. Both were flailing their arms. I wondered if the elevated man would tumble out of the building. I hoped not, because that would anger him, and he would probably get up and start a fight with the grounded fellow. So I carried along the street.
Instead of wonder and awe of Mediterranean culture ,I felt terribly alone. I left my comrades back at the tavern. Correlly should have stuck around. But he didn’t and found himself walking alone in a city he couldn’t remember the name of. Nice one, Correlly.
I came upon a statue of a famous general. I’d assumed it was famous because why would anyone construct a statue of a stupid general? I held that thought back – in the world of men, anything was possible. But this general looked like he deserved fame. He held his sword towards the sky as if to say “That way! That way to victory, and a story that shall be told of my sword-holding.” If he was so victorious, why was he dead?
When you’re drunk, you’re allowed to be absurd.
When you’re drunk, you forgot where you were going. Where was I going? The ship? The ship. The ship I shall go to. Where’s the ship? In the harbor. Where’s the harbor? I don’t know, near the sea?? Where’s the sea.
I was quite lost.
I decided that to orient myself, I could sniff out the sea. I would follow the smell of the sea. If I weren’t following the sea, I’d at least bump into Briny.
To the left of me were a faint pleasant breeze and the smell of salt. To the left I
went. Buildings got in my way, but I moved to the side of them. I wished they’d showed me the same courtesy some day. The alleys between the houses held cats. Scores upon scores of cats. They looked at me like I was an idiot. I shrugged back – what do you expect? I’m a sailor.
I picked up one of the cats. I don’t know why. It seemed like a good idea. The cat purred in my arms. For an animal that ate garbage all day, it was quite pleasant. I will bring this cat with me on my travels. Me and Horatio, the cat who’s seen the seven seas, scourge of bilge rats, champion of his master Correlly.
Horatio and I finally made it out of the maze of buildings. Out before us was the sea. My home. To the right of me was the harbor. I was mile away. No matter.
“Where did you find the cat?”
I turned around. Lewis looked at the cat with steady curiosity.
I replied “I found it in an alley.”
“Does it have a name?”
I paused. “Horatio.”
“A good name for a cat.”
“Better than my name.”
“You shouldn’t be ashamed of your name.”
“Why’s that?”
“It’s yours.”How profound you are, Lewis.
Lewis came up to me and patted Horatio on the head. Lewis seemed to like the cat.
“I like cats.” Lewis said. “They’re very grounded. A luxury if you are at sea.”
“Might I ask,” I said, “Why are you an officer? Shouldn’t you be a nobleman or a scholar or something of that sort?”
Lewis frowned. “If I were a nobleman, I would be a tyrant. If a scholar, I’d teach my pupils terrible things. I am a man of uniform evil. I belong on a ship.
Well, that struck me across the face. “Evil? Aren’t we being a bit hysterical?”
It was then Lewis laughed. It scared me because it was the first time I’ve ever heard him laugh.
I continued. “Lewis, you’re not the devil. You’re strict, but you’re no King Draco.”
Lewis looked at me with sympathetic amusement. “There is no devil. Men are the vessels of evil.”
“Well, I don’t know about that, but I know that you’re not evil. And even if you were evil, what business you have on a ship?”
Lewis looked as if he had thought long and hard about what he was about to tell me : “Life at sea is harsh. You’re alone amongst men, never entitled to feminine graces. The captain is responsible for keeping all of you alive and well. It is a great responsibility. And a great strain. It can drive him mad Or to be cruel. I love my captain. I can’t let that happen to him, to touch that evil. So I am that evil. I am the one who you fear.”
“Bull’s ass. I don’t fear you, any more than Horatio does.”
“That’s because you’re intelligent.”Lewis said, with faint praise.
Embarassed by the comment, I said “I can’t rightly say I’m stupid, but I can’t be so smart to be a sailor. Which is what perplexes me about you.”
Lewis said “You have a good tongue. You were educated?
I shrugged. “My ma taught me to read, on account of one day getting me a real school. Never happened, but appreciated it all the same. Been reading ever since. I pick words that sound more expensive than a steak. Was never to get a meal from my tongue. Quite the opposite unfortunately.”
Lewis laughed again. The devil laughed at me.
I continued, “It’s not our business to believe ourselves to be evil. We just have to be good, that’s all.”
“If so, then why bother to be good?”
“Because,” I started, “It’s good to be good. It’s nice to be nice.”
“Do you like being nice?”
“Yeah, I do. Makes me feel right.”
“You’re alone. You lack companionship. People like nice things and you can provide them that. It brings you closer to them.”
“Yeah, so?”I was afraid to see where he was going.
“How often are they nice to you?”
“Not very. In fact, rarely. But it don’t matter. I have Horatio.”
Lewis laughed again. I started to hate his laughter. I didn’t know what it meant.
He said “Not everyone has a cat.”
I said “Well then, I must one of the lucky ones.”
“Do you feel lucky?”
“Far from it.”
Lewis thought a moment. “You should leave this life. You should quit.”
“If I did that, I’d be stuck. I don’t speak Mediterranean.”
“You don’t have to quit here. You can leave this life behind once we return to the states. Where are you from?”
“Miss it?”
“Course. It’s my home. Where are you from?”
“Connecticut. New Haven.”
“Well, maybe that’s why you think you’re the devil.”
Lewis laughed. I don’t know why I encouraged him.
“You would make someone very happy. But not with this life.”
“Well, I’ll think about it.” I’ll think about it, decide it can never be, and be a sailor until I die. I’ll never be Briny.
Lewis saw my face. “You’ll never leave this life.”
“I said I’ll think about it.”
“You thought about it. And it didn’t make sense.”
“Look,” I said, sadly, “There are those who have advantage and those who don’t. It don’t matter if I’m at sea or on land. I don’t have advantage.”
Lewis looked at me with a sense of concern. “Who taught you this?”
“My own life taught me this.”
“You don’t have advantage?”
“No sir.”
“Who does?
“Briny, I mean…” I couldn’t remember his real name. I didn’t remember the bastard’s name. “I mean Briny. And you. You have advantage.”
“Well, if I have advantage, then you have advantage.”
“That makes no sense.”
“You make no sense. Briny has sex appeal. You call that advantage?”
I was getting angry at this conversation. Who was he, Martin Luther?
“Yeah, I’d call that advantage, wouldn’t you?”
“I’d call it sex appeal.”
“Which is an advantage. Ahh, I guess there’s some things you haven’t had happen in your life. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Be glad that they haven’t.”
Lewis looked at me. I looked at him back. I wasn’t going to have someone dictate my life.
Suddenly, there was a loud crack. Horatio jumped off of me with a start. My heart dropped to my stomach. I started to run after it, like a stupid child, but then I saw Lewis running to the dock, and followed. Me, running after a stupid cat. I should see a doctor.
Lewis had a good distance ahead of me, and I managed to reach his pace and location, but I felt as if my heart found my stomach disagreeable and wanted to leave me completely, preferably through my mouth. As I gasped for air, I could see that someone was lying on the ground, somebody else was standing, and a woman was screaming. As I regained my breath, I found that Briny was laying on the ground, Marvin was standing, holding a derringer, and Mary was screaming. There was no one else around. Mediterraneans stay away from sailors when they fight. What do they have in common with us then?
Mary screamed “Adam? Adam, love! Wake up! Please wake up.” She snapped her towards Marvin, “You jealous bastard. I curse you, you and your entire family!”In my twenty four years on this earth, I have never heard a woman curse someone. Maybe she was a Gypsy.
Lewis looked upon this with cold anger. His eyes displayed something cruel, something I’ve never seen before. Hell, all of what was happening was new to me. I tried to avoid this facets of existence. It kept me sane.
Finally, Lewis said “What happened?”
Mary shouted “Well, isn’t it obvious? The jealous bastard shot him.”
Lewis said “How is Adam?”
Mary hysterically said “He’s dead!”
Lewis questioned “Are you certain?”
“Yes!” He looked asleep to me. But then I saw he wasn’t breathing. He must be dead, else why else would Mary be so at ends?
Lewis turned his attention to Marvin, and said “Did you shoot him?”
Marvin replied with malicious satisfaction “I did. One shot brought down that wonderful frame of his.
Mary screamed “I hate you!”
Marvin replied “Hate me. You’ll have no more of him.”
Lewis said, calmly “Give me the gun.”
Marvin looked at Lewis with the intent to retort, but saw his eyes and snapped shut. He walked up Lewis and handed him the gun. Lewis stared at him. Frightened, Marvin walked back to where he was before. I was mollified and fascinated. Lewis had advantage.
Lewis asked Mary “Did you love him?”
Mary replied, “Of course I did. He had my heart.”
Lewis “Had?”
Mary, “He’s dead!”
Lewis “Then you’ll give him a proper burial. The dead should be buried by loved ones.”
Mary looked surprised, then embarrassed and said “Of course.”
Lewis looked relieved and sat in his own satisfaction for a few moments. Then he looked at Marvin. He raised the derringer and left the final bullet in Marvin. Marvin grasped his chest, closed his eyes, and collapsed. He turned around and walked towards the ship, leaving the two living and the two dead.

As you can imagine, this was a lot for me. I stood there for a few moments, looking at Marvin, a man that was once alive and called me Correlly. Then I looked at Briny, who’s real name is Adam, but I hated him, so I know him as Briny. I couldn’t look at Mary. I turned and started walking to the to ship.
Mary said “Corey!”
I turned around. She looked at me with desperation. She was alone in this.
She ran up to me. I realized for the first time that she was taller than me. I would never imagine because she looked so small with Briny. But here she was, hugging me, laying her chin on top of my head, crying softly. “Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me, Corey. I need you.”
I said, “I can’t leave you, Mary. I can never leave you.”
“Oh, Corey,” Mary said, “I love you.” Despite what just happened, I believed her. And why not? I had advantage.