Chapter 3

“Come on Daddy, let’s go!” Rachel Quinn stood in the driveway of her summer home. The sky was beginning to lighten. She was about to bellow that they were going to miss the boat when her father came crashing through the front door. Gary Quinn had a finger to his lips in a shushing gesture.
“Rachel, you’ll wake the neighborhood.” He hissed dramatically. “It’s only five o’clock in the morning.” He popped the hatch on his Jeep and put the small Igloo cooler and backpack in the vehicle. Rachel waved him off as if many fourteen-year-old children do to their parents and climbed into the car.
“Did you go to the bathroom Rachel?”
“Yes, Daddy.” She sighed. Rachel pulled down her visor and checked herself in the mirror. She removed her New England Patriots cap and redid her ponytail. She wrapped the rubber band around her strawberry blonde hair five times. Satisfied with the tension she put the cap back on and made sure to slip the ponytail through the hole in the back.
“I’m going to get my coffee Rachel. Do you want anything?”
“I just want to get going Dad. The boat leaves right at six, with or without us.” She watched her father in the mirror scoot back into the house. She smiled warmly and shook her head. Her Dad was probably the biggest goof in the world but there was nobody she loved more.
Two minutes later Gary came out again. He was holding an English muffin with his teeth. In one hand he held a travel mug while he closed and locked the door with his other hand. He put the keys in his pocket as he walked to the car.
“Ready?” He asked around the muffin. Rachel shook her head no.
“I have to go to the bathroom.” His eyebrows shot up and his breakfast fell into his lap. “I just asked…” Rachel was giggling now.
“I could not resist Daddy. I’m sorry.” His eyes narrowed at her in mock disdain. He started the car, put it in gear and retrieved his English muffin from his lap.
“You’ll get yours young lady. Don’t you worry about that.”
They drove in silence for a while. Gary turned on the radio. He sipped his coffee as he changed channels. Finding nothing of interest, he shut it off again. He glanced at his daughter from the corner of his eye. She was watching the world roll by. She looked so much like her mother, he marveled silently. A feeling of bittersweet nostalgia swam over him. It was not hard for Gary to find himself getting emotional a lot. How long had it been? He knew, of course. It had been two years, six months, eleven days and four hours.
“But, who’s counting?” Gary muttered into his travel mug.
“What did you say Dad?” He cleared his throat. “I’m just thinking out loud Sweetie.”
Rachel watched her father for a minute. He drank his coffee then put it in the cup holder. She looked at his hair. A lot of it had fallen out in the past two years, she noticed.
“I really miss her too Daddy.” She put her hand over her father’s as it handled the drive shaft. He gave her a quick glance and a sad, commiserating smile.
They drove the rest of the way in silence.
#
The marina was bustling. Rachel sat on the hood of the Jeep. Her father was in line to pay for their way onto the charter boat. She listened to men laugh and bark at one another. Seagulls circled and cried overhead. The sun was just coming up between the bait and tackle shop and the sailfish rental place.
Rachel took a deep breath through her nostrils. She loved the smell of the ocean. She swore she was part mermaid. A cool summer breeze wafted over her face. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the moment.
“Where do we get our fishing rods?” Rachel opened one eye at the sound of the man’s voice. She saw the backs of a man and a boy directly in front of her. The man was wearing a backpack and carrying a green cooler. The boy was using metal crutches to help him walk.
“They rent them to us on the boat Dad.” The boy replied. They both stopped and looked around. The man spotted the wooden building with the words Madison & Mates Deep Sea Charters in bold red letters. As you got closer there were two smaller signs. One was to the side of the window that explained all the various experiences you could get, from whale watching to party boats, for a certain price. The other was over the window. In capital letters it read, TICKETS.
“Wait right here Adam. I’ll go get us our tickets.” The man put down the cooler and went to the end of the line. Rachel studied the boy for a moment. His back was to her. He was tall. His dark hair rippled in the breeze. He was wearing lime green shorts. Rachel did not see any braces on his legs. When she looked back up she noticed the boy had turned his head and was looking at her. She blushed and pretended to be studying something of great significance beyond the boy.
“It’s okay.” He said politely. “I’m used to people staring.” Rachel opened and closed her mouth. She felt her cheeks burn with embarrassment.
“I am sorry.” Her voice squeaked. I sound like mouse! She covered her face with both hands. She felt that she could slip right under her father’s Jeep and just stay there.
“You ready honey?” Her father was standing before her holding two tickets. She jumped off the car and scooped up the backpack. She was grateful for the escape hatch. She gave the boy a polite wave as she scurried past.
#
As Rachel and her father walked up the ramp to the fishing boat she read the boat’s name on its back. “ALI’S MONY.” She said aloud. Her father put his hand around her and chuckled. She looked up at him.
“I don’t get it Dad. What’s so funny?”
“Ask the captain if you get a chance. I’ll let him explain it.” Rachel scrunched her face, more confused than ever.
“Grown ups are so weird.” She declared.
Rachel and her father found a seat half way down the port side of the boat. It was nothing more than a long wooden bench painted green. Gary stored their cooler and backpack under the bench where they sat. In front of them and everyone else was a fishing rod. The rod sat in a holder specifically made for this purpose.
Directly across from where they sat was another boat. Big blue letters on its bow declared it a whale watcher. People were settling in over there as well. Rachel checked her watch. It was five minutes to six. There were two burly men, one with a tremendous belly and a long, thick blonde beard who barreled by them. They each held one end of an enormous cooler. Rachel wondered what they could possibly be carrying that would require that thing.
“Here is an open spot Adam.” Rachel turned her head at the mention of the name. Her father was sitting to her left. To her right was a middle-aged couple. There was barely enough room for one person to fit between Rachel and the woman. Then the man on the other side of the woman stuffed something under the bench and they slid down.
“Thank you very much folks.” The man said politely. He sat next to Rachel with a huff. Rachel wondered why the man did not help his son seat himself. Adam did not see Rachel until his father sat down. When he did, he broke into a broad smile. Rachel smiled back. She could feel the heat of self-consciousness threaten to creep back into her face. Rachel was pleasantly impressed at how easily the boy swiveled and sat himself. Once he sat down she lost sight of him.
“What kind of fish are we fishing for Dad?” Rachel asked her father without turning to look at him.
“I don’t know. Does it really matter?”
She shrugged her shoulders and the boat’s engine rumbled to life. The boat hands, dockhands, or whatever they were scooted around the dock, unwrapped thick rope, and pulled up the on ramp. Rachel watched them with a dreamy, wistful look. They were all incredibly tanned and lean. She could imagine how wonderful it would be to spend all day, every day on the ocean. Rachel let out a long sigh as the boat hands jumped on the boat.
“ALI’S MONY” chugged toward the open sea.
“Good morning folks.” A voice said through the speakers. “My name is Rick Madison and I am your Captain. We have a beautiful day for fishing. The wind is blowing out of the east at a mild six miles an hour. As you can see, our sky is clear and the forecast says it will remain that way throughout the day. I hope you brought your sun block folks because you burn quickly on the open waters.
“We will be traveling about sixty-five miles from shore so get comfortable and enjoy the ride. We have two latrines down below for anyone who needs to use them. I do ask that if you feel yourself getting sea sick please lean over the side because if someone is tying up a latrine while throwing up someone else is having other problems while they’re waiting for you. We’ve all been there before so put your embarrassment away and just feed the fish.” Some of the men on the boat hooted and whistled at this point.
“If you have any other questions or problems feel free to ask myself or one of the six crew members. We have food and drink available below for those of you who did not pack food or beverages. The galley will be open in about fifteen minutes. One more thing, please have a good time.” There was a high-pitched whine for two seconds then the loud click of the microphone being shut off.
“Dad, please tell me we brought the sun block.” Rachel heard the boy with the crutches but she stopped herself from turning toward him. She did not wish to appear nosy. There was a long pause. Rachel used all her will power to prevent herself from turning their way. She heard a zipper and then rummaging. The man accidentally poked Rachel in the side once as he searched for the lotion.
“I could have sworn I put the sunscreen in here last night Adam. I’ll have to see if they sell any on board.” Rachel turned at this point. She saw the man closing the backpack again. He leaned over as he placed it under the bench again.
“I have sunscreen you can use sir.” The man looked toward Rachel. His son leaned back to get a better view of her as well. The man smiled warmly at her.
“Well, that is very nice of you little Miss. But, you don’t have to do that.” Rachel shifted her eyes from the man to his son and then back again.
“We have a full bottle.” Her father added. Thanks Daddy, Rachel thought happily.
“Okay. We accept your generosity.” He thrust his hand at Rachel’s father.
“My name is Alan Carter. This is my son Adam.” The two men shook hands.
“It is nice to meet you Alan. My name is Gary Quinn. This is my daughter Rachel.”
“Hi, Adam.” Rachel said with a smile. The boy beamed back at her.
“Hi, Rachel.”
That was how Rachel Quinn met Adam Carter.

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