The Poseidon Disaster
She wondered why he would gamble all he had, her, the kids, on a life of emptiness. It happened to people when they came to the Emerald Isle, drugs and alcohol. She came from a place that was similar, but yet not so saturated with the drugs and alcohol. She and the boys had a nice life before, but she dreamed it would be even better now that they were altogether and finally owned a home. But, he didn’t see it, it followed him, the icy coldness of the disease mocked all of them as he lifted his gnarled shaking hand with another glass filled with the devil’s firewater.
The rain and wind howled outside as she fed the boys their dinner; although, it seemed as if the weather was actually in the house tearing against her as she endured another night of loneliness and worry. She was reminded of how it used to be when all of them were at home in the evenings, when he was not at sea, and before he began to gamble with their lives, their futures. What a burden their lives and futures must be to him, because he laughs and carries on with the devils who beckon him continually with their call.
Everyone who comes to the Emerald Isle it seems must play a hand with them, the devils, especially, the Grand seigneur. No one bothered to warn her before they came, maybe they did, but she had not understood. She did not know the price of stay on this tormented island would be the greatest loss of all, a hand of life or death with His Majesty.
The night was long, the hour late when the knock came on the door. She did not want to worry the boys so she hurriedly ran to answer the door. She was summoned by the local police to come to the station. How could she leave the boys alone? She said she would stay at the house and wait for the call from the Coast Guard. The call eventually came; she shook so hard she could barely hear what the man was asking her. Where was he? Was he home? Had he taken the boat out? Did she know? She was thinking, but her mind was racing, her thoughts were not making any sense. The call that no one ever wants to get; could this be happening?
The man said another boat had spotted his boat in the trough (bouncing in between the waves). The crew of the other boat had tried unsuccessfully to make contact with anyone on board. The crew had circled the boat, shot off the shotgun, shot off flares, and had radioed the boat, but to no avail. The crew of the other boat had finally notified the Coast Guard. It took hours for the Coast Guard to confirm that his boat was not in another harbor somewhere else on the island. That’s when she got the call.
She told the Coast Guard he had recently returned from re-hab and was a recovering addict. However, he had "fallen off the wagon" and had begun to gamble with their lives again. She told them everything she knew and they began their official search. The boys were still asleep as two C-130’s (Coast Guard cargo planes) flew over their house headed out to the ocean. She started to cry and shook uncontrollably. She wanted someone to wake her up from her nightmare. This time he had taken their private boat out, not the fishing boat, and gambled not only with drugs and alcohol, but the Grand Master as well, the great Earth Shaker. The grand master was just that, the great Earth Shaker, and once he got a hold of you there was never any coming back for a second hand at the game.
She sat in their room on the bed dazed and in shock. She finally pulled herself together and got the boys up for school. She fed them and sent them out the door to school; they knew nothing. She began calling friends and making arrangements for people to come to the house to stay with her. She called the boy’s school and told them the bad news. She called the Coast Guard to establish a time for updates about the search. She prepared for the worst, the inevitable.
The Emerald Isle is a place where death is an acquaintance. Everyone either knows someone or has a family member who has made the acquaintance of the great Earth Shaker. He is not unknown or unfamiliar; even the school was familiar with that kind of sad news, no one escaped him.
The search lasted for three days. During that time many thoughts had crossed her mind and she made decisions in a state of blind faith and shock. Shock is such a great thing; it kept her under its spell for quite awhile. Eventually the search was called off. He could not be found neither him nor the boat. The Coast Guard found an oil drum and a life vest. The life vest was empty; so was her life. The great Earth Shaker had swallowed him.
She told the boys, she told his family, she told the town, as if she needed to, news like that traveled swiftly on a remote fishing island. She told the paper. She and his mother prepared the obituary. She and her friends, and a few of his, planned the memorial. The memorial was difficult, but she and the boys were still enveloped in the soft cushion of shock.
Shock, what a nice friend to have during the difficult task of dealing with the Earth Shaker, the Grand seignuer, His Majesty. She had escaped the devils, drugs and alcohol, and the great Earth Shaker. She did not believe in gambling, she knew no one could really ever win. Gambling is a sickness; he had gambled and had lost. He had lost his life, he had lost her, and he had lost their future. He said he loved her. He said he loved the boys. He said he loved life. But he loved them better, the drugs, the alcohol, and the sea. He said he loved the sea. He worked on the sea. He played on the sea. He trusted her, the sea. He played his last hand and he lost.
The great Earth Shaker came close to her and the boys, he swiftly passed over them, but she won, the beast did not get her or her boys, and she never dealt a hand. Gambling is a sickness.