I wish I could stay on this boat forever, Sabela inhaled the sea air, watching the Channel Islands pass one after the other. To the east, Los Angeles, faded and was lost from sight. The sail snapped taut, filled to bursting with wind, its triangular shape glowing stark white against a Pacific blue sky. A salty sea spray kissed her lips as overhead the cry of a seagull added texture to the scene.
“Hey sexy chica. Come take the helm.” Jay waived her away from the forward bow.
“I’ve only read about yacht sailing, Jay. I’ve never actually steered one.” Sabela’s voice was lost in the western breeze, stolen by the cry of a gull, made inconsequential by the bored look on Jay’s face.
“It’s not like you can hit anything. There is nothing out here. Just keep the sail to starboard and we’ll be on course.” Jay stepped from the station, freeing the yacht. The helm turned with the movement of the rudder, its jerky motion chaotic. Wrestling it under control, Sabela felt the pull of the water and the motion of each wave that moved the rudder, dragging at the helm. “It’s a fucking yacht not a loose hog in your abuela’s garden, Puta. You don’t need to jump on it.” Sabela tried not to blush at his words. Puta, the word echoed in her head. I’m not a whore. Looking starboard she bit her lip and checked the sail. Why did he call me that? Jay disappeared below deck. They were friends, had been friends ever since the first time he’d walked into the bar and ordered a whisky. He must have been joking.
Alone at the helm, Sabela breathed in the sea air, feeling her body relax, her worry fade. The smooth black wheel moved in a genteel dance in her hands, making her feel connected, rhythmic and vital in a way she’d always dreamed. I want this… The statement came from somewhere deep inside her, rising solidly in her mind like absolute truth.
“I want this…” the words were real, as real as the thought.
“Want what?” Jay stepped out of the hatch with a whisky in his hand.
“This!” Sabela smiled at the blue waters.
Her smile faded when Jay walked up behind her, his hips pressing into her backside.
“And I want this, Puta.”
“I’m not a whore, Jay. I’m here as your friend.” Sabela pushed him away. “It’s not cute to call me that. Besides, I’m Portuguese not Spanish so don’t call me chica either.”
“Portuguese, Spanish, Latina, it all adds up to Mexican vajayjay in my book.” Jay kissed her neck, his hands sliding around her waist.
“Well Jay, your book is fucked up! You said you’d take me out on your yacht, nothing else.” Pinned to the helm, Sabela could smell Jay’s breath, a composition of rotting gums, marijuana and whisky. She turned her head to catch the sea breeze, her left elbow coming up under his chin. She felt him stumble back, his bad scent leaving with him. “I’m not a whore, Jay.” Her words followed him as he wobbled drunkenly back below deck. He was being persistent but working a bar had taught her how to deal with drunk aggressive men.
The yacht lifted and plunged softly under her feet. Glancing at the compass it read south by southwest. Looking up she checked that the boom held hard to starboard. In the ensuing peace the joy of a full sail returned to her, lifting her heart the way the wind lifted her black hair. Even if Jay was being an ass she wasn’t going to let him ruin this day.
“I don’t think you quiet understand your situation, Sabela.” He’d snuck back silently. The blow landed at the back of her head, knocking her into the helm. Her eyesight blurred, white lights flashing across her vision. She felt the yacht jerk again, the helm fighting to list the yacht portside. Sabela sank to her knees, the boom swinging erratically overhead. “Like I said…Puta, your tan ass was invited on this boat ride for one reason. May not be the reason you planned on but…shit happens.” Sabela felt herself lifted, her body turned towards the scent of whisky, gingivitis and Mary-fucking-Jane. His breath filled her nostrils, making her retch.
“My tan ass…has made other plans.” Lifting her fist she landed a weak swing into bad teeth. Jay stumbled back, his eyes alight with rage. He swung at her again but missed, his fist connecting with the rear hatch. “You said we were coming out here to sail!” Sabela’s voice and body rose as the yacht pitched, sending her stumbling into the guardrail. Jay came stumbling after, fists raised, landing a second punch to her forehead. His body collided with hers against the thin cable. The yacht bucked and turned. Overhead the boom jibbed to full portside, pitching Jay down the guardrail when the vessel tacked right. Sabela ran to the helm, cranking the yacht into a hard left.
“You fucking Mexican?” Jay stood clutching the cable rail, his drunken face reflecting a dawning uncertainty.
“I told you, I’m fucking Portuguese…” Jay stepped towards her, but the violent starboard tack pitched him overboard. …and I told you, I came out here to sail! In the ever growing distance, Sabela watched Jay vanish silently under a swell.