THE OPEN SEA AND BEYOND

THE OPEN SEA AND BEYOND

Andy Moulder had had enough. His engagement to Sandra – the love of his life was off for good this time. His own fault of course he should never have gone on that works coach trip without her, he shouldn’t have had so much to drink and he definitely shouldn’t have ended up on the back seat with Bendy Wendy from the polishing shop. But he had. Gossip travelled fast and by Monday morning everybody in the factory knew about what happened on the trip to Blackpool on Saturday. Everybody except Sandra that was, but that was only a matter of time.

Sandra got into work in the office at nine, at five past nine she burst into the workshop where Andy worked, nearly knocking the door off its hinges. The soft brown stuff met up with the revolving ventilation device. She went berserk called him all the names she could think of and more – finally flinging her engagement ring at Andy and flounced out. Andy just stood there and when the ring bounced off his forehead and disappeared into the scrap metal bin, he didn’t flinch. His workmates regarded him with the disgust that they all thought he deserved. Andy took off his work coat and put on his jacket. He walked out of the factory probably for ever but he didn’t care.

What now? No job, no girlfriend, no money. He checked his wallet just twenty pounds. They had been saving for their wedding in a joint account they called AndySandytogetherfund, and every withdrawal required two signatures. All because of Saturday at the seaside and bendy Wendy he had lost the lot.

Then he had a brainwave he would take to the sea, go abroad, start anew, make a small fortune then come back to England with his new found wealth and then everybody would be envious of him.

Of course having no money was a bit of a drawback. Where to go and find a ship, Southampton! With his thumb held high he made his way to the M1, three lifts in lorries and he was there. Standing at the dockyard gates he could see ships of all shapes and sizes.

He waited for darkness to fall and wandered among the silent giants of the sea. One in particular had obviously been loading supplies and the loading bay door was gaping open. In he went making his way up through the ship until he reached the deck. Lifeboats were hanging from the derricks, looking around Andy lifted the tarpaulin cover and scrambled in. Lying down amongst the lifejackets and ropes he was soon asleep.

He awoke to the throb throb throb of the engines and realised he was at sea! Lots of people were milling around below the lifeboat so staying where he was seemed like a good idea. Lifting one corner of the tarpaulin he could see the crests of the waves breaking as the boat ploughed forward. He decided that he must be on a cruise ship, where was it going? Stay put – don’t get discovered yet, give it a couple of days, then he would venture out under cover of darkness looking like any other passenger.

So that’s how it was for him. He would sleep all day, come out visit the toilet, have a wash, then prowl around the deck to find something to eat. It was amazing what he found, a sandwich here, half a can of drink there. It was rare that he retired to his lifeboat with a hungry feeling. The boat was always very busy, sometime the sea was rough, then sometimes so calm that you would think the boat was standing still. But always the throbbing of the engine helped him to sleep. After about five days, he wasn’t exactly sure, Andy woke up in the morning and there was something odd, what was it? It took him a few minutes then he realised there was no throb throb throb of the engines. We must be there but where was that? If the boat travelled at thirty miles an hour, for twenty four hours for five days he must be um…. thousands of miles away. America, Africa or the Middle East, all were a possibility.

Andy lifted the cover and peeped out, it was all clear so out he came. There was no sign of the passengers, he made his way to the gangway. A sailor was stood there.

     “Where are we?” asked Andy.

     “Southampton sir” He was stunned

     “The engines have stopped”

     “Yes sir we’ve done our five days, time to service the engines and restock the supplies”

     “But where have we been?” The sailor looked bemused

     “Been sir? We only go to Cowes and back. Day in day out”  

Slowly it dawned on him, Andy had stowed away for five days on the Isle of Wight Ferry!

1003 words Michael White 2020

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