A Summer Outing
"Something big's falling from the bridge," I screamed, as the boat approached the Golden Gate. The captain and his mate, looking up, shouted orders: "Looks like a person. Quick. Kids below. Head toward the rocks. Looks like it will land close to the shore. Hurry. He might be alive."
The swift moving tide rip was pulling the fishing boat toward the gate. "Going in," the mate shouted, removing his shoes, his pants. As the boat circled the face down body, I heard him say, "Be alive. Please be alive. I'm coming."
The captain, straining to keep the boat in place, bellowed: "Can't get close to the rocks. Hold on everyone. Tide is against us. Hurry, life jackets on. Keep those kids below. Be quiet."
Scrambling around the deck, looking for rope, I heard the engine growling down below, masking the voice of the shouting mate. "Turn it off. Turn it off. Keep the boat away," he yelled as he struggled with the water weighted body.
It was too late. The body's back pack straps had become tangled in the propeller. The mate dove and dove, untangling the straps while the body was pulled under over and over until the straps released and it bobbed up for the last time.
There was no question that the boy, for we now knew it was a boy, was dead.
The mate dragged the young man to ship side: "Throw me a rope. I am losing my grip. Hook it to that starboard cleat. Get me out!" Shaking now from near hypothermia, the mate circled the body with the thick rope. "I can't get aboard. Too wet. Too heavy. Too cold!" the mate shouted. The captain, holding tight to the straining wheel called out, "Can't help. Can't leave the wheel. Rocks too close." I grabbed the mate's blue cold arms and shouted: "Kids. Come. Help." Together we pulled the heavy mate aboard.
The body, lashed to the side, floated dreamily in the washing wave gushing from the streaming boat. The water turned him just enough to display a deteriorating sign on his backpack:
Help. I need a place to crash.
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Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.
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Ingrid Fabianson is a medical social worker/chaplain who lives on a Northwest island with her cat, Hank. She attended the workshop "Diving Deep" with Iowa author Mary Kay Shanley. Fabianson writes, "I had wanted to take part in the workshop from the time I first heard about it, in the 1980s."
This page was first displayed
on March 15, 2016