The untouched sea is wild. It forces the insides of men into the open; natural elements erode the false self and nakedness appreciates its nakedness; human and only human. Peter checked his course. Dark clouds didn’t bother him, in the same way that big waves weren’t big. Enough time on the ocean desensitizes a sailor to its emotions and Peter enjoyed the drama. It was the symphony of the storm that he lived for. I was still a land lubber who enjoyed sinking his feet into the sand, but spending time with my friend on his adventures was worth the ocean’s anger.

“Better brace yourself,” Peter said.

The waves were like a roller coaster. I threw up and Peter laughed. The wind howled with laughter; there wasn’t much difference between it and my friend. The red sky turned black and the night saw the sun cut through rain clouds, a sprinkling of peace after a wild ride.

“We’re close to the reef. The coral forms a natural barrier on the tail end of an isthmus near old shipping lanes. It would be worth exploring. The ship is half-a-kilometer from shore.” Peter pointed to something I couldn’t see, a discoloration in the water. Drop the anchor when I tell you.”

My hand was sweaty.

“Now!”

I pressed the button.

“Gear up; we’ll need to scuba,” Peter said. I didn’t like pretending I was a fish; it was unnatural. People pulled them out of the water without mercy and jumping in after them seemed like a bad idea. The water was dark, and as Peter was preparing to jump, a fin cut the surface.

“Hey, watch it,” I said.

“Oh, that’s nothing, maybe a white tip.” And he jumped. I didn’t want to be left alone, so I grabbed a spear gun, and I jumped. We went down and under the surface the water was clear. A ship lay uncovered, against the reef, looking as if it had been sand-blasted; The San Anita—a Spanish Galleon my friend told me about. Summer storms had pushed it against the coral.

Peter swam inside the cargo hold as a shadow moved between a pillar of rocks; it had stripes on its back. There was nothing inside, except wooden rooms and sand. An eel slithered out of the shadows and bit my friend. He cut it with his shiny knife and it bled in the water. Peter motioned that we should surface; blood in the water made sharks crazy.

“Is your arm hurt badly?” I asked.

“No, just a scratch. Let’s recoup on the island.”

“You read my mind.”

“I’ll sterilize the wound. Jamaican Rum?”

“That’ll work.” I went to pour it and Peter grabbed the bottle away from me.

“Never let good alcohol go to waste,” he said. There was a grove of palm trees up the shore and we sat in the shade drinking rum.

“You know, I feel like a pirate,” I said.

“That’s a good feeling.” Peter finished a beer and went to take a leak.

“There’s a cargo hold on this island.”

“What?”

“Yeah, a great big hole, and a ladder. I don’t trust the ladder though. Quick, get me a light. I see a sea chest down there.”

4 thoughts on “A Shipwreck, an Island, and a Hidden Sea Chest

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