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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 48 | volume IX | May-June,2006



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 48May-June,2006
Prose

Moped at Sea

/5
p. 1
J.M.A. Biesheuvel

    Isaac had been standing on the afterdeck for hours. He was a nice enough kid, but a little strange. When he worked on board ship he longed for a job onshore and when working in an office he longed for the sea. Isaac could not stand the monotony of shore life and had no money for cruises. But when he was at sea – working as a run-of-the-mill crew member (bespectacled and therefore always a cabin boy, mess assistant or officer's valet, never a seaman – let alone helmsman, his greatest ambition), he was confronted with the crude blustering of the seaman, who played cards for keeps with their knives on the table. Isaac simply did not fit in. At sea he was even more of a misfit than in his jobs in the harbour, the factory, the office or the bottling plant. Yet it was at sea that he hoped to find true adventure.
    When his work was done, Isaac could always be found on the afterdeck. Midnight had passed two hours ago, but Isaac stayed put. It was a moonlit night, all the major constellations of the southern sky could be seen clearly, as could the fierce white backwash from the ship's propeller. Anyone who has stood for hours on the afterdeck of a moving ship knows that in the dead of night, in broad daylight, come rain or fog, in the polar regions or the tropics, in grey, green or dear-blue water, a ship always sails on a white road, a sea-way stretching from the horizon to the props, a road invisible to a castaway crossing it only fifteen minutes after the ship has passed.
    A warm, inviting breeze was blowing. If you looked hard – you could make out the horizon and, a bit near, the light of a crossing ship that would have been heading straight for Isaac, had he been on deck an hour earlier. But, as we shall see, our senses can deceive us. There are philosophers who assert that everything is illusion, and who is to say they are wrong? Isaac's ship was a tramp steamer, and he had never seen other ships at night. He thought about how long it would take until he was back home. He gazed at the witches, the bollards, the hawsers, the railing and the easy chair he had brought up to the afterdeck.
    Then Isaac saw the light


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